Sunday, February 28, 2010

An Early Spring

This willow tree outside Jack's bedroom window is my gauge for spring.

I remember last year after Sawyer was born and I wanted to see the sun so badly. Those first few weeks were rough on all of us and I waited anxiously for the first sign of spring on this tree. It took forever.

Not this year, though. The willow has looked like this for the past few weeks. Spring, here we come!

Last shots before the haircut. I do miss that ear curl, but at least now he can see.

The big project around here last year was the front fence. Brent designed and built it himself and people are always asking about it and complimenting him on the design- the mailman asked if he was a professional fence builder (!). I love that it has turned our front yard into an outdoor play area. I predict that this summer it will be our second living room.

These two can spend hours digging, building, mowing, and exploring the yard. I pulled up a chair and read a book in the sun while Jack excavated part of the yard and Sawyer pushed the bubble mower. Did you hear that? I READ A BOOK WHILE THE KIDS PLAYED! What an amazing concept. It's going to be a whole new experience this summer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Donuts. Again. Really.

Another post about donuts? Yes, I am obsessed. But it's donuts- things could be a lot worse. I have a terrible sweet tooth- terrible I tell you. I mean I can really pig out when it comes to the sweet stuff and donuts are no exception.

Naturally, I blame my parents. They denied me candy and junk food when I was a kid and now I am making up for lost time. Except that I really don't like junk food so much, so it's really just a big long candy/desert binge. Chocolate mostly. I might have a problem.

(This was the first photo. I moved the prominent wine bottle out of the background for the next shot, but it just wasn't as good. So I guess the secret is out- Mary Anne and I like to drink gigantic bottles of wine while we make our donuts. Who knew?)

Turns out the secret to homemade donuts is the deep fryer. Those baked donuts don't hold a candle to...

Ahhh. Chocolaty fried dough ecstasy!

Jack ate four (they were small!) and Brent scolded me for letting him pig out like that. But I insisted that I am doing him a favor- Jack can overindulge now and when he's an adult he will be able to say when. Unlike his mother. Who ate more than four. A lot more. Let's just leave it at that.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Heard around here in the past week:

As we were leaving the park after Jack had been playing with a kid in a blue shirt... "But Mom, I really want to stay and play with that blue guy. I really love him so much!"

"I really like his hair. I want my hair to be like that," Jack said after seeing a picture of this guy on TV....

(RIP Captain Phil!)

"Are you a new student?" Said to me as I tried to discretely sneak into a class of juniors and seniors at the high school for an observation. Those kids need to get their eyes checked. Seriously. Wow.

"... and I still think the internet is just a fad." Spoken by our friend Jeremy after he downed two bottles of Brent's latest batch of homebrew (the Ninkasi IPA Clone) in rapid succession.

"Oh my god- what have you done? He looks like that crazy Russian figure skater! What's his name? Plashenko! He looks like Plashenko!" Me freaking out when I realized Brent had *trimmed* Sawyer's bangs without consulting with me first.

After I paid him a compliment on his dapper appearance one day, Jack complained, "No Mom, I don't want to look handsome- I want to look cool!" Sheesh. Middle school here we come.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Wow, Jack is three. Last Wednesday marked a huge milestone around here- he's gone from being a toddler to an actual kid- a preschooler even! This is pretty crazy.

So how do you celebrate three? He actually gets that it's his birthday this time, so there's no let's-take-a-trip-with-our-friends-and-call-it-a-birthday-weekend to be had. Rats! Nope, this time around there was a homemade birthday garland, a surprise breakfast of buttermilk waffles and blueberry sauce (which was totally worth using our dwindling supply of freezer blueberries), presents, and chocolate cupcakes (from the back of the baking cocoa box- nothing fancy) with some of the grandparents. It was a very big day.

Oh, and I should mention that the First Annual Official Ross Brothers Birthday Bash is actually going to happen at a later date (Sawyer's birthday is in three weeks and I think they are young enough not to mind if we combine festivities). So I guess this day was just the prefunk.

Books and Candyland! We set the bar pretty low around here as far as presents go. That way when they get something spectacular it is indeed SPECTACULAR! I do think it is important to focus on the birthday experience rather than the gifts. Jack really appreciates the things that are given to him and I think it's because we've made the decision not to bombard him with toys. Before I had kids I really didn't understand how people could spoil their kids the way they do, but now I totally get it. It's so incredibly fun to give your child something that he or she truly desires- to see that little face light up and the joy that comes from getting what they want. But it is such a fine line, where do you stop? How do you say yes one day and then no the next? We know that the payoff will come later if we teach Jack to really appreciate the things he has, rather than always wanting more.

He sang along as we all wished him a happy birthday. I'm not a big fan of the video camera, but this would have been nice to have recorded. Oh well.

The grandparent gang arrived with a few well-received gifts and enjoyed some silly time with the boys. The chocolate cupcakes were a hit, as well.

Sawyer laughed and laughed about a toy school bus that Jack and his Great-Grandma were racing across the table. His laugh is infectious. He is our little comedian, for sure.

Wednesday was a beautiful, sunny and unseasonably warm day. It reminded me of the day that Jack was born and the memories of that day came flooding back as we celebrated his presence in our lives. I feel like Jack's birthday was, in a way, like a birthday for me as well, since I became a mama on that day. I remember holding him right after he was born and laughing because he was such a strange little creature- this tiny, funny-looking person, who had been living inside me for nine long months. And now today, three years later, this strange little creature has taken his place as the center of our world. What an amazing thing to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Jack, we love you so!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend At Home

Like father, like son. Here are some postcards that Brent made for the McKenzie River Native Trout Coalition. You can read more about the issue of hatchery fish in the McKenzie River here. I think Jack will catch the fishing bug just like his dad.

Nick and Mishaun popped into town for the beginning of the weekend. They arrived on Friday night and we three had a cozy fire and some homebrew while Brent went to the Brewfest at the fairgrounds with one of our neighbors. The next morning came pretty early (it does that when you stay up talking until 2 am) and we made the pancakes for breakfast. And no, it wasn't just my imagination- they really are that good.

We all nursed our pancake hangovers by lounging around all morning. Sawyer did some of his lounging on the living room floor. But the sun was out so we couldn't stay inside for too long..

Jack is all about the backyard. He can spend hours outside just puttering around and looking at things. He keep up a continuous chatter so it's easy for me to keep tabs on him from inside. He likes to work on his various "projects" and he'll explain them to you in great depth if you're curious. This independent play is a relatively new phenomenon for us. It's amazing what kids will come up with when they are left to invent their own ways of playing.

This was right before Hazel pecked Sawyer through the screen. She's pretty a pretty aggressive chicken, but she is the more reliable layer of the two, so I guess we'll keep her around.

Nick and Mishaun took part in an epic train track building extravaganza, complete with teetering bridges, precarious tunnels, and many head on collisions. They are good sports and I think Nick actually really enjoys the trains. Our boys are so lucky to have such a close relationship with their extended family. I remember loving the time I spent with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, though it was usually for holidays and special occasions. Jack and Sawyer have almost all their family here in town or close by so visits are frequent and relationships are strong. I love that.

Sawyer snuggles. He is so lovey. I love that, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Here we are, on the cusp of one and three. I just can't believe it. This is what one looks like...

I've never been one for those staged portraits, but I do like the idea of commemorating an important milestone, like a birthday, with a photograph. I really love candid shots of the kids. I think you get a glimpse of their personalities so much more when you catch them in their element, doing the things they do. This is three...

Three is thoughtful and self-reliant. Solo play. Frustration. Non-stop talking. Imagination. Opinions. Friendships.

One is a wild ride. Mobile. Chattering. Learning to play. Giggles. Falling down. Getting up. Falling again.

Speaking of wild rides, the tricycle is still a favorite.

Jack's preschool class exchanged valentines. Brent and I realized that we are entering a whole new phase of the parenting experience with this as we sat together at the kitchen table cutting cardstock and converting Jack's artwork into suitable valentines. I hope his friends like them.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Good Day Sunshine

This dashing young gentleman is our neighbor, Noah. He is Sawyer's future BFF. I love his thoughtful expression. This is pretty much what he always looks like- calm, poised, philosophical. He is the anti-Sawyer.

Jack is pretty much afraid of most dogs, but he really loves Noah's dog, Nika. I think he thinks of her as a person rather than a dog. She seems to like that, too.

We've had a taste of spring around here already. I'm thinking it's probably just a tease, but it has sure been nice. I'm still struggling with the realization that I just might not get a snow day this year. And for once I was actually prepared! We have winter coats, snow boots, hats and mittens all ready and waiting in the closet. (Brent wore shorts today.)

What else is new? I made a spectacular quiche. I credit the chickens for this one- their eggs are so good. And both of the girls are laying now so I see a lot more quiche in our future. Brent bottled up the Ninkasi IPA knock-off this weekend. I also see a lot more beer in the days to come.

Hmm. In other news, Sawyer was mistaken for a girl at Papa's Pizza the other night and Jack has decided that he reallyreallyreally wants a ponytail. Will there be haircuts in our future, as well??

Sawyer ate some dirt at the park. Isn't it funny how you just have to let those rules about hygiene and eating off the floor go once the second kid comes along? It was relatively clean-looking dirt, at least.

Here's a rare sight: All of the kids are sitting still- quick! Grab the camera! Who cares if Sawyer is eating a stick and no one is looking at the camera.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Training and Trains

First I have to tell you that I got suckered in to chaperoning a motley crew of middle schoolers to an afternoon of rollerskating last week. I brought Jack with me, while Brent (wisely?) stayed home with Sawyer. Skateworld is just as I remembered it- dark, smelly, and... really really fun! I'll admit that once I stuck those familiar old brown skates on my feet and outfitted Jack with a pair of his own, my first thought was something along the lines of "What did I get myself into?" But it was fun fun fun! Jack managed to (sort of) get the hang of it and it all (kind of) came back to me after awhile.

If you didn't know this about me already, I was a rollerskater back in my day. Like, as in, I had my own skates and one of those fancy skating suits. At one point my photo was on the wall at Skateworld. (Don't be too impressed- everyone who took lessons there got their photo up on the wall. But still.). Despite my extensive training at the roller rink, sadly there was no future for me as a professional skater and I retired at the tender age of ten.

Rollerskating isn't like riding a bike. I doesn't just come right back to you. I'm still able to skate, but I'm super wobbly and have a total fear of falling (these bones are getting older, you know!). I'm just happy that we made it out of there in one piece and that no one went to the hospital. I was not brave enough to bring the camera with me, so you'll just have to imagine what a sight we were on our skates. Jack just might be a natural...

Now let's discuss the finer points of last week. We are a pancakes on the weekend kind of family. I start craving pancakes midway through the week and can't wait to get my fix on Saturday morning. I've been on a big buttermilk kick lately and I've decided that buttermilk is my new favorite ingredient. Buttermilk biscuits are so delicious. Who knew that sour milk could be so divine?

So in shopping around for my new favorite (buttermilk) pancake recipe, I stumbled across this little gem. Do not fear the butter. These pancakes are TO DIE FOR. I gobbled them up. Well, we all did, but it's really only significant that I gobbled, since the rest of the fam will gobble even if the pancakes are sub par. Not me, I'm picky. Anyways, the pancakes are truly amazing and I've been craving them again since Monday.

After our Sunday morning pancake pig out session, Jack amused me by leafing through the paper and lo and behold, there was something that captured his attention:

A model train show! What fun! And free (the best kind of fun there is!)

But before we could go to the model train show, these monkeys had to spend some time goofing around without clothes on.

Then Jack and I hung out on the couch for awhile while he told me a very long and detailed (and nonsensical) story that involved trains. This kid is a talker. I wonder where he gets that from?

At last it was time to go and enjoy the trains. They were kind of cool, I guess. As cool as amateur model trains set up in a mall can be. Jack and Lily liked the overpriced merry-go-round more than the trains. And really, after your first trip to Skateworld, everything else seems to pale in comparison, am I right?