Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Happened

At four am the sound of little feet padding down the hallway roused me from my Christmas Eve sleep. "Who is it?" Brent groaned, but we both knew who the culprit was. 

I corralled Sawyer into our bed and Brent took refuge in the bunkbeds and there was lots of shushing and hissed whispers about going back to sleep and it being THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. 

I tossed around a bit, hoping the cardboard I'd leaned up outside to cover the boys' window would not provoke suspicion at daylight. It had been a long morning in the kitchen as the boys and I made peppermint bark and jam thumbprint cookies and completed the first few steps of the cinnamon rolls

We hastily arranged a "playdate" at Doug and Mary's house while Brent and Nick raced against the sunset to assemble The Biggest Christmas Present of All Time. I sewed buttons on pajamas and Clementine slept fitfully, seemingly aware of the energy in the house and eager to be a part of it.

While Brent and Nick continued to toil in the backyard, the kids and I attended a Christmas Eve children's service. My own religious beliefs are hazy at best, but an hour of music, light, peace and joy felt like the right place for us to be.

The rendezvous point was dinner:

Once the children were nestled all snug in their beds, we adults fought the urge to stay up late into the night, sipping beers by the fire, wrapping the last few gifts, and savoring the excitement of knowing that in only a few hours Christmas morning would happen.

The four am wakeup call was thwarted and we managed to stay in our beds until seven. Suddenly the house came alive as the coffee maker gurgled and someone plugged in the Christmas tree. Brent's mom and grandma, who had been waiting outside for signs of life, bustled in the door. The fire was rekindled and the oven preheated. Jack and Sawyer emptied their stockings and Clementine stood in awe of it all. Once she discovered her Hello Kitty slippers and an entire bag of goldfish in her stocking, everything else was forgotten.

I learned a few things about Christmas this year: it really does pay to plan ahead. I spent the week before Christmas sewing those Christmas jammies instead of spending time with my family. I made an emergency trek to Joann's (fucking Joann's!) on December 22nd when it became painfully obvious that Simplicity 3669's version of a size six would fit like a half shirt on my five-year-old. Thankfully Butterick 5586 was there to save the day with its reasonable collar and sleeve instructions and appropriate sizing. Whew. For Clementine's top, I used this tutorial.

I also learned that our advent calendar works better when it's filled with things to do rather than things to have.

My kids don't miss candy if I forget to put it in their stockings.

They would have been just as happy with half of the presents they received.

I am a fan of rum-spiked eggnog.

I really should make those cinnamon rolls more than just once a year.

After breakfast we all sat around, coffee cups in hand and Christmas wrapping underfoot. "Did you have a merry Christmas? Did you get what you were hoping for?" There were grunts of assent as LEGOS structures were built and remote controlled dinosaurs terrorized our ankles.

"It looks like you missed one," I said casually, pulling a Christmas Story Red Rider BB gun holiday moment. "What's this?" A small box was retrieved from behind the tree which set off a new round of shrieks and giggles. Inside this small box was a clue. That clue led to another clue and so on. I do love a good scavenger hunt. And finally...


The aftermath included naps for all of the adults. Nick slid in and out of consciousness, cramming himself comically onto our shorter couch.

Some outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot:

I'm always a little sad when it's over. "Mom, why can't Christmas be every day?" Sawyer has asked about a million times.

All that trampolining is exhausting. At least now we can all catch up on our sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Encore Montana

Brent and Jack are fishing for coho, Sawyer is scaling a tree with his friend who lives across the street, Clementine is sleeping, and I just added more wood to the fire. Leaves fall from the linden tree outside the window and the smell of roasted pumpkin seeds hangs in the air. 

In the last few weeks we've begun to settle into our familiar fall routine. The firewood's been stacked, the sandbox is covered, cookie recipes have been relocated, and I'm finding a moment to blog. 

For a second we thought about going somewhere new and exciting this summer. There is a lingering part of a younger version of me who would like to check off something else from my wishful travel list. And yet there is something that just feels so right about a family vacation tradition. 

Thus we embarked on our fourth family vacation to Flathead Lake in Montana. For the record I will state that Brent's mental health did suffer for the two days that it took us to get there. I'm pretty sure that being stuck in the car with the four of us is Brent's personal version of medieval torture, but I regaled him with internet trivia about John Day and Lewis and Clark. Let's just assume he appreciated that.

It's always worth it once you get there. 

I read two books. We ate ten pounds of cherries and a $9 loaf of bread. Brent gave us all diving lessons. Clementine wore her sunglasses for the entire trip.

The boys remembered their adventures from the last time we came. Jack asked repeatedly why we can't move to the cabin. "But Mom, everything is so perfect here!"

Brent and I drank so much huckleberry beer that we ended the week with a carload of empty bottles. We asked at the grocery store if there was a place we could recycle them. "I don't know," said the clerk. "Let me get my manager."

Long story short: We ended up driving our beer bottles all the way back to the fine state of Oregon, where glass recycling procedure is common knowledge.

Montana is not quite perfect, Jack.

Mental health restored. New memories made. Almost a Christmas card worthy family picture. The wishful travel list will wait.

Montana 2016? Stay tuned. I could definitely use more diving lessons.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Outdoor's Cool

Oh hey. Happy summer!

I guess it's been awhile.

Full disclosure here: I haven't been too busy to blog, I've just been choosing to do other things. And now that all of those other things have seriously filled all of the space on my camera, it's time to start blogging again.

And I also kind of wanted to step back and see if I would miss blogging. When I saw my 90 year old grandpa a few weeks ago, the first thing he asked about was the blog. I had missed it, too.

Since we are having full disclosure here, I should also mention that I do not have a red screen door anymore. Brent took it down two years ago. There, now I feel better.

I went to outdoor school the summer after sixth grade. It was rainy and soggy and I hated it. I remember that the food was gross and that we made raincoats out of garbage bags. I didn't want to poop in such close proximity to my classmates. We counted the rings on trees and made lanterns out of tin cans. I remember being so excited to come home.

My students go to outdoor school during the summer before sixth grade. I have read many personal narratives about the experience and no one has ever complained about the food. In fact, everything I'd ever heard about outdoor school made it sound like a lot of fun. Every once in awhile my classroom will erupt in laughter at some inside joke and I'll just stand there wondering until somebody says, "Outdoor school. You had to be there."

So this year, way back in May, I decided to go.

 I took the boys along with me and Kate brought her daughter. Job perks are few and far between in our profession, so getting to bring our kids to outdoor school definitely felt like a treat. And it was Kate's birthday, too.

I wondered how my kids would fit in with the fifth graders. I wondered what they would think of the food. Would they get the inside jokes? Would everyone be able to poop?

"Your kids are camp kids," the director told me. Yes, yes they are.

Jack hung back at first, but was quick to join in once everyone started playing capture the flag and dissecting squid. Sawyer became friends with just about every kid he met and ditched us at mealtimes to hang with his new crowd of fifth grade buddies. I got to spend time getting to know my former students (the counselors) again, now that they are practically adults. That was the best part of outdoor school for me.

The food wasn't bad either.

We had our own bathroom. 

I hated leaving.

I guess now I am a camp kid, too.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Mother's Day 2014: Brent made pancakes and the kids greeted me with their special gifts. Jack had written a poem in French for me. Sawyer's teachers had helped him write in a card:

My mom's name is Cassadie. She is 78 years old. Her favorite color is pink. She loves to go grocery shopping. I love my mom because she takes me to birthday parties.

He also gave me a plant.

(I should point out that not only am I light years away from 78, grocery shopping is my MOST DREADED task, followed quickly by chauffeuring my children around to birthday parties.)

(But it is the thought that counts.)

(I think I might have forgotten to water that plant. It's probably dead by now.)

 Ahem. So, after breakfast we loaded up the party chauffeuring bus and took the dog out for a walk at Golden Gardens. I really had my heart set on some pictures of me with the kids, even though Sawyer was sporting some day-old face paint.

Sawyer must have been surprised that instead of going grocery shopping, I wanted to go out to Sarver Winery with Brent's mom that afternoon. Half of Eugene must have had the same idea, but the view was stunning and the wine was delicious and it beat the hell out of standing in line at Fred Meyer or cutting cake in the party room at Skateworld, so success!

And then there was this ridiculous cake that my mother-in-law made. Happy Mother's Day to us!

In other alcohol related news (yes, drinking in the presence of our children seems to be a recurring theme on this blog, thanks for noticing), my brother breezed through town on his way back to Portland.

I had been boycotting Agrarian for a reason which now seems sort of petty, but I got over it when we realized that there's really nowhere else to take the kids on a Saturday night where they can run and scream and get all riled up by Uncle Nick without driving everyone crazy.

So, Agrarian, I am not impressed by your customer service or your menu (or even your beer, for that matter), but your landscape is pretty sweet and kid friendly. And the hula hoops are a nice touch.

Though I am admittedly athletically challenged, I can hula a hoop. So much so that I received an impromptu round of applause from the party next to us. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment until Nick and Brent mocked my octopus arms and wet noodle body and pointed out that my fan club was all drunk.

Whatever. Haters. I'll show them. Next year for Mother's Day, I'm asking for a hula hoop.