Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mt. Hood inner-tubing

For over a month now, I have been dead set on heading to Mt. Hood to try out their inner-tube hills and rope tow. Normally I wouldn't be so lazy and insistent on having a rope tow, but with a two- and four-year-old, it made a lot more sense. I'm all about making life with small children easier (well...within reason....).

We'd finally settled on going New Year's Eve, and so headed out at 11:30 am this morning--only a half-hour behind schedule, which is miraculous for an outing of this magnitude for us! Chris had had to get up pretty early (for him) to buy chains, get an oil change and find waterproof mittens. I...was left to pack and not forget very important items (mittens? snacks? lots of snack? water bottles? cars? extra changes of everything? etc.)

And, before we left, probably around 10:30, I double-checked the Ski Bowl website--six inches of new snow and currently snowing, no road closures only 5 of 65 ski runs closed--good to go.

Hahahaha...fate, why did you hate us today? It rained, the entire way--which means that the roads were mostly fine (well, if you care for water spraying up from every passing car and standing water, but whatever, standard for where we live this time of year). And it was still raining when we finally found the tube hills.

Ok, no big deal, we're used to rain, it didn't seem to be affecting the snow too much. Then we find out, after  we head in, drop $50 on tickets and parking passes, that oh, the rope tow is broken today! They were generous enough to take $1 off our tickets--was that ok? And there was a $3 coupon for a return trip in January.

SERIOUSLY?!!? I checked your website! $1 off?!?! Grrrrrr.....

But I am too nice. Chris would have pitched a fit, had I permitted, but at that point, I was thinking, no, we've driven ninety minutes, the kids have been so excited for this--we'll just hoof it up and down the hill.

Oh, but wait. The little one? Too little. Only ages three and up allowed on the tube hills. There's a little hill at the foot of the big hill that you can let him slide down. Too bad our website didn't say that either.

Have fun!

So Chris took Danny up (and down) twice. Isaac and I played on the little hill. Then I took Danny up twice (oh my god, I was seeing stars on the second trip up, when I agreed to pull him--so glad I hadn't gone to the gym yesterday), while Chris played with Isaac on the little hill.

At this point, everyone was getting a bit...uh...frustrated? It was raining hard. And cold, of course. So we told the kids about the "kid zone" area, and they got excited to play in it, and Chris and I got excited to chug a beer and go down the hill a couple times alone (wait...I think it was only me that was excited for that).

The kid zone? Retarded. Seriously lame. And here I'd been under the impression that for $9 (or free with our purchased tubing tickets), there would be an adult employee in there supervising, but NO, we needed to stay. Scratch that beer.

So Chris carried Isaac back down the hill. Danny and I tubed down. And went to the car. A grand total of five runs down the hill for Danny.

We had brought the kids' new bear sleds (a present from Santa), so they tried those out quickly, and then came the changing. Oh, the changing. Oh, the wetness.

I am totally being cranky about all this, but both boys loved the tubing they did get to do, and despite the backdraws, we all did manage to enjoy the family time together. And Chris majorly impressed me with his snow driving (while the roads weren't bad, the parking lots were awful, full of huge chunks of ice and tons of snow and water)--we didn't even have to use the chains.

We didn't take many pictures--it was raining too much for me to risk taking the camera to the hill, but here are a few taken under shelter of the trunk :)

Isaac, crying, while I tried to get his soaking wet shoes and socks off.


We finally had a our first snowfall, on Tuesday afternoon. It was kind of crazy to think that last year at this time, we'd already had about 16 inches. Danny was so so so excited--we were still in "quiet time", as Isaac was asleep, and Danny immediately grabbed his coat and mittens and headed outside, and stayed out there for over an hour!

 Can you tell he's excited?

Eating snow off the raspberry beds. This kid loves to eat snow.

I think he was trying to make snowballs and throw them for Zeus.

Isaac, ready to head out! He was more excited than he looked...

It took Isaac awhile to venture out from under the porch.

Then they rode bikes, of course.

Isaac only managed to stay out for about 20 minutes. He had yanked his mittens off and was standing at the end of the deck, screaming about being cold. Apparently the connection between warmth and clothing has not been quite reached!

But, while I was getting dinner ready, we had to run back out because the snowflakes were, I kid not, two inches in diameter! It was too exciting. So we caught snowflakes for a few more minutes and then came back in again.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ei hackele

This is essentially an egg salad, but way better than the stuff I normally make. Ei is German for "egg", and the "hackele" part refers to something being "chopped very small." (Chris, or Karin, correct me if I didn't convey that quite right...)

Christmas morning, after opening gifts and stockings, I had planned to make pancakes, but somehow Chris came up with this dish and wanted it. So...I made it. His Grandma (wait, Oma!) used to make this for him and apparently together, Chris and I came up with a pretty close approximation.

I don't measure, so I can't give exact measurements here. Mainly, add everything to taste! If you use my approximations, definitely start on the lower end and add as needed!

For our family, here's what I used (there were no leftovers, and I probably could have eaten another!):
  • 7 eggs (4 were medium, 3 were large), barely hardboiled--with a little bit of runniness to the yoke
  • extra-virgin olive oil--2-3 Tbsp
  • white wine vinegar--1-2 Tbsp
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • finely chopped parsley--about 2 Tbsp
  • finely chopped green onion--half of one
  • pinch of nutmeg
Chris' grandma actually used chives where I used parsley and green onion, so if you have those, by all means use them!

I mashed up the eggs with a fork, very well (this is supposed to almost be a paste-like consistency, but that kind of grossed me out, so I kept it a little chunkier).  Add everything else and your done!

In Germany, they eat this open faced on toast (which we did Christmas morning), but I think I'll also be making this in lieu of the mayo-cloaked egg salad sandwiches the kids and I sometimes eat. Much healthier, much tastier!

Bacon wrapped persimmon wedges

Or as Danny likes to call them, "persimmimins."

I had found this idea in one of my Rachael Ray magazines, in the corner of a page, almost hidden. I've been wanting to make them for quite awhile and even saved two of my Fuyu persimmons (the firm variety) for it.

By the way, the Fuyu persimmons keep for a very long time. These two were just barely starting to soften, and I think I've had them, at room temperature, for over a month (don't be too grossed out, I did keep checking on them!).

I'd cut the persimmons into eighths, cut each bacon strip in half and after wrapping, placed them seam-side down on my baking tray. I use a cooling rack (like for cakes or cookies) on top of a rimmed baking sheet, so the grease can drip down. Then I baked them at 425 degrees for 14 minutes (check on them after 12 minutes, though). 

Yum! We ate these with scrambled eggs (cooked in some bacon grease, the best way to do it) and toast, for breakfast this morning. They were a hit--I'm just sad that they're all gone. Hopefully persimmons are still around...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I think I must have made someone, somewhere very happy along the lines, because at 27 years old, I'm pretty sure I just had the very best Christmas of my life--and that's saying something, because my Christmases have regularly been very good.

Merry Christmas and thank you to my beautiful little babies and spectacular husband--I love you all more than I can possibly say :)

Mmm...homemade marshmallows...

What?! So the air is drier in eastern Washington. It leads to static.
Poor Isaac, in Walla Walla last weekend!

He's been in a sugar/present coma for over a week now. Poor little Christmas zombie :)

Ava and Danny, last weekend, relaxing after a hard day of eating, running in the park, and watching cartoons. Notice Zeus in the background...

Little old man, in his rocking chair by the fire!

It has to be counted as a miracle when two 2-year-olds, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old ALL sit still and look cute for a picture...

Think they're excited?! Opening presents from Great-grandma and Great-papa, at Brenda and Tom's.

Grandma is just as excited though :) Maybe even more excited.

Zellie is super-stoked to be the proud owner of the Cinderella soundtrack!

The aftermath. I...don't have words for this right now! At least my Grandma has toned it down. That's right, this is minimal compared to what living rooms looked like during my childhood.

The boys, wrapping presents for Zeus, Chuck and Oscar. Funny, quick story: for the second time, I came out of Petco with an extra toy in my bag. Paid for, but definitely not needed, especially when it's a $10 rubber squeaky one. That's what I get for letting them both push around those little carts.

And yes, the animals unwrap their own presents.

The night of the 23rd. In keeping with part of Chris' family traditions, we open all presents, except for what Santa brings, of course (my family tradition that I won't let go!), on Christmas Eve, after dinner.

 Opening presents from Nana on Christmas Eve. Brenda, Tom and Zellie were there, too, but I was naughty and didn't take many pictures. But, oooohhh, the food, let me digress from pics for a second: Brenda made Tammy's black bean salsa, smoked salmon dip and little smoky crescent rolls; Mom made crab quiche and spanakopita; I made grandma's chicken wings, shrimp/wasabi/cream cheese/crackers, and blackened chicken pizza. We didn't even eat half of it, but it was wonderful to cook with Mom and Brenda again, and I have been eating leftovers all day today. And will be still tomorrow. Love it. For the record, I ate Brenda's leftovers the fastest :)

Danny's new fishing pole! I think I may harass Chris to do a post on their first fishing trip (in the works--Chris has a 5-day stretch of work, so it'll be a week or so, poor Noodle!).

Opening Up, the Disney movie. I don't normally like to buy movies, as I try to not watch much TV with the kids--but they loved this movie, and so did I. Isaac talks about Kevin, Dug, and Russell all the time. I think we'll be watching it tomorrow, at some point.

Inundated with new books! Yes! These two happen to be from Chris' grandparents, Hella and Edelhard,, in Germany. I think I may start up the Rosetta stone program again, just so I can read these myself. These two books are apparently Dr. Seuss-ish popular in Germany (though a bit more macabre...). The books also came with CD's, which was perfect, b/c the boys got a CD player from my Grandma.

Isaac, forever eating chocolate. This bar came from the Germany package, and Isaac went straight for it. This morning (the 25th), we hadn't heard from Isaac for awhile--Chris found him under Danny's bed, with a bogarted Toblerone bar. The kid screamed, an I-cracked-my-skull type of scream, when Chris took it from him.

Proof that Chris was there. Plus it's kinda funny that Danny has his head in his new fishing net. Rest assured, it's now out in the garage, with his tackle box.

Santa came! Christmas morning. The bear things are pseudo-sleds. When I encouraged Danny to ask Santa for a sled, I had no idea how expensive and hard to find real sleds and toboggans are...

...but they like 'em. Gotta love a 2- and 4-year-old for being so forgiving :)

Chris and Isaac, jamming on the harmonica.

Somebody's doggy was being very naughty on Christmas morning...

Oscar has, thus far, used the sleds as much as Danny and Isaac.

Danny helping me make cinnamon rolls this afternoon, for Chris to take to work. I feel kinda bad, I heard about someone making cinnamon rolls and taking them to their local firehouse, for the on-call firemen, and said aloud how I should do that, and Chris replied, "Um, how about your local ER?" Oh, yeah. They have families that they have to ditch on Christmas, too. Man I'm a jerk. So we made cinnamon rolls for Chris to take to work, instead, complete with a Santa and tree drawing by Danny.

Danny has been playing Lego's practically non-stop. Definitely one plastic toy that I can get behind. Please don't let me down Lego! I guess that seizure-inducing trip to Toys R'Us was worth it.

And my day ended with a late night phone call from Tracey. A perfect way to end Christmas, drinking wine with my BFF (excuse the Paris Hilton-speak), as she turns 28.

I hope every Christmas turns out like this :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas shopping

I figured I better post something, just so the few people who read this will keep reading :) Grandma, Christa, and Courtney, that's you!

Of course things have been crazy, but not in a bad way. We're having fun, the kids are enjoying the Christmas season, my Christmas shopping is done...just some more baking and candy making, and lots and lots of family, and then the big day! I still look forward to Christmas just as much as I did when I was a kid. I may have a hard time sleeping Christmas Eve!

We had an unplanned weekend in Long Beach, due to a close family friend dying. Though the reason we made the trip was sad, it was a nice visit; we hadn't been down to visit Mom and Great-grandma and Papa for quite awhile and it happened to be a beautiful weekend down there (hehe, there was freezing rain and nasty ice at home!). So...the nice visiting with family made the trip better. Oh, and let's not forget Isaac's major, non-diaper blowout while eating out. I'll leave out the details; it's enough to know that he was not wearing a diaper, as he's using the toilet very well now. Use your imagination.

My grandparents were fantastic enough to come up and babysit the kids all Tuesday afternoon so that Chris and I could head to Portland for some Christmas shopping. Of course our first stop was Powells, one of my favorite places in the world. Amazingly, I made it out without a single book for myself! The very first time I've managed to do that, in fact. Then again, I had to have a little more self-control with all the books we bought for the kids; I just can't help it when I find things like Eric Carle's Treasury of Classic Stories for Children for $6.50; Olivia Forms a Band and Zen Shorts for $7.99 each (in hardback! brand spankin' new!). I had only gone in for A Child's Garden of Verses (which I also found used, even in the edition illustrated by Brian Wildsmith that I'd wanted) and Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever (not used, but only $15). I love Powells.

Both Chris and I really wanted sushi. We are not very adventurous with our sushi eating, usually. We like Eastland Sushi A LOT, and don't stray from it very often. However, there was a Sushi Land right up the street from Powells, with a sweet happy hour to boot, so we went. Which is unfortunate, because it was mediocre at best, and the Deschutes Brewery is right there, too, and I love their beer. And there were probably some rockin' winter ales on special. At least we only spent $22...

And then, the best discovery of the night! I have been hell bent on finding Isaac some cool bongos, and spent a good half hour before we left, making Chris do google searches, and calling various Portland stores to locate reasonably priced, but realistic (ie- not plastic crap) kids bongos. And I found them at Rhythm Traders, on sale for $35. The people were extremely helpful and friendly, and they let Chris and I play with every bongo and drum we could get our hands on before they closed. They had TONS of cool kids percussion instruments and noise makers, I could have spent a lot more than we did. In addition to the bongos, we bought Isaac a thunder tube--I hope we don't regret that! I will definitely be returning to this store (hopefully with Tracey, my best friend and a drummer, who would be in heaven, who hopefully will be located in Portland by June-ish).

On the way home, I made a mistake. I decided that we'd bought too many presents that weren't "toy" enough (which I'd purposely avoided, but...a kid's gotta have something to play with after opening presents, right?), so I made Chris stop at Toys R' Us at Jantzen Beach to buy a small Lego set for Danny (his major present is a fishing pole and tackle box...not too fun on Christmas morning, eh?). I seriously thought I may have an anxiety attack or seizure in there. Shouldn't be surprising how many kids have ADD when those are the toys they're being bought. I kinda felt dirty when we left. It was amazing the amounts of plastic shit (really, there's no better word for it...sometimes swearing is necessary) in there. Bikes to plug into your TV? Because who needs to go outside? Really? Un-freaking-believable. I've told myself many times in the past that I wouldn't shop at Toys R' Us anymore (I've had some very bad exchange and customer service experiences), yet I keep going back. Ugh. That was the last time. Maybe by publicly declaring it, I'll stick to it this time :)

So...this is a totally disjointed, random blog, and I am supposed to be packing to go to Walla Walla tomorrow and finishing up the package to mail to Chris' family in Tucson and getting some presents wrapped and finishing laundry--not drinking wine and writing on the blog :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saint Nicholas Tag

When Chris was growing up in Germany, they celebrated Saint Nicholas Tag on December 6th--tag in German is "day", and this is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. In Germany, and some other parts of Europe, kids set their shoes out the night before and wake up the morning of the 6th to find them filled with little goodies from Saint Nicholas.

It's hard for me to remember to incorporate new traditions like this, and Chris wasn't much help in remembering this year, and we completely forgot to put the boys shoes out the night before! Luckily, I remembered upon awakening in the morning, and, while the boys were still in bed with us, I woke Chris up and he snuck out and did the dirty work. The boys just think Daddy put their boots out for them, since we forgot before going to bed! Whoops...

Waiting for me to unlock the door...bah to forgetting to turn on the flash and Danny's blurry face!

Danny brings his stuff inside...

...while Isaac starts scarfing chocolate, with the door still open! (And it has been COLD!)

Still eating chocolate. And later threw multiple tantrums.

Give Danny a new Hot Wheels, and he's good for a week!

And just because it's cute, I have to put up a picture of Chuck and Zeus. Chuck has decided that Zeus' bed is a good place for him as well, and cuddles with him. You can tell Zeus hates it, but tolerates it :)


Last spring, I used a good portion of our tax return to fancy up the garden (well, a little, there's much more I want to do), and part of that included buying compost bins--plural, b/c the first we bought we weren't sure about (a big ball you can roll around to easily facilitate aeration) and then we found a display model at Costco for pretty cheap, so we were then the proud owners of TWO compost bins. And we actually produce enough food waste to fill them both. That's kind of gross.

Anyways...I was rewarded the other day with my first batch of compost!

There's actually still some egg shells in it, and a few leaf chunks left from my last addition about three weeks ago, but bin #2 is full and needed to start actively composting, which means that the ball bin needed to be emptied. And since the ball bin is now empty, I was able to roll it up to rest next to the deck, so I don't have to trek down to the garden in the cold and rain all winter.

I was so excited. I still am. I'm still amazed that our food turned into beautiful soil. It's so nuts. It's so amazing. It's things like this that make me love science and nature.

The compost is still sitting in a small pile in the garden, waiting to be distributed, but I cannot decide which plants to bestow with all of the wonderful nutrients. I probably need to make my mind up though, b/c I think we have some precipitation on the way, and I don't want all those nutrients just leaching into the soil in one spot.

This same day--I think it may have been Sunday--Chris willingly left a warm couch, with food and football, to finally put up the supports for my raspberry bed (which he also built for me, with aforementioned tax return). Isn't he a nice guy?! Then he took the kids back inside, put the leftover lasagna in the oven for lunch, and left me alone, in peace and quiet, in my garden, to play with my raspberries for an hour.

The raspberries look so unimpressive right now, but they actually yielded a fair amount of berries this summer and fall, considering I'd only planted them in early May (which was way late, I procrastinate in everything, gardening included). There are tons of suckers and I'm excited b/c I think they are going to be bee-yoo-ti-ful next summer and fall and I will have my own private organic raspberry supply. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Zoo lights

 Isaac doesn't look very comfortable, does he?!

Isaac on the zoo train. Poor little guy was cold, and very whiny, until we boarded the train, but riding the train seemed to cheer him right up!

Danny is "helping" post these pictures, and when he saw this one, he said, "Mama, but why do you have your hair sticking up in your mouth?" !!! I don't know, good question...


Danny under the dragon


Isaac hugging the tiger. He's still talking about this! Even big brother wouldn't do it, but Isaac didn't even hesitate.

Watching the tiger walk away: "BYE! BYE TIGER! BYE!!!!"

A sleeping ocelot. Danny and Isaac were really excited about the cute kitty.



We've been to zoo lights the last three years in a row. It wasn't exactly something I meant to make a tradition, but...looks like it is! I don't think Danny will let a Christmas pass from now on w/o us going at least once. The past two years I've gone solo--which I'm really proud of myself for!--and the boys have been so good, it'd be kind of hard to argue against taking them (though it was easier having a newborn and 1-year-old Isaac in a sling, tucked snugly in my coat, not insisting on seeing every sight and getting down and walking every three minutes! He was a little more fun this year, however!).

Here's to many more great zoo lights, and thanks to Great-Grandma for the fun zoo membership!!