Sunday, June 29, 2008

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures...

Brian has been jonesing for chicken enchiladas forever....he kept mentioning it, and finally tonight I decided to get a recipe off the internet and just shut him up.

I mean, "make him what he always wanted because I love him SO MUCH!" :)

So, I got the recipe, which called for cooking chicken, glazing some onion with some chili powder and butter, and of course baking at 350 for 30 minutes before the cheese, and 10 minutes after.

So, THANK YOU MOM for the barbecue she gave Brian for Father's Day!

It has a burner on the right, which I used to cook the chicken, and while that was cooling and getting shredded, I cooked the onions in butter on the burner too.

THEN I turned on the main burners on the BBQ and put a cake pan upside down on the burners, so the pan the enchiladas were in wouldn't touch the actual grill.

I "baked" the enchiladas with all three burners on "Low" which according to the temperature gauge is 350*!

They were SUPERB, by the way.

It was fairly easy. and it was 90* today, so I was very happy not to turn on the stove!

First Time Swimming Day!

It was time for Nora's very first trip to swim today!

We went to a local park that's supposed to have a little kiddie pool, but it isn't open yet (July 1, apparently, although it was 90 today and would have been REAL NICE of the city to turn on the water a couple of days early!)

But we've moved on...

We came home from that plan gone bad and decided to look up the local pool "Open Swim" time and there it was, 1:20 p.m., and open swim started at 1:30.

We were off!

Nora had SO much fun. We all got in the water, and we met other families with little ones in the pool too.

Here's a short slideshow of all the fun.

And a special THANKS to Aunt Jill for the swimsuit, hat and matching flip-flops. This was a Baptism present that Jill gave her in March, and it just struck me today how FUNNY that was since it's a SWIM SUIT.

We're not the "full dunk" kinda Baptists in the Lutheran church, but she was the cutie of the pool, that's for sure!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nora Flies!

HOW HOT IS IT!!??!?

It was so hot today...It's only 2 p.m. and it's not the heat of the day yet. My bet's on us hitting 100* today!

Our friend Kristy came to spend the night at our house, and with the heat wave, I wanted to make a dessert that was yummy but strictly NO bake.

So I made some Nanaimo Bars out of my MIL's Bethany Covenant book, and instead of turning on the stove to melt the chips, I put them in a pan on the front porch.
In about 30 minutes, we had fully melted chips, without heating up the house!

The bars have a chocolate/coconut/graham cracker bottom, with a vanilla pudding/butter center, with chocolate chips on the top.

YUMMMMY!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nora Loves Her New Friend

Sorry I haven't been around much! My best friend from high school, Deb is visiting us this week from her home in Moscow, Idaho.

Wow, those IRL (In Real Life) friends can really get in the way of a blogger's compulsive blogging. But at least I've taken a few pictures!
Yesterday we went to Target, where Deb bought Nora a new pair of pink Crocs, and Mommy got her the boring stuff, like food.

Then today Deb and I walked down to a pita place near the capitol building with Nora in the stroller, then walked up to the Golden Man's capitol mall and listened to music in the park, while Nora played in the grass, practicing standing and walking as much as she can get away with.

We got hamburgers at Safeway for the grill tonight, and Nora just played and played with both of us before going down for the night.

Nora's standing (with help) a lot, and her balance is improving! She even pulled herself up on the futon today (the first time she didn't do it by hanging onto our hands/fingers). I told Deb today that if we just put off going to the Coast tomorrow, we might have her standing or even walking before Deb leaves on Friday.

Mom, Mom II, you can get back up now. I was just kidding. :)

Nora has had a lot of fun with Deb. She's been able to be the "hero" when Nora wakes up to go get her, and after the first morning of initially skeptical looks, she's decided she likes Deb very much, and spends lots of time with her Auntie Deb and sending lots of grins her way.

I Try Not To Be Too Black & White About Some Things, But...

There is DEFINITELY a "right way" and a "wrong way" to use this lovely "soft seat" that my friend Becky sent me.

Forgive me, Becky, but when you sent this to me before Nora was born, I thought it was pretty darn silly...but it didn't take more than one trip to Target with Nora barely sitting up and too big to fit in her easy snap-into-the cart carseat to realize this softseat is not only comfortable, but a germ-barrier GENIUS.

I can already think of 10 times I've used it and I can't even count the number of germs my kid hasn't been exposed to because of this soft seat.

You see, this soft seat fits over anywhere a baby needs to sit, whether it's a public high chair, or the best -- over a shopping cart.

This picture is the RIGHT way to use the soft seat...


Well, the other day, I brought the soft seat into the house, and washed it in the washing machine, then put it over the rail of Nora's pack & play to dry.

The next morning, I put her in her pack & play without really noticing the soft seat, and turned my back to do something, and before long, I head a bit of a struggle, and a bit of a cry for help, and then a giggle.

Here's Nora, with her head coming out of one leg hole, and an arm coming out of the other...

That, is the "wrong way" to use a soft seat. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nora's Mexican Hat Dance

We were just trying to entertain ourselves shortly after arriving at Karl & Alisons.

They had a pile of toys, hats and other fun kid stuff, and this is what resulted:

Ahh, the sombrero...

Oh MAN I Hate This!

The king of my comedic world, George Carlin, died yesterday at 71.

Along with Denis Leary, Carlin made me laugh at our society so hard that my drink could come out my nose.

RIP George.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Feet In The Ocean

On the way home from Karl & Alisons, we were looking for an easy stop off Hwy 101 to the Coast, so we could put our feet in, just for a few minutes...

I saw on the map that Beverly Beach was the spot. And that just put me in the "Way Back Machine..."

To a time many years ago, sometimes around 11 or 12, when we camped there for a week with the family...walked down this very creek bed where the new bridge is going in, and got ourselves soaked in the fun of the coast.

The first, most important day (aside from her birthday) as an Oregonian, is that first step into the ocean.

This picture is of the first sand of the first pair of Nora's shoes to touch the Pacific Coast.

Here it is, ladies and gents...Nora's first steps and she's lovin' it!




Nora just LOVED the ocean.

I had been whistling to her because she loves the feeling of a breeze on her face. When she felt the wind of the ocean on her, she literally squealed with delight!
I told Brian as I we headed home, how going to the Coast is one of those things that makes me feel like an Oregonian "down to my soul."

Here's a picture of Nora and me...smiles on both our faces, and boy howdy, lots of memories of the Coast going through my head.
And you know, you can't really say you've been to the Oregon Coast until some kelp has washed up on your feet, or Daddy hasn't waved it in front of you like it's something to be eaten...

And what's a trip to the ocean without one last family photo???

Newport News!


Nora woke up Saturday morning only to find out she had to endure ANOTHER TWO HOURS IN THE CAR and and while she was NOT happy about that, she was happy to get to where we were going!

It was time to go to our friends, Karl and Alison's house in Newport, Oregon. Home of the Oregon Aquarium, home of other kids to play with.

Their kids are wonderful, and Simon and Noel spent some time after coming home from an overnight birthday party, playing with Nora.

Simon, who's 12...remembered our visit from late last year and how "Nora can do way more stuff than last time."

We went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, where all the kids enjoyed seeing a LOT of different sea creatures. My personal favorite is the jelly fish.

I think it's because they're so soft, and vulnerable-looking but really they can be quite dangerous. Kinda like that petite little kid in school who you find out has the Black Belt in Karate:

This video starts out with some white jellyfish, then I move over to where Nora is with her Daddy in front of a big tank.

These videos are all short and sweet:



And here's a video of the kids watching jellyfish together:


They had a special exhibit -- including a glass artists' studio that had produced a number of glass items for show with the fish in the tanks.

Karl and Alison's daughter Aria went with us, and we got to see lots of SHARKS!!!

Aria is THREE and quite a big girl. She told me a couple of times she was afraid of the scary sharks, so I told her that the sharks CAN'T hurt her because she's here with Mommies and Daddies, who will protect her from the sharks.

When we entered the shark cove, she grabbed my hand. I love three-year-olds. It's like they're little tape-recorders. She used the same exact words I used to describe what would happen and just said "I'm afraid of sharks. Protect me."

OK, little girl...

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Fine Zoo Day

The Girl Obsessed

I'm warning you now: This video is disturbing. If you thought Nora was going to wait to stand and/or walk until LATER.

She's a bit obsessed with being ON HER FEET RIGHT NOW MOMMY AND DADDY.

So here's a couple of videos of her today. She has NO clue that she has NO balance, so it's comical...and scary...and comical...





Thursday, June 19, 2008

We Grow 'Em Big Around Here...

The 9-month doctor's appointment/well baby check up went great today.

She's 30 inches tall exactly -- that would be the 50th percentile for a 14-month-old toddler. Off the charts for kids her age.

She's 19.5 pounds, so still in the 75th for her age, and the good news is her head is catching up and now in the 40th instead of the 25th percentile as it has been.

The doctor asked if I had any other kids at home, and I said "No, just my husband" (where's the eye roll icon when we need it?) but I didn't mean it the way it came out.

He said "She just acts very mature for her age."

I didn't ask what that meant, but I guess that's good. I'm sure immature behavior will come out sometime. So far as I can tell, she LOOKS like Daddy with the blond hair and blue eyes, but the mischieviousness is ALL ME.

Today while we were out, she was obsessed with walking around everywhere and just grinned and grinned and grinned some more at every passing face. I had two strangers ask to hold her (a Grandma lady at Taco Del Mar and another one in the waiting room at Kaiser). And a couple kids asked if she wanted to play with them.

The shortest appointment with Dr. A. involved him just checking her ears, eyes, and heartbeat, asked if I had any questions, and we talked about her diet.

He said we can stop feeding her formula and switch over to regular milk, which will be a nice $50/month easement on our budget. So I bought Nora her first half gallon of whole organic milk tonight, and we'll start putting it into her formula until it's gone and she's switched over.

She may be ready to switch to milk and give up formula, but that's a big step, and I'm not sure I am ready for it, but we'll do it!

I can't resist sharing this picture. She sat in the bathroom waiting for Daddy to get out of the shower. He had been gone 2 nights and 3 days, and she just sat there patiently waiting for him to come out. It was just too cute.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cute Pictures Of The Day

Nora and I went downtown today and had coffee with a gal I met online from a local Mom's discussion group.

But that's a whole 'nother post.

I keep trying to write about it, but it's not coming out with any words that really say anything about these pictures.

Except to say that when our new friend Patti met Nora, Nora spent a good deal of her time grinning at Patti.

At one point, Patty said Nora "smiles with her whole face".

Yep, that's my girl. An ear-to-ear grin!

When we got home this afternoon, Nora spent a good deal of time chasing the cats, including the Kitten Hopper, who was outside, and Nora was in, and she kept bopping her head on the door trying to get to him.

She has so much to learn.

Like how you can't go through glass doors.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Giant Leap Towards Equality

It's only one state, but it's a big one.

And the move it made recently to allow gay marriage is also a big one -- a big step towards civil rights for a group that deserves it.

I can only hope this news is news that will become routine.

There was a time many years ago when my brother Joel asked if I was going to the Gay Pride parade in Seattle -- a city that boasts a very large gay-friendly neighborhood and arguably has one of the largest gay population of most major cities in the country.

I only went once over the many years I lived there, and believe me, it's one heck of an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

I enjoy going because it's one way to show support for those who are often marginalized because of the simple fact that who they love is within their own gender.

But I remember at one time also telling Joel that I hoped the day would come when they wouldn't have to have a parade to celebrate their gay-ness anymore than us Heteros having a parade to celebrate the fact that we love the opposite sex.

There are times when I find homophobia sort of fascinating. I mean, how much of a dolt do you have to be to be afraid of something that couldn't possibly affect you?

And don't bother citing any Biblical references. I know what the Bible says. I also know it says it's ok to own slaves, so that's completely beside the point.

I can say I have a gay brother, and a few gay friends, but really, who cares? To me, it's not important that someone tell me who they sleep with, in fact I look forward to the day that a gay kid won't have to worry about getting his or her butt kicked in school, or have to "announce" that they're gay to their family, because it's become accepted enough that no one has to out themselves.

So, when the California State Supreme Court paved the way for gay marriage in their state, I was happy. Because when California does something, it's just a matter of time before everyone else is doing it.

To me, there should be no "gay marriage" only "marriage" between humans who choose to do so. Allowing gay people to enter into marriage just like the rest of us is one way to acknowledge that their relationships are just as important as any other, and that they can get benefits, have hospital visitation rights, and make decisions for each other just like the rest of us marrieds can.

So "way to go!" California! Being the first state to reach that realization is one reason to forgive them for all their bad drivers, the Oakland Raiders, and of course, reruns of L.A. Law.

Photo shamelessly stolen from Yahoo News, by AFP/Getty Images. I'll take it down only if they ask nicely.

Nine Months

Look who's 9 months old today!

Thursday we take her to her 9 month appointment, which I'm very excited about because she doesn't have to have any shots!

Boy, how she's grown and changed this month.


She crawls (still commando, but I have a feeling we're going to move on to standing and walking before we get the crawling up on her hands and knees).

She officially sat up, and now is pulling herself up, any way she can.

I've had a few laughs as some of you have asked me "do you really want her doing that yet?" when you've seen pictures of her hanging onto fingers and trying to walk around the room.

The fact is, this isn't my choice. Believe me, when she first commando crawled, I wanted to put my foot in the middle of her back and pin her to the floor.

This mommy isn't ready for a mobile girl, but when are we ready for our kids to take that next step?

No, Miss Nora grabs my fingers whenever I'm near her, and pulls herself up on her very own.

And she's not very happy if she doesn't get to do that every minute of every day. Right now she's in the kitchen, complaining loudly, because I'm not in there holding her up.



So yesterday I went to Toys R Us and found this rather obnoxious toy. This thing snaps together and apart so she can sit and play with it, and eventually walk with it, with brakes so she doesn't go too fast...but I can say this...the voice that counts and sings songs on this thing is already getting on my nerves!

Thank God there's the low volume and off switch.

And the bath!

This month she outgrew her infant tub, and since she's able to sit up, it was time to switch to the big girl's bathtub, and with it came some new bath toys to munch on!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

DA DA DA DA DA


Just in time for Father's Day, Brian woke up with Nora this morning and heard her say "Da Da Da Da Da" as he was changing her diaper.

Of course we don't know if she equates it with HIM just yet, but he said he had her repeating it for about a half an hour this morning.

And today, if she wasn't on her feet, she was in a bad mood.

Look at our girl, trying to stand, pulling herself up at every opportunity.

Back Yard Fun

We have had a great weekend so far. Day two of our garage sale is over, and we're all exhausted, but a few bucks richer.

Last night after we were done packing the stuff back into the garage after Day One, Nora was fussy fussy fussy and I wondered how on EARTH we were going to make it to 6:30 or 7 p.m. for her bed time.

Enter, Aunt Judy.
Brian barbecued some burgers and bratwursts, and we ate on the back patio, and then Judy took Nora into the grass, where of course Nora decided to try and eat some of it.

But mostly they just had fun.

Aunt Judy and Nora played in the grass, then Daddy got in on doing a little "Toss Nora Time" -- both of them buying us that crucial hour of entertainment before it was bathtime and bed time.

And the garage sale is over, and two carloads of stuff went to Goodwill, and that-that-that's ALL folks!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Garage Sailing

We're having a garage sale this weekend. I'd say about 80 percent of our deluxe junk is from my brother and his wife, who own a farm, and therefore were looking forward to having a sister "in town" where we could really get some traffic.

I hate doing garage sales. Actually, I hate the preparation. Once it's on though, it's kinda fun, and very fascinating to see what other people think is cool.

One lady picked out a coffee mug, antique, but still uglier than sin, marked by my sister-in-law for $3 when all the other ones surrounding it were marked for 25 cents and under.

"Will you take $2 for this?" she asked.

"You bet," I said.

Then these little 4 and 6-year-old boys came over, and one of them spent an hour and a half looking at EVERYTHING there is left to sell.

He finally settled not on a toy, but on a red suitcase marked for $3.

I gave it to him at the "Big Kid's Discount of $2".

He dragged it home, and promptly came back because his little brother wanted one too, and he had another $2 for the other one.

And just an hour after that, we watched both boys take their new, filled-up suitcases to their Dad's car as they left for the weekend. They were so proud, you would have thought they had gotten the coolest new toy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cute Pictures o' The Day

So, the plan was to keep her awake.

Mom came over to help me for a few hours while I got another application in for another job I found that I would LOVE to have (as an assistant to the president of a local university).

I got home around 4:30 and found Nora already talking it up with Bestema, which doesn't bode well.

When Nora talks, it means she's tired. And when it starts at 4:30, we know we're in for a long haul towards an early bedtime.

So, we kept her going til 5:30.

Then we gave her dinner.

Then the yawning started.

So I gave her a bath because she LOVES the water and it would at least divert her attention.

Well, we got out of the bath, and barely into her Pampers (not shown in the photo), and I left to answer the phone, and as I was talking to Brian, I heard "Julie, come in here. Bring the camera."

We lost her to Bestema juggling her in her arms, singing and thinking that it would keep her awake.

At 6:30, I woke her up putting her PJs on, and by 6:41, she'd sucked a bottle dry and was fast asleep in bed.

Good night, sleep tight, little girl.

We love you.

New Nora Video

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Hunt Is On

I've officially started looking for work.

It's so hard to know what to apply for, not knowing how stable or unstable Brian's work is going to be in the coming weeks/months.

If he got laid off, I'd have to look for full time work immediately, but if he doesn't, then I would do better looking for something to do evenings and weekends so we can minimize or even eliminate the need for a babysitter.

Ah, uncertainty. Like most people I'm horrible at tolerating it. And I don't think it's a lot to ask out of life than to know where your next paycheck is coming from, or that it's coming at all.

But as it is, we don't know, and it's not anybody's fault except the sucky economy having its effects on Brian's company's business. We just have to wait and see.

So I've gone out an applied for some day jobs I would love, and some night jobs I could tolerate. I even sent my application in for a manager's job at a local bowling alley, sort of as a joke to myself. I thought "Hmm, now I'd have access to those bowling shoes I always thought were cool."

And THAT is something I haven't done before. I already hear bowling pins cracking and falling and giving me a headache.

I have worked in a newspaper most of my life, but within that industry, I have always moved up and around. I've had one job I kept for 9 years, and only because it paid so well and I worked with people who helped make it fun.

Unfortunately, the newspaper business is all but dying. It's hard to see it happening, and even harder to want to go back to the business, knowing its nearly inevitable future.

Still, I applied for a couple of jobs at the paper. I'd like to say I've moved on, but I still love the business and can't help but want to be part of an institution that serves its communities as only newspapers do.

I would love to find a more fun, stable job that would challenge me and keep me motivated to learning more, and doing more, while paying me a living wage. I don't think that's a lot to ask for either, although I know some people who would disagree with me. I've been told that most people hate their jobs, and I say if you do, then you need to do whatever you can to move out of that and into something else.

It's not that you have to destabilize your family if you have one.

I guess I just see this next job as an opportunity to find something to do that will let me spend time with my daughter and still raise her, while bringing some money in to help out. Not very many people can afford to live on one income, and we're no different.

So, here we go!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Another Walk On The Wild Side

Hi people. This is Nora typing. Well, I'm slamming on the keyboard and Mommy's interpreting what I mean. I'm just a baby, you know.

I got Mommy and Daddy to take me to the zoo today. Mommy woke up with me at 7 a.m. and let Daddy sleep in (since he does that for her a lot), and we had breakfast, and got our picnic lunch and my stuff ready to go to the zoo before Daddy even woke up.

Daddy loves to go to the zoo. He thanks Mommy every time we go there, because he says it's his favorite place to spend time with his family.
Mommy made me wear my silly hat again today. She says the sun is stronger than my baby skin and even though I see LOTS of bigger kids without hats, I have to wear one.

I don't mind so much. I'm 8 1/2 months old. I'm told I don't need a tan, and I believe her.

She's a Mommy so she seems to know what she's doing at least most of the time.

We went to see my favorite part of the zoo pretty early. I love the sea lions. I'm really little, and they're really big, and daddy holds me tight and we look for them in the water.

Then they get up REALLY close, and they look right at me with those big sea lion eyes.

I found out this one's name is Gus. He's the big one. The littler one is name Julius. But Gus likes me best because he came around and around just like this so I could see him over and over again.

After a picnic lunch (where Mommy let me try some of her bread!), we went on a train ride for the first time ever! It was SUPER loud, and the train went down into this canyon into Washington Park, and people waved at us and we waved back.

Actually Mommy waved for me. I didn't wave, since I'm a baby and don't know how, but I did grin at a lot of people on the train, and they said I was cute.

This one lady looked like she was Oma or Bestema. I really made her smile a lot.

But eventually, I was tired. It was my nap time after all. For some reason we couldn't bring my crib to the zoo, so I just fell asleep on Mommy's lap. Even with the train noises and the screeching from the tracks, it didn't matter.

It was nap time!

But then we went to sit in the park. We watched the bird show again, where they bring out the eagles, and owls, and a vulture, and they fly over our heads. It's important to sit down during the show, but afterwards Mommy walked me around the park.

I'm working VERY hard on walking. I just LOVE it. Mommy says it's too soon, but I say "There's no time like the present!"

By the end of the day, Mommy and Daddy got "Elephant Ears" for dessert but they wouldn't let me have any.

Something about me not having sugar until later. Whatever. I did get to play in the grass and crawl around in it.

I even got my very first grass stains on my Georgia Tech shirt from my cousin Trevor.

Then it was time to go home!

What a great day.

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