Tuesday, June 30, 2009

See Nora RUN!

Yesterday was a tad bit painful for Nora.

First of all, she had three days straight of All Daddy All The Time, which meant trips to the zoo, the World Beat Festival, friends over, friends houses...You'd think the girl had a social calendar filled out.

So yesterday, she was all whiney and cry-ey as the day progressed and her peeps weren't around her telling her how great she was, and she was stuck with Just Mommy, who while entertaining, isn't NEARLY the gem of entertainment of anywhere from Daddy to Cousins on up...

So after a morning of whining and carrying on, I decided to reward her relatively bad behavior by taking her to the water fountains in front of the Oregon State Capitol building yesterday.
Suffice to say, it was a HIT.

She SQUEALED when she saw it.

Personally, I think if you can get your kid to squeal with delight once in a day, your medal as a good parent should just be plastered to your chest and you should be able to take the rest of the day off.

But Nora ran into the water with VERY little trepidation, despite the rising winds...and she met a little girl who is three (and Nora was just as tall as her!!) and they played and ran and played some more in the water fountains and its adjoining massive puddle.

When we got home, Nora and I settled into reading some books, and one of them has the alphabet in them. She says "B!" for the letter B, and "D!" for pretty much anything else she sees.

She is starting to try and recognize colors with some success as well, although sometimes you can tell she's just pointing at stuff at random and running her fingers over it til you cheer her, then she'll stop instantly, figuring that she hit the right spot.

It's amazing how in one week, she's picked up a few more words (she says "uh oh" and "owie", and is asking "What's this?" to more and more things.

See Nora run...see Nora learn!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

World Beat

Lately Nora has become a bit obsessed with wearing her swimsuit bottoms as a hat.

As a result, I felt it was time for a change of scenery...So this morning, in an effort to give Brian a little time on his own to wade through a few work e-mails, we packed up the 3-wheeler, all-terrain stroller, and off Nora and I went to the local World Beat Festival.
I went alone with Nora the first half of the day, where we saw her very first Belly Dancing troup from Turkey...I wish I had a picture of it, but unfortunately for the belly dancers, I had to go stop Nora from rushing the stage, instead of stopping to take a picture first...

Since Nora's obsessed with belly buttons and says "BEEEEEP" right before she puts her finger into yours or anyone elses, I felt it was important to stop this before we had an International Incident...
Brian picked us up at lunchtime, and we went home so Nora could get a nap. Fortunately we don't live far from downtown and Riverfront Park, so we went back after she slept a bit! We got our friend Jenn and her son Brendan with us, and we spent lots of time in "Africa" (It's the World Beat so all continents (except Antarctica) were represented with music, dance and arts).

I bought a Kenya Bag in one of the booths -- I've always regretted giving mine up, and now I've replaced it! And the nice lady (who's actually from Nigeria), gave Nora this rattle/maraca thing for her to play with for free!

Nora had a blast running around checking out the various shopping opportunities. From necklaces...

...to rainsticks...

...to bong drums...

and rattle things I'm not sure what they are...

We even saw Nora's cousins and some friends with Rachel, Amanda, Hannah & Miriam!

Fun and Hats and Stuff..

So Uncle Jeff came back from his trip to Guatemala (no it's not in Europe), and with him he came bearing gifts -- a new bag and chocolate for me, a wallet for Brian, and a hat for Nora.

This green and yellow number became a fast favorite around the house, and out in public. Nora's pretty much worn it nonstop unless she's wearing her swimsuit bottoms as a hat...but that's another post.

Nora wore her awesome new hat to the zoo on Friday. She decided she liked this gal from Los Angeles. She had an accent that made me think she was from Brazil, but when someone is asked where they're from and they say "LA" you DO NOT say "REALLY? No seriously. Where are you FROM?" or you sound like a stupid hick...but I was hoping to speak Portuguese if I hit the Brazilian tourist lotto...

This is a great picture I snapped of Brian and Nora as they played near a fountain/waterfall feature thing (see below). Nora's begun climbing on everything...before, you couldn't get her to sit on a rocking horse or any of the cool sculpture stuff out there for kids. Now you can't get her off of it!
This is my artsy waterfall shot for your Moment of Zen...click on the picture for the full effect...
The big hit of the day was meeting up with my friend Karen, who I went to school with from 6th grade through high school. We both came from/escaped the same small town, and it was funny to find out we landed within 45 minutes of each other after all these years!

I hadn't seen her since our 10th reunion -- we graduated from a VERY small middle school that dumped into a much larger high school so it was fun to talk about who we knew and who we remembered and who we were in touch with on Facebook these days.

Nora really took to Karen and it was great to catch up with her. Since she lives close to the zoo, we hope to see more of her!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cute Pictures of The Day

This is just a nice picture of Nora - on her Daddy's shoulders. I cut Brian out only because his eyes were half open mid-blink, and he looked silly.

But her grin is infectious. It's her "Daddy's home!" smile that she wears ear to ear until she goes to bed at night.

Amidst all the dying celebrities today (see below...) I cleaned the house like crazy today. Then I mowed the lawn.

Some of it I accomplished during Nora's nap, some I did while she was awake, and some got done after Brian was home.

But the cutest moment was after showing her how I cleaned the toilets (hey, she has to learn sometime!!), I was wiping stuff down and she grabbed a clean rag from me, said "Mine!" and started wiping off the toilet.

Hey, I'd be crazy to stop her!

And While We're On The Topic of Dead Celebrities...

Unfortunately, the death of Farrah Fawcett today got overshadowed by the death of someone much less angelic.

Michael Jackson keeled over in his L.A. home today, shocking the world with his death at the tender age of 50.

I would like to say I feel sorry for the guy and I guess on some level I do.

But the immediate response of suspending ALL newscasts and regular programming for this event isn't just inappropriate, it's disgusting.

He wasn't just a drug-addled Elvis. He wasn't shot in the streets by a lunatic while espousing peace like John Lennon.

He didn't change the world with his music, he entertained it and made and WASTED millions.

And let's NOT forget the two charges of child molestation allegations -- one in 1994 which were dropped after a payoff, and a second just a few years ago that acquitted him.

But let's not forget that acquittal hardly means innocence. OJ.

No, Michael Jackson has the record most albums sold of his Thriller album, that is fabulous, even when I listen to it now and then considering the time it was done in, and the launch of a brand-new MTV generation coupled with his great dance moves.

He called himself the King of Pop, and at some point it stuck. But it's not the same as being The King as Elvis was, and even ELVIS knew enough to keep his hands off a kid.

I pity Michael. I know his childhood was as horrendous as it was glamorous. I know as we all watched in horror his increasing weirdness these last 20 years that much was going on behind his increasingly small nose than anything we could possibly know about.

But most of all I pity his children. The family who perhaps had a chance to know him better and understand him. And for his victims, if they were in fact that.

I just tell anyone who feels conflicted about mourning MJ -- Don't feel bad, that's just your moral compass trying to work.

The fact is, the rules should apply to everyone, and as we well know, most people get away with all sorts of crap when they're celebrities. And down deep we know that's it's wrong.

Rest In Peace, Farrah


I remember when Steve Simon brought in the now-famous Farrah Fawcett poster to our third grade classroom and put it up on the wall, much to the horror of our teachers. It wasn't up for long, but we all got to see Farrah in all her youthful glory in that bright red swimsuit and that dazzling smile and Farrah Hair.

She was the beauty standard for most of us girls growing up in the late 1970s. And she managed to stay beautiful for many decades after.

I remember wanting to have her hair, but I was a brunette and always would be. I had stick straight hair to her curly locks, and there was no getting around that back then. When I played "Charlie's Angels" with my friends, I usually ended up being Sabrina because my friend Dhana had long dark hair and had more similarities to Jacqueline Smith's character.

Despite the form of cancer being a rather embarrassing one to have to mention in polite company, Farrah remained classy to the end, with the love of her life beside her.

Rest In Peace, Farrah. In the end, you're an icon of our culture that we won't forget. That kind of legacy is a rare thing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What a Surprise! Uncle Sam STILL Doesn't Want Me!

So this morning, despite needing to clean bathrooms and vacuum, I decided to skip all that and run to the zoo with Nora.

I have never gotten out of the house so fast, but we decided at 8:30 to go, and we were at the zoo (WITH picnic lunch and sunscreen) at 9:35. It was a miracle.

Nora and I had a great time, and she was so tired she fell asleep before we got to Woodburn on the way home.

But in the parking lot, I got a call from an Army National Guard recruiter, asking me if I was a student at the school I attend.

I said "Yes, sir." (I love saying "Yes sir" to the military types, just for no reason other than proving I can be polite to somebody...)

He asked me if I was interested in a career in the National Guard, and I said "Not really sir. I'm a 42-year-old Mom. I'm pretty sure you don't want me."

"But do YOU want to be in the National Guard?" he asked.

"I really really mean it when I say you don't want me in your Army Guard," I said. "I was told by a career counselor that I questioned authority too much 25 years ago, I can only imagine what they'd say now. I'm far to mouthy for you now, I assure you."

He laughed.

"Have a nice day," he said.

"I appreciate your service to the country, sir," I said back.

Nope, they still don't want me.

And I'm pretty sure they have a better chance at winning pretty much any war without me in the military.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

This past Saturday our family went to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma!

We were with John & Jill and the boys, plus we met up with Brian's brother Peter, Sarah and their daughter Odette, PLUS a friend of my from my online group's whole family came to do the zoo with us too!

We got a picture here of the six kids, from Erik (holding Nora), The littler ones in the middle are Curtis, Jenea & little Amelia (in the stroller) and up top is Odette!

Christa and I got our little ones together for the first time in about 14 months -- Amelia was born the week I was visiting Jill last spring, so I got to go to the hospital and meet her when she was just days old.

It's so amazing to see a little one walking around when the last you saw them they were in the NICU!

Odette & her folks joined us too. She even got a camel ride in!

John Michael came with us too (he wasn't in the kid's picture because he's a very legal adult age of 18), and he was the Carrier of the Kettle Corn. YUM...

Curtis the Cutie was so sweet. The first time Nora fell in front of the zoo into a puddle, he was very concerned and even asked her a few times "Are you ok?" Christa says he's always on the playground watching other kids and if someone falls, he checks to see if they're ok so if they're not he can help get the on-duty recess adult! How sweet is that?

Brian snapped this picture of Nora in the super-cool Children's Play Area -- I couldn't get over how many neat features they had that were RIGHT up Nora's alley. She played on this "spider web" for quite some time...

But once she discovered the slide, you couldn't get her to quit!
This last picture is my favorite...Brian or Christa shot this one and they let me have it from Facebook. It's a FABULOUS picture.

We had so much fun, and did great walking through the zoo and keeping track of THAT many people/kids. At one point Odette was carrying Amelia, and Amelia's sister Jenea was a little concerned about who was carrying off her little sister! :)

The zoo is a VERY nice one. We were disappointed the beluga whales are gone. One died, and the other one went to a breeding program in San Antionio's Sea World? That's what they said anyway.

The aquarium was fabulous, with a big shark tank and lots of neat exhibits!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Game Day

I had a lot of fun at my sister's this weekend!

We got to their house around dinnertime Thursday, which gave Nora some time with her cousins before she went to sleep. Then Friday we went to their church and she spent a few hours with cousin Erik who works in the church nursery now and then for things like "Mom's Day Out" where you can drop off your kid and go shopping or whatever...and Jill and I went to Costco for some church stuff and then we took all the kids out to lunch.

Saturday morning we went to the zoo (more on that above), and that evening we went to a Mariner's game in Seattle where we beat the Diamondbacks 7-4!

It was a thrill to go back to my home city (Seattle will always be home to me I think!) and see a game and enjoy a beer and a hotdog and a little time with family.

Thanks to John and Jill for getting us tickets and everything. We had a blast! Like Brian said "it made it feel like we were on vacation" and if you can get that feeling out of a short 2-day weekend, that's a good thing!

Cute Pictures of The Day

We had a wonderful weekend -- Brian had to work up in Tacoma so we packed up Nora and headed up to my sister's on Thursday and spent some time with them!

We went to the zoo at Point Defiance in Tacoma, where we met up with some friends and more family (more on that later), and went to a baseball game in Seattle with Jill and John Saturday night. It was WONDERFUL to go out in Seattle to a Mariner's game.

While we were at the game, cousin Erik watched Nora and put her down for the night. Most of the weekend both her cousins played a lot with her, but he had her all on his own and even learned to change a diaper, which for pretty much any 13-year-old (ok, ANY of us! LOL) is not that much fun...

Anyway, this morning, he got up as we were packing the car, and watched Nora play out in the yard as Brian and I reattached the carseat.

He asked for a hug, and it didn't take long for Nora to run to her cousin and give him one last hug until next time!

Thank you Erik! Nora loves you guys, but I know she had a really special time with you with all the time you spent with her!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How To Explain...

I'm sure most new parents feel like I do as they watch their little ones grow, that feeling of wonderment mixed with trepidation as they watch their children begin to interact with the outside world.

Being a cute, friendly little girl, Nora will say hi to anyone and anything. She "gives love" to inanimate objects like this mouse sculpture at the zoo by hugging it and saying "Oh...", and will hug nearly any 4 or 5-year-old boy (much to his horror). But even the 4-year-old boys will just look at me as if I'm supposed to stop it, and only a very few will push her away.

When I simply say "She's doing that because she thinks you're COOL!" Most boys will just respond with "OH!" or "OK!", but if nothing else, most of the time they just react with some level of civility that even a pre-kindergartener can muster.

I was talking to a friend the other day and saying how hard it is knowing that the world will get harder for her, instead of easier. That at some point when she understands more words and more about humankind, that I will have to explain to her that not everyone will be good to her, and not everyone will like her, even if she is her sweet affable self.


The fact is, mean people exist. I experience them on a rare basis, thankfully, because I have a loving family, great friends, nice neighbors and by and large have a great experience on the Internet. The good FAR outweighs the bad, and always will.

I hope in time, I will be able to explain to Nora how to be careful, but not too careful. How to embrace life with gusto and without fear, but to use her judgement well and listen to that voice that says "be careful" when it speaks up.

But really? If nothing else, we have to walk around truly liking all of mankind, not just the ones who look or sound like us...or we're just part of the problem. I hope if nothing else, I pass that on to my girl.

Peace to all, especially those who are running away from it.

Dolly

My friend Jenn brought this toy for Nora the other day...and it's become a fast favorite!

This morning I went to get her, and she had it in her crib with her -- apparently Brian gave it to her last night before she laid down. She didn't put it down for several minutes this morning, and gave it a big kiss (that's what she's doing in the photo) while she played with it on our bed.

I just love watching her play with a little baby doll. This is her first "real" doll and she loves it.

Thank you Aunt Jenn! :)

The Expensive Zoo Trip!

Yesterday morning, Brian had the day off and we decided to head to the zoo again!

Well, we were on the way up to Portland (we live about 45 minutes away), and we talked about the clutch and how it needed replacing. I even had called the local dealership to see what it would cost (about $1200).

Brian mentioned doing it himself over a long weekend to save us the money...and then we hit Portland, and our Subaru just blew the clutch out on Highway 26 just a few feet from the exit to the zoo!
In a cloud of smoke, our plans for the day were changed!

I sent a text message to my sister-in-law Julia who lives and works nearby, and she offered to come get us. She looked up a Subaru dealership for us and as we turned the car around (we were dead in the zoo fire lane), we limped it back near the highway entrance and stopped.

I had barely turned on the emergency flashers and parked the car, when a Portland police officer stopped and asked if we were ok. I told him we thought the clutch was dead and that we needed a tow truck. He said he'd call for me, since it would be faster if it came from PPD, and he set out a flare for us!


I had just been to the zoo with Nora on Friday by myself, so I told Brian to go ahead and go on into the zoo with Nora, and I'd deal with the tow and the dealership. I called Julia, who gave me the address, and then she reminded us that my Mom's car was parked at her house since she went to New York to visit my brother, so we could borrow her car!

Within a couple of hours with Julia's help with picking me up at the dealership, I was back at the zoo with Mom's car, and we were able to enjoy the zoo a bit together, before we had our lunch in our regular spot.

We decided to wait for the car to be done, since they said they could be done by 4 p.m. We drove Nora around town til she fell asleep, then just kept going a bit so she'd have a short nap in the car before going to Julias to wait for the car. We got it at 4:30, then went to dinner with Julia at Red Robin, where Nora tried her hand at the driving video game (the beauty of toddler entertainment is that it is free...) and THEN we headed home!

We were really grateful we didn't break down in the middle of nowhere on the way to Portland, where there are several spots with MILES of open space, or on I-5 in the left lane or something during rush hour downtown. Now THAT could have been expensive or even dangerous with Miss Nora in the car!

All in all, it was about $1100 ($950 for the repairs and $150 for the tow). But like he said "It needed to be done."

The car drives totally differently and better now. It's truly amazing. I had no idea it was in such bad shape until it was fixed.

I know we should probably be more upset about it, but really with some of the things my friends are going through, like a loss of a friend to cancer and another friend who's struggling through a messy divorce, it's really just not that big a deal to me. I miss the money out of our dwindling savings account, but it's not the end of the world.

Moving on...with a new clutch!

Monday, June 15, 2009

QUILT!

It was hard to chose a picture to embody today's adventures...so I made a quick collage.

Click on the picture itself and you'll get a bigger view of what I sewed today.

Brian, darling husband and father that he is, doesn't let me go out the door easily by myself.

So yesterday, he thought it would be GREAT if he and Nora hung out in the fabric store while I picked out a quick few buttons to replace some that were lost from a pair of capris I own and wanted to fix.

It turns out it's harder to find an easy beige button set that would go with my pants, so I spent some time at Hancock Fabrics checking out their selection.

At some point, as Brian and Nora perused the store, I heard "MINE!" come out of my daughter from across the store. (Thanks Mom, for teaching her THAT word!).

It was the FIRST time I heard her say it and mean it with that adamant tone that can only come from someone who's 2 or approaching 2...

Brian said "Let's ask Mommy, and over comes my 6'3 husband and 2'11" daughter, carrying some fabric from Sesame Street on it.

I said "sure, we can get something..." thinking that it would be a nice easy buy of a yard or two of fleece.

But a few minutes later, Nora had apparently decided that ALL fabric that had Elmo/Sesame Street on it was "MINE!" and then some choices needed to be made.

Ultimately, we decided on a couple of Elmo-related fabrics, and a trim color that would match.

And this morning as Brian and Nora played at Minto Brown Park (see below)...I quickly quilted and edged it, and it was ready for her to enjoy when she got home.

She is so thrilled with her quilt. It's a source of joy to play "Where's Nora?" and she loves it when I ask her what Cookie says, and she growls like Cookie Monster!

Super Cute Picture of The Day!

Any silly ideas I get about crediting/blaming Brian's family for her looks/expressions dies with this photo.

This kid, this imp, this little sapeca, as my mom used to call me (it's a Portuguese word for, um....a little girl who's trouble "in a good way")...well, we can all look at this picture and say the apple didn't fall far from the tree, now did it?

That's MY girl!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daddy's Adventure

We live not far from Minto Brown Park, a park on the Willamette River near the state capitol of Oregon...

The nice thing about this park is its sheer acreage. You go there and there are MILES of park trails, lots of fun things to do, and a rugged feel that makes you pack up the heavy duty jogger stroller (thank you Aunt Judy!) instead of the more urban zoo stroller (thank you Aunt Jenny!)
Today while I sewed this morning on a quilt for Nora (that's another post to come), Brian took her to the park, and snagged ALL these gorgeous pictures of our girl.

He was so proud of his pictures taken with our rather hated Nikon Coolpix camera (its slowness to snap pictures is a major disappointment to us, considering the speed with which our kid moves)...

So their adventure started with Lucy and Nora holding court at the Dog Park section of Minto Brown, where Nora and Brian and Lucy hung out for some time, and other dog enthusiasts brought their dogs by.

Brian said so many were so very impressed with Nora's lack of fear of dogs, and of course how dang cute she is. :)


One of the neat things of watching Nora grow and change so fast is the incredible interest she takes in the little toys and things attached to the various playground equipment...it's like you can see the same wheels just starting to turn in her own head that you see as she turns them on the play stuff!


I think this picture pretty much deserves a moment of silence...

Anybody who's ever had a toddler knows the chances of getting one of them that isn't blurry, isn't the back or top of their head, and has them looking at the camera, with a pleasant expression, no less...equals a wonderful picture!!

Pictures!!!!

If this series of photos doesn't show the variety of things Nora is learning to say and do...nothing will.

As each week (every day really) ticks by, our girl learns to do new things, from riding bikes, to talking on the phone! And sometimes it's just a new fresh facial expression!
She's even learned to search for strawberries in the strawberry patch in the back yard...

She LOVES strawberries and raspberries, and we have a bumper crop of strawberries in the yard this year.

She will often want out first thing in the morning, and I try to get her to wait til the afternoon so the strawberries have a chance to ripen with the day before she goes back out after them again!!
We took her to the toy store the yesterday -- there's a really nice little educational toy store (rather nicely situated between a fabric store and Targe), and she ran up and down the aisles, just randomly stopping at whatever caught her eye. It's amazing to me how different she is once she's been somewhere before...this time she got SO much more excited as she recognized where she was, and started squealing and running around.

What cracks me up is that she runs with the expectation (presumably) that she can outrun me. I may be an older mom, but I'm still faster than a 1 3/4 year child. LOL

Nora's been investigating, rather gleefully, the joys of playgrounds.

She is SO much like her cousin Hannah (who's now 17.5 years old) in that she RUNS everywhere...Hannah was notorious for breaking into a run around 18 months and I don't think she stopped until kindergarten.

Nora sees a playground, and I have to break into a run to catch up with her these days...and we LOVE spending time on all the slides, and her discovery of every kid thing that's fun at the park!

She LOVES slides. She hates swings. But she's learning...to ride bikes and her tiger rocking horse toy that her Oma gave her.
The thing that really amazes me as I watch Nora grow, is how unique EVERY child is. My daughter is special (because she's mine), but really, when you go to The Kids Club in town or somewhere else where you get a lot of little ones in one place, it's amazing to see the range of skills and abilities of children of ALL ages!

But this one stole my heart last week, as Brian was out of town for work for the second week in a row...

Nora finally figured out that she could talk to Daddy on the phone, and that she could talk to him, so as I had him on speakerphone, she GRABBED the phone out of my hands and started saying "HI! HI! HI!" and "DADDY!!!" into the phone.

After staring at it on the floor for some time and wondering how so big a man got into so small a phone...

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