Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just Because I Have a LITTLE Decorum...

I won't include a picture of Nora in the activity that we started this week...

She's decided that since "Elmo does" (she's seen the Potty Time video enough times I can sing the song myself as well)...and "Boo does" (Boo is the little girl character on Monster's Inc., who Sully at on point takes to the potty) well, Miss Nora is ready to too.

We went to Target and picked out some training pants, so she had the choice between Dora and some princess stuff (I bristle)...and she picks "Woody & Buzz!" Thank God. I can handle Toy Story and any sequel they throw at me.

Woody & Buzz unders it is.

So we go to the potty once an hour for now. Just sit there, read a book, then she's learning how to get the TP off the roll, where to put it and to get down, flush, pull her unders up, and go wash hands.

Yesterday, even though we haven't actually gotten any peeing happening in the toilet itself, she put her face right down to the small opening of the tot-butt-sized hole of the training seat and yelled "Bye bye pee pee!"

And so it begins.

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's a Kroc!

This past weekend, we enjoyed the new Kroc Community Center here in town, and we loved it so much, Nora and I went back today!

I asked her if she'd like to go to the Kids Club, or...
and she finished my sentence with "Swimming pool!"

The Kroc center was recently built by the Salvationi Army with a grant from the Ray & Joan Kroc Foundation, which gives communities who need it, a great new center, and the funds to help run it (with some input from the community).

They have swimming in TWO pools (one "competitive" and one "leisure"), workout rooms, babysitting, a climbing rock wall, tons of services and activities for kids, lessons for sports of all kinds, you name it.

Stuff like this just makes my liberal bones tingle...GET people in the door, keep them off the streets...give some meaning to their lives.
Our Kroc center opened last fall, but I haven't had time to check it out, so this last weekend, Brian and I took Nora to swim in the "leisure pool" which is built with kids in mind, from a small kid's water slide, lots of little waterfalls and other fun things to play with and on...NONE of these pictures can possibly give it all justice.
So tThis afternoon, we arrived at the Kroc Center, then got changed in the locker rooms with the spacious family-sized changing rooms (with private showers for afterwards!)

Nora stood at the door to the pool and said "Open! Open! Open!"

We swam for nearly 2 hours, and she swam for so long tonight that she asked for "night night" at 7:15 tonight!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cute Pictures of the Day

I think you can see why I couldn't choose between these three pictures for best picture of the day, although I did love this first one of Nora especially as she was SO happy to ride the train!

Nora, Brian and I went to the zoo together today -- for the first time in a while, and we had so much fun.

Lots of new changes are happening at the zoo...the Red Ape exhibit is coming along, and the orangutans will have a new home soon...

We also got three new black bears, so the Cascade Crest trail was closed as the new bears are introduced to the zoo and to each other.

We had SO much fun today. It's been a while since we had family time like this, and we took full advantage! Sunny day, spent the whole day there. The works!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1111 Posts!

I almost quit blogging a while back, only because of a lack of time and the effort required to edit pictures, come up with something to say, and of course, do it.
But I enjoy blogging. I enjoy my report each week that says all of seven people came to see my blog in any given day.
Boy are all you seven going to be surprised when you come back and see how many posts I've made! This is the benefit of all that free time I have when I'm not in school and *only* have a small child to watch.
This past week we went to the Skagit Valley, then to Eastern Oregon where I saw some old family friends and attended the memorial for Beth.

Here I am, mid-April, and having a hard time knowing what to do with all this time on my hands. I'd love to paint, or do some yardwork outside, but the weather hasn't been good for that. I'm hoping Nora will get into helping me paint...I'm already putting old clothes aside for her so we can wear "disposable" clothing.
As for Miss Nora, she's over 40 inches tall now. I haven't weighed her lately, but she's in the neighborhood of 30 lbs., so she's still a tall drink of water and thin but healthy and active!
She eats a lot -- When I was at my brother's house he was surprised at how much I put on her plate...while she's not a neatnik about her food (she prefers finger food and drops a lot), she still manages to get quite a bit in, and is getting better at it.

And the talking...She says a few full sentences, and informs you of things like "Monkeys eat bananas!" as if I am the first person she's letting in on a big secret. "Bunnies eat carrots!" is another favorite whenever she sees a bunny or a carrot.
She jumps and dances and sings at the top of her lungs. She loves "Chitty Bang Bang" and pretty much any musical. She loves Shrek and...well, free time is gone. She just came and asked to watch Elmo's "Potty Time" -- another thing we're working on!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ferry Ride

There's one very special thing about Seattle that you don't see in too many other American cities, and that's the Washington State ferry system that will take you to, among other places, Bremerton, Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, and a number of other places across Puget Sound (that's pronounced "Pew-Jet Sound")

Last Friday, on the way home from the in-laws house in Mount Vernon, I called 511 on my phone and found out that our arrival in Seattle was PERFECT for me to fly off the freeway's express lanes off of Columbia street, straight down to the waterfront, and that light would take me right to the ferry terminal, where we wouldn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for a ferry run to Bremerton.

Nora saw the ferry Kaleetan and said "BIG BOAT!" and was VERY excited to ride on it. We boarded at 11:10, ran around the lower decks, then went and had lunch on the upper deck's cafeteria before running around some more.

I was delighted to see that the boats have been fitted with a lot of new safety gear that keeps 2-year-olds from sliding into the Sound...and Nora just had a blast running free for our trip across the water.

Once in Bremerton, we only needed to drive a few minutes to my sister's house instead of the hour it would have taken to drive "around" and across the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wandering Around Eastern Oregon...

A dear friend of the family passed away last week...Beth Hellberg Creason was good friends with my sister Jill more than anyone else in the family, but she meant more than that to me when I decided to go to her memorial service this past weekend.

Our families were good friends during my most formative years...We moved to Hermiston when I was just finishing kindergarten, and left after the 6th grade.

During that time, my parents got involved in Marriage Encounter, a weekend couple's church retreat thing that would take them away for weekends several times a year. That meant that they needed to find a place to put their five kids, including me, and a LOT of the time, that meant going out to Max & Marilyn's farm.

Max & Marilyn took us kids and were always fine with having some more kids around. They made us work a bit (I remember moving pipes early one morning before church and school) but mostly they let us ride their horses all we wanted, and boy, I can remember more than one Monday morning being dropped off at school by Marilyn feeling pretty darn saddle sore!

The person who taught me to ride a horse was Beth. She was a teacher from her very early life, and eventually became a teacher (elementary school) in her hometown, and did that for nearly 20 years.

Beth wasn't just your average nice gal from the country. She was fantastic. She had a quick smile, and easy laugh, and I never once knew her to be unkind to anyone.

As any kind human being would, but especially as a child, that made a big impression on me, and that impression was revisited and echo'd by many at her memorial service.

Beth, for so many people, represented some of the best of all the goodness in the world. And for that, she will be sorely missed.

I found out that Beth died suddenly last Sunday, after she became antibiotic resistant to a meningitis that she had been fighting for some time. She was only 46.

Her sister Joy is a friend of mine on Facebook, and it was through her that I found out that Beth was seriously ill on Sunday, and within hours she posted an update that Beth was gone.

Their brother Kurt is also a friend of mine on FB, but is also the friend of mine from my earliest memories. The other siblings, Marilee and Tim were close friends of my oldest brother Jeff, and Trina -- Trina was that middle child like me who is the spark of the family and the driver who often keeps things moving.

ALL of them deserved to have as many people come to pay their respects to Beth, but also to them. ALL of them had a key role in my life as a "second family" to me and my own siblings.

And so I went.

When I decided to go, it was largely because I knew how my own husband's family felt when their son David died. The shock and sadness among all of us when we lost David was made the slightest bit better by the support and love of those who came to the memorial service and offered support and meals for the family in the days following David's death.

The Hellberg family parents still attend the church I did as a child, where my own father used to preach. It was an amazing weekend of not only catching up with childhood friends, but seeing the old church, seeing how my old house had been sold and moved away (yes, put on wheels and moved to another location) and the "fellowship hall" where the reception following Beth's memorial and after church the next morning was held in what would have been my old living room or kitchen.

It didn't bother me at all...time changes the landscape in amazing ways, and I was able to see as I drove out of town, how Hermiston's high school is new, the hospital where my baby brother Jeremy was born has been replaced, and my old elementary school is in the midst of a complete remodel including new construction.

And on the way home, I saw the wind turbines that dot the landscape in the Columbia Gorge, and the gorgeous transition of desert to green that happens along that glorious stretch of highway to the West.

In a matter of hours, I was home with my family, with my husband and daughter, and thinking about my weekend on the other side of the state.

Thank you to everyone -- Kurt and Ericka for putting us up, Paula Newcomb for coming too and lending such a wonderful time to catching up with each other, and of course the Hellbergs, and so many others, who made this a special weekend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skagit Spring

We are visiting Nora's grandparents in the Skagit Valley, a beautiful area of the country where the Skagit River runs through it's last windy pathy until it meets the Puget Sound...That's pronounced "Pew-Jett" for those of you not from this area...

This big fertile farmland was settled by, among others, Dutch settlers who decided to build dikes along the river, and clear the land to make a second dairy and tulip country, not unlike their homeland, and they were a raging success at it.
Monday my friend Sue and I loaded Nora up in the car and we drove over to RoozenGaarde's, a tulip producer of epic proportions in this valley.

The Roozen family first began raising tulips in Holland in the mid-1700's, and one of their many descendents moved to the Skagit Valley in 1947, where they began raising tulips and started the farm which would later merge with Washington Bulb Co.

I remember growing up and picking bulbs for Washington Bulb Co. was a summer job for a lot of middle and high school age kids who wanted to make a few bucks...I never did it myself since I worked for Hulbert Farms and others on Fir Island, but knew of the company. It wasn't until after I left the valley for college in the mid 1980s that the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (of which RoozenGaarde is one of the principal sponsors) really got off the ground.

This weekend Brian and I drove up with Nora, and the line to LEAVE the valley was miles long...we realized we'd driven up during "tulip time" and were amazed at the traffic!

But by Monday, things had settled, down, and when Sue and I took Nora to RoozenGaarde's, my friend DeAnne was there too, and she recognized Nora (who walked up to her, not knowing her!) and she started looking for me as she said "ARE YOU NORA?!?" She was there with her son Kenny (who's a prospective husband for Nora, just based on nothing except DeAnne and I would love to be in-laws), and the two hit it off after Nora gave him a tulip, a dirt clod, and a blade of grass. It almost ended though, when she heard someone coo over somebody's picture of their kids kissing, and Nora tried to kiss Kenny, who was, naturally, horrified.

In all though, a beautiful day in the valley...truly a treasure, and with a little dry weather between rainstorms, we got to enjoy it!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter Egg HUNT!

We went to our friend Patti's house this afternoon so we could do a kids' Easter Egg Hunt.

Initially I wondered how Nora would "compete" against a lot of 5-year-old boys and girls, a few younger than that, but not many...As most of us remember, Easter egg hunts are generally over in a nanosecond and the spoils go to the biggest and fastest...

Nora had so much fun today, it was amazing, and instead of a blazing race, my friend Patti hatched the most egalitarian Easter egg hunt in the history of Easter egg huts, by making 10 eggs for each kid who came, and putting their initials on them.
That way, Nora's eggs were waiting for her long after the 5-year-olds blazed by, AND she was totally clueless that it was anything like a race, so she stopped to play on the trampoline, and enjoyed every minute of just playing in the back yard in the rain!

There was a little candy, a few little toys, and a lot of fun playing with other kids upstairs.

PLUS some quality time playing with a Woody & Buzz dolls that Jamie brought with him and fortunately allowed Nora to play with a lot this afternoon!

Easter Egg Fun!

Nora's first Easter egg dyeing project was so much fun!

At first, Nora wasn't sure what to do with them, but she figured it out...
Before long, she was playing with all the eggs, and afterwards she helped put them on the rack to dry.
later after we put the stickers on them, Nora put them all in the basket, and this morning she took them out of the fridge, knocked on them individually and said "Chicken! C'mere chicken!!!" like she expected a chicken to come out of them.


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