Friday, June 15, 2007

Raining on Our Parades

Front-row seats for the Junior Rose Parade

We commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Portland Rose Festival by attending not one but two parades. Chris marched in the Junior Rose Parade, the largest children’s parade in the country. He played his snare drum in the band and in spite of last-minute challenges finding a snare drum harness, he had a great time marching in the 2-mile parade. We were on the sidelines cheering him on while Mike marched with the kids and a few other parents. The downpour didn’t start until about ½ hour AFTER the parade.

Laurie, Bev, and Matthew enjoying the parade
Grandpa and Nicholas (sleeping through his 2nd parade)

The Maplewood recorder group and marching band

Our little drummer boy

Then we decided to brave the inclement weather (it wasn’t raining when we left home) and went to the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday morning. Some NICU graduate family friends have a tradition of attending the parade and go to great lengths to tape the sidewalk the day before. Poor Charlene had to defend her tape against the tape- and chair-freeing renegade army this year. It’s always a great opportunity to catch up with them and marvel at how much all of our kids have grown.

This year we enjoyed seeing Charlene’s cousin-in-law and her two kids, one of whom (Madelyn) was our inspiration when Chris was in the NICU. We met Madelyn’s parents when Chris was just a month or 2 old, and at the time there were no other micropreemies in the NICU. To see a 1-year-old NICU graduate who looked like she doing great was such a beacon of hope for us. Meeting with her parents, Marie and Andrew, inspired us to find a way to help other families when we finally left the NICU. We hadn’t seen Maddie for a few years, and it was amazing to see how much she and Chris not only look alike, but their personalities are also very alike. (They both read 10 to 12 books at once, for example!)
Photos below of our miracle kids: 1. Maddy, Kelsey's brother Kristopher, and Chris; 2. Kelsey watching the parade
One of the more spectacular floats with a ring of fire
We enjoyed the parade, but we got thoroughly soaked in the rain, and would have enjoyed it more if we had been able to stay dry! The best part was seeing Maddy and Kelsey, another preemie, whose parents had been told she would never speak. As soon as we walked up to her, she said to me, clear as a bell: “Hi Marie!” In spite of Kelsey’s very rough first several years—she had a tracheotomy and couldn’t speak or eat until she was seven or eight—she is an inspiration!
Soaked and ready for the parade to be over so we can go home!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

For the Love of Grandparents

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking about writing about the wondrous gift of grandparents in my children’s lives. I’m very envious of a few friends who still have live grandparents themselves, and their children are lucky enough to have great-grandparents. My grandparents died long ago—my paternal grandma was the last one, and fortunately she came to know and love Mike for several years before she died. She was able to come to our wedding, although later in her life when she started to lose her memory, she accused me of not inviting her!

I have precious memories of my maternal grandparents, even though they both died before I was 10. My grandma used to sprinkle filberts on her casseroles and had a huge, beautiful garden. She used to dry flowers and make greeting cards with them. My grandpa was quite a joker. He had a cow he called “Bossy,” and I remember eating pears from a tree on their expansive property.

Somehow, it seemed that my grandparents were much, much older than our own parents are as grandparents. I’m not sure why that is, but perhaps they are more hip!

Kieran with Grandma wearing the apron he made for Mother's Day

Chris, Kieran, and Nicholas all adore their doting grandparents…my parents here in Oregon, and their “Grandma England” across the ocean. We feel incredibly fortunate that they are such a special part of their lives. It is such an inexplicable blessing for our children to have so many people who love them unconditionally and playfully, in spite of their foibles. They see the best in our children, and are often better than we are at praising them and encouraging their independence.

Doing tricks with Grandpa in the backyard

So as I was thinking this afternoon about writing this blog entry, I called my mom and put Nicholas on the phone with her. Just an hour later, I found this wonderful quote:

“Grandmothers are the people who take delight in hearing babies breathing into the telephone.”-- Unknown

Grandma England with Baby Nicholas

And here are some other great quotes about the gift of grandparents. Enjoy!

“Grandparents, like heroes, are as necessary to a child’s growth as vitamins.”-- Joyce Allston
“A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.”-- Erma Bombeck

“Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. “-- Pam Brown

“If you want to know where I come by the passionate commitment I have to bringing people together without regard to race, it all started with my grandfather.”-- Bill Clinton

“I’m going to be your grandpa!/I have the biggest smile./I’ve been waiting to meet you for such a long, long while.”-- Billy Crystal

Waiting for Nicholas to be born

“Just about the time a woman thinks her work is done, she becomes a grandmother.”-- Edward H. Dreschnack

“Being grandparents sufficiently removes us from the responsibilities so that we can be friends.”-- Allan Frome

“Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends - and hardly ever our own grown children.”-- Ruth Goode

“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.”-- Alex Haley

“If you want to civilize a man, begin with his grandmother.”-- Victor Hugo

“It’s funny what happens when you become a grandparent. You start to act all goofy and do things you never thought you’d do. It’s terrific. “-- Mike Krzyzewski

“Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.”-- Doug Larson

“If I would have known that grandchildren were going to be so much fun I would have had them first”-- Bill Laurin

“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.”-- Sam Levenson

Dancing with the twins at a family wedding

“My grandfather was a wonderful role model. Through him I got to know the gentle side of men.”-- Sarah Long

“The closest friends I have made all through life have been people who also grew up close to a loved and living grandmother or grandfather. “-- Margaret Mead

“It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. When a man’s mother holds his child in her gladden arms he is aware of the roundness of life’s cycle, of the mystic harmony of life’s ways.”-- Christopher Morley

“Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.”-- Lewis Mumford

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or a grandparent.”-- Donald A. Norberg

Taking a nap at the beach with Chris

“Truth be told, being a grandma is as close we ever get to perfection. The ultimate warm sticky bun with plump raisins and nuts. Clouds nine, ten, and eleven.”-- Bryna Nelson Paston

“The birth of a grandchild is a wonderful and exciting event! That wonder and excitement continues throughout life. “-- Tom Potts

“One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.”-- Jewish Proverb

“Perfect love sometimes does not come till the first grandchild.”-- Welsh Proverb

“Have children while your parents are still young enough to take care of hem.”-- Rita Rudner

“Grandma and Grandpa, tell me a story and snuggle me with your love. When I’m in your arms, the world seems small and we’re blessed by the heavens above.”-- Laura Spiess

“I loved their home. Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture. “-- Susan Strasberg

“It’s one of nature’s way that we often feel closer to distant generations than to the generation immediately preceding us.”-- Igor Stravinsky

“No cowboy was ever faster on the draw than a grandparent pulling a baby picture out of a wallet.”-- Unknown

“A grandparent is old on the outside but young on the inside.”-- Unknown

“A grandmother is a babysitter who watches the kids instead of the television.”-- Unknown
“Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.”-- Unknown
“Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while... but our hearts forever.”-- Unknown

“Grandmothers are good at sitting on the floor to play, but they can be terribly difficult to get upright again.”-- Unknown

“Grandmas outlast tyrants. That’s why the world survives.” -- Unknown

“Grandmas never run out of hugs or cookies.”-- Unknown

“Grandmother - a wonderful mother with lots of practice.”-- Unknown

“Grandmothers are just “antique” little girls.”-- Unknown

“Never have children, only grandchildren.”-- Gore Vidal

“Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old.”-- Mary H. Waldrip

Friday, June 1, 2007

A Little Gem of a Village in the Middle of a City

That's right--Multnomah Village! Our history here started way back in 1990, when we housesat for my cousin's widow, who had a house in Multnomah. We fell in love with the historic buildings, shops, and restaurants in the village, in addition to one of the best bookstores in Portland: Annie Bloom's.

When we first got married, we had an apartment off of Beaverton Hillsdale Highway, where we lived for the first 3 years of our marriage. In 1993, we entered the real estate market by purchasing a 1910 bungalow in inner southeast Portland, on 31st Street between Division and Clinton. Nature's had just opened up its Division store, and it was a great time to move into that neighborhood. My parents (who live in Beaverton) were nervous about us living on the east side at first, but at the time we couldn't afford anything on the west side, and we loved old houses. I loved our first house--it had hardwoods, built-ins, box beam ceilings in the dining room, and a lovely front porch. But alas, very little yard and no driveway or garage. This was what drew us to the house in the beginning, since we are very lazy gardeners. But once our oldest son arrived and then became a toddler, we decided that we needed more of a yard.

So in 1999, we contacted our wonderful realtor (who had by now also become a good friend), Judith Rolfe. We will always be grateful to Judith, because even though we didn't have a lot of money when we bought our first house, she always treated us as if we were her only clients. We'd never work with anyone else!

We really wanted to stay on the east side, but by 1999, the real estate market in Portland was booming, and we couldn't afford what we wanted on the east side! We looked, but were having troubles finding the size and accessibility to downtown we were looking for. In the meantime, my parents were determined to get us closer to them. We were not interested in Beaverton--we really wanted to live in the city, plus the traffic in Beaverton is so much worse now than when I was growing up--but my dad knew we loved Multnomah. He found an older home for us--a 1938 Cape Cod--which had just had its price dropped again. Judith and Mike went to look at the house, and immediately called me at work to tell me about it. Judith wanted us to move near her in Irvington, but she agreed that this deal was too good to pass up.

Our house needed--and continues to need!--lots of work. We don't share the previous owners' color preferences. We've been very slow and relaxed about home improvements. It has a third of an acre lot, so we have a large backyard that has turned out to be great for 3 boys. We are STILL lazy gardeners, but every year we manage to have a weedy vegetable patch with a reasonable amount of produce.

The best part about our house is that it's 1/2 mile from our beloved Multnomah Village, which has improved since 1990. Annie Bloom's and Marco's (great coffee, food, and service) are still there...but now we also have new haunts to explore. These are my favorite parts of the village (in addition to Annie's [FREE GIFT WRAP!] and Marco's, of course):

  • Topanien (interesting, artsy, ethnic finds--FREE GIFT WRAP!)
  • Birdie's (fantastic card and gift selection)
  • Katelyn's Closet (my favorite local kids' and womens' consignment shop)
  • The Lucky Lab Brew Pub (love the pear cider!!)
  • The Multnomah Arts Center (Chris takes drumming there, both older boys have taken art classes, and I once took a great mosaic class)
  • Baby Oh Baby! (brand new pricey, but great, baby boutique)
  • Thai Herbs (our family's favorite Thai restaurant)
  • Acupulco's Gold (family-friendly Mexican)
  • Village Beads (great bead store)
  • Thinker Toys (one of the best toy stores in town--FREE GIFT WRAP!)
  • Fibers in Motion (where I will shop heavily someday when I become a quilter and sewer!)
As you can tell, I love to shop in the village for gifts because of the FREE GIFT WRAP!

Here is an interesting village blog you might enjoy.

The other thing I love about living near the village is that it's virtually guaranteed that we will run into someone we know every time we visit. I love the small town feel of it all.

Here are some more photos of the village:

Multnomah Village Photo Gallery

Portland Neighborhoods Guide

Moving to Portland