Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Makes me laugh!!

A friend shared this clever video on Facebook...although in our family, "Daddy Rhapsody" would be more appropriate--especially the parts about poopy pants.

I know this will end one day--but for now we continue to deal with the challenges of conquering Part 2 of potty training (Part 3 being night training--yet to come). I know Mike will be grateful when this stage is finally complete!

Mommy Rhapsody from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Navy rats, Idaho visitors, and the Lion King

Last week Kieran went to bible school at a local Lutheran church. His age group was called the "Navy Rats" (it was a high seas theme). Here he is on the last day, when I went to retrieve him.

Our friends from Idaho came for a visit from Thursday through Sunday, and we had a wonderful time hanging out with them. The kids play together so well, leaving lots of time for the adults to catch up and drink wine! Unfortunately the fifth member of the family, Ken, had to stay home and work and couldn't join in the fun...especially because Shelia was here on their 15th wedding anniversary. But he did send Shelia some sweet e-mails, making me think that Mike and I need to do more of that!
One of the activities the kids enjoyed was playing "Truth or Dare," a new app Chris downloaded on his iPod Touch. This was the "under 18" version, and most of them were fairly tame. The kids kept choosing the dares, while the adults chose the truths! This was after Chris was dared to have the person on his right (one of the girls) choose a condiment out of the fridge and have him eat a spoonful. She was really nice and chose apricot preserves--it could have been so much worse! (The next day Kieran got the same dare and someone had him eat salad dressing, after which he was in tears!!)
Here is Myla giving Ari a piggy back ride around the room (one of the dares):

And Kieran giving Beck a bear hug:

Now Myla is giving Ari a mustache out of mustard!

At first Ari couldn't stop laughing, but then she decided she didn't like it very much! (Can't say I blame her...)

Now, that's better!

Here's Shelia pondering how she can creatively answer the question "can you cook?" truthfully... 

On Friday I took much of the day off, and we went to some yard sales with the girls and then into Multnomah Village. On Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market, my favorite local resale shop, and Trader Joe's (no Trader Joe's in Idaho!).

For one of my dares, I had to close my eyes until my next turn, and for one of Myla's, she had to hold hands with me until her next turn. For one of Mike's dares, he had to say "there you go again" every time someone said the word "like" for the next 3 hours...but he didn't last that long!

I have to say, it was actually a fun, interactive game for everyone to play...

Ari got her hair all messed up for one of her dares--she enjoyed that one! (Just don't get that mustard anywhere near me!)

Enjoying the warmer weather (finally!) on Saturday night--eating al fresco...

With two of my boys...

Shelia and kids left Sunday morning and in the afternoon, I took Kieran to see "The Lion King" downtown--the long-awaited birthday present from April. Posing before at Keller Fountain:

Our friends Kristin, Roger, Aimee, and Jonah also attended that afternoon, so it was fun to see them during intermission and briefly afterward. Here we are after the show, Kieran in his new t-shirt:

All in all, a very fun weekend! I think summer is (almost) here. (It was chilly again today!)

I know once we arrive in hot, humid Orlando, we'll be longing for the Oregon weather once again

Monday, June 28, 2010

Series Recommendation: The Boys Against the Girls

Tonight we just finished Book #11 of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's series, "The Boys Against the Girls." Only one book to go. Kieran will be sad when they are finished.

The books are based in a small town in West Virginia and center around a family of four boys and a family of three girls. The girls move to their town and rent the house of their friends (another family of boys). The boys decide that if they make the girls miserable enough, they'll leave town and move back to Ohio...and this will make their friends return. Thus starts a battle between the boys and the girls. In each book, one group has an edge over the others. It seems to me that the girls are slightly more clever than the boys, but the boys hold their own.

We read all the books with Chris, so this is our second time through them. Although supposedly set in recent times, the books hearken back to an older time, when children ran free and we didn't have to worry about predators or other dangers. They are not overscheduled or constantly playing sports or participating in clubs. There's no mention of Facebook, texting, or cell phones. It's just good, old-fashioned kid adventures.

Both Mike and I have enjoyed reading these books. They're entertaining and cleverly done. I guess Kieran won't be the only one who will be sad when we're done!

Perhaps in a few years we will read them again to Nicholas. :)

A woman at the helm of Portland icon, Powell's Books

I just read that Emily Powell, daughter of current Powell's president, Michael Powell, will be taking over in July.

As any visitor to Portland knows, everyone in our family loves Powell's. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone living in the Portland metro area who doesn't love Powell's. I'm glad it's continuing to thrive in this difficult economy, especially for independent bookstores.

The world needs more women at the helm of multimillion $ businesses, so go, Emily!!

Father's Day celebration

Last weekend after we returned from San Francisco, we kicked into Father's Day festivities. Here are Kieran and Nick with some of the token souvenirs we brought back for them. Nick got a cable car, and Kieran got some lovely teeth:

We headed up to Lewis & Clark State Park in Washington, where we often meet my sister and her family for the afternoon. Unfortunately, the weather was absolutely miserable! We headed to one of the covered areas...there was a couple there reserving some space, but they said we could share it with them. In a classic example of small world, they were from Puyallup and live close to where my sister and her husband live. They were meeting family who were driving up from Vancouver. Furthermore, they were Lutheran! They actually sang "Be Present at Our Table Lord" before digging in to their picnic. Too funny!
They were also very patient about putting up with our high level of boy energy. The rain didn't stop the boys from riding their bikes through the mud puddles and getting absolutely sopping wet. In spite of the weather, we had a nice afternoon!
Here is big cousin Chris showing Garrett a brain puzzle game on his DS:

Grandpa with the redheaded grandsons:

With my wonderful sister (yes, it was June in the Northwest!!):

After learning how to ride earlier this spring, Kieran had a crisis of confidence and hasn't rode for months. Last Sunday he finally got back on and had success!

Dad opening his presents from Nadine & David (with Ryan)--we are all huddled around the fire, which the other family so nicely built!:

With Mike, Chris, and Mom:

Kieran on the scooter:

Bike-riding Ryan:

Twin riders:

Nick in action:

Later the boys decided to put on a "play":

Notice the muddy, wet pants and shoes? Here's Kieran at the end of the afternoon:
He is definitely my "dirty" boy!! No matter what, he always manages to get dirty or tear holes in his pants. He lives life to the fullest!!
I think the fathers enjoyed the day, but it would sure be nice if next year we got some sun!

Book Review: The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After hearing the author being interviewed on NPR, I immediately put this book on hold at the library. This young man took an intriguing concept and turned it into a well-written, interesting book.

 The author grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, with his mom and two sisters. His dad died when he was young, and his mom struggled to keep him on the straight and narrow given all the urban pressures of growing up black in the city. She scrimps and saves to get him into private school, but he chafes as he tries to fit in with his neighborhood friends as well as his white bread schoolmates. Finally, after he is at risk of failing school, she sends him to military school after she and her parents make major financial sacrifices. Ultimately, he becomes an accomplished young man as a successful Army officer and Fulbright scholar, intern under Condoleeza Rice, and speaker at the Democratic National Convention on the night Barack Obama accepted his nomination as presidential candidate.

 When Moore was getting ready to go live in South Africa for a semester in college, he learned about another Wes Moore. Moore #2 also grew up black in Baltimore, but his life had a very different outcome. Also growing up with a single mom, Moore #2 landed in prison for armed robbery and murder. His major male influence was his older brother, who tried to steer him away from drug dealing, but all Moore saw was the allure and attraction of easy money and cache his brother received on the street.

 A father in his mid-teens and a grandfather by the time he reached his mid-30s, Moore #2 found drug dealing to be an easy life. He earned his GED and job training in the Job Corps program and nearly seemed to be on his way to earning an honest living, but he found it too difficult to make a living wage and soon returned to drug dealing.

 When Wes Moore started writing this book, his intention was to explore how the two lives could have diverged so far from each other: was it nature or nurture? How could two young men in a similar city, with the same names, end up with such completely different outcomes? In the end, he concludes that it was his mentors--he had more people supporting him and showing him how to be successful. That does seem to be the case. Both of them had loving mothers, but perhaps the author's mother was more engaged and attentive or had more resources to support her (it takes a village, etc.). But beyond their mothers, the author seemed to have more opportunities and a wider community of support.

 One reviewer has posited that it's a class difference. The author's parents had both attended college, while Wes Moore #2's mother had to give up her college dreams because her grant was cut. They also seemed to have slightly more money--not much, but perhaps just enough. Although the author had great intentions, he didn't really delve deeply into what made up the differences between the two lives. I wanted to know more about how Wes Moore #2 went from returning to being a drug pusher to getting involved in armed robbery of a jewelry store. I also wanted more about the friendship between the two men. Each chapter started out by talking about their visits in prison, but they just skimmed the surface.

 So ultimately, this was a good book but it could have been even better. Perhaps it's a reflection of the author's youth and he hasn't lived long enough to understand how he ultimately became a successful young man. It is certainly a telling tale of the challenges young African-American face growing up in the city...and how our society fails these young men. They are swimming upstream, and some of them make it, while others waste away.

 View all my reviews >>

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My heart in San Francisco--final chapter

We began our third day in San Francisco by taking a tour of Alcatraz (after having scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast in the garden). I had toured Alcatraz once when I was in college and remembered enjoying the tour. Part of the fun is the boat ride across the bay:

Approaching the dock:

A typical, tiny jail cell:

The cell blocks--rows and rows of tiny cubicles, with just a bit of sunlight from above:

Alcatraz admission comes with a self-guided audio tour of the cell blocks, narrated by former inmates and guards. Fascinating history.

Mike with his "The Shining" Jack Nicholson impression:

More rows of cell blocks:

Apparently the worst part about staying at Alcatraz was when the prisoners got to go outside and saw this incredible view--they truly knew what they were missing:

There's that elusive Golden Gate Bridge again:

Apparently Native Americans occupied Alcatraz in the 1960s as a form of protest.

Mike was interested to learn that Alcatraz Prison closed for good on the day he was born. On the boat ride back to the city:

Leaving "the Rock":

And approaching the city:

Next we took a walking tour through the pretty and quiet Marina District (one of the most hard-hit areas in the last earthquake, because much of it was built on a landfill) and then took a roundabout bus/train journey to Golden Gate Park, and then wandered around until we found the Conservatory of Flowers. Unfortunately it was nearly 4:00 by then, closing time! Instead we returned to the small Japanese garden (which we've been to before):

I told Mike that this was the first Buddha statue I'd ever seen--when I was a kid and we toured the Japanese Garden. The first of many to come, I should add, after living in Japan and touring throughout Asia.

We returned to our inn again for the wine and cheese reception, where we heard some entertaining stories from one of the innkeepers, David, who used to be the chef for the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.

Then we had dinner at a trendy restaurant a few blocks from the inn, Betelnut, where we had sake, a lovely beet salad (and I'm not a big beet fan), and two different curries--one from Malaysia and one from Sri Lanka. Then we retired to the inn to read in our room--and Mike promptly fell asleep by 9:30 p.m. That's what happens when you're fortysomething! I stayed up until 11:00, immersed in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Enjoying our last breakfast in the garden--french toast. The breakfast chef, Jane (and other innkeeper) had bought gluten-free bread for Mike!

My anniversary present was a mani/pedi at the nail salon near the inn. I don't do that kind of thing very often, and of course as soon as I left the salon and went back to the inn to gather up our things, I'd ruined my fingernails and had to return for a touch-up! Mike had a neck and foot massage while I was getting my nails attended to.

Leaving the inn--sigh--in the parlor:

And in the garden:
We wandered around the neighborhood before setting off for the airport via bus and BART. It's quite easy to take mass transit to the airport, but what we didn't realize was that the airport BART only runs hourly on the weekends. Our flight was slightly delayed, fortunately; otherwise it could have been very, very close getting to the airport on time!!

The boys were glad to see us, but they had a great time with their grandparents. We are very, very lucky to have them living in the same town and willing to watch the kids for us. Thanks, Mom and Dad!!! Best anniversary present ever!