Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had a great Christmas, spent with family today. Lost power for about 8 hours, but managed to spend most of that time at my sister's, who thankfully did have power. The temperature has been warming up just slightly, and as the snow gets heavier on the tree branches, we've been hearing the snap and crack of branches coming down everywhere. When we got home, hubby and I surveyed the damage around our yard, and it looks like we've lost five trees so far. I'm most saddened by the loss of the dogwood tree in our frontyard. It sure was a pretty tree.

The yard with dogwood blooming in the late spring...

The dogwood today...

And here's our mock orange tree...

And the crabapple...

Our magnolia tree, and our backyard apple tree also sustained damage.

Here's Hubby up on the roof shoveling snow yesterday...

Here I was, providing moral support and getting photo documentation (my mom took this shot)...

Here's our street, looking up the hill from the end of our driveway...

The backyard, looking towards the house...

A few other random shots...

Hope you all had Merry Christmas, and are safe and sound!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Did I mention snow?

We've received a heckuvalot of snow. My mom is supposed to be arriving today by train, but the train hasn't even been running. They're tentatively planning to restore service today, but even getting her to the train station down on her end is presenting major challenges, since cabs, buses, and everday mere mortals are not driving on the streets of Portland.

Mom, this is for you:

I didn't get my act together to make more cloth giftbags this year, but I am trying my hand at wrapping in cloth. I think it works pretty well. Probably not quite the same satisfaction as tearing into wrapping paper, but will be very gratifying to the types who carefully open gifts and then save the paper (lol - my mom falls into this second category).

Some snow pics...

Our backyard Christmas tree when we had our first dusting of snow about 1 1/2 weeks ago (it was about 2 inches of snow, which at the time seemed significant, but now seems like nothing more than a trace):

Here's a picture of the tree yesterday morning, about 16 inches more snow later:

This is the frontyard, back when we thought we really had snow (about 12 inches):

See my neighbor's sagging roof in this next picture? It probably comes as no surprise that six more inches of snow later, it completely collapsed, taking the deck below with it (the house itself is alright, and we took him homemade cookies and fudge to cheer him up):

I'm becoming more proficient at shoveling. We're expecting another six inches of snow in the next couple of days, but I'm not sure where I'm supposed to stack it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

snow, snow, snow (updated 11:10am)

It's a good thing I like snow. The weather forecasters have been teasing us with failed predictions of snow for days, and days, and days. Forecasts of a crippling snowstorm were so dire that the school districts canceled school merely in anticipation of the snow... snow that never came. Until last night, that is.

We got around 3-4 inches of snow last night around dinnertime, and another 4 or so inches fell overnight and into this morning. It's still falling. Yippee!

These first two pictures are from the dusting of snow that fell Saturday evening.

Big Sister sledding down the sled run we made last night, after we got the first dump of snow.

And a couple of photos of the frontyard that I took this morning when Hubby was getting ready to leave for work.

Big Sister was out playing in the snow this morning by about 8:30am. Little Brother and I are getting ready to go join her. Our sled run was completely buried, including the ramp, when she went out, and she's trying to get it sled-ready. I'm sure we'll have more pictures to post later!

UPDATE: more pictures, as promised... (and the snow is still falling)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday happenings

Yesterday I was fortunate to spend a delightful afternoon with my sister (who, if mom had had a blog would have been Little Sister), and my daughter (aka Big Sister). My sis came over with my nephew, J-man, who would be staying here at the house with his uncle and cousin for some guy time (which sounds like it involved playing a lot of Wii - I think hubby now wants one).

The ladies were headed out to see The Nutcracker ballet. My sis and I have fond memories of our grandma taking us to see The Nutcracker when we were little, and thought it would be a lot of fun to take Big Sister.

Here we are all dressed up and ready to go...
My girl was the perfect age to go see this ballet. The set was gorgeous, the dancers were fantastic, the venue was cozy, and we had great seats. She was riveted the whole time. I am so glad we went, and we'll definitely have to do it again in the future.

The forecast had been calling for snow to begin by Friday evening, but by nightfall on Saturday we were only just beginning to see the first few flakes drift down. We all ate dinner together, and then participated in another long-standing tradition: cookie decorating. Our grandma used to have my sister and I over to her house to decorate Christmas cookies, and we loved it. We would get pretty artistic about it too, until we started to get bored and began dumping sprinkles wherever. I think part of the fun of it for me was the pride I felt when I saw the cookies we had created, displayed with all the other edible creations on Christmas day. Modern day Mom that I am, I take advantage of a few shortcuts: store-bought sugar cookie dough and icing. The kids don't seem to mind...

Natalie wanted to do her own frosting, but the boys wanted theirs pre-frosted

We tried to set-up a shot of Little Brother giving Big Sister a sweet kiss on the cheek, but she wasn't having anything to do with it...

The snow was starting to pile up (relatively speaking, since we only got a couple of inches), and the temps were predicted to plummet below freezing and stay there for the next week or so. We'd planned for my sister and nephew to stay overnight with us, but it seemed safer to have them drive home while the streets were still clear. It was probably for the best, as the hill we live on is now a sheet of ice. They made it home, safe and sound.

Not sure what today will hold. Little Brother developed a barky, croupy cough in the middle of the night. He sounds awful, poor guy. Maybe he'll snuggle under the blankies with his Mommy in front of the fireplace today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday decorating is for the birds

Really, it is. At least for the birds in our backyard. Big Sister and I decided we wanted to decorate our little evergreen tree out in the backyard with some natural decorations for our fine feathered friends (or whoever else might decide to stop by). We made a couple of garlands of air-popped popcorn, dried cranberries, and dried cantaloupe (the kids won't eat it, and I didn't know what else to do with it) strung on thread. We also made some edible ornaments by spreading peanut butter on the aforementioned dried cantaloupe, and then dipping them in birdseed (I threaded a loop through on one end so they could hang in the tree).

Big Sister started out making garlands, but then decided that making ornaments would be more fun.

Then she decided that spreading peanut butter was too messy and boring, so she went back to threading popcorn. Trying to, anyway. (Doesn't she have the cutest freckles?)

And then she let me know I was taking my life into my own hands if I continued harassing her with all the picture taking. (Remind me to have her clean up whatever is stuck to the wall behind her. Ewww!!!)

This is what the ornaments looked like when they were done (except that they were in focus in real life, lol):

And here's Big Sister decorating the tree. Can you believe she's wearing a short-sleeve shirt in December? It's like we're back in CA or something. Hard to believe there's snow in the forecast for the next few days, with sub-freezing highs. I guess one last dose of vitamin D was in order.

Decorations nicely hung...

"Merry Christmas, little woodland creatures!"

Nevermind that in the hours that followed we didn't see a single furred or feathered friend anywhere near the tree. I'll be curious to see what things look like when the sun finally comes up....

Monday, December 8, 2008


We've been on a cleaning rampage this weekend. Keeping a tidy house is not high on my list of strengths. Anyway, I'd been working my rear off, and as dinnertime approached I wanted to reiterate to my dear children how important it was to me that they not promptly mess it all up. We have an eating nook with an L-shaped bench in our kitchen. The corner of the "L' had amassed quite a substantial pile of "stuff" - books, coats, construction paper, dried up playdough, pens, happy meal toys, etc. And now it was all put away. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

So I said to my daughter, who stood before me in the kitchen: "I just cleaned up all that C-R-A-P in the corner, and I don't want to do it again".

From the other room, the Peanut Gallery (ie. Little Brother) chimes in: "I know what C-R-A-P spells! TOYS!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008


When we bought our laptop last December, we also installed a wireless router so that we could have some mobility. If you haven't experienced the mobility of wi-fi and a laptop, you are so missing out. After a few months, our router developed an annoying problem where it couldn't clearly broadcast a signal (turns out there was too much "noise", whatever that means). The solution was that we would go downstairs to reset the router multiple times throughout the day. And that didn't include the times when we felt lazy and simply tried to refresh our connection from upstairs - over, and over, and over again. Extra annoying was that you wouldn't necessarily know that you'd lost a connection - in the middle of writing blog posts, paying bills, etc., it would quietly go belly up.

A couple weeks ago, hubby started suggesting that we buy a new router. Being the slightly stingy miser that I've been evolving into over the past 5 or so years, I was having trouble justifying buying a new router when the old one was merely temperamental. Extremely, irritatingly temperamental. Hubby finally won me over, and I'm so glad he did. The new router didn't cost much, and the results of having it up and running are like having a brandnew, super fast computer. It's so speedy, the way DSL should be. I feel a sense of calm knowing that when I get to the end of this post and click "publish", it will actually do just that, and it's been saving as I type along, too. Zippy has brought computer Zen to our home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fieldtrips are our specialty!

Below is an email reply to an inquiry I made a number of months ago. While I appreciated the woman's frank reply, the whole thing just struck me as funny. "We give school tours" ...if you dare.