Tuesday, December 29, 2009


After Christmas at home with all manner of family goodness we ventured over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. There, just over the mountaintop, was a festive snowy wonderland. On our way out grandma and grandpa came along to slide down a few hills before we headed back home. Daddy took the first trip down the hill on a sled with Naiya in his lap. Since she was the one who ended up with a face full of snow, this may not have been the best arrangement. Still, in the bitter cold, it was a beautiful day for us all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

gifts for the nephews

Again, I saw something like these somewhere and just made them using what I had. (If they look familiar and you know where the idea came from do let me know as I now can't recall to site the original artist.) I especially liked the hair which came from the tasseled ends of a red felted wool scarf.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

genuine train ride

We hope you all had a festive and joyous holiday season. Ours was full of activity now that our little one has a firm grasp on all that fills our world in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Naiya was so thrilled with all the lights this year that we tried to get them in at every opportunity. Sometimes this just meant walks around various neighborhoods but we also tried to jump aboard a few of the other holiday offerings in town. This included a trip on The Holiday Express. We were on the old Southern Pacific Steam Train #4449 and took just a short journey about twenty minutes up the river and back that included a visit from Santa. Naiya hadn't been on a real train before and mostly enjoyed the bit when her daddy took her to the in-between cars space so she could feel the wind racing through her hair. This ride is a local fundraiser for the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation. Its mission is to build a permanent home for the City of Portland's three historic steam locomotives.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the grotto's festival of lights

This year was the 22nd Annual Festival of Lights at The Grotto. For those who aren't familiar, The Grotto is a lovely 62 acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden located in NE Portland, Oregon. It's actual name is The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. It's more popular namesake comes from the cave which has been carved out of the 110-foot basalt cliff side which holds a stone alter and a replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà. It's open all year and the cliff-top gardens are accessible after a short elevator ride up to a spectacular view. The Festival of Lights features family entertainment including a display of over half a million lights, choral performances, puppet shows, carolers, a petting zoo and shepherd's play. Hot cocoa, coffee and treats are also available. Naiya's favorite was the puppet show. She was enraptured this year by the story of Princess Tiptoe.

our little angel

It has always been a tradition in my family that the youngest child places the star atop the tree. Well, that's how I remember it anyhow. Possibly I made this up because I am a youngest child.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

cuttin' down the tree

Bundled up against the bitter cold we went to select a tree from a tree farm near my folks' house in West Linn. Afterward we made some attempt to capture a photo of all three of us since this is an incredibly rare occurrence. The reason is obvious.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

my friends

Naiya’s been telling lots of stories lately. Often they begin like this, “My friends said...”, or “Once, my friends, they went to...” Most often these are not actual living breathing friends to which she is referring. Nor are they specific imaginary type friends. They're abstractions. Maybe a way to back herself up. I’m not sure. If ever I ask about these friends she is vague and changes the subject or ignores my inquiries.
Today we were in the kitchen once again. I was chopping up nuts for the granola. Naiya was curiously watching . Mostly quiet. Then she pipes up, “My friends...they say you can carpen a knife.” I look at her and smile. When she makes these grammatical errors I usually gently correct them within the flow of conversation without bringing too much attention to them. “They say we can SHarpen knives?” I ask her (with a slight emphasis on the SH). “No.” She replies. “My friends...my boy friends...they speak Spanish and they say you can Carpen a knife.”
“Okay then,” I say. We both smile at each other.

Monday, November 2, 2009


My folks live in a really wonderful neighborhood where a lot of people decorate for Hallowe'en and scores of young children safely roam the streets collecting their booty.
At twilight Oma dressed up as a witch and escorted our adorable chicken daughter out the door and off on a brand new kind of adventure.
At the first house, the neighbors were giving away full size candy bars.  Now this is Naiya's first trick-or-treating year at the very first house.  The standard is set.
At the second house, another very kind neighbor drops the typical "fun-size" candy into Naiya's basket.  Our chicken looks into her basket then looks up at the neighbor...
"This is a very small candy," she tells her.  (Her entire trick-or-treating history of course is based on the single last house and the giant candy.  How else is she to respond?)
"Would you like another one?" the surprised neighbor offers.
"Yes please," Naiya says.
And we're off...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

lantern walk

For the Lantern Walk we made our lantern at home out of a jar, tissue paper, autumn leaves and a bit of copper wire.  Along the candlelit path at the Rhododendron Garden the children encountered roaming singers and pipers as well several gracious givers of small gifts.

There one was a girl called Naiya who had who had been outside in the garden all through the Summer running after the butterflies, jumping like a grasshopper, singing like a bird, and trying to catch the sunlight. One day when she was lying on her back in the meadow gazing up into the sun-filled sky, she said, “Dear Brother Sun, soon the Autumn winds will blow and wail, and Jack Frost will come and make us all freeze, and the nights will be long and cold.”
Brother Sun pushed the clouds aside and said, “Yes, it will be dark and cold. In the deep midwinter, warmth and light live deep within, hidden from sight. In the time of dark and cold, you will tend the Light Within.”
“But,” said Naiya, “How will I tend this Light when it’s dark everywhere around me?” “I will give you a spark of my last Autumn rays once you have made a little house for it, for this spark must be guarded well. It will light the way for you to tend the Light Within throughout the time of dark and cold.”
And then Brother Sun once hid again behind a cloud. Naiya went home and wondered how best she could make a little house for the spark of the sun. She took some tissue paper and some beautiful Autumn leaves and with glue pressed them onto the outside of a glass jar. Then she bound the top with a handle and formed it into a lantern. She took a candle and put it into the middle of her lantern. And, as it was growing dark, she went outside with it.
Naiya held the lantern up above her and said, “Brother Sun, I have made a little home for one of your golden sparks. Please may I have one? I will guard it well.”
Then Brother Sun looked out from behind a cloud and said, “You have made a beautiful home. I shall give you one of my golden sparks.”
And suddenly, Naiya saw how the sides of her lantern were lit up, and as she looked into the lantern, she saw a spark happily dancing on top of the candle. Oh, how happy the light was in her lovely lantern! It shone and shone so brightly.
“Thank you, Brother Sun,” Naiya called out, “Thank you.” And she took her lantern and carried it carefully home singing:
The sunlight fast is dwindling,
My little lamp needs kindling.
Its beam shines far in darkest night,
Dear Lantern, guard me with your light.

(from Autumn: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children

Saturday, October 10, 2009

harvest festival

With the last of everyone's yummy summer crops coming to an end, today it was the Harvest Celebration at Naiya's school. We enjoyed a giant, delicious community potluck as well as some fun Autumn games (like gourd bowling and the corn ring toss) and also a bit of wax leaf dipping, wet felting and pumpkin carving. Actually, all those things were available to do but really we just ate, watched other children and played in the grass. Our little one was staying mostly in our arms. She was, however, pretty keen on the sweets table. Also, she did run from our grasp in support of the third grade bake sale :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

third birthday

This year we celebrated Naiya's birthday with family and friends at Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island.  We couldn't decide on a cake so, since she turned three we made three.  Ryan made three, I should say.  And they were a hit.  Most of our guests were gone by early afternoon but Naiya didn't want to leave so for many more hours she and Uncle Tim explored the farm, took another hay ride, sang and danced in the gazebo and even found a fuzzy caterpillar in the sunflower rows.

The day had begun overcast, drizzly and gray but by noon it was a perfect blue sky filled with cotton clouds.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

old people, new people

We went to the Cider Pressing Festival out at Philip Foster Farm in Eagle Creek this Saturday. They had pony rides, folks making butter, blacksmithing, wood carving, places for kids to try out hand clothes washing and log cabin building and, of course, apple trees and presses for making cider. We got the last apples from the trees and ended up with less than half a gallon of cider but it was delicious. Probably the best part of the day were the fiddlers playing on the stage. Naiya especially liked the young musicians. At one point there were some folks even dancing. I pointed to them from across the field through some trees we were sitting under at the time. “Naiya,” I said, “Can you see the old people dancing to the violin music?” She looked over for a bit and then turned to me and asked, “Are there any NEW people dancing?”

Saturday, September 19, 2009

fruit loop

Naiya, Ryan and I recently took the Hood River Fruit Loop to partake in the annual Pear Celebration. The drive is through some incredibly beautiful countryside. Naiya said, "We're always going to so many farms... " Ah, the better to know our food and farmer friends my dear. We stopped into Rasmussen and walked the corn maze within which we performed a fun search for the ever elusive Waldo (of story book fame). Naiya wanted to do it twice and seemed to really enjoy the Where's Waldo concept. (So we got her her first Waldo book for her birthday :) We also picked apples at Kiyokawa and played in their very cool castle (built of old wooden fruit bins).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Naiya likes to help out in the kitchen and today we were baking bread. I have this odd set of measuring spoons that includes three spoons with the following labels: smidgeon, pinch and dash. These are, to me, a little ridiculous. I thought they’d make a great addition to Naiya’s play kitchen though. As we were getting our ingredients and whatnot together, I disconnected them from the ring to which they’re all connected and put them on a smaller ring for small people kitchen play.
I talk a lot as we go about our tasks and play throughout the day and proceeded to describe the steps of the recipe I was then following. “Add one teaspoon of baking soda...”
“Which one is the teaspoon?” Naiya asked me (referring to the small spoons I had given her).
I picked one out and told her it was the teaspoon.
“Can I have some tea in it?” she asked.

Monday, September 14, 2009

go sign

We were driving together and playing a kind of “I Spy” game. One of us just says, “I spy...a man in a blue shirt”, or “I spy...a red truck” or whatever. Then the other, when the object is found, exclaims, “I see it!”
We take turns going back and forth.
So I said, “I spy a stop sign.” And Naiya of course says, “I see it.”
Then comes the pause where she is supposed to chose the next object of the game and say, “I spy...”
Instead, though, she interrupts our play to ask me, “Mommy, where’s the Go Sign?”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

in the blink of an eye - I

This will be photo one in an ongoing series.  Pictures I like of nothing and no one in particular.  For the color or the light or something... something else...


We returned from our short weekend camping trip over on the other side of the range on Sunday evening. It went remarkably well with Naiya sleeping in her pack-and-play inside our huge tent (which also housed our blow up full size mattress loaded down with comforters and quilts for Ryan and I). We kept her up late one night so she could see the sky full of stars even though, completely out of character, she was almost begging to go to sleep. We spent Saturday at Scout Lake and on Sunday took a brief walk along the Metolius before stopping in to say our farewells to grandma and grandpa and then headed home.
Naiya's favorite parts were the two girls we met for five minutes while walking around our camp ground and that she was allowed to have marshmallows for breakfast. I'm not sure what my favorite part was, but there's something so nostalgic about that variety mini eight pack of cereals we took along that it's probably in the running.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It’s a tad chilly in the house today but Naiya won’t keep on her clothes. When I asked her to please put on her shirt she replied, “Mommy, I just need to cool down with the coolness so I’m fresh and cool.”
She remains shirtless.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

play date pretzel

We've been hosting play dates at our house off and on over the years with friends from the neighborhood and from the Waldorf school.  Mostly the children just play while the grown-ups have a chance to catch up and find out that all the difficulties we're having as parents are shared by nearly everyone else.  That is the most cherished revelation of mine each time we gather...that in every trial of parenthood it seems I am never alone.  At least one other person struggles with me.
Sometimes we have activities or crafts for the wee ones while we sit aside and sip our tea.  Recently we made these delicious pretzels which the children got to form themselves.  They're a great cookie-cutter-using alternative to actual sugary cookies.

(Because I am usually frantically cleaning the house until the first of our guests knocks on the front door, I prep these pretzels in the bread machine.  You can alter for conventional kneading and rising if preferred.)

Play Date Pretzels
1 cup water
3 cups flour
2 Tblsp. oil
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 Tblsp. oregano (or herb of your choice)
2 tsp. yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine on manual.  When dough is ready turn it out onto a floured breadboard and knead flat.  Separate into balls for children to either roll and stretch into the traditional pretzel shape or to roll out for cutting.  (Scraps can be re-kneaded and used again but the less handling of the dough the better.)
Set onto floured board, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (20 or 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a large stainless steel or enamel (not aluminum) pot, combine:
8-10 cups water
2-3 Tblsp. baking soda

Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
Preheat oven to 425.
Gently lift formed pretzels into the simmering water.  After 20 seconds, gently turn.  After 20 more seconds, remove from the water with a slotted spoon or spatula.  Allow to drain then place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  (They will really, really stick to an unlined pan.)  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes.  They'll look darker than you might think.

Give them to the children to eat with mustard or honey right away.  They won't keep well.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Carrots need to be thinned after they sprout.  That is the lesson here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

important questions

After we read our stories in bed we were laying together in the dark and Naiya asked, “Mommy, why do little girls grow up?”
I had one of those long pauses that I often have wondering if I should give her an honest answer. It didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t have any answer at all really. So I did what I often in these situations. I asked her “Why do you think little girls grow up?”
She quietly sat with an equally long pause.
Finally she said, “So they can reach stuff.”

something better

Mommy: Naiya, what would you like for breakfast?
(no response)
Would you like O’s or oatmeal or granola?

Naiya: I want something better than all those things.

Mommy: Like what do you want that’s better than all those things?
(no response. empty stare. mommy kisses Naiya because she’s so cute)

Naiya: Not like a kiss mommy!

Monday, July 20, 2009

look and lick

Naiya stayed the night with my mum and dad last night. When we went to pick her up she was completely uninterested in us. Disregarding her wish to continue playing, however, I scooped her up in my arms. My beautiful child just wriggled in an attempt to return to her game.
“Hey you, look at me,” I plead with her in my most loving voice. “Look me in the eye.”
This request caught her attention. She immediately turned and LICKED me in the eye.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

fallin' from the sky

When I sees them babies fallin’ from the sky, I likes to catch me the real cute one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the first egg

Some very exciting news here at the homestead. Our first egg! Our girls are nearly their full size at four and a half months, and yesterday we were thrilled to find a tiny little gift in their house. By the color, I had thought it was surely from Caliope (our Rhode Island Red) but it turns out it could just as likely have been from Juniper (the Barred Plymouth Rock). Jak, the monster sized Light Brahma, will likely lay white eggs and we think they will be much larger. While the chickens have pretty much destroyed the flower gardens and are working to find a way into the caged herbs, they have left the fenced off veggies pretty much alone. The six raised beds are in full production mode with potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces, chard, onions, leeks, peas, broccoli, rhubarb, garlic, beets and spinach. The blueberries and strawberries will likely need another year to bear some tasty fruit but we are thoroughly enjoying the bounty of all we are getting now. It is an odd thrill to make dinner from our own back yard. (The slugs in our salad, though, I could do without.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

summer garden

For the photograph I took down the fence that keeps the chickens out of the garden. We're in full swing now...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

here, wipe my butt...

Naiya uses the potty pretty much on her own now. The other day she went upstairs and a few minutes later called out to me. At the foot of the stairwell I looked up to see her standing at the top with her pants and panties around her ankles and a wipe in her hand. “Mommy,” she called down, “I went poop.... I brought you a wipe.”

Friday, June 5, 2009

the oregon garden


The Oregon Garden in Silverton welcomes visitors with more than 20 specialty gardens and features. There you'll discover waterfalls, quiet ponds, fountains, a unique display of conifers, the 400 year old signature Oak, a Northwest Garden, a pet garden, beautiful vistas and art. The Children's Garden is complete with an in-ground Hobbit house, a tree fort, furniture filled with colorful annuals, perennials and other kid-friendly plants.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I remember learning that crows gathered together are called a murder. A murder of crows. Like a colony of ants or a herd of elephants. It turns out that barracudas come in a battery while cheetahs come in coalitions. Cockroaches are an intrusion, an assembly of finches are a charm and a collection of kittens are a kindle. A group of spiders though, it turns out, is just a group of spiders.
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