RSS Feed

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Halloween 2015

Posted on

October 31st, 2015  was a dark and stormy night- the rainiest Halloween in memory.  Nutmeg, dressed as a cuddly werewolf, was completely undeterred by the weather in her pursuit of candy.  We marched all over the neighborhood with our friend Alani (adorably dressed as a minion) and both girls came home soaked to the bone.  The little werewolf more closely resembled a drowned rat.  Meanwhile, Julian, who had spent a lot of time making cardboard accessories for his terrifying grim reaper costume, waited out the storm and greeted trick or treaters with David.  When the rain finally stopped, we traded places.  Nutmeg and Alani handed out candy and Julian went out to scare the neighborhood.  We still have bags of candy on the top shelf of the pantry, but luckily they haven’t asked about it in a really long time.

IMG_4651IMG_4664 IMG_4645 IMG_4643 IMG_4637 IMG_4630

Just as much fun as trick or treating was carving pumpkins with our rock star neighbors the week before. This the second year in a row for that particular tradition and hopefully it will still be going strong for years to come.

IMG_4622

IMG_4619 IMG_4613 IMG_4600 IMG_4597 IMG_4595 IMG_4593

Eeking out the last bit of summer fun!

There’s only a few more days until school starts again, and we are enjoying them to the fullest!  Last weekend we were supposed to go camping with Julian’s best friend Lucia and her family, but had to cancel due to rain.  Instead, we spent a wonderful day together exploring a new part of town, playing in fountains, riding the aerial tram for our first time ever and eating lunch at the farmer’s market.  Julian and Lucia have been friends since they were 15 months old and will be in the same classroom next year for first grade.  They like each other A LOT and are pretty cute together.

fountain play j and l 2 j and l 3 j and l waiting for streetcar

Julian has spent 1-2 hours each day (for about 3 weeks) teaching himself how to play Fur Elise, his favorite piece of music!  His piano teacher didn’t think he was ready to learn it, so Julian took matters into his own fingers and taught himself.  We really admire his motivation but I think the whole neighborhood would love a break from Fur Elise!  He plays it an average of 8 times per day.

fur elise

We have had a lot of really fun play dates recently.  Nutmeg finally got to have a play date with her friend Pepper, who lives a few doors down but has a very busy schedule.

berry lips

Julian was supposed to let the girls have their play date to themselves, but couldn’t help himself- he HAD to be the star of the show!  He did a magic show for them and put on a piano concert.

magic show piano concert

The very next day, we went on a hike and had a play date with Julian’s friend Zephir.  The boys included Nutmeg a little bit, but mostly she got left out. She wasn’t able to muscle her way into the play date as Julian had done the day before, and he didn’t seem to remember what it had felt like to be the third wheel.  It’s really hard to be the youngest, and sibling conflict has been rampant this summer!

hikers hiking break

Here’s Nutmeg, desperately trying to run with the boys:

hiking friends

Here are the boys, doing boy stuff without her:

boys and weapons 2 boys and weapons

Even though Julian and Nutmeg have fought more together this summer than any other, they have played more together as well.  Here’s a special house they built for a Nutmeg’s fairies (you can guess who the primary architect was):

fairy house

Today we finally completed the last 6 miles of our 100 mile summer hiking challenge!!  Afterwards we celebrated with ice cream.  Nutmeg chose a safety whistle for her grand prize and Julian is getting hiking poles.  The 100 miles was a fun goal and gave both kids such a sense of accomplishment when they reached it.

100 mile challenge    100 mile pics 100 mile  whistle100 mile ice cream cone100 mile ice cream100 mile ice

Chess lessons

Posted on

When we were on vacation, Julian tried to teach Nutmeg how to play chess with him.  She was a very wiggly and uncooperative partner, as you shall see.

 

 

Summer Fun

Posted on

There’s only 3 weeks left of summer!  Here are some random images of other ways we’ve kept busy and happy this season when we weren’t on vacation or celebrating birthdays:

Julian spent a week at Tracker’s stealth and archery camp!  Here he is wearing the closest thing he could get to camouflage.  He was loathe to leave his button down shirts in the closet all week but LOVED the camp and wants to do it again next year!

IMG_20150629_155936

IMG_20150701_160135

We set up our first ever lemonade stands with some neighborhood kids on one of the 100 degree June days.  Our best customer was a thirsty mail deliverer who had been driving around in the heat all afternoon.  He downed four cups and left a big tip.

IMG_20150629_170008

There are free art crafts in the various parks we frequent around town.  We have accumulated rooms full of art projects, such as these finely rendered and useful masks.

IMG_20150721_134729 IMG_20150721_135417

They also sometimes have visiting rock walls at the park, which Julian loves!

IMG_20150728_125230 IMG_20150728_125236 IMG_20150728_125656

He’s gotten interested in bouldering this summer and we’ve taken him to a couple of different rock gyms to practice:

IMG_20150808_153113

The Portland library system is always a great source of free entertainment.  In addition to their wonderful summer reading program, they host lots of interesting guest speakers and workshops.  Here’s one we attended and learned all about reptiles. The kids got to touch beautiful and fascinating snakes and even wear a few of them as necklaces.

IMG_20150723_141220

IMG_20150723_141644

IMG_20150723_142645

IMG_20150723_142708

In addition to daily swimming classes and weekly Chinese lessons, Nutmeg has also been taking ballet.  Isn’t she a graceful little nymph?

IMG_20150728_130850 IMG_20150728_134855

Nutmeg had a really special weekend with her dad when they went to LA for Uncle Ed and Uncle George’s wedding.  She had such a good time with her Wang relatives!

20150807_110352

Julian’s Harry Potter Birthday

Posted on

IMG_20150801_081458 IMG_20150801_081510

We have a 7 year old!!!!  7 has always been my favorite age and I have waited for this year for a long time.  Julian felt like he waited for his BIRTHDAY for a long time too!  He was so excited about it this year, and the wait got almost unbearable towards the end.  He really wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday and had so many ideas and plans for how to make it perfect.

August birthday parties are tricky in Portland, since we have no air conditioning and it does get hot.  I always try to talk Julian into a swimming party, or a roller skating party, but he would not budge from his theme.   In order to beat the heat, we invited all the guests to the ‘forbidden forest’, a nice park near our house with big shady trees.

We spent the week before the party doing lots of Harry Potter crafting to get ready.  Julian and Nutmeg helped make wands, house badges, ties, goody bags and games.  One of our favorite things to make was the bludger piñata:

IMG_4533

Julian also spent long hours practicing a magic show to perform for his friends at the party.

IMG_4536

One of David’s friends had a Harry Potter costume in Julian’s size that she let us borrow for the day.  It’s impossible to express just how THRILLED he was about that.  He put on the Gryffindor robes and the glasses and he really felt that he WAS Harry.

IMG_20150730_182756

unnamed

Here are some of his friends with their badges, wands and ties, listening to the rules for the first challenge:

IMG_4541 IMG_4542

And here they are again, playing an exciting game of “Find Hedwig”:

IMG_4544 IMG_4546

The broomstick races were a hit.  Track star Zephir was paired with Nutmeg in Hufflepuff for the relay, and so we had to do some individual races to let his speed go unchecked.

IMG_4550

FullSizeRender

Severus Snape couldn’t make it to the party but he sent over some powdered unicorn horn and dragon tears so the kids could mix up a magical green foaming potion.

IMG_4553 IMG_4554

The magic show was performed with great flair and a liberal interspersing of real Hogwarts spells such as ‘Accio!’ and ‘Evanesco!’ and Julian was able to make knuts and galleons appear and disappear almost at will.

IMG_4557 IMG_4559

We had some tasty snacks: water that magically changed color when it was poured, hard boiled dragon eggs (which Julian and Nutmeg had dyed and decorated to great effect), pumpkin pasties, Aragog’s spider eggs, Professor Sprout’s herbology tray, Snape’s toadstool stuffed mushrooms and an English trifle instead of a birthday cake.

IMG_4561

And finally, there was the beating of the bludger!  Zephir got the first crack since he had found the golden snitch and singlehandedly won the house cup for Hufflepuff.  The piñata hung on until everyone had had a turn to beat it, and then burst open most anticlimactically to reveal a mass of melted chocolates that had been baking inside it all week when we’d left it outside in 98 degree weather.  Everyone had to eat the Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans from their goody bags instead.

IMG_4562

Julian was really sad to return the borrow Harry Potter costume, but look what he gets to KEEP forever: a real Gryffindor bowtie that one of his friends gave him as a gift (he also got a t-shirt that says 9 3/4 on it).

IMG_20150806_165446 IMG_20150806_165455

There’s 11 1/2 months to go until his next birthday, but he has already decided that it’s going to have a medieval theme.  And he’s already decided what’s he’s going to wear:

IMG_20150808_105618

Heaven help me!  We’ll have to fly Aunt Emi out to plan and orchestrate that one.  I still have hope I can talk him into the pool party instead!

 

 

Summer vacation in California

Posted on

We had a strangely warm winter in Oregon this year and by June we were having a record breaking heatwave with temperatures near 100 for 3 straight weeks.  So we flew to San Diego where it was about 20 degrees cooler and had a wonderful visit with Nai Nai for a few days.  As luck would have it, she had three wonderful relatives visiting from Taiwan, and the youngest of them was Julian’s age.  They had a lot of fun playing together and we all enjoyed swimming in Nai Nai’s pool.

IMG_4001

Then we headed to LA to visit Charles, Helen, George and Ed.  We took the kids to La Brea tar pits, which I remember loving when I was a kid.

IMG_4014 IMG_4018

Another favorite from my own childhood was Santa Barbara, with it’s amazing Natural History museum which my great grandfather once directed.  Here are Julian and Nutmeg at the interactive rattlesnake exhibit which he helped to create.

IMG_4022

The tour continued to lovely San Luis Obispo with it’s beautiful Spanish mission, river walk and hiking trails in the hills overlooking the town.  Apparently Nutmeg has no respect for history, or else why would she be standing in an ancient Spanish pot?

IMG_4030 IMG_4032

From there it was a long drive through drought stricken Californian farm lands to Sequoia National Park, a wonderland oasis of towering trees, wildflower filled meadows and wildlife.  We got to see the General Grant and the General Sherman, the two largest trees on our planet, and lots of exciting animals including 11 bears, 17 deer, and many chirping golden bellied marmots.

IMG_4038

Julian took this next picture.  Can you spot Nutmeg peeking out of the ergo on my back?

IMG_4040

Most of the giant sequoias have burned out caves and tunnels inside them from long past forest fires.  These hollows are so big that people have actually made cabins inside them (before they were protected), and they make perfect dens for hibernating bears.

IMG_4052

The General Sherman tree: as tall as the Statue of Liberty or 22 African elephants standing on each other’s back, and wide enough to block four lanes of LA traffic.

IMG_4057 IMG_4059 IMG_4062

Here’s the first bear we saw (that little brown guy up behind Julian’s hat).  We got much closer views of them in later hikes.

IMG_4068  IMG_4077 IMG_4078 IMG_4080 IMG_4082 IMG_4085 IMG_4090 IMG_4098 IMG_4100

Sequoias are awesome even when they’re dead.  The roots of a fallen sequoia make a great climbing structure!

IMG_4106

And a toppled sequoia makes a great slide!

IMG_4073

Or even a tunnel!

IMG_4113 IMG_4127

Here’s Julian hiking to a waterfall.  He hiked 40 miles of trail on this trip!

IMG_4128 IMG_4130 IMG_4148

The waterfall was a lot leaner than it would have been in non-drought years, but it was still flowing.

IMG_4150

Here’s a little bear cub sneaking up on me from behind:

IMG_4156

And here’s another bear looking for grubs in the meadow:

IMG_4157

Mama bear teaching baby bear how to forage for lunch:

IMG_4160

Sleepy bear taking a nap in the middle of the trail:

IMG_4212

IMG_4216

IMG_4166 IMG_4170 IMG_4172 IMG_4173 IMG_4191 IMG_4196 IMG_4204 IMG_4208   IMG_4219

From Sequoia we drove to Kings Canyon National Park, which looks a lot like it’s more famous cousin Yosemite, but without the throngs of visitors.  It is a peaceful and beautiful spot, and it was on the very rock pictured below that John Muir himself would lecture visiting luminaries about the importance of saving these special places for future generations.

IMG_4229 IMG_4232

From the top of Muir Rock it is an 8 foot drop into the icy Kings River below.  Julian took the plunge twice and was very proud of himself for doing so.

IMG_4241

After quiet Kings Canyon, the crowds in Yosemite were a bit of a shock to the system, but the granite geography was dazzling.

IMG_4284

David splurged and booked us two nights at the Ahwahnee Hotel.  Here are some dark photos of the wood paneled, tapestried interior.

IMG_4292

We thought that the chandeliers looked a lot like the floating candles of Hogwarts.

IMG_4295 IMG_4296

We did some beautiful hikes, including the iconic mist trail to Vernal Falls.  Julian was a trooper that day, climbing flights and flights of granite stairs.  We were really impressed with how strong his legs had gotten, and how much his hiking attitude had improved.

IMG_4301 IMG_4309 IMG_4329 IMG_4333 IMG_4340

The icing of the cake of our trip was the Peace Corps Thailand reunion at the Evergreen lodge outside of Yosemite. Out of 40 volunteers in our group, 11 made it out, including one of my dearest friends, Milena, who flew in all the way from New Zealand.

peace corps reunion

The ex- Peace Corps volunteers are an outdoorsy bunch and we went on some great excursions.  We were lucky to have a botanist in our group, who knew about every plant we passed.  Another is now a bird biologist and he identified the bird songs we heard and kept a log of all the birds he saw.

IMG_4369

Milena hasn’t had a peanut butter sandwich in a long time so we made sure she got a couple of them!

IMG_4379

One of the nicest things about the reunion was how well the second generation got along together.  I think Nutmeg and Julian were thrilled to have some kids to play with again after being with David and me for two weeks.

IMG_4381 IMG_4386 IMG_4398 IMG_4400 IMG_4405 IMG_4416

Here’s Myka opening up an 18 year old bottle of Thai whiskey:

myka

And here are the kids about to get wired up on sugar:

IMG_4439 IMG_4441 IMG_4449

Milena planned a really fun scavenger hunt for the kids, and gave them gifts from New Zealand as prizes:

IMG_4453 IMG_4459 IMG_4461

new zealand shwag

On Sunday we hiked to Carlton Falls near Hetch Hetchy.  The trail passed through the site of a recent forest fire, and the kids wasted no time in completely blackening themselves with charcoal.

IMG_4466 IMG_4468 IMG_4471

IMG_4501

Not even a swim in the waterfall could get them clean. It took vigorous scrubbing and many applications of soap until we could see their natural skin color once more.

IMG_4477 IMG_4479 IMG_4486 IMG_4489 IMG_4492 IMG_4498

Sadly, lots of other hikers don’t pack out their trash!  Milena found this foul smelling bag of it in a hollow tree and generously carried it all the way out.

IMG_4500

On our last night, John Neil made Nutmeg this origami napkin hat:

IMG_4511

Nutmeg had a lot of fun eating dinner with her new boyfriend, Silas.

nutmeg and silas 2

Then all the kids got ice cream and Nutmeg got the most gigantic popsicle in all the world.

IMG_4520 IMG_4523

Silas was coveting the giant popsicle, so Nutmeg gave it to him after she realized she’d never be able to eat the whole thing.

nutmeg and silas 3

That was a vacation we did NOT want to come home from!!  Exactly 2 hours after we got back, David started planning our next vacation, even though he had told me ahead of time that it was my turn to do so.  We already have tickets to Nicaraqua booked for Christmas, and an exciting itinerary mapped out.  Stay tuned for photos!

Grandma, Aunt Felicity, Ruby and Henry came to Portland!

Posted on

Right after school let out in June, our summer started with a bang when four of our favorite people from the East Coast came to visit!!  We packed so much fun into the two weeks they were here that it almost seemed like summer vacation should be over when they left.

Here are a few snapshots of the two weeks.  On the first weekend they were here we put on our most colorful clothes,  rode the MAX train downtown and cheered for the pride parade.  It was the kids’ first pride parade and came just a few days before the Supreme Court declared same sex marriage legal in all states.

IMG_0013

IMG_0019IMG_0017

IMG_0022

Aunt Felicity is an avid walker and she inspired us to take some great walks in our neighborhood to nearby parks where the kids had a great time running around and climbing trees.

2015-06-16 07.59.22 2015-06-16 08.17.12 2015-06-16 08.19.34 2015-06-16 09.17.44 2015-06-16 09.20.56

We also did a lot of trail hikes, where we saw waterfalls and banana slugs, and racked up points towards an ice cream cone.  The big kids each reached their goal of walking 20 miles, and Nutmeg cheerfully rode in the ergo for a lot of that.

IMG_0063 IMG_0066

IMG_0085

2015-06-17 09.36.12

IMG_2483

IMG_3899

IMG_3902

We celebrated my dear friend Rut’s 40th birthday at a pool party.  Julian has turned into such an enthusiastic swimmer this summer.  He stayed in the pool from start to finish and never wanted to leave!

IMG_0083

Portland doesn’t have as many pools as other cities do, but we took a tour of all the city fountains where kids can run around and cool off.

IMG_0114

And we did some fun wading in the Sandy River at Oxbow Park.

IMG_3968

IMG_3970

IMG_3975

We did a lot of summer reading and attended some fun library events.  One of them was a talk about bugs and we got to hold all kinds of insects, including these Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

IMG_2556IMG_2551

Another fun library event was a salad bar style arts and crafts morning.  Henry jumped right in and created about 15 pieces of original artwork in 30 minutes.  Julian was overwhelmed by the choices and spent a lot time figuring out what he wanted to do.

IMG_2492

Grandma did crafts with the kids at home too.

IMG_3894

She was also tireless at entertaining Nutmeg, reading and doing sticker books with her.

2015-06-16 17.23.08

The big kids spent a lot of our at home time jumping on the trampoline and playing board games like blokus

2015-06-16 17.22.32

and chess.

IMG_0024

We also built a play dough volcano one day and erupted it with vinegar, dish soap and baking soda.

IMG_0055

IMG_0056

And we had a fashion show from these two cuties in their matching hair cuts and Moroccan outfits (presents from Grandma).

IMG_0058

We smelled all the roses at the famous Portland Rose Garden, and rehydrated at a Benson Bubbler.

IMG_2521 IMG_2533

IMG_3941

IMG_0092

IMG_2547 IMG_2549

We also spent one morning at an organic blueberry farm and picked 23 pounds of berries.

IMG_0062

IMG_3888 IMG_3892

And we did more hiking!

IMG_3915 IMG_3916 IMG_3917   IMG_3947 IMG_3951 IMG_3963

It’s not easy to do, but I think we might have worn Grandma out a little bit.

IMG_3966

Here’s our last evening together at Laughing Planet, the dinosaur restaurant that Julian and Nutmeg love, and then to Ruby Jewel Scoops for the long anticipated 20 mile ice cream cones.

IMG_3981

IMG_0123

IMG_3984

We never wanted them to leave and felt quite bereft when they did!!!!  Here’s one last photo shoot right before they took off.

 

IMG_3991 IMG_3994 IMG_3996