We had big plans to go cut down the tree but then it rained a gazillion gallons of rain and we were certain that the farm would be a muddy mess.....So I sent them on to the next best thing. A tree from a parking lot. The tree is huge and lovely and smells like the forest. Gramma Judy helped us decorate it and Ayumi got her own ornament to hang. We can't wait for the Everharts. It is gonna be a packed house.
Wow. Two near naked men covered in gold tinted paint do amazing body contortion and freakish acts of strength and balance while the symphony plays Christmas music. Amazing. The juggler, the hoop lady, people flying around attached to huge fabric trapezes, the opera singing, violin playing, trapeze artist. How will Sam ever top his first symphony performance? We got to take Ayumi and the kids to the fancy Arlene Schnitzer Auditorium. Later, dinner and a walk through the Recently-Appointed infamous Pioneer Square giant Christmas Tree. All this and no rain!
The kids are off for a week! It is so cold in Portland right now and I just want to cuddle up and drink Peppermint Tea! I bet the kids have different ideas. Roller Skating, Swimming, games, books, arts and crafts. We are going to be busy. I hope we can fit in some time for eating Thanksgiving treats. Maybe Mama Share will make her Chex Mix this week. Uh oh. They just woke up.
Paul came today and got the coop spruced up. He added the wire enclosures and door. He will come back sometime to do the run. Hopefully soon if he wants to be paid. They chickens are in the coop tonight and they seem to be quite pleased with it. Two are on roosts at last check. Note the Rooster weather vane on the roof. The two galvanized tubs are nearly filled with dirt and are in need of some bamboo. Tomorrow I am going to make the kids go to Home Depot and buy some gravel.
We were going to have a sushi party for Ayumi and her friends, but then decided to do it American style. Taco bar. Ayumi had 4 friends (other interns) come to the party and we had some neighbors and friends come. Seemed like everyone had fun, but the Japanese girls sat at one end of the dining room table and talked quietly, while all the Americans sat at the other end being loud. HMMMM? She seemed happy with the party and the fuss made over her. Next weekend we will go to Mt. St. Helens to look at mushrooms. Probably won't pick any unless we see chanterelle mushrooms, but I think those were out a couple of weeks ago. Ayumi has never been to MSH so I think it will be fun. I doubt if she will go through Ape Caves (lava tubes). Here is a link to last years mushroom sightings at MSH http://dodyroll.blogspot.com/2009/10/mushrooms-at-mt-st-helens.html
ADDENDUM: Mama Share did all the prep and work for the party while carson and I went hiking with our mother daughter group. I can take credit for nothing but the huge pitcher of Margharitas. Sharon made the first cake on Friday night and it was a bust. I made the second cake on Friday late night and it was flat as a pancake and we pulled a lemon/raspberry cake together Saturday morn and afternoon. Whew!
Ever since Carson saw 5 of her friends swim the length of a pool she has been dedicated to learning too. We started swimming lessons 2 days a week and she is now able to do some front swimming. She is extremely pleased with herself! Her arms and legs are so long that they sometimes can get away from her, but she is definitely improving. She couldn't even doggy paddle three weeks ago. Here is her with her swim teacher, Mr. Will. Mr. Will comes to swim lessons in his wheelchair and crab crawls from the deck to the pool since he has some sort of paralysis/deformity in his legs. Carson and Sam admire him and work extra hard because they know he has overcome many obstacles in his life.
GEODOME NANNY HOUSE
Our family has been in Oregon for three years now and I am starting to feel at home. We had such a wonderful community of friends in Denver that after we moved I was terribly homesick. I missed having people in and out of our home. I missed sharing my family with good people. Sharon assured me that Portland is full of wonderful and amazing people. I finally feel like we are settling in and finding our peeps. We are sharing dinners with neighbors and friends, trading kids for time off, and watching our new friends lives unfold with new and exciting adventures.
Our neighbors, Melissa and Maggie, are so happy with their new little joy, Elin. They radiate love and gratitude for her. Carson is smitten with her and is excited that someday she will probably be the babysitter.
Our friends Rosa and Jose (Manu's parents) are undergoing a new adventure as well. They are building a GeoDome in their back yard (think burning man) for their nanny to live in. Our friendly contractor Paul has helped them run electric to the Dome so she can have light and heat. I am skeptical of moving into a Tyvek dome home right before rainy season, but they are having fun. What do you get someone for a Dome warming gift?
Ayumi has moved in and that has introduced us to a whole new group of families who host interns on a regular basis. There are many families I am excited to spend some time with and get to know. I like people who open their homes up to strangers and share space and cultures. I want to be that kind of person. I want my kids to grow up around all kinds of people from all backgrounds and realize that we are all here seeking love and happiness in our lives.
While I wait and wait and wait for Pauly Walnuts to get over here and put the roof on the coop, I plan and plan for my backyard. So today, after much research into the best prices around on 100 gallon galvanized tubs (by my neighbor, Melissa), I made the 20 mile trek to Gresham to the feed/country store. And then.......I came home with these. I don't know what you think, but I am sure this is my best and one of my pricey-est impulse buys (not including the trailer that rotted and was given away on Craigslist or my antique Catholic candle alter that I had to have). Anyway. I left with 190$ worth of galvanized metal to plant bamboo in and a 160$ pair of soft, fits perfect, hot cowboy boots. And I got some good conversation in the boot isles from an 85 year old man who is from Pueblo Colorado and used to tour with a rodeo. He shops in the womens section for boots because he has little feet so we tried every pair on together.
Ayumi has arrived to 26th Ave. She comes from a wonderful host family not far from us and I wonder if we can measure up. We went to pick her up from the family she has been with for the last 6 months and I felt like a heel. They were all so sad for this transition.
Carson and Sam are so excited to have her here. They are wild and showing off all weekend. I warned Ayumi that they will be back to their normal selves soon.
We got her a pumpkin and we all carved pumpkins last night. She is waiting to decide what to carve on hers. Sam hid all his pumpkins in the corner of the porch so no "animals" will get to them. Today we went to the pumpkin patch for more pumpkins and cornmazes and weird harvest-themed holidays.
We had dinner with the Klein's tonight and Ayumi was a good sport. She played along while the boys (Sam and Manu) were WILD! I say if you have a mattress on your living room floor you are inviting trouble, but call me crazy.
The week starts tomorrow and hopefully we will get back to normal. Or should I say "NORMAL".
Our birds are trying so hard to roost at night on top of the coop we have. They are getting way too big for the tractor. Thank goodness the coop is almost finished. Paul is building this out of re-purposed materials. He had some of the stuff left over from old jobs and and purchased some material at the Rebuilding Center. He came to show me pictures of the progress so i showed him pictures of money hoping that would move the project along a little faster. Instead he sat down at the table and drank the rest of the beer we had in the house since their day was done. Hopefully it will be ready this week. I am not sure how the runs he is building will attach, but he says he's got it figured.
He put a sliding metal tray in it that will pull out for easy clean up. Pretty cool. I love that the windows will open but the chickens will still be safe with the wire behind it. Pretty clever. The floor is two separate framed wire panels that can come out for easy scrubbing. (See Photos of floor placement and tray). This is his first chicken coop and I don't think he had any idea what he was getting into!
I hope to purchase some sort of green roof system to put on the roof. Sounds like he is hitting our budget limit so the galvanized steel roof with the green box is out. Sharon's nephew Rob's wife emailed me to tell me about a great product called liveRoof. I will check this out for possible green roofs.
I had no idea that Pink Pearl Apples would make pink applesauce! Carson (superguuuurl) and I went to the market and got 6 pounds of fresh organic apples. Some green tart ones and then the Pink ones and made some sauce. Sharon and I have a date night tonight. The kids are both at sleepovers. Sounds like heaven.
Funny that all my posts are about food. We will probably go somewhere yummy for dinner too.
Tuesday was Carson's first day of 3rd grade and Sam's introduction to Kindergarten. Sam's real first day will be on Friday. He is excited to learn, but his teacher was quite pleased with his reading skills already. Sharon and I can't really take any credit for his abilities since Carson is the one who taught him to read. She was so proud of him when he showed her his first origami cup he folded.
The big news though......Third graders get lockers!
Baking, planning, canning, planning, cooking, planning.... I feel completely back to school crazy. I want to get this two kid in school thing right so we are planning like crazy. I don't know if it will get us anywhere, but we are trying. So far we are planning to make whole wheat waffle batter at the beginning of the week and give the kids warm, fresh waffles from the waffle iron in the mornings with some fruit and yogurt before school. I hate sending them to school after eating a bowl of cold cereal (which is their preference). I am sure the sugar crash happens about 45 minutes after school starts and then their little tummies wait all morning for lunch. Which leads me to my next worry. What to feed them for lunch? Portland Public Schools has just started a new food program with much fresher choices, but Carson is still a skeptic. She wants to bring cold lunch this year which means Sam does too. The answer......I am currently obsessing over Bento Blogs. I can't imagine the time spent on these dramatic scenes in a bento box, but it does give me some ideas outside of pb&j. Luckily, they go to a Japanese Immersion school so there are kids with full on sushi style bento and they aren't set on chips and a sandwich. I think I have some good ideas and some yummy treats in mind. I remember how much I enjoyed my Hostess Ho-Hos and Twinkies, but I can't in good conscious send these in their lunch boxes now that we know they aren't really made of food, but chemicals.
Now for the kicker. We have decided to bake our own bread. We invested in the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Dear God, do I really need another project? Anyway, the idea is that at the beginning of the week you make a big hunk of dough that keeps in the fridge all week. Our friends have the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, but we opted for the one made with whole wheat flour since the last thing I need is more white flour in my bread filled life.
This weekend I made blueberry nectarine jam. I have two trays of roma tomatoes slow roasting in the oven right now and Sharon is whipping up the WW waffle mix as I write this. I am sure we will peter out within a month, but for now it is fun.
They are all 4 laying almost daily. You have all heard about the giant egg recall for salmonella. This is what happens when giant corporations take over our food production. I guarantee their chickens never see the light of day and are pumped up with antibiotics. I bet their little chicken feet have never even touched grass. They peck each other to death in the "factories" and are pushed to the egg limit. They are treated poorly and live in extremely unsanitary conditions. I strongly feel like my kids should know where food comes from. Eggs are from actual living beings. Carson watched Bobsyouruncle lay an egg yesterday and she was in awe. Sam ate two eggs yesterday that were laid not 1 hour earlier. Tasty.
We are raising Sam and Carson as a vegetarian. As they get older, we are giving them choices and offering them fresh fish and farm raised meats. Sam has tried a few things including, gasp, a McDonald's hamburger, but Carson refuses any type of meat. I feel strongly that most people have no idea what is in the meat they buy at the grocery store. It is pumped up with colors, antibiotics, and growth hormones. I have read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen 3 times and recently bought the young readers version for Carson. In my opinion, Michael Pollen is a genius. It is something that I want to read together with her to make sure she understands it.
I do appreciate that I live in a city that supports local farms and foods with an amazing farmer's market and access to fresh food. don't get me wrong. My kids will enjoy the occasional twinkie or McDonalds fries, but I want them to see those things aren't actually food.
People have told me that chickens are dirty animals and they wouldn't want them in their yard, but these are the same people eating food from dirty food factories. I wish everyone would listen to Michael Pollen.
Anyway. Enough ranting. I just wanted to say thank you to my beautiful chickens for providing us fresh, nutrient rich (because i know exactly what they eat) beautiful eggs.
Last weekend I joined the nabes for a little pickle making. 50 pounds of pickles, 2 gallons of vinegar, three huge bouquets of dill, dried peppers, and way too much garlic = tons of fun. These girls were serious. The pickles were washed and placed in ice packed coolers the night before and all the garlic was peeled. Thankfully, the garlic was not my job. The pickle packing went on all day with a break in the middle for some feasting. In the end there were nearly 45 quarts of spicy, dilly pickles and 5 little jars of pickled garlic cloves. I will let you know in 3 months how they turned out.