Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mess in the Back Yard

Well, it's that time of year.  It's a wonder that more people don't go house hunting in the late fall so that they know what's in store for them.  Looking out at this mess, it's hard to believe that most of these leaves are from only one of the trees in our back yard.  Which means that this is only round 1 of the raking.

As soon as Claire saw it, she wanted to make a leaf angel.  

And this tree is the culprit for most of the leaves.  It was completely bare.  The kids couldn't resist some play time as I began raking at the other side of the yard.

Claire was all about throwing the leaves.  She started out pretty reasonably.

But she quickly got more ambitious in her leaf attack.

Henry was happy to sit, for the most part.

He would drop a few leaves here and there.

Then he began digging like a dog.  That was pretty cute.

And both kids were more than anxious to help me "sweep the leaves" (as Claire put it).  

I soon had neat piles across the back yard.  And almost as quickly, those piles became one long, continuous pile as Claire and Henry ran and shuffled through them.  But I was happy to have my helpers alongside me as I tackled this daunting job!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Halloween kind of snuck up on me.  In the I-know-you're-coming-but-I'm-not-ready-to-deal-with-you-yet kind of way.  We only bought our pumpkins the weekend (like 5 days) before the big scare, but we never actually took the time to carve them.  Luckily, Adam got home a little early that night, and while I was working on dinner, he took the initiative - and Claire - outside to get in some last-minute carving.  And it was truly a kindness that he thought to do it outside so we wouldn't have to deal with the mess at the kitchen table.

Claire said she wanted a cat, and Adam paid tribute to his beloved World Series Champion Red Sox.

For the past couple of years, I had made a mummy meatloaf and other spooky-themed side dishes.  I wanted to do that again, but really needed to change up the menu.  So I made mummy dogs for an appetizer...

and a pumpkin-shaped pizza for dinner.  I SWEAR it looked a lot prettier than this at first.  You know, like when I took it out of the oven initially.  Then I looked at the time, realized that trick-or-treaters were already out, and figured we better get a move on, or else we would be going out too late.  Since the kids had already been trick-or-treating twice (at the ward trunk-or-treat and at the Halloween event at Intel), Adam and I had agreed that we would only go around the cul de sac and maybe to the end of the street.  Well, the night was so nice, that we decided to walk a little longer.  So what I thought would take 20 minutes took an hour.  And though I had turned the oven off, it was still pretty warm in there.  Needless to say, the pizza came out a little worse for wear.

My kitty cat, Claire.

Henry the turtle.  This little tortuga was extremely unhappy about putting on the costume.  He cried until we took it off (and there was NO way we were getting on the turtle hat).  We were resigned to the fact that we would have to take Henry out for his first real trick-or-treating experience sans-costume.  But then we got outside and he saw all the other kids in their costumes, and then he decided he wanted to go back in the house and get dressed.  

It's funny - everyone asks if the kids had a good time on Halloween, and though that is the driving force in all that people do on this holiday, the adults get left out of that question.  I had a great time.  The past few years, I've had to work on Halloween, so I was really happy to have the chance to go out with the kids this year.  We had a beautiful night, the kids had fun, and it was great to just walk around the neighborhood as a family.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

We were late in going this year (the week before Halloween), but better late than never, right?  We'd tried a different pumpkin patch last year but didn't care for it much, so we tried out Lakeview Farms, which is the first pumpkin patch that I'd ever taken Claire to (but we hadn't been back since).  Turned out to be the perfect fit.  A train to take you out to the patch, and a boat ride back, not too commercial and fair-like, and a beautiful view made for a great pumpkin patch experience.

We really do live in a beautiful place.

I love Henry's "cheese!" face!

Me and my girl.

Henry, checking out the "pung-kins".

He was dead-set on getting on still on the vine.

Claire, holding on to her choice.

This was the closest I could get of my kids together.  Both looking at me.  And smiling.  At the same time.

There's that "cheese!" face again.  He is so cute.

Henry loved running through the small hay maze.

This girl was proud to figure it out herself.

And of course, the ride in the wheel barrow was about as fun as anything.

Adam was a good sport for pushing them around.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Impromptu Visit

When we were in Colorado, I got a phone call from my sister.  She and her roommate, Lisa, wanted to go somewhere fun during Erin's fall break, had found inexpensive tickets to Portland, and wondered if it would be okay for them to come visit us.  Um, YES!

The weekend they picked had the most glorious weather, we were able to see some of the Portland sights (Lisa had never been to Portland before), and we had an all-around busy but fun time.

First stop:  the food carts.  Portland has a thriving street food culture, with various pods of food carts downtown.  In the 6+ years we've lived in the greater PDX area, I had never been to the food carts, though I had always wanted to.  So this was the perfect opportunity.  And it did not disappoint.

We picked a pod, did an initial walk around the block to see what the offerings were, and then made our decisions.  All with the intent of sharing with everyone, of course.  Erin picked a sampler platter of Polish food.

Kielbasa, pierogies, a kind of a stew with sauerkraut...really tasty.

Lisa was the most adventurous and got Georgian food.  As in from the country of Georgia.

Lisa also opted for the sampler platter.  It included a bean and onion-stuffed bread, the delicious beef and pork filled dumplings, an eggplant roll filled with pureed walnuts and garlic, and a Georgian salad.  

I was the least adventurous, but this little place had been recommended to me, so I'd been wanting to try it:  The Frying Scotsman, which of course had authentic British-style fish and chips.  The guy doing the cooking was Scottish, so it was the real deal.

The cod was flaky, the chips were thick, and the malt vinegar to go on top was surprisingly good (coming from a girl who usually indulges in the lemon juice, which apparently is unheard of in the UK).  I also got a little HP Sauce for the chips, which is something Adam and I got to try in Northern Ireland.  I had to wait a while to get my food - it is breaded to order - but it was really good.

After our deliciously varied lunch, we walked around 23rd St and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.  We had particular fun in the hat shop.

Of course, one can't come to Portland for the first time and not get Voodoo Donuts!  We got there at the perfect time, and only had to wait in line for like 10 minutes.  

On Saturday, we rented a Suburban, drove out to the coast, and had another glorious day of seeing the beautiful views.

And on their last full day with us, Erin, Lisa, and I drove out to Multnomah Falls and were able to enjoy some kid-free time.

It was a great visit.  I'm so glad they were able to come, that we had perfect fall weather, and that we got to do some fun things.  

Harper Turns 3!

We sure love this little girl, and we were excited to wish her a happy birthday.  But, of course, this little sassafrass decided to have so...