Monday, September 29, 2008

Just Getting It Out Of My System

Every once in a while I fall in love.  It's usually with a coat.  Or a dress.  Or a pair of shoes.  Something spectacular and fabulously expensive.  I used to just say "It can never be,"  and walk away.  The problem with this approach was that I never stopped thinking about the object of my affection.   I imagined how great it would be to wear this amazing item, how people would be able to discern what an original and interesting person I am when I wore this item and therefore want to be friends with me...  Well, you get the idea.

Finally I learned that all I had to do to snap out of it was just try the thing on.  Thanks to shoulders two inches below where they should be (or a waist two inches too high), very few things that I pick up off the rack actually look good on me.  They usually look horrible.  And it is a huge relief when I look like a linebacker in the coat, or the shoes look and feel miserable (as they almost always do) on my wide feet.  I am able to laugh at my folly and move on.

All that to say, I am going to a voice-over class on Thursday and a voice acting class next Wednesday.  I'm quite sure it will be a terrible fit, but it's always been intriguing to me.  When a castmate of mine at the community theater in Whittier was taking classes and getting a bit of work, I wished it were something I was looking into.  And when my sister worked for an ad agency, she had a hand in producing some spots requiring voice-overs.  She encouraged me to check it out.

So I am.  And could any venue be less threatening than a community education course offered by a public school district?  I think not.  I hope not.  Though apprehensive about the nature and extent of class participation that will be expected, I can't pass up the opportunity to put to rest the thought of, "I wonder if I could do that?"  For all I know, I will have no interest in doing that.  That would be great.  As great as a $300 dress that gapes in all the wrong places.   At the very least I'll get out of the house and have something to write about for a change.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Fitting

Nels figured out how to spell a word on his own for the first time today:

"Mom, does B-L-O-G spell blog?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

He's Five!

It's hard to believe that the tiny baby who never slept and resembled a tree frog has grown to be this deeply silly and serious boy.  I can't imagine our family without him.

We celebrated his birthday Saturday by putting our house through its inaugural hosting paces.  In a bold move, I decided to invite all of the local extended family.  This way they could all come see our new place and Nels could have some party guests.  There were 20 of us!

And it was fun.  I was so busy that it wasn't until today that the perfectionist in me realized that the guacamole was woefully underseasoned, the chili could have used some more salt, the decaf coffee beans were over roasted to an extremely untasty degree, and the Costco cake wasn't as good as I remembered it being.  I really didn't care, though.  It just felt so good to finally have a house full of happy, talking people.  

My mom came out and was a huge help, washing prep dishes as we went along so things didn't degenerate into total chaos.  I was even more glad of her help after last night, when I had to venture out at 1 am for some Tylenol for Willem.  Drawback #1 of living in a small town:  no grocery stores open 24 hours.  Nels woke up when I got back, so I had to tend to him and lost about an hour and a half of sleep after only getting about 4 1/2 hours the night before.  Imagine my joy when I woke up totally disoriented this morning to the sound of Willem talking TO MY MOM.  Oh, glory.  I slept until almost 10.  She had done the rest of the cleaning up from the party too.  I hope I will be as nice to my kids as the moms in my life are to me.

So today was perhaps the laziest day our family has ever had.  Ever.  We didn't leave the house.  We stayed in our pajamas until well after noon.  Nels was in his new pirate pajamas, so those stayed on until bedtime.  We spent the day laying about, watching Star Wars clips on the computer, watching the boys play Star Wars with the new light sabers, and napping.  Nels was the only one who managed to stay awake all day, fueled by the joy of playing with all of his new things.

It was rainy today, and therefore perfect.  Could there be anything better than a Sunday afternoon nap with the rain coming down?  Well, add to that the satisfaction of yesterday's party going well.  A husband sleeping on the couch because he was worn out from staying up late to clean.  A sick little boy also asleep.  And the recent birthday boy amusing himself for two solitary hours with his new Lego Starfighter.  An altogether very fine weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Stand Corrected.

"Mom," says Willem as he turns away from my outstretched arms, "pirates don't need hugs."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This One's For Auntie Kim

Here's our new dining set and light fixture.  To seat six we pull up bentwood stools to the ends of the table.  Shaun just put up the picture shelves last night, the idea being that someday (soon) they will have pictures on them.

It's High Time You Started Using the Potty Chair, Lord Vader

Monday, September 8, 2008

Random Roundup

1. I've neglected to mention that my mom and sister came for a brief visit last weekend. My sister very conveniently wrote about the visit and included photos, so I will direct you there rather than reinvent the wheel. I will add only that the most anachronistic moment of our Fort Vancouver excursion came when someone asked the blacksmith what he was working on and he said he was trying to make a bracelet like the $1500 steel one his girlfriend had seen at a gallery in the Pearl.

2. I was enjoying this post over at Rachel Balducci's blog, Testosterhome, mostly because I think Khaki Pellegrino is an awesome name. I tried playing along, but perhaps--just perhaps--it's overkill to try to generate a silly name when one's name is already GYPSY. My GANGSTA NAME, Gypizzle, sounds more like a gangsta euphamism (excuse me, I have to go take a gypizzle), and my STAR WARS name is the ever-so-galactic Margy.

3. I read this article at and was relieved to discover that I'm not the only person who avoids "good" movies if they contain depressing or violent subject matter. Ha. Score one for me in the normal column.

Friday, September 5, 2008

It Was a Long Day

But once again, I'm thankful that we are where we are.

Today was Nels' first day at his new pre-school. Class started at 9:00. Also scheduled (several weeks ago) for 9:00 today was Willem's echocardiogram at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.

Fortunately Shaun's mom was willing and able to spend the night last night and take Nels to and from school while Shaun and I went to the doctor's appointment.

The hospital was striking (the adjective, not the verb). I've never been so aware of being in a "designed" space. In a good way. It was really spectacular, and took perfect advantage of its hillside setting. The view of the city and the river was amazing. I felt like it was the most Portland-y place I've been in Portland.

Anyhow, the tech who did Willem's exam was pretty amazing as well. He set the proper tone right successfully that Willem stepped right onto the scale without protest (something he's never done) and even stood still against the wall so he could be measured (normally impossible.)

We really liked Willem's new cardiologist. Unfortunately we had a long wait for her, and Willem's good will had dissipated by the time she finally tried to examine him. Tried being the operative word.

The situation with Willem's heart is the same as it was when we left Boise. It's time to consider whether or not to go ahead with surgery. It's a tough call because his heart is doing its job just fine right now. It won't be fine indefinitely, though, if the hole doesn't close on its own.

His case will be presented to a group of cardiologists and surgeons either this Monday or (more likely) the Monday after, and they'll offer their opinions on whether or not we should go ahead with surgery. We got a lot more details on what that would be like, and we are hoping that the consensus will be to hold off.

I was pretty sad after our four hours's so heart-wrenching to see the parents with their (much sicker than our) kids. I hold in high esteem everyone who works or volunteers in such a place.

We ended on a high note, though. As we walked out of the lobby, we discovered that the Ice Cream Man had just pulled up in his ice cream truck. Volunteers were bringing free treats into the lobby for those who couldn't come out. Since we were walking by the truck, Willem got to point out what he wanted. He ended up with an enormous ice-cream sandwich that was almost as big as his forearm.

Thus, joy was spread. When we got home Grandma fixed toasted cheese for the boys and we pried a few details out of Nels about his first day of school.

"The teacher's hair looked nicer this time." (As opposed to being a little frizzed out when he met her at back-to-school night.) "So I wasn't so shy."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Settling In

Hmm. How to communicate how peaceful and quaint and small-town and time warp-y it is here in Camas?

Let's hit some highlights.

National Night Out

We were able to walk to this event at nearby Crown Park. The park was thick with families, the night was warm, and it was not a madhouse at all, despite the fact that hot dogs, chips, sodas, cotton candy, and sno-cones were provided free of charge. There were numerous free raffle prizes as well, many of which were packages of toilet paper. I suppose that's what happens when Target is your sponsor. There were also free bouncy things for the kids, a police car, a fire engine, and --wait for it-- an amphibious SWAT vehicle. I loved the fact that, though the evening was well-attended and festive, we didn't have to spend more than a few minutes waiting in line, and we didn't have to keep a death grip on the kids, lest they be swept away by the crowd.

Old-School Neighborhood

Most of the folks in our neighborhood are either grandparents or they have kids significantly older than ours. This has the strange effect of making me feel like I'M a kid again, growing up in my old small-town neighborhood. This feeling was heightened one fine summer day when I was treated to the sights and sounds of our across-the-back-yard 11 year-old neighbor and her best friend practicing a dance routine while belting out a song at the top of their lungs. Wow, did that take me back.

Another neighboring house appears to have a hot tub party every night, though we are not totally sure; their house is one of few with a very dense privacy hedge. Every night we hear the sounds of garrulous conversation, loud laughter, the hum of the hot tub, and the hack of at least one very committed smoker's cough. I'm pretty sure I can hear the ice clinking in their glasses as well.

The Welcome Wagon

I was looking for community, and I got it. The neighbors behind us brought over a bag of frozen blueberries they had picked and a list of cheap/free things to do in Portland during the summer (museums with reduced entry fees, which theaters were showing free movies, etc.)

A woman walking her baby (the only baby I know of in the immediate vicinity) stopped to meet me in the driveway one day. She gave me the low-down on which cats belong to whom and who lets their dogs run loose. This seemed to be of primary importance.

Another neighbor stopped us as we went for an exploratory walk and was so effusively kind that I almost cried. She told us that some of the original homeowners on the street keep a list of everyone's names and phone numbers, and that once in a while everyone gets together. She showed up at our front door a few days later with a gift basket she had thoughtfully put together, along with a card containing her family's contact information in case we needed anything. The best item in the basket was a book on the history of Camas, chock full of photographs. That has become a prized possession in our house. Not least because of the picture of Mt. St. Helens erupting as seen from Camas.

Our neighbors across the street brought over delicious chocolate-chip cookies and a card with their phone number. All of this kindness has been very humbling. And very much appreciated.

The Yard Sale

Boy, howdy, I have only ever had two yard sales, and on both occasions I was completely floored by how much very personal information was freely volunteered. By the customers, that is. This time there was a woman who wanted our couch and chair but couldn't afford it until her disability check came. One woman considered buying some furniture but wasn't sure how things were going to be divided in her separation from her husband. One woman mentioned in passing what year her husband had died and that she had just moved in with her shopping companion and that they were going to sell things together from a space at the local antique mall. And there was much more. We met missionaries on home stay who were very concerned that I make some friends quickly, and a grrlish girl who bought a china cabinet because (insert girl's eye roll here) her HUSBAND really wanted one and she guessed (insert shoulder shrug here) he'd like it.

Best of all, the rest of the neighbors came to meet us. Some of them were sheepish that they'd waited so long. We met the city councilwoman from down the street and a VERY elderly man who was anxious to meet both of us and was disappointed that we didn't have any books for sale. Most memorable was the elderly couple who live on a pristine corner house across the street. The woman talked to me while Shaun went to chat with the man who was waiting for her in the car because his legs aren't working too well lately. "We just got married two weeks ago! I'm 80 and he's 89!" she crowed. "And we've been together for 10 years!" Turns out Shaun got the same story when he talked to the husband. I suspect they're getting a big kick out of sharing the details of their happy news.

So, there you have it. Or a lot of it. It's wonderfully quiet on our street. And you wouldn't believe how many baseball diamonds are sprinkled throughout the town, each more charming than the last. If I can just manage to make some friends, I think I'm gonna like it here.