Monday, June 23, 2008

NOW I Get It

When I was a kid, I was nothing but annoyed by the character of Peter Pan. Who wouldn't want to grow up? I went through a phase in which I thought it was a really bum deal that grown-ups got to boss kids around, and achieving autonomy was my dearest wish.

Of course, the book Peter Pan was written by an adult. Now I'M an adult. In the past week I've paid someone to service the furnace at our old house, I've called to make sure the gutters were cleaned, I've dealt with the landlord and a plumber over the (still mysterious, despite reports to the contrary) stink in our rental house, I've called the cardiologist to make sure Willem's records were passed on to a new doctor, I've considered new health plans, I've paid the gardener who's mowing the lawn of our Boise home, and I've done some serious soul-searching about what kind of house we should live in and what we can afford as Shaun and I have entered into negotiations on a house. And of course there is the usual feeding and refereeing of children, grocery shopping, laundry, and the tiniest bit of housekeeping. So now I understand.

Truly, for the first time in my 35 years, I have found myself wishing that mom and dad would just take care of it. Grown-ups? Are you with me?

p.s. Shaun has probably done more than I have. He's just handling it better.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Grandmartins* Strike Again

Shaun's mom called last Saturday night and offered to take the kids home after a Father's Day family gathering. And keep them. For two nights. Would that be OK? WOULD it!

We put our freedom to good use. On our way home from the festivities, we stopped in at Ikea. For four hours. This meant we ate a very late Father's Day supper of mussels steamed in white wine with shallots and saffron. We learned that we should leave mussels as a main course to the French. We certainly weren’t up to consuming Ina Garten’s portion size of 3 pounds of mussels for two people. It was good, though, and the smell was divine. Definitely on my list of Top Three Best Cooking Smells Of All Time That I’ve Produced In My Kitchen.

I was giddy with freedom when I woke up on Monday with the prospect of an entire day alone ahead of me. I spent the morning driving by houses to see with our realtor the next day. In the afternoon I went to an antique mall in Camas, a Norman Rockwell-esque town a few miles east of Vancouver that we are considering settling in. "Giddy with freedom" turned to "giddy with that peculiar rush one gets from finding an incredible bargain." My photo could not capture the deep jewel tones it's actually painted in, but here is the signed oil painting I bought for $30. Please to enjoy:

On Monday night we went to The Jerusalem Cafe (thanks, Dave), where I had the pleasure of eating a delicious falafel sandwich and watching the waiter/proprietor give Shaun a hard time. "Why don't you shave your head?" (Meaning shiny bald like himself.) "Do you dance? No? My wife, she'll teach you to dance. She made ME dance." Fantastic.

Stuffed to the gills with some truly delicious hummus and pita, we went home and watched Transformers. That's right, Transformers. And I enjoyed it.

On Tuesday I got to go out looking at houses with our real estate agent. Oh, how I love to look at houses. The day did dash some of my hopes, but no day that includes viewing a bathroom with velvety flocked wallpaper, bright red shag carpet, and saloon doors can be all bad. This photo doesn't even begin to capture the glory of it:

I was tempted to make an offer just so I could take possession of this awesome light fixture:

The boys were returned to us late Tuesday afternoon. Nels was full of enthusiasm for the "help" he had provided in planting a garden. Willem, on the other hand, spent much of his visit embracing his naughty two-year-old-ness. ("I throw a tractor," was the only story he relayed.)

A person could get used to all this carting off of the kids. Luckily for me the Grandmartins and Antsy Ancy will be here tomorrow, so I don't have to go cold turkey.

*A tip of the hat to Hillary for coining the word "Grandmartins" to refer to Shaun's folks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Better Class of Litterbug

In Boise I was used to picking up empty tall boy beer cans that had been dumped in the alley behind our house. Here in Vancouver someone tossed an empty bottle of Willamette Valley Cabernet Sauvignon over the fence into our yard.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Relief

NOW I remember why the Portland metro area made it to the tippy top of our "relocation location" list.

On Saturday afternoon, Shaun's mom came and picked up the boys. We retrieved them on Sunday evening.

Sure, it was with a little trepidation in my mother's heart that I waved as they drove away. However, the relief of having a break from the responsibility of doing my best to help my children develop a sound moral character --and the relief of having a break from the guilt of feeling like I'm not doing the job as well as I should-- quickly melted away all worries.

Finally I was left with only the thought, "Why, yes! I DO like my kids. I don't want them back yet, but I do want them back eventually." And that was a relief.

Now, if you aren't all green with envy yet (really, it's a strange and remarkable thing to just be home without any kids), just wait. We went out to dinner.

We had tapas at Toro Bravo in Portland. It was small and lively, thanks to a no reservations policy. While we waited for a table we had a cocktail at The Secret Society, a bar that had opened upstairs the night before. It felt so lovely to be an adult. In a room full of adults.

I won't bore you with the details of our meal, except to say that the ox-tail croquettes were one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten in my life. Who knew? You can check out the menu here for yourself, so you can plan what you're going to have when you come to visit.

And, after all that good food, you should be so lucky to do as I did: take a nap on the couch for an hour and then make it official and go to bed and sleep for another 11 hours.

Moving to Vancouver was a fantastic idea.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Yep. It's Rainy Here.

Hmmm. I thought that moving would provide me with all sorts of wonderful blog fodder, and that I would while away my lonely, friendless hours by regaling you with tales of this strange new life. But it turns out that I have both too much and not enough to write about, as is always the case for me during major life transitions.

The "too much" concerns the question occupying most of my brain space these days: Where should we live? There is no charming old neighborhood here (as there was in Boise) with good schools. The suburbs vs. city debate has become very real to us, as there is a significant difference in crime and school quality, depending on which neighborhood one is in. Would we be selfish to choose the city? Overprotective and insular to choose the suburbs? Aack. Where would Jesus live?

The "not enough?" Well, when wrestling with big questions about my ultimate values, it hardly seems worth mentioning that I am disconcerted by the giant slugs (bigger than my middle finger) that come out here when it rains (every day) after not having seen a single gastropod in over five years.

Or that I encountered my first real live 9/11 conspiracy theorist. I overheard him passionately expounding his views to a fellow dad whom he had just met at the Cafe Sip 'n Play. Wow.

Or even that while Shaun and I were eating dinner, seated at the table in our stately dining room, we saw a young man in a pick-up pull up and park across the street. From our dining room window we could see him disappear into the bushes to take a pee before getting back in his truck and going on his merry way.

Well, OK. That last anecdote is one I'm proud to share, major life transition or no.

And, by the way, it rained so hard the other day that I had to slow down to 35 mph on the 5 freeway. The windshield wipers couldn't keep up with the volume of water, and I could hardly see. It's nice that the Pacific Northwest is so far living up to its reputation.