Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Proving Mom Wrong: It Hurts So Good

Willem had his five-year immunizations today. I didn't tell him what we were up to until an hour ahead of time, which I figured was optimal both for minimizing dread and for getting the "no, I'm not going to have shots" fit over with before we got there. Upon receiving the bad news, Willem did indeed shut himself in his room and proclaim that he would not be getting shots. Fortunately, I had a bargaining chip in the form of a threat to withhold a rare play date with his best friend the following day.

Resigned to the inevitable, Willem came out of his room and sought to arm himself with information.

Will it hurt?
How long will it take?
Where will they do it?
Will I scream?

"No, you won't scream. You might say ouch! ouch!" I said, smiling and keeping my ouches lively, as though I were being bothered by some minor nuisance. Willem must not have remembered the day Nels had those shots: his thigh muscles were so tense, it was like trying to stick a needle into a marble statue, and he screamed bloody murder.

When the big moment arrived, the nurse had Willem sit on my lap with his legs hung over to the side. I wrapped my arms around his chest and held his arms close. I think we both found this comforting, even though the nurse's sole aim was to prevent him grabbing for the needle. (Can you imagine? Apparently kids do that all the time.)

Prick. Prick. Prick.

Willem sat utterly still and silent until the nurse set everything down, and it was clear that she was done. Only then did the sound leak out, a low hiss that turned into a quiet moan, and he began to shake. He took a few moments to collect himself, then looked at me with triumph in his teary eyes.

"See, Mom? I didn't even say ouch! ouch! like you said I would."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun With Friends

And now for the rest of the Hamilton's visit!

I am glad have we so many friends with charming little girls. It's nice to have a girl fix when I am feeling overwhelmed by all the rough-and-tumble that boys entail.

For instance, who could resist this little munchkin?

This girl can eat Honey Nut Cheerios like nobody's business (the most likely explanation being that she's usually fed something more healthy at home.) She had two bowls herself and then found and finished Willem's own abandoned bowl at some point in the morning. I have really been falling down on hostess duty, allowing guests to eat cold cereal for breakfast.

The boys and an iPhone: like moths to a flame.

While Hamilton visits often entail fine dining, we're not always fancy. Here we are enjoying an Ikea meatball lunch.

Willem can put away the fifteen meatballs on the plate all by himself.

After we put the kids to bed on Friday night, Shaun made potato chips.

I just can't leave well enough alone.

On Saturday we tried out the Pearl District's buzzy new Little Big Burger.

It's cool, but I'm not a fan of places where you have to lurk about waiting to pounce on an available seat.

On Saturday night, there was no pouncing. We lined up our babysitter extraordinaire and set off for Laurelhurst Market, a restaurant I have been reading about in my food magazines since it opened.

They don't take reservations for small parties, so we got there early. At 5:30 there was an hour and a half wait. They took our phone number and we went and had a beer at the cozy Horse Brass Pub, a worthy destination in its own right.

Then it was back to the restaurant and its adjoining butcher shop.

My quick review: I didn't really care for the steaks, but everything else we ordered was delicious (including the cocktails.) The salt cured foie gras torchon with blood orange, grapefruit, and brioche bread salad with saba and cress (I know, how pretentious does that sound!) was the dish of the evening. Shaun pointed out that it had obviously been made with pure evil, which was what made it taste so good.

After dinner it was still fairly early, so we headed downtown...

had a nightcap at Clyde Common...

and still made it home before 10:30!

It may seem like all we did was eat, but it was a short visit, so that is what we did most of. We also spent some time at Powell's and then tracked down a new iPad for Amanda, which everyone (including the babysitter) had fun playing with.

Fun. With friends.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yippee Ki Yay

"Mom, I can hula hoop with my arms crossed."

Nels had been telling me this for weeks. The Helen Baller spring program was coming up. The theme was "cowboy," and Nels's class had learned to hula hoop for the occasion.

Once the big day finally arrived, we had to leave the visiting Hamiltons at our house for a few hours while we went to the high school to watch the program. Every class in the entire school participates, so it's not the sort of thing one wants to subject out-of-town visitors to.

We didn't get there early enough to get ready parking, so Shaun dropped me and Nels off. Nels grasped my hand firmly as we joined the stream of fellow almost-late families heading for the doors of the school.

"Look at that boy's hat," said a mom walking behind us. She was referring to Nels, who was wearing a cowboy hat that was a gift from my mom. I think she bought it in Sisters, Oregon. Wherever it came from, it was the jen-yoo-wine article.

"He has the best hat in the whole school." Nels didn't look at me, but he stood up straighter and his step grew bouncier.

"He sure is lucky." Her children, a boy and a girl, voiced their assent. When I dropped Nels off with his classmates, his eyes were shining.

Here are the spectators occupying one side of the Camas High School gym. The entire student body (and teachers) took up the other side.

Here's Nels and some of his classmates waiting for the show to begin. The red-kerchiefed kiddos are Kindergartners.

Ready, set...


Here's where he really hit his stride and I cried just a little. It was fabulous.

When his group finished, all the kids took a hurried bow and ran off. Nels, on the other hand, bowed low and slow, with a flourish and a wave to each section of the bleachers.

A job well done.

After the show, we came home to find that Amanda and Andrew had cleaned up the dinner mess I'd left behind, and they'd washed the dishes. And Amanda had scrubbed my kitchen sink cleaner than it's been since we first moved in. Yippee ki yay.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Springy Spring Spring

We've done lots of great things lately, but a round-up of springtime photos is in order before I launch into that.

After the boys got those amazing shields and books about knights, Willem was hankering for some armor. Shaun crafted these out of cardboard. Once Willem added the hat, they looked more like robot cowboy chaps.

It always takes me about five times longer to get dinner on the table than I expect it to. These boys are ready to dig into the St. Patrick's Day soda bread.

I made a sort of theme-y dinner because we had to eat anyways, and it seemed like a good excuse to drink a Guinness, which I hadn't had in a while. I waited until three hours before dinner to decide on what I was fixing, and when I ran to the neighborhood Safeway, they were sold out of cabbage. I improvised with a bag of coleslaw mix.

Here we are on a Sunday at Willem's favorite restaurant, the Lakeside Chalet. I'm not sure if he loves it because of the breakfast they serve all day or because of the extensive collection of dinosaurs with huge open mouths that they have available to play with. Probably a little of both.

He was inspired to draw a toothy dinosaur of his own.

One afternoon the boys watched a show that featured the world-record holder for building the tallest house of cards. As soon as the program ended, the boys shut off the TV and raced upstairs to get out our cards. Nels in particular worked for hours over several days trying to build a two-level house. I love it when they do that. It makes me feel much less guilty about the TV-watching.

We watched a documentary on origami, and Willem abandoned it midway to go work with paper at the craft table. Nels watched to the end and then spent the next week littering the house with accordion-pleated papers of various colors and sizes.

While I was at a writing conference last Saturday (more on that weekend later), Shaun was the parent designated to take the boys to a birthday party. I love how methodical and tidy Nels was in wrapping up his brother like a mummy. And Willem's expression of resignation is priceless.

Here is Willem after a typical Sunday morning of racing around the church hallways. He has doused his head in the drinking fountain. We are so happy to go to a church where our kids have other kids to run around with and grow up with. Good people there.

This week has been spring break, and the very grand Martins took the boys for three nights. We're going to pick them up tonight. While they were gone, we had this hail storm:

Also while they were gone, I had this. Because sometimes a girl just needs a giant day-glo margarita. (Oh, in this picture you can see the ring that I mentioned in a previous post.)

Three nights is the longest we've ever been home without the boys. I am greatly relieved to find that I miss them!