Monday, December 7, 2009

Turkey Trot

(photo from official race blog)

B started running at the end of summer this year, and wanted to run in a 5K sometime. He missed the summer 5Ks, so the next one he could do here in town was the Turkey Trot, a fundraiser for the Shop with a Cop program that brings gifts to children in need. Originally scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, they eventually moved it to one week later. It was around 10 degrees F outside, but B still did it! He dressed for the weather--hat, balaclava, gloves, sweats, etc. (There were a couple of runners in shorts, no hat....)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Portland, Oregon

We spent a few days in Portland last week, while B was at a conference. It was a great trip for us--the first chance B and I have had to relax and just have fun in a really long time. Western Oregon and Washington are beautiful--we had never been there before, although we'd heard a lot about the Northwest from many people. This time of year is especially impressive, too--in addition to the lush green moss, ferns, and pine trees, there are the gorgeous yellows and reds and oranges of fall.

I had so much fun driving around Portland and visiting parks and museums with the kids while B was busy with his conference.

S at the International Rose Test Garden

One afternoon B joined us for a drive to the coast. It had been over 2 years since we'd seen the ocean--unbelievable. (Excluding B and his field trips to Iceland and Hawaii, that is... the rest of us had been totally landlocked. )

This was also baby N's first ocean experience--something of a rite of passage in our family (all the others have been at the ocean within the first few months (if not weeks) of their lives, so she was long overdue).

We were extremely lucky with clear sunny skies both at the beach and the next day when we drove up into Washington to see Mount St. Helens.

It was all wonderful. I would be happy to live in Portland. And I've realized I need to make sure we visit the ocean more often, and travel to new places more often. It does all of us so much good.

Farmers Market

This year our town had an official Farmers Market on Friday afternoons, from the end of June through the beginning of October. It was small, but still fun. I took the kids to the last one of the year, even though it was freezing that day and even snowing a little. (They loved it.)

Pumpkin drawing for the little kids.

Hot cocoa for the big kids.

This little one just loved looking at all the pumpkins.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

North Menan Butte

I don't know why it took us two years to climb up here, but we finally did it. The hike isn't bad at all, and the kids loved exploring up on top.

Cartier Slough WMA

A couple of weeks ago we went for a walk through Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area.

We saw lots of different kinds of birds, including a pelican, a couple of different birds of prey, and an owl. (Not a great picture, but the owl is sitting on a branch of this tree.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Orchestra, instruments, and lessons...

I took last year off from orchestra, because of the baby, but I'm rejoining this year, and our first rehearsal was Wednesday. It was so nice to be back in orchestra again, with a great conductor and beautiful music. I was planning on sitting in the 2nd violin section this time, because really I'm an amateur and feel more comfortable there. But that section was full when I got there, and there were only two 1st violins, so I guess I'll be playing 1st again. Luckily, one of the pieces I've played before--a long time ago, but my fingers somehow seem to remember it, and the others aren't too difficult. I'll need to put in a lot more time practicing than I would if I were playing 2nd, but it will be ok.

For our next concert we're playing some Sibelius, some Copeland, and a clarinet concerto by Weber. This is going to be a fun concert. :)

C has just started 5th grade at the middle school, which means he gets to choose a music track--choir, band, or orchestra. He chose band, and yesterday picked up his choice of instrument--trombone! (His first choice was xylophone, but percussion instruments aren't allowed yet.) He is really excited, and I'm sure he's going to do well with it, but I admit I never pictured one of my kids playing trombone. (What can I say--I'm a violinist.) :)

S has been asking me about piano lessons, and I want to find her a teacher. I could try teaching her myself, but I think she'll do a lot better with someone else.

K loves being in choir, and wants to stay there, although she tells me she wants to learn flute, too. I wish she could do both choir and band, and skip other classes like computers, but oh well. I might try to find her a private teacher for flute, we'll see...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Changing seasons

These pictures were taken in August, so I'm late, but I wanted to post them anyway. I like being able to see the cycles of planting, growing and harvesting.

The scenery is always changing from season to season. I'm still getting used to this.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Backyard birding #3

We spotted a new bird in August--a Northern Flicker, or specifically, a Red-shafted Flicker.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shrinking dairy products

Is this disguised inflation? A recession coping technique? Just wondering.

I probably wouldn't have noticed the smaller containers if there hadn't been a few of the "older" ones still in the fridge.

When we were living in Al Ain something similar happened with our Danish butter. A few months after the Danish cartoon controversy and subsequent boycotts, when Danish dairy products could once again be found on the shelves of our local grocery stores, we noticed that the blocks of butter for sale were smaller. No longer could we buy the standard half cup/114 gram sticks of butter--the new butter was 100 grams.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer fields and skies

I love summer.

Sawtell Peak

Early in July, B did some fieldwork around Sawtell Peak. It was warm and beautiful, wildflowers were in bloom, and he knew we would enjoy a trip up there.

So, a week later, we all got in the car to drive up to Sawtell Peak with him. Unfortunately, right as we were driving, a storm was moving in, and it was cold and windy when we got up there.

We couldn't stay outside, but we still enjoyed the great views and lovely scenery from the comfort of our car. From the peak (it's an elevation of 9,866 ft.) you can see the nearby Continental Divide, the dome of Yellowstone, the Snake River, the Tetons, and more.

It's a fun drive--how often can you take your car to a summit this high? Definitely worth a trip!

On the way home we stopped to take a look at the huge Osprey nest above this bridge. Amazing!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Honk! performance

The kids did a great job performing in Honk! Jr. I was impressed with how well everyone performed--the directors did a wonderful job teaching these kids. It's nice to have a break from all the rehearsals, but I'm so glad these kids had the opportunity to be part of the cast, learn their parts and perform on stage. K and C both had big parts and solos, while S joined some of the younger kids in the chorus as a chick and a frog--good experience for them all. The show was funny and sweet--I really enjoyed it!

Well done, K, C, and S, along with the rest of the cast and directors!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Honk! Jr.

This summer is turning out to be a lot busier than I thought it would be. The 3 big kids are in a production of Honk! Jr., a musical retelling of the Ugly Duckling story. C and K have major parts, too--C is the Ugly Duckling, and K is the predatory Cat. (S gets to be a cute little frog.)

The performance will be July 21st, so let us know if you'll be around and would like to come!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baby birds

Something fun we found at our new house--a robin nesting in a tree in the front yard.

With four pretty blue eggs.

We found another nest here on our back porch.

It was fun to see the tiny new birds just after they hatched.

They have such big mouths!

And here they are a few days later. S tried to feed them a worm at this point, but they only seemed to wake up for food when their mom or dad arrived.

Rain, rain gutters, and moss-covered things

This month has been surprisingly rainy--almost every day since we moved in, until this week. So, B decided to clean the rain gutters on our new home last week. They were pretty bad--full of years of dirt and other stuff.

He found this little stuffed toy in the rain gutter. Kinda scary--we've been calling it the "creature from the black lagoon."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer begins

School is out, and we're enjoying the warm weather we've had for the last few weeks. Last Sunday I wanted to get out of the house, but didn't feel like walking around our neighborhood, so we went for a drive to somewhere in the middle of nowhere, away from houses and cars and people... It was fun. One thing I wish we had here is better places for walking and biking/rollerblading. In Rhode Island we had a great bike path through the forest and lots of beautiful beaches. In Al Ain we had awesome dunes to climb, and wadis to explore, all just a few blocks from our home. Here there's just not much. But sometimes it's fun to drive out in the country and just see what we can see. We stopped at a little cemetery and walked around, enjoying the peaceful quiet. Then we drove a little more before coming home.

We've been digging up piles of dandelions in our spare time. We're almost out of time now, but we tried our best to make the yard a little better than it was.

We've already started moving our stacks of boxes to the new house. We should be moved in this weekend. It will be great to have more space. Living in this little rental hasn't been too bad, except that we had become accustomed to living in an oversized luxury villa in the UAE, and we now have way too much furniture and stuff, which made this little house feel even more cramped. It's funny, because in Al Ain we never had enough furniture for our huge villa. For the first two years there B and I didn't even have a bed--just a mattress on the shiny marble floor. S's huge bedroom suite had only a crib in it for a very long time. (We were just out of grad school and needed to save money.) I miss that beautiful villa... But it will be nice to have our own place here, even if it's not as big, new, or luxurious as our home in Al Ain.