Last day of January…

I already wrote about how the local mountains don’t have much snow this season. I’m glad I didn’t gift my children ski school for Christmas like last year cause I don’t like to waste my money on bad ski conditions. Since I grew up skiing I’m pretty picky about “conditions” and a tight wad. Anyway, today it is beautiful outside as it has been the past couple of days. Where to walk?  I had a couple of pleasant walks this week to pick up the children and socialize at the school. It has been bit more like April around here. My older daughter came home when it was getting shady in the late afternoon and she called to ask where I was so I told her: “Well, since you weren’t smart enough to wear a coat this morning or bring your key and standing in the shade will get you cold pretty fast, why don’t you walk to us to keep warm and meet us half way?” She took my advice, but carried her trumpet with her. Since she had been at a music competition all day, she was all dressed in black hauling a trumpet around the neighborhood. When we met up, I was kind enough to give her my fleece and carry her trumpet on the return trek, but I told her she could leave the trumpet at home if we ever encounter a similar situation. We don’t live in the hood after all; plus who wants to steal a used middle school trumpet? I’m glad she’s conscientious though!

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Passport renewal process X 4

passports

You could DIY for cheaper than $20, but Costco gets it done!

School was off today so I realized it was a perfect day to renew our passports. Saturday, we went to Costco to get our head shots. For once, my photo wasn’t dreadful. I look like a convict in my current one. The kids’ passports expire in less than 2 months and they already don’t work for Europe so they’re essentially useless so it was overdue. Mine had a bit more mileage on it, but not much so it was time to bite the bullet and fork over the ca$h, deal with the paperwork, and go to the official civil servants. Child passports are only valid for 5 years in USA so you don’t get as much bang for your buck. At Costco, the photographer had to take the photo of my 8 year old 10+ times cause she kept blinking from the flash. I asked if we could just turn off the flash and he said it couldn’t be done so we kept trying. Finally, her eyes were open in small slits and I said that we’d have to go with it cause she is cross eyed and that was probably affecting things. It was impossible for her not to blink, it would happen so fast and the reaction was so uncontrollable. After arriving at the proper location with my husband, (not easy to schedule something on a weekday with him) we discover the post office only processes passports until 2 p.m. Awesome since it was about 2:30! After reading the fine print, we discovered that we could go somewhere else until 4:30 and it happened to be across the street. After spending the morning filling out paperwork and getting proper documents in order, I only had to redo 2/3 of my documentation. 🙂 The workers were nice and fairly busy with passport sales. Total: $80 X 3 child passports, $25 X 3 service fees, $20 photos, $110 adult passport & .70 cents postage for adult passport to mail. (Remarkably, I had exactly 70 cents in my wallet/coin purse as I always pay with credit card and they accepted only cash or check) credit cards=points! 😉 Just say NO to ca$h. Total: $445.70. Pretty expensive, but now I can get back to surfing on www.theflightdeal.com since we’ll soon be valid passport holders again. YEE HAW!!

Vintage Sundance film festival

My twitter feed reminded me about the Sundance Film Festival. Since one of the people I follow: The Points GUY was in UTAH.  http://www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival So since my sister lives in Park City, I decided to text her to see if there was any exciting stuff going on since she works and lives downtown. The answer is that there were a lot of people dressed out of the ordinary and she saw a young guy get chased around by paparazzi or something. (Patagonia jackets were exchanged for furs.) Anyway, this reminded me of Sundance film festivals of the past. When I was at the University of Utah a few decades ago, a guy in my class went to Park City and came back to recount this story. He was in town for a Sundance film and he saw the male “Friends” stars. So, he decided to get their autograph. The guy in my class was super nice, but short and stocky. He said they ran away from him. Literally RAN! So he described to us how they ran off and he chased them. We laughed so hard imagining this situation in class the following Monday. —-apparently he scared Joey….. At a later date, my husband and I attended a film together and after at the Q & A was Heath Ledger answering questions about an Australian film he was in that we had just watched, prior to his becoming famous. As a result, I always took an interest in his career may he RIP. If you like odd movies, it’s an interesting event. If you like to chase stars around, you can probably find a lot of entertainment.

Is it really almost the end of January?

Tomorrow, my daughter was supposed to go sledding at Mount Hood with our church youth group. I was unwilling to go not due to my lack of LOVE for sledding, but because my husband couldn’t drive us. I do my best to avoid driving in the snow. In around 1992, I wrecked in the snow after a high school basketball game. There were no serious injuries to me or my pals thankfully, but I don’t drive in the snow unless I have to. Generally speaking, it is usually not too hard to do where I now live. However, we have had 2 epic snowstorms since moving here. The first one happened in 2008. Here is some data on the event. “The “Arctic Blast” of December 2008 was the most significant snow event in 40 years…..” (PortlandOregon.gov)  Needless to say, generations of people in the Portland, Oregon area had never experienced that. Last year we got a big storm too. In 2008, the children were still young and we didn’t own any awesome sleds, but soon after we bought some and they collected a lot of dust until 2014 when they got a ton of use. So, why aren’t the youth going sledding? Because it is supposed to be too warm tomorrow and there isn’t enough snow at the mountain. 😦 It sure doesn’t feel like January. For the record, I love love love a snowstorm more than anything so this explains the photo.

Playground

Snow in suburbia!!!!

What do you like to do together?

Yesterday, I finally made it for my first day of volunteering in my 2nd grader’s class for this school year. I was way preoccupied in the fall so I couldn’t commit. Amazingly, this child asked me the other day if I would volunteer in her class. I was already planning on doing it anyway, but since she had asked…. Some children, probably most, get to a point where their parents embarrass them so maybe it becomes time to stay away. Growing up we had these over achiever friends whose mom was at the high school more than once per day micromanaging her kids’ lives so nobody wanted to become HER. (There is now a name for this—–helicopter parents.) When I arrived in the classroom yesterday, I was introduced and asked what do you like to do together? I said: Hike. “Oh, that is why you are in such good shape….” said the teacher so I was feeling pretty good, but then my daughter starts grumbling beside me that that isn’t what “we” like to do. So she needed to give her 2 cents and the question got asked to her. She responded: Crafts. Yes it is true. Once upon a time, making crafts was the bane of my existence, but gradually you adapt in your profession (SAHM) and now we can make something pretty cool with some scraps of material, cardboard, paper, and glue.

Life in the bike lane

Bike wrecks….. I had a few bad ones when I was a child. Once upon a time, I even destroyed my cousin’s brand new birthday bike. We were in Wyoming.

Downtown Portlandia

Downtown Portlandia

My cousin and older brother were racing ahead of me and then we got separated by a truck and a horse trailer. I was trying to keep up, but I hit the truck and the wheel of my cousin’s new bike bounced all the long of the truck and trailer while I remained on the bike. Remarkably I was fine, but a little bruised. The older couple driving the truck probably about killed over from fright. I ended up sitting in a police car. I was so scared that I was in trouble. My family showed up and then after it was obvious that I was okay, we went to the store and I got a “get well” or we’re glad you’re alive board game as a present. I’ve always felt bad about destroying my cousin’s new bike, but since I could have probably died that day, I must have been made for great things. 😉 😉

Top 10 lists….

The only people who should make top 10 lists are interns that work for Dave Letterman. If you are into travel blogs then many people want to share their top 10 list. This is the top 10 list of why you should go to #Maldives right now! Well, inevitably someone will come along and dispute your lack of expert knowledge about such a destination. This is where I come in… Lately on my twitter feed there have been many of these so called lists and or people sick of these lists. One of my facebook friend’s and former school mates’ put up a list of top 10 hikes in Utah. This girl is amazing. She is always rock climbing or biking some awesome place that only hard core people make it to. Anyway, she posted this list and quickly deconstructed it. Good thing the poor soul who created it didn’t see our mockery, since he left off one of the most famous hikes in the world. LOL. To us, that hike was just something every scout troop had to do to be considered a scout. Another time, I saw a list of the top 10 states or something like that. Since my home state was low on the top 10 list, I was irritated, but even more so when the reason for putting it on the top 10 list was a destination that I don’t even deem worthy.   (luxury  ≠  best) The lists when done by EXPERTS can be a good starting point when you are going on a dream trip to fulfill check lists. For example, if you are going to Paris for your first time the Eiffel Tower is a natural starting point. There are some who will mock you that you’re doing something super generic, but it is a destination for a reason. You will likely enjoy other experiences more, but there is no harm in doing it. Create your own list!

To plan or not to plan ? ? ?

I’m not much of a planner except when it comes to travel so I guess I am a planner when it comes to priorities. When I was the activities director for my church, it always felt so weird to plan activities for the next December in December. I hated it! I’m not very organized, but I always have a lot of faith that things will come together in the moment. I don’t get stressed out about much and I can work like a dog when necessary. Now that I am volunteer working with young women in my church and we had to plan the 2015 year’s activities the other day, it gave me flash backs. Why are we talking about December in January? Anyway, last week we had to make some commitments for summer 2015. 2 days after committing my week and my daughter’s to girls’ camp in July, we got called to see if we could come to the family reunion in July. Since my father in law is 81 and we hadn’t made it to the family event in many years, I said yes and then we were going to make it all happen. Then, reality of logistics set in so I cancelled one top summer commitment to attend the family reunion. The reason being is that I cannot pack and unpack for 3 major family events taking place over huge distances and terrains within one week’s time frame. I just had to protect my sanity, though crazier people could have pulled it off. I know some people don’t get bothered by throwing ski gear in the car and just going skiing last minute or worse camping, but when you have multiple people and you lose just ONE ski glove, your “fun” can be destroyed. When you have limited resources, you try NOT to buy gloves at the bottom of the chair lift. (This is a real world example and the glove was relocated upon retracing steps.) FUN was RESTORED! So….Are you a planner?????

“Conquering the Impossible”

Just like a lot of Americans of a mature enough age, I can remember exactly what I was doing on 9/11. Fast forward and it seems like it was a day that wasn’t very long ago, but I’m shocked at how long ago it actually was. We just watched 60 minutes on tv and there was an awesome part about wounded warriors hiking the world’s most awesome peaks to regain their confidence and more importantly likely their will to live. One of my best friends is a VA social worker and an advocate for veterans. She knows very much what it is like for these guys as she is also the daughter of a wounded Vietnam veteran. My own dad also served in the Navy, but he is slightly older than the Vietnam crowd and had already been discharged during “Nam.”  This is an inspiring 13+ minutes of a 60 minutes episode of how one inspired wounded guy is helping our wounded soldiers in an epic way. Hint: There is hiking!  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-heroes-project-60-minutes-lara-logan/ If you have time to watch this, it will definitely be inspirational.

BACK to the grind…..

This week has been great to get back into the groove of things, but it always comes with its’ challenges. First of all, super sad about the incidents in Paris this week. One of my best friends is a dentist there and lives very close to many landmarks. We visited her in March. Another friend lives somewhere else in the city and we didn’t have time to visit him, but he’s coming to Portland this summer. Since I used to live in France when I was 15 and again at 22 years old, it is very much my second home. I have never lived in Paris, but visited several times. These terrorist attacks affect us all. A lot of people have shown their support for les français so this has been a source of pride and comfort to them I think.

Getting back into the groove means early rising. Early for me is to get up before 7:00 a.m. so I can wake my kids up. Then driving my daughter to school for before school jazz band practice and dropping the other 2 at elementary school. A couple of days we were able to walk to school and yesterday my daughter took a spill on the ice that was on the ground. It was a pretty rough way to start off the morning. The day before, I’d been out walking a trail and noticed it was a bit icy. Well, when I first moved to Portland, I went to my backyard and took a big spill as I went down my cement pathway because we have so much moss on the cement here that it is always slick in the winter even if it isn’t cold. As I lay there not knowing if I would be able to get up and having a baby asleep in a crib, it was a little terrifying. A few minutes later, I was able to roll over and get up. My head was thankfully not injured at all, but it probably awakened my tail bone problems for a week. So… it is very dangerous to walk in Portland in the wet months cause of the moss growth. Usually in the summer, it retreats to safe levels for awhile. So, while it was barely freezing here I think the moss coupled with ice crystals made for some slick conditions this week. Also, we started a groupon gymnastics class to try out which seemed fun for the kids. So many kids here (and in USA) do expensive sports activities and I can’t commit. We commit to music lessons at our home so I give my kids the choice of a sports option as well, but not constantly as the financial and time commitments are insane. Ultimately, we do a lot of cross training. Being raised on skis, I’m pretty agile, but my kids will never ski to the extent that I did so hopefully they can get skills in different ways.