Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas tree

We decorated for Christmas! We have a Noble fir tree trimmed with all of our lovely favorite ornaments, as well as a wreath and lights and the Advent calendar and stockings all up around the house.

(I should note that Steve and I have our own annual tradition, in which I am super enthusiastic about getting our tree as soon as possible after Thanksgiving, and Steve wants to wait a week or two to make sure the tree looks better on Christmas Day, and we sort of argue about it. Actually, we don't even bother having the argument anymore. We just jockey for position and then eventually someone wins. Now that the children are older, I have two more strong votes on my side, so I expect to win for another decade or so. :) )

We went to pick out our Christmas tree at Pollard Ranch, a local tree farm off Skyline Blvd. They handed us a saw and sent us out to pick our own and chop it down. The kids happily participated in the picking and choosing, but of course ultimately picked two different trees; we picked a third, and got that one, to their disgust.
The afternoon was delightful - we drank spiced warm apple cider AND hot chocolate, finished off the marionberry pie, listened to Christmas music, jockeyed for prime viewing space on the tree, and delighted in seeing all our favorite decorations.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

snow play at Mt. Hood

We drove up to Mt. Hood today to play in the snow around Timberline Lodge. The children started getting soooo excited as we got closer and closer and they could see the frost on the sides of the road and the snow hanging from fir tree branches. It was incredibly windy at the top, but sunny and bright - we managed to find a protected spot for some makeshift sledding.
Sebastian leaping with joy upon arrival. :)

After lunch, we went back outside to play, constructing a snow monster and then having a snowball fight. It turns out that our children don't like to get hit by snow balls quite as much as they like throwing them. (Shocking!)  We tried to make snow angels but the snow was too hard-packed; we rolled down instead.
 I love Sebastian looming behind us, ready to attack Steve. :)
Back inside for some hot chocolate (overly sweet and yucky in the downstairs ski lodge; probably better in the fancy lodge), and then the long drive back. We arrived just in time for Sebastian's 4:30 indoor soccer game. He played great - ran really hard, scored 3 goals, attacked on offense and defense, great passes - probably one of the best games we've seen him play.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving 2015

We hosted Thanksgiving again this year and it was wonderful - delicious food, delightful company, happy children - a feast of giving thanks and being together. We were 16 this year - 10 adults and 6 children - Hoangs, Mary and Rowan, Patrick, Hertzfelds, Ceccaccis.

Friends started arriving at 12 noon - the children got the chance to play outside and inside, while the adults prepped food and enjoyed Eric's amazing punch. We started eating at 3: two turkeys and two ducks, the usual sides (mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce) and some unusual ones (brussels sprouts with pomelo!). I made a wild rice stuffing in deference to the gluten-free folks, but then forgot to serve it. :(  I also baked Parker house rolls and parmesan biscuits, made a kale salad, roasted some squash, etc.  It was a feast - the table groaned - it was colorful and delicious and perfect.  Once again, we set a grownup table and a kid table, and this year it was fantastic. The kids are getting better at this kid table thing and actually managed to eat, talk, tell jokes, color the paper tablecloth, and listen to Sebastian read a story. 
Seb and Liesl set the table and did a beautiful job.

After dinner, we played a slideshow I had created from photographs of all of us - play dates, kid hikes, mom hikes, Thanksgivings and Easters past, art and dance and gym classes together. There were a lot of pics spanning the last three years and it was fun to see the children grow and to see the incredible range of adventures we have shared. The kids loved seeing themselves and their parents and were extremely vocal participants.
The kids then did a talent show for us: Liesl danced, Seb played piano, Angelo and Adrienne did tumble tricks, Rowan played piano, Camille did martial arts kicks. Vivi proved too shy to sing in the moment, but maybe next time. And finally, we had dessert: apple crisp, marionberry pie, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pie, chocolate cheesecake. I made a valiant attempt to test everything but fell short. :)
Today we snuggled on the couch after breakfast and watched the movie Inside Out, then went for a cold but sunny walk in the forest. We had leftovers for lunch, including pie of course. And now Steve is napping, I am making stock from the duck carcasses, and the kids are making a giant fort downstairs. I expect there will be some soccer time at the field later, and early bedtimes for all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

winter adventures

With the advent of Portland's cold and rainy winter weather, we have been enjoying some indoor adventures on the weekends. Liesl has dance class on Saturday morning, during which the other three of us either play outside on a nearby field or walk over to Fressen bakery for some German pretzels.  We've started making weekly trips to the library to restock our shelves - Sebastian is going through a dozen books a week and we can't keep up. (It's a good problem to have.) Steve and Sebastian have watched some sports together - Steelers games, Barcelona vs Real Madrid, and the Timbers playoff games - it's fun to watch them bond over it.

Last weekend I took the children to PlaydatePDX, an indoor playground with giant slides and lots of climbing structures. Afterwards we all went to a pottery painting place and each picked a piece to decorate. Liesl did two Christmas ornaments, in pink and purple, I painted a Christmas tree candleholder, and Steve and Seb collaborated on a milk and cookies mug for Santa. It was really fun and I enjoyed it more than I expected - Liesl loved it, of course and would have painted half the shop if we'd let her.

Liesl and I met up with friends (Anne, Mary, Crystal, and children) last Saturday in the late afternoon for a family contra dance at a local community center. I used to go contra dancing during college - we would drive to the Greenfield Grange on Saturday nights to contra with the hippies of western Mass. It's like square dancing - there's a caller and some basic moves (twirl, promenade, dosey-do) but you process down long lines instead of in a square. I always loved it - there's a lot of happy positive energy in a contra dance. The family dance was super fun - lots of kids, fun and easy moves for children to learn, and Liesl loved it, so we've put it on the calendar for early January. My friends loved it too, enough that there are plans afoot to go to a Portland contra dance for adults at Norse Hall. (My friends are awesome doers and planners and enthusiasts...)

Fall is birthday season, and in addition to celebrating their own birthdays, both children have been to various parties, with more in the upcoming weeks. At his friend Tristan's party, Sebastian got to play video games for the first time - a FIFA soccer game, and an NFL game. I'd say he was hooked, but that would be an overstatement - he certainly enjoyed playing both and had a good time, but he didn't come home demanding his own system either. (Maybe he knew that wasn't in the realm of possibility.) Mostly, I think he felt relieved, because lots of boys in his class and on his soccer team talk about video games, comparing their favorite games and talking about playing them, and he's felt left out and insecure about it. He'd never played and couldn't participate in the conversations, and now he feels he can speak with authority and claim to be an outstanding player. :)