Sunday, January 31, 2016

a little Shakespeare

After our last mama hike, my friend Michela posted a poetic monologue on our FB page. It's too good not to share, and to keep for future remembering.

From Shakespeare's "As you Like It":

Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference; as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery; these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am."
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tamanawas Falls winter hike

My mama friends and I hiked to Tamanawas Falls today, on the north side of Mt. Hood. It was an easy four-mile hike on the packed snow to one of the most spectacularly beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen.  Adrienne remarked at one point, "Some people will go their whole lives and never see anything this beautiful."  It's so true. This forest - these streams - these amazing women - I couldn't be more fortunate.
 Michela, Crystal, Mary, Paula, Anne, Adrienne

Thursday, January 28, 2016

sunny winter hike

Schools were closed on Monday for a teacher planning day, so I took the day off and went on an outdoor adventure with the children. It was sunny and warm - 50 degrees - and so we headed out to the Gorge for a waterfall hike with Anne and Camille. We hadn't explored Horsetail Falls in awhile and I wanted the experience of going behind the Ponytail Falls when the water was high. It was gorgeous out there - sunny blue sky, tons of water gushing through the streams, mossy green forest. I love Oregon.

Two photos, nearly identical: which do you think is better? A above, or B below?

Sunshine hitting the mossy green of the trees. Sigh. Be still my heart.

This photo is actually looking down into Oneonta Gorge.
Sebastian threw a stick down to the water, and his glove accidentally flew off his hand and followed it down. So he intrepidly clambered down the steep embankment of the gorge to retrieve it. There was a slip-sliding fall at the bottom but he recovered well, got the glove, and climbed back up. I was proud to see his bravery, especially after he got scraped up.

The intrepid three (plus one!) at Triple Falls. We had attempted to make it to this third waterfall on previous trips to Horsetail, but the kids always pooped out - so pleased to have finally made it!  The hike was 4.5-5 miles and I was happy with all three children for hiking it easily. Can't wait for spring and summer hikes together!
Back at the bottom, Sebastian proudly displaying the snow he carefully collected and carried all the way down from the top of the hike.

Friday, January 22, 2016

winter pursuits

Every summer I look around at all of our games, toys, craft supplies, etc, and wonder why we have them... they sit unused and gather dust, taking up valuable closet and shelf space. And then in December and January we get cozy in here and play games and read old books and make collages, and I remember. :) We have been really enjoying these rainy weeks.

For Christmas, we gave Steve a new chess set and he taught the children to play. Sebastian has been pretty enthusiastic about it, even playing against our neighbor Nadine (they each won a game). We moved the piano up from Sebastian's cold (and lonely) bedroom downstairs into the living room, and have been rewarded with more frequent practicing and playing by both children. Seb practiced today without being reminded, a first! He is getting more and more confident in his playing, his improvising, and his sight-reading, which is fantastic.

Liesl's drawing has continued to grow and develop. She made a big mural for our front hallway with a bunny rainbow, and has recently turned her attention from drawing people to drawing castles with moats and fairy mushroom houses.
Kim gave her a sewing kit for Christmas to stitch together two felt elephants - we worked on it together and finished the pink baby one, and she was so proud. She was especially keen on demonstrating to me that she already knew, from teacher Ellie at preschool, how to use a pencil to get the stuffing into the trunk and feet.

Both kids have taken a renewed interest in cooking. Liesl has been interested for awhile now - learning to make scrambled eggs, to peel a hardboiled egg, to bake muffins and cakes, to make salads - but she's freshly keen on learning to cook things on the stove. We made split pea soup together today - I chopped and she put things into the pot and stirred - as well as stromboli. She did a great job rolling out the dough and sprinkling on the spinach, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Sebastian saw dried macaroni pasta in the bulk bins at New Seasons and asked for it - I consented on the condition that he would have to learn to cook the pasta himself. :)  He is still afraid of the stove and fire and steam, but the desire for macaroni was stronger than his fear and he successfully cooked it.
Sebastian continues to read - mostly sports books, although we've had a recent and welcome diversion into fiction about dogs - and he has become interested in learning cursive handwriting. The 3rd-graders in his blended class are learning cursive this year and he wants to join them. He was practicing his name and some other words this evening before bed.

Monday, January 18, 2016

knock on wood!

At the risk of tempting fate, our normal luck seems to have returned. The car is fixed, the various cards are on their way, our new kitchen faucet is beautiful and functional, the heating specialists identified the problem, and we had a good family weekend together... The Steelers lost their playoff game yesterday, sadly, but we ate BBQ pulled pork and had plentiful snacks and invited Anne and Cuong for company (and post-game solace), and so altogether I'm feeling restored.

Saturday was the usual flurry of activities - indoor soccer game, dance class, basketball practice, birthday party - lots of car time, and waiting for children.  But since today was a holiday, and the heavy rains of January took a brief break, the children and I went for a hike along the Balch Creek trail. The creek was running high but had not overflowed its banks - unlike our local Forest Heights streams, which have been wreaking havoc on the trails of our neighborhood. The kids continued their game of doggie and owner - red leash in hand - and had a grand time. I love watching them reconnect on the weekends and really play cooperatively and imaginatively with each other. (Seb and I went grocery shopping while Liesl was at gymnastics, and he commented at the end: "It's just not as much fun without Liesl.")  The icing on the cake of our lovely morning was that we ran into our friends Adrienne and Elise (and kiddos) on the trail! We love our like-minded friends and our local forests and trails and this small town we live in.  :)

Spot the Liesl face!