Saturday, February 20, 2010

We've Moved.....

In order to serve you better, we have moved the blog to the following location:

Sorry for the inconvenience.  This move allows us better tools for tracking visitors, better comment availability and make it easier to follow the blog.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chicken cheeks!

Good day in the PNW. Today started out with a little homework, but quickly moved on to some "edu-tainment".

First up: The drive to the "West-side". OMG! Be-U-ti-ful day! We saw Mt. St. Helen's and it looked GI-NOR-MOUS. All snowy and pretty. Yes, this was an event in itself. Mountains, bridges, sky tram thing, city skyline, subway-like traffic. All good.

Next up: "Books and Bites". We headed out to Beaverton (not to be confused with the Hamlet of Beavercreek. Yep, they - I mean we - get a lot of mileage out of those critters, including having the only 2 sided state flag in order to stick one on the back.) The concept with books and bites is that it is a book club that doesn't focus on a specific book, but rather a theme. This month's theme was dragons. So each of the kids brings a book they've read that fits the theme. Then they also bring a snack that relates. K brought blue dragon scales (blue corn chips) and blood/guts (salsa....not that you will ever see it the same way again after reading that). There was also puffs of dragon smoke (popcorn), Chocolate covered dragon scales (a lace cookies dipped in chocolate), Dragon poo or drachmas (it was up for debate as to what it represented, but it was coin shaped pieces of fudge), Dragon's fire (red hots), and other items that specifically related to books. After they discussed their books and ate they ran around the backyard and had a grand time.

Then K and I headed over to Powell's books. Now don't get too excited. It wasn't the famous Powell's - City of Books location. It was a related, but smaller store in Beaverton. It was good though. They had loads of books discounted, plus they put used books along side with the new, so you usually had a choice to buy new or used. They seem to buy back books on the spot, so it is a good way to keep the shelves from overflowing while feeding your book cravings. K was able to spend some of a gift card so she was pretty happy floating from shelf to shelf. She opted for the 2nd Percy Jackson and a dragon book that was talked about at the meeting.

Okay - "Chicken Cheeks" explanation: We walk into the store and one of the discounted kid's books is called "Chicken Cheeks". K asked, "What is that?" I say that I've never heard of it before. So we look closer and it has a chicken's behind on the cover and I'm thinking "noooo...." The whole book is about animal bums! We started reading and (keep in mind it is a book store and about as quiet as a library) we start laughing until we are crying and can hardly read the book because it is so darn funny. Really it doesn't have many words, but things like "a duck billed platypus glutenous maximus" just sent us over the edge. Yeah... we bought a copy. Don't bug us or we'll send you a copy too. LOL!!!!!!

That was fun and all, but the real reason we were there was to go to a Young Writer's workshop. The workshop was run by 3 authors of older children's/young adult books. One lives in Portland and the other two were from back east - flew in for the event, but also on a signing tour. They talked about the process of writing, editing, peer critiquing, etc. Then they broke into groups to do some work with the kids on writings that they had prepared. The kids were able to read something they wrote and have them critiqued. K joined the older kids group, being 12. She read a portion of an adventure book she has been writing this school year. It was funny because she was able to articulate in front of the group the challenge of linking scenes and getting from her concept of the beginning and the ending she has planned out. Finally, they stopped her and asked, "How old are you?" She said 12. They were confused before her answer because they thought she looked younger, until she opened her mouth. Then they were blown away by her clear explanation of what she needed pointers/help with. Proud mommy/teacher moment. I wasn't exactly sure how she would conduct herself, but she did good. Overall, it was a good workshop because the kids were completely treated as competent *people*, not *just kids*.

Then we headed home to meet up with Mark. We decided we were going out for dinner and I suggested we go somewhere local/unique/not a chain. Mark and K decided that Chili's was exactly what they wanted. So we punched it into "Reggie" and Clackamas Town Center came up. Mark and I had actually eaten there back in September. So we headed there. We parked on the backside of the mall so we could get a little walk in. Well, we walked in and worked our way to the front where it was supposed to be. GONE. So we stopped into the Made in Oregon store and looked around. We found a few things, but the sales lady said to go home and print out their on-line coupon and come back and that sounded good to us. She also gave us some free booklets on Oregon. NICE PEOPLE!!

Being undeterred, Chili's was again punched in and Lake Oswego (pronounced Oss-wee-go.... sound wrong to me) came up. We knew that one too because Mark's old job had an office in the same complex. is now the Oswego Grill.

Then they put it in again and Beaverton came up. Now let's stop here. To get to Beaverton you actually travel to the north side of Portland, head west, and then go south. To go to Clackamas and Lake Oswego, you go south, then west, and then slightly north. So by the time we hit Beaverton, in my day, we had made the complete loop around Portland (freeways don't actually go straight across the middle). So now we are back in Beaverton for my 2nd time today. Guess what? No Chili's. Turns out there isn't a Chili's in the entire state of Oregon. They closed between September and now. Yes, I am laughing really loud. Chicken Cheeks and whirlwind tour on the hunt for the illusive Chili's... too much fun. Dinner ended up being Red Robin at about 9:00pm. Next time, I choose. guessed it: House hunting. We have about 8 or 9 to get through this weekend. All going inside with the agents. Some we already scouted out and some are new to us. Cross your fingers!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nice people!!!!!!!

Yesterday I took K to her wood working class. Upon sending her into the workshop I realized that one of the people in charge was explaining to another parent all the opportunities that were part of TrackersNW (the organization that has set up the wood class). I was listening to the schpeel and when they were done I introduced myself and asked about some of the classes and camps.

One of the camps is a family camp that sounds really cool. It takes place out in Sandy, OR (about 45 minutes away) on the property of the owners of the company. The activities include, archery, wood working, caring for farm animals, collecting edible plants from the forest, making cheese from fresh goat's milk, tracking skills, camp cooking, and a laundry list of other activities.

Some of the other classes include a couple of homeschool classes. One focuses on ranger type skills and the other is more pioneering skills. They are big on letting students direct the activities, so they could be making wooden bows one day and navigating a river in a canoe the next. The staff act more as facilitators that provide experts. Then after getting a taste of what the person knows, the kids dialong with the staff and come up with their projects. Primative clay sculting, boat building, survivor skills.....soooooo much to choose from. Unfortunately, the classes can cost a bit, but not all. I'll have to keep my eyes open.

They even have adult classes. While I was chatting with the lady, I found out that the group in another workshop was making German 10th century leather shoes from scratch. They teach all sorts of classes, it is really quite interesting. One that I am not sure I would jump on was a hunting class. The students don't actually hunt, but the teacher does hunt a nutra (rodent), then shows how to "off" it (without prolonged suffering), skin it, and tan its hide. Wild...weird! It is really a different culture up here sometimes.

I came to the class just to take K and hang out and read my book. Instead I had the most interesting conversation with this lady. I gave her lots of "outs" to end the conversation, but she seemed quite happy to hang out and talk about all sorts of things. The people up here are so nice, I tell you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

mmmm....warm soft bread....

Yesterday, after mark got off work, we had a few errands to run. One of the errands was to go to Fry's, not my favorite place. Anyway, to soften the blow, we decided to also swing by Bob's Redmill for some bread mix and to show K.

We got there the last hour it was open and found some things we wanted. Then we walked around a bit and they still had some fresh baked bread from that day. I wasn't going to get any, but then I touched a loaf of honey oat bread and it was so soft and fluffy. I couldn't say no, especially since the loaf was cheaper than the grocery store bread. It was super yummy straight out of the bag.

So...going back to Fry's. I knew this would happen. I tried to prevent it. Planned ahead and did all that I could.....We have finally come down with a case of can't-find-our-stuff-itis! You can insert other words in place of "stuff" because that is how frustration it can be. We are still living with boxes, though not all our boxes because the PODS took the rest of our stuff into storage the first week we were here. I don't know if it makes it better or worse. I tried to plan ahead and mark the important boxes so they wouldn't end up on the PODS, but some either escaped or I didn't mark because now we are dealing with not having certain items... like the ability to connect Mark's keyboard to his computer because we were missing a part or the dog's monthly meds for heart worm. The Fry's trip was to fix the keyboard issue, but now I need to find a vet for the dog.

So along with wood working class for K today, I am now on a mission to find a vet or an unopened box......

Just keep swimming...just keep swimming...just keep swimming..

Monday, February 15, 2010

A few possibilities..

Today we drove all around to heck and back today to check out different houses and areas. A few were down twisty roads and a ways out. One we never actually made it out to because there was a no trespassing sign on a private road that had a group of houses, one being for sale. The sign basically said that *if* we did not have business with the families that lived on the street and *if* we "survived", we would be prosecuted for trespass. It was very threatening and decided that it was not a place we wanted to be associated with.

We did find a couple that were of interest - Pictured here. The yellow house has a "4 mountain view". It was a great day to see this house because we could clearly see 2 mountains: Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens. It was a gorgeous day- perfect for house hunting. The other 2 mountains would be Mount Adams and *maybe* Mount Ranier, but that would have to be an extremely clear day. It not only has views, but 5.20 acres as well.

The brown one is a bit bigger at 10 acres as well as a bigger house, though not all of the interior house is complete. The 10 acres is very level - lots of room for an orchard and/or the addition of Douglas Fir trees for a forest tax deferral. The house is in one of my favoritely named places: : "The Hamlet of Beavercreek". A HAMLET! How cool is that?! Some issues with this one - it will need some work and currently it has about 10-20 junk cars/trucks on it along with a boatload of debris. We would have to make sure it all got cleaned up prior to full payment being made. It maybe a total junker, but who knows. I like its lodge-like look on the outside.


Okay, new story: In the middle of writing this, Mark burned some toast! OMG x 1000!!!! The smoke detectors work! The dog ran in! The kid jumped out of bed! I am pretty sure I dove for cover! My ears were screaming and starting to bleed! It was awful! I took the broom and was ready to beat them into the ceiling. Then, they stopped (all synchronized). Oh, my ears were ringing and my head was pounding. About 2 minutes passed... then they went off again. I am pretty sure if you don't evacuate, they will give you hearing damage - YES, it is that bad.

Okay, ears will be ringing for awhile and I'm just about ready for bed.

Lots of driving!

Yesterday, we went out to preview some properties. We headed out to five properties. It is all a jumble now, but it caused us to do a little soul searching and the creation of a new list of properties to look at.

Right now, we are getting ready to head out to see if any of these are possibilities. Looks like we are going to see 8 houses, so it is going to be a big day with more driving.

Normally, I like going for a drive, but when you don't always know exactly where you are, your brain works overtime to make sense of it all. For me, it makes me a little car sick. I do now have a better understanding of where things are and how all the different cities connect on the back roads. After years of off and on study of maps, it is just a little different in person. Mainly, the problem is that on-line maps don't put the city boundaries in. Even print maps don't always put them in. As a result, your perception of where cities are is more related to where the different maps print the city name. Often it really throws you off because cities you thought were farther apart actually touch!

Okay, back to the car!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

House hunting and sick pup

Well, we ended up seeing three houses today.

The first was the one story. It was interesting because the kitchen was in the middle of sort of a great room and walls/hallways were formed with cabinets. It had 4 rooms and a nice piece of property - I think 2 acres of pretty darn level land. The big issues: pretty dated on all those interior cabinet walls, and heat only from baseboard heaters and a wood stove. That was not too bad (grimacing), but it also had a fairly flat house roof and a carport (no garage) and they came together at the roof line and held a boatload of water.... not a good thing. Nothing was draining right and there was even some water damage inside from skylights... (sigh) The bees outside I mentioned yesterday... while there were some flying about, there was a heaping pile of dead ones by the front of the boxes....heaping! Poor bees!

The bonus house was next. It was kinda interesting, sort of a tri-level. The first two levels were really only separated by 4 steps (more like a sunken living room/ raised kitchen). That was all fine and dandy, but the downstairs was a finished basement....but not finished well. Open spaces w/o drywall in the backs of closets leading to other rooms with things propped in front of another hole to cover it up, loads of paneling, funky bad kitchen (2nd kitchen for a 2nd living space), and other things. We couldn't even get in the shop because it was falling apart. Decent property outside, but the top dollar price with all the work to be done was just too much.

The 2 story that I posted the picture of was just a really nice farm house. 3 1/2+ acres. Neat wrap around porch. Really well maintained. The green house was in bad shape and so was a huge out building, but they could both be demo-ed. BE-you-tee-full view of Mount Hood!!!! Aside from minor cosmetic stuff (Wallpaper on every wall!!!!!!!), the big issue???? It was really close to a freeway and a major street (could see the street) and it was pretty loud. Huge bummer! Also, the drive for Mark would not have been very good - while closer than some other houses, the one route was probably more congested. It is a highway, not a freeway, so it had intersections, etc. Letting that one go....

So we went to drown our sorrows in a buffet at Izzy's. Yep, I was right, this would be J-ster's version of heaven. Pizza, steak, desserts and more.

Then we went home. Fed Journey and started to settle in.... Then she started getting sick. (sigh) For about 3 hours she was either "losing her dinner, breakfast, etc", gagging, or crying. I finally got her to settle in and go to sleep about 8:00 and she has been passed out for over an hour. I am really hoping she just ate something stupid (I know, crazy! A lab eating something stupid??? That would neeeevvvveeerrr happen. LOL!). Crossing my fingers that she will be feeling better when she wakes up.

Okay... back to the MLS listings to find another house. Staying patient.... sort of.