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Another’s Perspective

Girls at Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

We met some friends at the Japanese Garden today. We got there earlier than they, and took that time to explore on our own. I used to come here regularly before kids, and only once or twice when Chloe was little. It is a lovely place, even in winter. Unfortunately, by the time our friends arrived, Leo was ready to go. However, we stayed for another hour or so, giving the girls time to hang out and enjoy being together. Leo was clingy and wanted holding the entire time. By the end I was ready to just get home.

Before leaving, we decided to exit the garden (no food or drinks allowed), and eat a snack outside the gates. The other mom is a newer friend of mine. She’s done a lot of traveling and living around the world, and married a man from another country. I love hearing about her experiences in other cultures, and I often see, by things she says, how it has informed her perspective.

Anyway, there are two particular instances that stick out in my mind, that I found myself thinking about later. The first is that she remembered to pack her daughter’s snack – a cheese quesadilla, some unpeeled clementines and a water bottle. I, on the other hand, did not consciously pack a snack, instead relying on what I happen to have in my bag for moments like this – a kids Clif bar, which Chloe and Leo shared, packets of organic gummies and two small juice boxes – all pre-packaged from the store. I also wiped my kids hands with a wet wipe and offered one. What do you think? Interesting to see the difference between the snacks, right? While I believe both are perfectly acceptable, I should have known, since my kids didn’t eat much for lunch, that they would be hungry. It was a good reminder to try and pack fresh more often than I do, though our impromptu snack was fine.

The other instance was when we got back to the parking lot. The mom took a peek inside our minivan, behind the kids’ row, and exclaimed “You could have a dance party back there!” It made me laugh, because it’s true (a preschool dance party anyway)! But her comment does put into perspective our choice of vehicle (newer, though we bought it used after David accidentally totaled our last car). I am really happy with it. It is comfortable for our family of four + dog, though it is the biggest car I’ve ever owned. It reminded me how lucky we are to be able to make these choices. From many perspectives, we are truly living the American dream right now. We have more than most. I don’t regret our choices (though I may in the future, and I did miss the AWD of our old vehicle when it snowed here a few weeks back). Looking through the other mom’s eyes was enlightening. It reminded me to be grateful. To be more conscious of my choices and time, and how they affect my children, our budget, and our family.

Sometimes an outside perspective really does work wonders.

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David and I reached out 8th anniversary yesterday. This is the card I gave him. The simple letterpress design with the sweet little heart over Portland sums up a lot of how I feel. While pieces of my heart may be elsewhere, it’s this spot on the map where my true love lies… along with our home, our kids, our lives. I think we both hope to stay here for a long time. Together.

So thankful that we have found each other.


Le Pigeon

Last night, David and I enjoyed an amazing anniversary dinner (only a month late) at Le Pigeon as a treat from David’s parents. Le Pigeon is probably the tiniest restaurant I know, and we had an excellent view of the food preparation from the bar seating that surrounded the kitchen area (the photo above was our same view from where we were sitting).

Since I like to try new things, I was happy to actually order pigeon for the first time (pan fried, with fois gras, grapes, and riesling). The meat was surprisingly dark and flavorful, just a little bit gamey, the breast better than the legs in my opinion. The pigeon starter was followed by a rich and tasty veal paprikash with gnocchi for me and prosciutto wrapped pork for David. For dessert David chose the creme brulee paired with chocolate shortbread cookie and espresso pot de creme (OMG!), and I ordered the creme fraiche panna cotta with blueberries and candied orange peel. While very beautiful and fresh, the panna cotta was too delicately flavored after my rich entree. David gallantly helped me out with it and I finished off his dreamy pot de creme. Such good food in every bite, and really neat to see the attention paid to each dish by the chefs. I hope we’ll get to eat here again.



David and I went to see Cirque du Soliel’s Kooza this evening. Chloe stayed with good friends of ours. I thought my mind would drift to her often, but instead my attention was riveted to the performers on-stage (and in the audience – at one point we had to stand and let a comedic pickpocket through our row, followed by two energetic policeman).  It was wonderful – a fine balance of storytelling, humor, and remarkable stunts. Pretty much action-packed eye candy backed by live music. Our only disappointment (if you can even call it that), was seeing only two out of the three contortionists, but we were no less amazed. A ticket costs a small fortune, but worth it, especially if you’ve never been. Kooza will be showing in Portland through May 23rd.


Portland Children’s Museum

Exploring the feel of clay in the Clay Studio

Chloe and I finally checked out the Portland Children’s Museum. It was our first time there, and lucky for us our library’s cultural pass to adventure was available, which gave us free admission to the museum. This saved us $16! The only caveat is that you have to go to the library to get the pass, go to your destination, and then return the pass to the library by midnight the same day or get fined $10. It can be a lot of driving around, but still a good deal.

Surprising mama on the slide in the Baby’s Garden

Chloe had a great time. At 13 1/2 months, Chloe loves to walk around, explore, touch things, and be around other kids. As usual, several mothers commented on her petite size and expressed surprise at her ability to walk around so well. She even surprised me, by easily climbing up a set of stairs to the slide, and knowing instinctively to turn around at the top to go down on her tummy. How did she know to do that? I’ve never shown her. She repeated this a couple times, but on the third time she decided she wanted to go down standing up. I could see this, and I hesitated on what to do. Should I tell her no and sit her down, or turn her around myself? Unsure, I grabbed the back of her shirt lightly, enough to gentle a fall should it occur, and just let her work it out for herself. What she did was grab onto the wall and start down sideways, and halfway through turn forward to take the last couple steps to the ground. I thought for sure the momentum would cause her to fall on her face, but surprise, she stepped quickly enough and sturdily enough to get down with no problem. Can you believe that? She didn’t need me there after all. I was concerned for nothing (but glad I was there, just in case).

Playing with (rubber?) gravel in the Dig Pit

For Chloe’s age, the baby garden, the clay center and the dig pit were the best bets. She still needed a little guidance to keep the “gravel” from the dig pit out of her mouth, but she was really fascinated by the texture and moveabiltiy of it all. We were there kind of late, and there were no other kids in the dig pit while were were there. When she heard kids talking and squealing in an adjacent room, she decided she was done and headed out the door to go find them. I had to scramble to grab our coats, the camera, and my bag together so I could catch up. It was fun letting her explore, and I’m sure we’ll be back.

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A good kind of sting

Despite hearing stories of long lines and hours of wait, we decided that our daughter’s health and well-being was worth the effort of trying to procure for her the H1N1 vaccine. We were out of the house within minutes of confirming that yes, our provider finally received a shipment at our local clinic.

When we arrived, the line was out the door, but the check-in station was just around the corner. There was a security officer there, presumably to keep the peace should anyone choose to get rowdy, but he was very nice and even gave Chloe a sticker. It goes to show how very protective of Chloe I was being, because I did not want her touching that sticker, or anything else (even though the clinic was also offering free hot chocolate). I even chose to carry her in the Beco. I did not want to risk her getting sick from anything or anybody there.

The wait was surprisingly short, maybe 25 minutes before Chloe was screened as a priority candidate. After signing a short form the nurse asked if David and if we were also wanting to be vaccinated. We answered yes. And so all three of us got the H1N1 vaccine (whew!).

FYI: Often there is a choice between the spray and the shot. Pediatric doses are only given as shots. If you have asthma, you cannot choose the spray version. And even though David has a different insurance provider, he was still able to get a dose, because these were paid for by the government.

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Baby's Bottom Dollar Sale

My neighbor, Colleen, emailed me about the local Baby’s Bottom Dollar Sale and we went to check it out this morning. It was held at the Tigard Maison Armory and the space was full of new and used baby items – clothing, toys, maternity, accessories, equipment, furniture, etc. You can choose to sell your stuff or just go buy things like we did. I feel like I totally scored on everything I bought – like a Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Fleece Pouch Sling for $10 (original price $62!), a pair of red leather PediPeds for $5 (originally $32!) and a pair of pink baby girl Converse shoes for $3 (originally $20!). If you live in the Portland area it is worth checking out through Sunday, June 14th.


Neighborhood Coyotes

barkley on hike

Barkley on a hike at Stub Stewart State Park

As I sit down to work at my computer, I hear a fire truck siren going off in the distance, followed by a clear, harmonious howl. David and I turn to each other and smile because we know the howl is coming from Barkley, who is outside at the moment. I’ve only seen him do this a handful of times, but it is simply adorable to watch and it doesn’t last long. I barely get a glimpse of him through the window (never long enough for me to get my camera, argh!). It’s heartening to see a shelter dog who used to be so shy and quiet, feel free to express himself like that.

This reminds me of that coyote I saw on my street last week. A pretty strange occurrence since I don’t live all that far from the city. And no, I wasn’t just seeing things, and no, it wasn’t just a dog on the loose. I know it was a coyote. I’ve seen the signs by our neighborhood lake, and I’ve heard about them from a neighbor, but I never in a million years expected to see one myself. I was just driving home one evening and turned onto our block to find it right in the street. It took one quick look at the car and then trotted away, out of sight. Wow! It was really cool.

Here are some interesting articles from the Audubon Society of Portland on Living with Urban Coyotes and a story from a neighboring community website.

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