Saturday, December 31, 2005

End of year

This is a say-nothing, really, kind of post. I just thought I should let you all know that we're still alive and we had a good Christmas! Paul's parents and my parents both came for Christmas, and Paul's parents just left today to go back to Tucson. We had a great Christmas and a nice week. We showed them Powell's and downtown Portland, OMSI, Hawthorne Blvd. and our area up here in the NE part of Portland. We wanted to get over to the coast, as we heard the whales are migrating like crazy, but we never got over there. Maybe in January. :-) I'm going to do everything in January. It's starting to feel like New Year's Resolutions, and I don't do those. But one thing I am going to do is get to a doctor (hopefully find one I like here) and get a physical, as I am sorely overdue for one.

The church is having a party tonight, so that's where you'll find us!

I hope you all have a very happy and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

and update on us

So, I haven't blogged much lately. I suppose that's because my life has been pretty much consumed with getting this house ready to be lived in, and ready for company on Christmas, and getting Christmas presents and all that. And I really don't like reading blogs that are just lists of what someone did. But I will tell a bit about our ideas of Christmas this year, because I think we've hit on something cool.

Paul and I both felt this year, coming up on Christmas, a sense of dread of going out and joining the Christmas throngs, to buy, buy, buy more stuff. As Paul said, we try not to shop the big chain department stores the rest of the year; why would we want to at Christmas? The desire to simplify was in both of us. Also: why buy gifts for people who are not going to use them anyway, for whatever reason. You don't know them well enough to buy for them, you don't have the same tastes as them, etc. What's the point?

I suppose it's the same non-conformity that we felt when we first got married, though I admit to some overzealousness. ;-) We felt that Christmas trees were completely pagan in origin (true) and we would only focus on Jesus' birth, as that's what Christmas is about. So, we did not get a Christmas tree. Instead, we made a manger. You read that right. It was probably 4 feet across and 3 feet high. We made a manger out of interlocking 2X4s and then we bought some hay to put in it. That's what we put our presents under. Man, oh man, we were zealots, but of the sincere sort. No more messy than a Christmas tree, but without the nice scent.

Anyway, back to the, uh, present. We sat down with the kids and hammered out some principles. One applies only to the immediate family: only one gift each. Each member of the family will receive one gift from the rest of the family. The other principles we will stick to as much as possible for every gift we buy: it will be made locally, in Portland, by a real person and not in a factory, and that person will be fairly paid, and hopefully we can even forge a relationship with that person as we are buying the item from him/her, so that we actually know the person our goods came from.

By the way, I actually got an email from the coffee folks I blogged about on Dec. 11! The guy was googling "family coffee portland" and found my blog, where I'd mentioned them! Now there's a relationship with my coffee grower. :-)

I have to say that Portland is a great city to live in to do what we want to do for Christmas, because it's a very artsy kind of a place. I got lots of recommendations for the Portland Saturday Market, and I went last Saturday, braving the *very cold weather*. But it was worth it--a huge market full of hand-made things, beautiful things, things of lasting value. Just what we were looking for.

I have to say one thing about my kids. They are cool. They so *got* this idea. They didn't just go along with it because they have weird parents, much less throw a tantrum or pout or anything like that. The only thing that needed to be cleared up came from Zac. He agreed to all this with tears dripping down his face. We asked him what was up--did he not want to do this? Is this because you won't get the erector set you wanted? No, it wasn't that. Oh--is it because you wanted to give everyone a gift just from you? Yes! He'd made gifts for all of us. So, we quickly amended the principle to say that if you make them yourself, you can give as many gifts as you want!

And then it snowed on Sunday! My kids just loved it. Well, we all did. I enjoyed just watching it out the window. And we were very surprised, but pleasantly so, that the dinner we were to go to on Sunday night was postponed. Postponed over a little snow?!? We've lived in Boston, and this was NOT the kind of snow you postpone stuff for....but apparently in Portland it is. Then again, they don't have the wherewithall to plow all the streets, only the major ones. So it's not as easy to get around as in Boston after a snow. But we were happy to stay at home and enjoy it.

I'm sure that'll be my last blog post before Christmas, so I'll say it now: Blessed Nativity to all who celebrate!

short update on my grandmother

I've been not posting about my grandmother because I didn't quite know how to say it....and I thought maybe I could ignore it and it would go away....but I see Molly just commented on the posting about my grandmother getting married and I feel compelled to let my readers know that my grandmother isn't getting married after all. My mom found out some things about John that made her uncomfortable, and she asked my grandma to reconsider. I suppose that a lesson can be made here: you're never too old to pull out just in the nick of time from a potentially stupid mistake. :-)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Our Saturday

Ah, life in Portland! We're trying to get used to the cold. Most often heard phrase coming out of my mouth this past week: "dress for the weather!"

Paul didn't get his day off this week, as he was up-to-his-ears busy with parish stuff in his first week. However, there were no sacraments yesterday--no baptisms, weddings, or funerals, which is not a usual occurence for a large parish on a Saturday. So, we got him at home until it was time for Vespers at 6! I took off, leaving him home with the kids (which was absolutely *fine* with him--he was ready for some time at home) and went by myself to find some things for our house that have been needed for the last week. I found some great panel curtains for our dining room at a vintage consignment shop. Yay for only 19 bucks for four panels! Unfortunately the rods I bought for them are too small, so they're not up yet. But I did get up some curtains in the upstairs bathroom--I was feeling like at night our up-the-hill neighbors could see right in. And my one indulgence purchase was a beautiful new torchiere lamp--we needed a good strong lamp for the living room, but I suppose I wouldn't have had to spend that kind of money on it....but it's pretty and I just bought it. :-)

So, I suppose that's one thing about being a homeschool mom--you have to look for time to do stuff like this. When I have the kids in the backseat, they'll only put up with so much stopping at every shop I see that might have what I want. I do appreciate the time I get, and I had fun by myself, shopping for our new home. And I feel good about these purchases--they were all bought at shops that support world crafts without being exploitative, or were bought used. I love the Global Exchange store. We shopped at the one in San Francisco a little, too. When I walked in yesterday there were coffee samples, and the guy giving them out was touting his family's coffee farm in Brazil! I've met my vegetable grower before, but I'd never met my coffee grower. Cool beans! ;-)

When I got home, the rest of the family was all excited. They'd gone for a walk, and I think it was a pile of prunings that inspired them to make a wreath. They took bits of stuff from the neighborhood and from our yard and made a wreath that's beautiful and smells good! It's made of some kind of evergreen, rosemary (okay, they stole that from my kitchen), lavender that grows in our yard, and rose hips outside our window.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Posts from Portland

As you all can see, I have a new name. Paul's uncle suggested this name and I kind of liked it. Near Powells was fun, though! I just don't know if it fully defines my existence.

Our house is coming together. It looks like a place to live now. It's not quite "home" yet, but it is a place to live. Boxes are getting counted down pretty quickly. I think we've found everything that really matters, after this morning when I finally found the good towels.

Social: the kids have a friend over to spend the night! They already have someone they liked well enough to invite over from the book group we went to last month and attended again today. She only lives a few blocks away, too. Cool.

Saturday, December 3, 2005


We're not homeless anymore! Just a quick update to let you all know that we're here and enjoying our new home. Well, we're enjoying it as much as possible while surrounded by boxes....but the kids are having fun with the instant fire that is our gas fireplace. :-) I wanted a real fireplace, but there are advantages to gas....

Just a bit of snow coming over the pass, not enough to make us chain up, so that's good. And I haven't seen any snow in Portland yet, but my kids are chomping at the bit. Hibi also wants to get on the internet now, as we just got our phone I'll go now. More later!