Tuesday, April 27, 2010

General Goings Ons

We've been keeping busy after our return from California. In an unexpected move, Anthony had lots of work last week and worked a full week, even with extra hours meaning that he put some hours toward Monday instead of using vacation for the day. Go figure. I'm told that our lean days are still coming, so we're still being careful.

Davan is busy with preparing for her show. There are extra rehearsals, meetings, and emails galore. Yesterday, we brought a poster to the library and asked them to put it up, but it's not up as of today. They say it's because they don't put "for profit" things up. I explained that Do Jump is a non-profit and that it's their teen show and was told the supervisor would be asked, but it's not up today. I'm a little ticked about that, as they've got Disney's "The Lion King" posters up, which, make no mistake, is a for profit show. Davan is saying we should ask for it back and put it up elsewhere, which we probably should, but I'm feeling all anxious about doing it and I figure they've probably tossed it out.

We've decided to switch our hiking days from Thursday to Tuesday because Thursdays are Davan's marathon Do Jump days and just plain feel busier. Today, though, it was pouring rain when we got up and we modified the hike to a walk to the library and Border's (where Davan likes to browse) rather than doing a very wet hike. So far, the rain has cooperated by only sprinkling on us a little when we were outside. We did get in a hike yesterday morning, as well. I'm on a mission to get Davan out more. (Yeah, yeah, she gets out a lot in comparison to most kids, but still.) As Davan had requested hiking to the top of a hill and looking around some, I took us over to Powell Butte where we did just that.

While Davan was at an extra rehearsal on Sunday, Anthony and I rode across the I-205 bridge on the bike path. We'd never done it before and I'd been wanting to just to do it. It was very loud. The bike path is protected, but in the middle of the opposing lanes of traffic. I wouldn't do it again just for the fun of it, but it is nice for those who need or want to cross to Washington.

Time's up! I'm off. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

We've been on a serious cookie kick lately. Because of this, to keep the amounts of dried fruit and nuts down to a dull roar, I've been experimenting with using mostly oats and fresh fruit, ala my grapefruit cookies. It's been successful overall and Davan is loving getting things like ginger pear cookies for breakfast, which is what we had in addition to smoothies this morning.

First, a word about the smoothies. My step dad flew with my grandma from her place down to LA for the wedding last weekend. After spending a couple of days with her, working on her honey-do-list, he came back home bearing oranges from grandma's tree. This morning Davan and I had this smoothie:

2 oranges, peeled
1 generous handful of spinach (I go light on the greens when sharing with Davan or she kind of freaks, although she's good about eating greens in other ways)
2 frozen bananas
4 brazil nuts
some water - maybe 2 cups, but you should add more or less depending on the consistency you desire

Blend until smooth. Yum.

For the cookies, which produced leftovers, I cored two pears and tossed them in the food processor until finely diced. I removed most of the pears, putting them in a bowl to wait a moment while I added oats (2 cups or so) to the food processor, along with about a TBS of flax meal and about two tsp of cinnamon. After running until the oatmeal was fine, I added ginger water, which I made in the Vitamix with about a TBS of fresh ginger root and enough water to run the blender. I added this to the pears in the bowl, discovered that it was too wet, added another cup or so of oatmeal (unground this time), mixed and formed into cookies. They were yummy, too. Not to mention inexpensive, which is important right about now.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Weekend in Cali

We had a really nice weekend in the LA area for my aunt's wedding. It actually, seeing as how we'd already gotten the plane tickets, came at a great time for us financially because my aunt (the one getting married) has recently made some sweeping food changes due to her now-husband's leukemia. Her house, where we got to stay, was nicely stocked up with healthy foods, including some dishes she'd made ahead and frozen and she was adamant that we go ahead and use her food. We made good use of that offer and didn't have to spend a dime on food. It was really great.

My mom is one of four sisters and all were in attendance for the wedding. Caren had asked each of them to be her matrons of honor and had them each just wear what they liked. That worked out really well, as they were each in their own style, but it all blended well. Davan was one of two flower girls, the other being from Ron's family. Haley, the other flower girl, is 8 and she and Davan made fast friends. The other kids on that side are all boys, so Haley seemed thrilled to find a girl (an older girl at that!) who wanted to hang around with her. They got to spend time together on both Friday, at the rehearsal, and Saturday before, during and after the wedding.

I enjoyed seeing my family, which also included my grandmother, and spending lots of time with my little family and my parents. In addition to the wedding, my cousin had a birthday, so we had a party for him. In between the various parties, we got to go swimming, walk on the beach and do the Heart of Hollywood Hike.

We got back late-ish on Monday evening and hit the ground running on Tuesday with Anthony off to work (where there is enough work to do that he'll be working a normal week this week) and for Davan and I to get the house in order and start gearing up for the big Zig Zag show (tickets on sale now). Of course, there were the typical family dramas and personality quirks, but I'm really glad we got to go to see everyone and be part of Caren's big day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What a Biased Story

I came across this video this evening, following a link from a blog I read. It's an incredibly biased story about unschooling. Watching this video practically makes me nervous about how these kids are going to "turn out" and I, my friends, am an unschooler.

I'm sure the parents and kids came up with interesting things to say that would have sounded better to the general public, but that mostly seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. It's really too bad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

All is Well

Yes, we're still facing the cutback, but all is well. We're now internet free at home and I'm doing fine with that. In fact, I've gotten a lot more reading in that I'd been doing. Davan has taken up the keyboard again. Anthony has almost knocked out that Easter puzzle and he mowed the lawn last night. Are these things related to a lack of internet at home? Probably. The keyboard playing is probably also a result of our resent attendance at Ten Grands performance. (For the record, we went to the student show, which is free. We weren't facing our own personal economic setback yet and I did consider also taking her to the evening show, as she really, really loves these concerts, but tickets ranged from $25 a piece to $85 a piece and, even then, that would have been a stretch to the budget!)

Today, a Wednesday, I'm at the library, enjoying the internet connection here while Davan is reading at the preschool where she volunteers. Usually, I'd be grocery shopping, but we're costing on what we have for a while. Not only did I buy plenty of produce (we have large stocks of dried beans and grains and such already) last week, but we're leaving town over the weekend. It's a trip that doesn't make sense to cancel, as we'd get no refund for it. We're going to California for my aunt's wedding and will be staying at her house for the event. Davan is going to be a flower girl and is very excited. My mom is one of the attendants. Me? Nothing. Really, though, that's totally okay, very possibly even preferred.

I've been working on using up our perishables and, I have to say, I must have overbought last week because I'm surprised at how much I've got left when we usually run out in the week. I think it'll all get used by the time we leave on Friday or be packed for lunch on our travels. While the flight isn't long enough for a meal, Davan and I are going to be flying first class (thanks to my mom's frequent flier miles, which is also how all three of us are going in the first place - we only had to pay for Anthony's flight) and will get snacks. Will we want to eat the offered snacks? I know not. We will be packing and not counting on it.

Davan and I had a very nice picnic lunch on Monday. We've been getting sunny days about half the day this week here in the Portland area. It was nice to get out and enjoy it.

Tonight Davan and Anthony are going to see Kooza. It was supposed to be my mom and Davan, my mom having gotten tickets for the two of them as a treat for Davan, but she has to be out of town this week for work. We decided Anthony should get to go, as he gets to do less with Davan than I do generally speaking. Personally, I'm kind of glad I won't be out until 11:00. I get tired early. Sadly, due to the late night, we've decided that the best thing for them to do is pay for parking. I'd like to have avoided that somehow, but walking across the bridges just south of downtown at near midnight doesn't seem like a great plan for a variety of reasons. And taking public transportation is not only not appreciably cheaper, but it would also greatly extend an already very late night.

That's it, time is up.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Economic Update

Anthony will be working 60% for the next three months, at least. After that, he may be back to full time, but it's also possible he'll only work full time for a couple of months and then be on reduced time again. Truly, I'm trying to look at this as a good thing. Anthony will be home a lot more and I value our time together more than money. We're also lucky in that we enjoy lots of activities that are free and we're well stocked to do - hiking, biking, backpacking, reading, puzzles, games.

However, changes are going to happen. We are totally cutting spending money for everyone. Even our occasional eating out will be a thing of the past for now. I'll be spending a lot less at the grocery store. We'll concentrate more on legumes and grains, which we're well stocked on, and eat less fresh produce, while still having some. We'll walk/ride as much as we can to save on gas and TriMet tickets. We have a few things to sell, which we'll be doing. Anthony is reducing his contribution to his 401K temporarily. We won't be getting a dog. We're cutting our internet.

I'll get online a few times a week a the library. I may keep posting some. I won't, though, post often, nor will there be any pictures.

Oddly, in the midst of this, Davan is starting a blog. :) Follow this link to Stories for every kid to check it out. She's planning on writing ongoing stories across posts. She'll be updating from the library.

We're all going to be fine, but we'll be tightening our belts, for sure. The loss of the internet (scheduled for Monday) seems to be hitting Anthony hard. Davan is the most sad about the lack of a dog and riding to Do Jump on Tuesdays. Me? Well, I'm most worried about my family feeling deprived. For now, though, I'm off to work on that puzzle some more!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Training Cats

In anticipation of getting a dog, we moved the cat food dish to a location the cats can get to, but not a dog. We opted for the top of the fridge. The food has been up there for three days now and three of our four cats have it all figured out. Two figured it out right away and the third caught on today. The fourth cat, whom we'd have said was one of the smarter ones, is not catching on. After dinner, we tried to get Pearl to get herself up there:

Anthony is enticing her with wet cat food. It got the other cats' attention, for sure:

Oscar is saying, "Just get out of the way and I'll get it."

Licorice also wanted in on the action:

When we gave up with Pearl for the moment, Licorice claimed the spot, enjoying the treat, with Cinnamon waiting for his turn:

Meanwhile, Davan was making good use of the doorway:

And Anthony moved on to puzzling:

Sadly, though, we may have to put our dog desires on hold. Anthony got the news at work today that one person from his group will be laid off on Friday and the others will all have reduced hours. We're 99% sure he won't be the one laid off, but the reduced pay for an unknown amount of time means that we need to be careful with money. Adding another mouth to feed might not be the best choice right now. On the other hand, it's something we all really want and are willing to give up some things for. In fact, Davan has said she'll pay the adoption fee herself (she's quite a saver). So, we'll see.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

We're having a nice Easter at our house. We started with my mom coming over to join in the festivities. She went to say good morning to Davan while Anthony and I finished up with hiding the eggs:

Davan hunted for eggs:

Sorted eggs:

And opened eggs:

In Davan's eggs this year were puzzle pieces (this one), three pairs of socks (one sock per egg), and Annie's Chocolate Bunny Grahams.

Oscar was right in the middle of the action:

All of the cats got a couple of cat treats for Easter, too.

We had individual pies for breakfast:

(My mom and I shared a little green drink, too, to get my greens for the meal in.)

We all enjoyed our pies with a crust of oats, some walnuts and dates, filling of fruit - cuties, kiwis and strawberries (except for Anthony, who doesn't like strawberries) and topping of chocolate sauce (cashews, dates, raw cacao powder with water to make it saucy). We all put in our own fruit and then topped with either raw cacao nibs, chocolate chips or both in my mom's case.

They were yummy:
After breakfast, we started on the puzzle:

Then Davan gave us her gift, which started with a treasure hunt with point to point clues and culminated in a show, created by Davan, story and all, explaining the origins of the Easter Bunny:

It was a cute show and a creative idea for where the Easter Bunny came from. At the end of the show, we were each presented with three Easter eggs. In one was a foil bunny with food treats inside, in another were two coupons tailored to the recipient (I got one for help with dinner and one for her doing all the chores one morning) and a picture each in the third.

I hope you're having a nice Easter, however you celebrate or even if you don't!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Breaking the Posting Fast

I've had a couple of weeks off of blogging and it's been a nice break. I'm feeling ready to post some again, though!

One of the weeks off, we were in Colorado Springs, visiting a friend. We had a nice, easy drive out. We got a little something every 100 miles. In each 100 mile package, there were a few pencil puzzles for Davan and a little food treat for us all - mostly a piece of black licorice each, but sometimes a square of chocolate each.

Davan spent time with the puzzles and writing, in addition to looking out the window to enjoy the scenery and listening to our audiobook.

We only stopped for gas, bathroom

and stretching breaks (during which we not only stretched, but also played ball, jumped rope, ran about and did acrobatics), having packed all of our food. I packed us four types of cookies, cuties, apples, kale chips, whole wheat pita chips, pita pockets, hummus, baby carrots, tortillas, nonfat refried beans, salsa, and chopped olives to last us for two breakfasts, two lunches, one dinner and snacks. We had some left over when we got there.

We went to Casa Bonita,

a favorite place from childhood for my friend and I. It's a little kitschy, but fun. The food is not what you'd call healthy - they only have one even vegetarian friendly dish because the refried beans have animal fat in them, but we made do with taco salads without the beef, sour cream and cheese (which didn't leave a lot other than iceburg lettuce, sigh). We filled up, unhealthily, on chips and sopaipillas, while we watched the indoor cliff divers and cheesy skits. We also explored the whole place, checking out everything.

We spent time at a very cool park

and at Red Rocks Open Space, bouldering and hiking.

We saw friends and family, walked a lot and had a good time.

The drive home was much the same as the drive there, excepting that our book on tape wasn't as good as the one we listened to on the way there. (Graceling on the way there and Fire on the way back, both by Kristin Cashore.) And we had more prepared foods - cereal, roasted unsalted peanuts, cuties, apples, pitas, tortillas, nofat refried beans, homemade salsa, olives, store bought hummus, a couple of Odwalla bars, baby carrots, baked tortilla chips.

We've also been busy sense getting home with lots of bike rides and a hike or two.

One hike was with all three of us plus my mom, up Saddle Mountain:

And the other was just Davan and I at Wildwood:

Davan also got to open her April Christmas envelope:

We're eating out at her favorite restaurant three times this month!

Speaking of April, a new month is upon us and I have my challenge to think of. Decluttering continued on, in spite of not blogging about it and was pretty successful, although I can see more to do! It'll be an ongoing project, but for this month, I was looking for a different challenge.

My weight has been creeping up, especially with the road trip eats, and I want to make some better food choices. So, this month (one month late for St. Patrick's Day) is green month. I'm going to have something green with every single meal or snack. That means a green veggie, not kiwi or green grapes! I want this to mostly be leafy greens, but I'm also good with having, say, cucumber for a snack. On the weekends, I have to admit, it'll be mostly token, as we have our set weekend meals that I don't really want to mess with, although I did have some steamed kale this morning with our pancakes.

There is my long update! Welcome to April!