Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blackberry Picking

I'm going to let the pictures do the talking here for the most part. We went blackberry picking in order to make some jam. Both were a first for us as a family.
Sweaty, sticky work but worth it. I'm talking about the picking AND the jamming.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Montana or Bust

My family began traveling to Montana for family re-cations (that's reunion and vacation together) when I was about 8-9 but it is NEVER to early to start that awesome trip. Alden's lucky to get going at 3! We departed in early August for our first big family road trip, camping trip, family reunion on my mother's side. Our destination was Whitefish, Montana in 2 days. My oldest sister and some of her friends were already on a train, there were folks coming in from Pittsburg, and even Abu Freaking Dhabi. This was big. We met up with my mom, middle sister and her boyfriend at a camp ground just over the Washington state border on the Columbia River. We had traveled a mere 5 hours whereas Merritt and Joe had flown into Portland from Austin, TX. My mom swooped them up and away they drove. Sounds like a great opening scene from The Big Race.
This is what three marshmallows look like in a three year old mouth. More out than in.
Planning the journey north to Whitefish where, as mom said pointedly several times, our pivotal point was Elmo, Montana. ELMO. She said it, like, a billion times. I then teased her for the entire way to Elmo. 
Squint and you can see that we are Big Sky Country, indeed, where buffalo burgers roam and huckleberry milkshakes are as common as cowboy hats.
We survived and promptly got right down to having fun. As much fun as you can have when trying to coordinate 19 people with different naps times, food requirements, and ideal of rapid rise. On the awesome side, I learned how to put in a new kind of baby seat and that my Aunt Jill is my soothing tonic in times of family slowness crisis. She talked me down without ever calling me out for being a time freak. 
Alden was interested in Cole and maybe a little jealous that he'd be sharing the lime light that has been his for nearly 2 years now. They were fun to watch together. And it was even more fun to watch all of us watching them. It's like we'd never seen children before. 
Well, certainly not ones that are so friggin' handsome and squishy.
Barf. And awesome.
Every time I got to Whitefish, I somehow manage to NOT jump in the lake every day. Or at all. Not this year. We jumped in several times and with gusto. Alden was fearless at the end of the dock jumping into mine or cousin Emma's arms. She was a natural with him. 
We all spent many hours in the early morning light or in the fading evening light on this porch. Eating, drinking; talking, laughing. At one point, there were 27 of us out on this deck celebrating the tremendous privilege of family. 
Half of the pair that started it all. This is Grandma Shirley (or G-Shirl) luxuriating in the happy chaos that she and Grandpa Alden started all of those years ago here in Montana.
There is ALWAYS time for face painting. 
This was a short but fun day at spent at the Huckleberry Festival in the down town area. 

After we departed from Whitefish (along with most of the other family), Dustin, Alden, and I began our solo family portion of the trip. Three days of driving back to southern Oregon cut with 2 days of camping.
We got as far as Hot Springs, Montana when we stopped for lunch and a dip. 
Nothing like hot tubbin' in the summer. It must be in my Finnish blood to always be warm. Must. Sauna. 

If you've ever watched the movie Cars than you'd understand why Alden asked when we pulled up, "Are we in Radiator Springs?" This little run down town in the middle of NoWheresville is very similar.
We camped that night in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on the lake. It was off the beaten path but so beautiful.
Costing just a few dollars more to NOT set up a tent, we opted for this luxe little cabin complete with bunk beds. This place had everything from swimming pools to paddle boats to movie rentals. Odd for camping but I can totally see the appeal for families. EASY.
The next morning, we continued on to Bend, Oregon when we camped quite oppositely. We set up in a dusty dirty patch in the dark in some RV park. Not ideal but fun in a different way. Alden likes to camp and loves Montana. For a while after, he insisted that we lived in Grants Pass, Montana. The trees aren't nearly as huge and the sky isn't as expansive here, but for the fun that we manage to make on our own, I can see where he's getting that idea. 

Monday, November 12, 2012


The three day weekend of Labor Day snuck up on us this year. After we celebrated our anniversary we decided to stick around the house and finish some weather sensitive projects. Sunday night we glamour camped in our own back yard. Glamping.

Alden was very excited to be roasting hot dogs. Didn't even want to eat them. Just roast, thank you.

I can't remember a night of such deep and restful sleep than the one we all had in the camper. I'm converting it into a nap room complete with candles, warm slippers, and plenty of books.

That dog tucked under Alden's arm is MY favorite snuggler, Fred. I've had him since I was three years old and now he is on his second tour through the family. Thirty years and still going strong!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

11 Year Anniversary Date Night

To celebrate another year of successful and relatively painless marriage, we treated ourselves out to a date at the Jacksonville Inn.

What does a gluten avoiding, vegan order? A friggin' New York steak smothered in creamy butter sauce. I decided that I can have one cheat night a year. This was it. And the discomfort was well worth it. Dustin and I got giggling from meat intoxication. Hilarious.

Stupid tall chocolate mousse cake.

Now why don't I have any pictures of us? The food was more interesting, I suppose. We are still here. We are still happy. We are still married.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's Apparent That You're a Parent

'Nuf said. Mama has a boo-boo? Cover it up with the only band aids in the house. Thomas, James, and Percy will get me through. Chooooooo-Choooooooo!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Dad's Side: Family Reunion

My sisters and I were born and raised in Grants Pass and yet, I've never been to a family reunion on my dad's side until now. Apparently, we all like to craft things and create. It's a genius idea that everyone who can donates items to be silently auctioned off to other family members to raise money for the next reunion. A sort of cannibalistic craft cycle. Call it: craftabalism.

It was a pleasure to meet some of these people. But not all of them. Sheesh. What a wind bag that old lady was. Kidding. Everyone was sweet and pleasant and very interested in where Alden got his red hair. Certainly not from them. Them with their dark eyes, tanned skin, and dark hair.

Aunt Sally and Opa Ray are in the front with their backs to me but the rest of the folks are bewildering strangers. Then Alden ran through the crowd. Folks were interested in who I was after that.

It's endearing to know that most of these folks live here in town and that I might see them again someday. I have second and third cousins and aunts and uncles that are helpful, courteous and kind. Forget how the red hair genes travel, how do you explain my dad being in that mix?
Again with the kidding.