Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Competition

Do you know what happens when you take a highly competitive person and remove them from any sort of situation where they could be competing with others? When they are no longer competing for grades or jobs, aren’t in any sports, and don’t have interaction with people for 75% of the day?
I do. They invent things to compete with.

My latest sport is couponing…sort of—hear me out first before you accuse this of turning into a mommy blog. My friend Julie (hi Julie!) has been trying to get me on her couponing bandwagon for a couple months now, but I discovered something crucial: coupons make me nervous.

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here… nervous that it’s not going to work, nervous that the cashier will have a fit or that it won’t scan and they’ll call for the manager over the loudspeaker for a price check on whatever personal item the coupon is for. It’s really fantastic for getting the blood pumping. And to top it off, I have discovered a new worthy foe: Walgreens.

I recently discovered the Walgreens couponing technique: with carefully planned multiple coupons that serendipitously coincide with sales and their rewards program, you can usually get like two free items every week. That is, if I catch them before they run out of the product because it's late in the ad cycle, if they marked the item correctly, if upwards of 3 coupons scan correctly, and magical things happen properly in the price scanner, then they’re free. And that’s a win. So while I’m still willing to pay the non-couponer price for 98% of everything I buy, I find myself now spending an inordinate amount of time plotting my next move against Walgreens. 

(And although I'm not about to force you to look at pictures of my loot, or list for you the things I got for less than pennies last week... if pressed I may or may not be willing to divulge). 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wetlands Walk

We woke up to a fantastically sunny spring break morning today, which prompted us to shirk the extensive list of chores we had planned in favor of an adventure.

Cam wanted to go on a day hike in the forest, but I suggested that his wife and 2/3 child were probably not up to the caliber of hike he had in mind. So we opted instead to explore the nature trails in the Jackson Bottom Wildlife Reserve in Hillsboro (I saw on the website that they do school field trips so I figured it couldn't be too bad).

It was a beautiful day with all the evidences of spring here in the Northwest: sprouts, early blossoms, water everywhere.
We didn't get very far before our trail became covered by about 4 inches of water. Cam, who wins points for being prepared for anything, asked if he could run back to the car and put on his boots that were in the trunk ("Why are they in the trunk?" "They're just there in case I ever need them").
Here he is trekking off across the water hazard... don't worry, he came back to carry me in my tennis shoes. We made it a little further, and then came across this:
So it was a short walk, but we saw a lot of cool birds–some that we could even name. The people at the visitor's center told us it's a much nicer walk when it's not so flooded, so expect a post about the rest of the trail in mid to late August, or anytime after a post about new hip-waders. 


A Whale of a Tale

Monday, to kick off spring break this week, we went with Cameron's family to the coast. The month of March there is a migration of gray whales heading north for the summer, so the Oregon Parks Dept. has people posted at overlooks to help you spot them. We chose the lookout at cape Meares lighthouse.
We got down there and looked around for a minute and saw nothing, so I went to talk to the guy who speaks whale (excuuuuse me siiiiir), a nervous looking elderly man who wore pants that looked like they were made out of green felt. He told me that they were having a "bit of a drought." No whales yesterday and only one on Saturday. Bummer.

Then Cam's sister ran over and said that her dad saw one breech with the binoculars. I was about to go let him know that he probably saw something else since they were having a "drought" (and since we had experienced the limits of his vision earlier while testing the binoculars) but right then I looked over the water and a huge whale just jumped up and came splashing down out near the horizon.

And that was it. No more breeches, and not even a spout after that the whole time we were there. I felt bad for the whale talker who missed it because he was talking to me with his back to the ocean - he seemed a little disappointed but he still let me sign the visitor book. We were there another 20 minutes watching for whales as I listened to his conspiracy theory that west pacific gray whales and east pacific gray whales were really the same group (I'm on his side). Then it got really cold and started to rain so we ran back to the car, thus concluding the most efficient whale watching trip I've ever been on.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Leprechaun Pranks

Most people think that all you are supposed to do on St. Patricks Day is to wear green. At my house growing up we actually had leprechauns that would do stuff and leave behind tiny green paper footprints and gold coins... kind of like the Easter Bunny, but more mischievous and with fewer marshmallow peeps. Besides, everyone knows if you catch a leprechaun you get a pot of gold.

I went over to my parent's and was recruited to help them carry out a series of leprechaun pranks. At 8 years old, Nathan was getting suspicious that the leprechaun that pranked him every year was mom or dad... so my job was to do some of them while they were gone (like color the toilet water green). I have to hand it to my parents for creativity--I think my favorite one was that they slipped a frying pan into his backpack (he didn't notice until he got to school). When he went to bed last night he told me he was glad that the leprechaun came to his house, even if it did mess up his room.

On a completely different note, I saw an awesome sale on snack-packs this week, but when I told Cam about he suggested that I probably didn't need large quantities of snack-packs. When I got to my parents it warmed my heart to see that they bought 10 4packs. There's no place like home!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good thing we have a toolbox

When it's 10:30PM, you rent an apartment,  and the faucet in your sink refuses to turn off, you have three options:
1. Call the manager, wake her up, and make her really grumpy
2. Use the magic "turn off the water switch" under the sink and call her the next day
3. Get out all your tools
    Take apart the faucet 
    Discover that the thing you were sure was the problem is not the problem
    Find several other things that are working just fine 
    Discover that you have no idea because it's still not working
    Use the magic "turn off the water switch" under the sink and call her the next day

Obviously the third option is the best, because that way when the maintenance guy shows up the next day, you can tell him what you learned is not the problem. Then he can do all the same things you did and come to the same conclusion before proceeding to take apart the sink piece by piece to find what the problem really is... your sink was installed in 1970. So to solve the problem he just gets a new faucet. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Things

We just watched Dear John, the most depressing movie I have ever seen… worse than PS I Love You (and I thought that wasn’t possible). I literally cried for an hour after the movie about everything and nothing and sad things and how happy things could make me sad and world problems and social issues and the fact that we’re out of ice-cream.

I admit the last one may have had something to do with preggo hormones, but I feel validated by that fact that Cam was in as much of a sad mood as I was (evidenced by the standard 1:7 tissue ratio).

Inspired by my need for mood recovery, I’ve decided to make a picture list of things that I have found to lift my spirits in three seconds or less (so that you can use them should you have the un-fortune of watching that movie):

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yes, I realize they don't come out reading

....But that's no reason not to be ready just in case, right? Besides, toddler toys are more fun anyway.
Here is a project I've been working on lately:
And here are a few of my favorite pages:



I refuse to admit that this book took me an entire weekend. 

Also, to make sure that I'm not steering our kid by favoring subjects, I also made some stuffed felt numbers.
I may have to add some kind of detail to the front as a "this side up" indicator, because you would be surprised how easy it is (for at least Cam and I) to get confused about which way a 4 goes. It seems silly but you have to be concerned about these things. I had a roommate in college that for most of her childhood thought the United States were upside-down because her family had a puzzle with no words on it, so the kids always did it the wrong way. You can see how that would complicate other elementary subjects such as weather, "why is Florida warm when it's the farthest north?" and history, "So everyone traveled east on the Oregon Trail?"

You can never be too careful when sculpting young minds.