Monday, December 14, 2009

Around to Eugene in 80 blogs

The Best of My Town:
Sweetlife Bakery

My very favoritist blog author Everyday Stranger is throwing a little shindig called "around the world in 80 blogs." I volunteered like an idiot, because it sounded fun, but now that it's time to post, I find that everything I have to say feels trite. As opposed, of course, to my usually brilliant prose. But here I go anyway!

My adopted home, Eugene Oregon, through mine own eyes is:

A fabulous place to raise a kid. It is quiet, folks are friendly, and artsy. We have one of the oldest handcraft markets in the country, where the products are very earthy and sometimes beautiful. Speaking of earthy, we are also home to the Country Fair, where flower power lives on and old
hippies never die.

At the same time, we bill ourselves as:

We regularly host the US Olympic trials for track and field at the University of Oregon's "Historic Hayward Field," and our most famous local heroes all seem to stem from running: Prefontaine, Phil Knight (yes, he DID invent Nike's here!), and so on.

Though lately, football has been more popular than anything else.

I LOVE that our sports are college sports - I cannot seem to get too excited over the trials and tribulations of grown men paid millions of dollars to play games. But young folk getting a free ride to college, that I can get behind.

This is the view when walking to the stadium

I love that all summer and fall I can drive less than 10 minutes to get to the farm for fresh produce

I love all the old Craftsman houses

(that I totally can't afford). I absolutely adore this place:

As does everyone else with taste buds. I love my huge old cherry in front of my house, and it's little sister the dogwood:

I love our liquid culture (micro brews in every restaurant? check. Coffee every 50 feet? check. Looking down your nose at plebeians carrying umbrellas? check.) and our liberal bent.

I miss a lot of things about Portland, but there is no way I could afford a decent house back home on a teacher's salary, so I appreciate the low(er) housing costs. I love that our rush-hour consists of a 15 minute backup at the intersection of Delta and Beltline. I love that I can get anywhere in town in 20 minutes tops. I love how hippy-dippy, alternative the vibe is here. I love that the neighborhood kids can play unsupervised in the middle of my street, and nobody minds, and everyone knows they are safe. I love how foggy it gets in the mornings. I love living in a college town.

I hate the painful dearth of Uwajimaya and Powell's. But it's a trade I can live with.

Stephanie (Usagi)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Smell Roses

who cares about edumacation, or the Egypt test tomorrow, when the civil war is tonight!


I hope to avoid popsicle-hood tonight via a buttload of layers. And coffee. And hot chocolate. And maybe some nachos. Mmmmmmm, frozen cheesy sauce.

To bring: blanket, lip balm, $$, jingle bells (hard to make clappy noise with fat gloves on).

Oh yeah, and a beaver fan. Because I'm all chill like that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

cr**ola month

And I don't mean crayola either.

Ahiru update: Came home, did great, went downhill steadily, RE-broke femur at hip, back into hospital, back into surgery, back into rehab, like the enterprise in a time-warp.

Me update: Was happy to have him home, was stressed that he was going downhill, had a minor breakdown when he became bed-ridden, was relieved to hear it was actually another break and not all in his head, have been losing weight due to stress-starving, medical bills have me totally broke in time for the holidays, am now in a holding pattern.

Pumpkin update: was stressed and upset when daddy screamed in pain, missed his daddy, couldn't visit his daddy because of swine-flu rules at hospital and rehab facility, came down with a nice little flu + fever himself, has the funniest cute little raspy baby voice, has suddenly started signing for food, more, all done, "itsy bitsy spider."

In general: One of the firemen who came to our house when we called for an ambulance to get Ahiru to the hospital was gorgeous. Seriously gorgeous. Not gorgeous like real firemen - gorgeous like Hollywood firemen. So if you are ever in the neighborhood, feel free to have an emergency. You won't regret it.

Xmas lights are up. Unlike last year, Pumpkin is looking, and loving them. He puts his hand on my jawline and shoves my head to one side to get me to look at them with him.

Had some fun highlights put in. Had fun getting all sarcastic on my students when they asked if they were real.

I smell roses! Go Ducks!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


the last post, about not losing focus? totally true, for at least 48 hours. Then, on top of EVERYTHING else, I lost my freaking wallet. I totally lost it - the last straw on top of the last straw.

Poor Pumpkin got to see his mommy drive across town while crying, while his daddy was still in the hospital... Hubby is now in a rehab facility working on walking again, so that is good. I have been cleaning my house almost obsessively, because with everything else I CANNOT handle looking at a mess right now.

I did get my wallet back, sans $14 but with all my id etc.

And can I just say, I have the sweetest students ever? They were so worried about me - checking about Hubby and the wallet and just generally great kiddos.

And I never knew how many wonderful people I was friends with, until they started bringing over food and supporting my family in any way they could. They are the silver lining to my life right now!

And Pumpkin just gets cuter and smarter every day. It's amazing how much your soul can focus on a child, even when everything else is crap.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

growing out of stuff, again

Pumpkin is officially one for a couple weeks now. We had to go through his stuff and get rid of all the 6to9 month clothes, as my 5th percentile charmer is finally ready for 9to12... Not that we had any. So we jumped straight to 12mo stuff, which swims on him a bit, but when your this cute, who cares?

So, pumpkin patch pictures,

bday cake in the form of Thubby Elephant (thanks Sweetlife!),

crying at mommy not to go to work, and now an official walker.

Life is crazy and wonderful.


Hubby broke his hip, so this weekend was spent at the hospital. Did you know that Riverbend emergency room is kept at approximately 40 degrees farenheight? Well, it is. So next time you go, dress for the artic. Seriously. Cords and a light jacket WILL NOT SUFFICE.

But it's actually hard to lose focus, when I have this to keep me in line!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild West

Brushing his hair back from his face and putting his hat back on, P. P. "Sticky Hands" McGee watched the Sheriff and his latest posse ride through the valley below. From where he lay behind the scrub at the top of the dusty cliff, he could count the number of deputies, but could not see who they were. He would need to go in closer, and assess just who was a dangerous hand, and who was just filler, looking for a share in the bounty.

"Some fella's just don't know when to quit" said the outlaw to his left in a deceptively sweet voice. Many a man had woken up dizzy and toy-less after being lulled by that soft purr.

McGee looked over at her and smirked, "Wouldn't be much fun for us if they did, now would it?"

"Nah, I guess not. Here's the last of the moonshine. We had better raid a town with a daggum milk bar next time, Sticky!"

McGee drank. She was right - they were running low on supplies. An outlaw would have to look hard and long before finding a crew as tight and cunning as the September Kids, but even they would start grumble if not regularly supplied with their favorite crackers.

Sticky Hands and Jelly Belly looked down the hill behind them as they heard someone scramble up.

"Boss! I just came from base camp. Looks like some Professional Binky Hunters split off from the Sheriff a ways back, and have picked up our trail! They can't be more than a mile or two behind me."

"Oh, Poopy pants! Get to the other kids and get them here quick! Jelly Belly and I will hole up over behind those swings and hold them off. You all come around from the North and we'll pin them in. Go!" The lackey scrambled off, as Sticky and Jelly began to ready their ammo.

"Sticky, I hate to say it, but I only have one ball left."

"What? I didn't bring any - I thought you were carrying!"

"I was, but they fell out when we forded that second creek, and I couldn't exactly stop for them!"

"Oh, Poopy pants on a duck! We'll just have to do this the old fashioned way."

Sticky and Jelly made their way to the swings, and climbed up so they could jump on the binky hunters from above. Sure enough, moments later they heard footsteps and the interlopers, having dismounted to get closer to their quarry undetected, came into the little ravine.

Jelly signaled, and down they jumped! Sticky couldn't see what was going on with Jelly, but he knew she could hold her own, and focused on taking down the big brute he had landed on. It was a short struggle, and Sticky was quickly sitting astride his would-be catcher, ready to make her talk.

"How many more are coming?" The hunter just shook her head. "I ASKED you a QUESTION you drooly-bib! How many?"

"Just us P.P! I swear it! The sheriff thought for sure you'd gone west, so we struck out alone!"

Just as well, thought McGee. I wasn't planning for more trouble today. Sticky and Jelly quickly hog-tied the two hunters, and when the rest of the crew arrived they all had a good laugh at the hapless brutes.

"Well, kiddos, what do you suppose we go see what that new rattle boutique has in stock that we might like?"

Sly smiles spread around the group, and they turned as one and headed north, free to plunder another day.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Discovering the Beach

The ocean was a churning grey that afternoon. Around the dessicated remains of some trees, and the occasional pile of slimy brown kelp, wind blew tiny grains of soft sand into miniature hills and ripples. Dark grey water, pale grey sand, blotchy grey clouds, the edge of the land descended into monochrome nothingness.

Out in the water, small slick heads would emerge, then sink again, then re-emerge, looking around with curiosity. Chubby, stubby looking fins paddled slowly toward the shore, in the direction of one of the large pieces of wood.

The creature considered the item as it came closer. Could be food. Maybe not. A distant memory surfaced of a similar item, a large bone with meat still clinging to it that had proved quite tasty some seasons back. This larger item seemed worth checking out.

Slowly, cautiously, nervously, the creature let the waves carry it to the shallows. To the point where it's stubby extremities touched the sand. It let the next wave push it forward, until half of it's body was unsupported by water.

Strange feeling, heavy, it began to lose nerve and was attempting to turn, but the next wave was a big one, and shoved it further up the beach. The creature huddled there, waiting for the next wave to carry it off, which didn't happen. The waves were growing smaller, the ocean quieter, the water crept slowly away from the stranded animal.

Despite the discomfort of feeling so heavy and clumsy, the creature noticed how warm the sand felt underneath it. If nothing else, here was a break from the relentless chill of the water - a break only previously felt on the creatures back when it surfaced on sunny days. The feeling of warmth on the belly was quite enjoyable.

Still hoping to find food, it tried to swim up the sand, feebly inching it's way toward the bone. Alas, it was not a bone, but only one of the sticks that sometimes floated overhead toward the shore. Defeated and having a hard time breathing, the creature struggled around until it was headed back down toward the water, and began it's swim-wiggle toward where it could see the waves.

Halfway there, it stopped to rest. Smelling something interesting, it began mouthing a nearby rock, only to discover that it cracked easily, and was delicious inside!

Aha! This was one of the shells that were so hard to pry from the rocks - but here it was laying out in the open, washed ashore by the waves.

As the creature lumped its way to the waves at last, it considered it's luck in finding the shell. It would have to try that again sometime!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Aaah - Holy crap am I really doing this?

Yes! yes yes no no no ok OHMYGOD

awesome! awesome cool WOO HOO
Look at the little ants down there! So freaking far away!

Jeezuz that wind feels fabulous - I hear squeels and coos and laughing

look at all that rushing up - parachute?

CRAP parachute - cord - cord - cord
holycrapwhereisthecor - oh, got it

ooof! Wonder if anyone ever got wiplash from that? Better whiplash than pancaked, he he he
all right, coming in for a landing - I have GOT to do that again!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Music Man

His talent for tickling the ivories was evident from an awfully early age. As long as he could remember, people had commented on his "piano fingers" and he did agree that he had very elegant hands. What became evident a bit later, however, was infinitely more interesting to Pumpkin - namely, music attracts the girls.

Even more than his lovely hands, or musical talent, it was his suave stylings with the lady-folk that made the other men jealous. With a glance over the shoulder, and a smile that melted all humans of the feminine persuasion, he never lacked for attention at parties, or snuggles whenever he desired.

Tonight was no different. The lovelies were scattered around the room, glancing his way but too shy to approach. Pulling out his (every often) tried and (invariably) true techniques, he casually worked his way through the crowd, arriveing after a few minutes at the elegant piano under the window.

Another young man had been playing previously, to some general smiles but no lasting success. Pumpkin set about showing the other young men how it is done. He laid his delicate fingers on the ivory, and began to lightly play.

The soft coos of appreciation were, of course, immediate. Some nearbye couples admired his technique, but he outwardly ignored their compliments, choosing to appear unaffected by the stir he was making. Sure enough, after only a few moments a lovely tall, towheaded young lady sidled over to watch him and strike up a conversation. She was charming, with big blue eyes and pouty lips. Perfect.

As she briefly left his side to get them both fresh drinks, he allowed himself a short, gloating smile. Music never fails the Pumpkin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My first taste of "rice"

Journal entry: early April, year 1 of my stay.

My guides had been cranky for a while. While I still had not deciphered most of their language, they were using tones that I had come to recognize - they were hungry.

As they chauffeured me around town, letting me watch the newly leafing trees go zooming by, they referenced several times something I had not really heard before since arriving here for my studies. I surmised that we would be dining on a delicacy called 'soo-shee.'

Upon entering the dining establishment there was an unexpected surprise waiting for me. While this might be considered embarrassing back home, I have become quite accustomed to having the female guide force me to use her legs as my chair, even as my balance has improved. This night, however, she consulted with the food-bringing lady, who quickly returned bearing a small throne, upon which I was placed.

Not having expected this, I was at first taken aback. Was there some specialized thanks or ritual I was expected to perform upon receipt of this honor? My guides did not seem to watch me for any particular behavior, so I decided to relax and practice my faux spoon-eating exercises, as per normal.

Until the food was presented to us.

It was food the likes of which I had never seen. I had noticed that my guides were not using the regular eating utensils on their salads - somehow manipulating long wooden sticks to pick up their food. Most of this did not interest me at first, but the longer I watched them, the more my stomach started to rumble, until I decided to brave the unknown cuisine for myself.

Upon pointing and trying to make my choice known, I was presented with a small bowl filled with tiny white pieces of some new food-substance.

Though I did request some eating-sticks of my own, I was forced to use my hands. I have not yet deciphered why it is that I am not allowed to use the same utensils I see my guides use on a regular basis. I have made my desire to use these tools known many times, but I am repeatedly rebuffed. But I digress.

The food was entirely white, granular, and had a very mild taste to it. It was also sticky.

The more I tried to manipulate it for eating, the more it stuck to every surface it contacted. I ended up with very little of it in my mouth. Most was attached to my hands, clothes, and the throne.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience. As per usual, the flirtatious females of this culture were unable to resist smiling and cooing at me. It has come to my attention that my hair is of particular attraction to them. My guides at a number of small pieces of food that looked interesting, but I refrained from tasting them on this occasion, as the white grains were frustrating enough for one night. Before too long I requested to go home for a short nap, and after forcing me to rid myself of the sticky grains, my guides obliged me.

I continue to attempt mastery of their strange customs, but they are quite elaborate and difficult to learn. I will report more soon.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

next size up

Pumpkin turned 6 mos on Thursday, while at the Gt. Grandparent's house. I am kind of sad at how fast he is growing - he is so amazing and perfect and fun at this age, I am not ready for him to be moving this fast.

While watching some home video from last Thanksgiving, Ahiru and I noticed how dark Pumpkin's hair used to be. For the first few months, it was almost as dark as mine! Now it is much paler, and we think he might end up copper-topped like my dad.

Which got me thinking about all the things that he has grown out of already, and all through the (7hr) drive home, I was listing in my head the things that he has already grown out of.

It makes me sad.

Size-wise, he is still comfortably in the 6mos clothes. He above average length, but lighter than the other boys (and some of the girls) in the Bto3 group. Not underweight, and not skinny, just not as chubby as many babies get. I personally am convinced that this is because it takes a LOT of calories to maintain the faux-hawk!

He has pretty much given up the booby-laugh. For several months, if he was hungry (but not to the point of fussing) he would give this little "heh-heh-heh" laugh when I lifted my shirt. Then it changed to a big grin at the shirt going up, and he would laugh (without unlatching :-) ) when the milk came down, which cracked me up every single time. He still gets excited to eat when hungry, but the sound effects have gone away, which I miss quite a lot.

He doesn't gurgle at me anymore either. When he first learned how to make a gurgle sound, he did it constantly and found never ending amusement when I did it back to him. Being such a big boy, he has moved on to raspberries. The first time he blew one, Ahiru and I just about busted a gut laughing. He pursed his lips, tensed up his entire body, made a couple "p" sounds, then some squeaks, then finally blew a mini raspberry. With about 3 quarts of accompanying spittle flying around the room. Now he can do them whenever he pleases, due to the 3 of us practicing constantly. What's a little boy without fart noises, anyway?

His spit-ups now are just normal baby urps. For the first couple months, when he had to urp he really went for it, and could hit objects (or the cat) several feet away. This disappeared around 8 weeks, and I hadn't really thought about it since. Can't say as I miss that particular habit, but it was part of life for a time.

For the longest time, the funniest thing he did was his burp-face. Not when he burped (boy is crazy hard to gas-out) but if I was holding him and I burped. Which happens a lot, actually. We all know that yawns are contagious, but no one ever told me that every time I burped him, I would generate one of my own! And every time I did, he would tense up, and shake his head, and turn to look me right in the face with a very surprised expression. An "oh! what the heck kind of noise just came out of her!?!" face. These past couple weeks, this has gone by the wayside too. I shall miss it forever.

I shall also miss the green sleeper with the moon on the butt, his fascination with a tiny stuffed zebra, and being able to set him on the bed while I folded clothes without worrying about him rolling off.

Jeez, Mom. Do I really have to be strapped in tighter than a frickin fighter pilot?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

so much for staff unity

If it was hard for
me, it ought to be hard for
you too. So petty.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Worst Mommy of the Year Award

I knew better, but I was in a hurry. I laid him on the desk, turned for 1.223 seconds to grab a folder, and off he rolled.

Seeing him there, in a little heap on the floor, I cannot describe the panic, the literally heart-stopping fear. I scooped him up, was actually happy that he was whole enough to scream (never thought I'd feel that way!) and started to comfort him, as my first conference walked in. He had a bloody nose, but was otherwise fine.

He forgave me as soon as he ate, but I haven't really forgiven myself.

Tonight, we dined with the in-laws and ahiru's sister, her lazywhitetrashlieinggoodfornothing boyfriend, and their two kids. The elder child, almost 3, has the verbal capacity of a typical 18 month old. Which I attribute (optimistically) not to her inheriting her fathers IQ of about 70 (no lie, he recently had it tested) but to the fact that she has spent the last 3 years in front of the tv while her father smokes and drinks in the kitchen and mom works. The only 2 phrases I have heard her say clearly are "I'm gonna spank your butt" and "fuck you."

Give you two guesses what she hears all day.

This all to say, that tonight at dinner, she was given beer to drink. Not in a funny 'she'll take one sip and hate it' kind of way, but in a 'she keeps asking for it and so she got a couple ounces in her glass' kind of way.

She drank it all. And asked for more. And my sister-in-law clearly has watched her do this before, because her only comment was that it was a bit more than he usually gives her.

Seriously, I am about to call child services. Here I am, wondering if it is going to hurt Pumpkin's digestion to have a couple tastes of sauce off the end of my finger, while they are laughing about how sleepy all the beer will make the 3 year old.

So altogether, I do feel better about my parenting skills tonight.

Plus the fact that Pumpkin is undeniably the cutest little boy anywhere ever.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Making Pizza

He could flatten dough
spinning like a rolling pin
at the slightest chance

Saturday, February 28, 2009


pat pat pat, bonk, bonk
amazing how freaking cute
on tiny feetsies!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

phantom baby

I know this is going to sound weird, or morbid (it sounds very morbid in my head)...

Here I am, pumping my lunch away, as usual. I have been told that to help let the milk down, I can look at pics of the Pumpkin. My office is small, with all the shades drawn for privacy, an old desk (mostly empty) a dusty phone, a green work table, some bookshelves with notebooks and boardgames, a counter full of drying dishes and red plastic cups for the kids, the constant "mm-mm mmwwOOo" of the pump.

Normal, teachery, middle-schooly stuff. So the overly-dramatic feeling is pretty much out of place.

But my arms are tingling. Looking at the image on my screensaver of the Hubby in the kitchen, holding the Pumpkin in his candy-cane pj's, is giving me this tingly feeling like there is a phantom baby in my arms. Kinda like (I can only imagine, thank goodness) they say that when you lose a limb, you still feel it there.

My baby is at home, but I still feel him here. Don't know if it's cool, or creepy, or just strange.

Friday, February 6, 2009

check out the sweety at 11 o'clock

Reality, or
prejudice? He's way cuter
than other babies.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Hey! These here things move
individually! Way cool!
Watch me do the gun...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

more development

I find myself amazed at the cheesy delight of me whenever he decides to do something new,

roll over: He did this at thanksgiving, then stopped for a while, we think because he hates being on his tummy and was getting pissed that he kept ending up there. Cue the evil giggles from mommy.

Pick up a rattle: Pumpkin did this the first time in my classroom during prep - I squealed like one of my students meeting fricking Edward from Twilight. Ooooh! He PICKED it UP!!!!!!!!!! He SHOOK it! Honey, did you see that??!!??

drink from a bottle: Yeah, this one has been an ongoing quest. All the baby books say to introduce the bottle at 5 weeks - so they won't get nipple confusion, but aren't too stubborn to take it yet. My fluffy white ass. From week 5 to week 17, he took a total of 4 bottles. I went back to work at week 14, so for 3 weeks now he has been screaming and hungry all frickity frackity day while I am gone. If you think it is hard enough to leave the baby in the am, try doing it with the certain knowledge that said bundle of beauty is going to starve himself all day for missing you. But this week we finally had the breakthrough - suddenly he will take any bottle, any nipple, he's hungry as a horse. Never thought I'd be so proud of someone sucking on a piece of plastic.

notice the cats: We have been wondering when this would happen. The cats pretty well ignore him, except of course for bolting when he cries. But this past week or so, he has started watching them walk by and jump and get petted. I took his hand and had him pet Aki yesterday, and he had the biggest smile! He also, for the first time, noticed that the other babies at Birth to 3 are cute and interesting:

new sounds: Pumkin has recently discovered that he can make wet ghgghghghg noises, and that I cannot resist doing it back. Also now with the pttbpppttb's. And the other day he said "ga." So I naturally repeated it back a few times. Apparently, in baby talk, "Ga, gaga, ga, ga!" is the absolute hight of hilariousness. It was like Chris Rock was in the room. And since it is a rare occasion when I amuse anyone but myself, I have spent the last few days saying "gaghghgg" and "pppthbp" to the point that it has entered my dreams...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Forgot something at work

Fog softens the night
Walking to the school you fall
asleep in your sling

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back, again

My leave was up on the 18th of December.  So I had to go back to work for Thursday, but Friday (thank you, mother nature!) was a snow day!  A one day trial run, and then two more weeks off, during which Pre

1) reverted to NOT sleeping thru the night (why, pumpkin, why?)
2)refused any and all bottles offered him
3)charmed the pants of his grandma
4)fell in love with our exchange student, and
5)was given a  beartato.

Today, I had to go back again.  I was a wreck the first time, just emotional and a big baby, wanting to stay with my little baby.

This time, no big whoop.  I had so much to take care of, so much to do that I didn't think twice about it.  I had to pump a couple extra times so I could leave milk.  I had to organize the first week's worth of lesson plans.  I had to help my exchange student find an apartment and get moved.  I had laundry, dishes, a needy hubby, two needy cats, a baby that apparently feels abandoned if I am not holding him at any given time, christmas lights to take down, doopity doop de doo.  So I got up, got ready, no fuss no muss.

Until I pulled into the parking lot, and my heart said 'you know you have to leave him in the car with his dad now, right?'

And suddenly, I was fighting back tears...

So yeah, still a big ass baby, wanting to stay with my little baby.

Friday, January 2, 2009


That one I just worked on.  This one tastes pretty good, I wonder what these three would taste like together?

Rolling over is suddenly possible, ending the ease of laying me on mom's bed while she works around the room.

Drool: makes exploring the world via mouth go so smooth!

Sitting up is fun for the first 3 seconds, but I get pissed when I topple onto the boppy.  

14 weeks already