Happy Birthday Poppa/Papa

We are having a family identity crisis as my dad goes by "poppa" which he spells "papa" and I spell "poppa." Either way, it is this guys birthday and I am so, so thankful for him in my life.

He worked hard for us, always getting lame things like new work boots for Christmas - and levi's if he was lucky.

Growing up he taught me that I am intelligent, valued, beautiful and worthy of a man who honors me.

He is supportive and enthusiastic about everything I do.  He is my biggest fan.

He taught a knots and ropes lesson at my girl scout (read: horrendous excursion with barely tolerable at best pre-teen girls, none of whom cared about knots and all of whom cared about telling ghost stories after lights out and gossiping) camp out where he rigged something on fire sliding down a rope into the campfire, which I'm pretty sure in retrospect was a serious fire hazard being that we were in old growth mt hood area forested land- but thoroughly impressed all of my friends and gained me girl scout camp out notoriety and popularity.

He loves my daughter like she is his own

and my son too.

As a testament to my Dad's loving ways, here is a video of Johonna answering questions about her Poppa.  Based on her answers it is clear that she believes that SHE is his reason for living- and he makes us ALL feel like that.  love you dad!


Before & After

There is still lots to do- little things like light switch covers & trim painting, and big things like floors and light fixtures- but here are some more recent pics.







SW 10th & Vermont

When I was a sophomore in high school, and Luke & I first met, one of us challenged the other to race a mile.  The loser had to take the winner out to dinner.  This is a perfectly mature and reasonable way to ask someone on a date without actually asking someone on a date.  We talked about this hypothetical race for weeks.  We told our friends.  We told our families.  Everyone agreed there was an obvious winner.  ME.

Fitness-wise, I was in the prime of my life.  I guess Luke was in his prime too, but it was clear that my prime was better than his.  I ran cross country.  Luke ran...never.

We decided to race the "Wilson mile"  (.8 of a mile actually) after church one day.  A good portion of our youth group came out to watch.  Luke's dad came too, but primarily to talk him out of racing.  He said there was nothing to be had by doing this.  Best case scenario he beats a girl, and where is the glory in that?  Worst case scenario he loses to a girl and shames his father for life.  Luke would not be dissuaded.

Luke's good friend gave him a pep talk and jogged a warm up lap with him.  I watched.  He was winded half way through and walked the last 100 yards.  I almost felt bad for him.

And I am sure you can guess where this story is headed.

So we lined up at a designated start/finish line, and someone started us off.  As I anticipated, he started off way too fast for a mile long run.  I couldn't let him get ahead so I stuck with him and waited for him to hit the wall.  As we came to the half way point, a corner, he didn't so much hit the wall as jump the fence.  Literally.  He hurdled the chain fence with arrogance the likes of which I've not seen before or since. Then he started sprinting down the hill.

And out of sight.

My heart sank.  The better part of my youth group was on the other side of the block, and though they didn't yet know who would round the corner first, they were about to find out.  I had an overwhelming urge to flee. Or cheat. Or fake injury.

I turned the last corner and I might as well have just run to the bus stop.  The crowd had their victor, and I was of no interest.  Everyone loves it when an underdog wins, except the big dog.  They don't like it at all.

I finished with no pomp, no circumstance, no breath in my lungs.  And then someone turned around - and it started.
"Hey- that's crazy that Luke won huh?"
"Don't you like run all the time & stuff?  Weird!"
"Don't worry- everyone has their off days!"
"That was a total fluke- you would win if you guys raced again."

Their pity stung more than their disinterest.

The only consolation was that Luke's blaze of glory was extinguished.  He sat slumped up against a tree, heaving, and looking rather green.  The crowd muttered concerns about heart attacks, spontaneous fatality & suggestions for lunch.

Burger King. That's where we went for lunch.  And as I self medicated with a whopper, Luke was still too sick to eat.  Which made me feel a tiny bit better.

Despite the initial catastrophic upset, the rest of the story is rather predictable.  We had a romantic dinner at the Lloyd Center food court, fell in love, and here I am fifteen years later trying to type with his squirmy son climbing on my lap.

I ran to Wilson High on my last long run.  I sent him this picture, and asked if he recognized this particular corner.

His response: "That's where I race hot girls for dinner and their hearts.  Now come back home."

Uncle Bart, Craftsman


This is my Uncle Bart:

He is a fantastic uncle.

The previous owners of our house had some trees cut down & milled here.  They left the lumber for us.  My Uncle Bart, who built his own vacation home recently and has always been a talented carpenter, was intrigued by the wood.  As Luke & I are NOT talented craftsman (and don't even own a saw), we told him he was free to take his pick of the lumber. So he picked out a few boards and in trade, kindly used his Tahoe to tow our 26 foot Uhaul out of our front yard on Thanksgiving around 6pm.  We definitely got the better end of the trade.

And then yesterday, look at what I spied through my front window:

Anytime something comes wrapped in dust cloths and saran wrap, it is a good sign.

I started to unwrap

and was blown away!

He made this for us.  He left his signature on the underside,

but I'll also be attaching this sweet note so that someday when this is passed on to my kids' children they'll know all about this special Uncle Bart.

PS- I had to scramble some of the words that were top secret content.


Buuuuuuuuusteeeeeed: a story about teamwork

Last week, on the first dry day of the week, I took the trash out.  Along the way I noticed a puddle that was more of a spurting fountain, and realized my water line was busted.  I also realized it was probably related to the decrease in water pressure we noticed many days earlier.

As I was home alone with the children, I had no choice but to save the day.  I threw the kids in the car and drove to the giant pond covering my water meter.  With a headlamp & headlights (and two screaming children in the car) I crawled around until I felt the box.  I scooped out the mud that flooded it, and after only about 127 phone calls to my brother, was able to figure out how to turn off the valve.  It involved two tools and for anyone else this would have been the equivalent of flipping a breaker or something, but for me it was VICTORY.  So I am the first hero:
blogger's note: I recognize this is not the most heroic looking picture of me.  Jo took it and for some reason it got uploaded in my recent album online so it is the most accessible.  Plus I don't have an hour to curl my hair, find the box that my eyeliner is packed in and then pose in the bathroom mirror with my cellphone camera.  Plus I don't even HAVE a bathroom mirror.  So this is what you get.  The bagel I'm eating is a Nob Hill from Portland Bagel Company- a new found addiction courtesy of my friend (and neighbor) Sarah B.  The blue painters tape stuck to my sweatshirt is the ends from taping back porch windows.  

The next day it became clear that for better or worse, Luke was going to have to dig around the water meter so my Dad could install a temporary line.  Years of gravel accumulation compacted by some very large logging trucks of late made this hard, messy work.  While a shovel seems the most appropriate tool, Luke had to use a hammer for much of it to break up the ground.  So Luke is the second hero in the story.

(go padres?)
After about 18 hours of using bottled water, my Dad arrived on the scene to install a "temp line" as they call it in the business.  He bent the existing line with his hands (and a big wrench) and had my house equipped with running water again in no time.  He is the triumphant third hero in this story.
That's how he looks at you when he's explaining something he thinks you won't believe.  He's gotten quite defensive about how rarely I take his word for something, and how often I follow up with some google validation.  I bet now he wishes he wouldn't have lied to me so often when I was an impressionable young child, about cows having shorter legs on one side, about farmers tagging their sheep green for st. patrick's day, etc.  The inane things my father told me deserve a blog post of their own.
Oh the children.  They were completely distressed during this situation.  It really took a toll on them.  You see, their Poppa pulled up, and instead of holding them both while simultaneously unwrapping lollipops and dispensing jelly beans- he had the audacity to stand 100 feet out of reach and mess with the mud.  There were yelps and cries for attention on the front porch.  Jo was begging and pleading.  Baylor was grunting and gesturing.  It was mayhem.  But for their patience, they are the fourth and fifth heroes in this saga.
The intensity was palpable.
Baylor tried to remain positive, but Jo was hyper-focused on getting what she wanted, as usual.
She told Baylor, "This is neither the time nor the place for your shenanigans.  We are in the midst of a serious sugar shortage and I will not have you merrily ignoring the severity of the situation.  You're off the team."
Alas, as Poppa drew near visions of suckers and candies danced in her head.

Finally, there was one more key contributor.  Brother moose below showed up to hook up the new water line. In the rain. And mud. Without a single complaint about the fact that his high heels got dirty or that we only had Jim Beam & no Woodford Reserve with which to warm him up.  He is indeed the sixth and final hero in this story:

Oops- wait. A black dog is at my feet complaining about being left out of the heroic tale.  So here it goes:

And the seventh hero of the day was our dear, beloved, faithful companion, RUCKEROO. Rucker was all like, "MOOOOOOM did you see what dad is out there doing!!??? OMG OMG OMG!!! AHHHH! LOOK AT ALL THIS MUUUUUUUUUUD!"  And so he is in fact the seventh, and final hero in the tale of the busted water line.  
The End.


This Old House, Brought to You By...

To the one who ripped out this:
and installed this:
Thank you.
To the one who patiently helped me find the right part to hang my new light & then actually hung this-
Thank you.
To the one who used scrap wood around my house to craft a counter and surround so that I might protect my delicate hands (and sanity) from harsh soapy water,

Thank you. (PS - we do intend to caulk & paint this soon)
To the one who lovingly and with much patience restored my doors from this:

to this:
From 2012-12-09

Thank you.
To the one who built a temporary safety rail (using an eclectic sign from the basement!) so that my children wouldn't topple over the edge onto the cement stairs,

Thank you.
To the one who spent his thanksgiving weekend updating all our icky old pipes and installing the quietest garbage disposal known to mankind,

Thank you.
To the ones who removed countless loads of filthy, nasty, hazardous, gross garbage and junk from our porch

so that it is now cleared for little toes,

Thank you.
To the one who taped off & primed the kitchen & bath (which was dirty work)

Thank you.
To the one who helped us get a great deal on appliances,

Thank you.
To the one who re-worked the funky bottom step for our safety,

Thank you.
To the one who cleaned & repainted this grill PLUS completely stabilized the ductwork behind it (we have to patch the wall and install the grill- it is just leaning up there which is why it looks weird),

Thank you.
To the one who spent long evenings scraping wallpaper,

Thank you.
To the one who took a vacation day to show Luke how to safely use a chainsaw,

Thank you.
And to the ones who brought us food, pastries, dinner, dessert and beer: THANK YOU!!!

We are so, so thankful!