Walk With Us!

Ohhh, I'm so excited to share this! Kat of the very beautiful blog The Kat Eye View of the World contacted me recently to see if I could help her put together a little photo walk around Portland. Go ahead, check out her blog and then come back. I'll wait. Ok, so cool, right? She is currently living in Italy (sigh), but Oregon is her home state and she's coming back for a quick visit. And she would like to spend two hours with little old me!! And anyone else that would like to come along! That means YOU, my Portland peeps!

Here are some particulars - this lovely walk will be taking place on Sunday, October 10th starting at 10:00 a.m. I anticipate a smallish, patient group of people that will enjoy meeting each other, talking shop about their cameras, and helping each other learn something new about photography. Sounds like fun to me!

I've never done one of these photo walks before, and as we tried to come up with a plan, the sneaky Portland Marathon ran right through my map! We had been thinking about wandering through downtown, but thank goodness we found out that a pretty serious marathon had the same idea. So now I'm thinking maybe the Pearl District (that is where I took that above picture of the who-knows-what), or walk along Hawthorne Blvd. and the surrounding neighborhood. In any case, those parts of the plan are still a little flexible and we'd love any ideas you may have of where to go to get cool, "This is Portland!" shots. Please come if you can! Just rsvp in the comments and we'll see you soon.


Voodoo Love

I know what you're thinking. "Didn't she just end a post with a trip to an ice cream shop where she let the kids make five lb. sundaes?!" Yes, but that was like two days ago! And really, I wasn't totally buying these for myself or the kids - we merely tasted a couple before passing the rest of the box off to the guys building the new gym with my husband. Yum. Not only does Portland have the best bookstore of all time, we also have the most wickedly delicious doughnuts on the planet! Voodoo Doughnuts: you're going to give me diabetes and it will be all your fault!

I let Oliver have his favorite - the one with the Hubba Bubba in the middle - and this is what I noticed a few minutes later...

He ate the top off of it! I thought people only did that with muffins! I looked down at it sitting there on the table and said laughing, "Ollie, what the heck do you call that?" and he replied without hesitation, "A masterpiece!" Oh man, he is something else.

And he sure plays a mean pinball. Seriously, his final score was about 4,000,000 points.


It's About Time!

Does that look like $100 in school supplies to you? Me neither, but it is!

Well, we finally started school yesterday! Yippee! The rest of Portland started about two weeks ago, but our school has been having a lot of facility issues and had to keep postponing the opening day. My kids go to a charter school that has only been open for a couple of years - it's a great, fantastic school and we've been really happy since our daughter started Kindergarten there. It's in its growing phase though and, as such, has needed a bigger building to house all of these wonderful, amazing children. The problem is that finding a building suitable for a school on the West Coast is troubled by the seismic requirements of living in a shaky state. We occasionally have earthquakes (every state has its issues with nature, I know), and the City would rather not see the school come crumbling down. We agree with this, however with a teeny budget and no real expert guidance, we've been the winners of the short end of the stick for quite a while.

However, we were saved last week (seriously, they signed the lease last Friday) when a local synagogue with beautiful, newish classrooms opened their doors to us! We are so thankful!! The whole school is together in one location (K-8), surrounded by trees and trails! This is only temporary while the building we'll be in permanently waits for the green light from the City, but we're so happy with it. Just look at my babies!

Oliver - Kindergartner & Rachel - 2nd Grader!!

Ollie got right to work!

Rachel showing her bestie that she lost her tooth the night before!

After a great first day we celebrated at our favorite ice cream shop!

This is one of those places where you make your own creation - they have everything from the usuals to cereal (I love the cocoa pebbles), and a new one I tried yesterday - cheesecake crumbles! Oh this place is dangerous! We're off to a great start - finally!


Nature Walk

Fall is coming to Portland, and I love it. We had a great little hike with some new friends the other day that took us from the park, through the woods, across a meadow, down some tracks, and to the Willamette. I so love that this space is right in town, and there are many more like it. What does Autumn look like where you are?



Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain

I'm so excited to tell you that today I sent off my deposit to join my dad on safari in Kenya and Tanzania next summer! Aaaaahh!! Here's a little background info - my dad was born in Tanzania (the son of Methodist missionaries) and he and his brothers were sent to boarding school in Kenya. They lived there until my dad was about 17, then came back to the states to live. After being gone for about 30 years, he was able to go back - with my brother and me - 10 years ago. It was truly amazing to hear him speaking Swahili, which came back to him rather quickly! Our trip planted an idea in his mind - he wanted to find a way to turn his love for photography into a business, and to share his love of Africa with others. It took a few years, but he has become successful at running photography safaris that showcase the raw beauty of Africa, and I'm so happy and proud of him! As I write this, he is leading a small group through Rwanda to see the gorillas. Rwanda! After doing this specific safari for the first time earlier this year, he told me that it was absolutely life-changing to get so close to wild gorillas, have a little time to observe their true behaviors, and fantastic to see that they feel safe enough to not be scared of people. 

Africa affected me so deeply - it really felt like the beginning of time to be out on a game drive, searching for animals, looking in every direction and not seeing anything but the wild! Fabulous trees, birds singing and cackling, baby animals figuring out how to run...I've never felt such a deep mixture of wonder and fear at being out in nature.

From the first deep inhale of the rich air in Nairobi, to the Masai bomas we visited, the smells were so new and pungent. The earth after a rip-roaring thunderstorm. The smell that thousands of wildebeest and zebras generate on their migration. Oh, and the poop. I wonder how, while watching the Discovery Channel shows, did I miss seeing all the poop and bones that are out on the plains?

The people we met along the way were incredible as well. So friendly and beautiful, the children running out to wave at us as we passed through their tiny villages. The vibrant Masai robes of red and blue - I'll be bringing one of those home again for sure! Oh man, I am soooo excited! I can't wait! I can't wait to go with my dad and my camera (last time I was there with film - not so 21st century-friendly, hence no picture up top), and see what's waiting for me over there! Yippee!


A Little Art & Then I Lose It

Last month I signed up for the Wish Play Create online art playgroup, which means that every Monday I get a new art project idea emailed to me with detailed instructions that my kids and I get to try out, take pictures of, and then post on flickr. So far, I love this. I'm not naturally gifted with artistic abilities, and really if my daughter and I had a doodling contest, she would win the trophy fair-and-square. I did, however, love shopping for the art supplies, imagining what the bits of ribbon, sparkly paint, and Plaster of Paris might become! We started out Week One with a chance to paint and create mixed media collages. We're actually still working on them, and we had a breakthrough idea just yesterday, but today we got sidetracked with Ollie's idea to "make dough." Oh, have I mentioned that they aren't in school yet? That's a horrifying story I'll add next week - by that time they should be starting school and I'll have a lot more time to myself to clean up after these art projects...where were we?

Week 2 was led by my photography hero, Tracey Clark! The final project will be a banner (well, OK two banners - one by Rachel, one by me) displaying pictures we've taken to illustrate our personalities. To get us thinking about what our pictures might be about, she sent along a simple questionnaire for us each to fill out. We took our papers, pens, and drinks outside to enjoy the incredibly beautiful early fall morning on Sunday. Things were going well for me until I had to fill out "I'm really good at..." I know now that I'm really good at telling myself what I'm not really good at! Cooking, not really. Riding my bike, well who's not? Taking pictures, don't kid yourself. Ack! I had this terrible moment in which I couldn't come up with anything, even great, simple stuff like Rachel's thoughts of "roller skating, climbing, jumping rope." I suddenly came up with (gulp)...driving...and...vacuuming. I had to laugh at myself! I had all these Mondo Beyondo helpers in my head telling me, "You're great, Jenny! We know it! Don't put yourself down like that!" I was also thinking, "This is not the reaction that Tracey Clark would want you to have!" I gingerly asked Rachel, "What do you think I'm really good at?" She said, "I have to go potty. I'll think of something and then yell it out the window." Ohhhhhh, great. Now the neighbors will know what I'm so great at! I hope it's something better than, "You always dress yourself everyday!"

So, when she yelled, "Mommy, you're really good at being nice!" I was uplifted. You can see in my photo that there is all that space around the question and that I thought about it for a while, wrote that I'm organized (ha! sort of) then skipped ahead. When it came to the action of the assignment though,  my freak-out seemed irrelevant. I got to use pictures of my beautiful (and nice!) daughter, the flowers in our garden, sunsets we've seen together, and lovely things I've seen on my recent trips. Her banner will be filled with great pictures she's taken lately of flowers, animals at the zoo, ballerinas, and her beloved kitty. What matters most is that we did this together, we had fun, and that we helped each other! Love you, kid!

P.S. Rachel helped me pick out a beautiful new hula hoop later that day, and I'm happy to say that I'm really good at hula hooping! : )


Shopping Spree!

I got to have a little "Me Time" this morning! I worked out, treated myself to the most amazing mocha in the city while I wrote in my Mondo Beyondo journal, then ran over to Powell's for a quick look around. If you don't know about Powell's, here's the truth : It is the most amazing bookstore in not just the USA, not just the Northern Hemisphere, but at least the whole Solar System and probably beyond. I'm not exaggerating. I was thinking as I walked through today, "Ok, I have my plan. Bury my heart at Powell's." (Nobody would find it - trust me!) This place is worth a trip to Portland on its own. Book your tickets - you can stay at my house!

I went in there to find this book, which I did find, however I also found no less than 300 other books that I wanted to adopt. What to do? What to do? Here are my choices...

All four for $30 bucks and change! These are all used, but you wouldn't know it. Here are some of the things I read while flipping through these, and I'm so excited to learn/try/experiment:
  • Right where you are sitting - Write ten things about where you are sitting right now that you didn't notice when you sat down. This is an exercise in seeing what is important to us that may be "hiding in plain sight."
  • How to cure hiccups
  • Try facial yoga to release the jaw
  • Learn to drive a stick shift
  • Make a cookbook of your favorite recipes
  • How to comfort a friend
  • Honor yourself - just do what you love to do, without making excuses for why you shouldn't
  • Go roller skating! Oh yeah, I can do that one!
As you can see, I'm on a little bit of a self-discovery journey. Mondo Beyondo is totally helping me to get started, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it takes me! Tell me what you're working on - especially if you're in Mondo Beyondo with me! : )


A Few More

These dolphin cruises are so much fun! It's exhilarating to be speeding along, knowing that there must be all kinds of stuff swimming around under the boat (and oh, I'm always hoping it's friendly!), scanning the horizon...then suddenly...they're all over the place!! I'm such a sucker for wild animals (the non-ferocious, non-poisonous, not rodent-types anyway)!

Of course we had tons of fun swimming too -

And having cupcakes for breakfast isn't so bad either...

Oliver taking pictures with my phone to send to Daddy, who was working hard back in Portland.

We really love the time we've been able to spend in Maui! I owe a big Thank You to my mom for being spontaneous and quickly saying yes to my half-baked idea of running away to Hawaii in August (I maybe gave her three weeks notice). Sometimes you just have to do stuff like that! Aloha, Mom!


Vacation in a (Coco)Nutshell

Ok, so you remember when I wrote that I'd post Hawaii pictures "later today" and you just laughed because you know me so well, and that later today obviously meant "sometime this week when I get to it..." Well, ta-dah! Without any further procrastination, I'd like to send you on a mini virtual vacation! Am I great, or what?

The first sunset we saw - and this was from our room!
This is one of my favorite places on Maui - a "hidden beach" with a great nature trail, and
 cliffs that are usually a good place to see a turtle from.
Hey! Watch the splashes, Ocean! If you get my camera wet we'll have words!

What did I just say?

I'm no geologist, but I can tell you that these bad boys are sharp!

The handsome pool boy

I actually was on this trip! The camera kept focusing on
 itself in the mirror - so self-centered!

**A message from the Universe**
So glamorous!

Oh, I have so many more, people! But it's time for bed - Round 2 "tomorrow."