Jackson has a very adventurous neighbor friend who does some amazing tricks on this ramp with his bike. Jacks has been practicing jumping this ramp with his bike too, but first he likes to warm up by doing it on foot.
Mt. Hood is the closest 'big' mountain to us - it's about 30 miles away. Today was beautiful, sunny, and fairly clear...kind of rare around here, but it makes me appreciate the nice days so much more! (I can be an optimist!)
I have diagnosed myself with a disorder I call public transportation anxiety, P.T.A. for short. Anyone can suffer from this, but I am especially predisposed for reasons including:
:: I have ridden public transportation about 6 times in my whole life, always while visiting friends/family, and always with a guide.
:: I operate from a belief that I owe it to people to know what I'm doing (in just about any situation). Therefore, I am extremely embarrassed when it becomes clear that I am clueless. Let's not get into how ridiculous of an idea this is...that I'm human...etc. I'm fully aware of my issues.
:: When I get flustered and am in the middle of a situation where I clearly do not know what I'm doing, I tend to loose all logic and common sense. It's like I'm in situation overload, and I now longer have the brain capacity to be logical.
The one very positive thing I have going for me is that deep down I really want to learn how to use public transportation, especially the bus. So, I'm actually a good person to have P.T.A. because I am willing to overcome!
In the first month we were here I only rode on a bus 3 times and a tram 1 time, all of which had been experienced with Steve. Steve's presence cancels out the effects of P.T.A. because he suffers from the opposite disorder. It doesn't have a good acronym (and it's too bad, because he is in the business of acronyms "I sent the S.O.W. to the C.I.O and he sent back a P.O.S." that's what I sometimes wake up to, since his office is in our bedroom.) but it's called something like 'uber-confident-in-every-possible-situation so much so that he never appears to be clueless.
During my mom's visit, she, Jackson and I took a walk to a coffee shop one morning. It was a normal day, meaning that it was kind of grey and there were a few rainy clouds out, but I knew we wouldn't be gone long, so we left our raincoats behind. (I have since learned that to ensure dryness, one must always carry a raincoat.) After the coffee shop, we decided to walk up to Fred Mejer, aka Freddy's, aka the grocery store we like to frequent.
On the way to Freddy's it began t0 gently rain. Nothing we couldn't handle though. So we were a tad soggy by the time we got there. While we were in the store, for all of 10 minutes, a torrential downpour ensued. The type of downpour which a certain northwest-bred friend of whom I will not mention here (you know who you are, and you should be ashamed!) assured me I would not experience here in the northwest.
There happens to be a bus stop right in front of Freddy's. And Freddy's is roughly 10 blocks from our house (about .8 miles give or take). I had taken the 14 bus two times already, and I knew exactly where we could get off about 3 blocks from our house, and I also knew that if you were staying in the same zone (which we were) the cost was $1. So we decided to take the bus for about 6 blocks to avoid the rain.
I'm sure I looked cool and composed, and really what could go wrong? I mean, we did almost get on going the wrong way, and it was my mom who realized that maybe we needed to cross the street and get on the bus that was actually heading the direction we needed to head. But once we got that minor detail figured out I thought we were golden. I had my two one-dollar bills out and facing the correct way to slide into the machine, and there was even enough room for us to all huddle under the bus stop to avoid that rain that was coming down sideways and from underneath us. I felt so Portland!
So as much as I seemed to have all my ducks in a row, what happened next seems to be classic. It's classic in the sense that I am unable to avoid awkwardness, especially in situations where I am the most anxious. (Which perhaps contributes in bringing them about.)
The bus stops and we rush to get on, at the same time realizing that no one else under the bus stop is rushing to get on (hmm? that's strange) to then realize that they are politely waiting to first let people get off the bus (clearly I've already lost my common sense at this point). When we do get on I send my mom and Jackson to the back and begin to insert my two dollars. I tell the woman I'm paying for me and my mom (Jacks is free). She says "it's four dollars then" (might I say she didn't say it very kindly. I think she added a silent "you silly, white, suburban moron" at the end of it).
Of course, I didn't have any more dollars on me, because who carries cash when you're with your mom? So now I'm yelling to the back of the bus for my mom to give me more money, at the same time trying to explain to the ever-so-kind bus driver that I've ridden this bus before, and isn't it only one dollar if you're staying in the same zone...ie: only going 6 blocks?! Did the rule just change. Or are you just trying to mess with me?
She wasn't having it. She wouldn't address my questions and just kept insisting that it was FOUR DOLLARS!
In the end, we only rode 4 blocks because I accidently got us off too early. So we paid a dollar a block. And we obviously got soaking wet on the 5 blocks that we had left to walk home.
So to work out my p.t.a. angst Jackson and I went puddle jumping when we got to our street.
I'm still surprised but the ultrasound definitely proved that I'm carrying another boy! It took us all a few minutes to get our heads around, because all three of us thought it was a girl, but we are psyched to have another boy.
My due date is April 12, and right now (at 19 weeks) the baby weighs 9 oz. Just a tiny little guy. Jackson has decided to name him Sharky-Shark, for now. The ultrasound took over an hour and he was getting a little impatient, so we started joking that maybe I was growing a dinosaur, or maybe a baby shark (currently his two favorite species).
I had two different ultrasound techs, both of which were males! I've had a handful of ultrasounds in the past few years and have never had a male. My experience with ultrasound techs has been that they are all business - they have specific info/measurements to gather, so please don't slow them down by asking questions. It's so hard because I'm so curious!! And I want to ask a million questions.
The first tech, Kirk, was still learning so he did the first half of the ultrasound. He was very laid back and talked a lot. He talked to Jackson, he answered all kinds of our questions. (He also guessed it was a girl.) And then his supervisor, Brian, was just as friendly and accommodating. It really was a different experience than any other ultrasound I've had before. It seems to take a trained eye to really understand the way an ultrasound works, and there is so much that shows up on the screen that seems indecipherable - but they each told us so much about what they were looking at.
We were able to see all four chambers of the heart, and even to see the way the blood was flowing in and out. We saw all ten of the baby's toes and fingers (we got a good thumbs-up shot). At one point Brian kind of tapped on my belly with the ultrasound wand. I inquired and he explained that he was checking that the baby's skin continued from the back of the neck all along the spine, and when he tapped my belly it pushed the baby away from my uterus for just a moment to get a good view of the baby's skin.
They both had a little trouble getting the head measurements because little Sharky-Shark was doing acrobatics like he was on speed. I was surprised because the other two ultrasounds I've had (where I could see the whole baby) he's been totally chilled out (another reason I thought it was a girl). But he was seriously moving. I started feeling him kick at 17 weeks but still his kicks seem small. I only actually felt about 10% of the movement that I observed on the screen during the ultrasound.
I'm so glad to know that it's a boy, to start thinking about what we will name him, and even just to finally call it a him. After watching him on the screen I realized how crazy it seems that he's a full baby right now! He has every body part that a baby has at birth. And yet, he still has 5 more months of growing to do before he could live outside of me. It fascinates me, how something is alive within my own body.
Jackson snapped this shot just before heading off to bed. Ever since we got a little point and shoot camera he loves to grab it and fill the frame. In this shot he was trying to capture as many of the letters from his name as he could. Not bad, eh? I mean, can your kid do that? Yeah, I'd like to see it!
Here's the proof - I'm finally showing some evidence of pregnancy. Though unfortunately most of the time I just look like a college girl with a sexy beer gut.
I'm really curious to find out the gender of this baby (as I was with Jackson). I didn't have a strong hunch one way or the other with Jackson, but I really think this baby is a girl. No matter the gender, this babe is definitely different than Jackson. It's calmer (kicks less frequently, and gentler) and seems mellowed out. Sounds perfect.
Our family of three will make the trip to the hospital on Monday afternoon for my ultrasound. They're going to check the baby's anatomical measurements, the amount of fluid around the baby...etc. and of course, the gender! Hopefully we can get a gender shot as good as Jackson's ultrasound (for those of you who saw it back then...for those who don't, I will try to locate it because it's priceless!)
Male or female, we are excited to welcome this baby into the world and into our family! Does anyone have any guesses?
While driving up and over Mt. Hood there's a stretch of road where, if road conditions are poor, cars are required to have chains on the tires. Or else you can get a ticket. We had a rental car and weren't privy to the chain requirement so we risked it. No ticket!
Steve had a meeting in Bend this morning so we tagged along to check it out. Bend is three hours south and east of Portland, on the other side of the Cascade Mountain range. Apparently it's the place to be if you like Oregon but dislike the rain - since it's on the east side of the mountain range it gets a lot more sun and a lot less rain. I don't really understand how it works, but I think of it as the mountains eating up all the rain. It's weird because after an hour of driving east (when we reached Mt. Hood) we were in a snow blizzard.
And then another hour and your in the desert. Seriously, like tumbleweed blowing in front of your car and the roadrunner running around. Okay, no roadrunner, but no green in sight.
Then just before you reach Bend it turns into farmland. The three hour trip was kind of like a condensed road trip across the U.S. If I were a seasoned photojournalist I would have taken pictures all along the way, but all I was really fascinated with was the snow:
It was also snowing in Bend today, and it was about 26 degrees
It was fun to see the snow, but I was glad to come back to 40-something degrees, even if it's a little less sunny. And as far as Bend goes, I didn't see much of it, but it did not steal my heart.
And after such a grueling day of swimming in the hotel pool and sipping hot chocolate, Jacks was spent.
I think I'm going to start posting a photo of the day. We've been taking lots of walks and exploring our new surroundings and nearly every day I see something interesting. So, my goal is to post a new picture every day, preferably one that was taken on that day, but sometimes hooking up the camera and downloading pictures gets tedious...so I might have to recycle old pics too.
This is the view from our bedroom window. There's a beautiful Maple tree that is so bright orange right now it almost looks fake...It probably looks extra bright because it's usually against a backdrop of grey clouds!
My mom just left after a six day visit and man did we do a lot in six days! I love to cook and bake, especially with friends, so we went to town in the kitchen. Plus my new kitchen is so much more spacious and well-designed, and my oven has three baking racks!
I got this recipe from my famous grandmother, Gigi (a near clone of Martha Stewart, except not as criminal). If I have the story straight, it originally came from her sister's husband, who was from Hungary. But really it doesn't matter, all that matters is how incredibly amazing these nut rolls are. Here's the gist of it:
You start by making a sweet dough
Then you make the nut mixture with walnuts, eggs, honey...etc
Then you roll out the dough into 8 discs and spread some nut-a-licious on it
Roll 'er up!
Let 'er rise
And eat the whole roll in one sitting! Delicious!
If you come visit us you can have your own! Just a little incentive!
I never thought I would start a blog. I find the whole idea very weird, and a lot scary. There are a few blogs I read regularly, some of which I personally know the authors and two written by women I've never met. I read my friend's blogs to keep up on their lives, and the other two I read mostly for entertainment - they're both really good writers, and I guess they write about things that I identify with. But i constantly ask myself, Why do people blog?
I guess there are a lot of reasons, but as we prepared to move across the country I began to wonder how I would keep in touch with all the people I love back home. And then I just threw it out there - I started telling people I was thinking of starting a blog...so then I had to start thinking about it. So now I'm asking myself Why would I start a blog?
You see, I have a lot of problems with the whole idea of blogging. First off, it's a little scary. I know a whole lot of personal stuff (though what is actually personal in this day? i believe blogging has significantly contributed to the further blurring of public vs. private) about these women who's blogs I read. And in my case, it doesn't really matter because I don't plan to do anything with that knowledge. But what if Joe Shmo crazy man who lives seven blocks from my house finds my blog and starts stalking me? That's creepy.
Blogs seem so intimate, and yet a blogger willingly posts knowing that anyone could access that post. What does that say about bloggers? Are we (with this preface-post i guess i'm now in the group) starved for attention?
So with that said, this is my aim in joining the blogging world: I plan to blog as an outlet, first and foremost. I have a lot of thoughts that jumble around in my head throughout the day (and night). I hope to use blogging as a way of letting some of those thoughts out to see what sticks. So, my number one goal in blogging is selfish, just so you know now. I also plan to blog as a way of journalling what we've been up to - which allows my friends and family to keep up on our lives, especially now that we're 2,367 miles away. But once blogging becomes a burden to me I know I'll quit. I have enough things that keep me up at night.
So there you have it, now you know what to expect. And knowing is half the battle.