Wednesday, October 17, 2018


As we approach gift-giving season, I'm thinking about my dad.

Dad loved shopping. Mind you, that's not necessarily buying - just shopping. He could spend hours looking and not purchase a thing. That was a little frustrating sometimes :)

Dad was a deliberate thinker in all things. He took his time in understanding. His thought process was slower than mine. This included shopping. He didn't often impulse buy, but rather looked and contemplated for a long time before eventually buying. Or not buying.

This was especially true when we traveled. Dad spent innings in MLB stadium shops, trying to decide if he should buy a souvenir. Or which souvenir he would take home. At gift shops, he would examine all the puzzles (he LOVED collecting puzzles) before picking out one. Or not. And then he would second guess himself and wish he had bought that puzzle.

Every year, Eryn, Dad, and I get up at 3:30 am after Thanksgiving for some Black Friday excitement. Fred Meyer is the first stop, and here's us in 2015, waiting for the store manager to open the doors:
Dad bought little during an entire day of shopping, but he loved the experience. And honestly, it's been one of the highlights of my holiday season for as long as I can remember. I will really, really miss this tradition. Eryn and I are undecided about going this year. It just won't be the same without Dad.

Dad loved giving gifts. He loved picking out something personal for someone. He once presented me with a box of Mickey Mouses that he'd ordered off eBay. They all sit behind me in my classroom.
Last Christmas, Dad ordered Mom some music-themed socks from her wish list. After quite a while of not hearing from the company, Dad got suspicious and did some digging. It looked like it was a sham company, and his money might be lost forever. But he wasn't even slightly upset about being scammed - he was upset that Mom wouldn't get her cool socks! It was all about pleasing Mom.

When the Cubs won the World Series, Dad bought Mom every piece of memorabilia he could find! Christmas was Cubs jewelry, books, calendars, stickers, mugs, signs, etc.

For 30 years, Mom's taught at Tigard High School, home of the Tigers. And because of Dad, she owns bins and bins and bins of stuffed tigers!

She once expressed excitement over a Christmas penguin. Thanks to Dad, she now owns most every holiday penguin available in stores - stuffed, singing, socks, figurines, outdoor, wall hangings, etc.!

Brad is afraid of Bigfoot. He sometimes dreams about the big guy and ends up screaming in his sleep because they are chasing each other. (Side note: It's really disturbing to be fast asleep when the person next to you starts to scream!) Years ago, Dad went to a schools auction and purchased Brad a Bigfoot gift pack (windshield cover, lunch box, figurine, etc.) - because he knew he'd love it.

I could list pages and pages of things like this.

Dad loved to shop and loved to pick out gifts to make other people happy. As I look back at Dad's life, there are a few definite themes. One is making people happy. That was important to him. I wonder how that played into his depression and own feelings of inadequacy. Was that compensating for his hard childhood and mental health difficulties? Was he trying to fill a void in his own heart by helping and cheering others?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Nos. 31 - 35

No. 31, Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, was borrowed from the CE2 library.
I started it last year and had trouble getting through it. I finally finished it - trying hard to understand the cultural references. I'm glad we have books like this in our collection for our students of color.

No. 32 was John Steinbeck's The Pearl:
I snagged this from CE2, too. It's very short, so students often choose it for their reading assignment. It's horribly tragic! Talk about a surprise ending!

No. 33 was The Giver by Lois Lowry, also from CE2:
I haven't seen the movie and didn't know the plot at all. I wasn't thrilled to realize that it's a dystopia kinda story - not my favorite. But it hooked me, and I was flipping pages to see what happens. Again - horribly tragic ending! What's with these books we make our students read?!?!

No. 34 was a lighthearted mystery - Julie Kaewert's Unsolicited:
It was a fine story, but it seemed to take me forever to get through it. I usually cruise through this kind of book. I'm not sure what it was about the writing style that bogged me down.

No. 35 was James Patterson's Violets are Blue on audio book:
I didn't read as many audio books this summer - too busy working with Mom and Eryn on family projects instead of solo projects when I can check out and get absorbed in a book.

This one had two simultaneous plots, and one was about vampires! I really wasn't into the vampire story, but the other was good. I tolerated the vampires to get the other one :)

Definitely an interesting mix of books in this last little bit!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Silver Falls (12/26/17)

These photos are from our trip to Silver Falls State Park in December! Stuff got in the way after the first of the year, and I never posted them.

Brad's sister, Jill, and her husband, Maroof, try to visit each Christmas from NYC. We like to drag them on an adventure, and last year it was a hike at Silver Falls on Dec. 26:

The crew, all bundled up:

Such a beautiful day with the fog!

Happy hikers:
Wondering what adventure this year's visit will bring :)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Garlic Fest 10K (8/11/18)

With Brad out on a climbing adventure on the last weekend of my summer break, I decided I needed to run a race! Mom and Eryn joined me for the Garlic Fest 10K in North Plains.

Racers ready!

The loop course has a lovely hill in the middle:
I slowed for the ups and tried to fly on the downs. By the end, I was less flying and more trying to hang on ;)

Free race pics are the best! I looked better than I felt :)
All done!
I finished in 57:33, a 9:16 average. My Garmin measured the course at 6.28 miles, bringing my  average down to 9:10. I took 6/26 in my age group, 37/161 for females, and 90/250 overall.

Eryn on the course:
Here comes Eryn, around the corner from the finish:
After she passed, I ran ahead to get her at the finish line:
Mom on the course:
And here she comes!
Always run the finish:
Mom walked much of the course and found a fellow educator to chat with and pass the time:
After, we walked over a couple blocks to see the tiny parade:
Small-town parades are hilarious :)
Then we went to the festival area for some refueling. We all tried the "world famous garlic mashed potatoes":
We were so excited, but they were horrible! They were just instant potatoes with some garlic sprinkled on top. I didn't even finish mine. :( 

Then we shared a very mediocre elephant ear. The race was definitely better than the festival food. Next year, we'll stick to the running.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

5 on the 4th (7/4/18)

Holiday races are my favorite, especially this fun one in Wilsonville by ORRC. I wasn't feeling at all patriotic this year, skipping fireworks to attend a protest/vigil at Portland's ICE facility. But I had this amazing outfit, so I had to wear it for the 5 on the 4th:

I ran strong with Brad by my side and took second place in my division!

My twin approaching the finish:

I don't have pics of Mom's finish because I jumped in and ran with her :)

All done!
2nd Place!
The sweaty crew:
My time was 27:09, an 8:40 average. That earned me 55/143 overall, 17/74 female, and 2/15 in my division.

If you're looking for a fun 4th of July race, check out this one! We've done it several times now, and it's great :)