Friday, August 30, 2013

Budding journalists, interviewing one another

Is it "one another" or "each other"? English teachers, care to weigh in here?

Anyway, the boys put their iPads to good use today. They filmed interviews of one another. This year, we will encourage them to film interviews and oral histories with people we know and some we don't.

In other news, we leave in 3 days!

Enjoy and PLEASE comment to encourage the boys.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rockets and Why Batting Cages Have Doors

The YouTube Capture app I just got helped me upload these. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Maiden Voyage

Hi all...after being critical of last week's bloggers, I have fallen down on the job.  And it's been a really wonderful week.  But as "my" house is quiet (kids are with grandma Janet and grandpa Steve), here I sit.  I'm starting with two of my favorite pictures, especially after reading Michael Gerson's piece on dropping his son off at's coming faster than a runaway train, and I'm trying to at least run along side it.

Many, many people, close friends and absolute strangers, have questioned my sanity this year, taking off of work, traveling in such a small
car with these three boys, jumping into the abyss of not knowing what's coming next.  So far, next is filled with daily micromoments of bliss, in beautiful places, with wonderful people.  We have the same money arguments we always did, the kids still need to be asked multiple times to clean up after themselves.  But daily, I am grateful.  I am grateful for these two littlish boys who not only kiss and hug me, and tell me they love me, but I am grateful they have each other.  They've made up a term called "BLEO," which stands for Brothers Love Each Other.  As you can tell, they've become wonderful companions on this adventure.

As for that small car and tent trailer...
We took 'er out on her maiden voyage this
weekend to Whidbey Island, where my beloved Aunt Billie and Uncle Leo live.  Aunt B is my mom's oldest sister; a bonus of spending time with these absolutely wonderful people is the way Aunt B looks, talks, and moves like my mom.  I haven't heard her voice in so long, it's a joy to hear stories of her as a child and imagine her at this age.

Here is G pulling the Go for the first time out my sister's garage.
Here we are, all loaded up and ready to hit the road.  I cannot speak highly enough of audio books.  The ride up and back was all Guys Read: The Sports Pages (hey Michael Sheehan: you must listen to the final story with Benjamin!).

Math lesson for Des on this trip: figuring out how many miles we drove, how many miles to the gallon we got, and how much we paid per mile.  We might let him use a calculator.
Here we are waiting for the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island.  Please note the "little" camper in front of us.  We had quite a few visitors asking us about this contraption.  I met a guy from Mississippi who was an RPCV from Liberia in the 60's, before Mar' and Lar' Pearmine went there.  Small world.
This is the view from the deck of Aunt B's place, the lagoon and Penn Cove in the distance.  Yep.  The boys had a fabulous time in the little paddle boat tied up.  Luckily, living in China had given us a lot of experience of manning such vessels.  Only this time, there was no smoking, no one yelling "hello babies!" at the kids, paddling over to us to get a closer look.  It was, as the picture conveys, serene.  And sublime.
Gar took this maiden voyage thing seriously.  We slept in that thar tent, ate breakfast in there.  He cooked eggs on the new campstove, the whole deal.  Here are the boys and my cousin Carrie's grandgirls (4 gingers in one space!) having some Cherrios and delightful conversation, I'm sure.
 The highlight for the boys is always Uncle Leo. A retired sea captain with great stories, a bottomless love of children, and a love of adventure, Leo takes the boys into the woodshop, where all kinds of fun and misdeeds can happen. As Leo's vision and hearing aren't what they used to be, I asked uncle Rick to supervise as well (as I am confident I would ruin the fun).  They made some wood art, and Des and Leo made a stool.  Great fun with saws of all sorts, nail guns, and I don't want to know what else.
 Okay, we didn't eat EVERY meal in the tent.  Why would you when you could have this view?
 Here's where we slept.  We kept the window open, and the moon shown through.  It was amazing.  The breeze, the kingfishers, the sun and moon through the trees.  Safe to say, maiden voyage was a success.
Uncle Rick and Emmy are enjoying the view of the lagoon by the fire.  Emm said "you know, mom, Uncle Rick and dad are a lot alike.  They are both really calm and totally crazy."  I explained the really calm is a necessity when marrying a Pearmine girl, to which Rick heartily agreed.

Leo and Billie took us all out to dinner at Zorba's.  Fabulous people there, good food; they take care of the old Greek and his lovely wife, and would likely call to check on them if they missed one of their regular visits.

As we talked about our three good things by the fire, the view, and time with Aunt B and Uncle Leo, were the top of everyone's list.  And the ice cream.
Dear Leo, how we love you.  He's showing Des the ole' missing thumb trick as we pull away.  He can't get enough of the kids.  Leo always help me reset my priorities.  He is one of the most loving, fun, present people I know, and I've enjoyed every minute I've ever been around him.  And he'll outlive us all, at this rate.

We're under two weeks till takeoff, and getting excited.  AND enjoying late summer in Portland (or regular summer, I guess), with wonderful food, visits from grandparents, movies, roller derby and Trek in the Park this weekend, and who knows what else.  Can't wait for every day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Here's Desi's take on the last week+:

Yesterday was Gary's B-day we had cupcakes and pizza.We played in the park it was so fun. We set up are tent trailer it was Super cool then My dad called me Jack Monkey. Then we played kickball again It was super fun after that we went home.

Blog post#2
Last Friday I had an awesome sleepover with my cousins.The next day we had pancakes for Breakfast. Then we went to the batting cages I did 55 slow pitch. I also did 40 baseball. We went to Bergerville and I got a milkshake and a burger then we said bye and went home.

Blog post#3
3 days ago I went to OMSI camp I did Rockets Away. Then on Friday we launched our rockets at Conestoga middle school in Beaverton. 

Then when we were done With that. We drove back to OMSI to watch Emmett's claymation video. After it was over we drove home.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Though my jobs this week are food planning and shopping, the blogging boys are moving too slow for me.  It's Saturday morning and I'm watching Emmy try to engage in the watching of the Cardinals/Cincinnati game with Des and Gar.  Let's just say, he doesn't really get it.  He knows better than to call a run a point, but that's about it.  We're heading to the Farmer's Market in a bit, and gearing up for OMSI camp next week...Emm is learning Animation and Des is building rockets...yikes. 

It feels unsettling to read all of the returning to Shanghai posts and not be a part of it...there's even a wistful feeling thinking about United airlines delaying flights, crabby flight attendants, and whether or not the kids "did well" on the flight.  It's like a muscle memory when you've moved houses (which we've done many, many times this summer), turning the wrong way in the hallway on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It's not a bad feeling, just noticing the difference.

In our new life, which involves sleeping in, figuring out what we want to do each day, enjoying thinking about what we want to eat and how to do things on the cheap, I spend a lot of time thinking about making meaning.  Gary has always been great about making meaning from the little things...watching a game, riding scooters with the kids, sitting in a friend's backyard and laughing.  I get restless, wanting to feel a bigger connection and feel like my meaning is connected to a bigger something.  That's why one of my goals this year is learning to be mindful, happy living in the moment, aware of and appreciating what's around me (which is much).

Some of the ways we're making meaning right now are weekly community service outings.  Last week we went to Mt. Tabor park and pulled English Ivy and Clematis, also known as Old Man's Beard.  Emmy and Des loved being a part of the Weed Warriors Crew, and we got to learn about how invasive plants don't utilize rain water as efficiently as native plants, and they steal resources from the native plants, which are getting choked out.  Here are some pics of my ginger warriors:

This week we talked about doing Random Acts of Kindness for our community service. We came up with the idea of Random Acts of Weeding (RAOW), and we garden-bombed an unsuspecting relative for a couple hours of weeding.  Tee was fun.  We also spent much of our family meeting time deciding what to call ourselves while we were RAOW'ing, and we landed upon the Dandy Lions.  Pictures to follow, once the photoshopping is completed.  If you know of someone who would appreciate a RAOW, let us know...we're always on the prowl!  

Most evenings we go for a scoot...I think at least one of the kids have mentioned enjoying their scooters.  Imagine motorizing a scooter and sticking Desi on's a thrilling, hilarious, terrifying, frustrating, heart-stopping experience.  Sidewalk or street?  What to do when he buzzes Emm, who is working on his braking and making sure he feels under control, or taking a risk and going a little faster than he's comfortable with?  Is it bad that I occasionally wish for a wipeout just to teach a lesson about the hotdog behavior?  Des is amazingly adept at avoiding the crash.  I am learning to stay behind and walk with Gar, enjoying this time of raising little boys who enjoy hanging with us and each other.  

Boys were told to look did they do?

 Time to get out of the is nearly 10:30!  How's Pool 1 looking, SRC?  Are the bullfrogs keeping up with the mosquito population?  What's new on Jin Feng Lu?  Eventually, we'll have another set point.  Off to eat berries in 65 degree weather! Love to you all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A new (un-)school year, a new look for the blog

We hope you like the new layout. And the sweet countdown thingy.

As for comments, I removed the annoying security features and that change seems to be popular. 
It means a lot to us when we see comments. So thanks to all of you who have posted. The rest of you lurkers, let's hear from you too.

Dozens of you have been clamoring for a behind the scenes look (um, not really), so:

Note the amateur-hour typing method. When will voice recognition software get good enough to save me?