The Great Pumpkin…Patch

Fall officially started on September 23rd, but you wouldn’t think it to be true around here. The leaves seem to be drying, not changing, the air is warm, not crisp, and the fall rains are non-existent. Alas, there are some recognizable signs of Autumn.

2014-10-04 pumpkin patch

As we do every year, we drove out to Sauvie Island for our first pumpkin patch experience (one of two trips planned for this fall). So many of the pumpkin patches put on a circus with corn mazes, food vendors, trains for the kids, hay rides, music, petting zoos, etc. But on this particular Saturday, our friends (“Dr.” Brad and Tiff), steered us in a new, and much welcomed direction. Columbia Farms had no lot attendants parking cars – there were only about 5 when we arrived, and the whole experience from start to finish was so carefree. I liked how “Dr.” Brad put it. Something like: “We’ve got a lot of years of going those other places. Let’s enjoy this kind of experience while we can.”

2014-10-04 walking to the patch
We just grabbed a cart and trekked across the road to the patch, which is a nice manageable size to walk through and the pumpkin variety is just right. I didn’t think to bring a knife along for cutting the pumpkins off the vines and I had not realized how prickly pumpkin vines are! At the other farms, they must be pre-cut and left in the field for people to “pick.”

2014-10-04 Brad pulling kids

E in Cart

E standing

E standing in cart

monkey in love

The boys and I picked out 5 pumpkins in a variety of colors; orange, blue, green, pink, and white with orange stripes. Once we selected our pumpkins, we carted them back over to the barn where there was a big trough for washing. I have to admit that this was a first for me – washing pumpkins. And, guess what I learned from the experience?!  Pumpkins float! Does everyone know this but me? So, with that in mind, it was a fun and interesting activity for Flo and Monkey to enjoy together, and a learning experience for me.

2014-10-04 washing pumpkins

Once our pumpkins were clean, we carted them over to the scale to be weighed. Inside the barn was a modest-sized store with goodies from the farm like raspberry honey and apples, which also ended up coming home with us.

After pumpkin hunting, and a shaded picnic, the kids enjoyed time playing together in the tunnel and hay pyramid.  It was the perfect morning.

tunnel together

2014-10-04 Flo in tunnel

Thanks friends for a nice adventure together. It is always a treat to share time with you.


As a (very important) side note, we celebrated Monkey’s 3rd birthday at “The Bird Show” a few weeks ago, which is where we have gone every year since he was born. I think it may have been one of the busiest evenings there at Chapman School, but it was still a lot of fun and we were so touched by the turnout of friends and family who came to picnic with us.

Bird Show

Thank you Monkey for all of the joy you bring to so many of us! You are a beautiful little being and we are so blessed to be your parents in this journey.



Little Hands, Big Work

On October 11th, our family will be participating in our very first school fundraiser for Monkey’s preschool; the first of many in the years to come for both boys. Whether a school is private or public, I’ve learned through my years of fundraising work with my dearest friend and former colleague, Johnna Wells, that all schools rely heavily on fundraising to fill the gaps in classroom needs, and to create opportunities for children to attend via scholarships.

I find the Whole Child Montessori Center approach to be refreshing, as it serves as a modest fundraiser for the school, while also benefiting the local community and its natural environment.

As friends and families donate money toward the event, the Whole Child community works tirelessly to remove invasive species from the Johnson Creek Watershed, and replace them with native plants. The watershed is an important home for a number of threatened native fish and wildlife, including steelhead, cutthroat trout, coho and Chinook salmon as well as the red-legged frog, painted turtles, salamanders, pileated woodpeckers and great blue heron.

photo from WCMC website

photo from WCMC website

Should you feel inspired to donate, (your donation is tax deductible, as WCMC is a 501-c3) you will have the gratification of knowing that in sponsoring this event, you are helping to shape world citizens of the future who care about the environment through this important work! And you will also feel good in knowing that your contribution is helping keep our family’s tuition costs down, while also supplying scholarships to others!

Last year, WCMC raised $13,600, and it is our hope to exceed this goal in 2014.

photo from WCMC website

photo from WCMC website

You may have heard me share my praise in the past about the peaceful, and effective approach that Montessori education provides during a sensitive period in a child’s life when their minds are most absorbent, but, jut in case you are still curious, here is a bit of info:

Montessori education is an aid for life; an education that encourages independence, refines the child’s natural tools for learning and fosters self-motivation. Montessori goes beyond the academic disciplines, it stresses responsibility and consideration for others. And, importantly, it prepares children to embrace life experiences openly, enthusiastically and with a sense of joy for discovery.


“Mama, I’m Happy”

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Monkey started preschool this past week and is about to celebrate his 3rd birthday at the end of the month. He makes me laugh and smile every day. Today, while running some errands, he was sitting in the backseat and said:

“Mama, I’m happy.”

I squealed at the cuteness and told him how happy I was to hear this and then asked if there was something in particular that was making him feel so happy. Irrationally expecting some deep explanation about how life just felt really good right now…perhaps because we just spent a long weekend full of adventure – stargazing,  bowling, visiting with grandparents, neighbors, and friends.  But his answer?


Wow. It was that simple. The thought of firetrucks was making him feel happiness right then and there and he just wanted to share that emotion with me. The whole thing launched me into this internal dialogue on how I used to express my daily joys and emotions here before I rarely had extra moments and time to myself to “think” at the end of the day. These “pages” used to be a place where I would steal a moment to myself and reflect.

As most mothers (especially of very young ones) know, having these moments are rare. This past few years have been busy and I’ve struggled to find a balance – of emotion, energy, dedicated time to my family, to my work, to myself. But, I hope to return here and reflect more often, as it always used to help me stay connected somehow.

2014-09-10 08.17.17-2

Monkey LOVES being in school again. When we pick him up, he pours over how much he likes all of his new friends, his teacher, and the activities. After E was born and we came up with creative ways for me to take a year off from working (selling my car, taking odd jobs, etc.), we pulled Monkey from his toddler Montessori program. Though we had a blast spending more time together at home, I know he missed it. He still talks about the school, his old teacher and friends, and every time we would drive anywhere near South Waterfront or in visible shot of the ariel tram, he would ask if we were going to his school.

We began to talk about his new school in June to prepare our HSC for the big change.

Little brother (E) seems to be enjoying the undivided attention he receives for those few hours in the morning before he naps…

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…but he sure loves to spending time with his big brother!


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And though we love having him home more, we are hoping that Josh’s back heals soon, as he has needed to take off from work for a month and is not seeing any relief in sight. Even still, we’ve managed to have a few some fun, family adventures that don’t require much on his part. I’ve become used to doing all of the heavy lifting these days.

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The pics above are from our short trip to Kah-Nee-Tah, which I absolutely enjoyed, as it was our very first family vacation together where it was just the four of us. It is so beautiful and so peaceful there, which seemed to rub off on the kids too.

With the summer months staying so warm, we’ve also spent many a day at water parks around town; our favorite being Elizabeth Caruthers Park because it is never as busy as the others.

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Do you see why these guys remind me to stay in the moment and to cherish the journey together?

So here I am, reflecting. I hope to do it more. I hope to take the time more often to share outwardly how grateful I am for these moments . Because, I am. So very grateful.

What Makes You Different, Is What Makes You Special! What Makes You Weird, Is What Makes You Cool!

The crisp chill of Fall is in there air here and winter will soon be upon us. But the winter gloom isn’t sneaking in at all. There has just been too much to celebrate and to be grateful for!

We’ve recently shared in the celebrations of some big life moments of those we care so much about!  Several friends of ours have welcomed new arrivals into their families, which is always such an exciting time. The addition of one sweet baby girl in particular brought tears of joy to so many who know and love our dear friends Andy & Alicia. We are just beyond thrilled for them!

After our Monkey recently turned one, we can truly appreciate how big a deal that first birthday can be and so I wanted to share our experience attending Hattie Ham’s birthday party a few weeks ago! This whole spread was put together by event planner, Hanna Kane from Everybody’s Invitedwhom I’d gotten to know after she helped me with the  “On the Hunt with Charlie” Scavenger Hunt this year.

Celeste, Craig, and Hattie on Hattie’s First B-day {Photo courtesy of Everybody’s Invited}

As a fellow event planner, I so appreciated the many details that Hanna and her team put together! Seriously! They even had a ham cake. It was fantastic!

A “Ham” cake for Hattie Ham’s 1st B-day {Photo courtesy of Everybody’s Invited website}

Hattie’s daddy, Craig Dennis, who is a long-time friend and has also been a long-time musician with a theatrical background wrote this sweet song for Hattie (in the video below), and performed it at the party.  As a side note, I’ve always thought he’d make a great cast member on SNL.  His wife, Celeste, and I have been scheming a way to get him into the Kindie Rock scene! Here is his bid debut!

Pretty sweet, isn’t it? And, I love the message!

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone! I am so grateful for having fantastic friends and a wonderful family!

Last Days of Summer

It has been absolutely beautiful out during these past few months. We make a point to get outside daily, but our time together as a full family is often limited due to the way we have had to schedule our respective work calendars so that one of us is always with Little Monkey.

I covet our days as a family of three when we get to explore the world together…

Fitting Monkey into the seat.

Our friends, Ali and Holly, recently gifted us their son’s infant bike seat now that he has outgrown it — the ibert.  Since the time we picked it up last week, we have been anxious to give it a test drive…

Making a few final adjustments before heading out the back gate.

It took some messing around with to make it work with one of Josh’s bikes (needing new handle bars and such), but the minute it was put onto the frame, he took Monkey for a spin up and down our street while I stood on the sidelines  as a proud mama, waving and shouting cheers as they rolled by each time…back and forth, back and forth, up and down the block.

Our trusty sidekick Jelani kept Monkey entertained on the ride as he towed his remote control truck behind his own bicycle. It made me smile and think of the funny random things that Monkey will do like that one day too.

It may have only been a quick test drive, but I have a hunch Monkey is going to enjoy bike rides.

kindess of strangers

On our way home from the 2nd trip to Tucson to both mourn and celebrate the life of our loving matriarch, I came across what felt to be a shield of collective protection by several strangers on our flights. Strangers whom, many of them, went out of their way to be sure that Monkey and I arrived home safely amidst flight delays and cancellations. I was moved to tears many times and as I have mentioned here before, it takes a lot for that to happen.

After several hours of sitting on a tarmac while waiting out a thunderstorm before the plane could take off, the woman sitting next to Monkey and I slowly shared bits and pieces of her story as she playfully smiled and humored Monkey. With this being my first flight with Monkey on my own, I can safely say that I don’t know how I could have handled the situation as well had it been any other person in that seat. As it turned out, this lovely woman was on her way to be with her son as he awaited an organ transplant. Feeling at all frustrated by travel delays quickly became a distant memory to me the more I listened.

Later, while waiting standby after missed connections – she to Denver, me to Portland – we sat in a cafe and talked more. I was so moved by this woman and all that she has done to raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis and to be a strong and loving mother to her children despite the many struggles she and her family had seen.

She had recently turned to music as her outlet. I listened to some of the songs she had written. They were beautiful. Just as she was. I have thought of she and her son since that time and wondered how they are doing. Whether or not he got his transplant and if it took? I only got her first name and too much time has passed for me to remember the name of the foundation in Mexico she started up (it was in Spanish and I have a terrible name memory as it is). I keep hoping I will remember.

After saying goodbye the way strangers do when they know they were somehow fated to meet, with a look of gratitude in our eyes, I set off to find our standby gate.

Upon arrival to the gate, I quickly realized that the chances of Monkey and I getting on the flight were slim to none. We were sixth on the list and the flight was already fully booked. I called Josh to let him know that I would start looking for a hotel and nearby store to pick up more provisions. A man nearby came up to me after I got off the phone. He had overheard my conversation. His daughter-in-law had been stuck in an airport for two days with her twin boys when they were Monkey’s age and he wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I couldn’t even imagine! As I learned that day, there are several things that had never crossed my mind that pose a problem when running into any travel woes:

1) I didn’t have a car seat. It had already been routed for Portland. So even if I had gotten a hotel, I’d need to figure out a cab or service that could provide a car seat to get us to the hotel and back to the airport.

2) I had only packed enough baby food, diapers and wipes to get us home that evening (I was trying to go compact for ease of carrying Monkey around). The rest was packed in my checked bag. Mistake. I will always have at least a few days worth of these items in my carry-on. Although Monkey is eating food other than the purees now so it would not be as much of an issue.

He asked if there was anything he could get for us. I smiled and thanked him but said I would just see how this flight went and then figure it out afterward. It was touching that a stranger thought to care. Then, I proceeded to follow a fast crawling Monkey around the waiting area while he spent some of his 9-month-old energy.

As the last call for passengers took place on the intercom, I had already come to resolve that we would be finding a hotel for the night and trying it all again the next day. Then, I heard a woman’s voice, “Miss? Miss?”

I looked up to a mother with her three-year-old son standing next to her and a baby girl in a stroller who was close to Monkey’s age.

“Do you need anything? Do you need food? Do you need diapers?”

At a quick glance, I saw the man behind her and knew he had stopped her as she was boarding to let her know my situation. My eyes welled up a bit. She handed over a stack of diapers, several jars of food and a new bag of wipes. I couldn’t stop thanking her and the gentleman who had extended their kindness. I may have had a night of obstacles ahead of me, but I was feeling recharged now knowing I had gotten the support and reminders from all of these people that there is a lot of good amongst the more difficult moments too.

I started to pack up our items and got things together to head to the customer service desk to make a plan when I heard my name over the intercom. A group of people in the lobby started cheering. I was so confused. They called it once more. More cheering. I walked up to the counter and the flight attendant told me I was all clear to board.

“But, all these other people are still waiting on standby ahead of me.”

As I said those words, I glanced back at the others I knew were on standby in front of me. They all had big sympathetic smiles on their faces. One of whom was that selfless man who had already been so helpful. He had talked everyone into bumping me up the list in case there was only one seat available.

Okay, that was it, I lost it. Crying, smiling and waving at all of those kind faces, I was hurried down the runway to board the plane.

After sitting down, I looked at Monkey, kissed him on his head and told him that his great nana with with us today.

Appreciating Every Moment. A Visit to the Southwest.

We have returned from our travels to Arizona.

This was an epic and bittersweet journey in more ways than one, and perhaps too complicated for me to get into here and now.

As you can see below, our Little Monkey is well on his way to walking now that he is practicing his standing and balancing poses. He sure is proud of himself when he holds himself in what we call his “surfer pose.” That’s where he holds onto a piece of furniture or one of us and slowly lets go, one hand at a time, stretching his arms in front and behind himself like a surfer as he simultaneously dons a explorative grin until he eventually collapses and explodes with laughter. Our hearts continue to melt every day as we witness these small, yet tremendous milestones.

We first flew into Phoenix, on an Alaska Airlines Portland Timbers plane no less, which we thought brought good luck for Little Monkey’s first time traveling by air.

It went off without a hitch and he was an absolute angel of a traveler – falling asleep during take-off each time and laughing through the landing. It was beyond my wildest dreams for how I had hoped the flights might go and can only hope it sticks! I was prepared for the worst, but truly ended up with the best of all possible scenarios. I was actually the one crying on the flight home after catching a cold during our trip and dealing with the pain of congestion.

In the scorching heat of the Phoenix daylight, we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens where we had hoped to see the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit. However, shortly after walking the grounds we realized it was no longer on display in the garden and has been gone since 2009.  We were only late by about three years! I guess I thought it was a permanent feature.

It was still beautiful walking through the garden, but far too hot for Little Monkey so we ended our stay abruptly and headed to the comfort of nearby air conditioning.

That night, my longtime friend, Tina, and her husband Chris hosted a reunion of sorts for us to visit with some of my high school buddies and have the chance to meet their families. So many of the children looked so much like their parents.

Tina is such a good hostess — thank you so much for your hospitality T!

Our next stop was north to the Flagstaff area, where we held an intimate ceremony to say goodbye to my grandmother, Lil’ Banka, who passed away last year.  We stayed at her cabin in Munds Park where I grew up going every summer of my childhood and well into my first years of college. It brought back so many memories of lazy days spent in the tracksuit-style pajamas she would buy for my cousins and I each summer; playing Rummy Cube and Uno every evening; laying in the dewy grass of the golf course to watch the fireworks shoot right over our heads on the 4th of July; fishing in the lake nearby; riding bikes and walking through the neighboring streets; and sitting on the back porch for dinner every night where we would usually eat an iceberg lettuce salad, cantaloupe, some kind of dinner, followed by Vanilla Wafer Pudding for desert.

The place still smelled just as it did during my childhood visits, which made me miss Lil’ Banka dearly. It was just so strange to be there without her by our sides as we sat together in the living room at night as we used to do with a bowl of popcorn in hand while watching Wheel of Fortune.

All the while, my mind was also on my grandmother in Tucson, Banka Dottie, whom on the day of our arrival had been taken to the hospital with breathing issues and subsequently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Every update I’d receive on her condition would be worse than the one before it and all I wanted to do was hop in the car to go and see her to give her a great big comfort hug. But alas, I was told to wait for a visit until later in the week.

The purpose of this trip down was to say goodbye to one grandmother and visit with the other. Not to say goodbye to both.

I am not ready yet to let go of another important person to me who has influenced my passion for all things arts and culture related and taught me to be sure and appreciate some of the finer things in life and to be sure and celebrate every day.

Nearby in Flagstaff, we saw our friends Jodi and Guy and their two sweet little kids. Josh got a nice hike in with Guy, which they dubbed something along the lines of “the men only hike.” So, Jodi and I stayed in town and caught up with one another between nap and feeding schedules. It seemed that once one babe would go down, the other would wake up so there wasn’t the focused visits of the past, but this is the reality with little ones!

(Not to worry, I got my spa day later).

Our next stop was in Tucson, where we had limited visits with friends and family. But when we finally did see everyone again, it sure was wonderful!

And the most important visit of all – with Banka Dottie….

…meeting Little Monkey for the very first time.

Our First Vacation as a Family

{photo by josh montgomery}

Every year, my hubby’s birthday falls during Spring break – a time when so many people are traveling and it becomes difficult to plan much of anything, so this year, we took a trip to the Oregon Coast!

Little Monkey and Papa Monkey have a special connection between their birthdays. The birthday of one marks the 1/2 birthday of the other.

This coastal adventure turned out to mark many firsts for all of us! Get ready for a mad photo montage!

First time for Hubby to turn thirty….something!

First time for Little Monkey to see the Ocean!

You can see that the winter storms have washed quite a bit of debris onto the shore…

Though the sun was out, it wasn’t exactly a warm day, so we had to be sure to keep the little monkey all snuggled up!

{photo by josh montgomery}

{photo by josh montgomery}

First timefor me to visit Heceta Head and Heceta Lighthouse

We learned about the history of the lighthouse and about the glass prisms that allow the light to be reflected outward in great distances.

{photo by josh montgomery}

First time as a family to stay at the lakehouse!

First time to take in gorgeous sunsets from the dock as a family. 

First time my lovely husband has ever woken up early just to photograph the sunrise…

First time for Little Monkey to sit in a high chair…

Our very FIRST family vacation together (outside of visiting relatives) and it was perfect!

Simply Budding

I’ve decided that looking at things simply is the best way to go — no matter the subject or activity.

On the most basic scale, when entertaining friends or family, I’ve been keeping the prep work and menus easy so I can be more apt to enjoy the company of those we look so forward to seeing while we are all together.

On a broader scale, I’ve been finding that the most simple of things can seem the most complex and the most complex of things can sometimes feel so simple. Take nature for example. So complex. Yet, so simple when one can just observe and be in awe of it all.

This is the grapevine outside our bedroom window. I’ve been appreciating the intricacy of every living thing and the many ways in which they are so individual in their makeup. A simple approach to happiness really.

If you look closely, you’ll see the buds of spring starting to appear on its branches.

As is usually the case with any change of season, I’ve been admiring the cycles of life in every form…

And feeling joy and love when observing new life that reminds us that things should be so much more simple — whether that is by witnessing the spring buds on the vine outside, or by listening to the giggling innocence of our baby boy.

And we could not imagine a life without those that enrich our every moment and remind us that things do not have to be complicated. We appreciate the simple ease in the relationships with our friends, family and extended family (our pets) that keep us in constant awe of the magic moments of life.