Friday, July 31, 2009

Wow, tomorrow is August? Where did the time go? Oh wait, it’s summer and I’ve been crazy busy beyond belief. Between going out of town twice in July, my husband’s band Kousefly playing a ton and it being the busiest time at work, I come home each day completely exhausted. My house shows it as I can not muster the thought of cleaning. My currently unemployed husband does a great job at vacuuming but when it comes to picking up after himself and Benjamin, well, let’s just say I spend a few minutes each evening wiping the kitchen down and putting away toys.

So how is life with a toddler? It’s official, he’s walking –he is no longer a baby. It took 13.5 months but he’s doing it and has even mastered walking with shoes. He definitely is more aware of things as of late. When I say “give mama a kiss,” most of the time he will come over and kiss me with a closed mouth. It is rather sweet and heartwarming. Since he was tiny, I have always showered him with kisses all over his face. The other day as I laid on the ground with him rough housing, he returned the favor, showering me with kissing and making a “mwah, mwah, mwah” noise. It brought tears to my eyes.

I’m worried about his speech. About a week ago I decided that Mr. Binky would only make appearance during naps and bed time. He doesn’t seem to be missing it. He babbling more but since learning to walk, he’s forgotten how to sign so we’re back to square one. Sometimes when he is really hungry and I don’t quite get what he’s upset about he’ll burst out “nanana” which means he wants food. Otherwise he’ll say mama, dada and sometimes mimic the sound of “kitty cat.”

Benjamin has become quite picky at dinner time. He hates vegetables unless covered in cheese or sauce. He eats tons of cheese, fruit but turns his nose up at meat. I swear he drinks 2 gallons of whole milk a week. I hope this is all normal and a phase.
My health has been in question lately. It seems I have high blood pressure. I’ve known this since giving birth but I started feeling a ton of anxiety lately so off to the doctor I went. I’ve been running lately but my left ankle would swell up and I went back to walking. Then I started back up running and twisted my ankle so my office visit consisted of talk of my blood pressure, my twisted ankle and my weight. The verdict: don’t run for at least 10 days to let my ankle heal, wear a pedometer and start getting in 10,000 steps five days a week and eat better. I need to get my blood pressure down by the end of October or face the fact I’m going on medicine. My focus when walking has been “getting healthy for my family.” It doesn’t help lunch seems to be catered everyday where I work and I’ve been baking nice treats as well. BUT I need to get healthy for my family and gosh darn it, if I want to have another child, I need to get that weight down too.

OK, enough babbling. There’s your update.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ben new favorite toy

Ben new favorite toy
Originally uploaded by Shanlee
Who knew the most fascinating toy to play with would be my Blackberry? Try taking it away -- he throws a royal fit. It's also fun to watch it ring. He has no idea what to do.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On taking a vacation with a toddler (and a dog)

When I planned the Wilco show, I decided that I would take the whole week off and we'd do something as a family. I thought about a staycation but I've recently become obsessed with the website and found a cabin that happened to be open that same week in Eastern Oregon. After I booked it, I started having nightmares about bears and being trapped in the woods with no cell phone coverage. I didn't tell my husband that otherwise he'd get further validation that I was a freak.

I read the description weeks ago, but it wasn't until we got to our cabin, 6 miles to the west of Granite, OR, that I realized there was so much history involved in our short Eastern Oregon vacation. Our cabin was nice and cozy with electricity and running hot water ... just like I like it. We didn't have much planned. Maybe check out Olive Lake. Definitely head to Baker City for pizza for the BEST pizza in the state of Oregon at Paizano's. The only planning I did was a menu so we wouldn't go hungry -- God forbid.

We left Thursday morning after Lil B's nap and much drama about a properly packed car because we had packed too much stuff but it all worked out. Outside of Prineville, we realized that I was going to have to sit in the backseat and entertain Lil B. We playing a lot of games like "where is your (insert body part)." I'm happy to say, he know where his head is located after three hours. We settled into our cozy cabin and all went to bed early. Good thing we did, we got a 4:30 a.m. wake up call from you know who.

On Friday, after our 6 a.m. breakfast, we headed to Olive Lake. There we learned that "in an effort to operate the mines more economically, local waterpower from nearby Olive Lake was used to generate the much- needed electrical power." We also saw several segments of the pipeline along the road on the way up to Olive Lake and back to our cabin. We also saw a herd of Elk and a few deer too. My first Elk siting after living in Oregon for almost 6 years.

A pilgrimage to Eastern Oregon is not complete without a stop to Baker City for the best pizza in Oregon. I think it's safe to say, Kina and Whitey are good friends and they know how to show us a good time. Our visit was short, as the joint was a hoping with lunch folk but it was pretty meaningful as Lil B got his first taste of the pizza "gold" aka Thai Chicken Pizza. Kina suggested we head back on the Elkhorn Scenic Byway and I'm so glad we did. Fabulous views and a chance to Lil B to nap.

OK, about napping. We were horrible about it. He slept in the car for all of his naps in the car seat. And did I mention, we turned the car seat around because we knew he'd like it better. He did! I know we should wait but he's over 20 lbs. It's just easier. Today, when we got home, we paid dearly for the car napping as he didn't want to be in his crib. The trip also screwed up his night waking up. He was up at 4:30 a.m. scared of the strange place and snuggled with me. Cross fingers he sleeps soundly in his crib tonight.

Since we got up so early, we hike the Granite Creek Trail which was pretty. We found a ton of Huckleberry bushes but they were not ripe. The fourth of July day was spent checking out the Sumpter Valley Railway and the towns of Sumpter and Granite. Lil B went on his first train ride and we checked out a few mines. We were all so tired from 4:30 a.m. mornings that we were back at the cabin at 3 p.m.

Traveling with a 13 month is not easy but think of all the memories. It's better than staying home and doing nothing, right? I'm glad we're home. I must say, there was more we could have done like check out the lookouts and hiked more but we'll save that for next time!

To see photos from our trip, check this out!

Now, back to the real world.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Moms can listen to Wilco (the band) or I'm the fan who loves you

I've always been a lover of good music. When all the 7th graders were into New Kids on the Block, I was into U2 (before it was cool to be into U2) and the Cure. What does that tell you? Don’t answer that.

In college, my dad hooked me up with a summer internship at a local hard rock station via a friend of his. She needed some free help and well, I needed the experience and college credit for my broadcasting degree. Being the program director's assistant meant I got first choice of CDs they were giving away and that is how Wilco's A.M. radio ended up in my hands. I remember when I opened the box, there was an actually promotional, functional A.M. radio. First listen, I knew I had struck gold but everyone around me was like "Wilco who?" and I still get that same response. You know what, more Wilco for me.

The whole knowing about Wilco came in handy when I was trying to impress a guy (I know, really classy -- the same trick worked for the band Phish too). When a guy I liked found out I had purchased Wilco's "Being There" he asked me to dinner. If I wouldn't have pulled out that Wilco card in 1997, I would not have meet my husband as that guy ended up introducing us years later.

I have to admit, I really didn't know much about the band members then because I felt pretty stupid not to know the whole Uncle Tupelo phenomenon and how Jeff Tweedy pioneered the country rock or alternative country movement. One friend proclaimed I couldn't like Son Volt and Wilco. "You have to pick sides -- Jeff or Jay." The good news was that I didn't like Son Volt -- too whiny (this coming from the person who loved The Cure).

In the next millennium, I dated a huge Wilco fanatic. He was quite impressed that I did in fact, had some Wilco in my collection. Then Wilco was coming to town and guess what, we broke up. He got the tickets and I was pretty heartbroken -- not over the failed romance but that I wasn't going to see Wilco. Somehow I lived.

I didn't get to see Wilco until 2005 -- almost ten years after I had discovered them. I witnessed what Glenn Kotche said was the worst Wilco show -- their set at the Sasquatch Festival. I didn't think it was all that bad except for the sound was completely off (the venue's fault) and it was over 100 degrees.

Fast forward to last night. We left Lil B with his aunt to spend the day and night. This was hard and damn it, Wilco is a band I would leave my child with his aunt so I could enjoy. We also hired a Britt Sitter (someone you pay $20 to stand in line for you so you can be one of the 150 ppl they allow to sit in the front) to stand in position until we arrived. After a game of shuffleboard in which Ryan and I killed my husband and Ethan, we headed up the hill to the Britt Pavilion. In 4th position was our faithful sitter -- there was no way we would not get front row. We listened to the sound check, Brian tell his "Pearl Jam story" and game of quoting "Anchorman" while waiting 90 mins for the gate to open. In preparation for the hot Southern Oregon climate, I drank a lot of water and had to find the bathroom. On my way back, I spotted the emo looking dude from Wilco (Pat Sansone, at the time I couldn't remember his name) walking down the road. I wanted to stop him and get a photo but I was alone so I told him "have a great show" and he said thanks. A little starstuck, I went back to my #5 position (Ethan had #4, Brian had #6) and waited.

The Britt folks take care of their members. They lined us up outside the venue and prepped us so we could run and grab our spots. We ran and grabbed front and center!!!! The cool thing is the stage is only raised a foot above the ground which meant we were pretty much gonna be eye-level with Wilco!!! More waiting, through the open act and then the prep for Wilco and then, they entered the stage. I said to Brian "um, Jeff Tweedy isn't very tall" and there were many exchanges about his Breedlove Guitars (which Brian plays and are made in Bend).

Words can't explain how cool it was to experience the show from front and center. The songs were amazing as Wilco knows how to put on a show. Twice, Jeff Tweedy was inches from me, within reach. The first time Jeff Tweedy came down during Kidsmoke (spiders) and had the kid RIGHT NEXT TO ME play his guitar. I was a little awestruck that a guitar playing legend was with in INCHES of me. After the show, he came up to the kid, STILL RIGHT NEXT TO ME, and handed him the guitar pick. The kid is one of the many Britt Sitters you can hire. He was #3 in line with us (I was #5) and was really excited for the show.

I'm sure there is a lot more I could ramble on about but you already know I'm a Wilco geek. You can check out the photos from the show here along with photos from the Bend and Edgefield shows from the previous summers.

One last thing, this show was so awesome that it knocked the Radiohead show I saw at Red Rocks in 2001 out of the #2 spot. My top 10 shows now go in this order:

1. U2, Zoo TV Tour, Ames, IA, 1992
2. Wilco, Britt Pavilion, Jacksonville, OR 2009
3. Radiohead/Beta Band, Red Rocks, Morrison CO, 2001
4. Phish, Minneapolis Convention Center, 1999
5. Beck with The Flaming Lips, Lawrence, KS 2002
6. Wilco, Edgefield, Gresham OR, 2007
7. Flaming Lips, LSA, Bend, OR 2006
8. Beck, LSA, Bend, OR 2006
9. U2, Pop Mart, Arrowhead Stadium, KS, MO 1998
10. Phish, Alpine Valley Amphitheatre, Wisconsin, 1998

I will now go geek out to the new Wilco album called "Wilco." Yes, there is a song called "Wilco" and it's tastefully done and isn't cheesy.