Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home for Christmas

I just returned from a 10-day trip to Texas for the Christmas holiday. I am so thankful that I was able to be home for such an extended time period. It gave me a chance to see lots of family and friends and to really catch up with everyone (unlike the usual quick, crammed, rushed weekends I spend in Texas). I took the overnight flight to Dallas on the 17th and arrived at 9:00am just in time for Hannah’s 4th birthday party – breakfast with Santa. Hannah has been talking about her party for months and was so excited that it was finally the big day and that Aunt Mary made it all the way from Portland. I’m so glad that I was able to be there to celebrate with her – she’s getting so big!!

I headed to Waco the next day and was there for the rest of my trip. I loved being able to relax at home, go for walks with my mom around the neighborhood, watch old home videos, eat at all of my favorite local spots, enjoy 85 degree sunny weather, go to the 7th & James Christmas Eve Service, see all of my high school friends, run into people I knew all over town, drive to Austin to have lunch with Merrill and Baby Parker, spend lots of time with Hannah (including my very first Zumba class), do workout videos with little cousin Genevieve, go shopping with my mom and Sarah, have dinner with family friends, play the piano whenever I wanted, go with Carter to get his first haircut, and just be with all of my family who came in town for the holiday.

I especially enjoyed having dinner and spending the night at Sarah and Taylor’s house on Christmas Eve so that I could see Carter open his stocking and gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. He literally screamed with excitement when he saw his new train set, and was nearly just as excited about the chapstick and bandaids he got in his stocking.

Emily, Brett and the girls drove to Waco on Christmas Day.  It was great to have the whole family together - a rare occurance now-a-days.  Poor little Alice Anne was sick the whole time and just wanted to lay in her mommy's lap.  But Hannah and I spend lots of quality time together.  We were pretty much attached at the hip.  We played hide-and-seek, colored, played Disney princess songs on the piano, went out to dinner and breakfast with the "big kids" (the older cousins), and had sleepovers every night.  It was a sad morning when she left to go home - you would have thought we were never going to see each other again.  But I loved getting to spend so much time with my favorite four-year-old neice.

Overall, it was a great Christmas in Texas.  It couldn't have been better!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anne in Portland

One of my best and longest friends, Anne Olson, came to visit me in Portland for a long weekend.  Anne and I have known each other since we were seven years old.  We went to elementary school together at Hillcrest PDS as well as high school together at Waco High.  Some of my fondest memories of me and Anne include a 5th grade trip to New Orleans with our French class, our elementary school theater show (S.O.S.), high school choir and show choir, vacation with her and her parents in Santa Fe, countless nights and weekends hanging out at Barnes and Noble with her and Sydney, and making the roadtrip up to Portland together nearly two years ago.

Young Mary and Anne at Hillcrest PDS.
Please notice the appliqued, oversized, tucked-in tshirt and the one shoulder overalls.

Sydney, Mary and Anne at a WHS Choir concert.  You've gotta love the silk vest and bow tie, crushed velvet dress and sweet letter jacket.

I'm so excited that Anne was able to visit me in Portland now that I really know the city and could show her around.  She got to see where I live, visit some of my favorite spots and meet my friends.  She flew in this past Thursday; we went to happy hour and caught up on life.  We realized we hadn't actually seen each other since last Christmas - crazy!  Then she came with me to my home community group.  I was able to take off from work a little early on Friday and we headed to Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast.  We stayed at a great resort and had an amazing view of the ocean and Haystack Rock from our balcony.  We ate some delicious clam chowder at Mo's that night, then watched one of our favorite movies, Once, together and just relaxed.  The next morning we wanted to go for a nice little walk along the beach, but it was pretty windy and rainy so we just ran down there, took some pictures, and headed back indoors.  After a yummy brunch, we headed back to Portland.

I've been wanting to visit the Portland Art Museum to see the Lee Kelly special exhibit.  Lee Kelly is Portland's most well-known sculptor who donates one of his amazing pieces to our auction each year.  I knew Anne would appreciate the art museum as well, so we went straight there on Saturday afternoon.  After grabbing some hot tea at Stumptown, we headed home to rest a little before a progressive dinner that night.

Our first stop of the night was at The Bagdad for cajun tots and beer with my friends Megan, Alan, Drew and Madison.  Then we headed to The Montage, a very hip Portlandy cajun restaurant, then to a great European-style pub called The Horse Brass.  It was a great night with good food and even better company!

Sunday morning, we pulled ourselves out of bed and made it to the early Imago Dei church service.  I was excited for Anne to be able to visit my Portland church since we went to the same church, Dayspring Baptist, in Waco for a while.  Then we had a nice brunch at Isabel's in the Pearl District and headed over to the Portland Saturday Market under the Burnside Bridge.  Despite the oddities and quirkiness of the market, its one of my favorite things in Portland!  Anne found a unique flower hanger and I got an awesome picture of the St. John's Bridge (which I ran across in the Portland Marathon).

That night we met up with one of her old college buddies for an early dinner then went to see The Nutracker ballet.  I haven't seen that ballet since I was probably about 6.  It was incredible.  Really beautiful.  We stopped by the Moore's advent party to say hello to them and then headed home.

Monday, Anne enjoyed the city by herself while I was at work and that evening we went to see the Portland Zoolights.  I love Christmas lights!  The zoo was completely lit up and we rode a train through the whole area.  We topped off the night with dessert at Papa Hayden's, the best dessert spot in town.

I loved getting to spend so much time with Anne and really catch up on life.  Anne is such a dear friend and I value our relationship so much.  Thanks for coming to visit me Anne - you'll have to come back up when the weather is a little nicer!

 eating crepes at a food cart

 in front of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

 dinner leftovers at The Montage with Megan

the festive ZooLights train

after riding the zoo train

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soccer Mom for a Week

For the past week I have been acting as Soccer Mom for a friend who is vacationing in Hawaii for a week with her husband. It has been quite an experience taking responsibility for an 11, 14, and 17 year old. These kids are really great - not your typical crazy tweens and teens. Sam, Kelsey and Gerik are some of the smartest, most responsible, respectful and well-mannered kids I know. Kuddos to their great parents, Annie and Andy!

This past week has been an interesting experience that gave me a pretty realistic idea of the life of a parent. First of all, I realized the pressure of being responsible for other human beings and having them heavily depend on you. For example, if I oversleep and wake up at 7:00am instead of 6:00am, then someone might miss her carpool and the first 10 mins of gym class (sorry about that Kelsey – I guess I’m just not used to waking up that early). Or if the kids have soccer practice and friends invite you to dinner, you’ll just have to catch up with your friends another time. After all, your schedule isn’t really your own anymore. Also, the kids expect you to remain calm and make clear decisions (even when you’re still half asleep) in unexpected situations such as one of them getting sick to the stomach at 3:30am and needing medical attention and a little comfort. Even after they’ve headed to school and you’re at work, if one of them throws up after “over-running” in gym class (yet proudly breaking his personal running record) you’re going to get a call asking you to pick your sick child up from school. And just when you thought you were done with homework forever, a kid who worked hours on a book report might accidently lose the document and need your help retyping it and printing it out successfully.

I also learned to walk the thin line between having a good time with your kids and flat out embarrassing them. I dropped little Sam off at soccer practice last week and had an hour and a half to kill. I figured I’d take advantage of this precious time to myself and get in a little exercise. So I decided to run around the nice track where his team was practicing. Several other parents were doing it – it was like a parent’s running club. His shaggy blond hair made him easy to spot and I watched him headbutt a few balls and score a couple goals. Such a great soccer player! On our drive home he said, “I saw you running around the track during practice. That was my team playing on the field.” “Oh yeah,” I said nonchalantly. “You’re team plays really well (not that I was intently observing or anything).” And when a high schooler wants you to drop her off at the movies so she can see Harry Potter with her friends, don’t even think about telling her that you’re dying to see that movie too and would love to come along even if you have to sit in the back corner. But if you do think that, resist the urge and make plans to see the movie by yourself another time.

If you want to get on the kids’ good side, take them to Sonic for a milkshake after a long soccer practice, cuddle up on the couch and watch Toy Story or Twilight, teach them how to make cakeballs, cheer for their favorite football team on tv, offer to let them borrow your nail polish, play (and lose) a game of ping pong, admire their really awesome blanket tent, and just be available to chat over a bowl of ice cream.

I have to say I loved having the opportunity to hang out with these kids for a week and I learned a lot that will come in handy down the road (way down the road).

Hidden Talents of an 11 Yr Old
"I’m really good at not spilling. It’s like my specialty. Oh, and balancing. I’m really good at that, too."
- a really talented 11 year old

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting Back on the Board

This weekend was my first time to hit the slopes since I broke my wrist last winter. I have to say I wasn’t too excited about getting back on my snowboard, but I knew I had to face my fear and jump back in the saddle (or the bindings). So on Sunday Alan and I made the hour drive up to Mount Hood in the snow and ice. The snow on the mountain was great – it snowed a lot last week (even in the city).

We decided to snowboard at Skibowl which seems to have a little bit easier slopes (and a slower chair lift) than Meadows where I snowboarded last winter. So we slid into the parking lot, started layering up and then Alan said “Um Mary, you only have one boot attached to your board.” I couldn’t believe I left one boot at home. I thought about throwing my scarf in and just heading home; I thought about snowboarding barefoot or maybe flamingo style; and then I realized I could just rent boots for the day (duh). So once we were fully geared up (with my new wrist guard tightly wrapped around my still achy wrist), Alan gave me a little pep talk to ease my nerves, reviewed Snowboarding 101 and I slowly scooted over to the chair lift. Now the chair lift is by far my least favorite part of snowboarding. I wish I could just relax and enjoy the gorgeous view while ascending the mountain and passing over snowy trees, but I’m just too anxious and worried about getting to the top and having to somehow dismount the still-moving lift while hopefully keeping some sort of grace.  I made it off the lift pretty well the first two times, but completely ate it on the third time.  A little 9-year-old girl standing at the bottom of the lift slope yelled out, "Oh my goodness! Are you okay?" and continued to ramble (loudly) about how embarrassing it is to faceplant in the snow like that.  Thanks, little girl.

It ended up being a great day on the mountain and I have regained my confidence as a snowboarder - a beginner snowboarder.  Can't wait to hit the slopes again!