Category Archives: Phil

December19 – O Tannenbaum


IMG_5807-0Today, we cut down our very own Christmas tree … in the woods. We found out that you can get a permit to chop down a tree on BLM or National Forest land. Five bucks a tree, up to five per family.  We paid for two trees, a saw, a tree stand, and it cost us an additional two hours of family time.

We have been planning this for two weeks, but we kept getting sidetracked by activities or weather.  Finally, today was a beautiful clear day with lots and lots of snow, and our friends have left town for the holidays, so we had no other plans.  We drove toward Mt. Bachelor, hunting for a place where we could stop and walk off the road to even access trees.  The sights were beautiful, and it got colder and colder.



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IMG_5799-0It was 23 degrees when we got to the ski resort.  We decided to check out the slopes, since we were there … We are planning to do ski lessons in January.  Annie is freaked out by the height, so we are not sure if she will do it — but she and I might try cross country skiing.  (I cross country skiied in Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Finland — and downhill skiied in Wisconsin, Finland, and Australia. But that was over 25 years ago! 😜)




IMG_5860Anyway, after a lot of complaining about the cold and wind, we returned to our original mission.  We drove back toward home and found a spot close to a trail, where another family was sledding.  Phil slipped on some icy tire tracks as we set off on our search.  We laughed at him.

The rules say you have to be 150 feet away from a highway, but this was just a regular road.  To be on the safe side, I told the kids to count to 150 steps, which led us to a fork in the trail.  We walked a little further and found a few suitable trees.  The rules also said the tree have to be under 12 feet tall, which was fine with us.



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Annie wanted a little tree, which took longer to find than the big tree.  Eventually, we finished the shenanigans associated with walking in snow that was knee-high, took a bunch of pictures and made our way back to the truck.

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Each of us helped Phil carry the tree, but I tripped literally at the edge of the road and twisted my ankle.  It still hurts.  😩


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We now have a tree.  It is outside.  We put lights on it tonight, and we will decorate it with weather-proof ornaments.  Maybe Santa will bring some toboggans or other snow toys under it …

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
Wie treu sind deine Blätter
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren.
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit,
Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will dein Kleid mich lehren.




UpcycleDIY of the Day – 2 in a row!!!


This sweatshirt started life with Phil less than 3 years ago as a beloved memory of Oregon beer – until it met a cruel fate at the hands (teeth) of Bunnicula (aka Sophie).

And now it is a pillow case:

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I am still working out the kinks for making pillow cases from tshirts, but I hope to start offering them for sale in our ETSY shop soon.

Check out our other crafts currently for sale:

Oregon to Texas, February 2013



HarveyTwo has brought us back to Texas!  It was a long trip, with lots of interesting detours.  Phil has returned to work, which is hard for us all, but it is necessary.  I am having trouble thinking of Houston as “home”, but it is familiar and warmer … I hope to have the kids write about some of their impressions next week, when “school” resumes. More pictures can be seen at SmugMug

February 10:  After a long day of last-minute preparations, a last-lunch from Burgerville, and lots of rearranging, we finally pulled out of Sandy Riverfront RV Park in Troutdale, which we had called home since June 2012.  We drove to Eugene, Oregon, where we spent the night.

feb11sunset2February 11: Lunch for the road was fresh-fruit-salad-in-a-jar.  We drove west to Highway 101, where we had breathtaking views of the coast.  We stopped at Turtle Rock, Oregon, where we stayed for two nights in a nice RV park on the coast.

February 12: We learned about “sneakers” and “seastacks” and played horseshoes.  We all got wet feet when the sneakers snuck up on us while we walked on the beach, but Molly actually fell in a wave!  It was COLD, but we mustered the courage to keep walking and admiring the views.  The park hosted a Mardi Gras party, which seems really ironic to us Texans.  They ruined the gumbo, though, with the addition of critters we don’t eat, so the kids only got to eat dessert!

February 13: We said farewell to Oregon.  Weeks of angst about crossing the California border were dismissed instantly when we crossed without even stopping.  (I was worried about what they might think of our worm-bin.)

feb13redwoods3We stopped at a Ranger Station in Crescent City, where we got quick advice about how to see the most while towing a big trailer.  We drove out to the beach in Crescent City for more spectacular seastacks and found the local hangout for sea lions before heading further south for the Redwood National Forest.  When we got our first views of the Giant Redwoods, I was impressed.  They are truly as awe-inspiring as I had hoped, and our monster truck was indeed dwarfed by the trees.  The forest is wet and quiet and just “feels” ancient.

February 14:  We drove to Eureka for the afternoon to meet up with an online friend of mine.  The kids got to run around a great playground for feb15hikedownawhile, which was definitely good for them.

Feberuary 15:  We decided to go for a walk before we left.  It was a LOT further than we anticipated, but it was fun – at least for the grownups.  We walked to what we thought was a “beach access”, but it was only a scenic overlook.  The cliff was steep, but a trail taunted us, so we investigated.  When we got to the bottom of the hundreds of steps, we found a rather primitive “ladder” that seemed to have been beaten by the tides into a very unstable position.  After lots of complaining that it was “not fair”, we finally convinced the kids that we had to return to the top without going all the way down to the tidal pools.  (I did test out the ladder, and it was just a little too unsteady to attempt with the kids.  Maybe 20 years ago, but not today.)  That night, we stayed at an RV park that was at the top of a hill – a dark, twisty, narrow road led us there.  If we hadn’t been so tired, it would have been a good place to explore.

February 16: We drove south through beautiful places and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

feb17February 17:  Bare feet and sandals! We arrived at Orangeland to find ripe oranges and grapefruit on the trees.  What a difference from Portland, in only seven days.

February 18:  Annie was responsible for finding something new to do in Los Angeles.  All she wanted to do was go to Hollywood – again – which really didn’t appeal to me, but this was a long trip anyway, so we needed to do something the kids wanted to do.  She found a historical ship, the Queen Mary, for us to visit.  It took us about two hours to get there, due to an unfortunate accident of BOTH parents forgetting their wallets.

feb18submarine2We did finally get to see the ship, including its gigantic engines and propellors and fascinating history as both a cruise ship and a military transport.  Adjacent to the ship is a Russian submarine, that we toured, as well – Molly left her puppy Ruby by the periscope, causing another MAJOR drama for the day.

February 19:  Happy Birthday to Molly!!  We celebrated with a trip to Hollywood Boulevard, where she was serenaded by a girl-band recording a music video.  We went to the Guinness World Record Museum, which was hokey but amusing.  Part of the Boulevard was closed, preparing for the Oscar ceremony (“not fair” that we were there on the wrong day).  We finished the day at a very enjoyable ramen restaurant in Los Angeles – Orochon.


February 20:  We drove east through fields of windmills.

February 21:  Arizona

February 22:  We arrived in Las Cruces, New Mexico and were greeted by a centipede.  For the next three days, Zoe was petrified to walk outside the RV, for fear of the “spiky thing.”  Our RV park was down the road from the dealership where we found HarveyTwo, 10 months ago.

23febsand1February 23:  At last, we reached White Sands, a destination that had intrigued me since our return from Calgary, in the fall of 2011.  We watched the movie in the Ranger Station and bought the obligatory sleds before driving to the dunes.  Again, my breath was taken away by the splendor of nature.  We climbed the hills of cold sand, under the perfect blue sky.  Molly and Zoe had the most fun with the sleds, but they preferred just rolling down the hills.  Annie, Phil and I each tried it, but it was anticlimactic.  We took dozens of photos, which we will put online soon.  We chatted with some horse-riders, who had been riding in the sands all day long.  I have never seen such sweaty tired horses!  As the sun set over the mountains, even Annie didn’t want to leave.

February 24:  Weather kept us in Las Cruces for one more day.  Windstorms were just not a thing we wanted to endure with our trailer.  We spent a couple hours hunting for Geocaches instead and relaxed.  If you have never heard of Geocaching, it is like a treasure hunt, following clues and GPS coordinates that are posted on a website.  We found four, and we rather enjoyed ourselves.

feb25welcomeFebruary 25:  We entered Texas!  A long way, still, from Houston …

February 26:  We arrived in Kerrville and visited with Aunt Linda for a little while.  It was a momentous day:  Happy Anniversary to my parents, and Happy Birthday to Nana!

February 27:  Katy, Texas!  (I’m still not sure how we crossed Texas in only two days.)

Apple Cider!


It was a REALLY rainy day.  Molly and Zoe slept on the way to Helen’s house:


Pretty leaves:


We joined Helen, Lee, Dave, Sally, and a few of their closest friends, including some kids and some dogs to juice a few apples:


The grinder was electric, but the presser was manual labor:


The pressed juice was strained:


The results were bottled at a rate of about half a gallon a minute.  There were lots and lots and lots of empty bottles:



This is what was left of the apples:

The kids mainly played while the apples were being pressed:


Fresh apple cider is the absolute best thing in the universe!  (ok, there might be better stuff out there, but this is pretty awesome!)

End of the day … my feet hurt, but I am very thankful for rain boots:

Our First Family Camping Trip

Our First Family Camping Trip

We went camping on the Coast with best friends, Helen and Lee, and Mikey (the dog).

It was supposed to be for two nights, but at the last minute, we decided against going on our FIRST camping trip with the kids and arriving after dark.  We had practiced setting up the tent, so I wasn’t worried about that, but we did NOT want to risk having to work out the kinks with tired children.

Sooooo, we went on Saturday morning.

Annie and Molly have both been to the Coast on previous Oregon trips, but catching the first glimpse of the ocean is always fun!

We got the tent set up pretty quickly.  Molly was a huge help!




Meanwhile, Annie was playing with Instagram …


Phil horsed around with Zoe and Molly …


Then, we all went down the road to a marina, where we rented a boat …

The boat wasn’t big enough for all of us, so we had to take turns.  It was nothing fancy, just a small engine at the back of the boat.  Helen and Lee didn’t like driving it, so Phil offered.  Zoe was totally freaked out by the whole thing, so she refused to get in the boat.  While the rest of them explored the bay, Lee, Zoe, Mikey, and I drove to Manzanita.  The view was lovely.  The beach was lovely.  The ice cream was lovely.  The stores were lovely!  I really need to go back there!


I drove the boat for the second outing – leaving Phil and Zoe on shore.  They found a small restaurant and had a beer and tater tots.

We ended the day with pasta at the campsite, followed by popcorn and s’mores.  (and wine for the grownups)



Everyone settled in to sleep, cozy and sweet …

… to be continued!

Exploring Sandy River, upstream


Sunday morning:  I had this silly notion that we could somehow trace our river up to where it starts … haha.  I was thinking we could get somewhere that was significantly colder or something.  Not sure what I really thought we would find, but we tried!

I think we left by 2:00.  I plotted a route on Google maps that I thought would get us at least somewhere interesting.  We followed the back roads heading south-ish, winding through lush farmland.  We caught glimpses of Mt. Hood’s snowy peak.  Suddenly, we encountered a locked gate.  Hmmm.  Did I misread the map?  Nope.  We tried a different road.  Another dead end!  We were totally baffled, but the GPS feature on Phil’s iPhone proved that we were where we thought we were – but Google maps just didn’t know it was a restricted road.  (It was a road through a National Forest, and there were some signs indicating a water treatment facility.)

So, we had to find somewhere else to go.  Good news!  We weren’t actually on Sandy River anymore – so we found a different route, and we headed towards a point on Google maps called Big Sandy River Dam Road.  The road climbed up, and the scenery was breathtaking.  Zoe took a nap … However, we couldn’t find the Dam Road!  … after consulting the iPhone again, we turned around to search for the road that we had obviously missed. (sure would be nice if the Google maps on my iPad had a GPS feature!)  The road was about 5-10 minutes back, and it was a Gravel Road with no signs.  We knew we were in the right place, thanks to the iPhone.  I should have taken a picture of the sign at the entrance – it was a little foreboding, but it did say that it was BLM land, so we followed the bumpy road.  We passed several spots where cars were parked – but even though we could hear the river from those spots, they looked more like serious hikes, which we were NOT prepared for.

Amusing comment:  I watched “127 Hours” the night before.  And we didn’t tell anyone where we were going … maybe not smart!

We kept going until we reached the End.  We could hear the river.  There was a gate, and beyond it was a utility road.  Molly and I walked down a bit, and the river sound got closer, so we decided to go for it.  We packed a bag with some water, water shoes, and my camera and set off.  We met up with 3 guys and a sweet pit bull, who were returning from a day obviously spent fishing.  Just to be safe, I asked them if we would get to the water.  They laughed and said yes.


After a short hike, we reached our goal.  A million rocks sat between us and a moderately-fast-paced river.  Zoe, having just woke up, fussed about walking over them, but we finally reached the water.



It wasn’t as cold as it looked.  It was Green.  We put on our water shoes and waded up to our calves.  No way were we letting the kids walk into the current.  We played a while.  The kids threw rocks in the river.  They made little rainbows with the splashes.  Phil threw giant boulders onto smaller rocks – causing shrapnel to rain down – to see what the rocks looked like inside.  (We think they are volcanic rocks.)  More rocks were thrown into the water.



We eventually had enough fun and walked back to the car …



… and drove home …

… with rocks.

What is it about rocks that make it impossible to resist the urge to collect them?  especially for kids …

… oh, and Annie tried to collect wheat.  We aren’t sure if it is actually wheat, but when I told her that wheat is where flour comes from, she decided that she would collect wheat, pound them into flour, and make us a wonderful bread for a snack.  We shall see.  🙂