Monday, June 23, 2008

The summer of hiking

I'm not sure we chose exactly the right summer to do this, especially given gas prices, but we have dedicated this summer to hiking. The kids are finally old enough to go on hikes for several hours with us. They enjoy it. We enjoy it. It's great physical activity. And we can sometimes take the dogs with us too.

We've taken 2 hikes so far this summer. The first was out "trial hike" to see how everone would manage while hiking. We went to the Hoyt Arboretum, a beautiful hiking area near the Oregon Zoo. We learned two things:

1. The kids are going to manage just fine.

2. Hiking with the dogs when there are lots of other people and dogs is a pain in the rear.

Regardless we had a good hike. We saw lots of beautiful flowers, plantsand trees and found THE BEST climbing tree EVER.

Our second hike was to Multnomah Falls. We've taken this hike once before about 2 years ago and it was really hard for the kids. But they have been asking to go again so we decided to try it. The falls, as always, were beautiful.

About 1/2 mile up the path to the top of the falls we saw another path breaking off. The sign was missing but there was much speculation that this trail led to Horsetail falls. We decided to be adventurous and take the trail. The short story is that the trail was NOT to Horsetail falls and instead just circled the hill we were on. However it was a LONG trail. We ended up hiking for several miles each way, spending about 2 1/2 hours hiking all together. And while we didn't make it to the top of Multnomah Falls OR to Horsetail falls, we did have a good hike.

We got to see some creepy crawlies on the trail and had some beautiful views of the Columbia Gorge.
Oh yes, and the lesson learned from this hike: no matter how hot it is DO NOT hike in sandals. My feet were not thanking me at the end of the hike.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What happened?

What happened to my nice compliant children? The kinds who smiled and gave me cheesey grins when I was taking photos? The kinds who groaned a little at the thought of Mom taking photos? Now it's turned into this ... the kind who smile when they see the camera because they know as soon as I push the shutter they can sneak in faces like this.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A "Camp Rock" Goodbye

Tonight was the much-anticipated premier of "Camp Rock" on the Disney Channel. Carissa, who loves all Disney musical movies, decided to invite over some of her closest friends to have a "Camp Rock" party. But a few weeks ago that "Camp Rock" party became a "Goodbye" party when Anwen and her family decided to move away. We decided to throw the party anyways and make it a final party for the neighborhood BFF's.

I had grand plans ... recordering the movie on the DVR, making pizza, painting nails, glittering the girls up. But the DVR, with it's ingenious mind of it's own, decided NOT to record the early show of Camp Rock. And the girls decided they didn't want to stop playing long enough to get their nails done. Thankfully there was a later showing of Camp Rock, which entirely saved the day. And the girls were happy playing and eating pizza and then pigging out on their chocolate M&M Blizzards while watching the show.

All in all it turned out really well. The girls got several items for each other -- matching BFF bracelets from Carissa, matching Littlest Pet Shop toys from Anwen, matching mood rings and necklaces from Shaylan. They played horses, jumped on the trampoline, danced to the movie and had a quick pillowfight before bedding down in Carissa's room for the night (girls, I can STILL hear you talking...).

But sadly the goodbye part of the party is on the horizon. Anwen and her brother Brenden, a close friend of Chase, will be leaving soon for their annual summer in France. However when they return they won't be coming back to Oregon, but headed for Montana instead. It's with a sad heart that the kids will tell their friends goodbye. I'm sure there will be much sadness, many tears, lots of hugs and hopes that we will meet again someday. But in the end, I hope they'll always remember their last night together playing, watching Camp Rock and giggling and laughing like only little girls can.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Citizens Academy is almost completed. Next week is our final night and our graduation. This week we had "Con-Sim's". I'm thinking that probably stands for Confrontation Simulation. Either way it was a fun and interesting evening.

We all arrived and got searched and metal-detected before entering. This is just their way of ensuring that we're not carrying any "real" weapons on the premesis.

Next we had a volunteer who got tazed to show us what that does to a person. Bravo to the fireman who volunteered to do that. It was really an amazing experience. To see him standing there, then hit with the tazer. One of the probes didn't stick so he had very little "zap" in the beginning, but then the lead fell and hit his leg, as it's designed, and the cirucit was complete. He was ZAPPED! I mean, his face controted, his muscles locked up, he lost control of his legs and fell to the ground. Once it really hit him you could see how imobolized it was. Quite cool and quite a great tool for law enforcement.

Next it was our turn for scenarios. Unfortunately, we didn't get to use tazers. We were however trussed up in our "cop gear" for the evening. We were instructed to wear heavy layers, just in case we were to get hit by a con-sim round, which is a paintball type round that apparently REALLY hurts and breaks skin if you get hit with it. Then we were given a neck guard, bullet-proof vest, a duty belt, training glock (with aforementioned really HARD paintball-type rounds), a baton/asp (with padding on it), training OC spray (which smelled like BenGay instead of pepper, thank goodness!), and a training mask. Here I am ready to go but waiting to put on my Darth Vadar helmet.

As soon as we were ready to go we partnered up for scenarios. I was pleased to see that Cheif was the hit-man for us. He did quite a good job of getting into character and acting criminal , despite the fact that he was in tons and tons of hot and bulky gear.

I watched several teams before it was my turn. My partner and I had 2 scenarios, each of us taking the lead on one of them. The first scenario was mine. It was an agitated man on his porch who didn't like the police. When I arrived "on scene" he was agressive and walking toward me, yelling and angry. I tried talking to him to figure out what was going on, but he kept coming at me. I instructed him to stop and he did, only to start walking towards me again. I took out my OC to spray him, only I held it backwards (blame my inexperience! LOL) and sprayed myself in the glove instead! DOH!!! I smelled like BenGay all evening! LOL After the failed OC-ing, the hit-man charged us and we were forced to take out our asps and hit him with them, finally getting him to fall and putting him in custody.

Here I am on the left with my asp out, ready to hit him with it.

I don't recall the next scenario, since I was backup on that one and it was nothing of consequence. But they did get this picture of me taking him into custody.

After every member had their turn they asked if anyone wanted to go again. Well I did! I paired up with an older gentelman in our group who is just so great and always interested in trying these things.

Our first scenario I was lead. It was another agitated gentelman, this time with a shotgun. I talked to him a bit and got him to put down his shotgun, only to find that he had a pistol hidden on his back. He grabbed that and we immediately started shooting. We hit him several times (including some shots in the face mask ... sorry Chief!!!). He went down but still had his hand on the gun. He did finally comply and threw the gun away from him. We moved around as a team and took him into custody. Wahoo! That was fun.

We had another scenario which, again, I don't recall the details of. But we did get to asp the chief again and both got a little extra hit, even after he was down. Oops, total accident. But it does go to show that sometimes the adrenaline of the situation causes your brain to take a few seconds to comply when you tell it that it's time to stop.

Con-Sims were really fun! It is a reminder though of how volatile the situations can be and how quickly they can become dangerous and deadly situations.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Have I mentioned that I love summer???

Seriously. I love it! We're only 3 days into it so maybe I'm more excited about it then I will be in another month, but I'm totally loving it!

Case in point: it's 2:44am. I've done 2 pretty awesome layouts tonight (if I do say so myself!) and I'm cleaning up my desk to start another. I can stay up as late as I want because I can sleep in - another thing of beauty this summer, along with having kids old enough to make their own breakfast.

So I can stay up late scrapbooking and watching girlie movies. I love it!

Speaking of girlie movies, I've been meaning to post a list of some of my favorite of all times and hope to get some input back with some of your favorites. I'm looking to expand my "girlie movie" library.

Now, the ground rules here. A "girlie movie" is a movie that us girls love. Something you don't watch with your husband or significant other. Something with a love story, something with great music, something with a hunky guy. Those are the rules of "girlie movies".

Here are my all-time faves:
  1. Enchanted
  2. Dirty Dancing (both the original and Havana Nights)
  3. Notting Hill
  4. Ever After
  5. Footloose
  6. Sweet Home Alabama
  7. Pretty Woman
  8. 13 Going on 30
  9. Save the Last Dance
  10. Titanic

Honorable mention goes to my two favorite friends movies, Beaches (which will always remind me of Kim) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (again, reminds me of Kim ... we actually shared slutty little skirts instead though. LOL).

Now, I'd love to hear some of yours. Expand my horizons and share your girlie movies with me!

Friday, June 13, 2008

What time is it?

SUMMERTIME... it's our vacation.
What time is it?
PARTYTIME... that’s right, say it loud.
What time is it?
TIME OF OUR LIVES... anticipation.
What time is it?
SUMMERTIME... school’s out. Scream and shout!

That's the first song we sang after we got home from school (on Carissa's new High School Musical Karaoke game). I couldn't have said it any better. Summer is finally here and I'm THRILLED. No more early mornings, no work for me, no picking up and dropping off. Maybe we'll actually have time to veg or something.

Yesterday was the last day of school. The kids all had an award ceremony. Chase's teacher didn't do individual awards (grrr... yet another letdown from her) however Tristan received an award for creativity and Carissa got one for great spelling and for being kind. I had to smile at the kindness award, as it's the same award she received at her preschool graduation 2 years before. And I just happened to be sitting next to her preschool teacher (and my now-boss) at the ceremony. It was quite an "awwwwww...." moment.

Today was spent enjoying the nice springtime weather that has FINALLY graced us Oregonians with it's presence. After rolling out of bed nearly 2 hours later than normal we had some breakfast and then rode our bikes to the library to join the summer reading program and get some new books. We stopped at the ice cream shop on the way too. ;) Then it was home and out garage saleling (not a good sale out today!) before going shopping for Fathers Day gifts. Tomorrow we're having a "summer party" with some friends over for a run in the sprinklers and ice cream sundaes. We have no big plans for the next few weeks so we're all just excited about some down time.

Welcome to summer!!!!!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I'm neglecting you ...

I know this. I know that I'm not writing. I know that I'm not communicating with the world. But right now I just have so little to say and even a littler amount of time to say it in. But I thought it was time for an update.

Right now in the world of Pixley things are BUSY. We have just 3 1/2 days of school left and I am eagerly looking forward to that end. It has been a long year with many ups and downs but we're all ready for a little time off, especially me who is ready to say goodbye to my classroom for the summer.

Tristan and Carissa will rest easily this summer knowing that they are returning to their same teachers and same school next year. Chase on the other hand will be starting anew yet again... well, anew but back to a familiar place. Chase will be attending the school in town for 6th grade. It's an unfortunate decision, as we LOVE the school on the island. But it's so tiny and there is just one teacher for every 2 grades. Mixed grade classes are great when you have a great teacher, like Tristan and Carissa's teachers. However Chase's teacher was an extreme disappointment this year and we've decided not to subject him to two years of dismal environment. He won't be returning to an entirely new place, as the school in town is where he went before they went to the island this year. He'll be returning there and to a group of kids he knows so I hope that the transition is fairly easy.

The kids activities have me hopping. Even though they only have one activity each I still find myself in a state of frenzy several nights a week. Of course, it could be the fact that I signed them all up for some much needed swimming lessons which just adds to our already busy schedule.

Chase is enjoying Boy Scouts. He still has weekly meetings and he is looking forward to his upcoming campout and hike at the Ape Caves. After that is summer camp. Then another campout or two this summer. It does get time consuming but most of all it gets expensive. Thankfully my Dad gave me a hiking pack for Chase that was my brothers. One expensive thing down. And we found a good deal on a small tent AND Dad gave me a second small one, so we're good on tents. But then it was buying a non-stick mess kit (we had an aluminum one but it was just a terror to get clean), then the rest of the 10 essentials... rain gear, knife, good but pack size sleeping bag, etc. I think that we've got most of it covered now except for a few items which are going on his birthday list. But it's been expensive to outfit him for it all. And good forbid one of us should go with him ... then we need 2 of everything.

Here is Chase at his first campout and lighting the candles for his first "Court of Honor", where he received his Boy Scout badge.

Tristan is, as always, consumed with Taekwondo. He had a belt testing last weekend and moved up another rank to yellow with black stripe. He has also graduated from first form to second form (this choreographed move thing you do) so he's spending extra time working on that. And while at a garage sale yesterday we found him a stand-alone kicking bag so he's been having fun with that. This is another over-the-summer activity so he'll be keeping at it. He's really enjoying competing too and if he continues to do well over the next year (and we can afford it) he might compete in the Junior Olympics next summer. We will see how things go over the next year though.

Here is Tristan at his testing:

Carissa is ready to say goodbye to softball for the season. She has an invitational tomorrow and then it's over. She has enjoyed batting and running but doesn't really care for fielding or catching. So she's a bit indifferent to softball --she likes it but doesn't love it. We're all ready for the season to be over. She's the only one with no activities this summer, though she'll probably start up dancing (either ballet or hip-hop) again in the fall.

Beyond those activities I have had book club and citizens academy to keep me busy. Only 2 more weeks of citizens academy and book club is just once a month, so summer should be pretty relaxed for me too. Oh, other than all the summer camps I'm teaching (and still have to finish planning for!!!).
Brian is working and going to school full time. Quite a schedule for him and one that doesn't leave a lot of extra time. But his goal is to have his degree finished by next spring. So just this one busy year and then he'll be done.