#74: Heathman Hotel High Tea

We love Tea. It’s one of our favorite Things to add to our list every year.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Historically, the Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland has always done a proper British tea service, but in the last year management of Headwaters passed to Vitaly Paley, whose Russian-inspired cuisine has powered his restaurant Kachka to the top of a lot of lists. So now their tea service includes Russian flavor, and we can’t resist that kind of draw for long.

We brought our good friends to help us enjoy this, and enjoy we all did. Instead of the usual cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey, there was smoked caravan-style tea and blini with caviar. So good. If you enjoy tea and tiny foods, this is the place for you.

#61: Nuclear Musem

While in town for our February visit, we headed to a place we had earmarked for Will since he first came to Sandhill: the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

It’s a really great museum, honestly. In addition to the expected exhibits about weapons (which made Becky hugely uncomfortable, but were fascinating for Will; we told him he could pose in exactly three photos with weapons), there were also areas dedicated to medicine, pop culture (uranium glass!), power generation, and waste storage.

We spent almost the whole day here. There was lots to do, and tons to read. Will now has a general idea of how a nuclear power reactor works, and what happened at Chernobyl. I came away with a more tactile sense of the scope and ethics of the Manhattan Project, and what it must have felt like to work on something that you knew was going to change the world.

Highly recommended.

February Sandhill Visit

We went to Albuquerque again! This was our longest visit yet – we picked Will up on a Friday morning, and didn’t return him until Monday morning. Our goal was to have something approximating a laid-back weekend at home, with an adventure or two, but not jam-packed with excitement. So we went for neighborhood walks, and played a board game (provided by our lovely and generous Airbnb hosts), and cooked. We did lots of reading and hanging around the house.

This is the exact kind of thing that Will has had trouble with in the past, but it’s clear that he’s been working hard at Sandhill, because although we had a few difficult times, he managed the whole weekend really well. We all felt more relaxed than we had in a long time, and that’s a good place to be.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Lucy was having grand adventures with the Swanks, and the dogs were at Camp Bradley, where Hank had a tiny family reunion with Sabin, who is related to him somehow (probably an aunt, or some sort of distant cousin).

 

#15: Family Karaoke

Lucy had a great idea for Becky’s birthday: take her to a private karaoke room for an hour of singing our voices out!

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

This is one of our favorite things to do in Portland. We go to the Voicebox Karaoke that’s in Northwest Portland (they’re also now in Southeast and in Denver!), and rent a private room for an hour. For $18 (protip: the times when kids can come are also the cheapest) we get two microphones, a programmable disco ball, and a giant catalog of songs that are fun to sing.

Needless to say, Lucy’s gift idea was a massive hit. Becky’s favorite thing about this is that she never has to give up the microphone. We might have to fit this into our lives more often.

January Misc Round Up

Lucy has been very busy. She graduated two levels in swimming (and is now in the highest level this facility offers!), she helps cook and make coffee, loves to sew and make banana sharks, and we all finally met Sam & Grace’s newest baby, Addie!

She also earned her yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do! It was fun watching her perform during the test.

Becky retreated to the beach with friends for a few days. One morning they woke up to snow, which is nigh unheard-of in Newport. She’s allergic to cats, but made a friend anyways. She even Facetimed in to help Lucy choose outfits for the week. Unfortunately she arrived home sick, so got to hang out in bed for a few days.

My dad Roger passed away in December, and I flew to Denver for his memorial, and to spend some long-overdue time with family. While I was there, my mom gave me the box of papers and artifacts she’d been saving since my childhood, and there were some real treasures.

Will’s therapist Martha surprised us with some photos she had taken. The first few are from Lucy’s first visit to Sandhill, when we met all the horses and cats. The last three are from shortly after we headed home, when Will was having some animal therapy, which is one of his favorite things about Sandhill.

PUG TIME

#47: Children’s Theater

We really enjoy the theater. It’s one of our favorite things, and we’ve successfully passed that appreciation on to our children, whom we take with us whenever we can. So when we won two free tickets in a drawing at Lucy’s school’s harvest festival, we knew who to take.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We attended a performance of The Tail of Sleeping Beauty (with puppets), and it was marvelous. The set design, the puppets, the show-within-a-show trope were all well played, and we had a great time.

This is seriously one of the best places to take kids in Portland. They put on kid-friendly shows all the time (we also saw The Wizard of Oz), tickets aren’t terribly expensive (the best seats are $25), and they really do a great job.

#14: Volunteer – Blessing Bags

In addition to contributing to several charities and causes we believe in, we also wanted to do something a bit more tangible to help other people. When Lucy’s school announced they’d be doing blessing bags, we signed right up.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

The idea of a blessing bag is simple: put some things that are useful and not necessarily easy to come by into a bag, and give it to someone in need. The organizer of this event had gathered things like band-aids, socks, lip balm, and toothbrushes for our bags.

We set up an assembly line where someone could grab a bag, walk around to all the tables (stuffing one thing from each table into their bag), drop off their stuffed bag, and walk 10 feet to grab another empty bag. Every kid from 1st grade on up ran the circuit.

With almost the entire student body running the circuit, we put together about 500 bags in just under 40 minutes. We helped a bunch of people, and it was fun.

January Snowmageddon 2017

It began to snow on Wednesday, January 11, and it didn’t stop for two days. By the time it did, we had about 11 inches sticking to the ground, which puts this storm up there with the 2008 and 1950 storms.

Everything shut down – this area isn’t really equipped for snow at all, really, and the number of plows isn’t nearly enough to keep the main streets open. Lucy’s school and extracurriculars were canceled for a whole week, and everybody’s appointments were postponed.

It was beautiful when it stopped. We put on our tallest boots and warmest coats, and went looking for trees to shake. Lucy built a snow fort, and went for a walk on our front-yard waterfall pond.

One of our neighbors inexplicably owns a snowblower, and we were able to borrow it long enough to clear out most of our driveway before the other neighbors found out and wanted a turn.

Since Becky and I work from home, we didn’t lose much time. Our internet and power never went out, and we had just finished a big Costco trip and cookup, so we didn’t have to leave for anything.

By the time it was over, we were ready for the snow and slush to be gone, but for a couple of days, it was pure magic.

December Misc Round up

Lucy’s class put on a play they wrote and directed themselves! It was a reenactment of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and they did a fantastic job.

We had a snow day or two, and managed to survive despite not really being prepared at all.

Becky went to a festive baby shower party and ended up with a fantastic new holiday sweater; Lucy and I hit Mod Pizza for dinner, and our new flooring started to be installed.

Cute Puppy Time

This first snap is Hank and his best friend Max at the dog sitters’ house. Play hard, sleep hard.

#76: Complete a Whole 30

We’ve been keeping to a modified version of the paleo diet since 2011. It’s been working really well for us, and since we’re not too dogmatic about it (we make exceptions for special occasions or regional specialties), we mostly succeed in sticking to the plan.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Here’s the full list.

But 2016 was a real challenge. The whole year was filled with stress, so we found ourselves grabbing take-out more often, and comfort snacking. We got out of the habit of choosing to stay paleo, and by the end of the year we pretty much weren’t anymore.

One thing that usually helps us to get back on track is to do a Whole 30. By going super strict with eating rules, we get to reset our expectations and gut biomes to the place where we’re the happiest and most effective. We do one of these every year or so; usually not a full 30 days, but as much as we can fit in between commitments that make it really hard to stick with it, always at least 10 days.

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This year we did it for 12.We made sure to not frame it as a failure if we didn’t make it to day 30, and the great thing about that is if we feel like we need another reset we can just do another one. It feels like we’re something resembling paleo again, and we’ll be back to our old selves soon. We also took into account our personality types, and wrote down some food rules that we can stick to, so we don’t fall back into our 2016 patterns again.

P.S. — The thing we miss the most on a Whole 30? Cream in our coffee. Mmmmm.