#71 Make a Family Bookshelf

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Disclosure: I worked in the public library for three years; this kind of thing is a big deal to me. 

This project took some actual remodeling to happen, but I could not be more pleased with the results!  I know it seems strange to close off part of an open room, but it gave us a dedicated entryway and reduced the path through the living room, making it an actual room to hang out in. The shelves themselves are just Ikea placeholders for now, but they work perfectly and look good enough.


The bottom left is juvenile non-fiction, as well as our big “fact books” like National Geographic photo collections, space, geography, art.  The bottom right is juvenile fiction. The seemly empty middle shelves belong to each kid. Library books and books-in-progress go here.  The top left shelf is for all my travel/hiking/exploring books. Underneath that are the parenting books.  The top right shelves contain all the books-on-deck for reading aloud to the kids.


This backless shelf is mostly for my books-on-deck, and library books (I read a lot).  The bottom shelf houses all the family photo albums I’ve made so far.  (Sneak peek into the new kitchen!)


This structural change was questioned by all, but I’m so glad I stuck to my vision.  This room is finally being used all the time and just feels right. It’s a living room/library, not a passageway! 


A bit of historical context: this photo of the entryway was taken the day we signed for the house in 2011.  The furniture and cat are not ours.


March Beach Trips

We’ve been back to the beach house a couple of times this spring.


The first time was just us grownups and dogs, and coincided rather nicely with our 1-year anniversary of owning it, so we had a tiny little celebration.


We pretty much just read the whole time. Oh, and we put a puzzle together.


We went back for a blustery spring weekend. The kids were on spring break, so we brought them along too.


Will and Lucy got the run of our cookbooks, and each designed and helped cook a three-course meal for the entire family.


The rain stopped for about an hour, but it was still pretty windy. We went for a walk anyway.


We managed to finish another puzzle (which also had a single, infuriating piece missing). Both kids helped, and we managed to complete it about 5 minutes before we had to tear it apart and drive home.


Science Fair 2014

This year both Will and Lucy were old enough to show their stuff in the Class Academy Science Fair! What did they do? I’m so glad you asked.

Will: Which hits farther, a wooden or aluminum bat?

We actually had to go shopping for this. Yes, I’m that dad who doesn’t even have a ball and glove on hand. We bought a ball, two bats, and a tee (for science!).


We do have a park close at hand, though. We unwrapped our equipment and got it set up.


Will alternated between the bats, hitting the ball 10 times with each one.


We recorded where each ball stopped rolling with good old-fashioned pen and paper.


Results: Will can hit farther with an aluminum bat, but this is mostly because the wooden one is just too heavy for him. He actually ended up with the same result as more serious scientists!

Lucy: how do cookies taste when you leave out the vanilla?

If you’ve ever met Lucy, you know she’d have to choose something to do with food. She picked one of our favorite Paleo cookie recipes (highly recommended, by the way), and started mixing.


At the very end, she put half of the dough onto the cookie sheet…


…then added the vanilla, and made the rest.


Into the oven they went, and we made sure to note which side was which. Then it was time for the tasting. The whole family helped out with this part. You know, so there’d be a large-enough sample size. For science!


Results: The majority of our family decided they liked the vanilla-laced cookies better, but Lucy liked them without. It’s kind of unclear, though, because hers got mixed up. Oh, well.

The Fair

I sat down with each kid and helped them type out the sheets for their boards, and Becky helped them with the photos and layout. Here’s the end result:


So, um, yeah. There should be a photo of Lucy in front of her board here, but my phone was completely dead, and Becky’s died as she was taking the photo. So you’ll just have to trust us.

Or wait until next year. I hear they’re having another science fair then!

#45 Attend a Timbers Game

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

I took Will to a Timbers game once, but Becky’s never been. We scored some tickets on StubHub (which were heavily subsidized by Liz and Jeff’s generous Christmas gift!), and made our way to Jeld-Wen Field Providence Park.


To our utter surprise, the place was packed. It turns out our rival team from the great white north was in town for the big showdown. Apparently this rivalry has some history that we were unaware of until we couldn’t hear each other talk, even from the absolute highest seats in the stadium.


Neither of us is much for sports, but we both had a great time. The game ended in a tie, but we both feel like we won.

#51: Fix the Kids’ Closets

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

So we (well, let’s be honest: Becky) had the kids’ closets all nice, neat, and organized. Then our remodel happened, and a giant new HVAC system was installed upstairs. The good news is that the upstairs now has hot and cold air, which will help keep the whole house habitable during the coldest and hottest days of the year. The bad news?


Note the giant new duct, and the “system” of random baskets acting as Lucy’s dresser. This was the state of things for several months until the remodel was complete and things stopped changing. Clearly something needed to be done.

So Will and I headed to Ikea.


And after a few scattered days of building flat-pack furniture (I distinctly remember frantically trying to finish one piece while a cab was waiting to take me to the airport) and many of Becky’s organizing hours, it was done. Oh, and Becky decided it was time to rearrange Lucy’s entire room (Will’s had been done for a while now).

Lucy’s room, before:


And after:


Here’s will’s closet before the change. Notice how the pole brackets are actually pulling out of the wall, because the HVAC workers had to take out the shelf.


And after. He also moved up to grown-up sized hangers!


It was tough losing so much of the kids’ closet space to ductwork, but in the end it’ll be much nicer. The kids are thrilled, and Becky doesn’t get stressed out every time she goes up there!

Mary S Young State Park

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

Last weekend we drove the 20 grueling minutes to West Linn, where a beautiful little park is located. We resolved to hike all of the trails in the park, for a total of about 3 miles of hiking. We’ve been teaching Will and Lucy how to use maps, so they were in charge of navigation.


We hiked around the whole park, while Will and Lucy traded the camera back and forth. They’re enjoying the challenge of photography, and like getting tips on how to do it better.


This one is from Will:


Lucy discovered (all on her own) how to take a photo of herself.


Unfortunately, our camera-trading scheme this time means we can’t really tell which kid took which photo. We’ll do better in the future. In the meantime, here are some more shots from one or the other of the budding young artists:


Kids find joy in the simplest things.


A little later on, were joined by Liz, Jeff, and little Ty for a short hike down to the riverfront.


That last shot is so good. It’s really evocative of each kid’s personality (and their parents’ too; notice Ty flashing the “O”).

Maud Williamson State Park

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

On our way home from Willamette Mission State Park, we crossed the Mighty Willamette on the Wheatland Ferry (do yourself a favor and click this link right here yes this one).


Then, on our way home, we spied the sign for this little dab of State Park, and had to stop. Our state-park-challenge rules say that a simple stop, or even using the restroom, won’t do; for day-use parks we have to use the park. So we ran around for 15 minutes.


We raced over all of the picnic tables.


And down and back on the horseshoe courts. I gave the kids a head-start, since they had to scale the walls.


One more state park down!

Willamette Mission State Park

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

One sunny spring break morning, we stuffed the kids into the car and drove about an hour to Willamette Mission State Park, near Salem. Our intent was to drive to the filbert grove, hike around that area (a 2.7-mile loop), and get home in time for lunch.

But then it rained. A lot. So much that the access road to most of the park was closed to vehicles. So we parked at the entrance, and gazed out from this wildlife viewing hide. Unfortunately, most of the wildlife was hiding (har har).


Then we started walking.


The kids are ready for some light photography now, so we gave them each a chance to try out our little point-and-shoot camera.


These next few are all Will’s work:


At one point, a tree had fallen over the path, so we sent our little monkeys a-climbing.


The far point of our journey was the viewpoint to the ghost structure (wooOOOOOoooo…), which marks the original location of the mission along what used to be the main route of the Willamette river.


These next few shots are from Will:


Then it was Lucy’s turn to be behind the camera.


Here’s a sampling of her work:


Aaaaaand done. Our hike ended up being around 5 miles, and both the kids did great, which gives us hope for the 20-mile backpacking trip we have planned for this summer.

Just kidding. It’s only 15 miles.