#28: Write a Guest Blog Post

Welcome Paleo Parents Readers! If you’re new here, probably the first things to know about us is that we are questers. Check out our Hundred Things lists from 2014 and 2015, our State Park challenge, and maybe the about page.


We were surprised and thrilled to hear from the Paleo Parents after our Spooky Halloween Supper post from October. I mean sure, we linked a couple of their recipes, but doesn’t everyone? So when they asked us to do a guest post, we quietly (but excitedly) added a Thing to our list and started writing. It published today.

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Our post is entitled Adventure as a Family Tradition, and it’s about raising and training adventurers. We hope you give it a read, and maybe check out the rest of their stuff. They’re good people.

#50: Visit the Portland Art Museum (again)

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

The last time we visited the Portland Art Museum, we spent most of our time in the Native American crafts. This time, we took the kids on a spin through the modern wing.

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Some of the pieces had us a little puzzled.

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We challenged the kids to find a piece they liked (no matter what the reason), and we’d take their picture in front of it. What they chose is kind of interesting; Will is more geometric and monochrome, and Lucy is more colorful and organic. We’ll let you decide if that says something deep about their personalities.

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Then we joined a docent-led kids’ group tour through the museum. The kids had lots of fun talking about the art, noticing things about the paintings, and making their own creations.

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But in the end, this photo pretty much sums up their feelings on modern art.

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#89: Community Education – Making Bacon (Ben)

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

For the past few years, we’ve been trying really hard to know where our food comes from. We’ve done pretty well by joining CSAs and going to farmers markets, but there’s one item that was still lacking: bacon. The Costco stuff is just too good.

But then, while looking through the PCC community education catalog, I spotted the entry for bacon school. It only took me a minute to sign up.

The class is taught by Zeph at Proletariat Butchery. There were five students, and he set us all up with a pork shoulder, a variety of spices, and a couple of baggies.

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The way you make bacon is to (1) salt it, (2) salt it again after about a week, (3) dry it out after another week, and (4) smoke it after yet another week. We mixed our salts and applied the first dusting that night.

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And left with this: a baggie of meat whose juice was already being sucked out by the salt.

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After a week, I rinsed it, salted it again, and put it back into its baggie. Another week, another rinse, and it sat in the open (refrigerator) air for a week. After that, I took it back to Zeph for smoking.

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And later that day, I grabbed the kids and took them back there to pick it up. Zeph had a treat for the kids: a pigs head.

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Here’s the finished product. It’s super fragrant and smoky, so we have to keep it in a sealed container or the carrots will smell like bacon.

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But it fries up real good.

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It’s possible that I’ve found a hobby.

January Misc Roundup

We took the kids to see Skippyjon Jones, an interpretation of the books that was…mystifying.

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Will and Lucy are loving Trackers outdoor school. They get to use knives, build fires, and get really dirty.

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No visit to grandma-and-grandpa’s house is complete without doing some chores. (And maybe some fun stuff, too.)

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Lucy and I were invited to a very fancy birthday party. So we dressed to the nines.

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She might have even out-fancied the birthday girl.

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No dress will ever stop her from having fun her way.

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Lucy’s class got to explore the inside of a tractor trailer at school.

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The puppies sometimes help me work in bed.

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Of note: we also decided to pull Will from school this month and begin a homeschool program. Stay tuned for more details.

#41: Bookshelves in the Kids’ Bedrooms

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

The kids have gotten older. It happens slowly, so sometimes we turn around and are surprised how much they’ve grown out of things. And so it came to be that their rooms needed refreshing, and their books organizing.

Here’s Will’s new setup. He has a place for all his drawing supplies, a nonfiction section, and storage for all the building kits he loves.

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Plus, now that he’s a homeschooler, he needs a place to work. His office has a window that looks out on our backyard.

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We found this lovely bookshelf in a cramped back corner at City Liquidators, and only stopped for a second to figure out if it would fit in the back of our car (it did). Lucy now has a place for all of her books and treasures, and a drawer for secrets.

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The kids love the changes, and are really excited to be growing up.

#94: Knife Skills Class (Ben)

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

I’ve been wanting to improve my knife skills for years, since we first got decent knives in our kitchen. When we came up with the idea to add personal-improvement items to our Hundred Things this year, this was the first thing that came to mind.

I knew a place in our neighborhood that offered a knife skills class, so I signed up.

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And I got a lot better. It just took a couple hours of practice and some tips from an expert coach to push me to the next level.

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And then I spent $5 on a peeler. And it’s the most glorious peeler I’ve ever come across. For the first time in my life, I’m volunteering to prep the carrots.

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I’ll keep practicing, of course, but already I’m feeling a lot more confident and effective in the kitchen. Highly recommended.

Baja!

Families are great. I love our kids, and the people they are and are becoming, but sometimes Becky and I need some time, just the two of us, to be grownups together. We’ve never been in a relationship without kids, so that adult-to-adult bonding time has been pretty scarce.

Which means we have to go to lengths to make it happen. While the kids were at the Swanks, Becky and I boarded a flight to Cabo San Lucas. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with this idea; the customs area was overflowing. We shuffled through this room with this many people for two hours. Becky was breathing in a very controlled manner.

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But we weren’t here to see tourist Mexico, so we didn’t just hop on a shuttle bus to the nearest resort. Oh no, we wanted some real Baja Mexico. We rented a car (for way too much money), and drove an hour to reach our Airbnb in a little town called La Ribera (which doesn’t have an official website). It was dark when we arrived, but upon waking, eating breakfast, and going to explore, this is what we found.

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(Note the hoodies, and the deserted palapas. It’s not as warm as it looks.)

Becky combed our guidebook, and found a couple of awesome things nearby. One of them is a waterfall that mostly only the locals know about, just a one-mile hike down Cañon del Zorro.

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With the help of our host, we found the local gringo restaurant, where the food was comparatively expensive, high-quality, and delivered with unbroken English. This was a welcome respite; the rest of the town was Spanish-only.

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One of the days was dedicated to my 12th-day gift to Becky (whale sharks!), which meant driving 2½ hours to La Paz. What we found there was a really interesting and vibrant town, with lots of people out on the streets even though it was a chilly day. The entire peninsula is completely overrun with cute, friendly, filthy street dogs, that beg you with their adorable eyes for whatever food or love you can give them.

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We walked the promenade, and spotted lots of public art…

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…and some surreal marketing stuff…

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…and a place to grab brunch. We had two hours before our adventure pushed off, so a cup of coffee on the beach was in order.

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We strolled the town, and noticed quite a bit of Christmas spirit. This was in the courtyard of a house, just behind a gate.

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This was inside the cathedral (four stars on TripAdvisor!). We were surprised to find that there were snowy evergreens in the iron-age middle east.

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One strip mall had a ghost tree.

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Once our adventure had concluded, we stopped for lunch at a place our tour guide recommended. Becky would normally never let a photo of her like this see the light of day – we had just stepped off the boat, so she’s covered in ocean, wind, and bruises; and it looks like she burst a blood vessel in her eye from fear – but that margarita really is as big as it looks. And it was good.

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Our drive to La Paz included a sunrise, so it seemed fitting that our drive home would include a sunset.

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We made sure to explore our town. Here’s a bit of the flavor of the place.

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Our little house!

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Our street!

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Here you can see the “large” grocery store, the supermercado. There are lots of “mini-supers” around, but this one had fresh fruit and vegetables.

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We did eventually make it back to that beach, and swam in the Sea of Cortez.

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Our host keeps bees, and invited us to help him work on the hives! There was only one suit, and Becky is terrified of bees doesn’t enjoy being stung, so I got the privilege.

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Here’s our shower, including a loose tile that we were instructed to “leave over the drain while not in use, so things don’t crawl up into the house.” (Emphasis and nightmares mine.)

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This trip was a mixture of tough and amazing, just the way we like it.

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December Misc Roundup

The kids always go to the Grove, Mueller, and Swank Christmas party. This year, they dressed to the nines to meet the Big Guy.

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We also kicked off our 12 Days of Christmas by decorating our dining room and setting up our tree.

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We went to see a show about some pigs, and the day was so nice we decided to get a family portrait in the deal.

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They’ve both been having a blast at school. They did ice skating lessons at Lloyd Center…

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…and some reindeer came to visit at Montgomery Park.

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Will participated in the annual holiday concert, which turned out great! Upper school sang some carols in the Montgomery Park atrium.

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…and then they sang backup for the middle school’s concert a few days later! Will’s class sang the “Dahoo Doris” parts for the Grinch story, which Lucy was helping to tell.

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Lucy loooooooves going to see Melissa at the salon. She got a BIG chop (all that hair on the floor used to be hers), and came back with straightened hair!

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We always dress up for Christmas Eve at the Swanks’.

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After that, we did Christmasy things, and the kids spent the following week with their grandparents.

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(Becky and I were off on our own adventure.) Until next year!

#45: Deposit all the Change

This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.

For the last few years, we’ve been giving the kids their allowance in change. They each earn their age in dollars each week, so Will was getting $8, and Lucy $6, all in quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. They’re both pretty good at saving up for big purchases, so it was piling up.

A couple of months ago we switched away from real money, and started using FamZoo. We’ve set up their allowance to automatically deposit in their accounts (which they check regularly), and we can know exactly how much spending money they each have just by looking at our phones.

So now we had all this change laying around, taking up space. It was time to make it go away. So we poured it all into a big bowl…

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…and brought it to the bank. Our branch has one of the magical coin-counting machines, so we turned it on and started pouring.

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It took a few rounds of filling and counting.

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But in the end, this is what was left.

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We felt literally ten pounds lighter. A+++, would deposit again.

Christmas Festivities

(We know, we know. This post is about 2 months overdue. It’s been a hectic couple of months.)

Christmas time always brings with it a collection of family traditions. Some of these are long-standing, like the dinner party at Chuck’s house on Christmas Eve. Some are newer, like the now-standard giant family portrait we take on that night.

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Will, Lucy, and their cousin Ty all got matching Christmas jammies, which prompted two separate families to take separate photos in front of separate trees.

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Another old tradition is the gathering of Becky’s family (at least the ones in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington) at her parents’ house in Oregon City. The portrait ritual has been ingrained with this crowd for a much longer time.

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This year saw the introduction of a novelty: games for the kids! Ken had a ton of fun planning this part of the gathering. First up: a game whose name I don’t know, but involves sticking cotton balls to your nose with whip cream.

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Kevin won the cup-stacking competition. No, not that cup stacking, the entry-level version where you just reverse a single stack.

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Many M&Ms were sorted by color.

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Apparently moving a ginger snap from your forehead into your mouth is a competitive sport. Becky and I won, of course; we’re really good with food.

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Sen was a tiny bit too young to take part in these games, but was having a blast anyways. Here he is dancing because of the way this cassette player opens.

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Lucy made good use of her time between turns, too.

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The actual gift exchange is always a centerpiece. Will and Aiden both received car-building kits, and Aiden elected to open his right then and there, so there was a frenzy of teamwork and craftsmanship.

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This Christmas season was really great for us, and we had a ton of fun visiting with all of our family and friends. Here’s hoping all the years to come are even better.