Wednesday, December 31, 2008

it's ready for the public

in a corner room, on the second floor, off the northwest coast natives area, dwells a new exhibit. featuring some stunning figures from precolumbian america, and, you know, a bunch of jewelry from the Nomad Collection. a series of labrets, some obsidian eyelets carved so thin the light shines through them, an amazing pair of mayan jade ear ornaments (with a spool and string with a counterbalance to keep the heavy stone jewelry in place), gold septum pieces--some of which i have actually seen blake put through his nose, a gorgeous mayan jade beaded bracelet (from father daniel jensen who married us in mexico) and more. did you know the difference between a perforator and a piercing implement? a perforator is much blunter and tapered to a large gauge for bloodletting purposes, whereas a piercer is sharper and smaller for piercing and inserting jewelry--both instruments are on loan at the exhibit from the Nomad collection. i didn't fully believe it until i saw it myself.

did you see that?? in case you missed it:
(i burst into tear when i saw it)

Mayan, with her Papa, looking pleased in front of objects from "her people"

*big sigh*
there are a few unfinished details like the illustration blake did of a Mayan dude to help explain how the jewelry was actually worn but hopefully it will be up soon. all in all, its ready for the public!

i feel so proud of this guy. look closely--he has his happy face on!

The Portland Art Museum is located at:
1219 SW Park Avenue in downtown Portland.
Kids under 17 are free, and they do Family Sundays with activities for kids. Closed Mondays, see website for specifics and hours.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

vegetarians looketh away

I was packing up the leftover prime rib (for sandwiches, awww, yeah) and Isadore insisted she get to pick the meat off the bones. Her words exactly when I told her to have at it?


PS I made my first cheesecake. I cannot eat store bought cheesecake and it's been exactly one since I've had it last. Cheesecake is my "last meal" food. Add cranberries and...well, I think the picture says it all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

snowbound in pdx

The last 9 days have been very un-Portland-like. If anything, the weather has been Oregon-y. But since Portland is not prepared to handle the cold temperatures and snowfall that has been plauging our dear city the past week and a half, things in the metro area have been a bit chaotic--public transportation struggles, all flights cancelled, tire chains and snow shovels sold out, and people in general going out ill-equipped and getting stuck in the poorly-groomed streets or staying home and surviving on whatever is on-hand. With an already flailing economy just days before the major consumer holiday, the timing is downright shitty. But what gives us peace, here on Mt. Scott, where the snow is deep and the roads steep sheets of icy death? We have a freezer stocked with meat and broth, buckets full of grains and beans, vegetables and berries bagged and frozen from our summer harvest, a cord of fire wood, an abundance of family movies, electricity and internet still intact, friendly neighbors-friends, 4-wheel drive and chains, warm weather clothing and snow boots from our days in Bend....The Nomad Clan is doing JUST FINE! This is what the ARTIC BLAST, as the local news had dubbed this freak storm, has looked like from our perspective:

Did I mention how much Blake loves to cook on our new wood stove?
This breakfast consists of eggs from our chickens and potatoes from our garden, AND burning wood from our own property!

Isadore enjoys the first few days of snow accumulation
We head out for some groceries before the next storm hits...this is Goobies first snow! (please note the amount of snow on the crease of will need it for comparison later.)

Kylin, Mayan, and Isadore make a snowman

The night before Solstice (Friday) I work on the girls flannel nightgowns

Goobie, on the other hand, works on his TEETH.
the snow begins to fall again fast
Solstice night we put up our live tree......."Now what?"

Baby Goobies first treeeeeeeee!

I managed to gather enough holly, ivy, rosemary, and sage for our little family ritual Saturday night

the girls snoogle in their new gowns

The next morning we open gifts. Goobie models his new warm housejacket and checks out his new bugs-in-a-jar toy

Avia (Blake's mom) knit these amazing sweaters for the girls...

...they are a huge hit!

The three Nomad dears have a sibling moment

stuck-in-house=increase in sake and wine clears the recyclables (even though city recycling and garbage hasn't been seen in a week!)

After snowing all day Sunday, the snowman is now merely a snow-head

Sunday night, a Chanukkah feast--Blake steps in to fry the latkes!

The homemade applesauce is a must!

Mmmmm....the stuffed cabbage was so gooooood

Lightin' the menorrah


Monday we gear up the car for travel just in case. There are three ways off Mt. Scott and two of them were CLOSED! (including the street we live off of) chains are on and we are ready (you know, in case we need more wine:)

Remember that shot of me and the baby in front of the garage...look at it now!! And the snowman head is barely visible.....

All this movie watching, so I finally let the girls both see The Princess Bride (skipped the scene with the ROUSes) and now they (Isadore especially) are obsessed!! Here is the scene from the cover: Westly as the Dread Prirate Roberts and Princess Buttercup.

the snow shows no sign of melting so Kylin and MG eat some snow ice cream
Its a Japanese birdbath ice cream cone! And guess what? MORE SNOW DUE WEDNESDAY. Wish us luck!!!

Yours truly, Mama Nomad

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A good place

Blake and I have been married for over 7 years now. I don't want to jinx anything but things between us are better than ever. Somewhere in the last year we tapped into a deeper place, with more trust, less stress, and smoother sailing. There were times in the past that looked very sticky, and times where I really deep down questioned whether we had what it takes to last (although I never felt like I didn't love him.) We are two passionate people and have many opposing qualities which at our best compliment each other and at our worse turn the house into a warzone. Those times are terribly exhasting and unsettling for the children to say the least. But recently its come to our attention that those times have become something of the past. Even our disagreements now are strikingly milder. I ask myself why? Are we merely "older and wiser"? I have pinned down a few points that I think elevated our marriage to its new and improved higher love. ***insert Depeche Mode's Higher Love here***

Over a year ago, I attended a talk given by the author of Hold on to Your Kids, Gordon Nuefeld. His research on the well-attached relationship was focused on the parent-child kind, but the whole time I could not stop thinking about how it could apply to my marriage (although he did briefly cover that too.) At the time, I was pregnant, and still feeling sick everyday. I felt like my hormones were literally repelling me away from my husband, and we were feeeling desperately unconnected, which is an awful feeling when you are about to have a child with someone. One of Dr. Nuefeld's key points was what he called "collecting"--the (simple) act of connecting to someone when you greet and when you part in order to keep the feeling of love alive even when the person is not physically there to communicate it. In the evening, he suggested as an example, when you tuck your children in tell them how you will dream of them and ask them to dream of you, then in the morning greet them with a welcoming smile and ask them how their night was. Sounds ridiculously simple, right? But when I thought about our daily family interaction, there was definitely a lack of the basic nicities, such as greeting each other with a kiss when returning home. It's amazing how something so simple can get lost in the jumble of parenthood. I told Blake about this when I got home, about "collecting" as a means of keeping a loving connection going even when separated by these simple acts and it clicked for both us. It seems silly to admit that we since then have made it a point to kiss each other hello and goodbye--and since the "temperature" of our relationship has risen.

Another thing, that kind of sprung from the same talk and also other parenting changes that were inspired by close friends, is a turn to the more traditional approach to our household. Blake and I argued a lot, in front of the kids mind you, about parenting conflicts. We were constantly undermining each others parenting choices and we were not only flailing with the kids but flailing away from each other in the process. What seemed to work better, once we sat down (over and over again) about our parenting goals, and getting on the same page, we decided on a more traditional approach and that was then there really could only be one boss at a time. Obviously when I am home with the kids I am the boss, but when Papa is home especially on the weekends or when I go out, he's the boss and what he says goes, and we would mutually respect whatever rules were laid down when the other was away. When we are both home, it defaults to him, although he usually then respectfully passes the torch back to me and observes my call to see how it works. There is though, of course, a check system so that if we feel a rule is laid down unfairly or handled badly, we bring it up LATER, privately and explain why we think a ruling was faulty or how the situation could have been handled better. This is great because it leaves time for both parties to step back with clear minds (not be defensive!), and also to maybe point out a detail or dynamic the ruling party didn't see when they were in the moment. Its been better for kids to see us a united front and also we've come to see each others parenting strengths (instead of constantly focusing on our weaknesses and differences which we had been in the past) when backing off and letting the other see through a situation without interference. We're comfortable with this and most importantly its working, and helping us feel stronger as parents therefore stronger in our marriage.

The great heightener of our relationship though came from one particular event, and that was George-Ephraim's birth. I didn't realize how deeply a homebirth could affect our love for one another. I mean, I had already given birth to two of our children which were both by far the high points of both of our lives--as it is for most married couples who decide to have a baby. Any way it happens, whether drug-free or by c-section (even adoption I assume), the magnificent event is designed to draw couples closer. But after the seven hour labor at home, where Blake was by my side with no obtrusive interuptions, offering me everything I needed just by his presence and support, and him being witness to the birth of our baby boy on the very bed he was concived upon--It. Was. Incredible. The hours and days following the birth, Blake would say to me "Good work, Mama...." or "Mama, you did it!" and sometimes, while holding his newborn boy just "Thank you." Other times merely outloud to himself in awe, "You did it, Mama, you did it." I knew that I felt a tremendous sense accomplishment, but to have my spouse match me in enthusiasm was an incredible bonus, and the whole experience has still to this day been a boost to our marriage in that it again helped us each gain even more respect for each other. I know that it will be the type of feeling that when things do get tough (they always do, c'est la vie) it will be a memory and feeling that I can tap into to give me strength.

Having those defining moments to tap into when things do get hard...that is another thing I have learned about marriage. The main "tap" I have is our first months together, the swirling seemingly uncontrollable passion we felt for each other. How wonderful (and scary!) new love is! Here were two logical adults completely taken over by a force was beyond our resistance--I always said that despite Blake's and mine better judgement, falling in love happened to us, and we had no choice but to give in. It seemed a little bringing home my heavily-modified piercer to meet my somewhat-conservative parents, the age difference just to name the biggies. Even Blake's sister, when he professed his newfound love, said "I give it two weeks...", words which she has since eaten, and we are very close. In the past, when I have wanted to throw my hands in the air and divide up the possessions, I have meditated hard on that time, that magical feeling that conquered all. The second defining moment, was Isadore's difficult first weeks, when she was in the NICU after planning a homebirth but ended up having her early at the hospital. It was the absolute opposite of the experieince we'd hoped for and when I gave in to the pressure and had the induction, Blake never blinked, he always trusted my decision. The first night, he went home to be with Mayan and I spent the night at the hospital with my newborn hooked up to machines a corridor away. He returned the next morning, cool and collected with a freshly shaven head, which was a very intimate gesture to me. The next 12 days were very difficult and could have been spent taking it out on one another by letting the fear and stress get the better of us, but instead we leaned. We were forgiving and patient and there when it would have been easier to just freak out. I will always be very proud of us for the way we handled that time.

Finally after, seven years and three babies, Blake has proven himself in one other way. He has been an absolute gentleman in one regard that is very, very important to women--he has always made me feel beautiful. My weight has fluctuated after multiple pregnancies, my breasts gone through a gamut of shapes and size while extended breastfeeding and never once, in a time of doubt on my (self-conscious) part, has Blake not reminded me that he thinks I am very sexy and desirable. Not one comment or raised eyebrow that has made me doubt my attractiveness to him. Bless, bless, bless this man. I don't know why it took this long, but now I really truly believe him.

People say that marriage has its ups and downs, that the climate varies from month to month or year to year, and that is certainly true. At times I felt like it may have even been hour to hour, and that is not a comfortable place to live emotionally. Manic would be a perfect word to describe certain periods of the marriage--passionate, tears-of-joy highs and broken-dishes lows--and even those times I respected that flow, because every year, when I looked at the bigger picture I always saw progress. ***insert The Beatle's singing "It's gettin' better all the time" here*** I could pinpoint the areas of growth (and use a highlighter marker to circle the areas that needed improving!) But things have definitely mellowed to a much more even keel. We both deserve that. After these many years, we've had the chance to show each other everything we've got, all cards have been laid out at one time or another. And it turns out we are totally fair, for lack of a better analogy, its a draw. We both feel incredibly lucky to be partners, and realize that it's not worth it to play against each other, but instead our strength lies in us being a team. And we're very, very comfortable with that.