Saturday, August 27, 2011


So I found a creative outlet, for which I didn't have to buy a thing.

It strikes me as funny how often we're channeling children towards things that are creative and use their imagination (or maybe that's just me) and then how infrequently we urge ourselves to do the same. I know, life gets busier and all that jazz. Lately I've been craving some creative time. Call it needing an outlet or just wanting to play, I just wanted to.

A few years ago when we lived in my parents basement (long before His Hotness made his way around here) I made this little sign for Aeryn's room. I think it was a way to personalize a space I wasn't allowed to paint.

It was cute and born of something I saw in a PBkids catalog (naturally). She's getting older though and I wanted it to reflect that. So, hot pink, black, and white it is.

I swear it looks better in person. The hallway gets NO natural light whatsoever so the flash is a requirement, not an option and those colors look terrible here. I promise they match. Paint, black fabric, modpodge, felt, beads, thickers, and hot glue: already owned. So.... cost = free.

It's not like the sign is needed, I mean, you open the door and see this:

There is really no question which room you are in. The buglet likes it though, and I got to fill a much needed creative void (for free!).

Sometimes I feel weird for my insatiable quest for creative expression (even though I'm not "an artist") but then I read (or listen, or watch) this and feel so much better. After all, "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul."

Friday, August 26, 2011


Trying to fill time is a challenge I've not had in a loooong while.

Time, it seems, has always been sparse with way too much to accomplish. Now, however, the buglet has 1 1/2 more weeks of Summer vacation, I have no job leads, and the days are emptier than I have expereinced in years. There's no lawn to mow, no house projects to complete, no lesson planning or grading or ACT prep classes. There's no neighborhood full of children showing up at my house in need of snacks and Walmart has the best craft supply in town. I'm certain that all this free time won't last - which is a good thing as it's such an unusual challenge to have and dare I say rather boring?

Today, we went photo happy. In effort to pass the hours buglet and I took our cameras (I gave her my small point and shoot on our trip to Crater Lake) and went out to see what visual treats Eugene has to offer. (Ok, we really went only to one park and half the shots are not from today, but Voila! Images of Eugene!)

U of O Campus

This one is hilarious to me, even though it's a mediocre shot (at best). As we were approaching the stop sign at this crosswalk I noticed that it was in use - by a whole gaggle of geese. Literally at least 15 geese were lined up like school children crossing at the crosswalk toward the pond. I couldn't get a great shot because, well, I was driving and decided the life of me and my child was far more important than a better picture of the geese.

Alton Baker Park

I love this bike. Seriously, I might hang this one on the wall. Awe. Some.

Outside the public library on attempt #2 to secure a library card. A 2nd failed attempt that is. Here in Eugene they are rather particular on how to prove you're local. Aeryn got her own library card for the first time and l.o.v.e.s it.

Jim's lab (a.k.a. the room that is stealing my husband from me). Come here and you're likely to get poked through with needles and pushed to the brink of collapse on a stationary bike. I'd think twice before visiting him at work.

And thus concludes our mini photo tour of our new life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Initial Thoughts in Eugene

Life in Eugene is great. Michelle, Aeryn and I have been here for just over two weeks now, and it is safe to say that I love it here. When I returned from my initial visit to Eugene, the University of Oregon and the Lovering Lab, one of the first things my dad told me was that Eugene would be a great fit for me. I knew what he meant, but I had to make sure he realized that I am not the stereotypical liberal, hippie type that lives out here. What he meant was that I am a runner, I love to be outdoors, I love the rain (although I am not sure I love the rain that much), I love the coast, and the list could go on and on.  I agree with him, that Eugene will be a great fit for me... especially since Michelle is a closet hippie. Anyway...

To quote the lady from the Sound of Music. Here are a few of my favorite things.


I love to run. I have always loved to run. So it is probably a good thing that I am living in TrackTown, USA. However, I took several years off. I have been running consistently for the last 3 years since my Wii Fit told me I was almost overweight. :) However, running in the heat sucks, and yes Dad it took me getting a M.S. in kinesiology to figure out that running in the heat is hard. For the last several years I have lived in places where it gets flipping hot, and unless I could make it to the beach, I had a very difficult time running during the day. Not to mention the fact that I rarely felt like I had the time to go run on a surface other than asphalt. There is something different about Eugene. There are running trails everywhere, and even when it is hot, running through the innumerable trees makes it feels a million times better. Hopefully I will be able to do some good training and break a 1:30 half marathon.

It doesn't hurt that that they also hold the US Championships and Olympic trials at historic Hayward Field. Plus they filmed the movie Animal House here way back when!


Like you probably know we have been here for two weeks. In that time we have visited the Redwoods in California (~2-3 hour drive), Crater Lake (~2 hour drive) and the coast (~1 hour drive). All three of these places have been completely different, but they are amazing. Driving to the coast this past weekend was amazing. You would have never known that you were miles from the coast, until all of the sudden it was there. My hope is that one day I will get to see elk on, or near the beach, that the caution signs warn about.

Then there is the fact that we are really close to some other cool places, like Puget Sound/Olympic National Park, Mt. Ranier, Mt. Hood, Victoria Island and all the other stuff that I don't even know is here. We already have two other trips planned preliminarily (Coos Bay and Smith Rock), and I am sure that these weekend escapes will be what keeps me sane.

Farmers Market

Before we got here I had been to a famers market a handful of times, and I am not sure that you can count the one in Provo, since it is more arts and crafts. In Eugene, they have a huge one every Saturday morning. The last two weeks we have started our weekend off by going shopping at the farmers market. It is amazing, and I am not just talking about the interesting people you might come across. We have been buying fresh produce that is incredible - tomatoes, roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, potatoes (including purple ones), fennel, onions, garlic, strawberries, blackberries, cilantro, etc. It is so fun to go shopping there. However, it is a lot better to eat. I haven't had fresh tomatoes this good since I was a college kid living at home.

University of Oregon

I don't think I will ever be a Ducks homer. I am definitely Cougar through and through and always will be. However, I am looking forward to going to U of O sporting events. I will probably only go to one football game in Eugene this year, and that will be when USC comes to town, because I have heard that is a great atmosphere. Not to mention, the campus is beautiful, it is close to home (I walk 15 minutes to work everyday). Don't worry Zach I won't ever root for their lacrosse team.

Eugene 3rd Ward

We have been to church twice, and have felt really welcome and like we will fit in. It is really nice that several other families from the ward live in the same complex as us, especially the Gomez's who live upstairs from us. I especially like the 9:00 start time, but will be a bit sad when we swtich to 11:30 at the beginning of the year.

So there are my initial thoughts on Eugene. It looks like it will be a busy 3-5 years (Hopefully closer to 3), but it looks like it will be a place where we have loads of fun as well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Coast

Jim survived his first week of work in 2+ years!!! We celebrated by driving to the coast. Really, we're like tourists with resident drivers licenses. Our first stop was Yachats (any tips on how to pronounce that???) to explore some tide pools. We'd checked the tide table and planned to be there by the low tide but the drive took a little longer than expected... fortunately tides rise at less than tsunami like speeds. It was stunning.

And a little cold. See, this is the Pacific Northwest and I'm still thinking as though I'm in the Rocky Mountain states in August and don't need a jacket. Silly girl. We headed out in shorts, short sleeves, and no jackets for anyone. As soon as we opened the car door I knew the buglet was going to freeze.

We walked around and looked at the tide pools, and then parked our buns on the basalt for a tasty lunch. After which a fight broke out.

They seemed to make up ok because we climbed down from the rock and went to touch the water. The cold, frigid, barely liquid water (52 degrees). After waterskiing a few weeks ago in warm lake water this was quite a shock, especially since that's probably as warm as it'll ever get.

When the cold water had taken it's toll we ventured south to Heceta Beach and gallivanted around those parts a while.

We found many neat things on the shore including this bivalve still intact - the largest I've ever seen! I promised Aeryn she could keep it as a treasure and then Jim kindly reminded me that this was State Park land and we were likely not permitted to keep it. Which led into an interesting talk about how people ought to treat the land and I started to feel my handsome hubby just might have a little hippie in him after all.

It was a gorgeous day. One I hope we repeat in the future - armed with rainboots and jackets. What a gorgeous place we get to live in. Yay grad school!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crater Lake

"It's not a lake! It's a volcano with water in it." ~Aeryn

On our way home from the Redwoods, we stopped for a night in Crater Lake National Park. 'Twas fantastic.

Kit got to come along on this adventure. I'm going out on a limb and saying she liked sleeping in the tent but wasn't so keen on the hiking when she was forgotten about in the car.
The lake is such a stunning color of blue. After I said that, Aeryn asked why the sky is blue. So I brought up rainbows and how the colors spread out and said that blue spreads more than others which is why we see the sky as blue. To which she just said "But WHY?" Oh boy. At least I was smart enough (and provoked) to stop before I went into the electromagnetic spectrum and Rayleigh scattering. That poor kid. Her mom is such a nerd.
From certain viewpoint you can easily see that this little island is a cinder cone. From others, well it just look like a pretty mound in the water.
The kidlet and me. I can't believe how big this child is getting. Didn't I just have her? Seriously.
Some nice fellow tourists took this picture. I suppose the timer/tripod thing makes other people nervous.
SMACK! Yep, still love him. (More even!)
This is Plaikni Falls. Evidently these falls were just discovered in the last few years and the trail just opened in July. In fact if you look at the blue "don't you dare" tape you can see that they are still working on it. This was a great walk and we saw a deer along the trail in the middle of the afternoon. He disappeared into the woods before we got a picture, and just moments later other hikers came up the path and saw nothing. Jim commented on how big a difference 30 seconds can make in what one experiences in nature. True that!!
Looking.............    something.
And with that, our little two night camping adventure came to a close. We packed up, drove home, and remembered what mattresses and showers feel like.

Monday, August 15, 2011


No free time is complete without a road trip! After the Seattle wedding excursion, we stayed home for two (2) days of glorious unpacking and having nervous breakdowns (ahem: me) and then headed on another adventure. We're trying to pack in all the fun we can before Jim's classes start and we become near strangers for the next 3-5 years... so we went camping. First stop on this trip: Redwood National Park. I had never been there and wowsers! I was sure in for a treat.

(I'm really curious to see if the top edge of the sign and the top edge of the photo not being parallel will bother Jim)
Our first stop at any park is the sign for our traditional photo, and the second stop is at the park visitors center to stamp our National Park Passport. The Northern visitor center was out of the sticker we needed so we headed to another center to see if they had it (it's almost an obsession you see) and the road joyously followed the coast. This is where we stopped for lunch and it took literally about 5 seconds after we stopped the car for Aeryn to be face down in the sand. She loves sandy beaches.

In one of the sheltered tidal areas we found this purple sea star. I was elated and had to show my little bug. Really I think this is only the second time I've seen one outside of an aquarium and the only time I could get up close and personal.
We left him peaceably where we found him, but I had to let the little bug touch it. You know, for the whole sensory experience.
The ranger at the first visitor center had told us about this whale that had come upstream in the Klamath River. We stopped alongside the other eighty-four-thousand-bajillion people and watched her circle around the estuary. As whales circle around in the somewhat salty somewhat fresh water they churn up the little creatures that inhabit the river bottom and secure for themselves a tasty lunch. This was also my first time to see a whale outside of an aquarium.
And then we made it to the forest. What a sight that was!
Aeryn is about 4 feet tall if that gives a sense of scale.

The first thing Aeryn found at our campsite were these two banana slugs doing, well, what banana slugs do to ensure the continuation of their species.
In the morning this guy was right at the base of our tent door. Like, I almost squashed the poor bugger with my flip flops.
This may have been the most gorgeous camp site we've ever stayed in. I was completely enamored with this big tree behind our tent.
See? Enamored.
This guy has fallen (the tree, not the hubby) and been in this same spot for many many years. Jim is 6'3" for reference.... it was huge! The thing I found most fascinating about these huge trees is how shallow their root systems extend. Only 10-13 feet.

If you ever find yourself here, you'll not be able to help looking up. And really, why would you want to?