Thursday, December 31, 2009

thanks for sitting by the river with us

I'm sitting here on the couch in the basement with a much too strong rum and diet coke and 2009 playlist trying to find the last album for the best of post. I have it narrowed down to three records but more plays are necessary. Beautiful's family has all left and made it home by now and it was a really great Christmas having them here. Our housemates were so amazing with all our family in town. Joining in where they could, helping with hospitality and giving space from time to time. We invaded their holiday but they made ours richer and with the year nearing a close I am thankful for their presence in our lives. We extended our lease for another 6 months and when that time comes to an end we will have lived in community for 2 years now. It has been great, and at times hard and stretching. It looks like Beautiful will have a full time job starting in late January and we might just make it though this 6 month period of un-employment/under-employment and a big part of making it, along with our parents, has been our house mates. So as the year comes to a close I think I am most thankful for them this year. Jesse and Carly you have made our lives richer and helped us grow as a family. For our dinner time conversations, fireside chats, fights over who's turn it is to buy milk, Dance show watching, and morning coffee pot meetings I am thankful. Thank you for letting us live life with you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

snowy porch

It is snowing here in Portland with seemingly no warning. Henry and Ian got out to enjoy it but quickly got cold and cranky. We have a winter wonderland here and it is beautiful.

it's a mcgrail family christmas

We have had Beautiful's family in for Christmas and it has been a full, warm, and fun house. Here we are fresh from opening the mountain of presents with only baby Milo missing. We have people sleeping in just about every inch of the house and the recycling box looks like we had a frat party. The boys are loving having Grammie and Tom Tom to jump in bed with each morning and Aunt Heather has been encouraging the delinquency of a minor with Henry by teaching him to throw his food at a restaurant. Even Ian is getting some extra attention with all the aunt, uncles, and grand parents he can handle. We have been having a good time and so far the full house has seen little to no conflict. That is a Christmas miracle as anyone knows with a large family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

you see beauty in everything

One of the things that I really love about my dad is his ability to take something ordinary and make it beautiful. He does it with old wood from a barn and license plate long since abandoned making a bird house. He does it with small logs and twigs making a reindeer for Kendra's Christmas present. He has an eye for things others no longer have use for and he turns them into treasures. My brother, Mark, is his father's son. From the blue collar capability and aptitude for mechanical things that men know how to do, to the artistic eye that finds the beauty in the ashes. Mark has his father's soft heart and hard hands. He is equally at home wiring your house as he is crying with you during a tough time and I am amazed by them. They are special men. This Christmas we drew names to exchange gifts and Mark got me. Above is the present I he made me out of discarded electrical wire that he brought from Arizona and found at my parents house. It is a copper tree twisted with a power drill and it is beautiful. Thank you for a wonderful gift Mark, your are a gifted, strong, loving, and capable man just like your father.

Monday, December 14, 2009

happy anniversary

IMG_2873, originally uploaded by gylcol.

36 years and still in love. You two are an inspiration to not just Mark, Zonda, and I, but a whole group of kids that you helped raise. I ove you guys and I am in awe of your relationship and commitment to eachother. Happy Anniversary mom and dad!

henry, dog whisperer

Henry went with Beautiful to visit his great grandpa and grandma in Iowa. While there he met some four legged friends that spoke his language. They just wanted to eat, crawl around and sleep. That is just about Henry's speed of life.

zoo lights

We went to Zoo lights last night at the Portland Zoo and it was amazing. The place was packed and we had to gently push our way through crowds but there were lights everywhere. It was a magical scene and Finn was soaking it up. He was running and skipping around he was so excited and when we saw the train all lit up his joy bubbled out into a spinning little dance. The train had a line half way around the park so we decided to hold off on that trip until next time we come and with out membership that will be sooner then later. Finn decided that his cousin Jake would love this but Milo and Toby might be too little. He thought about it a bunch, how much those guys would like this and what part would be the best for them. He said we would need a bigger stroller to bring the babies in, maybe two strollers. It was really great for me to see the lights but even better to see how much Finn loved them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

he hates tailgaters

he hates tailgaters, originally uploaded by gylcol.

This picture cracks me up, I picture Henry muttering "are you freaking kidding me? why dontcha back it up pal!" Like he is some Jersey Shore holigan that is about make Finn pull over so he can take care of this. Finn meanwhile is just happy to be driving.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

searches and states

This blog has been around for a bit now and it has seen readers come and go. For the past 30 days the most unique visits on any given day was 24. There were times last year when that number would get over 30 but it has stayed the same for years. The whole thing started from some emails I sent during the last week of work for my job in Santa Barbara before getting married. Every now and then I have look at the stat from Google Analytics and some interesting things stand out:

Search Terms that led people to my blog
  • James Rohl Blog - Pretty straight forward there
  • Bongee's Restaurant - this one is always there every month and the post I did about this restraunt is probably the most visited post on this blog. For a time my post on the restaurant came up in google searches before the web page for the restaurant.
  • Diningroom Improvements - not sure why I would come up on that but it had to be way down the line
  • Mayger Beach and Skeeter - This is awesome. My uncle Skeeter lives at Mayger beach and I think I have written about it a couple times. I wonder who it was that was looking for him.
  • What does a mango taste like - this one comes up a bunch in different forms and it leads people to a video of the Blond one rejecting mangoes. I don't think it helps anyone but I bet they get a little smile.
States visitors come from
  • Oregon
  • Minnesota
  • California
  • Iowa
  • New Jersey
Indiana is way down the list and this seems odd to me. When we lived there it was always number one but I guess since we have left we have been forgotten.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

henry explains it all

A little video of Henry to remind us that he is cute and we love him. After this weekend we need a reminder.

a not so fun weekend

Hey wouldn't it be fun to take the boys up to Seattle for the weekend? No, no it wasn't fun. It wasn't fun at all. We got a cheap room on priceline and headed up early Saturday afternoon from my parents house and the nap we hoped the boys would take never materialized. We sat in some holiday traffic and were starting to fray when we made it to the hotel. It was nice and centrally located but small with two double beds. We walked around, got some dinner and rode the monorail from the mall to Seattle Center where the boys had some fun in the rides. Well the blond one did anyway. The redhead was less then thrilled with the jeeps. We rode the monorail back and walked to Pike Market and watched some fish being thrown after trying to do a little looking around downtown. The boys having not had their naps were not patient with any non movement. Beautiful needed to stop in a store on the way home to pick up a couple of things and the boys disagreed with that decision. Back at the hotel room they were not going to bed and there was no where for Beautiful and I to get away to let them work it out. We loaded them into the car and set about driving around a bit. As any parent knows this is the secret weapon that all parents have, the night time drive. They were soon asleep and we had quiet for the first time all day. We just kept driving out to Ballard, back downtown, up capitol hill, down Broadway, and along the waterfront. The boys were both up a ton through the night and we left after breakfast feeling anxious to get home. It was a poorly planned trip, and with two toddlers planning is important. Beautiful and I are spur of the moment people but that is harder and harder with the boys. Well we learned something for sure.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

let there be light

Our house has Christmas lights for the first time in my adult life. We have always had a tree and lights in the house but this was my first time putting lights on the outside of the house. I crawled out the upstairs window and on to the roof. There are three different roof lines on our house and we have lights on the top one and the roof above the porch. Beautiful and I had two different ideas of how the lights should go up, no surprise there. She always has a better way to do things and will always share it. I know Kris will relate to that, she is her father's girl. After talking it through we agreed on a layout and I clipped the lights on the top easily enough. The porch roofline was a bit tougher. I ended up belly down on a slanted roof clipping lights over the edge. I was super stable but still felt like I was falling at any second. No falls though and we tested the lights and they work great. After it gets dark we will take the boys outside and do a countdown to unveil the lights for them like we saw at Pioneer Square on Friday night. My first outside lights are a success so far.

Monday, November 30, 2009

5 down 48 to go

I made myself a snack of broccoli and some hummus to enjoy after making the boys lunches and then cleaning up after the destruction. They always want whatever your eating but I thought this time they would leave me be, having just been fed and my eating broccoli. I was wrong. They swarmed me. i gave them each a "tree" and thought they would taste it and lose interest but they kept coming back for more. This goes to show what we all know, that kids will eat what you eat. If you eat healthy, they will too. It is simple and a tad cliche but it really hit my this afternoon. I have been trying to eat better and get bit more healthy all over. Motivation has come from pictures, beautiful, and culture in this city that values active healthy lifestyles, but this afternoon watching the boys chow down on stem after stem of broccoli gave me another big one. The funny thing is that growing up I didn't like broccoli and would hide it in the compartments of our expandable table. We would find it every two years when we would move again. I didn't want the boys to not try something because daddy didn't like it so I dropped any perceived dislike of foods and started fresh. I would eat anything at least three times and I found that much of the foods I didn't like were quite good. Most of the vegetables that I wouldn't eat I do now, but I prefer them raw or just steamed a bit. The more they are cooked the worse they are. So here I am having a broccoli snack, that I gave another chance for the sake of the boys, watching them enjoy it on their own. I guess you look for motivation where ever you can find it and when it comes to trying to be healthier any motivation is positive.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

christmas time in the city

Today we went to get a Christmas tree. We had successfully held Beautiful off until after Thanksgiving before she set to decorating for Christmas. We were going to go cut down a tree at any of the million or so U-Cut places but we decided to instead go down the street to the tree stand at the bottom of the hill. So all of us in the house headed over to the train and went one stop to the tree stand. We picked out a Noble Fir and got back onto the train to bring it home. We got some funny looks with a Christmas tree on the train but the people around us were thrilled. This older guy in Purple Pants kept saying "It's beautiful, merry Christmas, merry Christmas!" We walked it the block and half back to our house and got started decorating with some holiday tunes and a roaring fire. It was picturesque and you should be jealous.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

a wet saturday on my own

I have no kids with me today. Not much Beautiful either. She worked this morning and this evening and was spending some quality time with a friend of ours in much more need of her time then I. It has been a nice but aimless day. Wandering around the near North East side of Portland left me soaked and cold. I went to the bank and then just started walking in what was then a nice cloudy fall day. I listened to some middle school age kids talk to an older kid about their love for writing. In this case the writing was tagging up walls with Industrial Sharpies but their conversation was enlightening. They were all lamenting some recent "writing" on a neighbors fence. "Residential writing is out of bounds man!" I was out in search of a coffee shop for some reading and people watching, and really just out to wander. I found a nice place and enjoyed a strong cup of some ethically harvested small batch locally roasted and overpriced coffee while getting lost in a book. The book is well written though has way too much penis in it. Every chapter has some new highly descriptive phallic allusions and it is getting a bit comical. It was almost as if the author made a bet with a friend that she couldn't work a penis reference into every chapter of the book. So far I am 11 chapters in and the author is definitely winning this bet. Finishing the last cold drink of coffee I looked up to some increasingly heavy rain. I bundled up against the weather and made my way back to the train stop to head home. In hindsight all that wandering was a terrible idea. I was soaked by the time I got to the train and still had to make a bit of a walk from the train to my house. Sometime during the walk I lost my glasses. They were beaded with rain drops so I took them off and put them in the pocket of my coat for safe keeping. My pocket betrayed me though and now I have a choice between some nice wire framed glasses that are bent all to hell or some classic black framed glasses that I have had for ever. Since glasses are not in the budget until some full time job comes down the pike I will go with the black ones. The digital camera also died this week and will have to wait to be replaced as well. Since these bad things seem to happen in threes I was on the look out for the third one when I read that Tyrus Thomas broke his arm lifting weights this morning. This might not seems so bad to many of you but I just picked him up in a trade that hasn't even fully gone through in my Fantasy Basketball league. I'm probably more bummed by Thomas getting hurt then I am about losing my glasses and I really loved those glasses. They were Converse, and brown, and they looked great with my beard. After making it home out of the rain I laid around watching some football before getting outside to chop some wood my dad dropped off the night before. I got out there right before Beautiful got home from the morning job. That was the plan, make it look like I have been hard at work all morning doing manly things around the house like chopping wood and clearing gutters. She was duly impressed but I might have ruined the illusion by telling our friend Robin what I was up to. Beautiful is now working downtown and I am sitting in another coffee shop reading some more about johnsons and following basketball scores on the laptop. I could do this from home and save the 3 dollars on the latte but it feels like doing nothing when I am at home. Here it feels like i'm out, among the studying masses. Like I'm part of this collective effort to become more intelligent over coffee and indie female singer songwriters. Enough of this writing silliness, I have to get back to chapter 15. I just don't no how she is going to work some sausage into this scene, but the previous 14 chapters have proven that our author is a genius with trouser snake.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

in search of snow and papa

My dad is working in Central Oregon, neither Beautiful nor I had to work today so we decided to go have dinner with Papa. The path to papa led over Mt. Hood, or around it anyway so we also went in search of snow. We left around 11 in the morning to make a day of it and it really was a great day. We found some snow in piles and the boys got me with snow balls, or frozen chunks of snow from close range. Since we arrived in Madras, where my dad is working building a contraption that allows the fish to maneuver the new damn, early we decided to explore a little. We followed sign to Overlook Park but they led down some deserted looking roads. I was sure we were soon to be abducted and tortured at any moment but we eventually made it to this overlook and man was it amazing. It looked down into this canyon with a lake below and Mt. hood in the distance. We ran around playing in the brush and enjoying the lovely fall day. These are the days where we take to heart the advice of our great friend Linsey. She told Beautiful that the one thing she regretted most in her frantic job search was not taking time to enjoy the time she had. We are frantic in our job search but really enjoying the opportunity to leave at 11 AM and head over the mountain and through the brush to Papa's work we go. We had diner with Papa at the Black Bear Restaurant in Madras and the boys were thrilled. Finn screamed "Papa's here, Papa's here, I'm so excited!" and Henry stood next to him the whole night at diner laying on his shoulder and kissing him. We made the 2 hour trip back with the boys falling asleep in the back and Beautiful and I listening to some music with smiles.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

turn around

Finn has a strap on his guitar, a Halloween addition so he could wear it as part of his costume. The strap has added a spark to his stage show though. Here he is working on some new moves.

a pair of monkeys

Two Costumes two years apart for my two little monkeys. This is like on of those US magazine "Who Wore it best?" things. I mean I have heard they do that. I don't really read US magazine or anything so I wouldn't know about that or about Stars being just like us.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

falling back

It is the November already and in Portland today it is lovely. The sun is out though it is cool out and most of our neighbors are raking leaves into the road for the leaf pickup later this week. It has been over four months since I lost my job and we are still no where near a job for Beautiful. The late summer business has passed and she has worked very little the last couple of weeks. She has been having a rough time of it lately feeling the weight of our situation with out any real way to do anything about it. We are still making it for at least one or two more months and have tentatively committed to six more months after our lease ends in December. We have had a number of conversations about what is important to us as a family. Is living in Portland more important then me being home with the kids? things like that. Right now we still want to be here in Portland but if Beautiful doesn't have a job by the end of the six month lease then we will look elsewhere for work. As a family it is more important to us that I be the one home with the boys and Beautiful be the one working then it is for us to live in a specific place. So we wait and see. We pray and we hope.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

so maybe not father of the year

The other night we went to dinner at a friends house with just one of the boys. Finn was picked up by Papa and got some one on one time with my parents while we had Henry for the weekend. So off we went to dinner with Henry and he was great. Friendly and funny he was comfortable quickly. The only issue was he had clearly dropped a deuce early on in the night. I went to the car to find another diaper and we didn't have one so I brought him in the bathroom to see if we could just do a surface cleaning and keep the same diaper. He had been pretty solid lately so there was a chance but it was not to be. He had blown up the joint and that diaper had to go. So I took that diaper off and got him cleaned up and him and I went back out to join group. About 3 minutes later Henry had a wet spot on his pants that was growing by the second. Beautiful said she would take him home and get a new diaper and wondered how his diaper had filled so much that it was now leaking out. Funny story honey, he's not wearing a diaper. I didn't tell her that as she left but I told our dinner guests as soon as she was gone. Beautiful was gone for a bit and when she came back she was none to pleased with me. He didn't have a diaper on! What were you thinking? Why didn't you just bring him home before like I did? All valid points and hind sight is 20/20. Let's not squabble about who's to blame, let's just enjoy our night out. And yeah I am the stay-at-home parent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

i loooooove yooouuuuu

Last night after the boys had been in bed for about an hour they weren't asleep. They were talking to each other and Beautiful grabbed the camera and recorded a bit of it. There isn
t much to see in this video but turn up the volume and listen in. Finn tells Henry that he loves him and then Henry responds.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

coming to a coffeehouse near you

Saturday, October 17, 2009

he's a sensitive little crooner

On Monday or Thursdays we go to Posies Cafe in the Kenton Neighborhood in North Portland and listen to Mr. Ben play some kid songs. He changes up old mcdonald to old mick jagger had a band that made some rock roll, and in that band he had some drums that made some rock and roll, with a boom boom here.... you get the idea. Well Finn has been enthralled by it and asked for a guitar of his own. Yesterday while in Clatskanie Beautiful went into Calvin's, the local thrift store and the first thing she saw was this peach colored guitar in a pink case. She talked Calvin down to $5, really he talked himself down, and Finn now has his guitar. When he got home he asked Jesse to fix the strings for him and Jesse agreed. Jesse and Finn seem to have a different timeline on fixing those strings though. Finn thought he meant this minute while Jesse is leaning to sometime this weekend. They are in open negotiations still. Last night while we were sitting in the living room around the fire Finn was playing his guitar for us and boss us around. Commanding us to be quiet, even when no one was talking and then telling us to SING SING! Then he turned the guitar up and asked what it was. "Hey guys what's this, does anyone know?" Carly said it was a guitar and Finn said "That's right Carly! It's a guitar!" This is what Mr. Ben does at music time. Jesse showed him how to use a pic but I think Finn prefers the classical style, just using his fingers. He only has three strings now but anytime this weekend he will get all six and get busy composing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

introducing jack and keega

Beautiful made the boys new babies because she had a day off and had already made them wool pants and cool shirts, pictures to come. Finn named then Jack and Keega, not sure of the spelling of Kouga but this will work. They are true hipster babies with their skinny jeans and neck tie with a cardigan. Henry's baby, Keega, has a vest with some cool pockets. Neither baby has a mouth, I'm not sure why that is but Beautiful is probably making some sort of commentary on the empty social impact of generation of kids who are more interested in finding a band you have never heard of and drinking PBR on their bikes, but again I'm only guessing here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

beautiful's note

I'll be at Krakow; I'll be back at noon; I'll try to find a lovely, high paying job; I'll probably look at a lot of crafting blogs; I'll love you forever

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

4 of the best years of my life

We have been married 5 years now, it's official. My mom and dad took the boys for the weekend and with a sudden influx of cash thanks to both sets of parents Beautiful and I had a decadent weekend of Bed and Breakfast, thrift stores, and garage sales on the Oregon coast. It was a really great time for both of us and a lot of fun to walk into a garage sale with a couple twenties in your pocket itching for a deal. Beautiful had worked 21 days straight leading up to the weekend between her teaching, tutoring, and retail jobs. She is left with only the retail now and is getting back into looking for a full time job after a month of near frantic working. We are still surviving and still able to pay all the stuff we need to. No prospects for a full time job yet but we are still hopeful and are having a pretty good time as a family.

Friday, October 09, 2009

after - henry

Like I said there isn't much change on Henry. His hair is still wild and hip just slightly shorter and more spiky. He is the envy of the Alberta arts district and practically runs Mississippi Avenue. He gets free PBR where ever we go. Ok enough of the hipster jokes that are way too geographically specific to even be funny to anyone but me. Henry is cute and his hair is all kinds of awesome, that's really what I'm trying to say here.

after- finn

Not only did he get a haircut but he also aged 4 years. He is now 7. After he was finished shaking the hair and taking his shirt off he ran into the house to check himself out in the mirror. He ran back out and said "Now I look like Liam!" Liam is the kid at the end of the block and pretty much the coolest kid as far as Finn is concerned. Looking like Liam meant mommy did a great job on the haircut.

3 boys on the floor

Here are the boys pre-haircuts. They were getting a little shaggy in front and as I have written before Finn gets a little teenager angst when his bangs are too long. Henry is just a dirty hipster no matter how you cut his hair so his haircut was more from proximity then necessity. Ian didn't get a haircut but he is so freakin cute that he had to be in the photo too. The kid has his picture taking face down.

boys in a drawer

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Parks, playgrounds, trains and walks

So I left my camera in AZ and my brother sent his with out a memory card. That was kinda helpful but not really. Like getting a jelly sandwich with no peanut butter. So there haven't been many pictures lately but when he sends my camera we will make up for it. The yellow boys got haircuts today and you'll have to take my word for it but they look great. We had to bribe them with tiny marshmallows and a taser but they came through. It has been so nice here lately so we have been getting out a bunch. We spent the other day at the park for a good part of the afternoon. Ian took a header off the slide and when I picked him up he had a face full of mulch. He was pretty pissed at me for letting him fall, more so then actually being hurt I think. We did the three swing cha cha keeping all three boys giggling and even made friends with another kid named Finn whom our Finn kept calling "she" even though he knew his name. We were the talk of the playground with the three kids and Ian and Henry being so close in age. One lady asked if they were twins and I said no, different moms. She nodded like she understood but didn't want to ask if the dads were the same, that would be nosey. Yesterday we walked to the library and took a meandering way home through the neighborhood. After dinner the yellow boys and I went to the bank on the train while Beautiful was at work. We didn't take a stroller and just walked at Henry's pace. It was a really great time and the boys were in rare form on the train. They were talking with everyone and brought so much joy to the rasta looking black man that he patted me on the back repeatedly and said, "you have good men there, good men!" He was laughing so hard as Henry talked to him about the train and trucks and his brother "feee". We stopped for a shake at Bugerville and even though it was still before 8 when we were almost home Finn thought they were out so late. They gave me no trouble at bed time because they thought they got to stay up so late. I have been really enjoying walking at their pace for a change. Stopping for cool looking rocks and cracks in the sidewalk. A variation on the smell the roses thing but it is true that if you take the time to enjoy a walk at that pace you really notice a lot more. We spent way too much time marveling over a slug crossing the sidewalk but it made all three of us smile.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

he controls them with his mind

the benefits are lacking

I am sick today. I've actually been sick for a couple days now but this morning was the worst I have felt in a long time. If I worked outside the house I would call in sick but I don't so I can't. The boys have no sick day policy to speak of and seem to think that I should play even more when I'm sick. I am holding out for 2 o'clock when all three go down for a nap and I can take a nap too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

i set about to write one thing, but then wrote another

We live in a great city, in a big house on a tree lined street with lots of kids. We have train right down the street and a park at the end of the block. Our kids are cute and healthy and good natured and funny. We live with fantastic people and have family and friends close by. We are well loved and we are in love, Beautiful and I. We are coming up on five years of marriage and the years have been good to us. There have been some hard times in there and we are in the middle of one now, but when you look at the whole story it is happy one. I am trying to look at the whole story a little more lately. Sometimes I get bogged down in the chapters, paragraphs or even sentences. But the whole story is beautiful. I wanted to write about how perspective tells two stories, the one above and then one that I would write about that was harder times but I don't want to do that any more. That stuff is still there but it is just part of the bigger story and that bigger part is what I want to express. I am thankful for this city and it's lovely festivals and trains. I am thankful for our big house on a tree lined street. I am thankful for neighbors taking the blond one to the park while I finish dinner. I am thankful for the blond one and his polka dancing and the red head who backed away crying and shaking his head when we tried to get him to polka. I am thankful for our housemates and their generosity. And I am thankful for Beautiful and her goofy dances. For the way she wrestles away my tortilla spatula instead of getting her own. For the way cobbles together jobs to get us through this time so that I can be home doing the job that I love. I am thankful for all these characters and scenes in our wonderful story and I am looking forward to the next chapters with hope.

meet the housemates

Have you met our housemates? I am not sure if I have put a picture of them up yet and I am too lazy to look. Plus this is a great picture of them. Meet Jesse, Ian, and Carly. They are awesome to live with and even more awesome to know. I was filling out the census paper work and then talking to a census worker and I was able to answer almost every question they asked about them. You have to list all the people that live in the house and answer some random questions about them. One was "Does Jesse have problems with dressing or hygene?" I had some things to say about his choice of clothes but he's very clean. It has been really great sharing life with their family and I hope we are able to continue for some time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

i rest my case

I know there are some of you B.O.B. stroller people still out there even after that brilliant letter Beautiful wrote a year ago on her blog. Listen a B.O.B. is great if you got one kid and you don't mine taking up so much space at the market. But once you come to your senses and realize that more is better when it comes to kids but not with obnoxious stroller foot prints then the Phil and Ted is the way to go. Have you seen a double B.O.B.? It is ginormous and there is no way you could get that thing around the farmers market without knocking over the fresh flowers and getting all up in some granola girl next to you. It's just rude. Phil and Ted on the other hand has the small foot print coupled with the carrying ability that you need. I won't even have the discussion anymore about which is better, I mean look at that picture above, are you getting that kind of capacity from a B.O.B.? I think not. Wake up people, and by people I mean Jen!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

no really they love eachother

The boys are getting along really well lately despite the looks of the picture above. Henry is able to run and keep up with Finn so he is making for a better playmate then he has in the past. He gets the parking of the cars game and understands just about anything you tell him to do. He knows his Cars from his trucks, his tractors from busses so Finn accepts him into the "Detail every car that goes by" game in the car. We spent the morning after church at a playground and the boys played together on the play structure, climbing the slide and hiding from other kids. They were interacting with other kids on the playground as well but were doing much of it as a team and I liked what I saw. I know that as they get older they will play more and more together as they fight more and more as well but watching that "get older" process happen in front of me hits me off guard. All of a sudden they are older. At the park today I was feeling a bit tired of being on duty all the time. Beautiful is working over 40 hours this week and next, 7 days a week in a collection of jobs. It's an odd schedule that suites her with nothing starting before noon. She has been helping me with the boys a bit but we are still trying to find steps to that dance. There have been some missed beats and toes stepped on but we are trying to communicate expectations and I think that is working. I think we both could do a better job of putting words to our frustrations but when is that ever not true. I guess you never stop learning how to work together. Finn and Henry are just starting and Beautiful and I are 5 years in now. We will all get better as we get older, that's the goal any way.

Friday, September 18, 2009

our exchange students/Finn's girlfriends

They were super sad to leave, crying pretty hard when hugging Kate and Carly. I think they had a good time here in Portland and especially at our house. Not to brag or anything but we are kinda great to live with for two weeks.

white trash lunch

We had us some mac and chesse with wieners in it and some canned peaches. It was festival of orange and the boys loved it.

the not so red head anymore

Henry has been chatting up a storm lately. He has an ever increasing vocab and likes to sing in the car. He uses NO to answer any question, it is low and slow when he means no and higher and short when he means yes. We are trying to get him to say yes but it comes out jesshh. He is fearless climbing anything and Finn worries about him a bunch. When we were taking off on the plane we hit a little patch of turbulence and the plane dipped. Henry was saying "off, off, get down, no fly, off, get down...." while shaking. Once we got up there he was fine but I felt so bad for him. He is getting so much personality the more he can say and he is funny like his brother. Henry is also our minor tantrum thrower. When he is mad or can't do something he starts his loud cry and starts running off high stepping his feet like he is dotting the I at half time of the Ohio State game. It is super cute and doesn't at all help him get what he wants.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

3 babies and a man

Day two of being at home with three boys went really well. So far all the boys are playing really well with each other and I have successfully kept them from causing major injuries to themselves and each other. Henry is trying to run with Finn and keep up and Ian is trying to keep up with Henry. I have them napping at the same time in the afternoon giving me 2 hours of personal time that was taken up by a book today, and internet time yesterday. We are trying to find time to get to the zoo but with the little ones taking two naps there isn't enough consecutive awake time for all three of them. I think later when they are all down to just one nap we can do more of that. After Carly got off work she took all 3 boys on a walk giving me plenty of time to make dinner before Jesse and Kate came home from work and Kate took care of the baths afterwards. That is one of the benefits of being the stay at home dad, both moms are a lot more helpful then I would be or Jesse. No word on jobs for Kate though she has been pretty busy with the two she has right now and the trickling in paychecks are sustaining us. I think a bus pass would benefit us nicely, maybe I can negotiate that as part of my Daddy day care services.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

baby feeder and ESL teacher

Finn was really great with Tobias most of the time. He would even give him a bottle in the car while Kendra was driving. He has been just as helpful with our exchange students that he met tonight. They were during the time we were in Arizona so we have nearly missed their entire stay. But tonight we picked them up from their day trip to Seattle and took them out for Pizza on their last night in Portland. Finn was shy at first but quickly came around to two adoring people that laughed at his every silly face. He is a slave to comedy so when they started laughing he started hamming. By the time we were walking to dessert he was fully comfortable. They were holding hands crossing the street and when the trains were not running and we had to take the bus Finn explained it to them. When they told him OK in their heavy accented english that sounded more like "Row kay" Finn corrected them. "Now Row Kay it's Ohh kay, ohh kay!" They quickly answered OK without the R and Finn nodded his approval. It's really too bad he wasn't here for more of their stay but what little time they had with him they loved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

new life amongst the ruins

My Nephew is going to have some great photos taken during his life but this one sets the bar pretty high. His daddy is so talented with a camera, and I know that working with such a cute subject makes his job that much easier. Tobias Aaron Rohl at 5 weeks old in a old mining town in Jerome, AZ.

family photo

This has been the summer for getting together for some family photos. While we were in Indiana we had the chance to get a picture of the extended Mcgrail family and in Arizona we got the extended Rohl family. From Left to Right we have Tobias, Kendra, Ze'nea, Beautiful, Finn, Mark, Simeon, Papa, Grandma, me, Henry, Lyric, James, and Zonda.

back to life, back to reality

It's getting late and the boys and I are heading home tomorrow with Grandma and Papa. It has been a great visit with Mark and Kendra and their baby is beautiful. Getting and opportunity to get to see the community that has fought for them and cried with them and now is celebrating with them has been a real treat. They in amongst great people and the boys and I have been lucky to get to spend some time with them. Finn has had the most fun I think. He has gotten to play with so many kids at so many different house and with so many different toys. Just tonight he was playing with Haley and they were running around eating up imaginary things. He was really great to see that huge social development of imaginative play with another kid. He was gotten a lot of that here and I think he is going to miss that when we go back home. It really underscores the need to get him into a community with more kids around his age. I'm pretty excited to get home and get started with that and now that our roommates both have 9 to 5s it will be one more little man in the group. I will be responsible for Ian as well as Finn and Henry. Luckily we have experience with 3 kids thanks to our wonderful time with Beefy. That was primarily Beautiful's responsibility so this my chance to step like she did. With no more trips on the horizon I am looking forward to getting some sense of normalcy back for the boys. Find our rhythm back in Portland before the rain comes back. Still no full time job for us but we are making it. We are hopeful and having fun and super thankful for our friends and families. You have shown us love and your prayers have helped sustain us. Thank you.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

slip slide and away

finally a grandchild that looks like grandma

We are having a great time with family and friends in Arizona but the best part is getting to be with little Tobias. He is a sweet baby and well loved here in the desert. We were at church this morning and I was holding him while he was fussing a bit with some gas. I was approached by a bunch of people in the lobby asking me if I needed help. I don't think it was for the usual reason of a man with a crying baby obviously doesn't know what he is doing. I think that I was holding the much anticipated and loved Toby and they didn't know who I was. They wanted to make sure I was taking care of him, luckily Kendra was there to vouch for me. Finn has been helping with bottles in the car and holding his hand when he starts to cry. So far we haven't eaten a meal in the same house yet and with a trip to SB in the cards I don't think we soon will. It is hot but fun and Beautiful gets here tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

beauty in the midst of uncertainty

Every day is Sunday, that's the way Carly put it the other day while Beautiful and I were on the couch reading, the boys napping, Jesse at the dining room table on the computer. It was 2 in the afternoon and we were all home, seemingly without a care in the world. Looks are deceiving though. Both Beautiful and I were trying to take a break from the worry by getting lost in a good book. I think I was more successful then she was. After long periods of no response from resumes followed by the occasional 'thanks but no thanks letter', Beautiful got an interview. We were both excited knowing how winning she is but it turns out the company that scheduled the interview is just a pyramid scheme in the form of Insurance sales. Jesse had been to an interview/recruitment seminar the other week and warned her away. What was some hope in the midst of the crushing silence turned out to be mirage. Beautiful was discouraged, really discouraged for a bit. I told her she isn't unemployed she's just under-employed and for some reason that helped. She has two jobs now and is staying pretty busy. Our bank account seems to be a loaves and fishes miracle where a little has gone a long way. We are mostly in good spirits and only occasionally get pulled under by the worry. It is great being with the boys and getting to take the train to the zoo in the middle of the afternoon but there is something to be said for a bit of security and insurance. So after 2 months of unemployment for me and underemployment for Beautiful we are still hopeful and positive most of the time. We are enjoying the time together and taking advantage of the journey like Linsey advised. We have seen and spent time with lots of friends and family that we would not have to chance to if we had a full time job and for that we are thankful. Really for all of it I am thankful, this is not too much to handle. It is hard to be sure but I am thankful for the hard stuff and the beauty in the midst of uncertainty.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

21 to 15 the blond one is ahead

Two years ago after a trip to New York we posted state maps that showed all of the states that we have been through. Kate is still just missing Louisiana and I am now only missing 4 states: Alaska, Michigan, Virginia, and Maine to have all of them. Above is Finn's updated map with Hawaii and our recent trip across the Northern US. He has already knocked out a lot of states for a 3 year old and Henry's map below is coming on as well. I wonder if they will get a full map before they are 18. I don't think so though. I think we need to leave a couple of them that they go to on their own but we will get pretty close I'm sure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

back home

After three long days of driving we woke up in our own beds this morning. Some woke up earlier then others but for the most part we are adjusted to the time difference. Driving across the country helps with that I think since we spent one night in each time zone. The boys did fantastic in the car considering they are 3 and 18 months. They watched a couple movies each day, took naps, read books, and played with cars. Finn would barrage us with questions every couple of hours but that would happen where ever we were. We drove from Indy to Sioux City the first day and spent a great night and morning with Kate's grandma Weezie. The boys got some Ginger cookies that were favorites of Tom Tom's so by default they loved them. They also got to play with some of Tom Tom's old toys. Kate added four bags of fabric and sewing goodies to an already over full car and after 3 solid meals in 12 hours we headed out for Billings, MT. In Billings we got a nice deal on a hotel through priceline and it was nice to sleep in soft beds and watch Sports Center in the morning. THe last day took us from Billings to Portland and we got home at 9:45 PM. The boys were asleep by 8 so they were right on track for being back on West Coast time. It was a great trip but we are glad to be home. The boys are missing grammie today something fierce, Henry pointed at a picture of her and shook his head up and down and said a long list of words that I couldn't decipher. I asked if he missed grammie and he said "Grammie!" Finn has been really whiny and needy and we asked what was wrong he said I miss grammie. It is funny that when they are there they really are all about Tom Tom but when they are not they miss Grammie. I don't know if that makes you feel better or worse Kris but the boys love you very much and miss you already. Kate and I do too!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

my brother and his boy

Tobias Aaron Rohl and his daddy having a nap. I'm so happy for you Mark and Kendra. I will write more about this but for now enjoy this picture.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

american family

after a hiatus

We are still in Indiana, we'll three of us are anyway but our road trip home is coming up soon. Kate flew back to Portland for a wedding and to teach her new SAT class while the boys and I tie up lose ends here and get some good time in with Grammie and Tom Tom before we head home. We cleaned up our house and fixed some glaring issues before listing it up on Craigslist. We got a lot of response on the ad and after showing it to 5 different groups we decided on a great couple. That is a huge weight of our shoulders what with little money coming in and being on the hook for rent and a mortgage. While here I have also had a chance to catch up with some great friends and the boys have had a good time with Kris and Tom. They will definitely miss us and the boys but I think they are looking forward to a quieter house. So now two months into not having a job for me and a 3 hour a week job for Beautiful we are still doing OK. Our bank account seems to be loaves and fishes miracle with some really great family members helping out where they can. We are in high spirits and having a fun time as a family. We still have no idea what the future holds but we are OK with that. Today was fun, I learned how to sand marble and install a cement counter top. I wrestled with the boys and dropped Beautiful at the airport, tomorrow? who knows....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

on the tracks

We have made the 10 hour drive down from Minnesota to Indiana and are enjoying some great time at Tom and Kris's with Aunts, Uncles, grandparents and great grand parents. There are 17 total in this 3 bedroom house and it fills full but not crowded. Full houses make the best houses and it is good to see all the cousins together. They are still a couple years away from tearing each other apart but those days are coming. Jake is as beefy as ever in his Wheaton Thunder shirt that is too small around the biceps. Tom and Kris are having a great time with all grandkids, 4 boys now after having 4 daughters. We have a lot of work to do on our house this week and it looks pretty terrible. Once most of the family leaves today we will get started in earnest. We are discouraged by all the work and limited time but that is a worry for tomorrow. Today we are enveloped in family and it feels warm and comforting.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

some random things

* Why is that on a road trip you are drawn to the Country and Top 40 stations. It's not just me right, this is a thing.
* Lamar Odom going to Miami might be worse news then losing my job. I think I might be taking that harder. That's not weird at all I don't think.
* The combinations of off ramps and side streets that passes for Interstate 35 W in Minneapolis is insane. The lines run right into walls and I think at one point you go through a lake. Not sure how this ever going to be a drivable road but I am pulling for them.
* I kinda love going to minor league sporting events. We saw the St. Paul Saints play and they had a coupon for free food for everyone in the stands if this one opposing player struck out. The whole crows counted down the strikes and cheered like crazy when he wiffed on strike three. He about threw his bat in the crowd but kept it together.
* If you need a little time from kids the $1.00 popcorn and two bags buys you some free time at Target, even if you don't need to buy anything. Your Welcome.
* Finn can rapid fire questions like it's the lightening round of Jeopardy and it always ends with me calling timeout. Sometimes I last 20 minutes sometimes only 5 but it always ends the same.

aunt meg, queen of the stickers

We have been having a great time with Meg and Mike and baby Milo. Yesterday we went to Farmer's market and had some mini donuts and polish sausage and went to a St. Paul Saints game where we tailgated before the game. We have been treated to a really great time so far in the twin cities and we still have more to come.

head and belly baby nose, baby nose

Henry has been talking a bunch lately though this video doesn't show that much. It does show how freaking cute he is so enjoy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

lake meltdown

Thursday we went for a walk around Lake Callhoun in Minneapolis. It was pretty warm out and the boys both melted down hard core after we ate our packed lunch. It was really beautiful around the lake before all of the screaming started. We drove home with Finn telling us he wasn't tired before falling forward asleep on his knees and Henry holding my hand to his face to keep from sobbing. Good times.

you spin right around....

Finn got to ride on a bunch of rides at Mall or America but probably the
best one was the bumper cars. Here he is trying to get the hang of it. He
eventually got it bit it was pretty funny watching him learn.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Spokane, WA

We stopped in Spokane WA for some time out of the car and found a great water front park. The boys cooled off in a great fountain and in this video right at the beginning Henry takes a blast of water to the face. The kid on the rock puts his foot over the stream and it nails Henry, knocking him down. He couldn't have been more excited by it though.

Road Trip

After a great week with friends we loaded up the car for an epic road trip. We are going to Minnesota to meet our nephew Milo, then on to Indiana to get our house issue straight and see a lot of friends and family. We set out Sunday morning at about 9 AM after dropping Jesse, Carly, and Ian at the airport for their Euro Trip. They always have to one up us. The trip out here to Minn. was surprisingly easy. We stopped every 2-3 hours and the boys got to watch a bunch of movies on the way. The first night we stopped in Bozeman MT and Finn was with me in one Queen sized bed and Henry was with Beautiful in the other. The second night we stopped in Fargo ND and we all piled in a King Size bed. We made it to Bloomington MN at about 2 PM just in time to see Grammie for an hour before she had to head back to Indy. We will see here again soon after one more day of driving, I hope the boys still have the good travel vibes going later this week when we head out.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

our own island in a storm

After getting some terrible news earlier this week, I lost my job, we got to head out to Vashon Island in the Puget Sound for the Fourth of July weekend. It is an extravagant house right on the water where there will be a barge shooting off fireworks about 300 yards away. Finn is with Grandma and Papa for the Parade in Clatskanie with Touch a truck day coming tomorrow. We are each enjoying a nice weekend after a bit of a stressful week. I'm not sure that Finn has been that stressed but he knows that things are different. We have talked for a while about Kate and I trading off who was working out side the house and who was raising the boys and we have been talking about that a bit recently without knowing how we were going to manage the switch. As tough as this recent news is it has facilitated that switch for us. Right now Kate is in job search mode full time and I am in full time At home Dad mode. As most of you know that is the only job I really want so I am pretty excited. Kate is excited as well but also feels the weight of the world on her shoulders now. There will be plenty of time for stress and worry but this weekend we will live in the moment and enjoy the luxurious surroundings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a different perspective

I was reading through a couple of things that I wrote about a year ago but never posted here. There are things that don't get added on to the blog for whatever reason, usually edited for language, but that I keep around anyway. These two items were interesting to go back and read more then a year later to see how things had changed:

Acute Beat Dull Anyday
April 9, 2008

The redheaded one got some shots yesterday for turning two months. Happy Birthday little man, here are your shots! Needless to say he wasn't happy about it, he was pretty pissed. When I got home from work he and the blond one were asleep so Beautiful and I had a quiet dinner with Charlie Gibson. Soon both boys would be up and while the blond one was happy and dancing the red head was super pissed. He was oscillating between just crying and screaming bloody murder. I tried to take him upstairs and soothe him but it wasn't working. Not only was he not being soothed but something was happening to me in that time that just brought me down. We have recently relocated from Middle America to the Northwest mostly on my leading. We moved for a number of reasons but one big one. Beautiful was going to go back to school. She didn't get in and now those number of reasons are missing their leader. I feel like I screwed up, like I am to blame for us leaving and her not getting in. It is hubris at it's highest I know, but I still feel to blame. It seems that the waves of painful scream from the red head were hammering home my failure and I was left feeling empty. Beautiful thought I was mad at her, and I thought I was fine but I couldn't snap out of it. I was finally able to put some words to it in bed that night and in so naming releasing a bit of it's hold on me. I guess I know that I am not to blame and that the little reasons are all still valid. I don't feel as down and empty today but I'm also not shiny happy people yet. I envy the boy with his acute pain and valid complaints. he will get better, the pain will subside and he will smile at me again.
April 5, 2008

We have been in a new town for 8 months now but it seems we still haven't found our place. The whole reason for moving seems to be no longer valid and yet here we are. There are times when I think everything happens for a purpose and that God is in control moving the chess pieces of our lives around with a grand plan. I guess I really do believe that at heart but I don't buy into the whole giving up any culpability for the decisions we make. It may be part of God's grand plan for us to have moved across the country but it was our decision and us who are accountable for it. I guess this gets to the heart of my faith. There is this underlying faith that there is a God, that he cares for us as a people, and that he is involved in our lives daily whether we recognize it or not. But then for most of my day to day I don't really live that out. There are a number of people in my life that would say that kind of faith is not really faith at all. That unless it is lived out it is inauthentic. I don't think that is true but I don't really know. I do know that I would like to feel a little more connected to the place that we are at. When we first moved East we didn't feel connected to the new place until after a devastating miscarriage. We decided to stay somewhere that we thought we were leaving and quickly made great friends and built a strong community. I wonder today if the same thing will happen here after some recent bad news. I wonder if this was all part of God's plan for us. I wonder if we made a mistake leaving.

Monday, June 22, 2009

beautiful and her boys

happy me day

Beautiful made me and my dad a shirt with the boys silhouettes. It is kinda awesome even though it looks like they are squaring off for a no holds barred battle royal. Beautiful seems to think that is a bad thing that it looks that way but I see that as a feature. I got to sleep in until nearly 11 after a late night of partying, err..., going to the Drive-In. When I got up we went to The Cup and Saucer in Kenton and had a tasty brunch. After brunch Finn and I went into a great little bookstore in old Town and I got a book on Beginning chess so I can get me some culture. Chess is a smart people game so I am going to fake it till I make it. The boys don't know about the contrived holiday yet but they were very loving. I got to lay down with Finn as he woke up from his nap. He counted the freckles and moles on my arm as he told me stories. We had a nice dinner on the back porch with my sister Zonda, brother in law James, my mom, and our housemates. It was a really nice day, thank you Beautiful!

night at the movies

Saturday night after dinner and baths for the boys we drove down south to Newberg to find the closest Drive-In. One of the things that we loved most about Indy was the trips to the Drive-In with our friends the Beelers and though we are no where near finding the closest Beelers in Portland we did track down the outdoor theater. We arrived way to early not knowing how long it would take to drive 25 miles South West and we did not bring shoes for the boys. We thought that they would be in the car or on our lap, well thought is a little strong. The truth is we didn't think and just forgot shoes. We watched Night at the Muesem and The Hangover. Henry made it about 5 minutes into the first movie, Finn made it about an hour into the first movie and Kate and I made it all the way through. Some hightlights of the night include Finn talking to the folks in the car next to us, as can be seen in the picutre above. We asked him to leave them alone and he said "I'm killing them mommy, I'm killing them!" We asked what that meant and he said Papa says it "Your killing me Finn." He was making them laugh and making us laugh to. Henry enjoyed the popcorn and beverage that we all finished before the movie started as can be seen in the picture below but the best part of the night was the guy that came over the radio to tell us about the movies. He rambled on about who was in the movie and what it was about with no real idea where he was going. He talked to all of us like we were all friends "You remember Amy Adams from Enchanted right, we loved that movie as you did I'm sure." "look out for some boxers tonight in the movies, George Foreman will make and appearance, as will Mike Tyson and Mr. T" Kate asked me is Mr. T was really a boxer and I said no, but he played one in RockyIII so he was close enough. It was really great in a kind of drunkin rambling way. The guy came back on during the intermission to tell us his favorite parts of the movie we just saw and to get us into the snack shack for some refreshments. We made it home at about 2:30 in the morning but it was a great night. If your night patronizing your local Drive-In you are really missing out.