Tuesday, December 24, 2013


It used to be that 'round these parts we heralded the comings and goings of Menagerie pets with a blog post. But then I sort of fell off the blogging wagon and coming back to it is akin to that overwhelming feeling you have when you sit down to write in a diary that you haven't written in for a long where you just can't be bothered with every.little.detail. So, just as if you were reading my diary at 14 and you'd have to understand that I used to like this boy and now I like that one; you'll just have to understand that we used to have those pets and now we have these - without a lot of explanation as to how that all came about.

At any rate - meet Missy! Our slightly pudgy, slightly cross-eyed, half-Siamese cat. I saw this very picture a few months ago on the Humane Society website and was delighted to discover she was still available. This picture cracks me up because it is obvious they are trying to downplay her being cross-eyed by showing as little as possible of her eyes in the picture. She came named Missy (second most popular name for cats! The Jennifer of cats!) and we tried to think of something else but nothing stuck. We tried "Boots", Jacob pitched "Calliope" and Vaughn bizarrely suggested "Tiny Dancer" (apparently from a movie he had seen) but Missy was just what we kept going back to (unless I am calling her "Special Baby Princess Kitty" which happens more than you might think).

Vaughn and I adore her. Jacob is taking a little longer to warm up. I think his heart still hurts for Hannah.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Last night we nestled in downstairs for the annual viewing of A Christmas Story. To tell you the truth, I'm a little tired of A Christmas Story but there are few decent Christmas movie options that we can all agree on.

Vaughn and I were packed into the oversized green chair together when June Bug decided she also had to sit on the chair with us, underneath the blanket of course. I was bemoaning the lack of room when Vaughn said dramatically, "Now you know how I feel having to sleep with her each night. Punished!" She does take up a lot of room but somehow I don't think it is THAT bad.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I love YOU!

Vaughn has been in a period of prolific "I love you"-ing. Make him a snack? "I love you" Leaving to walk the dog? Two "I love you"s. Going to bed generally generates three solid "I love you"s. If you get up to go the bathroom and he's still awake you're guaranteed a bonus "I love you." Sometimes we'll be laying in bed and he'll call out "I love you!" from his room. It's really amazingly sweet and gushy. It's like it is always raining Valentines at my house these days.

Friday, November 1, 2013

In the Spirit

At 11, we're closing in on the end of the trick-or-treating years. I told Vaughn that it generally wasn't acceptable to trick-or-treat past age 12 or 13 and he reacted as though I had told him that his childhood would be ending and he'd be sent to work in the mines. Luckily, Vaughn really likes handing out candy. I was assigned the job of 'dog holder' so that he could don his costume and answer the door.

This year, he went as the Blazers Mascot, Blaze. When he first told us that he wanted to be Blaze, he also informed us that it would have to be purchased as a homemade Blaze wouldn't do. Well, you can't exactly go out and buy an NBA mascot costume off the shelf and besides, Jacob and I felt pretty confident we could whip together an acceptable Blaze.

We watched a video on how mascots costumes are made, purchased carvable foam from a specialty store and went to work. Vaughn got into the spirit of making the costume and even helped put it together. Ten hours and about 50 hot glue gun sticks later we had our Blaze head. It had to be jerryrigged together with multiple stick pins but my philosophy on Halloween costumes is that they only have to hold for a couple hours.

Unfortunately, as we were out trick-or-treating, one of the pins that was glued under a layer of fabric started poking through the foam. Jacob spent about five minutes literally trying to gnaw the pin out before I decided to go all MacGyver and stuck two Starbursts on the end of the pin to cover it for the remainder of the evening.

In addition to candy, Vaughn also got a visit from the Tooth Fairy since he lost a tooth on a Mike and Ikes. We're going to have him wear the costume to the Blazer game next week so I guess I'll have to come up with a permanent pin solution before then.
Vaughn and his zombie pal, Sten

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cake Boss

The other night Hrishi came over and introduced Vaughn to a show called 'Cake Boss', a TLC show about a baker named Buddy Valastro in Hoboken, NJ. The Cake Boss website sells shirts that say things like "Bada Bing, Bada Boom!" and "You Want a Piece of This?"

Fifteen episodes (in 24 hours) later Vaughn is saying things like, "I WILL own my own cake shop in exactly one year- mark my words!" When we pointed out he had chocolate on his face, he snarled, "It's a cake scar!"

Yesterday was his first attempt to make a "cake" on his own, despite the fact that I wouldn't drive him to the craft store for special molding chocolate. I put cake in parenthesis because the base of this culinary feat was rice crispy treats; something that felt permissible to Vaughn since Buddy uses them for framing. I'm including a picture of him next to his slightly overly decorated basketball masterpiece which you know is too sugary when 11 year olds won't even eat it.

While we were getting ready for bed last night he was lamenting the fact that between comic book writing, shoe designing, cake decorating and the NBA - he was really filling up on hobbies. I felt like a kill-joy but I had to point out that next week middle school was starting and so there'd be that too.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Adidas Tour

My recent crusade has been to introduce Vaughn to careers that touch basketball but aren't actually playing basketball in the event that the NBA becomes a dream deferred. I'm hoping this will also help him see that school can lead to really cool jobs since after he starts middle school I imagine we'll be in for one long string of why-do-I-have-to-learn-this?

One of the things he loves to do is design and draw basketball shoes- a natural combination of his skills and passions. Like Jacob, he's doggedly determined when he's into something and he told me that he spent a half hour on the computer the other night trying to find out what the fabric was that lined the inside of his shoe. At the risk of seeming like a helicopter parent, I enlisted my friend Jill to use her connections to get him a tour at the Adidas campus with her friend, Anthony, who does shoe design for the skateboard division.

Vaughn got up early today and in typical fashion, carefully picked out his best all-Adidas outfit for the occasion and then pulled together his list of questions and two shoe designs (which, despite gentle prodding on my part, were never pulled out of my bag).

Anthony was amazing and spent well over an hour taking us around to see all the steps in the Adidas shoe design process. When he had to leave for a meeting, he left us with his co-worker, Thomas, who designs for the basketball division. Unfortunately by this time, Vaughn was wearing down a little, which was understandable since we had been there for almost two hours and had walked all over the campus and learned so much.

Out of all the people we met, three of them said they had begun drawing and designing shoes when they were right around Vaughn's age. It will be interesting to see where he ends up in life but I think a job where you get to play basketball at work on your lunch hour has to be high on the list.
Vaughn with Dwight Howard and Damian Lillard's shoes

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Last weekend my dad invited Vaughn, Jacob, Hrishi and I to go rafting with him on the White Salmon river. None of us except my dad had ever been and whitewater rafting is one of those quintessential Oregon things and so we were definitely overdue.

I came well stocked with a giant tube of sunscreen but realized that I had totally forgotten to bring any sun-protecting lip balm. After getting burnt in Hawaii, I wasn't taking any chances and so I went to Wet Planet's store and bought the only lip protectant they had - a tin of zinc-based lip AND face sunblock.

There were about 40 people in our group and we all gathered around in a large circle to listen to the instructions as to how to get our gear. I wandered over kind of late and so I was positioned across from everyone else.  Jacob also got burnt in Hawaii and although he had already applied a base coat of normal sunblock, he decided to use this time to layer up with a coat of my white, zinc paste. Zinc based sunblock does not blend in. It stays like a layer of creamy paint on the skin and by the time he was finished, Jacob really looked like a splinter version of that Blue Man Group. Similar - but different. A woman standing next to me leaned over and said to her mom, "Man, that dude's really putting on the sunblock." It was a totally fair comment and one I probably would have made if I wasn't married to the river-going mime. Still, I kind of had to bust her. I turned and said, "It's zinc-based sunblock - it doesn't blend in. It was the only kind they sold in the store" and then smiled sweetly as I watched her face squish up as her brain
tried to connect my relationship to the man across the circle while figuring out how embarrassed she should be. For his part, Jacob wasn't even a tiny bit embarrassed - which is why we love him.

Unfortunately, I don't have a single picture of this or any shots from the day. I had to steal this picture from someone else's White Salmon experience.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

You May Be Experiencing Some Changes

Vaughn's class is doing the big fifth grade puberty talk this week and he and his class are all aflutter. I felt a little remiss in our parenting duties when I saw that his pre-test was basically a series of 'don't knows.' We did the big talk on where babies come from a couple years ago (complete with a book!) but I guess we neglected to think a refresher course was necessary since just recently he asked me if families where two men have a baby would have a shot at super tall kids (probably mentally replacing me with any number of our tall male friends to increase his NBA chances).

Anyway, they have been disappointed each day that the separate male/female talk gets postponed and yet each day when he thinks it is going to happen there is a bit of posturing about how it is likely to be 'the worst day ever' since it will be 'so boring' with health class. The other fifth grade class is ahead of them and has already had their big separate talk. Apparently Vaughn's class spent recess yesterday peppering their more worldly collegues with questions only to be told that it gets 'much worse.' That's puberty for you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Into the Clouds - Goodbye Hawaii

I read recently that Hawaii was again voted the 'least stressed' state in the U.S. It's not surprising; things move slower here and you either get with the program and get on Hawaiian time or you get frustrated.

For our final day here, the Mestman family decided to go hike Waihee Ridge trail while the Moyers opted to stay behind and get in a final snorkeling trip. We had a really hard time finding a consistent set of directions to the trailhead and were already kind of nervous to return to the area where we'd been foiled by a locked gate earlier in the week. Inevitably we got lost and had to pull over to ask directions twice. The second time we drove down a narrow dirt road toward a sign pointing toward a farmer's market. The "farmer's market" turned out to just be a guy at a card table in the middle of a road surrounded by maybe ten houses. Jacob parked the car and walked up around a bend to get directions while Vaughn and I stayed with the car.

After maybe fifteen minutes I was hot, antsy and maybe a little worried. Where the heck was Jacob? There were a bunch of trees blocking my view so I couldn't seen where he had gone off to. Was he being axe-murdered at that very moment (faithful readers of my blog will remember that axe-murdering is a logical conclusion in my mind)? He finally came back with directions and a small bag of groceries. Apparently the farmer had to go into his house to retrieve the laptop to hunt down directions. Then there was the pouring over various reviews of the trail we were going to hike. When Jacob bought papayas, he had to stop him from leaving the stand to go chop down new ripe ones for him. Jacob mentioned that we had been a little confused and frustrated by the lack of signs to which he just smiled and shrugged saying, "This is Hawaii dude."

The trail was 2.5 miles up 1,500 feet to the top of the ridge and it was every bit as thrilling and idyllic as we hoped. Though he started off apprehensive, Vaughn really got into it and carried his own pack the entire way. The top was packed in fog and so our valley views were obscured but the damp breeze felt heavenly after the steep climb. When we got to the top there was a family with several young Hawaiian children picnicking. We had already decided we wouldn't linger at the summit and would instead eat on the way down. As we turned to go I heard one of the little girls say, "That was quick. They must be on their way to a party." Ahhh, Hawaiian life.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hawaii Days - Pt. 3

Jacob and Vaughn are taking advantage of the time difference from home and getting up every morning at 5:30 to drive down the road and play basketball for a couple hours. I admire their dedication. I'm also up at 5:30 each morning but I just lay in bed and wonder if I'll really eat the kale we bought today or if it will be another day of Costco mai tais and dark chocolate.

We've seen three different groups from Oregon here. I know this because, unlike other states, people from Oregon seem to like to wear shirts that signify we are from Oregon (confession: I brought my Portland shirt). Apparently the weather in Portland is miserable right now and it's a good time to be away.

Today we decided to brave the road to Hana - as much of it as we all could tolerate anyway. The road is super narrow and windy and if the carsickness doesn't get you, two 11 years old occupying themselves with repetitive rhyming games will. Plus, that awesome spot you read about in the guidebook? Yeah there's good chance the three available parking spots for that area are taken.

We stopped off at a great bamboo lined trail that had so much promise but after about 15 minutes of hiking we had to admit that it seemed unlikely there would be a waterfall anytime soon. Back in the car we went and shortly we came to a great little waterfall and pool area where we hung out for about an hour of swimming. It definitely felt like what we were looking for and so when the next spot up the road was a bust, we decided to turn back around and make a short pit stop at a state park to eat lunch and then head down the road in search of gelato.

Tonight Jacob and I have a date night and we are going to see a comedy/magic show. Normally this is not my cup of tea but the reviews have been great so I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic.
A Jacob Fish

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hawaii Days Pt. 2

Now I've done it. It's only Wednesday and I'm burnt. Oh to have genetics that translated into "sunkissed" instead of "Tan Mom's Twin - the pink one" (a comparison driven home by the fact that my hair has become like straw with the salt water and pool). Still, it was a pretty epic day. We found a fantastic beach for boogie boarding, a sport I've come to term "extreme neti potting" based on how many times I bail off the board (one time losing my bikini bottoms down to my knees, mercifully while deep in the drink).

Here is a picture of my sweet guys tuckered out after hours of sun and surf.

My Afternoon with Oprah

On the plane ride over to Maui I read an article in a magazine that featured celebrities talking about their favorite "magical place." Oprah was in there and she said that her favorite place was sitting beneath one of the large oak trees on her property. There's a lot of time to be reflective on a six hour plane ride and I instantly thought, I'd like to spend a day with Oprah! I'd show up and Oprah would graciously give me a personal tour of her expansive home, during which time I'd be careful to notice the little details like, "Oooh! I love the ceramic hounds you've placed over by the bar in the game room!" Then we'd go into the kitchen and have a light snack and maybe do some sort of craft project (here is where my vision gets murky because I can't tell if I'm blending it too much with My Time with Martha Stewart).

The real magic would happen though when we'd retire outside to her property, possibly to kick our bare feet up in a shared hammock under those oak trees while her Cocker Spaniels ran around and barked at squirrels on the grounds. We'd laugh and chit chat about various things from her past and mine until suddenly, Oprah would say something particularly poignant and without realizing it, I'd get a faraway look in my eyes. Then shit would get real. All of a sudden I'd be seeing things in a new light. "Wow, I never thought of it that way - but you're absolutely right!" I'd say, shaking my head.

With the afternoon growing long, Oprah would escort me to the door herself, both of us laughing over some silly thing Stedman did. At the front door, Oprah would take my hands in hers, look into my eyes and remind me to stay true to what we discussed. I'd promise I would and she'd say, "Oh I know you will!" because Oprah and I just kind of get each other - which we'd acknowledge was weird since neither one of us usually have other people we don't know well understand us so intuitively! We'd promise to stay in touch and I'd promise to send her the recipe for my vegan carrot/zucchini muffins (which I do as soon as I fly home, trying not to have my feelings hurt when she doesn't respond since she's Oprah after all and very busy).

PS - For those of you who read the title and thought this would actually be about me getting to spend an afternoon with Oprah - keep up that magical thinking!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hawaii Days Pt. 1

Jacob and I have wanted to go to Hawaii for pretty much our entire relationship but could never dig up the vacation time or the funds to go. This year, with Annalee, Jacob and myself all turning 40, we decided that even if the trip had to go on the credit card, we'd be going.

Luckily the funds are not that tight and splitting the cost of everything definitely helps. We are on Maui in a town just north of Lahaina. I'm writing this on what we've decided is day three, since Saturday was an all-day travel day and shouldn't count as vacation. Luckily our group is fairly like-minded and we have decided to have everyone list the 'one thing' they want to make sure we get done before leaving.

Each day has included quite a bit of swimming - either in the ocean or in the pool at the condo. This has been either the greatest or Vaughn's worst nightmare depending on how he's feeling (today we swung from "I'm done with water for the rest of the trip!" to "I still have five whole days to go swimming!" in a matter of hours- ahhh, the tween years).  We're still in search of the perfect boogie boarding spot and snorkeling was a bust for my relatively new swimmer (Jacob's not a fan of breathing through the tube either). I had a bit of an incident myself the first day when I misjudged a wave and got tossed under not once but twice, smacking hard into the ocean floor and getting a sore rump.

Yesterday we went in search of a hike that was highlighted in the guide book. We wound our way up a narrow, hilly road; past packs of tiny stray dogs and even a random goat leg in the road with the hoof attached. Unfortunately, we reached the entrance only to find the park gated shut with no explanation, only a warning that trespassers would face a $250 fine. Undeterred, we made our way over to Iao Valley State Park with the famous Iao Needle. It wasn't much for hiking but it made up for it in beauty and history.

Later that evening we went into Lahaina for a trip to the famous banyan tree and dinner. Gluten free (Annalee) and vegan (us) isn't easy but we surprisingly found a little mediocre something for everybody at Paradise Burger. A gray-haired crooner with an electric guitar delighted the crowd with predictable hits like Escape (the Pina Colada song) and Purple Rain. It turned out our server was from Gilroy (up until a month ago) and while it was fun and novel to run into another alum (although 7 years younger), I was completely caught off guard when he started pressing me to name high school teachers I could remember (not many, as it turns out - at least not after a Mai Tai).

We closed out the evening gawking down from the restaurant patio at a woman blowing a conch shell at the water's edge. A nightly visitor, she arrives every evening at sunset to the same spot to blow her shell and then wade into the ocean to perform a solo water ballet of sorts. The waitstaff at the restaurant rolled their eyes and scoffed at her. One server pointed out that she was swimming in 'harbor water', the most polluted kind. Still, I have a feeling that they'd miss their odd little mermaid if one day she stopped showing up to honor the spirit of the island in her own awkward way.
Vaughn and Sten at Iao Needle

Vaughn Turns 11

Yesterday was Vaughn’s birthday party and we splurged and had a bunch of boys over to the house for backyard laser tag. Everyone appeared to have a great time, despite the fact that one team kept dominating the other.

For party snacks, Vaughn requested both Cheetos and the holy grail of forbidden snack foods - Doritos. I don’t understand the obsession with Doritos but near as I can tell, 5th grade boys go bonkers for them. At the beginning of gift opening, Sten interrupted to say, “Guys, I just have to warn you - Doritos make me cranky. I don’t know why but they do.” No one paid much attention to Sten’s Cheesy Hulk warning and he stayed in good spirits throughout the remainder of the party.

Update: After school today a couple girls in Vaughn’s class brought over a couple younger sisters and were trying to get Vaughn to stop playing basketball long enough to talk to them. After a couple times of calling his name elicited zero response, they gave up and wandered away. As we were walking to the car I asked Vaughn what that was all about. Vaughn said that he thought they were trying to get one of the younger girls to wish him a happy birthday or something. I gently chided him for ignoring them completely to which he responded that he had to because he was the defender in basketball. Hrishi, who at 8 months older is much more savvy in these things said, “Vaughn, I don’t care who you are defending - even if it is the greatest basketball player in the world you ALWAYS stop if girls want to talk to you.”

Biggest Fan

Today Vaughn told me that he was talking to a classmate about Portland Trail Blazer and Rookie of the Year, Damien Lillard. “That’ll be me someday,” Vaughn apparently said confidently (it’s worth noting that Vaughn is so technically smart about basketball, I almost think this is less a case of Vaughn actually believing he will be Rookie of the Year and more a case of Vaughn knowing through careful study that the best basketball players are a self-aggrandizing and cocksure force to be reckoned with and one must act the part - a sort of fake it before you make it). His Doubting Thomas (Ben) friend replied, “Maybe.” Sten, the ever loyal and best friend/sidekick that a future anybody could ever hope for piped in, “Oh no- I know Vaughn and whenever he puts his mind to anything - he does it!” With friends like that, who needs Rookie of the Year.
I took this picture today on the way to school. Vaughn was particularly chatty and gave me a whole dissertation on the importance of matching your clothes. Not just in color combinations, but also how if it was a “Ducks” day - the clothing should all be Ducks (likewise for Blazers and Sharks).

Hearts and Bones

Yesterday Jacob and I stopped into a store on Mississippi Avenue called Paxton Gate. The store’s tagline is, “Treasures and oddities inspired by the garden and the natural sciences” and it’s filled floor to high ceiling with vintage taxidermied animals, plants, art, geodes, magnifying glasses and bones of all sort. It’s not for the squeamish- there was a container of dried peacock feet on the counter, a box of cow legs with hooves attached and even a dead puppy floating in a jar of formaldehyde for the girl who has everything. Sort of as if the Natural History Museum gift shop was doubling as your local distributor for VooDoo paraphernalia. Jacob bought a human anatomy coloring booking and I came away with a beaker that I fashioned as vase to hold a pheasant feather and two porcupine quills. I was kind of tempted to splurge and spend $50 on the monkey paw so that the next time I go into a work meeting where there is a difficult decision requiring consensus, I can take out my paw and set it in the middle of the table and say, “Let’s let the paw decide.”

Update: Jacob got me a quail skeleton for Mother’s Day! It’s a real special man who hears, “I want new pajamas” and says, “I’ll see those pajamas and raise you a quail skeleton.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In Memory of Hannah

Okay so Hannah isn't technically dead yet but at 18(ish) she is really getting up there. She doesn't groom herself anymore and her body is bumpy and lumpy; but her eyes still have a spark (more evil ember than diamond sparkle) and enough fire in the belly to swat at June Bug when she gets too close to the food bowl.

She also still has her preference for Jacob and, since most of her time is spent on our bed these days, she lays on him whenever she can. Last night she was in her usual spot, hunkered down on his chest and purring loudly, I said to him, "I don't know how you can sleep with that cat on you." To this Jacob simply replied, "I love her." I said, "She's so noisy with all that purring." He said, "She talks to me all night long." The funny thing is, when I brought this up with Jacob today, he didn't remember the conversation at all - he was apparently already sound asleep with his old companion.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Vaughn, June Bug and Jacob having a moment
The other day I was sitting on the couch when Vaughn came over, looked at me and said, "Do you want to have a moment?" Uhhhh...sure? He embraced me, put his head on my shoulder and then began rubbing his hand up and down my back, so I did the same. After a longer-than-average hug I started to pull away but he held firm and said, "I'm not done having a moment." Vaughn has seemed like such an 'old kid' lately that it was fun to have him bring back his wacky side. Since then it has become a family inside-joke and we regularly ask each other if we want to "have a moment." Last night Vaughn took it to a whole new level and said, "We're momentiers."