Sunday, December 23, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
One child I've been working with, Travis, has never had a "normal family Christmas." Basically, he has lived in residential his whole life. This year, it looked like he would spend X-mas with a foster family that has been struggling with him all year. However this week, I feel he has sabotaged it by going on a pretty intense rampage , causing him to get kicked out of his foster home and school. Some how, I think this kid wanted to leave so he wouldn't have to spend X-mas with anything close to a family. Some kids will do that as a way of protecting themselves against a bigger hurt. I know that when he is on these intensive rampages he verbally attacks me. I've concluded that he wants me (or anyone else) to hurt as bad as he does. A few nights ago, I was frantically looking for a home for him and he just broke down and cried for about an hour. This kid has had a tough life causing him to be socially awkward, and bullied a lot at school. He is the kind of kid you can see blowing away people in a mall someday.
Another kid that has been getting to me this Xmas, is a 4 year old named Ben. I've been working with for about a year. He reminds me of Woogy so much. He gets in my car and always plays with the toys that Woogy leaves behind. Over the year Ben has made a lot of progress mostly due to a skilled foster parent. I remember when I first met Ben, he would cuss like a sailor and play with his poop. Over the year, we got him involved in Head Start and just did a lot of behavior management. The state has been pushing visits with Ben and his bio family which are a bunch of neanderthals. I was clearing observing some PTSD in Ben over these visits, but with no evidence, the state pushed forward. Ben has been returning from his visits looking very tired and unusually hungry. He also has a large number of bruises on his legs which can be attributed to his emotionally disturbed brother. The other day I took Ben to a X-mas party hosted by the state and got to meet Ben's parents. With the state closing their case, Ben will be returned home this week. Mom didn't seem to really care. This was probably because she has 3 other kids making a scene. I anticipate we will see Ben again when he is placed again in the system. Foster mom and I are both pretty upset that the progress Ben has made will most likely be lost, but we hope we had some effect on him.
I know all this is the nature of the business that I'm in, but I guess around this time of year it's hard to remain optimistic about the holidays for some kids.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
At the entrance, visitors walk through a forest of lights with the story of Christmas in the Bible being read over speakers. After you leave the little walk through the forest, you come to a village with puppet shows, petting zoos, hot chocolate, and carolers. This year was a little more enjoyable since Nibbles wasn't as fussy. I remember last year, Nibbles was so cranky that she had a "meltdown" that I don't think we will ever forget.
Since I was raised Catholic, the Grotto always seems familiar with all the images of Mary, stain glass windows of saints, and pictures of the Pope. My grandmother, who was a devout Catholic, would have loved it. Anyway, here are some pictures:
The shrine is actually carved out of cliff. Here's a picture of the shrine at night that over looks the little Christmas village that is set up.
Here's Woogy with all the candles. Lighting of candles is a big deal in the Catholic church. I had to ask Woogy not to blow them out.
Here's Woogy, Nibbles, and me in their little path through the forest. I was happy that for the most part, no one was too cranky to ruin my holiday cheer.
More Christmas lights hanging in the forest.
The Grotto's Christmas village.
Here's the church at the Grotto. A traditional Catholic structure. Inside, you will find choirs singing Christmas songs. Some traditional, some not but no "Frosty the Snowman."
Woogy and Wah-Wah
Here's the Carolers with their books open, coats, scarfs, and hats on, singing Christmas songs with candles in the background. If that doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Sigur Ros Hvarf/Heim Sigur Ros is one of my favorite bands of all time. Their shows are nothing short of a religious experience. They are one of the most artistic and creative bands around today. Even their videos (which I have on my ipod) are a celebration of youth, age, and love. This month, to my surprise, they released a double ep to coincide with a movie they did of their homeland of Iceland. Unfortunately, the material isn't new, but still a must for a Sigur Ros fan. Hvarf is a disc of songs that the band have had around, but never recorded until now. Hvarf is as good as any Sigur Ros album, just doesn't break new ground. The second disc Heim is mostly a semi acoustic live recording the band did of some of their material. Even in a stripped down setting, Sigur Ros shines as bright as they do in the studio.
Over the Rhine Besides I guess I'm a "Rhinelander" because the back of the disc is labelled "For Rhinelanders Only" and I rather enjoyed it. Besides is mostly unreleased material made for the fans of Over the Rhine. Some of the material is definitely good enough for any album. Over the Rhine seems to enjoy rewarding their fans with these "fan only" albums since there are a few more floating out there. Songs like "Miles" and "Lucy" show their "throw out" songs are just as good as the ones they keep. This is one of two Over the Rhine albums I got this month. I helped convinced me to get the rest of the Over the Rhine collection.
Maps We Can Create This is another album that took me a while to get into. I read a lot on this one, and several tags it has gotten is "shoegazer"(which I would naturally love). However, it doesn't sound "Shoegazerish" in the way that I think of "shoegazer." Comparisons to My Bloody Valentine are unfounded. We Can Create is dreamy, but I didn't hear the walls of guitar distortion that I love. It sounds more electronic than anything. Of course, this is just my opinion. Once I dropped trying to compare to something, I began to enjoy much more and can see that it is a pretty good album.
Gorillaz D-Sides Another collection of unreleased tunes this month that could be passed on unless you are a big Gorillaz fan. The first disc is made up of B-sides from their last album Demon Days (which is a fantastic trippy album). Damon Albarn (creator of the band and front man to Blur) was never very good at B-sides, but can write pretty good singles. The second disc is remixes of all the singles from Demon Days. It's pretty unnecessary considering the songs are already trippy and funky without having to be remixed.
Great Northern Trading Twilight for Daylight Pretty good debut album from this southern California band (I was disappointed to hear they weren't actually from the north). Trading Twilight for Daylight has some pretty inviting textures, and a lot of good catchy indie hooks. I put this album off for too long before buying it.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Woogy absolutely loved the movie (what is there not to love? giant robots beating each other up). "Transformers" I think even topped Woogy's previous favorite movie "Star Wars." Since the movie has came out on DVD, he wants to watch it all the time. Even driving down the street, when he sees a truck go by he says "That's Optimus Prime!" Or when a yellow sports car comes down the road, he yells "That's Bumblebee!" We even started making this a game in the car of calling out Autobot names whenever a car goes by that resembles them.
Tonight, I started to read some of my old Transformer comic books to him, and he was completed entranced. I've given him what old figures I have left, after my mom got rid of them through garage sales. Not a lot of them have held up so well over the years.
For Christmas, all he wants are Transformers. Little does he know that I've already gotten him a couple of his favorites. The other night I spent almost $50 on a Optimus Prime figure. I remember how excited on X-mas I was when I opened my Optimus Prime figure several decades ago. It was one of the best X-mas gifts I got as a kid. I remember my mom thought it was outrageous that it was $30 back then.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I first saw Travis in Lawerence with A Forest. Great show. They had a lot of great material to support them and as a extra treat, they even broke out into "Back In Black" for a laugh at the end of show.
This time around they had 5 albums worth of material and drew from some of their stronger songs. It's impossible to hear all the songs I want to hear at a Travis show (because their is so many) but I was pretty happy with the set list. For me, their high points in their performance were with "Side" and closing with "Battleship" and "Why Does it Always Rain On Me?"
First off, the band had one of the coolest openings ever. The lights went out, and the roadies came out and held spot lights at the back of the theater. Then the music of "Rocky" came on. Then the band walked up from the back to the stage in boxer's robes. It kind of reminded me of the opening to U2's Popmart.
Lead singer Fran Healy debuted his mustache for the first time tonight. He said he was inspired by Brandon Flowers (lead singer of the Killers who brought mustached front men into fashion again). He also joked about how different Portland is and how he hasn't seen a normal looking person all day. He called it a city of "Indie kids."
At one point in the show, Fran reached out to shake my hand, or so I thought. It turns out he was shaking the hand of a kid a little older than Woogy, who was standing on his big brother's shoulders behind me. Then at the end of the night, bass player Dougie, hands me the set list, and ask kindly for me to give it to the little boy behind me. I thought if only I had brought Woogy, I could shaken hands with a rock star and taken home the set list. I don't think he's ready yet for rock shows.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
On Thursday, everyone went out to a pub for a few beers and conversation. Everyone needed to vent. It kind of reminded me of my college days with having a couple beers and discussing psychology and sociology all night. When you are sitting around a table with a bunch of therapists, nothing is taboo. I was having such a good time that I forgot I was suppose to go to a concert. The band-"Stars" was in town and I wanted to see them, but I was having such a good time in the pub, I missed the show.
On Friday, we started our kids at a new babysitter. As Wah-Wah mentioned, our old babysitter left and I can't say that I'll miss her that much. I'll give her the fact that she was very affordable and very close, but aside from that I sometimes found her judgement a little questionable. The kids kind of liked it there however. Our new babysitter seems nice. I sat with her for a hour to get to know her on Friday. She's lives a little far, and I have to run the kids out there a couple of times a day for several days a week (Woogy goes to school, then I drop of Nibbles, then I go to work then I pick up Woogy then I run him out to the babysitter and go back to work). When I finally left Nibbles there on Friday, she screamed for a few minutes, but the sitter said she was fine after that. There is another boy there that is Nibbles age, but poor Woogy has no one. I'm going to try to arrange some play dates for Woogy and some of his friends at school. I guess I'm lucky that I have a job that lets me come and go as I please.
Which brings up another big stress in my life. The other day, I got scheduled a interview at DHS with Child Protective Services. I can't believe how quickly it happened. I faxed my resume and then a hour later they called. My interview is next week, but I'm feeling a little guilty for wanting to "jump ship" at Trillium. I do really like my coworkers, but a state job would big a raise, not to mention a good pension plan. I don't know what will happen. After all, I'm not good at interviewing, so we'll see. Something else a little odd: Every job I've gotten since I've graduated college has always started around November-December. Maybe this will be no different this year.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Suavie Island a little island out in the middle of the Columbia river. I had heard so much about Suavie Island, but never actually visited it until last Monday night. The pumpkin patch had a huge corn maze that we decided to do. Wah-Wah was pretty smart in buying plastic bags to go on feet when we went in the maze. The mud was incredibility thick. I couldn't figure out were all the mud had came from since it hasn't rained in weeks.
The maze was pretty challenging and it just got harder as it got darker in the evening. There were a few clues scattered throughout the maze that if you answered correctly, it would point you in the right direction, but you had to know your Portland history. For example: the name of Portland was decided on a coin flip--what would the name have been if the coin landed on the other side? Turns out the answer is Boston, but I got it wrong and ended up getting more lost. By the time we completed the first half of the maze, Woogy had had enough and decided he didn't want to go anymore. I decided to go it alone for the second half. But just as I was leaving, I saw Nibbles following me.
As Nibbles and I set out on the second half of the maze, we soon discovered the mud was actually getting worse. I gave Nibbles a piggy back ride by this point as we proceeded to get more lost. At one point, I got completely stuck in the mud. My feet wouldn't move in the mud and I was using my hands to hold on to Nibbles. I knew I couldn't set her down in the mud since I could imagine how upset Wah-Wah would be. I stood there for a few minutes and just called for help. Eventually someone came and held Nibbles. With one push, I managed to pull my shoe off and my foot landed in the mud and began to sink. I then pulled and my other shoe and it came off. I ended up taking my socks off and carrying Nibbles through the rest of the maze barefoot. When I finally came out, a friend pointed out that I looked like Frodo walking through the mud barefoot. I think I will avoid the corn maze next year.
Here I am holding my shoes. I wasn't about to leave a $100 pair of Doc Martins out in the field.
Here's Nibbles in her Halloween custom. It kept her pretty warm.
Here's Woogy in his Mr.Incredible custom. Nice pose.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
PJ Harvey White Chalk Another album I haven't listen to enough because of too many other albums coming in. White Chalk is a daring move for PJ. Usually her albums are pretty heavy on distortion and not very polished. This album radiates darkness. Years ago, she put out a great album called Stories of the City and Stories of the Sea. The album was fantastic and helped to land her a opening spot for U2. I think if she continued in that direction, she be selling a lot more albums, but she is a true artist and doesn't want to repeat herself.
Over the Rhine Snow Angels Usually I don't like a lot of seasonal albums. After all, you only listen to them a couple of times a year, but this isn't the case with Snow Angels. At it's heart, this is a album about X-mas and the redemption that it brings. During it's most enjoyable moments it paints the most beautiful X-mas I never had such as riding a brand new white horse in the snow with a loved one ("White Horse"). I don't feel the X-mas theme is over done on this album making it a strictly X-mas album. Redemption is what echos throughout the album. These songs can be enjoyed year round.
Vigilantes Of Love Blister Soul Probably my favorite VOL album forgotten by most. I've decided to buy at least one VOL or Bill Mallonee album a month. The catalog is so vast and rich with great songs. Most of the songs on Blister Soul I've heard before, but it's nice to have them all here on one disc as they were intended to be heard. My favorite VOL song "Skin" is on this album. It's a great song of Vincent Van Gogh's tragic love of a woman who rejected him. Vincent ended up cutting his ear off over a broken heart. Bill Mallonee captures the whole thing so well in song.
Dave Gahan Hourglass For over twenty years, Dave was the front man for Depeche Mode, and that is all he was. Never wrote any songs, but was a great performer. Then a few years ago, he takes a crack at writing songs on his first solo album Paper Monsters and to every one's surprise, he can write a good song. He even contributes songs on the last Depeche Mode album Playing the Angel. Dave's songs pretty dark and dirty. After all he writes a lot about his demons that drove him to try to commit suicide (he actually succeed and was dead for several minutes before being revived). Most of the music is in the same vain of Depeche Mode. Not a huge departure. But Dave needs Depeche Mode to make such classics as "Enjoy the Silence" or "Precious". No such classics are on Hourglass.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
1. Own a Columbia jacket
2. Take the bus or Max (train) where ever you go.
3. Use that money you save in gas for a $4.00 coffee
4. Ride a bicycle that doesn't have gears
5. don't shaved in days or have a beard.
6. Attended Imago Dei at least once.
7. If you are married, you drive a Suberu Outback.
8. Your Suberu has bike and kayak racks.
9. Listen to the Shins
10. Shop at Trader Joes (Grocery store that sells all organic and imported foods). Plastic bags are not a option there. Only recycled paper bags.
11. You know at least 3 lesbian couples.
12. You have hitch hiked a couple of times
13. Grow your own vegetables
14. Have a "Keep Portland Weird" bumper sticker
Thursday, October 18, 2007
This is Little Crater Lake. It's around the base of Mt.Hood. We saw this with on a hike back to Timothy Lake several weeks ago. I can't begin to explain the geology of this lake other than it was a crater that expanded and filled with underground water. It's as clear and blue as Crater Lake in southern Oregon, but a fraction of the size. You can easily see down to the bottom which is over 18ft. I love all the colors along the edge, and the perfect reflection in the water.
This is Butte Creek falls that we went to last week. A rather long drive from Portland, but worth it. It is surrounded by trees, so very little sun light ever hits the water. With all the fall colors surrounding the trees, I remember thinking this is as close to perfect naturally beauty as it gets.
Here are the lower falls of Butte Creek Falls just down stream. Unless you are really adventurous, this is as close as you could get. I don't think I really needed to get any closer anyway.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Carolyn's Pumpkin patch was always my favorite. They would always take you out to the middle of a pumpkin field so you can pick your own pumpkin. I seldom actually bought a pumpkin, but the ride was fun. They also had lots of things to do for the kids such as a train ride, tricycles, and playground equipment.
Cider Fest was always worth the trip just for the cider donuts. I also enjoyed the fall crafts out on display as well as the dancing.
This year we have tried to make do with a few pumpkin patches here in Oregon. I honestly can't remember the names of the two we visited last weekend. Last weekend was a pretty cool weekend so it really felt like fall, but I still missed KC. They had plenty for the kids such as corn mazes, petting zoos, and hay slides.
We also discovered this weekend that Nibbles loves horses. She insisted on going on one of those Horse-go-rounds, but then threw a fit when it was time to get down. I remember she kept running back to the horses every time we put her down. She can be very stubborn.
Sadly, I didn't get any cider donuts this year. One of the festivals had them, but the line was at least an hour long (I'm not kidding. The line didn't move an inch in 15mins). I guess it just isn't fall without my cider donuts.
Here's Nibbles riding her second horse (her first one she rode at her cousins house). I can just see her asking me for a pony every X-mas for the next 10 years. By the way, this is obviously the before picture. It got ugly after this.
Woogy on some hay. Thank goodness he didn't throw a fit like his sister when it was time to leave.
Nobody would believe me if I told them I carved this. Well I didn't, but I wish I did. I have never actually carved a pumpkin. Drawing a face is good enough for me.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Youth Group Casino Twilight Dogs Made famous by a couple of songs on "the OC" including a cover of one of my favorite 80's songs "Forever Young" by Alphaville. This is sort of a "guilty pleasure" album because of it's ties to the "OC". Not being a fan of the show, I've heard that a lot of good bands get some air time on the show. I guess whatever gets your music out there. But I love this album. One of the best I've gotten in a long time. Youth Group songs shimmer and shine. This is one of those albums that songs build to a sparkling majesty. Catchy at it's finer moments too. Athlete Beyond the Neighbourhood Somewhere beyond Coldplay but not as far out as Radiohead is Athlete in the Britpop arena. A little more experimental than their last album Tourist, Athlete use a little more electronics on this one. The upbeat songs such as "Hurricane", drive and kind of give you a push, while the slower moments are interesting and thoughtful. Beyond the Neighbourhood is Athlete's bid to come along side Britpop bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Keane.
Vigilantes of Love To the Roof of the Sky You can't discuss VOL without mentioning how unfair it is that VOL (Bill Mallonee) is still relatively unknown. Bill Mallonee is so talented and such a good song writer. How is he not as important as Bob Dylan is a real mystery. VOL is so obscure that Bill Mallonee actually paid for the making of the album on his credit card and sold it out of his kitchen. Bill Mallonee lyrics have depth and maturity and a almost stubborn faith. I picked up this album on itunes (since that's the only place where it is available). A supervisor at work thought a did a great job helping out one of her clients so she gave me a gift card for itunes. I thought that was pretty cool to be paid in itunes. I could get use to it. Doesn't help feed my family, but is still a great reward.
Mum Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy It is always difficult to describe a Mum album. I guess they get compared to Bjork a lot because they are both from Iceland. But Mum are far more experimental and "out there" than Bjork at her most creative moments. I have to admit that I have a love of Icelandic music because it is so "out there" . To a casual listener, it's a "hard listen". Anyway, besides the lovely artwork (that is typically in a Mum album), it is a improvement from their album "Summer Make Good." I didn't find it as minimalistic as their last album.
Friday, September 28, 2007
We spent a day in Tillamook and showed around the Tillamook Cheese Factory and my favorite winery-the Blue Heron. Here's Wah-Wah feeding the goats in the Winery's petting zoo with the Grandparents waiting for the perfect camera shot.
No trip to Portland is complete without visiting the Columbia Gorge's Historic Highway. Three major waterfalls are along the highway. Here everyone is at Multnomah Falls-the most spectacular of all of them.
We took the Grandparents to Newport since we know it so well. We all spent the night in my parents house on the beach in their downstairs apartment. Incidently, we saw all the expansion my parents have done to their home including an extra bedroom, storage, another bedroom, a wood shop and a little auto showroom. Anyway, my parents volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and got everyone free tickets. I always have to take eveyones picture in this mammoth shark's mouth at the end of the tour. It's tradition.
This picture is back outside the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I know it sounds boring to watch cheese be made, but it is worth it to get all the free samples. Tillamook also makes legendary ice cream which is available. Oregon Strawberry is best strawberry ice cream I've had.
Here Woogy is with Grandma at the tide pools at Yaquina head lighthouse (another place my dad volunteers to tell visitors about the local sea bird population). Our timing was good to see the tide pools because it was low tide.
Our last day in Newport, we were on beach below my parents house when I noticed this would make a great picture of Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You can see the ocean is starting to pick up before the storm season hits.
Saturday, September 22, 2007