Friday, June 9, 2017

Up, up and away!

Going up in a hot air balloon has never been something I thought we'd ever do.  When we arrived in Oregon, Ben made some connections at the airport that led to his becoming the new inspector and part-time mechanic for a local hot air balloon company (very part time second job).  So, this happened as a result.

I documented the whole process as it's not something most people do every day, and thought there might be someone interested.  First they tip the basket over and hook up the envelope (balloon).

Below is a picture of the top of a hot air balloon, it has a separate circular piece of fabric called the parachute that can be opened by the pilot to release the hot gases to descend.

On one side they are preparing for the lift.

 On the other, volunteers are filling the envelope with air (intermittently firing the heaters into it).

These two guys are hard to see, but they are running along as the envelope quickly raises up off the ground, helping it stand up more slowly.  It looked like fun.

 We all piled in (did I mention it was a 6:30am take-off?).

 Look up!

 ...and we're off!  They gave Phoebe a platform so she could see over the edge of the basket (she's not taller than her big sister quite yet).

 Beautiful Newberg, Oregon reminds me of England...

...only with mountains (see Mt. Hood).  We reached 2000 ft at our maximum elevation.

The landing was more than "bumpy", she told us to get into crash position, we hit a field, then stood up and watched as we slow motion bounced up then back to crash position for a second "THUNK!"  We hit the side of a ditch before finally landing.  Our pilot asked Ben and one other guy to get out and help move the basket.  You'll hear our pilot talk about whether the envelope would come down on something sharp like a sign or stake in the field.

Then everybody else got out of the basket, but the pilot asked me and the kids to stay in, we didn't expect to be tipped over!

Then, we were all invited to help roll up the envelope and to push out the air.

 Juni and Phoebe were thrown on top to help roll out the air

It all fit in this bag and loaded onto a trailer that also carried the basket.  We rode in the van that pulled it back to the air field.

Volunteers who sign up to launch and chase hot air balloons get a free pass to ride every seventh time they volunteer.  Seems like a fun retirement idea.  

They served us a fancy breakfast when we returned to the air field.  It was a memorable morning! 

I just have one question.  Why is it "a hot air balloon" and not "an hot air balloon"?   

Saturday, March 12, 2016

February in Review

Some of our February highlights include driving East an hour an a half to the mountains to play in the snow in Sisters, OR...                                  

Sisters in Sisters!
From the top of the sledding part of the hill:

From the tippy top of the hill, about 5,500 feet:

 ...and driving an hour and a half West of us to get sea level to play at the beach the same week as our trip to visit snow in the mountains.

              (Some beach rocks, in case you were wondering)

                        February was also when Juni learned how to ride a bike in one day (oh glorious day!),

and Ben starting back to riding his bike to work (which he did from our rental home when we first got here, but hadn't since September after our move).  Now he rides to work any day it's not raining, which is about 50% of the time.  He was recently promoted to Avionics and Modifications Team Lead at Garmin AT Repair Station where he is also Chief Inspector.

We also decided it was time to get back to normal chores around the house.  The kids now help with dishes and laundry, set and clear the table, sweep the floor, and clean the bathrooms regularly in addition to keeping their own spaces clean.

Don't worry, they still play every afternoon after school with the neighbors and get to be kids.

As do we!  Here we are with our buddy, Gouda, the Guentner's Garden Center gorilla who lives close to our house.

This is the month that I pulled a tooth out with pliers for the first time.  Ezra had a loose molar that was bothering him, so we fixed that problem.  I'm also back to cutting Ezra's hair.  We aren't doing much besides school and playing right now, we're still getting grounded.

Here's some Oregon observations from February:
The tsunami-like cloud we saw one day.  We have seen three huge rainbows since arriving in OR.

The weather here is temperate ranging between 30-70 all Winter. I have NEVER in my life experienced such a warm February, most days are in the 50s or 60s.  It's finally raining consistently as we were told it would in Oregon.

THAT is why I see fast food places with covered outdoor seating.  The weather is moderate enough year round that as long as one is protected from the rain (and wearing a sweater), you could sit outside year round.  

We have a covered back porch and we didn't think much of it until others visited and said, "Oooh, that'll be nice in the winter!"  Yup!  Of course, it's fun to play in the rain too.

This is a tree near our home that I just love so much!  The kids laugh at me when I pull over to take pictures of things like this.  It's for you, my lovely dozen blog readers.  I do these crazy things for you, which makes me kinda crazy, I suppose, or is it you, for reading this?

Finally, I've been wanting to share the cars with you! They have normal cars here, but they also have a disproportionate number of old cars.  The reason?  No salt on the roads!  If it gets cold enough to snow, they use sand, but all the rain usually washes it away.  We love seeing old Slug Bugs and other vintage cars all over the place.

In the news, Oregon State Capital building has all fifty state flags outside it, or at least it usually does.  This week, it removed the Mississippi state flag from the circle of state flags after giving Mississippi fair warning that it needed to lose the bars and stars from it's flag or risk it being removed from our courtyard.  Mississippi was not apparently phased by Oregon's threat. 

This is the new invention that has Garmin employees talking as well as little ones in my family.  Evidently, we HAVE to save up for one.  I'm not so sure about that.

We love you, you crazy readers, you!  Thanks for visiting our little place in cyberspace!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Month of January 2016: A Review

Pictures and stories that sum our month up.

The Bee Story Part 1
One morning shortly after we returned from our trip out East, Phoebe informed me there was a bee in the living room and would I get it.  I pride myself in not shying away from bug retrieval and save the living creatures whenever possible.  This bee was too high on the ceiling for me to save.  I fetched the fly swatter and a chair and went for it.  GOT IT - first time!  I saw its head and upper body on the floor and scooped it up with some paper.  I announced to the children that the lower half of the bee was missing and to watch their feet as they go about, lest they step on it's behind and get stung.  The murder took place so very over my head, I kept shaking my hair and flicking the hood on my shirt to ensure it hadn't landed on me.  I called the kids over to begin "table time" and breakfast, all the while worrying about that missing bottom half and it's whereabouts and feeling rather creepy-crawly all over...

Enforcing a new vegetable policy that states, "All Wiglets must partake of at least some vegetables at lunch and dinner, or sit on their behind at the table indefinitely."

We visited the Albany Carousel Museum at a friend's recommendation.  Here each child is posing with their favorite future carousel ride. 

...I do so love elephants!  We'll have fun watching these magically coming alive.

Behind the museum is the Callapooia River Watershed, which we enjoyed saying over and over.

The words of a hymn (vs.4 & 5) took me by surprise and brought tears to my eyes at church one day.  

The Bee Story Part 2
Breakfast was being eaten and I was actively quizzing the kids on their Classical Conversations memory work when I felt a tickle between my bosom.  I considered the worst case scenario and tried to dismiss it, but wouldn't rest until I could lay eyes on what I felt.  I began to calmly jump up and down holding my restraining device out, away from me, to allow whatever it was to fall to the floor.  It worked and below me lay my worst fear.  The bottom of a bee...STILL MOVING.  I began to fluctuate between loudly crying out, "EW, EW, EW!" in disgust and then laugh hysterically in relief.  All the while two of my students sat dumbfounded with their mouths agape and one, the eldest, sat with a bemused smirk, thoroughly enjoying himself.  The removal took seconds but my response lingered for over a minute, much to the horror (or delight) of my onlookers.  Whenever I tell this story in person, the listener probably wishes they had ear protection.  Sorry if it isn't as exciting to read, but I'm still processing it, and this is my therapy.


The psychedelic room at the Children's Museum.

A budding artist singing and playing her own songs at home (sorry about the drying rack in the way). 

The Surprise Blessing
We KNEW we had neighbors who were homeschoolers.  We KNEW they had six girls.  We KNEW we wanted to meet them.  We did not know they would be the best blessing our family could imagine since arriving in Oregon.  All it took was a few introductions and we now have a wonderful babysitter just a few doors down and our three found they each had a friend of a similar age, and collectively they are simply in heaven enjoying each other's company nearly every day.  Hours of outdoor free play every afternoon upon finishing school work is pretty much ideal in my book.   The little ones both love princesses and initially had trouble pronouncing each other's names and called each other "Glowy" (Chloe) and "FiFi" (Phoebe).  We are still getting to know this wonderful family, but we are thrilled to have regular play friends for our kiddos.  
The weather has been awesome!  We do get cold days, but they're not bad (30-40 F), but it's usually between 50 and 60 and a sweater is all you need.  I liken it to Tennessee's winter weather with more rain.

 The neighbor's sixteen year old babysat for us last Saturday for the Garmin Gala.  We'll let you decide how it went...
The last one I couldn't help cracking up.  Speaking of Garmin, Ben is working hard.  They figured out how much he is capable of and have tasked him to be in charge of a big project right now, so he's working a lot of extra hours until that is over.  He is amazing and I am so proud of him. 

Life is simple right now.  We aren't doing much extra, on purpose.  No church duties, no extra curricular busyness.  We are planting roots, starting at home.  It's monotonous and low stress and I think, we all need that right now.  Visitors are welcome though!  We had several people mention coming out to Oregon in the Spring, the guest room is first come first serve, so let us know!