Monday, July 20, 2009

Oregon Coast

After a few days of downtime in sleepy Cheney, WA (we were back in town just in time for the rodeo. Though we decided not to partake because of the heat and sun, we did see part of the pre-rodeo parade. Sam watched as the horses and cowgirls (and even a Civil War reenactment contingent) set up for the parade), we piled back into the car for the looong drive to Portland, Oregon.

I was very excited. I had never been to Oregon, much less Portland, and--after everything good I had heard about it--couldn't wait to see for myself. I had seen the chewed-up and spit-out rawness of the coast in many a postcard and calendar, but didn't know where to find these wild places. Though it was somewhere I wanted to go madly, I wasn't sure I would ever make it there since I didn't even know where to go. For some reason, they don't mark monoliths on a road map. Even though Elise had related so many fond memories of the place, I guess I had become resigned to never see it for myself.

Portland lived up to the hype. The drive in gave us eye-popping views of Mt. Hood. We stopped first at Powell's, the largest bookstore I have ever been in. Much bigger than a Barnes & Noble (sorry, Dan...I should stop here and mention that Sam's Uncle Dan met us in Portland for the 3 day tour of the Coast). Afterwards, we stopped at the Deschutes Brewery local tap house for a Mirror Pond in the sun. A group of street kids were filming a skating film across the street, doing flips on a concrete rails and steps. Sam watched and derived much amusement when the kids fell...even laughing maybe a little too loudly at their mishaps! Mirror Ponds were followed by, perhaps, the dining highlight of our Oregon sojourn, the Rhinelander.

Imagine the Germany part of Epcot on steroids! There was even an authentic accordionist in liderhosen (sp??). The food, of course, was outstanding. There was fondue and sausage. I panicked in the face of it all and ordered....chicken cordon blue?!? Don't ask....but it was the best damn chicken cordon blue I've ever ordered! :)

The next day we headed west toward the coast along an interminable road that wound through wildflowers and meadows. It was the kind of road perfect for a convertible Miata and only slightly-less-perfect for a Subaru Outback with a restless one year-old and his father prone to car sickness. We stopped in Astoria before heading down to Cannon Beach. There, Dan and Grandad flew a kite through the everpresent fog on the beach and we walked down to Haystack Rock, the monoliths epitomized on countless Oregon tourism websites. We waded through the tide pools in its shadow, sea gulls chattering above. The water was a little to cool for Sam and I (Florida boys), but it was beyond amazing, nonetheless. Cannon Beach, we will be back.

We continued down the coast to Tillamook. We crashed Main St. Pizza for a few more Mirror Ponds and some dam fine 'za before ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese factory. This part of the adventure was Elise's Mecca. We toured the factory, peaking through the glass windows down onto the factory floor where all the workers in hygienic suits and masks waved up at Sam.

We took our leave of Tillamook early the next morning and piled back into the car, headed north to Seattle and our date with the Emerald City......

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Big Sky Country

We're only a few days into our two-week tour of the West. Sam is napping peacefully downstairs which allows me a few quiet moments to type this.

We arrived in Spokane, WA after eight relatively easy hours of travel. Sam is really becoming a trooper. He was awesome on the planes. Elise and I had always coveted an aisle seat for ease of escape to the bathroom and access to our various baby items (toys, sippy cups, wipes, etc.), but now Sam is at the age where it is all about the window seat and the view. He got the biggest kick when we boarded the commuter jet in Salt Lake bound for Spokane. It was an outdoor boarding, so we walked out onto the tarmac and up the steps. He couldn't believe we were actually getting on the plane. He might have had seconds thoughts when the plane did a narrow loop around GEG. The color drained from his face. My stomach flip-flopped, and--without going into too much detail--I had excellent reflexes, and Sam had excellent aim. I carried that bag from the plane proudly!

It seems like everyone can complain about spending 2 weeks with their in-laws. Not me. I'm not just saying that because I know they and Elise will read this. It is always a welcome respite in our otherwise harried existences to go to Cheney and do....nothing. Even with Sam, the first few days have been blissfully uneventful. A bucketful of 100 matchbox cars from the mid-70s and a boxful of children's paperbacks in mint condition (not to mention the plastic slide now set up in the middle of the living room and the wading pool out back) greeted Sam. "Puppies are like that!"

We spent our first full day in Spokane. We went to the river park and Sam and I rode the carousel. After the plane ride, I was a little worried about taking Sam spinning in circles. We picked a tiger that wouldn't bounce up and down, but Sam needn't have worried. It was Dad that turned green. He did do the 'all done' hand signal we taught him to excuse himself from the dinner table about halfway through the ride, but he was fine. We both patted our tiger's head when we were done, thanking him for a good ride. Mom got to take Sam down the giant Radio Flyer slide. And we all fed popcorn to the ducks and geese (Sam ate most of his).

The next day we hit the road for Missoula, MT. Missoula reminded me a lot of Boulder, so--in other words--I loved it. Except for something in the air (we think it was dogwood) that gave me my first taste of what life would be like with allergies. I was basically incapacitated for the rest of my stay in Missoula. But that didn't stop Sam from enjoying the mountain air and 'p'zza p'zza' at MacKenzie River Pizza Co. We stocked up on gear from the U of M before heading back to WA and the next leg of our adventure (pictures to follow........)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth Flashback

When I was little we would pack up for the week and head to my grandparent's house on Samish Island, Washington for the Fourth of July. My grandpa wasn't always the most jovial guy but, something about the Fourth of July really made him brighten up, and this made this the single most fun holiday we spent on the island. He would decorate the beach house, inside and out recruit us to help him raise flags and even decorate his beach cruiser. He'd don a red and white striped hat a la Uncle Sam and ride around spreading July Fourth cheer.

My dad and brother, in red long johns (with rear flaps!) Pulling me in a wagon with Grandma Eve at the rear

Everyones families came out to enjoy their beach houses, pulled out extra cots and beds and some even camped in the lawn when rooms were filled. We saw fresh and familiar faces on an often sleepy island. We met new kids, played and swam at the beach, munched on endless snacks and schooled each other in croquet on the front lawn. It was totally the Hamptons, west side. Minus the filthy richness of it all!

The highlight of the day was a parade that was held every year. In our younger years we were made to dress up in silly outfits and march or ride our overly crepe-papered tricycles and wagons along the parade route. My parents found great joy in dreaming up the most outlandish, embarrassing things for us to parade as and then proceeded to create our homemade costumes with items from around the house. My dad's bathrobe served as a lovely kimono for my little brother masquerading as an immigrant, my older brother face was smeared in Vaseline and patted down in coffee grounds for a that unshaven, "just off the boat" look. I was pulled along behind in a wagon, wrapped in a grey sheet with a tin foil crown on my head and a toilet paper roll in hand as the Statue of Liberty. We were dressed in pure white sweat-suits one year, and tied together with crepe paper to march as the flag. And yet another were forced to walk as a school of fish? Still wondering about that one.

Ellis Island on the move

me being stapled into a fabulously homemade fish costume by my mom/costume designer

Like Paul mentioned in the previous post, we are struggling to find some family traditions like these. We don't feel the same spirit or energy here that I once felt as a child. I felt like we should have been camping out somewhere or should have been jetting off to a beach cabin somewhere. I feel lucky for those days on Samish Island now. I didn't always appreciate them, but somewhere between being a girl and a mom and feeling a little loss for home and family tradition, I've regained my spirit. I desperately want to have these memories for my family, firecrackers on the beach, watermelon eating contests on the front lawn, speed-croquet competitions among siblings, ceremonial flag raisings and a true celebration of Independence Day. Our search for our "Samish Island" continues.

4th of July

As of late, Elise and I have struggled with the summer holidays. Memorial Day...July 4th...and Labor Day. Not because we don't believe they are worthy of celebration. Mostly because the mode in which they are celebrated in our little neck of the woods, we feel, leaves something to be desired. First of all it is brutally hot. I know...I is hot everywhere in the middle of July. Second of all when one of your neighbors greets you with a 'happy firecracker day!' you know--as with Christmas, I suppose--the true spirit of the holiday has been lost. Third of all, when 90% of the population is drunk by 9:00 a.m. on 12 oz cans of Mich Ultra....well.....

In any event, I think we are both making a concerted effort to return these summer holidays to their place of former glory, to recreate the essence of what made them so special to us in the first place, in younger, more innocent days.

Yesterday, we rallied the troops early, the only way we were going to secure a parking spot at the beach. We brought our umbrella with us this time, so we didn't have to worry about Sam turning into a bright pink, cuddly lobster. We crashed at the beach by the inlet and played in the waves, slowly indoctrinating Sam to the concept of the ocean. We saw planes and boats, scuba divers, kayaks and horses. By the time we left, there was a line of cars nosing their way into the parking lot, fighting for our spot.

After a few hours, we packed up and stopped at our favorite hot dog palace on the way home, Dune Dog. We always have to cajole Sam, zonked, "Not to fall asleep or you'll miss the hot dogs!" Afterwards, we all dive back into the air conditioning and nap (well, two Hannas napped, one Hanna worked on his foreign service questions :)

Naps were followed by a cool afternoon treat at our local Bucky's. We ran into Publix for grillin' fixins then headed down to our pool area where we piggybacked off the last grillers sputtering coals and slapped our own patties down. Skunkin tottered around, and his nanny (not literally...this was my mom :) joined us for a luke-warm bottle of Bud Light. We tried so hard to keep him up for fireworks, but as 7:30 rolled around, I suspected he wasn't going to make it.

We headed home for a bath and stories. He was out at 8:40, too early for fireworks. He was thoroughly zausted. So much so, he slept right through them (they fire them off at Cardinals stadium in the Town Center...close enough it sounds like they are falling on our house) and the firecrackers that popped until 11.

The 4th also marks the Shalhoub Family Reunion. Every few years the extended family on my dad's side gets together over the 4th of July holiday. This year, the event was held in Florida. Elise was introduced to many hairy Lebanese cousins and we even saw a video from the 1982 and 1985 reunions. She saw me dancing as an awkward 13 year-old to "You Spin Me Right Round" and got to see Sitty who was also on the video, busting a move after reluctantly being pulled onto the dance floor.

As I grew older, Sitty always used to ask me if I had a girlfriend. I seemed to always disappoint her. It was good seeing her today, and I know she would have loved Elise. Needless to say, she would have been slightly fond of Sam, as well!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Paul reading to Sam:

"A unicorn is the same thing as a horse only with a horn growing out of its head like Mommy"

gee thanks Paul! :)

Pregnostics {baby numero dos}

Okay here's what I know and presume to know so far about you, tiny and mysterious baby number two:

You are tiny, but already you look like a baby! I can't even feel you kicking around in there yet but you are my little fig (the fruit comparison du jour from

You don't look like your brother, yet. You look more like a Turbeville even in your weensy state.

You sleep just like your brother with your hand on your head (see ultrasound pic below).

Sam 1 week old

You are not a fan of coffee. I swear by coffee, Starbucks is like our family room for crying out loud. But, alas you will not allow me to drink the glorious potion of the siren and if I do, you punish me for the rest of the day. You are cool with tea though. So thanks.

You have made me feel like a big pile of poo, which leads me (and all other unsolicited baby fortune tellers) to believe that you are a girl. Your father is quite sure that you are a boy. Are you even sure yet that you are a boy? (this is why your mother is not a doctor)

You will be active like your big brother, because for God sake how could I be this exhausted already if you weren't already active?

You are one of a kind (thank goodness or we would be living out my mothers predictions and buying two more cribs!) and you will be another gleaming ornament on our family tree come years end.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Just a quick blog to let you all know I successfully passed the FSOT. Congratulations to me! :) Now I have 3 weeks from today to complete a five question personal narrative, but since we leave for Washington next Tuesday for two weeks, I have to do it this weekend.

An evaluation panel will take my original application, test score and personal narrative and decide whether or not I make it to the next step: the oral assessment. The results letter said it could be as long as early October until I know whether or not I made it through to the orals. More waiting to come....!

#2 Week 12

Isn't he/she cute?!