Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Berry Extravaganza 2020

Last Friday, I used my "float day" from work so the kids and I could head out of town (a bit) and pick berries.

When I realized that while we had picked berries before, we'd never gone to an actual berry farm, I felt a bit like a PNW mom failure (kidding!). We'd robbed our kids of a fundamental PNW childhood experience! Until last Friday, we'd picked wild blackberries and strawberries (from our garden), but those were small potatoes berries compared to going to a real berry farm. As an added bonus, cousin Anna was able to join us. WOO HOO!!

Shockingly, we were in the car and on the road right on time. Who knew THAT could happen?? The drive up to Arlington was a breeze. We hoped to stay dry during our picking time, but the off-and-on rain we experienced on the way north made us question if that would really happen. (We brought boots and rain gear, just in case.) When we pulled into the Biringer Farm parking lot, it was dry and partially sunny. Win!

We left our boots in the car, donned our masks, and headed to the main building to learn about socially distanced berry picking and where to find the various berries we wanted. There were very few people at the farm when we were there, so social distancing wasn't an issue at all. Very often, we were the only people in an entire berry field. It was lovely!

We started out among the raspberries, and then migrated to the blueberries. Eventually, we found ourselves in the tayberry field. The berries practically jumped into our picking boxes (except for the tayberries ... they put up a bit of a fight. They were the only ones with thorns!)

Who were those masked berry pickers??

Conor's PERFECT raspberry

Forget raindrops on roses... we had raindrops on raspberries


Annika picking raspberries

She's a raspberry fan!

Conor and me showing off a wee bit of our haul

Quite the berry-picking foursome!

Heading back from the raspberry field

Annika made a new friend in the blueberry fields

Quite the cutest berry pickers ever!
 When we were picked out, we paid for the berries (you're welcome, Biringer Farm!) and decided we were in dire need of lunch. I searched for "restaurants" on my phone's map app and the first hit was Nutty's Junkyard Grill. We thought burgers sounded good and it was close... easy decision. Oh man!! Were those burgers ever amazing! The fries were plentiful and beyond good, and the onion rings were enormous!!! We were incredibly stuffed and brought leftovers home for the next day.

Speaking of the next day... the next day (for me) was mainly focused on making jam out of the lovely berries we picked the day before. It took many hours, but homemade jam can't be beat. This is enough to last us at least 2 years, so time well spent!

So... much ... jam!

Monday, July 20, 2020

How The Olson Four Quarantine

It's funny how time loses meaning when a global pandemic hits. My apologies, dear readers, for the painfully long gap since my last post. I intend to be more mindful of our day-to-day lives and up my documentation game!

Never in all of our days did we expect to wear masks when we leave the house, have the kids do remote school for over 3 months, swap out social interactions for video calls/events, and find the grocery stores so low on everyday supplies (hello, flour and toilet paper!). Life has definitely changed, but we really can't complain. We are all healthy and in good spirits. The kids miss seeing their friends in non-virtual ways, but at least they have the technology available to see each other and catch up.

Speaking of catching up... here's a quick summary of how we've spent much of the 2020 pandemic.

Shortly after the quarantine/stay-at-home orders went into effect, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day. We sported our newly-made Irish themed t-shirts to show our Irish pride!
Irish girl

Got green??

Speaking of all things Irish, one shift that was made during the pandemic is Annika's Irish dance class switched from in-person lessons to live video lessons. Her teachers, once again, proved how amazing they are and quickly adapted how they approach dance lessons so the students didn't miss a beat... no pun intended! (OK, maybe a little pun intended!) It has been a real treat to watch (and listen to) Annika's lessons. She is always so happy when she is wearing ghillies and is jigging this way and that!
Annika during a remote dance class

Mask-making has been another major focus around our home. We don't go out often, but when we do, we need masks. We need multiple masks per person to account for washing them after each use and me not wind up doing mask laundry every day. I've also made masks for people we know who don't sew or just because I wanted to! :)

Conor sporting one of his masks

She has her big eyes!

Mask up!

Arg, me matey!

Needless to say, I've continued to make my little heart out, but without having co-workers to feed each Thursday (I've been working from home 100% since the 1st week in March), I haven't had as many people to feed baked goods to.  That said, I remain dedicated to my baking efforts, just a bit more scaled back from pre-pandemic. I have been asked to make a few specialty items along the way, too, including wedding-themed cookies for an virtual bridal shower, a toilet paper cake for the kids' school auction (also virtual), and I taught a (virtual ... noticing a theme??) cookie decorating class for work.
Challah... future French toast

Decorated cookies for the remote class I taught "at" work

TP cake for the CKS auction

Made this for 3/14 ... PIE DAY

For my co-worker's daughter's virtual bridal shower

Strawberry/rhubarb pie (my quest to make a non-liquidy pie)

Can't beat warm bread!

Sorry, Huck. No cookies for you!

For a family friend's b-day

Sourdough bagels because ... well, why not???

Speaking of food, a local culinary school has shifted from in-person classes to virtual classes. Right before the quarantine, my sister and I took a roasted chicken class (in person!) which was a lot of fun and we learned so much! During the quarantine, Conor and I took a virtual class that taught us how to make gyozas and a very yummy dipping sauce. I also took a Baja fish taco class that has changed our culinary lives.
Conor following along with our online instructor

Beyond good gyozas!

I mentioned before that the kids spent the last 3+ months of the school year learning from home. Eric and I cannot give their school enough props and praise for how they handled this whole situation. They simply did not miss a beat! The school had a planned teacher in-service day in early March. They shifted it to a two-day in-service day so the teachers could learn how to teach remotely. The following Monday, boom!, the kids were online and learning from home.

Annika's 3-D cell model
(made of reusable/recyclable/compostable materials only)

Example of Conor's music homework

PE time!

Annika's Missionary Discipleship class
continued to think of others and spread positivity

Conor's robot Art homework

Example of Conor's art homework

Annika's botanical self portrait for Art class

Each Friday had its own theme for school. This was the magic-themed day.

Last day of school - they did it!!!

No one could have guessed how this
school year would evolve, that's for sure!

We have also found random things to keep us busy/occupied/not climbing the walls, including lots of puzzles/games, knitting, random art projects, playing virtual reality games, musical interludes, and taking a few moments now and then to sit in the sun and enjoy a moment of quiet.
Eric playing VR

Our window art gallery

Annika's Eiffel Tower puzzle
Our little knitters

Annika and Huck enjoying the hammock

We hope you are doing well, staying healthy, washing your hands, and wearing a mask! We miss seeing our loved ones in person and hope we can reconnect with you soon!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Flashback Video: Conor Singing

When Conor was just a wee one in 2014, we captured this video of him singing "Paradise City". To this day, it remains one of my favorite video clips of him. Seriously, how can it not be with the adorable face, cute marching dance, and the "goils" reference.

Enjoy this little (and adorable) trip back in time!

 As a side note, the shirt he wore in this video was a fun craft we did together. The kids drew pictures on sandpaper with crayons and then we ironed the images onto their shirts. How fun is that???

Friday, April 10, 2020

Eric's birthday celebration

On March 29th, we had our 2nd in-quarantine birthday celebrations... Eric turned 53 and is wearing his new age beautifully!

I'm fairly certain that a quarantined birthday is Eric's ideal way to spend his special day. When you're an introvert and are required to stay home away and have a quiet day, what could be better?? 😋

Eric's birthday, just like Conor's the day before, was spent at home relaxing, playing games, and generally hanging out. Eric's big birthday present this year was a VR game set, which has come in REALLY handy as a source of entertainment during our confinement. Thank goodness he had the foresight to order it as the quarantine was knocking on the door and got it before the doors were bolted shut!

For his birthday dinner, Eric requested burgers from Five Guys (Plan B because Red Mill is closed due to the quarantine) and boy, did THAT turn into a bit of an experience. We ordered the food online and set up curbside pickup. Easy, right? Oh no! I called from the parking lot upon arrival and told the person where I was parked... EXACTLY where I was parked. The person said someone would be right out with our food. 20 minutes later, still no food. SO, I went inside and asked about the status of the order. Apparently the employee who took the food out found another Toyota that happened to be unlocked (who leaves their car unlocked???) and put our food in it, thinking it was OUR Toyota. (Bonus for those people) Umm... nope! They wound up re-making our food and throwing in a couple of shakes as a way to apologize for the inconvenience (the kids were thrilled).

We finished up the day with presents and pumpkin cake. All-in-all, a good day celebrating one of our favorite people. 💗

Eric being mobbed by the kids while singing Happy Birthday

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting

Conor is double digits

My apologies to all involved for how long it has taken me to post. Time has become a strange beast over the past month+ (but I'll save that for another post). In the mean time, let's focus on something upbeat and celebratory...

On March 28th, our sweet boy turned 10-years-old. The night before, Eric asked me, "Tomorrow, we won't have any kids who are single digits in age. Do you feel old, yet?" (Yeah, I love you, too, Honey!) 😄

Even though Conor's birthday was spent during a pandemic/quarantine, we did our best to make it as fun as possible. We (aka Eric, because he's taller!) put up the Happy Birthday banner to mark the day. Conor requested food from the Mr. Gyro food truck for dinner (thank goodness some of the food trucks are still open!!) and grasshopper pie for dessert. We spent the day playing games, relaxing, and just being together. All-in-all, a fairly good way to spend a birthday!

One of the highlights from the day was when Conors' BFF (Theo) and his mom drove by our house to deliver a (socially distanced) birthday greeting. Conor stood on the sidewalk and Theo stayed in the car, but they still giggled and had fun catching up for a few minutes.

Conor opening a present

Modeling the shirt I made for him

Happy boy! He got a Pokemon video game

Obligatory birthday photo

His glowing grasshopper pie
Conor's Birthday Interview

Age: 10 years

What is your favorite thing to do? Play board games, dice games, and card games

What do you want to be when you grow up? An engineer

What is your favorite food? Either gyro or carbonara

What is your favorite color? Seafoam green

What is your favorite toy? Spot 1

What makes you laugh? Dad

What is your favorite song? Allstar by Smash Mouth

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Cookie dough

What do you like to do with your family? Everything

What is your favorite TV show? Atomic Puppet

What is your favorite book? Warriors

What do you do really well? Growing

If you have $1000 to spend, how would you spend it? Pokemon, Pokemon, Pokemon

What do you want to do before your next birthday? I want to go to Hawaii

What was your favorite thing done as a 9-year-old? We got our dog Huckleberry