Tag Archive | Portland

My Apocalyptic Life and Finding Gratitude

Hectic is an understatement. I recently graduated in May from an AMI accredited training program as a Primary Montessori Guide. Two weeks later my family packed up our small (895 sq ft) apartment and headed to Baltimore, Maryland so I could finish an intensive Masters of Education program at Loyola. We stayed in the Charles Village neighborhood a block from Hopkins and two blocks off of York Road which puts the phrase “night and day” in new perspective. On one side of the Victorian painted lady we were occupying (without air conditioning in 100 degree weather) were preppy young co-eds and on the other side, a lower socioeconomic neighborhood that had lines of police cars with rollers on stationed at each corner come 5 pm and helicopters circling above all night. It was a little surreal.

Flash forward three weeks and the kids and I were on a plane to Nashville, TN for a job in a small town school while my husband headed back to Oregon to facilitate the expansive and expensive move of our belongings via UHaul’s U Boxes. UHaul missed the mark at several stages during our move but here we are using them again because they are convenient, cost effective and offer onsite storage. My job did not pan out the way I had been expecting which was sad because I had gotten used to the smell of sweet grass as I cycled to work, a 2400 sq ft updated town-home, the donkey in the field behind our home, and had even resigned myself to living in a town without a library, where the biggest attractions were the fountain in our fabricated village neighborhood and the Sonic drive-thru. I had also secured a second part-time job teaching fitness and yoga classes at a local gym. I liked that when I was late coming home my husband had two places to look for me and could find me and my bike in under 10 minutes. What I could have done without fills a small part of my personal journal journeying my road to becoming a Montessori Primary Guide and I am sure I will never forget all of the reasons I left this job and town – but I am trying my hardest to bring my past life as a yogi into play and leave it all behind me.

Zip forward to the day after we unpacked our last box and then decided we were not going to stay in TN. Instead, we were headed back to Portland – the place I kept referring to as home. To solidify this idea we took a 6 hour car trip back to Illinois to visit our previous home and take care of some errands in person. Then back to TN after three days and onto a plane for Portland, OR -just me and the three kids. Not a big deal for most people, but I really abhor flying, think panic attack, white knuckled gripping of armrests fear – with three kids in tow.  I have a great game face.

So here we are; you, me and my kids on the end of my first full day back in Portland. I have not yet found a place to live, I have been to the ice rink more times than I care to recall in this day and a half but that knocks out steps to my older son’s dream of skating in the Olympics. I have watched and listened to my children deal with the stress of moving, uncertainty and a missing father with very open eyes and wounded heart. My own relations with them are strained more than I like because of all of the stress. I have been reading The Biology of Beating Stress: How Changing Your Environment, Your Body, and Your Brain Can Help You Find Balance and Peace and of course reading that stress could literally kill me, cause cancer, and obesity does nothing to help my mounting stress – I jest, a little. We tried a no yelling or screaming day, it lasted exactly one and a half minutes before one from the backseat yelled at one in the front seat as I tried to calmly diffuse the situation through gritted teeth. I realize more and more how having a second adult helps, my son commented “When daddy isn’t here I am a better son because I have to be, when he’s around I’m worse”. That prompted a discussion about independence and responsibility, I corrected him that all of them are the best thems they can be, but when daddy isn’t around they have opportunities to take on more responsibility. For example, I had to have the kids come with me to a job interview today because there was no-one to watch them my eldest did so by taking his younger siblings around the neighborhood and giving them snacks.

I want to cultivate gratitude so that I don’t get into this kind of situation again,  looking for something better and not appreciating what I have, but even more than that because I really do know the value of all that I have, sometimes I don’t have gratitude for myself or grant myself the time to just be.  I rushed to find the perfect job and what that boils down to is a lack of gratitude for who I am and the special talents I bring to any situation.  I hope to recognize all that I actually do accomplish and instead of playing it down or worrying what someone else thinks – I want to validate myself and be grateful for who I am.  Along this line I decided to document this next year, I hope daily,  to prove to myself that I am doing the best I can do and making the most out of my time with my kids.

Some of the things we did and places we went today:

  • Mio Sushi – extensive menu for vegans with gluten free tamari and kids’ bentos.  I love the use non-dyed ginger, the wasabi is delicious and the kids like eating here.
  • Portland Children’s Museum- a great place rain or shine with newly opened outdoor exploration area.  You now have to pay for parking but it isn’t too bad.  Great little cafe with vegan options inside.
  • Llyod Center Ice Rink – a great place for kids or a date and reasonable rates to skate.  Located inside the mall so you don’t have to watch a lesson, you can shop!
  • New Seasons Market – one of our favorite places to shop, somehow it feels friendlier than Whole Foods, the stickers flow for kids and the Williams St. location has my children’s favorite cashier so we had to go and say hi today.
  • Back to Eden Bakery – gluten free vegan bakery serving soft-serve ice cream and some really great baked goods, the scones are scrumptious and the rotating selection always impresses with innovation.
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Olympic Dreams

The Vegan UnVacation with @VeggieGrill and @MMASpdx

Welcome back dear readers! I have now been in Portland, OR since we touched down on July 3, 2013.  I did the first two weeks alone with three kids and a rental car at the Courtyard Marriott in Beaverton, OR.  The train that ran right by our window and the sprinklers that went off at 3 am did not help our situation which was one tired mom and three kids in a queen room. To say that our hotel stay was a vacation would be a lie.  I saw plenty of families enjoying their “weekend” vacation, we met them in the small indoor pool (I would like to add that their hot tub was permanently out of commission) throughout the two weeks and they were all blissfully away from their homes.  Maybe my problem was I no longer had a home to go home to?

The staff was very friendly but the location was more appropriate for business travelers, there was no continental breakfast and instead an upscale bar area; however, we were only 10 minutes from Washington Park, the Zoo and the Children’s Museum.  We also found some great local places such as My Masterpiece Art Studio.  Alex took a 4 day three hour summer camp on comic book illustrating for $185 and we did some drop in studio with the Sampler Pack (3 pieces of paper and a lump of clay) which may not sound like much but it was able to keep 3 kids busy for 1.5 hours at a price tag of $18. Although I am sure most parents will love the fact that MMAS does not require the children to clean anything up, I still tried to force my kids to wash their brushes and clean their stations.  For moms and dads looking for a great activity that will nurture brain development, hand eye coordination and art appreciation this place has it all.  They also do birthday parties. We witnessed one during one of our trips to the studio and the kids were having a blast!

Regularly we ate at Veggie Grill because it was 2 miles away.  We ran into it by accident looking for a local grocery store chain.  When the grocer didn’t have the treats we wanted we drove through the parking lot and found the recently opened location.  Veggie Grill is a faster food restaurant similar to Native Foods but less greasy and less expensive for the kids meals.  The serving sizes are also larger for the kids meals. Full size portions are equal to, sometimes slightly smaller than Native Foods, but the big plus factor is consistency. I have eaten there more than a dozen times and it is the same quality each time, I could never say that for Native Foods which sometimes tastes as if it is a different recipe and other times is inconsistent in content (more or less seitan, etc).

My gluten and garlic sensitivity shifted into full swing when I was face to face with all the delicious options.  By day four when I could barely stand up straight I decided to ask what options there were that were garlic free, lo and behold (gluten free is readily marked) they also have a garlic free menu!! I have been rocking out with the All Hail Kale salad, I love the tangy mango dressing and their tempeh is pretty good as an addition, the cauliflower mashed potatoes and the Bean Me Up Chili. My kids love the “chikin’” fingers and that is saying a lot.  As Alex told their manager, “They have great texture” and come with a side, dessert and a drink for under $6 (other kids’ items available).

What Veggie Grill does lack is diversity in its menu – there are a lot of “chickin” items and sparse dessert options.  The BIGGEST disappoinment was in their downtown Portland location.  We ordered the “Grilled Cookie” dessert “handcrafted chocolate chip cookie, griddled and topped with chocolate pudding, VG Crema and chocolate sauce” notice that nowhere in there was mentioned nuts.  But YES, this is a chocolate chip nut cookie.  When I brought this to their manager’s attention (since DH is allergic to ingesting nuts) she haughtily asked if we had mentioned a nut allergy. No, we didn’t because nuts were not mentioned on the menu. She refused to refund the item so we left it uneaten.

Now, the Beaverton Veggie Grill is a different story.  I FORGOT, yes me – my fault – to say no gravy on the mashed potatoes, it came to the table with gravy and I know the manager overheard me mention my stupidity in forgetting this fact to my husband and my request that he eat the potatoes so they not go to waste – not two seconds later a second cup of potatoes arrived gravy free – now that is how you handle customer service and why I drive the extra 10 miles out of Portland to eat at this Veggie Grill. Plus the manager looks like Owen from Drop Dead Diva and I have a thing for celebrity spotting even if they are look a likes.