November 9, 2010

Expanding the Mommy and Homekeeping Repertoire in Portland, Oregon

I love visiting friends and staying at their houses. (Or even going over to some one's house for lunch or dinner!) I was recently reminded of how much I enjoy this by a recent trip I took with baby to see two wonderful girlfriends in Portland, Oregon. The friend we stayed with, Marianne, has a little boy also, who is just two months older than ours, so it was perfect. Our very close friend Jennifer also lives there and has a two year old girl, who is possibly the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen! What's so funny about her, though, is that she is not into being a girly-girl at all. We brought the little girl a present, a hair bow clip that is a festive red plaid for the holiday season and I was trying to explain to her that where we live in the South, little girls wear bows every time they leave the house, she looked at me with suspicion. (Although I am told she insisted on wearing the bow the next day to a play date). There is a woman some friends of mine know, (I haven't met her, although after hearing this story I thought, I would like her so much!) she has a phrase she uses with her girls, 'No bow, no go-' meaning you don't leave the house without a bow.

Why does food prepared by a friend taste so good? Our hostess, Marianne, was so gracious and sweet- she made us coffee every morning and served it in stylish china. (Our hostess is incredibly chic!) Her china is this fabulous owl print in a rich inky blue with burgundy accents on crisp white- she said she discovered it on a trip to Scandinavia. She even baked us muffins and scones with local huckleberries. Her baby currently loves huckleberries, our baby, not so much- oops, it's on the floor! So in my house, we don't worry about baby throwing things on the floor, Pele, our dog, knows just where to stand near the highchair to get every morsel. This is so apparent that we have noticed that we never have to clean the floor, except when we have a sitter feed the baby and therefore Pele is in her crate, so not on duty to clean up during mealtimes. (Truthfully, baby seems to enjoy feeding Pele, this morning we fed Pele two pieces of shredded wheat with a lot of shrieking and laughing. Also this morning, we decided that we don't wave at people, we only wave at dogs.) So what do you do if you don't have a hyper-active hunting dog to clean up under your high chair? Our hostess solved this problem with an electric sweeper that is stored smartly in the kitchen, I believe it is Shark brand. She said it is great, you plug it into the wall every now and then but that it held the charge for a while.

We also exchanged tips on stain removal from baby clothes- she was using Resolve Spray n' Wash and was very happy with it, so now that it what we are using. She doesn't recommend Oxy, she said that when it got on her hands while using it, it caused small blisters. Ouch! No thank you! We also exchanged food for baby ideas- we recruited them to our cult of chevre and we now enthusiastically serve baby many things she does- graham crackers are a great snack, the secret of putting heavy cream in the milk if baby isn't putting on weight, the list is quite long!
My greatest contribution may have been the horsey game we play- which I learned from my Dad. Bouncing on your knee with baby facing you, you say:

'This is the way the lady rides, tippity top, tippity top, tippity, tippity, tippity top'
(during the 'tippity top,' you move your knee up and down gently)
'This is the way the gentleman rides, gallop gallop, gallop gallop, gallop gallop, gallop gallop'
(during the 'gallop' you move your knee up and down more vigorously)
'This is the way the farmer rides, 'jiggity jog, jiggity jog, jiggity, jiggity, jiggity jog!'
(during the jiggity jog, you move your knee from side to side, supporting the baby well, but the idea is that it is sloppy and fun)

After I'd shown this to Jennifer's little girl, she smiled and said, 'again!' about five times!

While visiting, we went to a farm that had pumpkins, a petting zoo, hay rides and a corn maze. It was my first time in a corn maze, for all of us actually, and it might be our last. I don't think we understand the lure of the corn maze and truthfully, it stressed us out a little. The petting zoo and organic market of pumpkins was more our speed! Jennifer's little girl selected pumpkins of various sizes to represent her family, including the grandparents that were on their way to visit.

Something else Marianne had that we were intrigued by were retract a gates- they were made of a plastic cloth like material that retracted on one side of the doorway and could be drawn out to create a barrier. These were an attractive baby proofing option. We already have all the baby gates we plan to, but I was certainly attracted to these gates.

Jennifer had us over for dinner one night, which was delicious, her husband is an excellent, excellent cook. There were gorgeous gold and burgundy heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, pasta with sausage, which the little girl was in charge of adding Parmesan to- she sat on my lap and spooned it on carefully. Jennifer's little girl was not in a high chair anymore, but she had sweetly gotten it out of storage so we could use it. Coincidentally, we have the same high chair, a Graco wooden high chair with a removable and washable seat pad. Honestly, our high chair is sooooo nasty, it has so much food stuck to it. Jennifer's high chair was so nice and clean, it was hardly recognizable to us... I was also envious of Marianne's high chair, she has the Peg Perego Tata Mia high chair and it is great. The multiple trays that can come off and be rinsed are a better size than our Graco tray, and the seat being plastic can be wiped clean. When I got home I seriously considered buying one. I really like what I read in one of my baby books about high chairs, it was so honest, it said to just come to terms with the fact that your high chair will probably have to be cleaned in the shower. I will say that although we are still using our Graco wooden chair, I have become more enthusiastic about cleaning it- Jennifer's clean version reminded me that I can aspire to a cleaner high chair! And I'll consider the switch to Tata Mia in the future... That one is also cool because it's on wheels, wheeeeeeeeee!

Now Marianne had moved into her house just recently, and as I mentioned before, she's very stylish (as is Jennifer). They have casual chic down to a science. It is so easy and cool, they have perfect denim that they pair with their Louboutins, (they even know where to send their Louboutins to have rubber half soles applied that are also red), they wear slouchy jersey tops with just the right amount of jewelry. Anyhow, they are sooooooo cute. Here's what I found hilarious- Marianne was very distraught that I was visiting when she hadn't had a chance to do anything to her house yet (paint, remodel, etc). To which I said, 'Marianne, I'm embarrassed to be in your house without a pedicure!' It's so funny to me how we put so much pressure on ourselves and wanting to be well put together for our friends, and meanwhile, they aren't noticing what we're stressing out about because they are thinking of things they'd rather were more perfect for you. It's probably a great sign of friendship.

By the time it was time to leave, I wanted to move in with both of them! It's so nice to get such an insight into how people you admire run their homes. I've made many adjustments since visiting them and feel more in control of my home! Think about that the next time you're visiting a friend and wonder how they might do something differently than you do! (And enjoy the wonderful treats they are serving you!)

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