Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Portland Trip: Yurting on the Oregon Coast

It is never hard to pick out our Oregon Coast pictures.....even without Haystack Rock in the background. The boys are always wearing several layers and they never venture too far into the freezing water.

We did manage to hit a couple of decent weather days at the coast and had a wonderful time enjoying the beautiful scenery and fresh ocean air. Among our stops: Tillamook Cheese Factory, where Asher pledged to become a cheesemaker and Ed pledged to frequent their ice cream shop, Rockaway Beach and Cannon Beach, and famous Mo's for clam chowder and seafood.

We also stayed overnight in a yurt at Ft. Stevens. We loved the experience....like camping....but you don't have to haul so much crap with you. Plus, you get to sleep in a bed. It is definitely perfect for the lazy outdoor enthusiast (moi)!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Portland Trip: OMSI

We spent a day at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and had such a blast! This is not the OMSI from MY childhood. I figured that out quickly when we forked over a small fortune to get in. But it is a truly excellent museum and worthy of the price tag. The only science-themed museum that might do it better is the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh....another favorite of ours. I loved the views of the river and the bridges from the windows (see photo above). I could have looked out the windows all day.

Even Noe liked it!

The aeronautics and water rooms were the best! Getting an annual OMSI pass will be one of the first things we do when we move back.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Portland Trip: Cousin Time

It is hard for the cousins to be apart at Grandma's house.

Don't they look like brothers? Well, at least they both have Rasmussen eyes!

Wedding pictures......little did we know they were heading for the mud!

The boys have five cousins, four all within just a couple of years of each other in age.....plus Baby E who just turned 1. They are a tight knit bunch when they are together, despite living in four separate states (Oregon, Utah, Texas and Virginia).

There were a lot of infamous cousin stories to come out of this trip, including the night we now refer to as "The Frat Party" when we left the whole gang with babysitters to attend my sister's pre-wedding celebration. Apparently, the cousins got naked and wild. Also high on the list was the pizza parlor brawl. One of the cousins was getting picked on by another child in the play area when the rest of the cousins came to his rescue with a head butt and knock down, and then pig pile.

Nothing says "we love you, cousin!" like making your tormentor eat playground turf!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stop the Presses!

As a proud journalism geek, I have read Ben Bradlee's autobiography roughly 80,000 times, give or take a few dozen skimmings. It's probably to the point now where I can recite the chapter about the Watergate scandal by heart. The one part that gets me every time is his description of his reaction to the moment President Richard Nixon announced his resignation:

"When it finally happened, when the president said, 'Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow,' I remember folding my hands together between my knees and laying my forehead down on my desk for a very private 'Holy Moly.'"

It's the kind of moment in history that you hope you get to experience once in real time as a journalist, even peripherally.

May 1 was one such moment for me. And a week later, I'm still processing the emotions that went with it.

It was of course, the night the killing of Osama bin Laden was announced by President Barack Obama.

As most of you know, I work in the sports department at The Washington Post, and that night we were supposed to be the center of attention in the newsroom. The Capitals hockey team had a must-win playoff game down the street at Verizon Center against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Little did we know that a few hours later, we would be focused on another certain building down the street from us, the White House.

The game was close, and dramatic. The Capitals forced overtime with a last-minute goal and since I was the Night Sports Editor in charge, I started running through contingency plans with my editors should the game drag out, as playoff hockey games tend to do when they go overtime. As focused as we are now on our Web site and digital journalism, we still had a newspaper to put out and firm deadlines to meet.

Fortunately, the game was settled fairly quickly in the first overtime period (first to score wins) and it was over a little before 10 p.m.

That was when we first started hearing the rumors.

As if there was any doubt that we are in a social media age, I first read about bin Laden's possible death on Twitter. Someone had retweeted Keith Urbahn's tweet about it and the news was spreading quickly. I put all our TVs in the sports department on news channels instead of ESPN and you could see the rest of the newsroom mobilize into action.

Suddenly, that dramatic overtime hockey playoff game looked incredibly insignificant.

Because we deal with live games that are mostly played at night, the sports department editors and reporters I work with are great with deadlines. And this night was no different. We knew we had to be done quickly in order to let the rest of the paper deal with this incredible breaking news.

And then at 11:35 p.m. Eastern Time, President Obama uttered the words, "I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children."

I stood in front of a large TV near my desk, arms folded, trying very hard to remain stoic but failing miserably.

The emotions that ran through my mind in those few seconds were plentiful. I thought about my immediate family, of a wife I married 11 days before 9/11. Of two sons born in New York City less than four miles from Ground Zero. Of friends who served in Iraq and Afghanistan (all alive, thankfully). Of former New York Times colleagues who were far more deeply impacted by those awful events nearly 10 years ago and who maintained a brave face for friends and family through unspeakable tragedy.

Impromptu celebrations broke out at Ground Zero and in front of the White House that night. Being walking distance from the White House, I did eventually make my way out there with a couple co-workers to check it out, snapping a couple pictures with my cellphone. Even without those pictures, it would have been a surreal sight I would not have forgotten.

There was plenty of talk about how kosher it was to celebrate in the wake of a death, even if it was a terrorist who helped cause so much pain and destruction. At least for me, the joy/relief I felt that night came from the fact that I had long given up hope the U.S. would track down bin Laden. It seemed he was either dead of natural causes or he was just going to continue to elude the U.S. and its allies.

Also, having lived in New York and the D.C. area over the last nine years, it's hard not to notice how much those events had become part of our lives, even as just a reference point. Bin Laden's death was bound to have a larger emotional impact in this part of the country.

But in a strictly professional sense, it was exciting to be working at The Post that night, and I'm incredibly proud of my colleagues who were more directly involved. Journalism is always the first draft of history, and to process such a "Holy Moly" moment in such a short time was nothing short of amazing.

And perhaps for the first time in my career, I comprehended what Ben Bradlee was talking about in his memoir.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10 Things

I've developed a case of post-vacation ADHD (more on our AWESOME Portland trip later), so here are 10 Things to share:

1. A neighbor invited us to join her and her son for an ice cream treat last night. It was a beautiful spring evening and (unfortunately/fortunately - depends on the day) there is a DQ across the street from us. Asher told me he didn't want me to go because he wanted to have fun. I usually can laugh off things he says, but that one stung a bit. Fortunately, he still wanted Noe to come along. Note to self: Work to regain title of "Fun Mom."

2. Noe is working on printing his name at school. Just like hearing him say his first few words, watching him practice writing is so exhilarating. I also consider it inspired that we chose a name for him that only contains three letters.

3. I have been getting up to run with a neighbor friend at 6AM. It is such a peaceful and beautiful time of day! I love it! I freely admit that I would never be able to get up that early to run on my own. Only knowing someone is waiting on me will kick me out of bed. And I may or may not have gone back to bed after our run this morning.

4. Just as I suspected, we have not missed our cable television. Ok, maybe I should rephrase that....I have not missed the cable. Ed seems to be dealing, though. Having cable tv piped through the sports newsroom certainly helps.

5. Now that we are working hard towards a West Coast move, really good things are happening for me here. Things that are making me want to stay out East a bit longer. It is sort-of like when Ed and I got engaged and all of a sudden I was getting hit on by guys right and left. Um....where were you all when I was without a date for months at a time?

6. For a kid who blows away his teachers with his academics, Asher sure isn't very bright.
This conversation has happened more than once at our house. (At some point in the afternoon.....)
Asher: (looking guilty) Did Mrs. W email you?
Me: Yes, she did (no, she had not) Why did you do that, Asher? (no clue what he did)
Asher: I'm so sorry. I should have listened better....(leading to a full confession of his school-related sin). They have all been pretty minor infractions that he certainly would have gotten away with had he kept his mouth shut.

7. When Ed asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I told him the only thing I wanted for Mother's Day was to not have to figure out a gift for HIS mother. And I was serious. And then I started to think about all of the work involved with Mother's Day and how it mostly falls onto moms.....gifts from kids made at school and church, luncheons, teas, etc. What a BS holiday!

8. I was more than slightly jealous when Easy Ed walked over to the White House after work to see the celebration taking place after President Obama announced binLaden's death on national television. I hope he blogs about the experience. Count me as one of those people who took great pleasure in knowing he suffered. I was surprised by my reaction, but cannot deny how I felt.

9. Speaking of confessions, I am officially a caffeine addict. I am so disappointed in myself, because I managed to go many years without developing a dependency, but now I can't focus on work in the mornings until I have knocked down a diet coke or diet dr. pepper.

10. How many more weeks until the pollen is gone? Asher and I have it bad. Asher is now the proud owner of an asthma inhaler. I am wondering if the pharmacy put the right stuff into it, however, because he laughs hysterically after he uses it.