Category Archives: pnw

Hanukkah and new traditions with new friends in new places

Last year I wrote an article for Inland 360 about Hanukkah and what my friend Rachel taught me. I’ve always been interested in Jewish traditions despite not being Jewish myself. Since moving to Portland, my interest is even more. I’ve made many friends who are Jewish and watching them as they celebrate the new year and Hanukkah makes me want to be a part of it. And no, I’m not converting. If I’m being honest, I’m in a bit of a religion break at the moment. Faith can be a tricky thing sometimes.

(I’ve been made fun of for this, and say what you want. I don’t mind.)

I’m so thankful for friends who invite us into their lives and don’t think we’re weird or strange for wanting to learn and take part.

I’m even more thankful for friends who do things like throw my kids a Hanukkah party . DUDE. Jenna is amazing. My kids absolutely adore her and Isaac is just as good. They put SO much time and effort into an incredible day and my kids had a blast.

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(there’s me and Jenna)

She made latkes and donuts.

We played dreidel and ate our weight in gelt.

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We made menorahs and learned a couple prayers.

It was the best time.

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Do you know what it feels like to start over? To move somewhere completely new and put yourself out there, hoping someone will accept you and your family with all your quirks and weirdness but all your love and authenticity too? I know a lot of people know exactly what it feels like but we are experiencing this really strange and scary feeling for the first time. In the last couple months there have been friendships that haven’t carried over from our valley life to our Portland life and while that might make me really sad, I’m able to look at our Portland life and see the amazing people we’ve met here. Jenna and Isaac, who are always happy to see us, hug our kids, and be there when things might be hectic or hard. Mitch and Molly and baby Max who are so kind and friendly and always make our days happier. Chad who is freaking hilarious and freaking fun and just a solid friend. So many more.

I remember thinking to myself before moving, “I’m just going to not make any friends because it never turns out the way I think it should and I end up being sad no matter how hard I try. Remedy: no friends.”

That didn’t happen, I made friends. Really great ones.

Being here reminds me that the world is really big, something that was easy to forget before. It reminds me that things work out even when people doubt you and your choices and that happiness is more than a paycheck and a big house. Our little neighborhood is full of different people of different colors and different faiths and different sizes of paychecks and no one cares one bit. To me, that’s important.

There’s that guy who walks his husky and hates our Italian Greyhound. I’m not sure he really likes us much.

But other than that, we feel connected to the people here. We feel the vibe and if that sounds weird to you, maybe you haven’t found yours yet.

 

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Settling in and some feelings.

We’ve been here a month (almost) and it feels like home. I knew it wouldn’t take long.

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Our house is tiny. I’m talking 1/2 the size of the one we had before, not exaggerating. 3 bedrooms and a big semi-finished basement. One tiny tv/family room. 2 bathrooms (there’s no such thing as a “master suite” in this house). Our house is perfect. Scratch that, if we had A/C it’d be perfect. We got rid of most of our things and it felt incredible. The kids have most of their books and their most favorite toys. We have bikes and outside toys. They share spaces and share things and sometimes it’s really loud. But mostly? Mostly we are content and we are so happy and we are together. And I joke a lot about being with my kids too much and yadda yadda but the truth is that I really love being with them and being awfully close to one another doesn’t bother me at all.

I don’t miss the LC Valley. Ouch, yeah? It’s true. I do miss my people there though. I miss Lala and Papa of course. I miss seeing Tara and Christian and the girls every day. I miss Hogan’s and the people there. I miss recording Lewis and Snark with Jackie and then our chats before and after (and our random get togethers at Reuben Cafe). I miss Inland 360 meetings and I miss Blues and Brews. We miss Dawn and all the Hansens horribly. I miss knowing that Whitney will get me in for a haircut or for any of my 6 monsters and then act like it’s no big deal (I know it is, you faker). I really miss prank calling Alicia at work and I miss so many people.

I have never experienced the cliquey drama, reminiscent of high school, like I have in my home town. Amongst adults. Adult women. Living there, I constantly felt misunderstood, judged, and a novelty; someone who is fun to have around when you need me but when I’m not providing you with exactly what you want, I’m out. There will be people who call bullshit on this, but it’s been my experience, something I’ve felt pretty strongly and that’s not something you can really call bullshit on; someone else’s feelings. While my anxiety definitely exacerbated the feelings, they were still there. It basically only happened with women my age, and it’s not like I have a list of people in mind and I’m checking their names off in my head —  I saw it happen to other people, too, in different groups, different circles, so I don’t think I’m that far off. I have lots of friends who are older than me, 10+ years who I felt so much more at peace around. And I do have a few really authentic, solid, wonderful friends my own age who not only understand (or try to understand) hard things I’m going through, but empathize with me and my family and offer continued support (and it’s reciprocated) regardless of whether or not I’m able to give them all my time, attention, or effort and for them I’m so forever grateful and I know we’ll be friends for a long, long time. SnapChat and Instagram are certainly good for that. Granted, I had lived my whole life (except for a short stint in Seattle for school) there, so I have little to compare it to other than experiences of people I know or have read who live somewhere else.

I feel like my kids are safer. There are more people who are willing to accept Luke for exactly who he is, not because they think they should because of who he is for fear of being labeled judgmental or those who just are judgmental and choose not to accept it at all, decline playdate invites, question parenting, question faith.

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There are places here that are just for him. Playdates and get togethers and an actual, physical space for people in the LGBTQ+ community to be because the support and resources are necessary. And more people here know and understand that. I think my other kids benefit from all this, too. We make a point of going out of our comfort zone to experience different things with different people and sometimes it’s really hard and it takes a lot of effort, but it’s worth it.

So that was going to be my transition into what I feel in Portland but it turned out to be longer and complainier (I made that word up) than I intended. While I’m sure there are cliques here (there are everywhere) and mom shaming and people I will never understand and who will never understand me, I can tell you with 100% truth that we’ve only been met here with kindness. Anyone can be nice. You can say you’re a nice person and that doesn’t mean much. Some of the worst people are nice at times. But being kind is different in my eyes. It means going out of your way to make other people feel happy and peaceful and at home. It means being generous any way that you can. It means introducing yourself with a smile and happy sentiments so new people feel like they already have friends in a giant, new city.

We love our change.

Also, I over analyze. Remember that. My brain needs to slow down. Chill out. Ruthie, you’re not a poet and you know it. Wait, did you read that? Maybe I am.

Where we live now, people do things, wear things, express themselves a certain way, etc., because they want to or they truly believe it. It doesn’t matter that what they’re saying or doing or wearing might be a-typical, out of the norm, not up to societal standards. It’s hard to live in a small community where this type of thing doesn’t happen. Where your home, yard, appearance seem to be a pretty big deal.

I don’t want to be a novelty. I don’t want Luke to be the token trans kid. I don’t want Jamie to grow up with few options. I don’t want Maria’s faith questioned because of her love for her family. Charlotte and Olive and Francesca have a chance to grow up and start school with kids from different backgrounds and cultures and languages. I don’t want Dan to work a job he’s not passionate about just for money.

We only get one shot at life and raising our kids, just one shot, and it took us too long to really believe that. The people I love know I love them and I know they love me. Those who are mean and rude and disrespectful for no reason just don’t hold space in our lives, and that’s new for us too. Life is hard, man. For everyone.

We have visited park after park, splashed in numerous splash pads, road tripped to the beach, hiked in the mountains, gone to the zoo (over and over again), played with new friends, visited with old ones, planted trees (someday we’ll be making so many fruit pies and having amazing olives and figs), eaten mochi, ridden our bikes, visited food carts, gone on walks…..

…it’s really great here. The kids love it. They’re content and happy. Of course, I’m playing up every aspect of our new community and how great it is, telling them about all the awesome stuff they’re going to get to do here so that might be helping. But I truly think they’ll be happier, more successful people because of our move. There’s the Q Center where we can walk to for resources and events for Luke. There are tons of activities here that Jamie will love and Maria can take drama classes, Charlotte and Ollie and France can play and play with the neighbor kids (although they’ll never replace B and Stella and Cleo, duh).

And Dan. Ah, Dan’s in his element. He’s close to great friends and doesn’t feel like he has to have a work personality and a free-time personality. He’s so much more himself and I’ve missed that. He’s more laid back here, he’s excited to explore and do more things. He can skate a different park or spot each week and he might even go snowboarding this weekend. Portland is good for Dan.

It’s good for us. We find ourselves looking at each other and saying, “Dude (yeah, we call each other dude) we actually live here. We’re actually doing what we’ve always wanted to do!” often and it feels really, really good.

And you guys back home, the ones I miss…you know who you are and I love you. I miss you and I was going to delete Snapchat in a very dramatic “someone was mean to me so now I’m gonna get rid of this” way and then remembered I’m an adult (only just a little too late because I’d already posted on IG about it. Even that was such a dramatic move. Ruthie, STOP! Dammit I hate it when that happens and I just write and post everything I’m feeling. No, just no.) and decided I can act like an adult. I’m not sure that being on Snapchat really means being an adult (ha…haha..hahahah) but I do love seeing snippets of my friends’ lives. And staying in touch and genuinely caring is an adult thing to do.

Oh and I really missed Chrissy Tiegen’s snaps. The girl can cook. And she’s freaking hilarious. And beautiful.

 

Know what else I’ve discovered? Having lots of Instagram accounts is really fun. And you can follow if you want, or not follow if you have no interest in them, I really don’t care at all. But here:

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@theiggynamedfrida — Oh, man, my Italian Greyhound, Frida Kahlo, is pretty badass.

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@hygge.in.pdx — lots of hashtags, so you might really be annoyed and hate it and that’s totally fine. But it shows our new adventures, places we visit, things we eat, etc.

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@dearlucian —- this is for Luke. I write him little notes about things happening in his life and later, I’ll put them in a little blurb book for him. This one is really personal, and is really just a place I can put my thoughts for him plus pictures together, but if you’re interested, you’re more than welcome.

@ruthiepizzle — just pizzle stuff. Lots of kids stuff, some selfies (is it really an IG account without some selfies?), some videos, just us.

 

All this? It’s because I really, really love to write and put pictures together with thoughts and not writing for Inland anymore has left a little hole in my creativity so I’m filling it with mindless Instagrams. Because I can. And Instagram is so much better than Facebook, so many fewer debates in comment threads and mean posts. Don’t you worry, I don’t think I’m doing the world a huge favor by adding more ridiculous IG accounts. If you know me, you’ll know what emoji I’d place here. But actually, world, a little more Frida and hygge never hurt anyone. So I guess you’re welcome. bahahhahaha.

 

**And can we remember that if you’re reading this and think I’m labeling everyone in the Valley except for my close friends as awful, stop. I’m not. I know there are SO MANY great, wonderful, generous, amazing people there. But sometimes a girl just has to complain and get shit off her chest, am I right?

 

 

Pumpkin Patch

Another October, another trip to the pumpkin patch. Thank GOD the kids get to go with their classes because taking six children to a muddy pumpkin patch and having to tell them a million times that one is too big or rotten isn’t fun. But being a chaperone with a teacher and her class is awesome.

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[I seem to have the ability to create bad weather for any event, so of course it was wet and muddy]

Charlotte is pleased as punch when any routine gets interrupted, so this was just a perfect day for her.

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One of the farmers, Joe, showed the kids around. And while Joe was very nice I think perhaps this should be his last time manning a group of 5 year olds around a site that has lots of hard rules to follow.

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It’s hard to listen when there are puddles to jump in and worms to wrangle.

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But finally the tours were over and it was pumpkin hunting time: the best time of all.

They tasted some farm-made cider, ate some apples and pears, and in 45 minutes the field trip was over. Perfect.

Before I left, I snuck into the store and got some apples and caramel – you can guess what I’m doing today.

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