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Our hope is that this gives you all a chance to see what we're up to these days.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Newsletter

Happy Holidays Everyone….
We hope this newsletter finds you safe and well and wonderfully blessed this holiday season. This has been an eventful year for our family, filled with changes and adventures. We’re writing this with a cup of hot cocoa in Cat’s hands, tea in Jeremiah’s and thinking how the kids are growing and changing before our eyes. Little man is helping Papa put laundry away tonight while sister does her homework. Where did our babies go?! Wow, how fast things change. Speaking of change…
This has been a year of change for Jeremiah. After starting the application process to go back to graduate school – he was starting to apply for PhDs at universities across the nation and abroad – he accepted a surprise offer for a second Masters degree (go figure) with the Public Policy program at Oregon State University. He decided to make a leap of faith out of research science and into science communication and science policy, leveraging his eighteen years of research science experience to help interpret science for legislators, policy-makers and the public at large. He’s not sure where this new path will lead but he’s quite excited about it and confident the path will be revealed to him in due time. At the moment, he’s working on renewable energy policy, public attitudes, and potential impacts on natural resources. He also teaches research methods undergraduate classes, drawing on his statistical background and love of numbers and order. Despite the busy school schedule, he still reserves plentiful time with his family, playing with kiddos, making meals together with his beloved bride, and enjoying the fall harvest and bounty the Pacific Northwest offers.
Finn is enjoying her first grade year at Muddy Creek Charter School. She finished kindergarten at Jefferson Elementary last year and, much to her initial chagrin, transferred to Muddy Creek this fall. Her initial hesitancy in attending a new school soon gave way to excitement and she now fully embraces her new surroundings. She’s doing very well and this school really fits who she is…our nature-loving, artsy girl…as the school emphasizes the sciences and arts. She’s also kept up with her regular horse riding and learned to ride a two wheel bike this summer, enjoying family bike rides to/from her school bus stop a few miles away. Her reading is coming along nicely, too – we can no longer spell things out in front of her we don’t want her to know. You can follow along on her classroom blog at http://missmelissaclassblog.wordpress.com/.
Little man (Jeremiah August) started preschool this fall at Good Samaritan School, two mornings a week for a few hours. We weren’t sure how well he’d like it but we wanted to give him the same experience we gave Finn. He has done really well, made many new friends, and is enjoying learning and having something all his own. It has been such an amazing experience watching him learn and grow into the person he is. We call him William Wallace (the main character portrayed in the movie Braveheart) because he loves his sword and helmet and goes nowhere without them…including his first day of preschool. He walked in with his helmet on, his sword at his side, climbed on the play horse, pointed his sword to the sky and roared. And that’s how he introduced himself to his class. Priceless. Papa was fortunate enough to catch a picture, which he posted on our family blog (http://osbornegowey.blogspot.com/).
Cat’s year has been filled with new beginnings as well. With Finn in school all day now and Little Jeremiah at preschool two mornings a week, she has – for the first time in six years – eight hours a week to herself…woohoo! Still at home with our kiddos, her business has really taken off this past year. She wrote a large domestic violence prevention grant for her tribe, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and found out this spring it was awarded. With this grant she’ll be working part time as the program director from home here in Oregon …thanks to the technological wonders of the internet. The grant will provide advocates, funding for long term needs, and a program office with a 24 hotline. Besides this, she’s still working as a part time grant writer for the tribe and teaching online women’s studies courses for Oregon State University.
After school got out last June we took the kids and spent much of the summer traveling around Oregon camped out in our tent trailer, at one point camping 27 nights in one month! We spent a few weeks on the beach, a few weeks in the Cascades, and some time in the coast range mountains. We built sand castles on the beach, took a trip out to sea, went spelunking in lava tubes in the Cascades, swimming in high country lakes, fishing in small mountain creeks and spent many evenings playing cards and hanging out around a campfire. Our family has had an amazing year, indeed. God has truly blessed us! And we wish the same blessings on you and your families this coming year and beyond.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 School Pictures

Finn Harmon Awaluk

Jeremiah August Bluejacket Akaagak
 School pics are so much fun. Thinking about the outfits they want to wear, doing their hair and getting it messed up playing around before the pics, trying to get a natural smile, the whole shebang. Fun. The kids just grow up so (too?) quick. And we love our time with them.

On a side note, we've been particularly pleased with the photography outfit that takes pictures for Muddy Creek Charter School, Thistle Down Photography. They do a stellar job getting the children situated, pick natural backdrops, are local (mid-Willamette Valley), and very reasonably priced.

Another side note, if you want to follow along with pics from Finn's classroom, her teacher, Melissa Champney, keeps a blog. Enjoy! http://missmelissaclassblog.wordpress.com/

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A window into the mind of a six year old

Things Finn likes (signified by checks and circles)...

Wanna know what a six-year old girl likes? What sorta of things resonate with her? What styles speak to her? Give her a magazine, a pen and a little quiet time. And wonders will emerge.

Mum did just this thing a few days ago when a horse and tack magazine showed up in the mail. Finn sat in her bed, reading light on, for HOURS, marking up (circling, checking, drawing on) all kinds of things she likes.

What a fantastic glimpse into the brain of a child!

Dress? Check. Blouse and skirt? Check, check. Cowgirl boots, hat and sunglasses? Check, check aaaand check...

Monday, October 29, 2012

The crinkle in the sheets

LJ at my office earlier in the day.
Have you ever heard your child's bed crinkle when tucking them in? I'm not talking about the sound of the wet-protection cover. Or books on the bed. Or fresh lined dried sheets. I'm talking about a real, authentic snap and crackle.

I just heard it.

And it truly startled me. Not because it was a foreign sound. No. Not at all. In fact, it is quite a familiar sound. Rather, it was shocking because the sound was so out of context. Much like seeing someone you vaguely know but only ever in a certain situation. Then you see them outside of that context and they look very familiar but you're not sure quite why. And then it hits you. That sort of startling.

So I investigated. Upon investigating found - tucked between his sheets, between his blankets, under his pillow, tucked beside his bed and the wall, tucked in nearly every nook and cranny of his bed - Fall leaf after Fall leaf. Everywhere. 

And suddenly, like a bolt, I remembered how earlier in the day he'd come running up to me and told me how excited he was to find Fall leaves everywhere while on a morning walk with mummy. He'd said to me, with such a proud look in his eyes, that he'd collected them and I had remembered wondering at that moment what he did with them, but hadn't asked. 

Holding this handfull of Fall leaves I'd gathered from his bed, I turned around to look at him and the biggest, beaming, "I'm so proud of myself" and "I told you I found the leaves" smile bathed his entire face. It was truly remarkable to behold. Rather than chide him for having leaves in his bed - as my first inclination was to do - I just gathered him up in my arms, hugged him tight, and told him how truly proud of him I am. (I'm choking back the tears right now just remembering it as I type this). He is truly a remarkable person.

Some fall leaves from little Jeremiah's bed.

LJ and his cousin David!

Coloring on the tables during a man date for lunch at Block 15.
Ready to tackle a day at school!

The fellas.

Proud of his cubby and lunch box.

Eatin' oxalis (clover) atop Mary's Peak.

Cousin Emma, Mummy, and little man!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Emotions, feelings and the written word

I am both awed by her, and moved with emotion. It melted my heart.

Finn made this note for me yesterday in the car as they dropped me off for work. It says, in her own hand and understanding of the English language, "It is not the same without you." I was near tears. It's also the longest sentence she's yet written by herself, by a mile. And she pounded it out in a matter of a minute or so.

Awed, inspired, and moved all at the same time.

I love being a parent to my children.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The warrior in pre-school

Jeremiah's first day visiting his new classroom. He wore his armor and brought his sword, charging yelling into the school. Then promptly took off his armor, grabbed the toy cell phones, climbed on the horse, and says nothing to anyone. As we were leaving, he put back on his armor and mounted his steed. That's my boy. First day shyness will be gone in no time, is my guess...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Catching the Sunlight

This morning as the sun breaks over the top of Marys Peak, bathing the forest floor of Marys Peak Campground, I point out to my daughter how beautiful it is. She, working on an art project at the picnic table, looks around thoughtfully for a few quiet moments, then closes hers eyes, turns toward the sun peeking through the tree tops, lets it wash over her face and says - somewhat introspectively and with her eyes still closed - "Papa, I'm catching some of the sunlight." Incredible. She, and life, is truly incredible.

Finn resting on my arm as we drive forest roads.
Finn working on her art table at one of our camping spots.
Finn in the evening light atop Marys Peak.
Sunset through the wires (Bald Hill).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Finn's dental appointment

We had Finn's first dental appointment this morning and she was an absolute champ. She hadn't been seen since she was a few months old and was anticipating the return...with just a hint of trepidation. We had explained pretty much everything they'd do in her mouth during her appointment and she requested bringing her favorite stuffed animal (of the week). We obliged and she was happy as a clam. As expected, she talked the ear off the dental hygienist, who was wonderful with Finn. Her teeth looked great, aside from a small cavity between her two back teeth. Guess we need to be more diligent on flossing EVERY night. After the appointment, while still sitting in the chair, Finn says "I think I want to be a dentist when I grow up" and "Can't we stay here a little bit longer?" Such a cutie.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Camping - the three amigos

Setting sun over our camp - site A19, Moonshine Park.

I tend to get some quiet time now and again. Or, at least, time away from the family and to myself (I often fill it with things, though). But Cat rarely gets some of her own time...and has been needing it. Time to spend without the chaotic distractions that are a part of normal daily life in Western cultures. So, after looking at our mad-crazy summer calendards, we planned it.

I decided to take the kiddos on a 2-day, 1-night camping trip figuring that'd give her a couple of days of much-needed respite. We headed over to one of our favorite local, coast range spots, Lincoln County's Moonshine Park. When it's hot in the valley, it's always 10-15 degrees cooler there along the Siletz River. And with plenty of beaches and river to play on and swim in, paved trails to hike and ride bikes and scooters and miles of prime summer steelhead fishing, what more could we ask for?!

So off we headed, with just a tent, blankets, some food, and lots of outdoor toys. We fished, panned for gold, swam in the river, built forts in the woods, hunted for mushrooms, rode our bikes and scooters, read books, cut firewood, sat around the glowing campfire, and watched the stars.
Papa, the water strider jumped out!

Nothin' yet, Papa...

Happily passed out on the way home.

And we just drank each other in until, at days end, the kiddos passed out happily in the car on our way back to mummy.

I so love my children. And my wonderful friend, spouse, and partner. And perhaps the best part - we came back to a rejuvenated mums!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


So little man gets sent to his room today for a timeout. And, as most kids are prone to do, he likes to push the barriers. For LJ (little Jeremiah) when he's sent to his room, this usually means coming out into the hallway as far as he can with his toes still hanging just over the edge of his doorway - which in and of itself is pretty funny (and cunning).

But today, he tried a whole new tactic.

Today, after depositing himself into his room, loudly and with much protest, he became silent for a few minutes. And for you non-parents out there, when your normally noisy child is quiet, it's a pretty safe bet that something is up and you should check on them. Granted, some of the time he's just busying himself with creativity, but most of the time - yes, most of the time - he's up to no good. And today was no different.

So I hear sister, sitting in the living room, whispering very quietly something about "you're supposed to be in your room, little man!" which is followed by the pitter-patter of little footsteps - running on his tiptoes, which sounds distinctly different - through the living room, down the hallway, skidding around the corner, and back into his room...followed by silence.

At this point, Cat and I exchange smiles and a knowing glance and I use a loud commanding voice and say, "Jeremiah, you are supposed to be in your room!" To which he pauses - you can almost hear his mental wheels grinding away - and says..."But you didn't SEE me, Papa!" Oh. My. Goodness. It has begun! A game of wits. Truly he has a dizzying intellect! I love it!

As Cat says, that child is going to give us a run for our money!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Little affirmations

I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it many times more. It's the little things that seem to have the biggest impacts. This afternoon at lunch, Cat and I were talking about a news article we'd each read in the newspaper (a social commentary from columnist John Rosemond about the importance of fathers and parenting) when my daughter says to us...

Finn: You know what guys? I just love hearing you have conversations.
Me (with a big smile): Why's that, Finn? 
Finn: Because you both just talk back and forth and it's cool. 

Cat and I exchange an emotional glance that says so much in a fraction of a second, things like "gosh we love that kid" and "guess we're doing something right."  For Cat and I, and I imagine many other parents, we often wonder if we're parenting correctly or if the lessons we're trying to teach our children really do sink in. Love those little affirmations that our parenting is having a positive impact on our kids.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A little afternoon canoeing fun

With all the recent rains here in the Willamette Valley, the rivers have really come up, flooding many low-lying areas. And then the rains stopped and the sun came out today! And according to the weather forcast, it's the last sun we'll probably see for the next several days. So we decided to take out canoe out for it's first voyage of 2012 - a little paddle in flooded Willamette Park. We all felt a little shaky at first, dusting off our canoeing smarts, but had a blast. It was so warm Finn wanted to just relax in her seat and take a nap, mums just soaked it all in, and little man was a worry wort the whole time. "I no like it. It's sinking!" he says. "Want to go home. No more boat. Want my boatiak" (that's what he calls our extra stable Zodiac). After the paddle and everything was packed up, he says "Tanks for da ride, Papa. Want to go back out der on da canoe again!" Silly, fickle boy.
Getting ready to offload the canoe at Willamette Park.
Getting ready to launch
On the flooded foot path, near the parking lot bike racks
Me and my girl, post-paddle

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Family menu planning

Every weekend, we sit down as a family and plan the meals for the week. It's a good excuse for us to spend some more quality family time together. Not only is it fun finding delicious recipes to create together throughout the week, but we've found it helps our family budget as we only do one grocery shopping for the week instead of a few times throughout the week (where we find ourselves buying more than we planned on). This week's dinner menu, some recipes of which come from The Joy of Cooking (I have the 1997 version but you can find it on Google Books), include:

M - grilled, spiced pork chops, steamed brown rice, lemon-juice/pepper/olive oil braised brussel sprouts
Tu - Angel hair pesto pasta and broiled broccoli/cauliflower
W - Chili-crusted flank steaks on mango salsa bed, mango/avocado salad (pp. 659, 63, 218)
Th - Leftovers
F - Braised pork roast w/ sauerkraut and salad greens (p. 701)
Sat - Spicy maple roasted chicken and rice pilaf (p. 628)
Sun (potluck w/ family) - brioche/kouglof (p. 760, 764)

I'm especially looking forward to the spicy maple-glazed chicken. Yum!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mother Nature and Mother Goose

This evening while out at our friend's Funny Farm doing weekly chores we noticed the floodwaters rising with the downpour. To help the local, seasonally resident geese avoid nest predation, our friend Roger built a small dirt berm in the middle of an area where there's typically low-lying flood waters in the winter.  A week or so ago, Roger noticed a goose hanging around the berm. He put on a pair of waders and walked out to see if she might be nesting. Sure enough, she was sitting on several eggs.

Last week we had several inches of snow fall (and stick) on the valley floor and in the last few days, we've had a lot of rain and the floowaters have been rising. Tonight, we sensed concern in Roger's voice about the rising waters and the safety of the nest. While in the barn mucking stalls, I spied him several times looking toward the goose, her nest and the rising waters. I wondered aloud to him if he had an incubator in case he had to rescue the eggs from the waters. He said his daughter did but he thought if the waters kept rising, they'd claim them sometime later this night. Given the waters were already chest deep and we were in the darkness of night, he said, with what seemed like a sense of resignation and a heavy heart, he thought he'd let Mother Nature do her thing and hope for the best. While talking about it on our drive home, we had some interesting conversations about the circle of life and some of the harsh realities and beautiful surprises it holds. What follows is a snippet of that...

Papa: Sort of sad about those goose's eggs.
Mummy: Yeah, I wish there was something we could do.
Papa: I know. Me too.
Finn: I know what we could do. We could get a box, put a light on it to keep 'em warm, and hatch 'em out.
Papa: That's a good idea but I think Roger's right in letting Mother Nature play out, hard as that may be.
Finn: (quiet)
Jeremiah: Hey Mummy! I have goodadeeyuh. I geddem. Puh-dem in da box...and shake 'um!
Mummy: I like your idea, Jeremiah, but you'll hurt them if you shake them. They might die. You can't shake baby thing up. It hurts them.
Jeremiah: (quiet)
Finn: Hey, I have a good idea! We can put them in a box in our bathtub!
Papa: Another good idea but baby geese follow their mummy for months and we don't think like a goose. How would we teach them what they need to know to survive?
Finn: We could take them back out there and their mummy could do that.
Mummy: (shoots Papa a quick look like "could that work?!")
Papa: I wish it was that easy but unfortunately, if we take the eggs from their mummy, she won't recognize them when they come back and will probably shun them. Might even hurt them.
Finn: (quiet)
Jeremiah: Hey Papa! I have gooadeeyuh! I geddum. Puh-dem in da box, puh-dem in da tub, and NOT shake dem!
Papa: Another good idea but we really should probably let them be with their mummy. After all, what if the rains stop and the flood waters stop rising. Maybe they'll be OK.
Finn and Jeremiah: (quiet from the back seat for a moment)
Finn: I have another good idea! I just prayed to Jesus for them that it would stop raining and the water wouldn't come up any more.
Mummy and Papa: (together after a glance and smile at each other): That's a great idea, Finn.
Papa: Just know, Finn - and I only say this so you don't get angry or upset if your prayer isn't answered tonight - that maybe someone else around here is praying for more rain to water their crops with. Jesus, God, they have to find a way to balance those requests. That's hard work.
Mummy: But I'm so glad that you though of praying for them, Finn. You have such a big heart. (to which Finn smiles that wonderful missing top, front tooth smile of hers) 

It's still raining pretty hard so we don't hold out too much hope. But we'll call Roger in the morning to find out how Mother Goose is doing...

3/31 UPDATE: The rains have stopped and the flood waters have slowed. According to Roger, mother goose is still on the nest and above water. And as little Jeremiah said this morning when looking out the window, "Da sunz comin' out! Woohoo!"

4/4 UPDATE: The waters have begun receding and mamma goose is still sitting on her eggs. She's left for a few minutes here and there, presumably for food, but other than that, she appears content with her brood. It'll be interesting to see how many of her seven eggs hatch!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The deer dilemma

Awoke this morning to Finn saying there was a deer caught in the fence. I freed the deer but her hip was displaced and her tendon cut. Tribal Police came and put her down. She'll likely feed some elders, here. Or be used in a ceremony. Still, Finn had a hard time with it, initially, but processed through it and came to a reluctant acceptance of the situation.