The Graduate…

In the United States, fifth grade officially marks the end of elementary school or primary school, as we would know it in New Zealand. If we had been staying in Portland, Olive would have moved onto Middle School after the summer break. Middle schools are a bit like New Zealand intermediate schools although students attend them for three years as opposed to two.

Reaching the end of fifth grade brought with it a flurry of activities, trips and special studies for Olive. First up was marching with the Bridlemile band in the Junior Rose Parade. You might remember from my last post that one of Portland’s nicknames is the City of Roses and every year the city hosts a festival of roses, with parades, dragon boats, floral displays and the crowning of the rose queen.  The junior rose parade is the country’s oldest and largest children’s parade, and marching bands from various local schools are the major attraction.

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My Dad is a very talented trumpet player. He used to play in the dance halls in his native Edinburgh and when he had a young family, he’d do a full days work then head out at night to play in Wellington clubs like the Majestic Cabaret, to bring in extra money. Jonny Gilbertson even appears in the liner notes of an early recording by none other than Kiwi opera legend Kiri Te Kanawa. Whilst his children have dabbled with various musical instruments over the years, none picked up the trumpet, and none of his grandchildren have either…until now…

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We suspect that Olive’s decision to ditch orchestra and join band was the lure of marching in the parade but she surprised us by not only choosing the trumpet for her instrument but also, by actually being quite good at it!

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I have to admit to feeling very emotional as we watched her marching through the streets of the Hollywood district and did wish my Dad could have been there. We don’t have the school marching band tradition in New Zealand but Olive has assured us she wants to keep up playing the horn.

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Since then there has been a jet boat trip on the Willamette, a pool party, a quick Shakespeare study – Olive was chosen to read Juliet’s part…swoon – and a little bit of FLASH education. Despite the interesting acronym, flash is nothing to do with men in long raincoats – it’s the good old puberty education unit and Olive told me exactly nothing about it! “So what did you talk about?” “Mum! Nothing! I’m not telling you!” “Anything you want to ask me or share?” “I’ve already told you Mum…nothing!” “Who’s giggling and being inappropriate? Tell me about the questions from the anonymous box!” “For God’s sake Mum!!”  She didn’t actually say that last bit but I suspect she really wanted to!

Today was the last day of school and it began with the Fifth Grade promotion ceremony. Each fifth grade teacher made a little speech about their class and then each child marched across the stage to receive a certificate.

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It’s super hard to get Olive to dress up for anything…she could do with some tips from one of her classmates…bow tie!

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The day ends with the fifth grade clap out. As the bell rings, the graduating class emerge from a certain door and walk along a path lined with parents clapping and high five-ing…

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You try wielding a big camera and high five-ing at the same time!
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Yes that is my outstretched hand being ignored…I suspect the FLASH anecdote has something to do with it…

It’s been a hugely emotional week…lots of grieving for what we are leaving behind…but also excitement at what lies ahead. For now I just want to thank the wonderful Bridlemile Elementary community. Our girls have been so happy here and whilst they are both very sad to leave, their tears just reinforce what a great place it is…

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What’s not to love about a school that has karaoke on the last day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On starting up the blog again, moving to the east side and eating donuts…

We sold our house in three days. To say I was in a tiny bit of shock is something of an understatement. We knew that the market in Portland was “hot” but after our experience selling our house in Virginia – over two years and counting! – I was very much sitting in the pessimistic camp. A quick and painless sale necessitated the finding of a temporary home. We’d made the commitment to the girls that they could finish out the school year before we hit the cRoad for our last big travel adventure. Thanks to Craig’s List we found a renovated apartment in a gracious old home in the Richmond neighborhood on the east side of Portland.

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At home amongst the trees and flowers on the east side…

We Westies were not unfamiliar with life across the river. There’s much to love about crossing one of the twelve bridges that span the Willamette, and give Portland one of its nicknames – Bridgetown. More often than not, our bridge crossings were motivated by food. There is no denying that Portland is a food lover’s paradise and the east side is where it’s all happening. We follow a Portland eating guide which routinely publishes a list of what they deem “essential” Portland restaurants. A quick glance at the April list highlights eight restaurants in the west and thirty on the east side. So a move to the east has put us right in the center of foodie heaven.

One of the foodie trends that Portland is known for is donuts. There are many places to find donuts in Portland – even vegan ones. Probably the two key players in the donut game here are Voodoo and Blue Star. Voodoo donuts are quirky, fun and even a little risqué – fancy a cock-n-balls donut? They are a big hit with tourists and you’ll often see people in line at the airport clutching the distinctive pink and black Voodoo box. Gourmet is the word most often used to describe Blue Star donuts and they are the donut of choice for the Croads.  Fortuitously, our move has put us within walking distance of our doughnut fix.

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Olive is particularly happy about this turn of events…

Last Friday was national donut day – yes, that is a thing – so what could we do but wander down the road and honor the Salvation Army “lassies” who served donuts to soldiers during World War One.

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Spot the attempt at stylish food photography…
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That’s a test tube of cointreau in the creme brulee donut on the right…
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Olive wishes every day was donut day…

And that is where I will leave it, for my first post in close to two years!! Nice to know I haven’t forgotten how this blogging business works…until next time…