Xmas 2017

What a year!

While the kids continue to grow, we’ve managed to squeeze in some excellent adventures this past year. Two highlights have been our trip to Germany in July. We spent 2 weeks with Hilary exploring Amsterdam, Cologne, Fussen (Bavaria), and Paris. It was a fantastic trip where we probably drove a little too much, but we ate a lot of pork and drank well, climbed to the top of Zugspitze, and saw the Eiffel Tower lit up with fireworks.

Freeds on the terrace

The other highlight was probably our camping trip to Central Oregon to see the total solar eclipse. We camped for several days at Tumalo State Park, played in the water, fished, ran the dogs, and celebrated Ella’s birthday. For the eclipse, we got up early and drove some backroads to get in to the path of totality. We found a nice spot up a dirt road and made breakfast while we waited for the eclipse with about 60 other people. The eclipse itself was fantastic. Waiting as it grew darker and cooler, listening to the birds get quiet, and then the minute of total eclipse was mesmerizing. Hard to fully explain, but well worth the trek.
Solar Eclipse Panorama

In other news, the girls have both transferred from Trillium back in to the public school system and I think everyone is happy for it. Both girls are adjusting, making new friends, and doing very well academically. At a recent parent-teacher conference, both of their teachers expressed what a joy it was to have such kind, helpful, and engaged kids in their respective classes. We’re proud.

Ella turned 11 on the day of the eclipse and also got a real cell phone. It’s a new world, but somehow it hasn’t ended yet. So we’re taking that as a positive sign. She had decided to give up soccer after spring season (to dad’s disappointment). However, when starting the new school, she reunited with several of her former teammates and they needed more people on their team. So we (dad here) got to play this fall. Ella did very well as a defender. She also continues to be more mature, thoughtful, and helpful beyond her age. She helps out around the house, decorates her room, and has really started to enjoy cooking with mom.

Girls on Zugspitze
Madeline is 8 and got her braces off this year. She’s bolted in height and we often forget that she’s only a 3rd grader. She’s also a powerhouse of energy and emotion, and is at times the opposite of her sister. She’s a voracious reader, a talented cartwheeler, and is easily the best singer in the household. She’s made some new friends this year but is also struggling with the age difference between her, Ella, and their bestie Ava, who is entering her teens.

Michelle is in her 6th year of practice and it continues to grow. They added a 2nd associate this year and are already bumping in to the walls of their relatively new office space. This year her annual office holiday party was not cursed with an ice storm, so the turn out and the food was great. She continues to run but has been dogged by a hip injury and is jumping through the hoops of healthcare to treat it. Last year she ran about 6 10ks, and she’s hopeful this year will be the same. She’s participating in a number of boards and committees related to her work which sometimes prevents her from bringing Kona with her.

Kona just turned 3 and is finally maturing to the point where she can go to the park without a leash (so long as the promise of BALL is there). If you follow Michelle on the Facebook, you’ve probably seen many photos of Kona on the bow of a boat, or swimming. She’s a sweet, needy, and clingy dog that brings joy to the family.

I’m a year older, still at the same job, still have the same few gray hairs, and still savoring the time I have playing outdoors and with family. Oh, and I bought a janky old aluminum drift boat this August. It has been a joy to row down rivers, fish, and just savor the sounds of water, the birds, and conversations with friends and family. So far, we’ve taken the boat down the Bogachiel, Clackamas, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Kalama, and Lewis rivers and had it on a couple lakes. I think I’ve found my happy place on the Deschutes, which is just a desert wonderland that also has trout and steelhead. I’m still trying to catch a steelhead on a fly rod and came close this past week on the Hoh river up on the Olympic Peninsula.
Shiny boat sitting on the bank of the Kalama river near Beginner hole

We’re looking forward to the coming year to see what other adventures we can have, what learning we can do, what service we can provide, and what enjoyment we can take from each other’s company. While we live in a country and society slowly tipping away from compassion, we will continue to work to make the world a better, more just place.

Peace to you and yours in the new year,
Love the Freeds

Eblen Freed goes live

Michelle Freed of Eblen Freed LLP
For those who haven’t heard, my wife is starting her own law practice. She and her friend Tim are Eblen Freed LLP, a Portland firm that works with families and small businesses. Now they’ve the website to prove it. I know this reads like a plug because it is. But I’m also very happy for my wife who is excited to return to family law and hopes to develop a collaborative practice. Currently, she and Tim are winding down full time employment at their previous firm and doing contract work with the firm while they grow the new practice.

So, if you know of anyone in need of legal services, feel free to give them my wife’s name. She’s damn good.

Now it can be told

We’re now past 2 months, and I feel like we won’t be knocking on wood to talk about the challenges of the past year. Madeline proved to be quite a roller coaster when compared to our pregnancy experience with Ella. From a few days after the 18 week (gestational) ultrasound until after Madeline’s 2 week (after birth) appointment, we’ve been expecting the worst.

A few days after our 18th week appointment (for Michelle), she got a call from the genetic counselor at Kaiser who had some concerns about a bright spot in the Madeline’s bowel. I got a mysterious phone call from Michelle that was so out of character that it took me a few moments to realize that something was wrong. I left work to pick her up in the park outside work and we drove home in choked up silence. We spent the afternoon trying to understand what the spot meant, and whether or not we should chase the dragon of testing and observation or bury our heads in the sand and just accept what we would be given. The echogenic bowel meant that we were potentially looking at downs syndrome (and other trysome defects), cystic fibrosis, cytomegalovirus, blockages, hirschbergers, and other minor players. But it was 70% likely that there there was nothing wrong. This was a mild point of contention between Michelle and I because I was of the opinion that 70% were good odds and since we’d not do anything to the pregnancy, why drag ourselves through the torment. Most of all, I think I was upset that this time, I wasn’t scared shitless of the prospect of a baby and this just meant that there was something that wouldn’t quite allow for the joyous anticipation of number two.

After blood testing, family history, genetic counseling and a huge amount of internet sleuthing, we found out that Michelle had cytomegalovirus, or CMV in the past. Her “numbers” suggested that it was prior to pregnancy but no one could say with confidence that we shouldn’t worry. (The 2-4 hour waits to see the doctor and ultrasound techs certainly gave us the time to.) Ultimately we were tied to a 2 week schedule of wait and see. Not much happened, though the spot got lighter as time passed. By December, the spot had become inconsequential, possibly because of meconium in the bowel, and possibly because it wasn’t anything of concern. (At times, this all seemed like a bunch of meconium..)

Anyway, by late December things looked good and we were starting to relax a little. However, our first appointment in January came with a shock. Michelle’s amniotic fluid was low and she’d need to be on bedrest for the next few weeks until term. We expected to have another month to wrap up loose ends, but the doctor said that baby may need to come out at any moment. Until that time, we’d be back to the doctor every couple days to recheck fluid levels (always with a packed bag). Luckily, Michelle’s resting and uber-hydrating worked and the fluid level went back in to the OK zone.

On the 4th of these checks, we dropped in expecting another in and out appointment (I had a presentation at 11) but were surprised when the fluid level had again dropped. That and a lower than normal heart rate caused the doctor enough concern that she scheduled an induction… for right away. We were both kind of in shock, because the baby was early and we hadn’t brought anything for a stay this time. But baby was at least to 37 weeks and the machine said she was over 5 lbs, so we had some comfort.

I ran home and repacked our scatter stay bag, called work, and rushed back to the hospital, going much faster than needed. It was the only time I could say “My wife’s having a baby” if I was pulled over. By the time I got back to the hospital, sanitized my hands for the first of 10,000 times, and found Michelle in a delivery suite, she’d notified the cavalry and people were all in motion. Unnecessarily as it turns out, because induction took all of Thursday, all of Friday, and until the wee hours of Saturday morning to take effect.

So we read, we watched non-stop coverage of Miracle on the Hudson, and played solitaire. And Michelle, who hadn’t eaten a breakfast yet, couldn’t eat anything. So she sipped broth, protein drink, and lots of cran-grape juice. Luckily she was able to eat solids during the break between induction attempts. Finally, contractions began in earnest and Madeline sprung forth on Saturday morning in all her beauty and perfection. To an almost immediate dusky episode. The nurse (Jana) moved in to quick action and bulbed out a bunch of fluid and things quickly returned to, well, not quite normal, but you know what I mean.

It turns out her rapid movement through the birth canal meant that she was still carrying a bunch of amniotic fluid in her stomach. So she tended to spit it up. But she was beautiful and looked alarmingly like Ella.

We moved over to post-delivery for a stay and again had a wonderful nurse who took great care of us while making us feel competent about being parents since we hadn’t killed the first one. Madeline did have another dusky episode which we pulled the red help cord for, shortly after having accidentally pulling it when moving the bed. But again, things seemed OK with the exception of a medium-high bilirubin level. Still, after some amazing negotiating and string pulling on Michelle’s part, we were discharged to return home to our other little girl.

The first night went ok, but Madeline ended up spending the second night in the special care nursery which I’ve already written about here.

After all that we still had a few issues with diet (no pizza, no onions, no garlic, but luckily dairy is ok) that resulted in severe gas, projectile vomiting and delayed “movements,” but now seem to have everything figured out. Madeline is doing great. She’s nearly 11 pounds after 9 weeks and starting to smile and look at us like she has no idea why we were concerned.

Michelle and I deal with stress differently. She used it to to learn as much as she could about echogenic bowel and everything it could potentially mean for our child (and her sibling). That’s a lot of information, especially with the access that Google Scholar allows. We’re very fortunate that she found this article, and that it described what was ultimately our situation. Obstetrical sonography: the best way to terrify a pregnant woman by Roy A. Filly MD. It describes the conundrum of echogenic bowel, both for the physician and the parent. And the conundrum of having machines become the truth of your child’s health and growth.

I’d not have done this much differently, but it was easy to forget that we started with a 70% change of nothing being wrong and narrowed it down with each test. We never did an amniocentesis, which would have actually potentially widened the odds that the baby might be injured, but there was sort of this system in place that you couldn’t really escape once you started. For better or worse.

In the end, I can’t be more grateful for the help, guidance and care we received – both from family and the doctors. Now we have our two beautiful girls and are glad the whole pregnancy thing is behind us. The uncertainty and stress seems like a bad dream.


This has been a wild 2 years of election fervor. Tomorrow we’ll know (hopefully) what the next chapter for the United States may look like. Nothing is certain, and I’m cynical enough do have real doubts about the Democrats ability to accomplish anything, but I do honestly believe that tomorrow will shape America’s place in the next century.

It is not clear what station our country will hold in the future. We have moved from an ideological superpower to an agricultural and industrial superpower to a military and an idea superpower, and as the events of the last month have rippled through markets around the world, it has proven we’re a debt superpower.

I think tomorrow is important in this respect: Our example tomorrow will show the rest of the world our intentions as a nation. We will select one of two directions to move our nation. One choice will signal we want to remain the same. One choice will signal we’re ready for something different. In a world where our impact has been so huge, and the response to us has increasingly soured, we need to recalibrate. It is time to leave behind the jingoism and mental isolationism that has planted us like a stick in mud. We must lead in to the coming century, not jockey for relevance.

Tomorrow, we need to elect Barack Obama.


One of the problems with Elections is that their news coverage completely obscures all the other stuff happening in the world. Take for example our active military campaign in Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan – the country who just elected a new president and whose government seems to have tenuous support. We’re currently bombing suspected Taleban and terrorist targets in the sovereign nation. Pakistan, our partner in the war on terror.

Well, these cavalier attacks are ruining our image in Pakistan and can only help to destabilize the troubled government.

heh.. while I was writing this I found news that Zardari is handing off presidential power.

John Kroger for Oregon Attorney General

Freeds for Kroger

I know, seems a little late in the game to post something like this considering our primaries are in 4 days. However, last night we learned that 50% of Oregon voters are still undecided who to vote for in the race for Attorney General. There are probably several reasons for this, including that there are only two democrats running, and that AG has always been one of those lower profile seats.

Last night Michelle and I hosted a house party for John so some of our friends, neighbors and coworkers could meet the candidate. Both Michelle and I feel that John Kroger is not only the better of two good candidates, he is better for Oregon. Here’s just a few items that illustrate why we think he’s the best choice:

  • John wants to drastically improve access to treatment programs for substance abuse, specifically meth. Meth users are the single largest cause for property crime in Oregon, and play a huge role in why Oregon’s child welfare is one of the worst in the nation. Meth is showing up in middle schools, so its clearly time we take a different approach to solving our meth crisis.
  • John wants to start prosecuting criminal polluters. As one of our neighbors pointed out, Oregon passed some sweeping anti-pollution laws nearly 2 decades ago and has just kind of rested on our laurels since. There’s no one in Oregon who isn’t affected by the environment, and small fines for dumping heavy metals in to our rivers shouldn’t just be part of the cost of doing business.

There’s a nice short list. But there are many more reasons, which you should read if you’re still curious. Lastly, please don’t make any of your decisions based on TV ads. I’m amazed at the power and reach of these wretched things and urge you to read your voters pamphlet and your favorite organization’s endorsements for more information.


My grandmother Viola Freed passed away yesterday. For my entire life, she (and my grandpa) has been in better shape than anyone else’s grandparents that I knew. Throughout my childhood we routinely hiked with my grandparents, even in Estes Park, high above reasonable oxygen levels found in the rest of the country. Even in recent years, the two were more active than I expected. So ironically, when her health failed, it was first Alzheimer’s, then cancer, and finally a broken hip that caught up with her.

Grandma Duck, not Grandma Freed. We referred to her after the mallards that came from across the street in Hartwell Park. She was always composed, always appropriate, and probably the original source of my sarcasm. In fact, I’m certain she’s the source of many of my idiosyncrasies, and for that I am thankful.

My grandpa always called her starchy, and it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I found out why. Early in their marriage, my grandmother had ironed my grandfather’s shirts and sprayed them with so much starch that my grandpa was able to stand the shirts up in a line and salute them. (he was in “the war”)

We had an impromptu wake last night with the remaining nuclear family and commemorated our matriarch’s physical departure. Ella never got to know her great-grandma duck, but for a few weeks, she was able to cross paths and even elicit a smile.

A resolution to impeach the vice president

Congressman Dennis Kucinich has submitted a resolution to the House of Representatives to impeach vice president Dick Cheney for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” I hope this gets some floor time.

From the evidence:
“And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” March 16, 2003,
NBC Meet the Press interview with Vice President Cheney.

Our belief… in fact… hmm…. sounds familiar. Tossing around the word fact like it’s conversation filler.