Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happenings at Home

Today is a grand day. We had our first official carrot harvest (Ben’s impromptu pulling of several rows doesn’t count) and our baby juncos have hatched. 

Last night only three had hatched but this morning there were four tiny little guys. Their eyes are still closed. Here is the nest, back when it was in the egg stage. 

Best of all? It’s supposed to cool down and RAIN this week. Hallelujah.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Blog-O-Sphere

I hope you’re having a great week. In Seattle it is hot, Hot, HOT. We’ve been hiding in the basement.

Today is our eighth wedding anniversary! Can’t believe how the time has flown by. Love you more than ever, darling. It’s a grand adventure and I’m lucky to share it with you.

Also, our little Emma just turned six months old. She’s growing like crazy, has a new tooth, and is chewing on everything. 

“A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that' s love by a different name.”  -Barbara Kingsolver

Here is the latest from around the web:

How Finland keeps children focused throughout the day. 

Not a picnic table...a boat! Vessel registration required. 

A photo contest for drones. Here are the winners.  [What do you think that eagle is thinking?]

Tried canceling your internet or phone recently? Your call probably sounded a lot like this. 

A dog’s last day on earth (in photos). Sniff. 

The latest in zoo design: going vertical. 

The disturbing trend I noticed after my breastfeeding story went viral.  Be proud, Mamas! Bare the boob. And don’t take any crap from anybody. The best line: “How about you go eat your lunch in the toilet)

Going out with grace: the right way to handle having your foot cut off (thanks Sara!)



Friday, July 11, 2014

Ben - Almost 3.5 years old

There are days when this kid makes me want to pull my hair out. Ben is embracing 3 with a vengeance. Stubborn, obstinate, loud, and aggressive, we’re butting heads like crazy these days.

It’s a humdinger of a phase.

But there quiet moments when I’m reminded just how much I love this little guy. When he climbs into bed in the early morning to cuddle, when he takes pride in his latest masterpiece, when he curls up and asks to read his favorite books. When he wants to be tucked into bed - for the tenth time that night.  I see him interacting gracefully and confidently with adults, gleefully running 'round the playground with his posse of equally high-spirited pals, and laughing uproariously along with Emma.

Those moments help remind me that the tantrums and outbursts are all educational experiences; Ben is doing his best to learn how we conduct ourselves, socially. He doesn’t always get it right, in fact, he’s wrong more often than not. But he’s trying really hard and I’m confident that he’ll get it someday.

In the meantime, I need to go stop my darling boy from assaulting the dog. Bailey looks like he’s ready to flee.



Monday, July 07, 2014

Weekend happenings

My Dears,

I hope you have a happy holiday.

Chris had to work for most of it but got off with enough time for us to go over to a friend’s house for a BBQ. There was a gaggle of similarly-aged kids and Ben had an absolute hoot running around with his new pack of friends. It’s fun to watch the interactions of a three-year old. Plus we got to consume lots of tasty food and spend time with friends.

I made this ice cream cake, except with chocolate, vanilla, and a raspberry sorbet. We topped it with magic chocolate sauce and toasted peanuts. Judging by how much was left, I’m going to call it a success. It was outrageously simple and I think it’s going to become my go-to cake for summer birthdays. There are so many ice cream combos that are begging to be tried.  This one also looks tasty.

As a sign of how badly the vegetable garden required weeding, we discovered this dark-eyed junco nest in amongst the lettuces.

Each day there is a new egg and Ben and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the babies. For my part, I just hope they make it. 

Bailey and I have stepped up our efforts to ‘encourage’ the hordes of neighborhood cats to pursue their interests elsewhere but these little guys are on their own come night-time. Keep your fingers crossed, my dears. Our native avian populations need all the help they can get. 

Last night we had a great BBQ with my parents. Emma is a happy baby when she’s on somebody’s lap.

We also did a bit of house work this weekend, including a door in the basement bathroom:

With trim, even. But no handle (yet). So far we’ve been really pleased with the final wall color of the basement. It’s "light pewter" by Benjamin Moore and it’s nice and bright, without being plain ole white. 

We are also the proud new owners of a couch in the tv room. Beats sitting on the floor, that’s for sure. Chris installed window trim but this room still needs baseboard and a door. That’s our project for next week. We are soooo close. 

I am also finished with the tile in the laundry room but I’m out of time so that post must wait for another day. 

And last but not least, we did a small hike in Paradise Valley Conservation Area on Sunday. This was our second time there and both Chris and I agreed that we’re going to shelve this hike. It’s mostly brushy single-track that is shared by hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. On a beautiful sunday, it was simply too nerve-wracking due to the mountain bikers coming round corners and down hills at top speeds. But head on over there if you’re a biker; they even have a bike-specific ‘playground’. 

That’s all for now. 



Saturday, July 05, 2014


Let’s talk about things we’re grateful for today:

Life, health, family, country, and digital cameras. 

Because taking a normal picture of my son shouldn’t be this hard. 

Ben is in full-on boycott-the-camera mode so we have to make it into a game. “Let’s see your monster face! Your silly face! Your angry face!”

And then you just hope to high heaven that you get a decent one. 

Little Em is a little easier to photograph, simply because she’s not quite so quick. You have to get her in between drool streams, however. 

And a photo of them together? Happy? Smiling? Forget about it.



Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Fourth

“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” — Herbert Hoover

Have a wonderful day; may it be filled with good friends and family, tasty food, and an appreciation for this magnificent place we call home. Happy Fourth of July.

Much love, 


Canada Road Trip (Part VI): Calgary

The city of Calgary is only a few hours east of Banff so we decided to swing over and poke around before heading home. In the end, we only saw the zoo and the hotel as this was just a brief stop; we were jonesing to get home.

But what a zoo. It’s awesome. I’ve dragged Chris to zoos all over the globe and the Calgary Zoo ranks just behind the Berlin Zoo, in my humble opinion.

I have a soft spot for zoos that proudly showcase their local flora and fauna. Calgary had a fantastic “Canadian Wilds” exhibit. I joked with Chris that if my animal photos from Jasper and Banff didn’t turn out then I could slip these in and pretend they were the real deal.

But I didn’t. :)

In Ben’s opinion, a visit to the zoo wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the alligators (or dwarf crocodiles, in this case). The tropical jungle building in the zoo was fabulous. As was the hippo/giraffe/wart hog area. 

And the real wild one:

Later we zipped off to our hotel room for a little baby time with this girl:

We got up the next morning intending only to make it as far as Sandpoint Idaho but decided to push on through for home. With a few necessary stops, of course. Gotta love traveling with toddlers, right?!

From Idaho, it was the long, monotonous stretches of Eastern Washington. 

But then we were home and in our own beds. It’s great to leave, it’s great to come home.



If You Go:

Calgary Zoo
Show this coupon to the teller at the zoo for 15% off. Or print it out before you arrive.

Canada Road Trip 

Introduction: Trip Route
Part I: Kamloops Horse Ranch

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Canada Road Trip (Part V): Banff and Lake Louise

We had two days in the Banff/Lake Louise area. The first morning we drove down the Bow Valley Parkway and stopped at the very touristy Lake Louise.

I simply can’t get over the color of the water. It’s supposed to be even better later in the summer. 

This is about as good as it gets, when it comes to family picture selfies. Ben is boycotting, Emma is asleep, and I’m not looking at the camera. Chris wins this one.

A kind fellow to the camera rescue:

Afterwards we drove down to Moraine Lake for a view atop the Rock Pile.

And then it was back along the Bow Parkway for some wildlife viewing.


The elk tend to hang out around both Banff and Jasper townsites. Some people have theorized that they feel safer near humans as the grizzlies tend to (mostly) stay away from the population centers.

The Forest Service has speculated that a female grizzly (with offspring) is also using the same strategy, as male brown bears will often go after cubs. They’ve consequently closed the Vermillion lakes roads and trails, which was a bummer as they were located quite close to Banff and said to be stunning. Next time.

But by far the highlight of the trip for me was seeing this gal:

And she wasn’t alone!!

It was so exciting to see these three. Talk about a kid in a candy shop; I was that thrilled. And also happy that we were in a vehicle, not on the trail...

You can read more about Bear 138 here. And here: Banff has at least four new grizzly cubs. She is a first-time mum. Last winter a run on the ski resort was closed so that she could hibernate and give birth to her cubs in peace.

I’m conflicted about the radio tracking collars. On one hand I understand and support the need for park officials and scientists to track and learn about the movements and habits of the animals. On the other makes me sad to see that we’ve got our proverbial human paws on everything, including an amazing apex predator. Nothing is entirely wild anymore, you know?

Of course, in that same vein, I should point out that these pictures were shot from a vehicle, along a major highway, so I’d be a fatty hypocrite if I said that these bears should stay untouched. Part of the tracking program is aimed at keeping these bears as wild as possible, and not road kill beneath my minivan’s wheels.

Speaking of girls, little Em hasn’t had much air time on this blog as of late. Here she is! Sucking away at that thumb. She’s a champion self soother. And sleeper. My happy little buddy.

On our way out of town we did a very nice little hike called Heart Creek. It’s great for kids.

Lots of things to keep the kiddos occupied: water, bridges, cool trails. It was my favorite hike of the trip. 

   We’re just going to throw in the towel when it comes to taking family pictures...these stink. This is the face we get from Ben when we bribe him with beef jerky. "One strip of jerky for one smile, come on, that’s an awesome deal, kiddo!”

It’s kind of like the poor mom at the playground the other day whose kid refused to leave: “Bobby, come on, we have to go home so you can watch your favorite tv show!” Don’t judge peeps, that’s a desperate mama talking.



Canada Road Trip 

Introduction: Trip Route
Part I: Kamloops Horse Ranch

Up Next:
Part VI: Calgary