Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Artist at Work

Our little Em is turning into quite the artist. Here she is showcasing her black marker abilities. Despite being labeled as washable, it still took two days of good scrubbing to get all traces to disappear.

We had out professional family pictures scheduled for this weekend so it was definitely down to the wire. Keep your fingers crossed that we get a decent holiday card photo!

My in-laws gave Chris and me a night away from the kids. It was heavenly. Chris planned our weekend, starting with reservations at a hotel downtown, a fancy dinner, and a long walk this morning with stops for pastries, coffee, and a visit to the Chihuly Glass Museum at Seattle Center. 

But we spent most of our time tucked into bed, with a glass of wine in had, reading our books in peace and quiet. :)

Child rearing is exhausting and a break from the bambinos was so gratefully appreciated.

Funny story: As we were waiting in line at the Chihuly museum, who should walk out but Chihuly! That black eye-patch is hard to miss. We were surrounded by tourists who had no idea that the master himself was casually strolling through his own museum.

Here are a few interesting links from around the web.

My tootsies are always cold: I clearly need to start wearing uggs everywhere. In cold offices, It's all about your feet.

Life on a ledge. 

More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil

Have you ever got to a hotel and the pool is about half the size pictures on their website? This is for you: Hotel fakeouts. 

As a parent that shares pictures of their kid (see above!), this was especially relevant: The perils of 'sharenting'. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Co-Housing Community. Yea or nay?

My Dears,

I keep running into articles about co-housing like this one:

The Millennial Housing Trend is a Repeat of the Middle Ages.

The closest I got to co-housing was in college which, as I'm sure my housemates can attest, was generally a good experience with a few bumps sprinkled in. :)

But I'll admit: I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of co-housing. An important caveat: I am not attracted to the type where everyone shares kitchens and bathrooms. That's too much sharing.

But I have this picture of single-family townhomes with large shared outdoor areas, and a big rec room that hosts community BBQs and Saturday Movie Night. I imagine a band of kids roving around, playing in the pool, walking over to their friends' houses, and then all gathering to catch the bus on Monday morning.

This one looks especially lovely.

What do you think? Heaven or hell?  


Top Photo: Rocky Hill CoHousing
Photo (at left): Broad Street Commons (has a pool!!!).

Or maybe I just like the idea of co-housing because I want a neighborhood pool. :)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

News and Reviews

Happy Weekend!

We are off to get our family flu shots (followed by an ice cream sundae party to soothe the ouchies). We also might hit up our beloved Reptile Zoo as it's looking like a grey weekend here in Seattle.

This is a pretty good representation of what our average weekend looks like these days:

Pure chaos. This is also a good example of why I refuse to buy any new furniture until the kids are 18...

Here are a few links I found interesting this week:

Would you eat cricket flour? What if your voodoo doughnut was made with it?

America's deadliest animal.

Smushed faced dogs. Genetic engineering gone too far?

The wet prince of Bel Air: Which LA homeowner used 11.8 million gallons of water during California's crippling drought? (enough for 90 families)

The most common surname in your country.

My son, the prince of fashion.

Why Japanese kids walk to school alone.

We are creeping up on Halloween! Ben has been plotting costumes since November 1 of last year. Initially he was set on a knight (him), a dragon (Emma), a King (Chris), and Queen (me), but now he's discarded that in favor of other plans. We'll keep you posted as the great costume debate unfolds!



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Emma goes swimming.

A few weeks ago we were over at my parent's house raiding their fruit and vegetable gardens. The grandkids can get away with a lot...including deforesting an entire crop of carrots, as Ben has just done in the picture below.

Emma was in blueberry heaven.

Right up until she fell in the pond. 

In her defense, the surface was entirely coated with dense duckweed so it looked like a nice green carpet. Hard to tell there was muddy water lurking underneath.

I suppose it doesn't help when your mother  stops to take pictures, either...

Fortunately, we were able to bundle her into a towel and plop a bowl of blueberries in her lap, and that proved to be just the tonic for a unexpected pond plunge.

And look, new pictures for the baby book, right? These are exactly the ones that we'll all have a good laugh over in a few years.  Hopefully. :)



Saturday, September 17, 2016

News and Reviews

Hola! What are your plans for the weekend? 

We're hiding from the rain and doing house projects. 

I found this picture of my mom on my computer. Shoveling gravel with a baby (me) on her back. Hardcore, Mama. I also came the to realization that we've only ever owned black mutts in our family. Four of 'em: wonderful, lovable scruffy pups. That's Zeke (Mutt #1) in the picture. I've been missing Bailey lately. 

The PTA mom: Framed

The wrong man. Or, the problem with eye witness accounts. 

Will Amazon kill FedEx?

The falling man (worth the long read)

Dalilah Muhammad covers herself in gold

What it feels like to die

Oh hey, maybe I'll start visiting Victoria again: After 25 years, Victoria's treatment plan gets approved (34 million gallons per day of raw sewage into our shared Strait of Juan de Fuca does not make for happy Washingtonians)

Why luck plays a big role in making you rich

I don't like that this is a taboo subject. As a parent, I think about this constantly: Why we should have fewer children to save the planet

Catios! They're a thing! Love that this is taking hold in Portland. The native birds are thanking you, P-Town.

rude vs. mean vs. bullying

Another group that loses if Trump wins

Why do tourists visit ancient ruins everywhere but in the United States?

Five different hair colors in 7 weeks (I loved being blond-ish for summer...but I really suck at the upkeep)



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Another School Year is Upon Us

Somewhere along the way my kid grew into a kindergartener. We had to book it across the playground on the first day of school because we were thisclose to being late. Way to start the year off on the right foot. 

So far Ben loves his teacher, recess, and the fact that they have chocolate milk in the cafeteria. Whoa. Mind blown. 

My little guy also got himself sorted on to the correct bus on the first day and rode it home like a champ, sitting in the front row like his mama told him to. 

Yep, out of focus due to wild activity of the model. Pretty much the story of his life. We wouldn't have it any other way with our sweet whirling dervish. 

I am such a sucker for a photo montage, despite the fact that they went out of style back in, um, probably the 90s. 
Yes, he wore the same shirt twice in a row. Too big last year, too small this year. It's all I can do to keep him in pants that aren't too short. They don't make slacks for string beans.

And then we come to our wee little Em.

She started a few mornings a week at a preschool run by a sweet, nurturing woman named Anita. She was so ready for school. This summer when dropping Ben off at summer camp, she'd beg and beg to be allowed to stay with the big kids. And when that failed, she'd flop on the ground and have a wild tantrum. 

Points for determination, kiddo.

When Ben grabs his backpack and lunch bag, she insists on doing the same, despite needing neither for daycare. She's his little parrot, gleefully repeating back everything he says. 

Whoa nelly. My last babe is growing up. 

This is pretty much a perfect snapshot of the sibling interactions: Ben is moving, directing, and scheming. Emma is thrilled to be along for the ride as a willing and eager accomplice. Together they are boisterous, wild, and (mostly) having a jolly good time. 

Watch out, World. Team J is on the loose. 



Friday, September 09, 2016

Toddler Milestones

A few months ago, just as we'd left the house for a three day camping trip with friends, wee little Emma (age 2) announced that she was done with diapers. As in, right this second done with diapers.

Chris and I glanced skeptically at each other. Frankly, our eldest child, a kid who is fantastic in many ways, had been a bit of a potty-training nightmare and we were loathe to once again so suddenly jump into a process that had been plagued by lots and lots of excess laundry. Also, we were only a few weeks away from our giant Alaska road trip and figured that a babe in diapers would be easier to handle than a toddler that was in the very beginning stages of potty-training. Less mess, right? Especially when you don't have ready access to a washer and dryer.

Four hours later we arrived at the campsite with dry undies and only one semi-frantic attempt at finding a bathroom.

So far, so good.


She then promptly wet three pairs of pants in two hours. Eyeing our quickly disappearing stash of dry garments, we made the executive decision to revert our girlie back to her diaper-wearing existence for the duration of the camping weekend.

Under extreme duress, she grudgingly accepted the mandate.

But once back home decided that she was, indeed, ready to discard the diapers in favor of undies and the thrill of using her personal potty. It helped that we gathered at the bathroom door to give her a standing ovation (Ben being the most enthusiastic of the cheering committee members) and she basked in the thrill of her newfound accomplishments.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was the most painless potty training experience I could have ever imagined. Emma pretty much did everything all by herself and we followed along in her wake, not quite believing it was real. Not only did she shed daytime diapers, but the night time ones as well. We didn't do cloth diapers with either kid and I've always felt guilty about the amount of human poo we sent off to the landfill every week. So being a diaper-free household has been lovely.

At the very least, the whole process has reminded me how different two siblings, both raised essentially the same way, by the same parents, and with the same surroundings, can take so drastically different approaches to mastering skills and developmental milestones.

For us personally, we've especially noticed different projectories in socialization, gross motor skills, and language development. But it's also given me confidence not to push too hard, trusting that in most cases they'll eventually grasp the necessary concepts on their own timelines.

As I type this, Emma is boycotting bedtime, instead choosing to climb her wall-mounted bookshelf like a ladder, demonstrating that she too, is developing just fine in the gross motor skills department.

Each of our children is a force of nature, in their own wild and unique way. Let's appreciate their distinctive approaches to learning and growing. Especially if it means fewer dirty diapers.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer Roadtrip: Seattle to Deadhorse, Alaska


We just got back from a two week road trip up to Alaska. We splashed around in the Arctic Ocean and then spent a few days with Chris' family.

Here is our route:

Seattle to Deadhorse (c) and then back down to Anchorage (d). Our grand total: 3,700 miles.

Basically, it's like driving from Seattle to Miami, with a detour to Chicago, and then adding on a few hundred additional miles. 

The kids were fantastic road trippers. We swam in hot springs, saw a bunch of cool wildlife, and drove to the top of the world. nbd.

One of the highlights for me was seeing a wild wolf in Canada:

Alaska Fish & Game has allowed the big packs of Denali to be shot by trophy hunters so I'd pretty much given up hope on seeing our largest native wild canine.

Until this guy loped across the road in Kluane National Park in the Yukon.  My background is in environmental science and wildlife biology; seeing this guy made me giddy.

Other favorites:

Liard Hot Springs in BC.

And the Arctic Circle in the very, very far north:

The is only one reason that there is a road north from Fairbanks across the arctic tundra: the pipeline. Love it or hate it, this big 'ole pipe gave us access to scenery rarely seen by the casual tourist.

Don't let anyone convince you that the arctic is a flat, boring place. It is spectacular.

But when they say that Deadhorse is a dump...well, they weren't lying. :) The sweet ladies at the general store were thrilled to see kids, however. 

The road stops here: Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. Temperature: a freezing 38 degrees fahrenheit.

And then we headed south to spend a desperately needed week of relaxation with my in-laws. After two weeks of roughing it in the truck camper, we were ready for showers, clean laundry, and a bed that wasn't on wheels.

Observe: the laziest fisherman that ever lived. 

And now, time to start school. We have a KINDERGARTENER this year!! Eek.



Two more favorites:

Mama Moose.

Kluane Lake in the Yukon (Canada).

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

News and Reviews

Happy Wednesday! Just a few days away from the weekend. :)

What if everything you knew about disciplining kids was wrong?

The limits of grit. (thanks, mom!)

What may happen with Brexit and Trump.

This story has some serious real world limitations, but also makes a few good points: A Story of a Fuck Off Fund

Six maps that will make you rethink the world

A letter to the hospice doctor that helped us say goodbye.

Donald Trump's ghostwriter tells all.

The first winner of the women's tour de france. 

Here is a fun little sequence of yours truly taking a big (for me!) leap into the Ohanapecosh River near Mt. Rainier a few weeks ago.

I got a kick out of how long it took me to work up the courage to actually jump. :)