30 January 2009

First Flight of the Rocket

Rocket got his first airplane flight earlier than we had originally planned. Insitu signed up to participate in an engineering job fair at MIT, and of course the obvious people to go would be the MIT alums. Free trip to Boston! We'd take Rocket with us and extend the trip to visit with as many of our friends as we could fit in. More on the trip will be coming later, but his first flight deserves its own post!

Our flight left Portland early on Thursday morning, so we booked a hotel room next to the airport for Wednesday night. After our exhausting previous day and the departure flight early the following morning, we had intended to head to bed early. However, it didn't quite work out that way; I think we made it to bed sometime before 11pm. Anders slept in the corner of our tiny hotel room, swaddled in blankets, on top of Corinne's down coat, with a chair as a barrier so that we didn't accidentally step on him in the middle of the night.

Aside from having to get up early, traveling with him was pretty easy. Our airline tickets were pretty inexpensive - particularly for a non-stop flight across the country - so we bought him his own seat and brought along his car seat and associated stroller frame. He was an easy traveler, sleeping for much of the flight out.

When he wasn't sleeping, he was as happy as can be. He was particularly interested in checking out everyone else on the plane when I walked him up and down the aisle. Of course part of that was to show him off, too.

A kid like this makes the parents look GOOD - but he deserves all of the credit!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

28 January 2009

Crazy 24 Hours

Here's our story of the craziest 24 hours we've had in quite a while...

It started off fairly mundane. Tuesday morning Anders required three diaper changes in order to get out of the house (thankfully, only a single outfit). We dropped him off with Debbie and spent a normal morning at work.

At around 1pm Corinne and I picked up Anders and started toward Portland. We had agreed to represent Insitu's software department at a special hiring event there on the condition that we could take our little guy with us. The company rented out a large meeting room at a hotel and set up tables staffed by each of the areas of the company that have openings (which is basically all of them). On our way there I-84 was starting to get messy from a combination rain and sleet, so the going was slow and we arrived just in time for the beginning of the event. Initially I had thought that the bad weather might deter people, but I had forgotten about the state of the economy...

HR estimated that over 1,000 people showed up at this Insitu-only job fair! During the first three hours of the four hour event, the Software/Avionics table alone had a line of between 30-50 people waiting to speak to one of us. As a result the event became less one-on-one interviewing and more speed dating. I wish I had taken some pictures, particularly of Corinne talking to potential candidates in the middle of a crowded room, with Anders on her shoulder.

When the event was over, we packed Anders back into the car and started the drive back to the Gorge. The weather had cleared by now, and the roads were relatively quiet. Corinne sat in the back seat with Anders, and for a while both were asleep. But it was when we arrived in Hood River that the real "excitement" of the evening occurred.

Since Anders had been asleep for some time, Corinne decided that she would move to the front passenger seat to keep me company. So when we stopped at the stop sign at the bottom of our exit, Corinne hopped out of the car to change seats. As soon as she closed the back door she heard skidding from behind us and saw another car coming down the exit ramp, and it clearly wasn't going to stop in time. She ran from our car and watched as Anders and I were rear-ended! The impact pushed us a car length or so into the intersection, which thankfully was empty. Once our car stopped moving, Corinne hopped back in the car and we pulled off to the side of the road.

Anders - who had been sleeping in the back seat - awoke and started crying. Our initial concerns, of course, were whether he was okay. After a minute or so, though, he stopped crying and then smiled at Corinne. After I had exchanged information with the other driver and contacted our insurance company, I had to keep my calm so that I could drive us all home.

It all happened so fast. It's only when we think back on it that we realize what could have happened and how much worse it could have been. I mean, Corinne wasn't even in the car! The other vehicle was actively trying to stop, so by the time he hit us he wasn't going terribly fast, and both our bumpers did what they are designed to do. The next day I wasn't even sore, and a quick call to our pediatrician allayed any remaining fears we had about Anders.

But Tuesday night wasn't done yet. Since we were leaving for a trip to Boston the following day, we stayed up late that night to finish packing. At around 1am, in the middle of doing laundry, the power went out. Dang wind storms! So we went to bed. Corinne woke up around 2:30am to lights on all over the house; the power had come back. So she got up, restarted the laundry and then headed back to bed, exhausted.

The car repairs would have to wait until we returned from our trip. The damage doesn't look that bad at first glance, but we suspect that the repairs will be fairly extensive; there is damage to at least one of the side panels, the back door will need to be replaced, and the hitch looks bent as well. The accident was clearly the other drivers' fault; unfortunately, he had let his insurance lapse just a few months earlier. Thank goodness for "uninsured motorist" insurance.

I hope it is a long time before we have another day like that!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

20 January 2009

Rocket Is Four Months Old

We can't quite believe it, but Rocket is now over 4 months old. Milestones hit during that fourth month:

  • Head control. You don't have to support his head when you hold him anymore.
  • Kung-fu action grip. He has much better control of his arms now, and will grab things and hold them - though it is clear that he has to concentrate.
  • Talking. No, we're not talking about actual words here, but the sounds he makes have become more complex, including...
  • Giggling. It's awesome! His laughs make you want to laugh, which of course makes him laugh more.

He still sleeps through the night (9pm-5am or so), thank goodness. And we're continuing to swaddle him when he sleeps, although he manages to get one or more arms out by morning at least half of the time.

When his pseudo big brother Zak found out that it was Anders's 4 month birthday, he just had to make sure that he got a balloon to celebrate! I'm sure you'll be seeing some photos of Zak here eventually, along with a litany of hilariously cute quotes from him as well.

Both Corinne and I even stopped by daycare at lunchtime to take photos with Anders in the natural daylight, but of course that was the one day that he decided to nap through lunch. By that night he was exhausted.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

15 January 2009

Generational Shawl

Anders is a bit of a slow eater. When he nurses, it often takes 45 minutes or more before he inevitably falls asleep. Yes, that is a long time. It should be noted, however, that he will finish a bottle in 5-10 minutes, so I guess he must just enjoy Mom's company.

During that time Corinne can get cold. But my Mom provided a solution in the form of a shawl that she knitted and used when I was a baby!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

08 January 2009

Childbirth Class Reunion

Back when Corinne was pregnant with 'Rocket', we decided that we would take a childbirth class at the local hospital. We didn't really learn that much in the class; we joke that the best thing about the class was that it forced us to watch those "labor and delivery" videos that we would never watch on our own. And the walk around the Hood River Hospital maternity ward certainly didn't help when he was born in Seattle. But it was good to meet some other parents who would have kids around the same age.

Now that all of the kids have been born we all got together for a "childbirth class reunion" to meet the new arrivals! We got together at a local brewery (ironic, huh?) on a Thursday night. Anders had the latest due date, but because he was born 3+ weeks early and another baby was several weeks late he ended up being the second youngest of the group. It was interesting to see the different looks of each of the kids, and how much they really did look like their parents.

Towards the end of the evening we put all the kids on the couch for a group shot. Unfortunately because Anders's had been nursing just prior to the photo, he was pretty sleepy; he slept through the whole photoshoot.

Anders on the far right

We also got one with the whole families, complete with brewing equipment in the background.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

07 January 2009

First Vaccinations

Anders just received his first vaccinations - Rotavirus (oral) which protects against rotavirus and DTaP (shot) which is for diptheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). He is such a trooper. After the shot, he only cried for a couple of seconds and it was only a "you have annoyed me" cry rather than his truly upset cry. Meanwhile, I had tears running down my face in anticipation of how I thought he would respond.

Vaccines are a somewhat controversial topic for many parents these days. We held off on giving him any until we had a chance to do research and make our own decisions. For anyone wanting more information about vaccines, we found the The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears (2007) to be very helpful. The book talks about the societal positives of vaccinating as well as the possible negatives of each individual disease and its vaccine. He also provides several alternative vaccination schedules that minimize (in his view) possible side effects while still resulting in a vaccinated child. Mike heard the author on a recent episode of our favorite radio show, This American Life. Dr. Sears quoted Star Trek: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few - or the one."

Contemplating the needs of the one

On a lighter daycare note, Zachary had gotten out his baby (doll) so that the babies could talk. On our way out, Zachary said, "Bring the baby back tomorrow!"

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

06 January 2009

Back To Work

January 6th was my first day back to work. I can't say that I was very excited to go but it wasn't so bad after all. Since I didn't have to deal with any work politics on that first day it actually was fairly pleasant. I'm only working part time so I just have to make it through three days before I get to enjoy "Anders Days" again.

For childcare, we found a stay-at-home mom, Debbie, to watch Anders. She lives close to work so I can easily walk over at lunch time to nurse Anders. The cutest thing is that Debbie's 3 1/2 year old son Zachary had this Christmas request: "I want a baby for Christmas... a REAL one."

Anders did really well on his first day in "daycare", but he did cry when I handed him over to Debbie. I honestly didn't think he'd care or notice but I guess he does! Good to know Mom is number #1 even if I don't get the most smiles.

When I stopped by at lunch, Zachary was on the floor right next to Anders making up stories about his duck to tell Anders. So adorable! I think Zachary and Anders will both enjoy each other.

In honor of work, here is my management team head shot, taken when I was about 7.5 months pregnant. The photographer cropped it such that you can't tell that my jacket doesn't fit around my then very pregnant belly. (Well, now that you know the secret, you probably can tell!)

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

02 January 2009

Favorite Recipes of 2008

It's time for the 2008 installment in the Favorites Recipes series. (Here are the previous years' installments: 2007, 2006.) For some reason we didn't seem to do as much experimentation with new recipes this year as in previous years, but we did manage to come up with some real winners.

#1: Pork Burros
Source: Ilvedson family recipe
We learned this first one from Corinne's Mom last January. She originally got it from a friend of hers when she was living in Los Angeles around 1970, and it was a recipe that she formulated as a recreation of a favorite local restaurant dish. Corinne was served this dish often as a kid. We made this one a lot this year, and it is a great "make lots and freeze" dish, particularly since you start with a 5lb pork shoulder. Tasty, tasty.

#2: Roasted Garlic Herb Oil
Source: Ilvedson family recipe
This one is a cheat - we've had this recipe for some time. But we did make it quite a bit this year, including making it as gifts. Have some on hand and you have a really easy way to quickly season roasted veggies.

#3: Enchiladas Lasagna
Source: Alton Brown
Alton is our hero. This is some really good stuff, and easy. I suggest making a large batch of the enchilada sauce at one time, then freezing in appropriate sizes. The original recipe didn't call for spinach in the filling, but I had some lying around the first time I made it and figured that I could bump up the nutrition. Worked great, and I've used it ever since.

#4: Quick Bean Cassoulet
Source: Sunset Magazine (by way of The Oregonian)
Our friends Jamie and Torsten introduced us to this one. Beans, chicken and sausage make this casserole a heart-warming meal. We almost never have leftover chicken, but even if you have to cook chicken it's still quick and easy. And delicious. A good comfort food for those colder days.

#5: Brown Sugar Cookies
Source: Cooks Illustrated, Mar 2007
These cookies are sort like chocolate chip cookies, but with a richer flavor (and no chips). Use "real" brown sugar with these for the best flavor; most grocery store brown sugars are simply white sugar with molasses sprayed on them.

#6: Chewy Chocolate Cookies
Source: Cook's Illustrated, Jan 2009
These are some seriously good chocolate cookies. Use good chocolate (Callebaut, Valrhona, etc.) The chocolate chunks might seem like they are too big, but they bake up perfectly, leaving nice sized chocolate goodness in each cookie. I think they taste better after a day or so - but who can wait? The recipe makes 16 large cookies, so consider forming the balls slightly smaller and/or making a double batch.

What were your favorite recipes this year? Send them to us!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

01 January 2009

Max's 2008 Critter Count

The end of the year is a good time to review the accomplishments of the previous year, and it's no different for a cat.

Max had a productive 2008. This was the year that we finally allowed him outside on his own without supervision (though we do still restrict it to daylight hours.) As a result, his catches for the year included:

Of course, it wasn't all positive. He also got stuck up a tree, was chased by a coyote, disappeared for 3 days, and gave Leif poison oak.

But the important thing is that he's still here, doing well, and I'm sure he's looking forward to the spring thaw so that he can start hunting again.

As a celebration of the successes of the year, Max and I played "Guitar Hero". Sort of.

- Mike, Corinne, Anders Rocket, and Max