29 April 2009

Spring Travel, pt 2: New Jersey!

Continuing our spring travels with Anders, we hopped on a plane from Seattle to New Jersey to visit with the other set of grandparents. On our previous cross-country trip we actually bought a seat for Anders so that we would all be a little more comfortable. He spent most of his time sleeping on our laps, though, so this time around we decided to use our accumulated airline miles to buy two first class tickets.

My parents have visited with Anders about every three months since he was born, but on this trip we finally got to introduce him to his aunt, uncle, and perhaps most importantly, his cousins! Katya and Nadija were so excited to meet him. They had seen pictures of him and watched (or at least tried to watch) him via Skype, but I think it is hard for 3 year olds to fully grasp.

They had all sorts of things that they were going to teach him, including how to play kickball. Thankfully, once he arrived they didn't try. They just gave him lots of attention. Some quotes from the girls: "I love you, baby Anders", "Uncle Mike and Uncle Corinne", and

Nadija: (hugs Anders) "You're my best friend."
Katya: "Hey! What about me?" (pause) "I'm sister's best friend."

We also gave him a bath on one of the first days that we were there. The girls were excited to help, but Drew and Michelle had to plan for the "girls versus boys" which might result. The question "what's that?" was asked, but the interest was fleeting and the question was soon lost in a sea of activity. The girls both had lots of fun helping to wash him by squeezing water out of the washcloth onto him.

Unfortunately both Corinne and I still had a backlog of work to do while on our vacation, but the grandparents were more than happy to take care of Anders in the morning while we worked for a few hours each morning and then again at night. At least we didn't have to take much actual PTO during the trip.

For the most part we just spent time at home and around town. One afternoon we took all three kids to a local park where Anders had his first opportunity to ride a swing. Corinne and I also managed to go on a "date" out to a movie, courtesy of Drew and Michelle. We probably hadn't done that in several years!

Rather than travel around to all of the other relatives in the area as we have on previous trips to NJ, this time my parents offered to host a brunch and invited everyone to come to us instead! Anders received several gifts, including a sock monkey handmade by my aunt Anita. (She also previously made us a set of three sock monsters, one for each member of the family.) Anders quickly figured out what to do with it: put the arms and legs in his mouth, of course. Anita responded, "I should have made him an octopus!"

We didn't get many photos of this event, actually, but we did get some group shots towards the end. Unfortunately it was after many people had already left.

I was able to spend quite a bit of time that day with my longtime friend Sean whom I hadn't seen in quite a while.

Have we mentioned yet that it was hot? We packed for April weather in NJ: probably some rain, but the temperatures should be somewhere in the 60s or 70s. But of course during our trip it got up to 90 degrees with 80%+ humidity. Somehow we just can't win with NJ weather. The unexpected heat actually prompted me to buy a pair of shorts on the trip.

On the day after the brunch we planned to go to an "Open House" at our old summer camp, Camp Speers Eljabar. Both Drew and I went for several summers, and the whole family would sometimes go at the end of the summer for "Family Camp". My great-aunt and uncle, Cookie and Dick, were heavily involved in the camp (Cookie still is), and we have a lot of great memories from the time we spent there. It was good to go back, and although some of the facilities have changed, there was quite a lot that brought back fond memories that I haven't thought about in many years.

The girls took a ride in a rowboat - complete with live frog - and helped to push Anders around in the stroller. What more could they ask for?

But now our trip to NJ was over... or so we thought. We boarded our plane in Newark, then proceeded to sit on the tarmac for quite a while. When we landed in Chicago, we sat on the tarmac again, only to miss our connecting flight. With no other flights available until the next morning, we spent a night in a hotel at O'Hare airport. Joy. What a way to kick off Corinne's birthday.

Anders's O'Hare Bed

Finally headed home

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

20 April 2009

7 Months Old

Anders turned 7 months old in April! It's crazy how fast it is going; he just keeps growing.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

17 April 2009

Spring Travel, pt 1: Taryn's Bridal Showers in Seattle

This spring turned out to be a big travel month for us. In mid-April we drove to Seattle to attend two bridal showers for Taryn, Corinne's cousin. The first shower started mid-day on Saturday, and since Corinne was co-hosting the event we wanted to make sure that we arrived in plenty of time. Ordinarily we would have driven up Friday night, particularly with the increased uncertainty that Anders introduces, but several factors conspired against us in that regard:

  1. From Seattle we would be flying directly to NJ to visit my family, so everything we needed for that trip had to be packed and taken with us when we left for Seattle.
  2. We've both been working longer hours recently, trying to make a deadline in June. This week was no exception, so there was quite a bit less time at home in which to pack. (This will probably end up as a recurring theme in posts over the next couple months, though hopefully only that long).
As a result, we finished packing late Friday night, awoke early Saturday morning and hit the road by about 8:00am. We arrived just in time.

The hosts and bride to be!

Not content to settle for the "ordinary" shower games, Corinne managed to come up with some pretty creative game ideas for the linen themed shower.

Dinner Party. Each attendee was given a set of cutouts representing all of the pieces of a formal place setting: several plates, several glasses, and more than a half dozen pieces of flatware. Each person had to place the items on a place mat in the correct location, with the winner having the most correct. It is a lot harder than it sounds... (This game also contributed to our late departure as we were still cutting out flatware on Friday night.)

Napkin Folding Contest. Each participant was given a cloth napkin and had to fold. The winner was whoever the bride-to-be judged to have the nicest or most creative napkin.

Folding a Fitted Sheet. Each participant folds a fitted sheet, with the winner being the person who is judged to have the most precise and neat end result.

"Stains" Word Scramble. Similar to the game Boggle, she created a square grid of letters as the "board". Hidden within that board were a set of common linen stains whose names could be formed by following contiguous letters.

Anders also had a chance to spend some time with Petra, daughter of Dan and Heidi-Lyn, who is approximately his age. Of course he made a good impression.

They actually played next to each other on the blanket for quite some time before Petra decided it was time to end the date. On Sunday we went to another shower for Taryn where a few more games were played, delicious food was eaten, and Anders spent long periods sleeping in his carseat in the corner of the room.  He is such an easy traveler these days!

Other than the two showers, the rest of our short time in Seattle was devoted to celebrating Uncle Pete's birthday and hanging out with Anders.

But before too long it was time to continue our journey... on to New Jersey!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

16 April 2009

Rocket's Favorite Toys

A little older and a little wiser now, Anders definitely has developed a preference for certain toys.

The Bergers gave Anders a German (of course!) wooden rattle. I love the colors and the simplicity. The shape makes it easy to hold and therefore was Anders's first toy. He still loves it especially now that he can shake it vigorously and make noise.

On the noise front, he also loves the hand-me-down rattle from his cousins Katya & Nadija and the extra set of bells from Taryn's wedding.

Ghost Dog
When Anders was born, Aunt Joie gave him a toy that is a silky soft blanket with a stuffed dog head in the middle. When Anders started fingering his burp cloths, I pulled out the dog blanket for him. He absolutely LOVES it now. He likes to chew on the nose and the corners, but the tail is definitely his favorite part. Our co-worker Rat has termed this toy "Ghost Dog".

Finger Puppets
The Schulers gave Anders a set of 5 finger puppets (frog, cat, duck, cow, and pig). He finds them all quite tasty and can spend quite a bit of time sampling them all. It turns out Max loves these too and tries to steal them so we make an effort to put them away. (Babies and cats like many of the same toys.) The frog is currently missing.... Hmmmmm.

There's one more toy with which Anders spends quite a bit of time playing, but that will wait for another post.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

15 April 2009

Name The Baby Contest Winners

Remember that "Name The Baby" contest that we held last year? Well, now that Anders is about ready to go off to college, we figured that it was about time to announce the winners.

Here's an interesting fact: the initial contest for a girl's name lasted about 3 weeks and generated 51 submissions; the followup lightening round for a boy's name lasted only a few days but generated 116 submissions. I guess short deadlines really do work (but don't you dare tell my boss.)

The winners of this category ended up being a bit of a gimme, since two people suggested the name that we actually used. (Though for the record, we were fond of the name Anders even before the contest.)

Winner:Anders by Tara Wike and Simon Hales
Honorable Mention:Ilvedson Daly by Jeff Kette
We love the sound of this name, but as someone wisely said, "Why would you name him something no one can pronounce?" Then, of course, we named him On-ders.
Honorable Mention:Ildved Daly by Joie Nordstrom
Ilvedson used to have an extra "d" that was dropped. (But see previous entry.)
Honorable Mention:Rowan Kendric by Drew Daly
Means "Royal Ruler of the Tree with Red Berries"

This was a tough category to judge; many of the submissions that we got were pretty creative. In the end we managed to find a winner, but make sure to check out some of the more notable suggestions under "Other Names Of Note" below.
Winner:Ansel Reuben by Michael Allen. Ansel is from the Freakonomics1 list of 20 boy names that best signify high-education parents. (People with the names on this list tend to be successful because they had successful parents.) Reuben means "See, a Son" which is certainly appropriate.
Honorable Mention:Forest River Daly by Tara Stewart, certainly a Trout Lake appropriate name.

All of the last names submitted were either Daly, Ilvedson, or some combination of the two. These were our favorites.
Winner:Ilvedalyson by Marnier Harker and Jaime Mack
Honorable Mention:Devilson by Beverly Sommer

Parker Isaac Ilvedson (PII as in 3.14159) by Kelly Kays
Ian Peter Daly (the old I.P. Daly joke) by Simon Hales
Peter Ian Daly by Simon Hales who said, "I hear he has good control." (As in PID Controller.)
Huckleberry aka "Huck" by Damon McMillan, Trout Lake appropriate.
Iontas by Taryn Nordstrom, means surprise in Gaelic.
Isaac by George Krevsky, means "to laugh" as in "man plans, and God laughs". (Isaac was also suggested by Lilly who must be preparing to have a boy herself; she submitted 27 different boys names!)
Leif Ilvedson by Lina Smith who didn't realize that Corinne already has a brother by that name.
Soren by Anna Stewart and Tara Wike. Soren is a perfectly good Scandinavian name ruined by Corinne's high school guidance counselor. When Corinne told her that she was applying to MIT, her only comment was "Well, Erik Sorenson didn't get in."
Veronica Ilvedson-Daly by Anthony Coulter. This name (from the girl list) itself is fairly straightforward, but you can't really appreciate it until you've read Anthony's five paragraph treatise.

Thanks to everyone who participated! It was fun to read all of the crazy name combinations that people came up with along with their meaning or creator's intent.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Isaac Huckleberry Reuben Soren Ildved Veronica Rocket Ilvedson Daly

1 Freakonomics is a fascinating read. We highly recommend it.

13 April 2009

Easter Basket(s)

We didn't make any particular plans for Easter this year. And since Anders is a bit young for an Easter egg hunt, we stuck to the more sedate tradition of the Easter basket, though with a twist.

The "basket" that Corinne got for Anders was filled with cloth fruits: banana, watermelon, pear, and grapes. These are to go with the vegetables that he already had: beans, carrot, mushroom and tomato. We figure it's never too early to start your kids eating fruits and vegetables!

Debbie, Darrell and Zak also gave Anders a basket for Easter complete with a card from Zak. In the middle of the basket was a Thunder egg that they picked up somewhere in Eastern Oregon. It is a geode-like rock formed by volcanic activity. I guess Corinne must not have been in the room when Debbie described it, because it was several days before she picked it up and realized that it wasn't chocolate.

It seems that Anders didn't quite know what to make of the "Easter grass" in the basket; he was very interested in it but would make a horrible face each time he picked some up.

Next year he'll probably be old enough for an egg hunt (with some help, no doubt.)

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

05 April 2009

XC Skiing Princess Loop

Upon arriving in the Gorge, we decided to learn a new winter sport each year. Winter 2006 was snowboarding; Winter 2007 was snowshoeing; Winter 2008 was snow sculpture1. This winter the sport of choice is cross country skiing. (We are going to run out of sports that I'm willing to do but I figure there is still downhill skiing and telemark. With the addition of Anders, we will probably have to relax our schedule a bit anyway.)

In January, we went to Portland and outfitted ourselves with XC gear, partly courtesy of Christmas funds from Mike's grandfather. In just so happened that on that particular day the store was short staffed. A couple of employees had skipped work in favor of playing in the snow. We waited for about an hour with Anders in arms before we were helped. It actually didn't bother us; since we had a baby with us on our trip into the city, we didn't have any grand ambitions for the day anyway. We ended up with a sizable discount for being the "most patient customers" ever. A few more trips like this and this baby may pay for itself! (Okay, maybe not.)

Now it is April and we had yet to use our new gear. Our friends Kris & Amy were also eager to give XC skiing a try so we headed up to Mt. Adams. (Mike was under the weather and stayed home w/ Anders.) We found the super easy trail Princess Loop and had a good time falling.

Mt. Adams is always a big draw for snowmobilers in winter, and this day was no exception. At this particular Sno-Park, one truck stood out above the rest. Enormous, with hydraulic lifts and automatic tire chains. Wonder how much it costs?

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

1Doesn't really count. We just fell off the plan.

04 April 2009

Walk in the Woods

Anders has been blessed with hand knit sweaters from Aunt Doris, his grandmother Lee, and our friend Davy. Our neighbor Bonnie also knitted Anders a sweater so we walked over through the woods one afternoon so Anders could model her creation. (The hat and blanket were knit by his grandmother.)

- Corinne, Mike and Anders Rocket

03 April 2009

Rolling Over

I set Anders down on his back to play while I gathered things together to go to town. Just a couple of minutes later I came back to this:

He had been working on rolling over for a while but this was the first time where I felt he had no assistance. Here is a photo of an earlier attempt and an impressed mother.

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

01 April 2009

Anders in Cloth Diapers

We've been using cloth diapers on Anders since he was a month or two old, but haven't mentioned them here yet. We knew from the start that we wanted to do something that wouldn't fill up the landfills, but the idea of using washable, reusable cloth diapers was both attractive (to our green side) and off-putting (to our clean side). When he was first born, we had enough new things to worry about, so disposables were the choice for the first month or so. Once he got a little older and we got used to having him around, we finally had time and at least a little energy to do the research and find diapers that would work for him. We didn't have any friends using cloth so we had no veterans to rely on.

There are so many more options out there now than the stereotypical "Chinese pre-fold" that most people think of. Corinne did get a tip on several places online that would send a sampler of a number of different styles and manufacturers so that you can try them all on your baby before buying in quantity. We tried quite a few different styles: cotton, fleece and hemp material, one-size-fits-all versus specific sizes, velcro fasteners versus snaps (no safety pins!), etc. So many options!

A friend did recommend gdiapers which are a nice disposable/cloth compromise. They are adorable cloth covers with disposable yet compostable/flushable inserts. We even found hemp cloth liners to replace the disposable liners. However, we had a lot of leaks with these. My theory is that they work better with girls than boys.

We ended up choosing diapers called Thirsties Fab-Fitted that fit him well and came in all sorts of cool colors.

These are worn with an additional outer cover as a moisture barrier, so you don't actually see the colors once they are on (the covers are white). But that didn't stop us from at least pretending during his photoshoot:

It took us a while to find a cover that fit Anders well. Most had too much material around the waist such that we couldn't get the waist tight enough without pinching off his legs. We found the cloth diaper shop Babyworks in Portland and stopped in for advice. They were very helpful and let us try a bunch of covers on Anders. The cover that fit him well was the Niji. Since it is made in Japan, we like to call it the Ninja cover.

We have almost three days worth of cloth diapers now, which means that we're cleaning them about every other day. It's not nearly as disgusting as it sounds; in fact, we just put the dirty ones directly into an airtight container until laundry time. Then two cycles in the wash (cold with no soap, followed by hot with diaper-friendly soap) gets them completely clean. That might change once he starts on solid food, but for now it's easy.

We've found that we much prefer doing laundry over hauling bags of diapers to the trash. We've even gone to cloth wipes. Other benefits are that the cloth fit much better than the disposables and as a result the blowout rate is much lower.

He still gets a disposable at night, though. Since he's sleeping straight through for about 9 hours each night, none of the cloth diapers seem to hold enough moisture for that period of time. One a day is sure a lot better than nine!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket