25 October 2009

Weekend in Walla Walla

We haven't had much of an opportunity to hang out with our friends Malinda and Jean in Seattle, even though we don't live that far away anymore (250 miles is a lot closer than the 3,000 when we were still in Boston.) So we decided to take a vacation together in Walla Walla, WA.

Why Walla Walla? It's only about a four hour drive from both Seattle and Trout Lake; it's a small town but has a college (Whitman College) that is more likely to give it some energy; and none of us had ever been there, so why not?

We used VRBO.com to find a three bedroom rental house that would be big enough for the four adults and three kids to fit comfortably for four days. Rental houses are a great option because they offer a more comfortable "home-like" environment. In particular, the presence of a full kitchen allows us to cook most of our meals.

We didn't have many planned activities for the trip, and that was on purpose. The whole point was just to get together someplace away from both of our homes (and the associated distractions). And with a total of three kids under 3 years of age, any planning that we did ahead of time would inevitably be futile anyway.

A few friends of ours actually went to Whitman, so we did have a few recommendations for things to do while we were there. One destination was the "taco truck" on Rose St downtown, known for being one of the best taco trucks in the region. Good stuff, although it's a good thing that they had pictures on their menu; they had things that we'd never heard of before.

Most of the meals came out of our own kitchen. We took turns preparing dinners, and Jean and I both brought some of our favorite kitchen tools (Jean brought his knife set; I brought a 5qt dutch oven.) Agriculture is the largest industry in Walla Walla, and the farmers' market that we attended was packed and full of delicious in season fruits and veggies, including large bags of the eponymous sweet onion.

On one evening, we did venture out of Walla Walla to nearby Waitsburg for some of the best Southern food we've had in a long time at the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe. Certainly not where we expected to find it!

And of course we just had to go out for breakfast to a local pastry shop. Yum.

Anders caught a mild cold on this trip, his first ever, with a runny nose being the most visible sign. But thankfully it didn't seem to affect him much. We slept in as much as we could (which actually wasn't much.)

Most of our time was spent at home, but we did do a bit of exploring around Walla Walla, including a jaunt around Pioneer Park.

With the kids around, there wasn't much actual "downtime" for true relaxation. But I guess that's just part of parenting, right?

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

18 October 2009

Beautiful Evening

We captured these photos on a beautiful fall evening.

This is why we live here. There's really nothing more that needs to be said.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
Date: October 18, 2009

13 October 2009

Professional Photo Shoot

We like to think that we're fairly good photographers, but there's still no substitute for a professional. So around Anders's first birthday we scheduled another photo session with Michael Peterson.

We tried to be creative with the props that we brought to his studio for the shoot. Overall Anders wasn't quite as cooperative as during his previous session at 6 months, but we still got some good results.

We picked bright, primary colored toys: Viking Toys "Chubby" cars, wooden stacking rings, megablocks toolset, etc.

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and Anders seems to have picked up on that. He has his own set of kitchen utensils, bowls, tupperware, etc., though for the photoshoot we brought some of "ours" as well.

It was fall, and we happened to have some around. Why not?

This one was suggested by Michael and we had high hopes for it. We envisioned him throwing the flour into the air and just generally having a good time. But he was much more cautious and tentative about it, and rarely looked up at the camera; he was focused entirely on the flour. By the end he started to loosen up a bit and actually have fun.

Okay, so we know that these are "fake" in the sense that the diapers will have a white cover over them so that you won't actually see the color underneath. But what fun is that?

The blanket shots from the first photo shoot came out so well that we just had to try them again. The blanket and hat were made by my mom, and who knows how much longer the hat will actually fit him.

Anders still loves his books. This shot was an excuse to use Michael's super-fancy low F-stop lens to get a really shallow depth of field.

In addition to all of the studio "prop" shots that we had planned for Anders, we got some good family shots as well.

If you reached the end of this endless slew of photos, congratulations! You must be one of Anders's grandparents. :)

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
Date: October 13, 2009

11 October 2009

Picking Apples

Fall means apple harvest in our orchard, and it was a pretty good orchard harvest last year in general. We had cherries for the first time, and apples were plentiful. The plums were virtually non-existent this year for some reason, but I guess we can't expect everything to be bountiful every year.

We did eat some apples fresh, but most were processed into applesauce. We used to go through the effort to can the applesauce, but it turns out that freezing applesauce is just as effective and a lot easier.

Anders loves applesauce, so it's pretty convenient that we have a reliable source of pesticide-free (though not bug-free) apples!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
Date: October 11, 2009

10 October 2009

Pumpkin Patch

Parenting 101 says that you must take your kids to a pumpkin patch around Halloween, so we hopped in the car and drove to Draper Farm in Hood River.

This farm also advertises a "corn maze" each year. I've always been fascinated by the idea of a corn maze, imagining a corn version of the maze from The Shining, carefully groomed and offering a new challenge each year. But alas, this wasn't really a maze but just a fixed path through the corn with no actual choices to make. We were disappointed, but Anders didn't seem to mind. Next time I want to find a real corn maze.

The wind was particularly cold and gusty, so the visit to the farm was quick. We finished off the evening with some warm food and brownies at the Eliot Bay Pub in Parkdale, where we discovered that Anders likes brownies and ice cream. (duh)

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
Date: October 10, 2009