30 January 2010

Grandma Time

Grandma Ilvedson visited for the weekend. There's nothing like Grandma-time.

- Corinne, Mike and Anders Rocket

Date: January 30, 2010

28 January 2010

Sick Anders

We feel very fortunate that Anders was not sick at all during his first year; I can imagine how stressful a sick young baby can be. But it appears that we are making up for lost time, since Anders is on his fourth cold since October. Poor guy! He holds up quite well during the day; other than a runny nose or cough, you'd have no idea from his behavior that he doesn't feel well. Nighttime is a different story, though. He just doesn't sleep well. One of us has taken to the guest room to make room for the sick little guy in our bed.

On the positive side, he's now immune to four rhinoviruses.

Since he's been sick, I have sequestered most of his stuffed animals in the closet. Now we'll only have a single moose to disinfect once he recovers!

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket
Date: January 28, 2010

23 January 2010

Long Distance Grandmas

All of Anders grandparents are long distance but we keep in touch via phone and Skype. Anders is surprisingly interactive. He shows off his toys both via Skype and on the phone, although he hasn't figured out that the person on the other end of the phone can't actually see whatever it is that he holds up to the phone.

I don't know what he's saying in this Skype session, but he is clearly communicating something.

He does well on the old-school phone as well. We have taken to turning on the speaker and just handing the phone to him. As you can see below, he'll carry it around and babble to it for a long time.

This video is even clipped pretty short; in the original, he was carrying it around the house for four and a half minutes. Let's hope that communications media are still unmetered when he gets to be a teenager!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket
23 January, 2010

16 January 2010

Max's 2009 Critter Count

It's time for another of our end-of-year traditions: Max's annual "critter count." This is only his second hunting year - 2008 being the first year in which he had unsupervised time outside - but this year's tallies show that he has already made some rather stunning changes.

Gophers2251,100% !

Yes, that's right: 25 gophers. Individual hunting stories are documented here, here, and here. While we would have liked him to continue catching mice at his previous rate, his incredible gopher success more than makes up for it.

What has prompted this jump in effectiveness? Did he develop some secret gopher-hunting technique? Or is it the old "practice makes perfect"? Our favorite theory is that he is using his hunting as a way to prove his worth and curry favor now that he has some competition for our affection from Anders. He has to prove that he earns his keep.

His hunting slowed down significantly towards the end of the summer and into fall. It's entirely possible that he just didn't feel at full strength as a result of the thyroid condition that was diagnosed in November. Thankfully, the radio-iodine therapy did the trick; he just received a clean bill of health, his thyroid is functioning normally, and he has gained back most of the weight that he lost. When the spring thaw comes he should be ready to begin the hunt again.

Waiting for Spring

- Mike, Corinne, Anders Rocket, and Max

15 January 2010

Favorite Recipes of 2009

Ummmm.... we don't have any!

It all started with work's 3 month "surge" last spring where we worked crazy hours (while caring for an infant.) Work provided dinner so we literally didn't cook. In fact our neighbor from whom we buy all of our farm fresh eggs asked if there was something wrong with her eggs (there wasn't) as we hadn't bought any in some time.

We have both taken on more management responsibilities at work and our hectic days seemed to spill over into hectic evenings. And with the added evening activities associated with having a kid, our dinner routine tended to be: "What should we have for dinner?" "Uh, grilled cheese?" "No bread." "Do we have eggs? Omelettes?"

One of our new year's "resolutions" for 2010 is to enjoy dinner again. We are taking turns planning a menu for the week and (theoretically) just going to the grocery store once a week rather than stopping several days a week to pick up the missing ingredient for a last minute boring meal. We are planning a mix of easy dinners, more involved dinners, and make-ahead meals. So far, we are just 15 days into 2010 and have tried 5 new dinners - including one involving sardines! So far we've found the new approach to be much more enjoyable than trying to rack our brains each night for something to concoct.

So, here's to all the new favorite recipes we'll discover in 2010. Meanwhile, if you are looking for inspiration, check out our favorite recipes from 2008, 2007, and 2006.

And because Corinne's mom says every post must now have a picture of Anders...

Bon Appetit!

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket

13 January 2010

Elk in the Yard

Wednesday morning as I walked out to the garage to get the car, I heard a crunching noise coming from the forest. Since we've had a fair bit of ice, initially I thought that it might be ice and snow falling from the trees. After I stopped to listen for 30 seconds, though, I realized that the sound was somewhat periodic and was probably an animal walking through the woods.

I stood still for another minute, just listening and watching. My patience was rewarded when an elk walked out of the woods and into the yard not 50 feet from me! I stood still and just admired her as she gradually walked away from me and toward the fence to the north.

I walked inside to tell Corinne, but she was already watching. Soon after the first elk was joined by a second on the other side of the fence.

We've seen plenty of elk around these parts, typically in large herds. We're even fairly certain that elk have passed through our property - breaking a fence post on the way. But we hadn't actually seen any elk on our property until now.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket

10 January 2010

Kibbles -n- Bits

This morning when Anders woke up at 8am, I took him downstairs so that Corinne could get a few hours of extra sleep (she let me sleep in yesterday). He's pretty self-entertaining at this time in the morning, so he sat down at his toys to play and I sat down at the computer. We'd been downstairs in the Great Room for probably about 45 minutes when I noticed that Anders wasn't in the room anymore. I couldn't hear him, so I got up and started towards the kitchen to see where he'd gone.

As I looked down the hallway into the kitchen, I saw Anders sitting on the floor with what at first appeared to be a circle of Cheerios surrounding him. He often has his "snack cup" filled with Cheerios1 with him, so I figured that he had just put a bunch on the floor and was eating them from there. But then they looked too big to be Cheerios...

Then I realized that is where I had put Max's food dish.

Sure enough, as I walked up I discovered pieces of dry cat food all around him. And they weren't actually dry anymore. Some kibble was in his hands, and his shirt had streams of cat-food-infused drool running down the front. And his breath smelled like cat food.

He didn't put up much of a fight when I took the food away and wiped off his hands, face, and shirt. And the pineapple that he had for a morning snack covered up any residual odor of "chicken and liver flavor".

The next time this happens, I'll make sure that I reach for the camera before taking the food away.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders "Ralph Wiggum" Rocket

1It's not actually Cheerios, but rather one of a collection of organic, whole grain look-alikes. But he doesn't know the difference. They all taste better than cat food.

06 January 2010


We recently saw an intriguing product in the Williams-Sonoma catalog: an æbelskiver pan. When we visited our friends Tara and Jason in Denmark, Jason raved about these little Scandinavian pancake balls. But somehow we didn't eat any on our trip. Since I'm a sucker for kitchen gadgets, I bought a cast iron æbelskiver pan and tried them out.

The traditional filling is apple slices (hence the name), but you can use whatever you like. These had chocolate, strawberry jam and jalapeno jelly.

They are often a holiday treat in Denmark, and although they are not considered a breakfast food in that culture, we ate them as such. Even Anders was a fan!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket
Date: January 6, 2010

04 January 2010

Ode to Moose

Back in August we took at trip to Seattle to help out Mom after her hip surgery. While there, Pastor Barbara (who married Mike and I) stopped by to check on Mom and to bring Anders a gift, a plush moose. Anders already had plenty of stuffed animals but for some reason Moose was special. He immediately took to Moose and has never looked back.

We've heard stories from other parents of what happened when their son/daughter couldn't find their favorite animal. Since it appeared that Anders has selected Moose as the "special" one, I decided that we had better find a second one, just in case. It took me some searching to find an exact match, but I did manage to find one from a seller on eBay. It never hurts to have a backup!

And now, a really bad original haiku about moose:

soft, brown and furry
your antlers make good handles
comfort while i sleep

Poetry is not our strong suit. ;)

- Mike, Corinne, Anders Rocket, Moose #1 and Moose #2
Date: January 4, 2010

03 January 2010


This weekend something caught Mike's eye out our Great Room windows, and when we looked we discovered a bobcat hunting in our yard! We're hoping that he was hunting gophers.

He spent quite a while walking around the yard on the snow, in no particular hurry. We, of course, were excitedly snapping photos and video through the window the whole time. We eventually walked outside to see if we could get a view that wasn't obstructed by the window, leaving Max and Anders (who happened to be napping) in the house, of course. But when the cat detected us he bounded off into the woods.

But not five minutes later, he was back in the yard again. He sat on a rock surveying the area - including us, now back inside - for at least 10 minutes or so before continuing on his way.

This was our first bobcat sighting at our place, but it makes one wonder what we miss when we aren't looking out the window!

- Corinne, Mike, and Anders Rocket
Date: January 3, 2010

01 January 2010

Christmas in NJ, NYC

We planned to spend this Christmas in NJ visiting my family. But in an exciting twist, Corinne's mom Donna actually made the trip with us! She'd never been to NJ or NYC and didn't have any other plans. But really, we think that she couldn't stand being that far away from Anders! And in a gracious gesture, my parents indicated that they would even share their "Anders-time" with Donna; they gave her the Midnight-8am timeslot. ;)

Despite our distaste for traveling during the holidays, our flights were actually pretty uneventful. Since we were traveling with Donna, we drove to Seattle and flew non-stop from there to Newark. We opted for an evening flight (rather than a red-eye), and everything went pretty smoothly - particularly when compared to our last travel experience.

We arrived in Newark around midnight, and I sent my dad a text message to let him know that we had arrived. He was waiting at cousin Mindy's about 40 minutes away, so the plan was that he would start heading to the airport while we waited for our bags. Once we had picked up all of our checked bags, I gave him a call to let him know that we were ready. It was at that point that I discovered he didn't have text service on his phone - so he hadn't left yet! Oops. At least Anders had fun wandering around the relatively empty baggage claim. (I'm still not sure how he was even awake at this point!)

Anders's cousins, Katya & Nadija, were very excited to see "cousin Anders." (Apparently he has graduated from the "baby Anders" moniker that they used on our last trip east.) They loved spending time with him and just watching him do whatever he would do.

They would sometimes even fight over who could stand closer to Anders.

...and Anders would usually be oblivious (or at least indifferent) to the whole thing.

We try to keep Christmas a low-key affair. One rule that we have adhered to is "gifts for those under 18 only", which saves a lot of shopping, stress, and general hassle around the holiday, leaving lots more time for just enjoying each others' company.

Anders, of course, made out like a bandit. His haul included lots of new books, some toys, and a giant stuffed dog. We weren't sure how much we were going to have to ship back when it didn't fit in our suitcases, but with Corinne's mad packing skills she managed to fit everything in - no extra boxes!


For the girls, Corinne found pettiskirts from an artist on Etsy.com, probably her favorite shopping site and Internet time-suck. These particular dresses also had shirts with ice cream cones that matched the skirts, and Corinne just couldn't resist. The girls really seemed to like them too.

Since this was Donna's first trip to the tri-state area and she'd never been to New York City before, we planned a one-day NYC extravaganza that included as much sight-seeing and city experiences as we could fit into a single day. But given that it was the weekend after Christmas, we ended up with a more "authentic" experience than we had hoped.

Driving in to NYC can be a real hassle - not to mention expensive, considering average downtown parking rates - so we decided to take a ferry across the Hudson from NJ into the city. When we arrived at the NY Waterway terminal in Weehawken, NJ, we realized that we may have made a mistake. The line was unbelievably long and seemed to be moving very slowly. But by this point we were committed, so we waited the hour or so that it took to get tickets and get on a ferry.

The weather was relatively warm and clear, so we were treated to a nice view of the NYC skyline from the ferry.

Once in the city, the first scheduled activity was classic tourist: Grey Line Sightseeing bus tour. Corinne and I hadn't taken one of these tours before, and we thought that it would be an easy way to get Donna a broad overview of downtown. We wouldn't get to see anything particularly up-close, but we would cover Times Square, Greenwich Village, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center site, Battery Park and more, all in the span of just a few hours.

My parents had done the bus tour before, and Drew didn't think that the girls would survive on the bus for that long, so they wandered the city while we boarded the bus for the start of the tour. We found seats on the second story of the double-decker bus for our two hour tour.

It was fun to see the city from the higher vantage point, but the traffic was horrendous. The bus just crawled along the city streets, and what was scheduled to be a two hour tour ended up closer to three and a half. The bus was full the whole time, and since we had a scheduled event for later that evening, we didn't get off at any of the scheduled stops to do more exploring; we just didn't have time. We ended up getting off the bus before the last stop and walking to our destination to meet back up with the rest of our group.

We coordinated to rejoin our group near Rockefeller Center where we planned to take a quick glimpse at the famous tree before heading to dinner. But at this point the crowds became overwhelming. We walked down 5th Avenue, but only barely. It was virtually impossible to move - particularly with Anders in a stroller. At one point I found a corridor in which I could actually make forward progress, and it was inside of some velvet rope. It was only when I got to the other end that I realized it was a roped-off section in front of some of the 5th Ave windows displays, and I was walking the wrong way. I got some ugly looks and comments from folks in the crowd, but at that point I didn't care.

Once we found the rest of our party (thank goodness for cellphones!), we started looking for someplace to grab some dinner. Drew really wanted to see the tree while we were there, so he redirected us through the plaza in spite of the crowds. It was pretty slow going, but Donna did get to see the famed tree after all.

After that diversion, we only had a few minutes to eat before we had to get to our final scheduled event for the day. So we ended up eating at one of the many "original Ray's pizza". The place was packed, the lines were long, and the pizza was mediocre. We ate quickly and left.

After our rushed dinner, we split from the rest of our party. My parents took Anders and spent a few minutes relaxing in the lobby of the timeshare they own nearby where Anders got to experience his first TV dinner and football game. Afterward they took the ferry back to NJ and drove home.

Meanwhile, Donna, Corinne, and I remained to complete our NYC experience with a Broadway show: Fela. As a relatively new show, we didn't know that much about it other than there was lots of music and dancing. The show is based on the true story of Fela Kuti, a charismatic Nigerian musician and activist who operated the "Afrika Shrine" nightclub in Lagos during the '70s. The show immerses you in that environment as if you were at the club. Fascinating, energetic, and at times depressing show. After the show, we took the bus back to the ferry (which was now much less crowded) and headed home. After this experience, I think it will be quite a while before we go into New York anywhere near a major holiday.

Our NYC trip provided enough excitement and mayhem, so for the rest of the trip we didn't do anything in particular. Going for a walk in downtown Newton sure is a lot more relaxing than in NYC!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
Date: January 1, 2010