30 December 2013


We made it to week 52 of the 'blog-a-week' project! (Of course, we only started at week 49, but who's counting?) Christmas and New Years celebrations were the big events this past week, of course, but here are some other miscellaneous happenings from the final week of 2013.

One night during dinner, Anders suggested that we put on head lamps and animal masks and walk through our forest after dinner. We were a bit surprised by the suggestion, but why not? By the time we got outside and Anders saw how truly dark it was in the forest, he was less interested in exploring. But we did wander around the yard looking for flowers and looking at the stars.

Goat, Chicken, and Bunny

One of our Christmas gifts this year was a Nest 'Learning' Thermostat. We have had issues with our furnace in the past, and as a result there has always been some stress associated with traveling in winter, in case something were to happen when we were gone. With Nest, we can check on the temperature of the house from our phone (or the web). I installed it myself in roughly the 30 minutes indicated, only to discover the following day that our current wiring setup doesn't keep the internal battery charged. Looks like I'm not quite done with this project yet.

Anybody out there want to help me run a Common wire into our furnace?

Anders got some good East Coast Grandma time in during her visit. He has now decided that he wishes he knew how to knit.

A few days before Christmas, we went to dinner in Hood River at Three Rivers Grill. The restaurant puts white paper down on the table on top of the tablecloth and provides crayons to children. Grandma Lee suggested to Anders that he could draw a place setting on the paper while we were waiting for our dinner. Well, Anders took it a step further and drew the place setting at all of our seats.

Counter-clockwise from the name: Fork, Plate with Food, Spoon, Knife with Napkin, Milk with Straw, Milk (first try: "it didn't turn out very good"), and Napkin (first try)

He wrote the name of the person at each place. The most interesting part to me is that he wrote some of the names while sitting on the opposite side of the table. And he wrote them upside down and PERFECTLY MIRRORED. He asked us how to spell Grandma, then would pause and think before writing each letter upside down. This photo was from his perspective.

Thankfully, no one at our table was named REDRUM

I think we're going to have each drawing laminated as a placemat. Then we can use them until he leaves for college.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

27 December 2013

Christmas at River Ford Farm

For a kid, there's no time quite like Christmas. Anders had two Grandmas and one Uncle visiting for the holiday this year! There was lots of preparatory activity for the holiday celebration. As previously mentioned, Anders did get to put some additional ornaments on the tree so that it was "more interesting." He must have type-A parents, because he put ornaments on the tree grouped by type.

On Christmas Eve, Anders and Corinne made cream cheese sugar cookies for Santa. I think Anders's favorite part was eating the raw scraps. (He must take after his father.)

Anders wrote a note to Santa to leave with the cookies under the tree. And he made sure to tell Santa how he has been good "all of his life."

Bet you can't tell which cookie Corinne decorated.

Then, it was off to bed for all of us. Eventually.


On Christmas morning we all slept in until about 9am, including Anders. No, I'm not kidding. (And please, watch your language around the children!) I don't know what we did right, but Anders loves his sleep as much as we do, and we take full advantage of it.

For us, Christmas is an all day event. We take our time opening stockings, then individually open presents.

Yes, that's a 40 in Leif's stocking. Santa knows.

Anders gets so engrossed by each present he opens that he has to stop and play with each one immediately, something we encourage. The rest of us just sit around and enjoy it.

We try to be as practical as we can with gifts. Sometimes that results in things which others would call "unusual". For example, my gifts included six books checked out from the local library and two of my own pants mended. Most of the books were not ones that I had heard of, so now I have a list of books to add to my list. I might even be able to finish a few of them before they are due back. But if not, I know where to get them again. And I don't have to figure out where to put them!

Anders really enjoys music and has a great ear and voice for it. So this Christmas we decided to introduce him to his first instrument: a recorder. Independently, Grandma Donna got him a new horn for his bike. So, of course this happened.

Hot Buttered Rum made another appearance this year, warming our evenings.

We had a lovely, relaxing holiday with family. What more could you ask for? Actually, snow would have been nice. But I guess there's always next year.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

24 December 2013

Snowflakes on the Tree

Our Christmas tree this year is a Grand Fir, taken from one of our stands. The stand was planted in 1984 and thus is 29 years old, so the tree was just a bit too large for our spot. After we cut the whole tree down, we lopped off about 20' or so of the top and hauled just that portion inside. Our trees grow so quickly, particularly as they get older, so the tops tend to be tall and thin with widely-spaced branches. That suited Corinne just fine because it meant fewer places to string lights. It only took about 2.5 hours to string them and stand the tree up.

As a separate winter activity, we folded and cut paper snowflakes. We hadn't done that in many years, and we all had a good time. Corinne read an article online that had some interesting pattern ideas, but the most useful part was to fold in quarters then thirds to create 6 pointed snowflakes.

As you have probably guessed by the title, the two projects did not end up separate after all. We ironed each snowflake, attached a string and a hook, and decorated our tree entirely with paper snowflakes.

One of the snowflakes below has Anders's special touch. Can you guess which one?

Here is the tree, in all its splendor.

We think our tree is awesome. When I say we, though, I am referring to me and Corinne. Anders, on the other hand, thinks "the tree isn't very interesting with just snowflakes." We left it in its pristine state for as long as we could, but this afternoon we added a select set of additional, non-snowflake ornaments. It is still beautiful. But as far as Corinne and I are concerned, we will remember this year's tree just as it was last night. Awesome.

As we tuck Anders in to bed tonight... well, let me rephrase that. As we force Anders into his bed tonight, we ask if he is tired. His response sums up the childhood Christmas Eve experience: "I am half tired and half energy."

Have an awesome Christmas, everyone!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

23 December 2013


My mom arrived this week to spend Christmas with us. She spent the first 3 days of her trip in Portland, and we joined her there for about half of that time. Portland doesn't dress up for the holidays nearly as much as NYC does, but you also don't have to fight with as many people to see it.

Mom is a world-class knitter and has a bit of a weakness for yarn shops. During her 3 days in Portland, she managed to visit 13 different yarn shops. She even found - and bought - some yarn in Tardis Blue from her favorite guilty pleasure, Doctor Who. We went to four different stores while we were with her. Thankfully, most of them had a small kids area to entertain Anders.

Anders loves his hand-knitted, brightly colored socks from my mom; the brighter, the better for him! When mom asked him earlier this year what color he wanted for his next socks, he picked pink. She couldn't quite bring herself to make him truly pink socks, but the compromise made everyone (Anders and Corinne) happy.

Anders quote of the week:
(While changing his clothes, naked Anders sits on a stuffed dinosaur.)
Corinne: Anders, don't sit on that stuffed animal when you don't have any clothes on.
Anders: Well, he doesn't have a very good sense of smell.

Since we brought the tall step ladder in to help us decorate the tree, Corinne decided that we should get some house-cleaning done with it as well. Nothing says holidays like vacuuming the cobwebs off the logs and ceiling. Who's with me?

This might be the thing that makes Corinne the most happy this Christmas.

Second Anders quote of the week:
Anders: Someday we should buy a boat.
Corinne: What kind of boat should we get?
Anders: Well, how about a Zodiac. <pause> Because in a zodiac, you can find a dozen constellations.

The weather has been unseasonably warm. As a result, there is virtually no chance of having a white Christmas this year. It does mean that we can walk outside and be comfortable, particularly with my "always cold" Mom.

On this walk through our forest, Anders took along his binoculars. Every few minutes he would ask us to stop so that he could "make sure that it was safe."

Anders and I made bread for dinner one night using the stand mixer method. He really enjoys using the mixer.

I let him feel the dough when the loaf was resting. Later that day as he was "massaging" my shoulders, he says "Hey, this part feels the same as the dough." Thanks, Anders.

We are particularly happy with our Christmas tree this year. But we'll save those pictures for another day.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

15 December 2013


We've had some pretty cold weather recently for our part of the country, with the lowest temperature that I saw at our house reaching 1.5° F. Last weekend Corinne went on an overnight trip to Portland with friends, so it was just Anders and I at home when the power went out early Sunday morning. It was good motivation for me to get our wood stove cleaned and the indoor wood pile replenished. Anders, however, wasn't going anywhere until the house warmed up.

This was AFTER he had already gotten out of bed

Power outages are a pretty frequent occurrence around here, particularly with the heavy snow and icy roads during the winter months. The upside is that the PUD has lots of experience. Power was restored shortly before I had the fire going.

Anders quote of the week:
Anders: Do you know what my favorite state in the whole wide world is? New Jersey.
Incredulous parents: Really? Why?
Anders: Because I get to see my cousins.

Corinne is working on knitting her first pair of socks. She's near the end and decided to have Anders try them on to check sizing. Anders thought they were great "toe-less socks."

Both Corinne and I were on a business trip all week, something that occurs every couple months. The logistics are tricky for us since we're both gone with no easy way to take Anders along. This time, Anders made the rounds between friends and family in the Gorge. He thinks it is a great adventure, and it makes us feel better that he enjoys it so much.

We took the train to Seattle for our trip, something that we should try to do more often. While most of our time there was tightly scheduled, there were lunchtime opportunities to explore.

Exploring Salumi

Max was home on his own, and he gave us a lengthy lecture when we returned. Now he is just happy to see us.

One of the first tasks after returning from our trip was a Christmas tree. Living on a tree farm as we do, our tree is as fresh as you can get. We cut the tree this afternoon, and as I write this post Anders is testing each of the light strings and handing them to Corinne who carefully wraps them around each branch.

Looks like somebody is getting excited about Christmas

How can there be only two weeks left in 2013? That isn't possible.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

06 December 2013


We just haven't had the time over the last few months (okay, years) to keep up the blog like we wanted. Although Anders has become more self-sufficient as he outgrew his "Rocket" infant nickname, somehow that has resulted in even less blog time...

Well, here's our attempt to get back into the groove. There are a number of "52 week" project ideas out there: portrait per week, weekly DIY project, etc. We like this blog's take on the 52 project idea: just a post a week with whatever little tidbits are interesting from that particular week. So, we'll give it a try. Perhaps less really is more. (And deadlines help, too.)

  • We discovered that Anders has two new teeth! He is getting another set of molars on the bottom. My bit of reading online indicates that these teeth are expected around age 6-7, so I guess he is ahead of schedule. Two (out of four) molar points are showing on the right and three on the left.

  • Anders asked to look at Mack trucks online, and in the process we found CranesEtcTV. This site offers reviews of construction vehicle models delivered in excruciating detail with a bit of British humor. Anders is a big fan and has decided we should watch two reviews a day until Christmas. Seems
    ambitious to me.

  • We had our first snowfall of the year on Monday. Anders was excited to use his vehicles to load and haul snow.

  • Anders asked for a remote control thresher shark that can slap "real life fish" with its tail. "It's mouth can open and when you open it out of the water, it squirts out water. There are remote control fish that you can take out if its belly. You also open its belly to take the batteries in and out."

  • Anders has a collection of Hess trucks and frequently puts them in a caravan. This week he had them full of emergency equipment, such as "vaccines, life-saving medicines, spare tires, and cables and hoses that can be used to pump the medicines into the hurt or injured trucks."

  • Anders often blocks our path around the house and occasionally demands a password (which he luckily supplies). But most often, a hug secures passage.

  • Anders LOVES turkey and pumpkin pie and can be caught smuggling turkey out of the kitchen.

  • We have a very unusual wind chill warning for -10 to -30 F. This feels like Montana weather!

    Happy week!

    - Corinne, Mike, and Anders