28 January 2014


Perhaps this is cheating, but such is life. Here are the stories from the last two weeks.

As every parent knows too well, winter is the season of disease and school is the primary vector. Alas, Anders spent the latter part of week 3 sick at home. The fever started on Thursday.

Unlike his last big fever (roughly this time last year), this time we didn't try to control the fever with NSAIDs at all. We just monitored it to make sure that it didn't get out of control.

Average between left/right ears;
individual readings peaked above 103°.

Mostly, he slept on the couch and coughed. And coughed. Then took a nap. Then suddenly Friday night after a two hour nap, he woke up and wanted to build LEGOs. Just like that, the fever was gone.

But due to his illness - this one and a shorter one the following week - he was only able to participate in 25% of his scheduled roller skating and basketball events.

Just prior to his illness, Anders joined us for our semi-annual family outing to the dentist. Thankfully, nothing substantive to report there. Anders's 6/7-year molars are all the way through and look straight and clean. That's good news, because they are permanent!

He spends quite a lot of time talking while the hygienist is working; I'm not sure how she was able to get much done. Despite claims ahead of time that he would be brave, Anders chickened out on the X-rays again. We may have to resort to bribery next time.

Anders quote of the week, while reading National Geographic together:
Someday we should visit Afghanistan.

Hmmm... I think we'll wait and see on that one.

Since reading that issue of NG, Anders has also decided that one of his LEGO trucks is from Afghanistan.

Anders is still enamored with videos of model construction vehicles. He was overheard this week telling Grandma Donna about one of his trucks: "These hydraulics are really stiff.... it'll hold any pose," cribbing language directly from his favorite channel, CranesEtcTV.

Through YouTube's recommendation engine, Anders also discovered a series of stop animation truck videos which have become his newest obsession. He has also decided that he is going to make one.

And since I mentioned stop animation... this is the most entertaining toy construction vehicle flash mob video that we've ever seen.

Anders went on a real drawing spree this past week. He has a number of "How To Draw" books from Usborne and Ed Emberley that he really loves, and he sampled from several different sources to produce his pieces.

His first study was a series on trucks, of course.

One of nine truck drawings produced that afternoon

Next was a tour of the world. His tour included such popular stops as The Caribbean, Malibu, and the Arctic. (Malibu is another one that he learned through "Weird Things Are Everywhere.")

The Caribbean

This next one used the advanced technique of "thumbprinting."

Malibu, apparently crowded with paparazzi.

After finishing these drawing, he declared that "someday we should go to Malibu." That one seems a bit more likely than Afghanistan.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

12 January 2014


This past week we discovered that the Elementary School in White Salmon has roller skating in the gymnasium in the winter. It lasts for an hour on Thursday nights and they provide skates and music. Anders has never been skating before - either ice or roller - but this was a good way to get him started.

By about 5 minutes in, the gymnasium was full of kids spinning and falling. Anders really had no idea how to handle skates. We took turns basically holding him up while he floundered around.

Such form!

He took a few spills but he continued in good spirits.

This one didn't end well.

Being there with his friends Lauren and Bridger definitely kept him more engaged and motivated through the spills and frustrations.

By the end of the hour, Anders was still very unstable but had made some progress and didn't need quite as much support.

On the drive home, Anders surprised us both with his optimistic view of roller skating.

I'm going to learn how to do tricks. On my roller skates!

Then, a little later:
We should also buy some ramps, so that I can do tricks. Then we can make a whole show!

Looks like there may be more roller skating in our future. Hopefully his balance and control will get better with practice, because his parents are still sore from leaning over and holding him up for an hour!

Sometime in the past year or so, Anders has decided that his favorite food is cheese pizza. (It's a far cry from what he had previously declared: "green beans.") It was time for Anders to help make it himself.

We have made dough with him several times recently. I try to keep it educational and still interesting with little bits of wisdom along the way. I don't think he will ever forget that "the holes in bread are caused by yeast tooting."

He also learned several other important lessons:
1. He likes pepperoni, despite his protestations to the contrary prior to tasting it.
2. Pepperoni pizza is just cheese pizza with pepperoni on it.

Another milestone was passed this week: Anders watched his first complete movie that was made in the last 50 years. He is a sensitive person and has a particularly hard time with mean people in movies. Prior to this weekend, the only movies1 that Anders has watched in their entirety were: It's A Pleasure (1945), Royal Wedding (1951), and White Christmas (1954). We have attempted several others - Mary Poppins, Aristocats, Cars - but all required some skipping ahead or, in the case of the last one, having to stop entirely after only the first 5 minutes.

We can now happily report that we all thoroughly enjoyed Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, all the way through. Not only was the movie made in the last 50 years, it was made this century!

This was a big week of athletic firsts for Anders. In addition to roller skating, he also went to his first youth basketball event at the Trout Lake School. Anders has never played basketball before, but he was really excited to go. For an hour and a half, a group of about 20 kids around his age learned how to pass, dribble, and shoot. Or at least they received some instruction on those topics.

Anders has undoubtedly seen people play basketball before, but I guess he wasn't paying very close attention. When he was asked to dribble the ball, he dropped it to the floor and kicked it around just like he learned at soccer camp this past summer.

Shooting came relatively easily to him. He made his first shot attempt and had pretty reasonable form.

His dribbling, passing and catching skills, on the other hand, could use more practice.

Believe it or not, he actually did catch this one.

Between roller skating and basketball, Anders is going to get a good workout over the next few months!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

1 Technically, we also all watched Follow That Bird, but that hardly counts as a real movie.

08 January 2014


2014. Is that right? Really? Well, okay, I guess it is.

We typically don't do New Years' resolutions, but we did try to explain the concept to Anders. I don't think he quite understood what we were describing. However, he did identify one goal that he wanted to accomplish in 2014: Anders doesn't want to watch the 4th of July parade, he wants to be IN the 4th of July parade. Maybe we can get him a seat in the tractor train at the Trout Lake Fair Parade.

Trout Lake Fair Parade, August 2013

Anders quote from the week:
Did you know that Elvis Presley invented the good mood?

This one is actually a malapropism from a song about Elvis on one of his favorite albums, Weird Things Are Everywhere.

From an early age, Anders has just loved to laugh, and we take every opportunity to get him to do it.

We STILL have no snow on the ground. I haven't had to spend any time clearing the driveway this year, which is pretty great. But it doesn't feel like winter without it. (Of course, if we were still living on the East Coast now I'm sure I would be singing a different tune.)

We have used the unseasonable weather to spend more time outside. Last week Anders biked to the mailbox while we walked alongside. He has pretty much outgrown his current bike, which we bought about a year and a half ago; we plan to replace it in the spring. He has gotten pretty comfortable on it these past 6 months, so we decided to take off one of his training wheels for portions of this ride. He did pretty well and mostly laughed when he started to fall. We'll see how things go when they both come off.

Lauren and Anders, Summer 2013

Anders quote from the week:
Santa must have a good sense of hearing because he lives in the arctic and he can hear what people say in the State of Washington.

We haven't had a professional family photo shoot recently, so this past week we did a home version. It's a real challenge to get Anders to look at the camera for more than a second, and we're not sure why it seems so difficult. Corinne has an intervalometer for her camera, so she just sets the interval to 1 second and lets it go for a while why we try to think of ways to keep him both smiling in a natural way - as opposed to the tortured face kids smile - and looking at the lens. Challenging.

We don't have anything like a photo studio at home, so it takes some creativity and MacGyver-like skills to compensate. Here is the setup that we used.

Homemade light reflectors

Of course, you can't see the multiple chainsaws, gas cans, and other equipment in the finished product.

One of the test photos

Here's to 52 (at least) posts in the coming year about our happenings here in Southwest Washington.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

02 January 2014

Best Recipes of 2013

Here we are at the beginning of another year, so it's time for the 2013 edition of our best new recipes! You can now access all previous years' recipes through the recipes tag.

This was a good year for salads for us. While salads aren't particularly difficult from a preparation perspective, for some reason we have had a difficult time making really good ones. This one is. Of course, anything with goat cheese and avocado is probably delicious.

Delicious, particularly when cherry tomatoes are in season. We have made it with brown rice when we didn't have the specified quinoa on hand. The quinoa has a firmer texture, but the brown rice still works. (Oh, and see previous comment about avocado and goat cheese.)

This salad can be made mostly from pantry staples, with the addition of whatever tomatoes and greens are available and fresh at the time. Using fresh corn is, of course, also allowed.

When August comes and the summer squash onslaught has begun, it helps to have as many squash recipes on hand as possible. This is a simple casserole that can be adjusted or altered as you like. We like to add some black and refried beans for more texture variation.

Who needs to spend time stuffing individual peppers? The prep time to flavor ratio is much more reasonable in this recipe.

Okay, so this is barely a recipe. We had our SodaStream carbonator for about a year before we realized that we could make Italian sodas at home. It is now our go to summer refreshment. The cream is a nice addition.

Happy Eating!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

01 January 2014

Happy 2014!

We spent our New Year's Eve at home this year. But Corinne came up with lots of great activities for us to do.

Every celebration needs party hats. We translated our paper snowflake skills to party hats.

Next, party snacks. We have a "Kids in the Kitchen" cookbook that was given to Corinne when she was a kid, complete with hand-written book plate on the inside cover.

She forgot a line: "For a good time, ..."

Corinne has a real affinity for salty foods, so we chose to make the soft pretzels (or, as Anders says, "prentzels".) Anders operated the stand mixer to form the dough, then we each rolled pieces into shapes appropriate for the occasion.

Anders was excited that he was staying up all the way until midnight!1 As the hour approached, we filled our glasses with bubbly. Bubbly watermelon Italian soda, with sugared glass rims.

Before all heading to bed, we stepped outside with some sparklers to celebrate the new year.

Happy New Year to all!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

1What we didn't tell him is that we actually set our clock ahead by one hour. Happy New Year, Mountain Timezone!