30 March 2014

13/52 - Spring Break

When Spring Break arrived at Anders's preschool, we took some time off to make it a break for the whole family.

Our first Spring Break activity was a hike on Mt Adams. We worked the morning (from home) and then took the afternoon off to enjoy spring's first spell of warm weather. We picked an easy route with only a small elevation change, from the Mt Adams Horse Camp to the Big Tree (which we have visited before), only a couple of miles roundtrip.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife, but there were signs everywhere.

Something lived here

While the snow had melted at our place, there were still significant patches in the woods at this higher elevation. In fact, we had to start our hike at a slightly different spot because the access road still had a downed tree across the road.

Anders has entered the "joke" phase, with joke intentionally in quotes. However, on this hike he made up a fairly decent (for a 5 year old) joke:
A: Knock knock
B: Who's there?
A: Moss
B: Moss who?
A: Hey, wait for moss! (wait for us)

At least it makes sense, so that's progress.

Hooray for spring (and summer) in the Gorge!

The more significant part of our Spring break celebration was a long weekend trip to McMinnville, OR. We rented a small house downtown with some friends; with two 5-year olds, one 2-year old, and three adults on the trip, there was never a dull - or quiet - moment in the house.

Our two planned destinations on this trip were the Enchanted Forest and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. Since the warm and clear weather did not follow us to McMinnville, we chose the day forecast to be less rainy for our visit to the Enchanted Forest.

The kids had a great time exploring the rides and exhibits.

The weather held out for us all day! But not everything went so smoothly.

When we passed the Haunted House, Anders decided that he really wanted to go in. We tried to convince him that it was pretty scary, but he was undeterred. Yes, this is the same kid that only recently made it all the way through his first movie. We didn't want to be too protective, so we made a deal with him. In another part of the park, there was a small, dark (admittedly creepy) Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole that went through a tree stump, down into the ground, under the walkway, and out the other side. When we first passed it Anders wouldn't go in. If he wanted to go into the Haunted House, he would first have to go down the rabbit hole.

"Okay, no problem!"

We walked back to the rabbit hole, and Anders went straight into the rabbit hole and out the other side. His friend Bridger, who also wanted to go into the Haunted House (though less enthusiastically), still wanted no part of the rabbit hole, so he was eliminated. But Anders had passed the test and was ready. Or so he thought.


Anders and I walked slowly through the house. When we were about halfway through, Anders turned to me and said "I know that this isn't real." But his bravery only lasted for another minute or so until a louder-than-average sound from down a dark hallway pushed him over the edge. We walked more briskly to the exit.

...and After.

When Corinne praised him for being so brave he burst into tears and responded: "No, I was only brave for half of it." Still, we are pretty proud of how he handled himself.

Overall, a successful day of fun!

Our other destination has been on our "to visit" list for quite some time: Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. We picked the right day to be indoors; the sky dumped rain all day. We had two giant buildings to explore!

The big draw for most people is the Spruce Goose, which is enormous and impressive. It's so large that the museum building in which it is housed was designed and built around that plane.

Here's the model...

...and now the real thing, or at least as much as we could fit in the lens at one time.

If you look closely, you can see the two kids at the bottom center.

For us, perhaps the most exciting aspect was seeing one our our own creations on display in the museum: the Insight (aka ScanEagle) Unmanned Aircraft. Here Anders and Bridger, both children of former Insitu employees, do their best impression of a ScanEagle in front of the real thing.

We skipped the Evergreen Water Park. If we wanted to get wet, we could have stood outside for a minute. I did get to ride in one of the vehicles before we left. (Needs more horsepower.)

Fun vacation!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

23 March 2014

12/52 - Science, Engineering, and Dessert

For Saint Patrick's Day, we continued an Ilvedson tradition: Blarney Stones. They are blocks of yellow cake frosted with vanilla frosting and coated in chopped peanuts. They didn't look much like stones to me; there must be something lost in translation.

Three generations making stones

Here is a recent exchange with Anders:
Anders: The boys had to use the girls bathroom at school today.
Mike: Did it look different?
Anders: Yes.
Mike: How was it different?
Anders: It was prettier.

I guess this aspect of male/female differences starts earlier than I thought. Before we know it, the girls' bathroom will have couches.

In the 'not so fun' category, one of the stairs to our bedroom collapsed underneath us a couple weeks ago. The screws holding up the bracket just sheared off. Oops. Thankfully, it was the fourth stair from the bottom, so we didn't have far to fall.

Since then, we removed all of the stairs (one at a time, of course) to check and replace the hardware. If one failed, how many more were ready to go? The second stair that I replaced had only one remaining screw holding up one side. Overall, just under 12% of the supporting screws were either missing or broken. (Of course we kept track!) The old screws were not only undersized but actually the wrong kind: sheet metal screws. Now that all of the screws have been replaced, we can walk a little easier. As an added bonus, the stairs are also much quieter.

As you might imagine, a 5 year old changes his mind many times about what he wants to be when he grows up. (Even now, are any of us really sure?) For the first part of the year, Anders wanted to be an artist when he grew up, very likely inspired by his Uncle Leif. But now he has changed his aspirations to science. He spent part of the weekend re-conducting some of his preschool science experiments with Grandma Donna.

While technically that last photo isn't a controlled science experiment - he's smashing a coconut with a hammer - he did learn what the inside of a rotten coconut looks like. And he's wearing safety glasses, so that totally counts.

Anders and I took a stroll through some of the earliest trees that we planted after we moved to River Ford Farm. These trees have established themselves pretty well and are now really starting to take off. This one is now more than twice as tall as Anders, and they are roughly the same age.

The leader - the main stem above the last ring of branches - is at least 2' feet tall and grew in a single year. Thankfully, Anders doesn't quite grow that fast.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to me! I am now officially the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. You're welcome.

My birthday pudding (chocolate)

I also had birthday Key Lime Pie and Banana Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting. So you can have your blarney stones; I'll take my pudding, pie, and cake, thank you very much. :)

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

16 March 2014

11/52 - Spring Games

What a difference a week makes! The snow is long gone with no signs of returning. Anders went on a walk and came back with "Seven signs of spring":

  1. It's a sunny day
  2. Robins were in the yard
  3. Buds are on trees
  4. Seed cones on the ground
  5. You can see the grass
  6. You can see the potholes on the road
  7. Strawberry plants growing (I suspect that it was a weed)
  8. No more snow!
I guess that's actually eight, isn't it.

Quote of the week from Anders, after watching the American Serengeti special:

Bison poop out their babies.

Thank you, National Geographic, for taking care of that whole sex education thing for us.

Out of the blue one day, Anders decided to design his own games! He just sat down with some paper and started drawing. All of the concepts and designs were done without any help, and even without our knowledge of what he was doing! We asked Anders for a description of each game, and here's what he told us.

The first one is called Ice Cream Cone. The driver in the car (at the upper right) wants some ice cream, so he has to drive around the maze to get to the orange ice cream truck.

I'll take mint, please.

The second one is called Car Smash and basically involves the monster truck jumping over the cars. (Given the name, I'm guessing that he is not always successful.)

The next one is called Gold Mine, and this is a hard one. The LEGO guy has to find all of the gold in 5 minutes. There is even gold hidden inside a rock. When the timer beeps, all of the gold has to be found. (The "timer" is the cone-shaped piece in the upper left.)

The last one is a car maze (KAR MAZ), complete with labels: Start (S), Finish (F), and a clue that says Broken (BLKN). I think this is the first instance of Anders spelling on his own.

Awesome. He's going to be a nerd like his parents!

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

10 March 2014

10/52 - Last of Winter

We returned from Arizona just in time for a snow storm here in the Gorge. By Sunday afternoon we had over a foot of new snow on the ground - a welcome sight for us after a long dry winter spell.

This is probably the last opportunity to play in the snow!

We've been teaching Anders our phone numbers, since it's a good thing for kids to know. It has taken a bit of repetition, but he can now rattle off my cellphone number - including area code - without even thinking too hard. We are now working on adding Corinne's number to his repertoire. (Things were easier when we were kids: only one phone number, and it only had 7-digits!)

Of course, turn about is fair play. Now he wants to teach us his phone number, which I think he made up on the spot: 19638-256-4344. Feel free to call it; it appears to be an international number somewhere in Syria.

Quote of the week from Anders:
"Never go hiking on Venus. Because above it has poisonous clouds."

One of the great things about preschool is that they can do giant, messy art projects at school and not make a giant mess at home. Case in point: 'gadget' painting.

By the end of the project, the shark outline disappeared entirely. But it's at preschool, so somebody else has to clean it up! Unless, of course, you are one of the parent helpers that day. Oh well.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

02 March 2014

9/52 - Arizona Biking, Gorge Police

Last week Corinne and I were in Arizona for our quarterly business meetings. Since Seeq is a virtual company, several times a year we all travel to the same location for a week. Depending on your perspective, traveling for a week every three months is either a perk or a drawback. But it's pretty hard to argue with the sun and warmth of Arizona in February.

Most of our days are packed with meetings and technical discussions, but at least one day has some sort of outdoor group activity planned to get our blood flowing and counteract all of the restaurant food associated with business travel. This trip's event was a mountain bike ride in the McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The whole company embarked on a 15-mile guided bike ride through the Sonoran Desert on a beautiful, clear and breezy morning.

Several hours of riding later, we were all ready to settle back in to our hotel conference rooms for our next meeting. Sort of.

We are grateful to have a good support network in the Gorge of friends and family who are willing to take care of Anders while we are on these trips!

While we were away, Anders's preschool had Hood River police officers come speak to the class. According to one of the other parents who was there, Anders was particularly animated during their visit. Some quotes:

On the taser gun:
Anders: I know what that little yellow gun on your vest does.

Officer: What?

Anders: It shoots out a string with a little hook on the end.

On the unmarked police car:
Anders: HEY, I know why that car doesn't look like a regular police car.

Officer: Why?

Anders (with a raised eyebrow and flash in the eye): It's so the police can be SNEAKY!

Hm... I think it's a good thing that we don't live in Hood River. I fear that our names are now on a 'list'.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders