27 April 2014

17/52 - Birds and Old Books

A few years ago, our friend Jen read the book Hardscrabble Harvest by Dahlov Ipcar in one of her Kindermusik classes, and we instantly loved it. Dahlov Ipcar wrote children's books from the 1940s into the early 1980s, and this particular copy was actually from Jen's own childhood. Most of Dahlov's books have been out of print for some time, but luckily for us a Maine publisher had just started reprinting them. Since then, we've become big fans. Her artwork is fresh even after all these years, and the nature inspired story-lines are a hit with Anders. He now has a "Dahlov Ipcar" section of his bookshelf, and he accesses it frequently.

Dahlov Ipcar is still producing art today at the age of 96. Given her age, we decided now was the time to let her know how much we love her books. Anders drew this picture for her which we sent along with a note.

In response, Dahlov's son, who manages her correspondence and website, sent Anders a picture of a reindeer that Dahlov drew at the age of 4 1/2, along with her review of Anders' drawing:
In her estimation, [Dahlov's reindeer drawing] wasn't as fully developed as Anders' deer picture. She thinks his is an excellent work.

They even posted his drawing on Dahlov's own website. How's that for inspiration?

Our friends at the Mount Adams Resource Stewards (MARS) organized and hosted a Bird Festival at the Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge in nearby Glenwood. The event included all sorts of bird-related activities. Biologists from the Washington Fish and Wildlife were capturing small songbirds using mist netting, then tagging, weighing, recording and releasing the birds. There were also guided bird walks through the refuge. We arrived just in time for Anders to build a bluebird birdhouse from pre-cut kits.

We gave Anders the hammer and tried to keep our fingers as far away as possible.

Did you know that the inside of a bluebird house should be notched or scored so that a young hatchling can climb to the opening? Neither did we. (If he can't get to the opening, perhaps that is a sign that he shouldn't be jumping out, either. Just a thought.)

The Gorge Discovery Center brought a few of their raptors to the event. All of their birds have some disability that prevents them from being released to the wild.

This American Kestrel was illegally captured as a baby by people who were planning to train it for falconry. As a result, he has imprinted on humans and never had the opportunity to learn hunting skills from his natural-born parents.

This Great Horned Owl has poor depth perception and would be unable to hunt very successfully.

This Red-Tailed Hawk has a damaged wrist and can only extend one of its wings about 80%.

All three birds are flight capable. Whenever the wind blew, they would all turn into the wind and spread their wings.

Oh, and we also won a pair of nice binoculars in the festival raffle! This was the first in what is hoped to be an annual event. I suspect we'll be back.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

20 April 2014

16/52 - Easter and Jokes

We always have a good time decorating and dying eggs for Easter. For the past few years, we have eschewed the standard egg dying kits in favor of more creative options. For colors, we just use straight-up food coloring with some vinegar. In previous years, we tried other even more "natural" options (turmeric, beets, etc.) but ultimately couldn't get the vibrant colors of ordinary food coloring.

But our eggs aren't just dyed, oh no. Crayons and stickers - applied or removed at the right time - play prominently in our egg decorating schemes.

This year, Anders added his own little twist: the day before we dyed eggs, he made an Easter egg map showing the different colors and patterns that he wanted to make. (Can you tell he's the son of two Type-A personalities?)

Periodically during the dying, Anders would consult his map to find the next egg pattern. In the end, he did a remarkable job (with a little help) achieving his plan.

We spent the better part of an afternoon on our 4 dozen eggs.

Volcano, Heart, and Warning

Spots, More Spots, a Rocket and Rocket's Current Age

Venn diagram, an egg about to hatch, pom-pom

The Easter Bunny would have lots of beautiful colors to hide.

On Easter morning, we ventured outside to see what we could find.

Anders brought his metal robot bucket along to collect eggs, though thankfully he has learned that he should place the eggs into the bucket rather than drop them.

Some of the eggs led a trail into the woods, ending in a small clearing.

A basket? In the woods? How did this get here?

Happy Easter!

One of the items Anders received for Easter was a copy of Bennett Cerf's Book of Riddles, first published in 1960. I can only imagine that the jokes were old even when the book was published. It includes such classics as:

Q: Why did the little boy throw the clock out the window?
A: Because he wanted to see time fly.

Q: What dog keeps the best time?
A: A watch dog.

Anders loves jokes, and this book feeds right into it. He has memorized all of the jokes in the book and loves telling them to anyone who will listen.

Before he got this book, Anders hadn't heard any of these jokes; to him, they are all new, and all hilarious. He re-tells them many times, and each time we are supposed to play along. When we don't (eventually everyone gets tired), he will explicitly tell us to "pretend that you don't know the answer."

My father and grandfather are renowned for their penchant for telling bad jokes. As Corinne said recently, "Anders must get his sense of humor from the Daly side."

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

13 April 2014

15/52 - Anders in T-Ball

With the arrival of spring, Anders has been introduced to the next season's sport: baseball. The Trout Lake T-Ball team is 7 kids, all of whom will be his classmates when he starts at the Trout Lake School in September. At the first practice, it was clear that Anders didn't really know much about baseball. But he was in good company with many of his teammates. For three weeks they practiced a couple hours per week learning the basics of throwing, catching, fielding and hitting. Anders enjoyed running the bases.

Before the team had even put all of the pieces together, it was time for Opening Day! The first pitch of the Mt Adams Little League was thrown by a local celebrity of sorts: Vic Wild, two-time Olympic gold medal snowboarder, who grew up in White Salmon, WA!

I didn't know the rules for T-ball until the first game, even though I was one of the volunteer coaches. Here they are in a nutshell. Every person bats once per inning, and there are 3 or 4 innings, whichever seems closer to about an hour of play (variable based on team sizes and pace of play.) Each team bats once through the order, hitting the ball off of a tee. The batter and each runner advance by one base each time. When the last batter is up, he automatically gets a grand slam, clears the bases, and the teams switch. Fielding involves getting to the ball, picking it up, and throwing it to first base. There are no outs. No one plays in the outfield (for obvious reasons).

The team.

Our team had a lot of parent participation, with around four regular parent/coaches including the official coach (whose son is also on the team.) Once the kids had the basics, the majority of the coaching was making sure that they were paying attention and in their "ready position" when in the field. It often looked like this:

Yes, this is during a game.

It's been fun watching the kids grow and learn new skills. Give them a uniform, batting helmet, and glove and it almost looks like they know what they are doing. The team sponsor was a local engineering firm - Tenneson Engineering - so the uniforms even said Engineering!

A local professional photographer took team and individual photos; I'm assuming they were for the Topps trading cards yet to be issued. For the individual shot, the photographer took just one shot of each child. ONE PHOTO. And somehow, magically, Anders was both looking at the camera AND had a nice smile. Amazing.

For the group photo, we got some comments from the photographer on the ratio of coaches to players (one player was absent), but I say the more the merrier.

That's not a backdrop; it's real. Best T-Ball field in the country.

With only 9 games in the season, this year's T-ball will be over before we know it. But I have a strong suspicion that Anders will be back next year.

We'll leave you with this Anders quote of the week and a photo from last summer:

Anders: Mom, did you know that sometimes you have to be uncomfortable?
Corinne: You do? Why?
Anders: To look fancy.

Fancy. (And uncomfortable.)

- Mike, Corinne and Anders

07 April 2014

14/52 - Window Washing

There are always lots of outdoor chores to do when spring arrives. While Corinne and I were cleaning up the yard, Anders decided to wash the windows. Given how dirty they were, he couldn't have made them any worse so we gave him free reign.

We think he may have gotten confused, though, since he seems to be trying to wash them with his tongue.

All told, he did a very nice job. Thanks, Anders!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders