27 September 2015

38/52 - Soccer and Friends

Anders is playing on one of the Trout Lake soccer teams this season. It's a K-2nd team of 8 kids, though not everyone is able to attend each practice or game. They play 5 kids on a team at a time, which doesn't leave much opportunity for substitution. By the end of the game the kids are pretty tired. But they have a good time running around chasing the ball.

At the beginning of the season, we joked that Anders would make a great soccer referee: he's always near the ball but has a strict code of non-interference. Now that we're a few weeks in, his skills are improving. But I think he'd still rather watch to see what happens.

Now, if we can just get him to keep his tongue in his mouth when he plays.

As a continuation of Anders's birthday celebration, he wanted to have an overnight with Lauren and Bridger. We took it as an opportunity to have the families over for dinner, then release the parents kid-free until the following day.

And we obviously needed more cake, right?

The kids all slept together on a futon mattress on the floor. But when we checked on them an hour or so after bedtime, Anders was the only one not yet asleep, and it didn't seem like he had much room left on the bed. He happily retreated to his own bed back in his bedroom. But by the morning when we got up, ALL of the kids had migrated to Anders's bed sometime during the night.


- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

20 September 2015

37/52 - Anders's Birthday

Happy Birthday, Anders! It's hard to believe, but we now have a 7-year old first grader in our household.

Anders hadn't mentioned a big party or a list of friends he wanted to invite for his birthday this year, so we decided to keep it small and simple. It seems likely that in future years he will have more definite ideas in that area, so why rush it? The weather was perfect, so we sat outside and enjoyed ourselves while Anders opened some gifts.

Most of his birthday wish list consisted of LEGO models, all of which he loves. We have to ration them; each day, he gets to build one of the models from a single set. He gets so excited that he would try to build them all on the first day!

Grandma Lee knits some crazy socks for Anders, and he LOVES them. The crazier, the better!

A few weeks ago, Grandma Donna brought her leaky iron over to take apart with Anders, and they both had a great time doing it. So for his birthday, she had the idea to buy an old-fashioned alarm clock for him, with the primary goal for him to take it apart and see how it works. Great idea!

While we didn't have a large party, we were thankful to have some family with us to celebrate.

Grandpa Reidar helped with the Erector set.

But now to what everyone is waiting for: the cake. Since he has been old enough to express an opinion, Anders always seems to request a vehicle design for his cake. This year, he wanted a Hess Flatbed Truck, fashioned after one of his model Hess trucks. Sure, why not?

Anders requested the same flavor as last year: carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It's his favorite!

This year's new addition to the cake design palette: sugar glass. Leif made in the toaster oven and used it for the grille of the truck.

After all that effort designing and assembling the cake, though, it always ends the same. Delicious.

Nice work, Corinne! And Happy Birthday, Anders!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

13 September 2015

36/52 - Old Friends, New Wildlife, 1st Grade!

We see lots of wildlife around us on a daily basis; we practically have deer living in our yard fulltime. But it's still a nice surprise when we come across some of the less common creatures.

Coyotes are no stranger in our parts, but they are animals that we mostly hear and not see. (And boy, can they make a racket at night.) But recently we have seen a lone coyote out during the day and wandering through the lawn. We're guessing that it's a younger animal, perhaps born in the spring. We're glad to see him around! He should feel free to eat as many mice and gophers as he likes.

On a different day after some irrigation work outside, I walked back to the house only to find that somewhere along the way I had unknowingly picked up a hitchhiker: a praying mantis!

He seemed perfectly content just sitting on my shoulder. It even looks like he is posing for the photo.

After our shoot, I dropped him off back out in the tall grass. Hopefully that's where he wanted to go.

We happened to notice via social media that a college friend of ours from the East coast was going to be at a library conference in Portland, so we made plans to join him for dinner after his arrival. After he took a brief diversion - public transit in a new city is hard! - we took him out to a few of our favorite eateries in Portland while we refreshed old friendships.

Salt & Straw

Great to see you, Tom!

Each September, the town of Bingen WA hosts a Huckleberry Festival. In addition to the huckleberry ice cream and huckleberry pie, they always put together an engaging lineup of live entertainment. This year we enjoyed a raptor demonstration, a jazz band, a juggler, a swing trio, and a fire dancer/juggler pair.

The entertainment that made the biggest impact, though, was the evening rock band, LiveWire. While primarily an AC/DC tribute band, in their first set they did a veritable tour of 70s and 80s rock: Journey, Foreigner, Guns N' Roses. But the one that really stuck with Anders was their performance of Hot Blooded by Foreigner. (Thankfully, he doesn't really know what the song is about.) We stuck around for the beginning of their second set as well, but by that point it was getting late so we headed for home.

Before the show we had explained to Anders the concept of a tribute band, and that LiveWire was an AC/DC tribute band. But apparently we had neglected to mention that the band's first set wasn't actually AC/DC songs. The next day at home, Anders kept asking for us to play AC/DC. But when we did, he got upset: "Dad, I wanted AC/DC!" What he really wanted was Foreigner and Journey. I'm afraid he might be confused about AC/DC's music for some time. He did notice that the font on the side of his AC/DC Hot Wheels vehicle matched the one that LiveWire used on their drum kit.

Several days later while he was laying in bed, he made the following observation:
Dad, I've noticed that in music they use the word 'tonight' a lot more than the word 'today'.

He then proceeded to demonstrate by singing Hot Blooded and Rockin' Robin, two songs that have probably never been sung in succession in the history of civilization. I think he's going to be a good person to have on your team during a Sing-Down.

Anders is now a first grader! He actually missed the first day of school, home sick with a mild fever. But he was excited to rejoin his 15 classmates on the second day.

Kindergarten started an hour later than the rest of the school. So last year, Anders rode a dedicated kindergarten bus route which arrived at our house around 8:30am each morning. But starting with first grade, he rides the regular morning bus which stops at our house at 7:13am. That is early, and we are not morning people. Anders, in particular, loves his sleep in the morning. As an example, Anders didn't wake up until 10am on Christmas morning this past year.

In preparation for the earlier bus time, we did shift Anders's bedtime routine 30 minutes earlier when we returned from our trip to the East Coast, before he had a chance to readjust to West Coast time. But man, it's still feels early.

Did I mention it was early? We all look tired.

Despite the early start, he is still loves going to school.

Anders and his 1st Grade teacher, Mrs. Davis

Enjoy First Grade, Anders!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders

06 September 2015

35/52 - Last Week Before School

This was the last full week before Anders starts school again. Summer can't be over already, can it?

Corinne and Anders took the Amtrak train to Portland for a visit to OMSI. Bingen has an Amtrak station, but it's not intended as a commuter train. There's only one train per day in each direction. Going east, you can actually take the Empire Builder line from Bingen all the way to Chicago!

After I dropped the two of them off at the train station first thing in the morning, I received periodic updates on their travels.

Observation car!

At Union Station in Portland, the two transferred to a bus. Their combined cuteness - and out-of-town status - earned them free day passes from the driver.

Once at OMSI, the IMAX movie Walking With Dinosaurs was on the agenda.

When we visited the American Museum of Natural History in NYC earlier this summer, the Hayden planetarium was closed for renovations. So the OMSI Planetarium would have to do this summer.

There was only about a 5 hour window before they had to get back on the bus to catch the train heading West again.

But I think it was just enough time.

Back in the Gorge, the 3 best friends had one last hurrah at the Hood River pool.

For the last week it has been quite a bit colder, with one morning reaching down to 36°. We've even had several days of real rain! It feels like fall is already here. One of the upsides is that the Cascade Creek fire is now 80% contained, and all of that rain was actually snow at the higher elevations on Mt Adams. Such a pretty sight and a beautiful way to end the week.

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders