Sunday, August 30, 2009

August Update

August has been another great month. Here are some highlights and funny moments:

1. Laura's brother Val and his family came for a visit from the Netherlands. The girls really enjoyed meeting their cousins. Here is a shot of Carina at a Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field in Seattle during their visit.

Carina and Gavin at the ballpark.

2. We enjoyed our weekly visits to our local CSA farm to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables and to play on the farm. The girls have been in "farm school" once a week, helping the farmer pick vegetables, move cattle and other farming chores. They also got to swim in the Snoqualmie River, which runs through the farm. Here is Natalie looking at the pigs. I'm not sure who was dirtier: Natalie or the pigs.

3. We went for a hike on Tiger Mountain, which is only three miles from our home. Once again we didn't see any tigers on the mountain. Fortunately, Natalie didn't cry about it this time. We hiked along this trail, which was crowded with ferns and blueberry bushes.

4. Lachlyn has discovered the world of solid foods! She has tried rice cereal, sweet potatoes, bananas, peaches and peas. We introduced peas for the first time today and she wasn't sold on them at all. Maybe she'll warm up to them tomorrow.

5. We went on a day trip yesterday out to the Olympic peninsula to visit the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim and to hike along Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

The game farm lets you drive unescorted around the fields where buffaloes, elk, deer, zebras, yaks, alpacas and peacocks live, and you can buy bread to feed them. The animals walked right up to our car and ate bread out of our hands. Carina and Natalie learned first hand that buffaloes have really bad breath and aweful table manners. There are also bears, lions, tigers, cougars, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, etc in cages. Some of the bears are former trained Holywood movie bears; if you wave to them, they'll wave back!

Hurricane Ridge is a ridge at the top of a mountain that rises up 5,500 feet from Port Angeles, which is a town in the middle of the north end of the Olympic peninsula. Looking out to the north from the ridge you can see Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. Looking out to the south you can see a wide swath of the Olympic mountains, including Mount Olympus. Lachlyn really seemed to enjoy the hike, as you can tell from her face.

The view to the North.

Views to the South.

6. Lachlyn is mobile!

And not only can she drive the car, she can crawl! She mostly army crawls, but she can get up on her knees and move a little too. Right now she only crawls to reach things that are within a few feet in front of her, but it won't be long before she's cruising around the house serving as our very own cute little Roomba. She's already shown to us that we'll need to start vacuuming and sweeping constantly or she'll do it for us.

7. And a couple random moments from the month:

We caught Natalie "brown-handed" eating chocolate chips that she had pilfered from the bag in the freezer. As if we wouldn't notice. At least she had a good time.

Milkmen of the world, beware! You never know what might be lurking in that little box.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Vacation

We're back from a great vacation. It started early Saturday morning when I donned my cycling clothes and started pedaling toward Portland. I was one of 10,000 riders participating in the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (STP), a 200 mile ride from Seattle to Portland. I rode 6.5 hours on Saturday, covering 120 miles. I met up with Laura and the girls in the tiny town of Winlock, Washington, and we drove to the Great Wolf Lodge to spend the rest of the day at their indoor waterpark. The girls had a great time at the waterpark. Carina tried 7 different waterslides and the wave pool and loved it. She is already lobbying to go back. On Sunday, I rode another 4.5 hours to cover the remaining 80 miles. Natalie very maturely (and without prompting) told me as I left: "Good luck Dad, I hope you have a good time on your ride!" I did. We met up at the finish line at Halliday Park in downtown Portland and enjoyed the party there for a couple hours. When Laura drove into Portland she made a point of noting to the girls that "Wasn't that a long drive, and to think your dad is riding his bike this whole way." Natalie was pretty impressed with herself too and replied "Yeah, I can't believe we drove all the way to Portland." Here are a couple shots at the finish line:

I'm the rider wearing the red long sleeve jacket.

From there we headed west to Cannon Beach, Oregon for a couple days at the beach. Cannon Beach is a wonderful little town with an amazing beach, great restaurants, unique shops, and a peaceful atmosphere. The only downside is that it is very temperate like the rest of the beaches on the Oregon and Washington coasts, so most days the temperature never gets above 70 degrees and you can't get in the ocean without freezing. Here are a few scences from the beach:

We then drove to Mount Rainier National Park. Natalie was very well behaved on the ride, and we found out why when we arrived -- she spent a good portion of the ride drawing on her pants with a pen. Here she is holding up her handywork:

We spent the night at the Paradise Inn, a lodge built in 1917 in a sub-alpine meadow on the south side of Mount Rainier (or, as Natalie insists on calling it, "Mountain Rainier") at an elevation of a little over 5,000+ feet. The lodge was a fun place to stay and the main hall and dining area are very charming. Here are pictures in and around the lodge:
Paradise Inn

Carina and Natalie sitting in "thrones" in the lodge.

The next morning we hiked around the meadows of Paradise. Some of the wildflowers were out, but most of the trails were still partly covered in snow. They had over 700 inches of snow last year and it hasn't quite melted off yet. Natalie and Carina proudly wore pins that a park ranger gave them that showed a picture of a hiking boot and the words "Don't be a meadow stomper." Though it wasn't long before we had to tell Natalie to stay on the path and she replied "But I want to be a meadow stomper." At another point on our hike, Natalie also complained to us that "Carina is going to push me off the steep cliff." Carina enjoyed the hike but repeatedly expressed concern that she didn't want to hike all the way to the top (which I explained to her would require mountain climbing gear and another 8,000 feet of elevation gain) and couldn't understand why we were calling it a volcano since "it doesn't have a volcano hole." Here are some pictures from our hike (and a few shots from a scenic overlook on the drive up to Paradise):

An Avalanche Lily in the meadow.

And here is some of the wildlife we spotted on the hike :


Lachlyn (And don't worry about the snow, it was 70 degrees!)

We then drove around the south end of the park and made a pit stop at the Grove of the Patriarchs to look at some 1,000 year old Western Red Cedar and Hemlock trees.
Lachlyn in the Grove of the Patriarchs

Our last stop was at Sunrise on the Northeastern corner of the park, elevation 6,400 feet. The snow had all melted at Sunrise and the meadows were starting to bloom. The views of Rainier from there were amazing! We could also see Mount Adams as well (or, as Natalie called it, "Volcano Adams").

The meadows at Sunrise
The view of Mount Rainier from Sunrise

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June Update

It has been another great month. Some highlights from the last few weeks:

1. Lachlyn often will get a little fussy on long car rides. About a week ago Natalie apparently had enough. Laura overheard Natalie tell Lachlyn, who is 4 months old: "Lachlyn, stop making unreasonable demands!"

Does this look like a child that makes unreasonable demands?

2. Natalie likes exclamations and she recently coined her own: "Holy Smokeamoly!" A combination of "Holy Smokes" and "Holy Guacamole!" It's hilarious hearing these words in her squeaky voice.

3. Laura stopped by Walgreens the other day with Carina in tow to pick up a prescription. Carina, being a curious 6 year old had to delve into this, and the following conversation ensued:

Carina: "What's the medicine for?"
Laura: "For my brain."
Carina: "What's wrong with your brain?"
Laura: "It's not working right."
Carina: " What is 4+4?
Laura: "8."
Carina: "What is 4+6?"
Laura: "10."
Carina: "Sounds to me like your brain is working just fine."

[If you are wondering, Laura's brain really is just fine. She is finishing up her course of treatment for the post-partum depression and anxiety that she experiences after the birth of each baby.]

4. Natalie has two of the most skinned up knees I've seen. I realized why when I looked at the pictures of her I've taken in the past month. She's never standing still or on two feet!

Natalie playing with paper dolls:

Natalie "juggling" an orange:

Natalie rocking out naked with her guitar (one picture slightly edited for modesty; this is on the internet after all...):

5. Here is Carina giving Lachlyn a bottle. Carina is enjoying playing the role of big sister. Notice that she is now missing four teeth. Pretty soon she'll be eating all her meals through a straw.

Lachlyn taking the initiative and trying to hold it herself:

Lachlyn saying "Look ma, no hands!":

And, finally, Lachlyn living every baby's dream: