Monday, August 31, 2009

Balloons a Glow

This weekend was the Art & Air Festival. Being a bit of a festival junkie family, we of course couldn't miss it. The opening day of the festival featured a Balloon Night Glow event where they'd line up hot air balloons and illuminate them from within. Cool!

Since I'm a bit of a stickler about bedtimes though, Soren staying up after dark was going to be a very unusual thing. We talked about it and looked forward to it all week.

When we first arrived at the festival we milled around. Smelled the handmade soaps (bubble gum was his fave.)

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Bought some of the requisite tasty treats.

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And then headed over to the main event.

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But poor Soren, having absolutely no experience walking around at night, in the dark, was completely confused. "I can't see a thing!" he kept saying.

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Our eyes of course adjusted to the darkness, but still that wasn't enough for Soren. This whole staying up late business was surely over-rated if you couldn't see the ground in front of you!

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Having enormous glowing balloons in front of him was no thrill. He wanted to see the people standing next to him, the dogs walking by, all the other visual delights that come with festivals...

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"Mom, I can't see a thing!"

Friday, August 28, 2009


Soren and I did a fun breakfast project the other day thanks to a genius idea from my friend Sue.

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Not that Soren really needs any more encouragement in order to consume large quantities of pancakes...

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...but somehow having them personalized just for you makes them all the tastier!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Mouth Mess

You may have notice on previous posts, Soren will sometimes get this huge messy ring all the way around his mouth. It is perfectly circular and its origins have always confused me. Today I got to the bottom of the mystery.

Start with one perfect plump juice mustache. If it is thick green juice from Odwalla, all the better.

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While trying to clean off your mustache swirl your tongue around the entire edge of your mouth.

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Et voila! A perfect sticky mess all the way around your mouth. (The grape is just an added bonus in this shot and is entirely unneccessary when creating the mouth ring.)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Peter swears it is not vengeance.

But I'll let you decide. Here's the evidence:

deer damage - squash

Oh, and also this:

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And don't forget about this:

deer damage - beans & tomatoes

Or even this:

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Ok, so that is one side of the equation. But then there's this:

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Which as you recall ended in the death of one of Peter's arch enemies. But still, he swore that he was not offing the deer systematically. Noooooo, he isn't single-handedly eliminating them one by one.

Oh, but can I add one final piece of evidence?

more deer damage!

And can I point out that this little incident also lessened the world's deer population by one?

Ok, so what do you think now? Do you think Peter can possibly claim innocence in what is now becoming an epic battle?

(For the record, I would like to note that yes indeed, in the course of one month both of our vehicles--and tons of our vegetables--have been attacked by our lovely deer population. Sigh.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fun With Flare

As most of you know, I took a photography class earlier this year. One of the concepts we learned about was lens flare.

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Lens flare is what happens when you shoot directly into the sun. Quite often it can be a disaster, but it can occasionally turn out kind of interesting.

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I played around with it in the back yard the other day when I had a suitably distracted (i.e., patient) subject.

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What do you think? Kind of fun. Feels like summer. People who really know how to do this can do a great job getting the subject brighter and more distinguishable. I guess I'll keep working on that.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Last weekend as Soren and I were out running errands we passed a homeless man at an intersection. He was holding a sign asking for money. Of couse Soren asked me what he was doing. I explained that the man was didn't have a house to live in and that he wanted some money so that he could get some food.

"Why doesn't he have any money, mom?" Soren asked.

I explained that there are many reasons people might not have money - maybe they didn't have a job, maybe they were sick and couldn't work and so didn't get any money, maybe they spent too much money..."

That seemed to satisfy him and so on we went with our errands.

While we were at WalMart I commented that the organic milk was awfully expensive (more expensive than Safeway or the local health food store - what's up with that, WalMart?) Soren didn't say anything (mostly because he was busy eating the entire container of cherry tomatoes I'd put in the cart.)

As we were in the check out line I reached into the cart to pull out the milk. Soren looked at in horror...

"Mom, don't buy that organic milk!"

Me: "Why not, sweetie?"

Soren: "It is too expensive. We'll run out of money!"

Life is so complicated isn't it? So much for little guys to learn.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Binky Fairy, Final Chapter

Anyone who has read this blog for a few years knows that Soren hasn't been overly eager to give up his binky.

Several friends suggested introducing a binky fairy who would magically bring presents if he left his binky out. Great idea. Unfortunately, I botched the execution. Soren was quite happy to give up his binky but to make it less traumatic we said he could give up one binky each night until all the binkies were gone. I thought this would be a great reward to have multiple treats.

He cried a lot on the first night without it, but was thrilled when he awoke to a new train for his collection from the binky fairy. I thought we were home free.

The next night he said "I have enough presents, I'm going to keep my other binkies."


We didn't really push it, but when given the chance we consulted the experts. Soren's pediatrician didn't really care one way or another. Peter's dentist said that there might be some shifting of the baby teeth but that would sort itself out when the big teeth came in. My dentist seemed to think that binkies were the work of the devil and actually had a huge wall dedicated to all the binkies that his mini-patients had brought in to him. So, the vote was 2-1 that binkies aren't harmful.

Every once in awhile we'd bring up the subject and Soren would get really excited. "Tonight I'm leaving my binkies out for the binky fairy!" But then the moment his head hit the pillow he'd change his mind and run out to retrieve the binky.

Many people suggested that he'd give it up when he was ready. But really, I didn't see any indication of his ever being ready. The binkies were getting old and nasty (and I certainly wasn't going to buy new binkies!) and so I decided it was time to go cold turkey.

We told Soren that if he brought his binkies to Toys R Us the binky fairy said he could get a new part for his train set. When not in the moment of truth at bedtime, he was thrilled to agree! He and I headed to the store. While he was playing with the display train table I quickly hid the $130 Knapford Station that I knew he'd choose.

"Oh drats. Looks like they don't have Knapford Station. Why don't you choose something else instead?"

Soren quickly found Rocky the Crane (a relative bargain at only $30) and off we went to the cashier stand where he gave her his handful of binkies (and I shelled out the cash.)

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His face wasn't quite so smiley when he got ready for bed 7 hours later. Waaaaaaaah. Poor kid. He had no idea how to fall asleep on his own. He regretted his bargain and promised that he'd bring Rocky back to the store. Kind of heartbreaking actually. But with the binky gone in not retrievable, we were committed.

We had a nice talk about the things he could do instead of sucking on a binky to fall asleep and when I left the room he was smiling. And he drifted to sleep on his own.

Thank you binky fairy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This morning I got Soren dressed and then realized it was his day to go to the preschool program at the museum. He was wearing a clean, but very stained t-shirt that he had placed stickers all over. Rather than change his shirt I just moved the stickers so they covered up the worst stains. This is how he went to school:

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Twinkle in Your Eye

Last night at bedtime we were reading a story that talked about one of the character's having a twinkle in her eye. I paused to ask Soren if he knew what that was. He didn't. So we talked about it for awhile and I gave him some examples.

This morning at breakfast I asked if he remembered what someone would look like if they had a twinkle in their eye...

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Conversation About Cows

Soren: Mom, how do they kill cows?
Me: Er, what cows?
Soren: The cows we eat.
Me: Um, they shoot them.
Soren: Oh.


Soren: That isn't very nice.
Me: Nope, I suppose it isn't.
Soren: But they have to do that.
Me: You think so? Do you think people need to eat that?

Soren, wisely avoiding the question, goes back to playing with trains. A few minutes later...

Soren: Mom, do the cows fight the gun?
Me: No.
Soren: Why not?
Me: Because they don't know they are going to be shot so they aren't scared or worried about it.

Sheesh. Nothing like a conversation with a four year old to make you feel like you should be a vegetarian.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Were at a Festival...

...and Soren was in the bouncy house having a ball. Suddenly he heard it: the sound of a TRAIN in the distance. And then, joy of joys, it came into sight!

he spots the train in the distance!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Be Jammin'

"Hey, Mom. I have a really good idea...

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Let's load up the quads...

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...and head over to Wilson Lake...

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to see what we can find.

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And if we happen to find...

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...unlimited bushes loaded with huckleberries...

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...we could spend a few hours picking them.

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(...of course, pausing for a little lunch.)

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I'll even help you rinse them...

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...pull out the stems and leaves...

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...and mash them up...

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(BTW, Soren's Bed & Breakfast is now taking reservations for anyone who wants to come over for pancakes with huckleberry jam! We made 45 jars of jam and 15 jars of syrup!)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Grandpa’s Place, Day 1

Soren’s pretty lucky. Heck, we’re all pretty lucky. We have a lot of family members who live in extraordinary locations. Uncle David’s Wyoming Ranch…Grandpa P’s Michigan farm…and Grandpa U’s amazingly beautiful Canadian lakefront house. It is surprising that we ever bother to vacation any place other than with our family.

Three generations of boys heading to the garden:

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Peter didn’t get his gardening skills from a stranger.

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And Soren will come by it honestly too.

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After inspecting the bounty we loaded up the quads…

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…to head out to the lake…

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…for a little cruise around.

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We tossed some lines in the water…

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…but mostly, we just enjoyed the beautiful view.

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And then headed back up to the house to enjoy a garden-grown, tasty dinner.

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Much more on the agenda for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The No-Tell Motel

We’re in some small, random town in northern Washington. Headed for Peter’s family’s place in British Columbia. We’ve driven this route plenty of times and usually stop in one of these small towns when we don’t feel like driving any more. Tonight we wanted to stop driving when we were about 40 miles north of Spokane and saw a sign for The 49er Motel.

It never is a good sign for a hotel when there are people hanging out in the parking lot. Especially when they are smoking, wearing pajama bottoms, and no shirt. And really especially if you can look into their open motel room door and see that they live there.

But being tired matters. So we checked in, even after checking the rooms.

I have to say that I may have to rethink our practice of checking the rooms before we check in. I mean, if we inspected the room here and still checked in, I’m thinking that what we find upon inspecting the room doesn’t really affect our decision whether or not to stay. “Yep, no dead body. We’re good.” We stay if we are tired, regardless of what the room looks like.

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This explains Soren curled up on a rollaway cot that – I’m not kidding – has a layer of cardboard under the mattress.

This explains the “sanitized” ribbon wrapped around the toilet bowl looking like it is set up for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

This explains that smell, the frayed carpet, the dripping A/C unit, the wood paneling...

But you know, I have to say that I love this hotel. I love that we stay here. When we stay in places like this I can pretend that we’re out exploring the world, flat broke. Back to our roots.

Sometimes I admit that it worries me that Soren has so much. So much, so easy. He’s quite comfortable in first class on the airplane, thank you very much. He likes the mints that come with turn down service. His passport pages are already filling up. He likes riding in taxis, knows how to order for himself in a restaurant, and really likes room service.

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I’m so happy to be able to share with him so many of the world’s treasures and pleasures. But my experience shows me that kids with too much, too fast, turn out to be obnoxious, out-of-touch, self-centered sissies. Sigh. Not what I’m hoping to raise.

Don’t get me wrong, I like turn down service mints as much as anyone. But I kind of feel like I’ve paid my dues. Stayed in so many no-tell motels that occasionally finding myself in a nicer place won’t rot my soul. Peter and I have shared many a laugh at our worst hotel stories…the time in China where we checked in and found that our hotel room came with a bed but no mattress! It literally had a sheet of plywood over the bed frame. Or the time in expensive Hong Kong where the cheapest room we could find was so small that it fit only the bed. We had to take turns getting into the room. Peter would open the door, slide over the mattress to around behind the door. Then I’d repeat the scene. Only I had to stay on the mattress because there wasn’t enough floor space for both of us to stand at the same time.

There is certain freedom comes with staying in trashy motels. Makes you not dependent on Hampton Inn for your comfort, safety, and itinerary. Have trashy motels, will travel.

So, as I go over to cover my sleeping boy with the natty sheets on his rollaway cot, I’m actually smiling. Happy that we can show him all the treasures and pleasures the world has to offer.

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