05/14/16

To My Daughter

Hi Cora,
Today you had your early entrance to kindergarten exam. We were nervous for you and did virtually nothing to prepare you for it since we didn’t want you to stress. You seemed excited about it and had no problems getting started, and finishing the whole way through.
You didn’t want to tell us all the details about it but we hope what you did share was accurate and that it was a positive experience.
Your reward was spam masubi (yeah girl!) and a sweet drink.
We painted later that day and you chided us that “we shouldn’t get overzealous with the paints” since we might make a big mess. Say WHAT? I don’t even use that word right half the time.

You make me want to scream most days because I want to believe I have all this control over you, and for your health and well being I have to keep up the farce, but all the other times on all those same days, I am proud and amazed at who you are.
Keep it up!
love, mama

 

 

04/1/16

Reconnecting and Making New Friends

I was a happy co-sponsor of a Rice Alumni event in Seattle that was long overdue. Seeing familiar faces that I had never met was like being home even after 5 years in Seattle and feeling pretty settled.  When I first arrived in Seattle,  we only knew 4 people that weren’t from Pariveda, the company that brought us to the Pacific Northwest.  Having been a Texas native for 32 years, I had a fantastic network of family and friends,  and lots of them from Rice. I would run into people I knew or were acquainted with those friends all over the city and Htown was not a trifle to get around.

Seattle was the stark opposite (at least in my eyes, feeling a bit isolated and out of my element). Rice alumni were the only connection point I had outside of ultimate (and half those alumni I knew from ultimate!).

The alumni functions that happened when I first arrived were great connections that helped me to feel more at home,  some Texas sunshine from people I knew but hadn’t met yet. 

02/20/16

Byron Bay, NSW

image

The Pacific Ocean is getting a little colder with each km, but the seaside no less beautiful. Our second day in the motor home saw us to Byron Bay, NSW. I had visited this hippie hideaway with my friends Rebecca and Isabel while I was studying abroad at UQ in 2000. We had a similar shot of this gorgeous beach but from a lighthouse lookout on the cape that we couldn’t reach with our campervan.

image

As one can imagine,  the kids enjoyed the waves with the clearest of water lapping at their feet or chasing them up the beach.

image

image

image

We spent some time atop the lookout at the edge of the beach we had walked,  taking it all in and then lunched in the shade by this lovely view.

It was a surfer’s paradise,  I’d never seem that many surf boards in one place,  even when I was in Hawai’i. I don’t know how they avoided hitting each other.

Although there were some pretty skilled surfers who could avoid the folks riding out further or who had already wiped out but they made it look easy.

All in all a great,  although far too brief,  stop.

02/8/16

The Red Centre

Uluru (aka Ayer's Rock)

Uluru (aka Ayer’s Rock)

We got our Austrailian adventure kick started with a trip to the Red Centre. This is a vast arrid landscape with two land formations that are stark in contrast to the surrounding area. The first is Kata Tjuta and the other is Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock. Both sites are very spiritual to the native Australian people. Uluru had a significant meaning for me, and the only reason I knew about it, was because it was described in a book I read when I was twelve (Atlas of Mysterious Places). The area around Uluru was covered with a red sand, the same color as the rock itself, for which the region has it’s name.

The science lesson on Uluru:

The 300 million-year-old rock is comprised of sand, feldspar (various crystalline minerals) and rock, and originally hailed from a sea floor. A large chunk is above ground today (348m), and the flat top and grooved sides are a result of weathering.

We took a short hike with the kids at the base of the rock. It was a pretty spectacular experience, despite the 100 degree Fahrenheit temperature (yes it was pretty warm, after all it is summer down here) and the flies that surrounded our faces almost the entire time. With the kids, we got a good dose of how disconcerted they were with the flies, and they pretty much wanted to go back to the hotel after the first 100 ft., but like the troopers they are they made the entire hike.

Also, as part of Uluru expereince, we made it out to the eastward lookout to watch the sunset. It was breath taking.

The trip to Uluru was the type of expereince that makes trips like this worth its weight in gold. We, as a family, are able to experience not only things we don’t see every day, but some of the absolute wonders that exist in the world, and how grateful we are to expereince them

02/5/16

Round the world again!

As I write this, I’m shaking my head because I really should be sleeping. But I am WAY too excited for what this post will unveil… We’re going to Australia tomorrow!!!!

As an undergrad, I studied abroad in Brisbane, QLD. I honestly didn’t know if I would ever get back there. Since then I have had the privilege of visiting many other amazing places as well, but Australia will always have a special spot in my heart. I attended my first Olympics there, I almost died a few times but made it out ok, I made some long time friends that I am looking forward to seeing again, and I learned a lot about myself. I’m excited to be going back with my own family now, to see the town I lived in, finally see the amazing Great Barrier Reef and visit with some of those old friends again (Rebs, watch out!).

We’ve got a slightly bananas itinerary for our two weeks abroad (as if I know any other way to travel):

  • Sydney, NSW
  • The Red Center, NT: Uluru (Ayer’s Rock)
  • Cairns, QLD and the Great Barrier Reef
  • Brisbane, QLD
  • Motorhome from Brisbane to Sydney (sorry Western Australia, I’m skipping you again)
From Google Maps

From Google Maps

We only did any prep for this trip because our dear friend Turbo was excited and kept us on task, despite hectic family, work and volunteering demands the past few months. Not to mention, 3 days of a stomach bug for both kids this week to slow down prep. So a huge thanks, Turbo!!!

I won’t make any promises, but we intend to track our travels and adventures here, and of course, wish us luck!

01/25/16

See ya, diapers! Round 2

Harlan will no doubt appreciate this post in ways I can’t even begin to enjoy til he’s much older and has friends.

image

This picture amuses me most because Harlan really took being potty trained to heart in this moment,  even if it meant we spent 45 minutes taking care of business at 10pm.

But I digress, this post is meant to be a celebration of progress! Harlan had seemed relatively uninterested in ditching the diaper and its convenience despite my insistence on starting at 15 months. And with an upcoming two week trip to Australia,  I was getting real militant about being diaper free.

But H was not having it, until one day,  he did undies all day with no accidents.  Just like that.  No doubt it was the team effort at preschool and home,  but it still seemed somewhat magical in its transition.  Like most things in child rearing,  it’s not black and white,  in dialers one day,  completely in underpants the next.  We’re still keeping the diaper making industry somewhat happy;  you can’t beat the confidence of mess free on long trips (like our upcoming 15  + hour trip to Australia)  so the pull up diapers are still on hand.

What has been the most rewarding of the transition to mostly diaper free  was the change in H’s behavior and the pride in himself with using the toilet vs diapers. I have so few pictures to really capture the emotion, but his whole little face lights up when he goes any stretch without an accident.

image

Harlan was treated to a celebration dinner and dessert the week after we said goodbye to majority diaper. Here’s the evidence.

12/26/15

Merry Christmas 2015

We traveled to Houston to celebrate Christmas this year.  We still have family in Texas,  me with a lot more than Sean,  so we appreciate the trip as a way to reconnect. This year it came with a warm surprise due to higher than normal temperatures for Christmas day:  balmy, sunny 80 degree temps.

I attempted to find a picture of us outside while we were there and couldn’t as we obviously avoided the heat.

However we did enjoy some very warm holiday traditions:

image

A picture with Santa in the airport.

image

Putting together presents on Christmas Eve.

image

Building gingerbread houses,  at breakneck speed.

image

Cute Christmas pajamas and sibling cuddles,  or chokeholds, depending on who you ask.

I’ll add more to this post as I collect the evidence of merry!

12/15/15

Who Is That Kid?

It was passport picture time for Harlan and an amazing thing happened. He took a pretty phenomenal picture. So phenomenal that AJ talked about getting him setup to be a child model (all in jest mind you). But judge for yourself, definitely one of the best passport photos I have ever seen.

harlan-passport zoolander-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kneel before Harlan’s Blue Lightning Zoolander!

12/7/15

Christmas Cookies 2015

Growing up, it was a family tradition to make and decorate sugar cookies. It was a tradition that to this day is a wonderful Christmas memory from when I was a kid. I can’t hear the Bing Crosby or Wayne Newton Christmas albums without remembering the sugar cookies.

As a dad, this was a tradition I definitely wanted to continue, and this year Cora is old enough to really help. She was in charge of sprinkles and added her own panache to the cookies.

The first step is to break out the cookie cutters and start making some cookies.

xmas cookies 01

The next step is to decorate the cookies with homemade buttercream frosting and sprinkles. Cora has turned out to be a prolific user of sprinkles. To the point that I referred to her as “Sprinkles”. She promptly said “I’m not Sprinkles, I’m Cora!”

xmas cookies 02

The fruits of our labors! AJ also helped with the more artistic cookies, but all of the color is Cora’s.

xmas cookies 03

It was a great time, and a fantastic continuation of a family tradition that I have had for as long as I can remember.