Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day hike

Beautiful Frazier Meadow, at the top of the trail

B and I took my friend Nia for a hike on Monday. Nia is here from Indonesia. She's on an amazing fellowship program that includes people from 90+ countries. She spent two months at the University of Oregon studying English, then eight months at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and she's winding up her year in the U.S. with a two-month internship in my office. She's wonderfully friendly and fun to talk to, and is living in an apartment near the office by herself. I knew she wanted to do some hiking, and it just didn't seem right for her to spend the whole three-day weekend on her own, so I invited her to go with B and me and then come to dinner at our house afterward.

We went up to a state park that's only about half an hour from our house, and is so lush and green that you'd never imagine a place so beautiful could be a mere half-hour from our bare, arid backyard mountain. We stopped in at the visitors' center before we set out on our hike, and read that there had been a black bear sighting that very morning half a mile up the trail we were headed to. We kept our eyes open the whole time (and B kept his squirt gun at the ready, just in case), but we never did see a bear. We got rained on for the first half hour and got pretty wet, but after that, the weather couldn't have been better for a hike. It was overcast and cool, and just a lovely day to be in the woods.

Nia is here for one more month before she goes home to the four year-old daughter she hasn't seen since January (I can't even imagine!), and has told me she'd like to climb a mountain.  If any of you locals have a suggestion, shout out.  Keep in mind that this is a woman who has lived at sea level all her life, so it probably doesn't need to be a fourteener, and should probably be a relatively short & easy hike.  Twin Sisters, maybe?

B takes aim at a shadow that could be a bear


Checking out the ruins of the homesteader's cabin in the meadow

B and Nia near the end of the hike

B and Nia on the trail

On the way down, in an aspen grove

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When kittens attack

If you've ever visited our house, you know that we don't keep our toilet paper on a holder on the wall, like most people do -- we keep it in a drawer (if you have visited our house and did not know this, I apologize -- I hope you didn't sit on the toilet for too long before you discovered the kleenex). There's a very good reason for this. If we keep it out, it's only a matter of minutes before our sweet, demure little Kitten, the cat who's afraid of her own shadow, does this:

And she does this with her TEETH! Not her claws. I've seen her in action. The same thing happens to paper towels, which are now always kept in the cupboard under the sink at our house.

So this is where toilet paper goes in our house:

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Play date with Maia & QQ

Today we tried to have a play date at a park with Maia and QQ. Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate -- within five minutes of when we arrived at the park, scary thunder and lightning started. We ran for the car and ended up having the play date at our house. It poured rain, and I do mean poured, for a solid 20 minutes. That almost never happens here. The intersections of the streets that are down nearer to the bottom of the mountain were all flooded. Good thing I got my vegetable garden planted yesterday -- all the new plants will love the moisture!

But back to the play date...Little miss Q has really blossomed since I saw her last (Christmas-ish, I think). She wasn't shy at all. She was so curious and friendly, and was signing furiously. That girl is going to be talking up a storm in no time! She was very disappointed that she wasn't able to play with the many balls in our backyard (stupid rain). She was also quite interested in the stairs, and did a little practicing going up and down. All of the things Maia says about her are true -- she is smart, beautiful, charming and fearless.

Z did her best to share her toys, but being a two year-old, wasn't entirely successful. B, however, was so kind, gentle, and solicitous with QiuQiu. He showed her new toys, how to do things, and made sure she had plenty to eat. It was really touching to see. Now if only he could demonstrate that kind of behavior with his own sister, instead of hatching plot after plot to get rid of her by whatever means necessary...

Here are the very few pictures of our day -- a couple of the kids at the park before the rain started, and a couple of QiuQiu:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My orchid

Beautiful girl

B the gymnast

We joined the gymnastics club just down the road from our house, and B has been taking the beginner class there since January. He LOVES it. He's taken gymnastics classes before, but they've always been four-week classes through the city rec program that were more like an hour of play than actual gymnastics. This club makes it fun for the beginners, but they seem to get pretty serious at the team level. He likes trampoline the best -- who wouldn't??

We started him so he could have a "thing" of his own, something he did without Z. I hope he keeps at it for awhile. I think the strength, agility and confidence it builds is really good for him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My charming kids

I may not be as talented with the camera, but trust me, my kids are just as charming as hers.

This is what they're like first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, the photos accurately represent the attitudes. B can't help it though -- it's genetic. He got it from me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Catching up

Here's what B did when I asked him to show me his two missing teeth:

Our trip to the zoo last Friday -- B kept asking me to take pictures of the animals to show his dad when we got home:

This is what Z and M do when left to their own devices:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Do they make locking pajamas?

I went to bed early last night. I'd put B to bed, and he doesn't like it when we leave him upstairs alone before he's asleep, so I went into our room and laid down on the bed with a book ("The Places In Between" by Rory Stewart, about his walk from Herat to Kabul, Afghanistan -- I recommend it!). By 8:45, I was feeling very sleepy, so I turned off the light and snuggled into the covers. It was one of those nights when it felt so cozy to be in bed -- it was quiet, the window was open so there was a cool breeze, I was drowzy, life was good.

The next thing I knew, it was midnight, and Z was making little noises over the baby monitor. She wasn't fully awake and crying, but I knew this would go on and on and she soon would be if I didn't go down there, so I reluctantly got out of bed and headed downstairs.

I found her with her head at the foot of the crib, on top of her blankets. She hates to be on top of the blankets, so I picked her up to flip her around & cover her up. When I did, I realized she was naked. Stark naked. Not even a diaper. And wet. And the crib sheet was wet. She had squirmed her way out of her fleece zip-up footy pajamas and taken off her diaper, then wet the bed in her naked state. What a naughty little girl!

I fished the PJs out of the crib and thought about my options. If I took her out of the crib to re-diaper her and put her PJs back on, I'd have to set her down on the floor while I re-made the crib. If I did that, it would take her about three seconds to start roaming the room & pulling out toys, and then it would be very difficult to coax her back to sleep. I decided to keep her in the crib while I did all of that in the dark, hoping she'd go back to sleep easily. It worked. I got her & the crib tidied up in a matter of minutes, and she never made a peep.

As I crawled back into my own bed, a thought occurred to me: it was M's night to be on Z patrol, not mine! He didn't even wake up. When I told him about it this morning, I suspect he thought I had dreamed the whole thing. Oh well. He got up when B had a bad dream at 3ish, so I guess we just sort of switched kid duty last night. Oh yeah, and then the milk man came at 4:30 and woke us both up again.

For a night that started out so nicely, it really didn't go so well, did it?

PS - B's second loose tooth fell out this morning at breakfast, and a new tooth is already coming in where the first one fell out. He's tremendously proud and already looking asking about getting braces. We'd better start saving our money I guess.