Archive for April, 2010

Grandpa Jeff!

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Grandpa Jeff came to Portland to visit. We had an action-packed week with many trips to REI, some adventuring in the wilds of (practically) central Oregon, and much excellent food (and wine).

These are some massive fish at the Bonneville Dam fish hatchery in the Colombia gorge. These are sturgeon and they are MASSIVE (Herman the Sturgeon is 11 feet long, 500 pounds, and 70 years old). Unbelievably, horrifyingly, incredibly huge. I was flabbergasted. Also, I will never again swim in the river.

The fish hatchery grounds are actually really nice. Lots and lots of sturgeon to look at from baby minnow size up to full-on leviathan. There are also the largest rainbow trout you ever did see and you can feed them from a fish-pellet vending machine. Ronin was content to feed them pine needles she picked off a branch saying, “Hey fish! Here are some snacks.”

We drove way out to White River falls and after two+ hours in the car with a kid who dislikes such modes of transportation, we were so very relieved to discover that it is really freaking cool. And there is an abandoned power station to poke around in. Bonus! (I’ll get pics up in another post; we took about a million.) Ronin was placated because there was a river and sand and she got to take her pants off.

Jeff amongst the rocks and sagebrush. The sage smelled really nice and had these puffy-squishy little berries; I had never seen sageberries before.

We took one of the skinny blue lines home from the falls. It led us through some small town rural Oregonness and around the backside of Mt. Hood. I was a little worried that our scenic route would turn into a 4-hour epic drive and Ronin would drive me batty.

Then I started to worry that Bambi would get stuck in the snow (we don’t have chains) and Ronin would run out of diapers when we were forced to bivouac in a snow cave. My worries were all for not, however, and we stopped did a bit of frolicking in the snow. Ronin loved it and launched a furious vocal protest when we attempted to re-car her.

Behold! A gentle forest sprite!

When we were a mere three miles from the turnoff back onto the Real highway and civilization, we were confronted by a forest ranger. He asked us what the hell we thought we were doing out here on a seasonally closed road over the mountain with no chains on our pansy-ass little stationwagon. We looked harmless enough and he quickly relented, acknowledging that the sign had in fact been stolen from the direction we came. He said that if we had managed thus far, we’d probably make it the rest of the way. We did. I was happy.

This sign. Oops. Kind of awkwardly put really; we likely would have ignored it had we seen it.

Ronin didn’t nap the whole day and actually went down promptly that night. Aahhh.

Sleepy Ronin

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

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Sleep and Ronin have always been at odds and lately we’ve been dealing with shrieking 9:30 and 10pm bedtimes. Today we didn’t let her nap. Well, not exactly on purpose but we were out and got home late for naps but she didn’t want to so ate lunch first and by the time she was ‘ready’ to nap, it was way too late blah blah blah. So, we just didn’t nap. By 6pm she was wiped; both Joshua and I had tears running down our faces laughing at this.

Lego dogs

Friday, April 16th, 2010

When we were in the Bay Area last month, we visited with Nina and Henrik from Bika, whom we met while anchored in Portobelo, Panama. They sailed Bika (the most adorable Contessa 26 you ever did see) through the Caribbean, up the east coast of the US, into the great lakes, down the Mississippi, over to Rockport, TX, then had the boat trucked to the Bay Area to continue their trip (they started in Norway in 2005). They are currently doing some work on the boat getting her ready to head south down the west coast and eventually across the Pacific. Anyway, they brought a gift for Ronin; it was a box of legos. She loves them and it didn’t take long to expand our collection; Grandpa Jeff bought a big pink box of supposed “girl” legos when he came to visit. One must have many legos. And actually the pink is really pretty.

Ronin’s favorite thing to make are dogs. Sometimes she makes big flatbed trucks to ferry the dogs around.

This one might be a bichon frise, except cuter.

Happy green eco-dog!

Can you see those brown ‘ear’ lego pieces? Well, Ronin has something of a potty humor and often likes to pretend they are dog poops. Making the lego dogs poop brown lego poops can keep her occupied for a good long while.

Super-duper long-necked giraffe dog!

Brown-headed double-collared poodle-dog

This is Otto, our friend Hans’ deaf and blind and dumb (I mean the dog is lacking in brain power; he is definitely not mute) wiener dog. Hans loves that animal better than anything on the entire planet. Ronin likes Otto too but only because he likes to eat poop.

Hmm. This appears to be some sort of shepherd with a pink and red collar.

Legos come in the most awesome colors these days. There is a bright chartreuse green that is really pretty, and we have three shades of pink! The set Nina and Henrik gave us had some lego guys with conventional brown hairdos; however, all hair has been replaced with more interesting pieces, such as this ornate floral headdress.

My spaceship. Flower power!

Joshua’s spaceship.

Napa: More fun than a bag of barf

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

We managed a vacation a month or so ago and drove to San Francisco for the week. Because nothing spells fun like spending quality time with a squirmy toddler strapped in a carseat for twelve hours, we did a lot of the driving at night and spent a couple of days in Ashland to break up the trip.

View from Sage’s apartment (click picture for bigger image). Pretty sweet! The weather was very proto-spring but at least we didn’t bemoan the fact that we left the down jackets in Portland.

Once we hit Napa, we settled in to Michelle’s place and mapped out the neighboring playground situation (three within walking distance. Check!). Then we did the tourist thing and drove up to Calistoga to see the Tennessee fainting goats. What. What else is there in that town? (If you have never heard of fainting goats, here’s a link to a video. WELL worth the trip, I tell ya!) Unfortunately, the goats were well used to tourists running up to them and yelling “HAH!!!” or whatever so there was to be no fainting on our account. We amused ourselves with feeding them from the goat snack vending machine. The larger of the mama goats (the mamas and adorable little babies were in a separate pen) got jealous of the smaller mama who was getting all the snacks and ran up and butted her. And by gum the goat got stiff and flipped over on her back with her hooves up in the air. It was awesome.

[Fainting goats, fully conscious.]

Okay so they don’t really faint; they have a genetic disorder that causes their muscles to freeze up for a few seconds when they are startled or frightened. Obviously this is a hell of a genetic trait and human interference is the only reason they weren’t all eaten up by mountain lions. We were told that they were bred to be mixed with more valuable stock (wool sheep, etc.) in the case that predators attacked. The sheep would run and the goat would topple over with its legs sticking up in the air. That’s some rotten luck.

[Won’t be eaten first.]

They also had four-horned sheep (and babies!), which are very odd creatures. Some of the horn layouts were particularly bizarre. (They are called Jacob sheep.)

[One of the baby sheep squeezed out of the pen and Joshua rescued it, lifting it back in to the mama. There was much bleating.]

Oh, and there was a geyser. Because of the high water table, it was going off every five minutes or so. During the dryer months it only goes off every hour or two (but it is really high and lasts a long time).

Napa spring appeared to be in full swing with trees budding and flowers blooming everywhere you turned. However, the grapevines still looked totally dormant. We saw groups of laborers working through some orchards pruning still. Seemed odd but all I know about grapes is winemmmmwine.

[The yellow stuff is mustard.]

The other Napa moment came when we were in the car on the way to the marina to check out the boats (mmmmboats). Joshua spied a polka-dotted tote bag lying in the road and, thoughts of incomparable riches dancing in his head, swung around the block to snag the booty. He and Michelle executed a tricky moving-car open-door pick-up of said bag. That bag lasted about ten seconds in our car; another five and it was safely deposited in the dumpster of a real-estate office. For instead of rubies and twenty dollar bills, it was a bag of barf. We had a good laugh and made bag-of-barf jokes until we all sort of started to feel queasy. Finally a moratorium was decreed on any mention of bags of barf.

Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Feeling rather perky tonight: the monkey sacked out two and a half hours ahead of schedule after a day of activity and sugar, in addition to missing her nap. We took her to the park for a neighborhood easter egg hunt. We got there like 15 minutes ahead of time and were maybe the third toddler there (they had 0-3 and 4-6 year old sections). During that 15 minutes a million other toddlers and parents showed up and crowded around the area where multi-colored plastic bisected eggs were unceremoniously sprinkled across the lawn. We had practiced at home hiding and finding easter eggs so we were pretty sure Ronin would clean up.

[The battleground.]

When the whistle blew, the toddlers were pushed forth by the parents (one guarding the kid, the other wielding the camera) so that each came with his own entourage of caretakers. We had assumed that they would just let the toddlers stumble out and fend for themselves but apparently not. We followed Ronin out into the melee.

[Ronin and Nigel ready to go out and kick ass.]

[Mass confusion.]

Let’s just say that the action was quick. Ronin was clearly confused and we had to essentially tell her to pick up each single egg she saw and put it in the bag. Or rather, “Here’s a green one! Let’s put it in the bag!! Oh, well, um… here’s a pink one! Let’s put that one in the… Oh. Ronin! GET THIS ORANGE ONE RIGHT HERE!! QUICK!!” She managed four eggs, which was fine because each one held 2-3 chocolate treats and she ate every single one.

[Mmmm. Chocolately.]

After that we decided we might as well O.D. on The Fun and head to the zoo, where we happen to have a membership. One year ago I would have never believed that I would have ever gone to the zoo again but here we are, practically on a first-name basis with the African wild dogs and the sun bears. Anyway, we went to the zoo where they had easter egg hunts every 1/2 hour or so throughout the day. It was about as bizarre. The eggs were not hidden at all but scattered around on the grass and STILL she had trouble figuring out what she was supposed to do. Maybe we confused her in the beginning by actually making her work for her eggs.

[Another mouthful.]

She ate another bunch of candy and we headed home. She refused to nap and wanted to hide eggs the rest of the day. I filled the plastic eggs with such fantastic treats as raisons, bunny crackers, and cashews and she begrudgingly ate them (mostly).

She fell asleep quickly tonight on the fourth round of Curious George Goes To The Zoo. (Not as depressing as the first CG book but creepifying in its own right.) Makes us wonder if it’s better to deny her a nap in order to have a peaceful evening or let her sleep if she needs it and suffer the consequences come nightfall. Very, very hard call.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell