Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just In Time

I've finished another project, and just in time:

A woman in our ward leads a quilting group every semester and this was one of the projects for this semester. I'd been planning on making quilted stockings for our family for some time, so I was excited to have the chance to do it where I'd also have someone hounding me to get it done quickly. And it was a great opportunity to ask my mom for the sewing machine she's been meaning to get for me for a while! (Thanks, Mom!) Another option this semester was to make a tree skirt. Since I won't be around for next semester's class I might just make that my next project - that or a quilt for Gareth's bed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crunch Time

My friend Aaron had two paper deadlines recently. This is a picture of his desk:

This is a picture of my friend Aaron:

Enough said.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Gareth has discovered the joy that is Tiddlywinks. He's getting quite good at it.

Yes, he really does get that excited when he get's one in.

Of course, his discovery means that I'm now amazed at the capability of tiddlywinks to apparently vanish into thin air, never to be seen again. But at least someone's enjoying them before they vanish, right?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quinoa Recipes?

Quinoa is one of my new favorite foods. Here's our latest quinoa recipe, courtesy of Cooking Light:

Sesame Quinoa with Tofu

8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Place tofu on several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; let stand 20 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tofu and seeds; sauté 3 minutes. Remove tofu mixture from pan. Add quinoa to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Place in a large bowl. Add tofu mixture, green onions, soy sauce, and pepper; toss.

Here's how I do it:

I stick the tofu between two plates and weight it down with a heavy can. I'm not sure what the best way to drain it is, but that's how the first tofu recipe I ever tried said to do it, so that's what I usually do. Anyone who knows better is welcome to leave your suggestions!

I first made this when a friend was in town visiting and realized upon finishing it that it didn't make all that much, so I quickly threw together another batch. I'm not sure if a whole package of tofu is 16 oz. or not, but that's what I use. Just doubling the recipe would mean that you use two tablespoons of soy sauce, which I felt was a bit overkill - it pretty much tasted like soy sauce (sorry about that, Kristine!).

Tonight I doubled everything, except the salt (since I was not using low-sodium soy sauce) and the soy sauce. I just sprinkled a pinch of salt in and used one tablespoon plus a bit of soy sauce. Much better flavor! I also had some broccoli on hand (one smallish head), so I threw that in while cooking the tofu. I love that this recipe is easily augmented; I look forward to trying out other veggies throughout the various seasons. Oh, and if you're going to be doing much cooking with quinoa I'd recommend looking for it at your local natural foods market. Ours has a bulk area (with spices as well - so awesome to be able to get as much or as little as you want) and the quinoa there was about half the cost as what you'll find in the grocery store.

So, here's my problem. I've only got two quinoa recipes. The one above and this one (also tasty). I tried looking up quinoa recipes on my usual trusty site and didn't come up with much (I was probably looking for meatless dishes though, now that I think of it, so maybe that hindered my search some?). Anyone have a great quinoa recipe they'd like to share?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Official

Who: Us (Erin, Ryan, and Gareth)
What: Moving
Where: Seattle
Why: Accepted a job offer
When: End of January
How: I'm assuming by plane, with someone else driving a truck full of our stuff across the country

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Detailed Halloween 2010

We seem to get more into Halloween with each passing year, so maybe by the time Gareth starts to lose interest Ryan and I will be super-crazy about it! Or not.

Gareth's first Halloween we didn't dress him up at all. As I recall, both Gareth and I had colds and were pretty miserable. The only reason he had a costume for his second Halloween was because we inherited some hand-me-downs and there happened to be a red rain coat with black trim in the bag. It wasn't too much trouble, even for me, to run out and buy a cheap fireman's hat. The only reason Gareth had a costume last year was because my friend took me to Joann's with her when they had a 99 cent pattern sale. And because she let me use her coupons for the fabric and borrow her sewing machine. And because my mom spent a good portion of every day on the phone with me helping me figure out how to not totally screw the costume up.

That fireman year was when Ryan had the idea for this year. We decided to wait a couple of years until Gareth was old enough to handle face make-up, but young enough still to let us totally decide his costume for him.

This year we started planning early. We refrained from cutting Gareth's hair all summer, even when it kept sticking in his ears and when it poofed out ridiculously, making his head look twice as big. We sent my mom a picture to work from (because, honestly, a boy's shirt is probably beyond my skills at the moment). I'll admit, I got pretty lazy then and didn't do much on this year's costume until a few weeks ago when I made one trip to the local second-hand store and was lucky enough to find some light tan pants and a pair of black shoes. Then I got lazy again while my mom busied herself sewing and buying make-up. I just want it to be clear that I had very little to do with this costume. Thanks to the hard work of my mom and Ryan, Gareth went out this Halloween dressed like this:

Gareth was bouncing off the walls for some reason all morning long, so when it was time to put on his make-up we sent him into the bathroom alone with Ryan, figuring that too many people would work him up too much. Ryan had put quite a lot of time in watching various videos of Joker make-up and staring at pictures of the Joker (Heath Ledger version) and had a good idea of what he wanted to do. We weren't able to replicate the scarring, unfortunately, because the stuff that does that would have taken too long and tried everyone's patience a bit much. But I was very impressed with how quickly he put the make-up on. Gareth was more cooperative than we expected and was quite excited to see his face in the mirror.

It was amusing that just about everyone we saw knew who Gareth was but Gareth had no idea. If asked he'd just say, "I'm Gareth" or "I'm pretty scary". The one exception to recognizing him was a lady who thought he was Beetlejuice.

There's a definite high that comes from having people appreciate the work that went into your kid's costume. Gareth definitely caught most people by surprise as they seemed to be expecting another cute little bear or lion or princess or whatever most store-bought little kid costumes are these days. One guy gave Gareth three handfuls of candy he loved the costume so much. At an older couple's house the husband asked to take a picture - Gareth was the first he'd liked well enough to take a picture of that night. (Granted, we were out pretty early - it was about 6:30 - so there was plenty of time for him to come across a few more impressive costumes.) And just about anyone is impressed when they discover that the costume is homemade (I got several compliments last year because of that).

Oh, yeah, and we actually did jack-o-lanterns this year as well. Which Gareth thought were totally awesome. But somehow the pictures of those didn't make it off the camera. Anyway, I'm glad Gareth had fun with it all, because I'm pretty sure the rest of us adults had fun. Too bad he might want to have some input next year or else we could start planning now!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Without further ado: click here (the video should work in recent versions of Firefox or Chrome). Okay apparently the audio doesn't work in Firefox for some reason. I would spend endless amounts of time getting to the bottom of the issue, but you see, there's this distance vector routing protocol that I have to finish for a class...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Couple Things I Learned Today

I finally figured out that Gareth loves the white part of the hard-boiled egg, but isn’t such a fan of the yolk. I’m not a fan of either and Ryan loves the yolk. I’m pretty certain that Gareth has eaten an entire hard-boiled egg before, yolk and all, but the last couple of times I’ve given him one he’s eaten one piece (usually an end) and left the rest. Today I finally put two and two together and realized that he didn’t want the yolk. Sure enough, once I got rid of the yolk he gobbled the white down.

Patterns are kinda hard to explain to a three-year-old. Much harder than simple addition. Maybe there are some other kids Gareth’s age whose parents have taught them about patterns and who totally understand these already, but I’m not that on top of things. I splurged a bit and purchased this game/toy from a Discovery Toys party (it was on sale for a great price). I debated a bit about buying it since, theoretically, I could make something similar myself using objects from around our house and making my own cards. But, again, I’m not that on top of things or motivated. It’d stay on my list of “things to do” until one day I’d realize Gareth’s in college already. So I decided it was worth it to help encourage myself to start teaching him simple math.

Anyway, they’ve got all these cards that go with the bugs. The cards get progressively more difficult, starting with simple sorting and matching and moving on to patterns and eventually basic addition. Trying to get Gareth to notice the pattern was extremely difficult. I’ve realized that I’m just not sure how to explain the concept to him. But, I’m used to having to find different ways to explain ideas, so hopefully I’ll come up with something helpful for him eventually!

Of course, part of our difficulty figuring out patterns may be because Gareth was showing some similar traits to his Auntie Michaela. He didn’t want to have anything to do with the earlier, easier cards. Nope, no building up from the basics for this kid, start out at the hardest ones for him! (Our childhood pediatrician once commented that my sister wanted to start in graduate school and go from there. I don’t know how accurate she’d say this is now, but I remember there being some instances where it was very accurate growing up.) I’m not sure that that trait combined with the perfectionism he seems to have inherited from me is a great combination.

Oh, and if an insect’s name has the word “dragon” in it, Gareth will never, ever fail to correctly identify said insect (at least when it’s in plastic toy form).

Monday, July 26, 2010

PBS Programming

So, Gareth has been watching a lot of television while we've been here. Yes, I'm a horrible mother. Actually, I'm quite excited to get back home where we don't have television anymore. It was awesome to have it during the World Cup and for watching a friend compete on Jeopardy! (she's won twice and is still on - watch her tonight!), but it's annoying because Gareth wants to watch T.V. all the time. And it's way too easy for me to use it to keep him out of my way while I get stuff done.

It's been a great opportunity to watch a wide variety of PBS Kids programming and see what we've been missing. I must say, I'm not much of a fan of Sesame Street these days. Elmo's voice has got to be one of the most obnoxious things on television. And his little song for Elmo's World makes me want to kill someone. Oh, and whatever the name is of that girly fairy character that's so popular, she's annoying too. If we get up early enough, Gareth catches the end of that show, but often we miss it entirely, thank goodness.

Curious George usually comes on after Sesame Street. This one's fine, though they seem to repeat shows an awful lot. But, it tries to teach some math skills (though sometimes what they're teaching seems a bit old for a 3 or 4 year old) and Gareth is a fan of the books and monkeys in general, so I'm okay with this one.

Then, comes Sid the Science Kid. This is even worse than Sesame Street. Who came up with such annoying characters? And why do the adults act like imbeciles??? Yes, the things it's trying to teach are great, but my sanity isn't worth it (thankfully I'm usually showering at this point).

SuperWhy! is pretty cool, I think. It's done a fairly decent job of reinforcing recognition of letters, especially lower-case ones (Gareth needed some help on these ones). And they occasionally have parts that discuss what sound letters make, which I think made it easy for Gareth to pick up when I started working with him on that the other day. The characters don't have obnoxious voices and are pretty likable.

Dinosaur Train is okay, though I highly doubt that a Pteranodon family would ever raise a Tyrannosaurus Rex...and the dinosaur information imparted in the show really doesn't seem to be sticking with Gareth at all. He's learned a lot more from reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? at every nap and bedtime.

Gareth enjoys Dragon Tales. It's sometimes annoying, but not horribly so. Clifford isn't bad, but we usually miss that one, so maybe I just haven't watched it enough to be annoyed yet. I'm not sure if Dora the Explorer is still on tv. We don't ever watch it there, but Gareth discovered it on Netflix and he adores it. I hate it. I've racked my brain, but I can't think of what it's supposed to be teaching the kids, except for a bit of Spanish. The map song is incredibly dumb (so much so that Brian Regan even makes fun of it).

Gareth also has discovered Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix. I'm a little perplexed as to why it's so popular, but I guess it's not as horrible as some of the other shows. I just find Thomas to be a pain in the neck. He's either full of himself, incredibly obtuse, or too easily offended, depending on the episode. I guess maybe that's the point - he's supposed to teach the kids not to be that way.

Martha Speaks isn't too bad. Occasionally characters are annoying, but not often enough that they grate on my nerves much. Caillou is okay, except for the voices of the characters. Too high-pitched all the time. That just gets to you after a while.

I guess I've discovered that, as with most other television programming, there isn't usually anything worthwhile on, even when it comes to kids shows. Two and a half weeks until the television is gone! (Oh, and we don't watch all of those shows in any one day. I'm not that horrible a mother.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gareth One-Eye

It all started with our insatiable desire for raspberries, of which there are plenty in the backyard here. Gareth gets excited whenever I ask if he wants to go pick some berries. Partly because he likes to go talk to the chickens as well and tell them that they don't get to eat berries and to stop yelling. But that's beside the point.

On my birthday we all headed out to the raspberry bushes. It seems that no one else has been picking them, so there were plenty around for us to enjoy. Ryan was willing to join us since there were (amazingly) no bees around. We all had a marvelous time and went back inside to enjoy the fruits of our (not very difficult) labor.

Walking in the door I noticed a small welt under Gareth's eye. I assumed it was just another mosquito bite and thought nothing more of it. Until we ate dinner with our neighbors and they commented that his eye was a bit puffy. "Oh, yes, I suppose it is! He got a mosquito bite." And I proceeded to not make a big deal about it. Until he woke up the next morning:

And these were taken later that afternoon, after a couple of doses of Benadryl. He opened our door in the morning, said, "Mommy, I need..." and burst into tears. It took me several minutes to get his head out of my shoulder and realize what was wrong. Thankfully our neighbors lent me their car so that I could get the Benadryl quickly. After I arrived home, we spent the morning with Gareth holding his hand over his eye, laying with his head in my lap, and sucking his thumb while holding his orange blanket. We watched a lot of Gareth's favorite shows on the computer. And I didn't get much of anything done at all.

I was getting a bit worried by the afternoon when the swelling didn't seem to be getting any better and even more so the next morning when it definitely wasn't any better. I had to run to the store Wednesday morning and got plenty of strange looks from people as well as several people asking about it, especially as it started to take on a slight purple-ish hue. Needless to say, both Ryan and I were grateful when Gareth was suddenly able to open his eye fully Wednesday afternoon. It's mostly better now, though slightly swollen still, and has a more bruised look about it. And Gareth's desire for raspberries has not diminished in the least. (Though he has also developed a taste for Benadryl, which he calls "tasty medicine".)

Kubota Garden

About a week ago Gareth and I ventured to Kubota Garden, another nearby attraction/park/garden thing. I guess there are several types of gardens there and I'm pretty sure we never made it to the Japanese garden as well as a couple others. Mostly we wandered around in the same area, exploring all the paths we came across, until we hit where we started again.

The first thing we came across was this cool "cave" in the trees:

Gareth once again enjoyed playing with rocks and water. He thought the bridge over the water was fun.

The garden has a peaceful, quiet atmosphere. A few people were there just to walk. Several people were there to take pictures. We did some of both. We played around the bridge for a while and then explored various waterfalls and pathways:

I loved this tree:

And Gareth enjoyed playing with the water wherever he found it.

Definitely a successful outing. I'm excited to head out there again and see the rest of the gardens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lake Union Wooden Boat Festival

On Saturday we checked out a wooden boat festival in the area. Unfortunately, we got there a little too late to do much. The model boat races were over for the day and all the seats on the boat rides were taken already. Gareth still enjoyed it, though he was pretty upset that we didn't go on a boat ride.

We were able to see a couple of war ships fire their cannons at each other and there were boats there that people were allowed to board and check out (kind of like the old cars out on Main Street in Somerville every Friday). Thankfully we had Gareth wearing his monkey, because he was extremely excited about seeing the water, meaning he spent a large amount of time leaning precariously over the edges of the dock. It's a two-day festival, so it was a bit tempting to take Gareth back on Sunday so he could see some boat races. They have two teams make a boat in 24 hours and then race them Sunday afternoon. But, in the end, we decided not to go back.

Gareth loves taking trips into downtown or pretty much anywhere if it involves riding the bus or the train, so he was still in a good mood on the way home. He particularly enjoyed drumming in the station.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Women of Faith

This is just a notice to make sure you all know about the Women of Faith project. I know some reading this blog might be interested in, or know someone who would be interested in, participating in this scholarly project. (If you're interested don't delay going to the website - proposals are due by August 31st!) We don't often get a chance to learn about the women in the church who have been influential and important in many spheres. I'm very excited to see the end result of the project.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend "Exploring"

If exploring means shopping, then we did some on Memorial Day. It'd been rainy every day since we'd arrived. Every single day. Ryan didn't bring a jacket or a sweater with him since his jacket at home is fairly useless and old and ugly (the sweater we just forgot). So we headed out in search of a jacket. We came home with three. It was almost four, because there was a fake leather one that looked really nice and was on sale for a really, really good price. But Ryan decided four jackets was a bit ridiculous for now (though we will eventually purchase him a real leather jacket, because they can look great, and a trench coat a la Bogart, and the list goes on and on). But one of the three is super-casual (more athletic) and the other two we absolutely fell in love with.

So, here's Ryan modeling his awesome new jackets:

The first jacket we found. Awesome, but we needed something else for everyday wear.

The second jacket. Great for casual wear. But we still wanted something in between jacket one and jacket two.

The third jacket. This is the one I totally fell in love with and would have mourned if we had left it behind. Especially since it was the last one of its kind in the store.

Totally worth the money spent, in my opinion. I'm very excited about the steps we've been taking in revamping Ryan's wardrobe. Next up: pants. Or maybe a coat. Or shoes. Unfortunately we can't just do it all at once!

We also went and checked out the folklife festival that was going on, so our exploring wasn't solely shopping. It was fun to go just to see, but I doubt I'd go again if we ever came back this way. Basically, I'm glad it was free. We listened to a local fiddling club play some pieces. There were several vendors selling artwork, brooms, jewelry and so on. Outside of the main venues it seemed like random people would come and try to play their harmonica or guitar and get money from people. Most of the people doing this were beginners or simply not very skilled. A lot of hippie-type people were in attendance. It was fascinating for people-watching but not really worthwhile for much else.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seward Park

Gareth and I took a bus trip today to Seward Park. It's not very far from us, but it would be a half-hour walk, so I opted for the bus. The bus schedule did not list any times for anywhere near the part of the route that we would be taking (at least that I could find), so we ended up waiting for quite a while. I probably could have got there walking before the bus came, but again, wanted to save my feet some trouble.

Gareth enjoyed looking out onto Lake Washington. The houses over in that area are very nice and I'm sure very expensive as well. The view was beautiful with a mountain poking up through the clouds in the distance (I'm assuming Mt. Rainier, but that is a fair distance away, so I'm really not sure.)

There were some ducks in the lake and people were letting their dogs swim in the water, all of which Gareth thought was pretty cool. I finally dragged him back to the stroller and we went for a bit of a walk down the biking/walking/running path. We didn't go the whole way because it's quite a long path and I was getting tired. (It's finally warmed up out here, so that didn't help either). We turned around and on the way back stopped at a tiny rocky beach so Gareth could throw rocks in the water.

The people in the background of the picture asked me if Gareth was my son or my brother. She was pretty sure he was my son, but it sounded like the man was guessing my brother. I'm assuming I just look so young that it's not un-imaginable that I could have a 3 year old brother! :)

It was a fun trip, but my legs are worn out. At least I can say I got my exercise in for the day!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Latest Adventure

Ryan's Mac broke last week. He made the trip up to the Mac store by UW to get it repaired. They called him on Saturday to tell him it was ready, at which point we decided our outing for the day would be to all head up there together after Gareth's nap and pick up the computer. As we were leaving I was thinking we'd maybe get dinner while we were up there as well, since by the time we left the apartment it was about 4 pm.

Unbeknownst to us, UW was having their commencement on Saturday. The bus hit the UW region about the same time commencement ended, which meant we got stuck in the incredibly slow traffic that comes with the end of a university graduation ceremony. I was getting rather hungry by the time the bus reached our stop. As was Gareth, so I gave him a couple slices of bread I'd brought for him. Those slices of bread are the likely cause of his tripping (I'm assuming he wasn't paying enough attention to the sidewalk and too much to eating) and cutting up his knee a couple of blocks into our walk from the bus stop to the store. We still had quite a walk ahead of us, made up almost entirely of stairs. (Think the stairs by the RB at BYU, but that amount tripled probably.) Ryan wanted me to just take Gareth home while he went on, which was probably a good idea, but I didn't have anything to clean Gareth up with and decided the fastest way to get him at least a little cleaned up would be to get to the shopping center. So we all went on.

We used a Starbucks bathroom to wipe up Gareth's knee while he screamed and then bought him a treat to try to get his mind off the pain. Somehow during the treat-purchasing process Gareth realized that his finger was hurting as well and we discovered a sliver which I would not be able to remove without a pin. Even his pink doughnut couldn't keep his mind off of the finger pain. By this point I think we'd already given up on getting dinner in the shopping center between commencement and Gareth's injuries. We gave up on making him happy and moved on to the Mac store. Gareth and I waited outside for the five minutes it took Ryan to pick up the computer and then we started the trek home. We managed to make it back up all the stairs and to the bus stop right about the time a bus was due. That bus never came. Neither did the one after it or the next one. We were starting to try to call people to look up another route we could easily get to to get home when, 45 minutes late, a bus finally showed up.

At this point Gareth was hungry, tired, still in pain, and still bleeding, so it was a rough bus ride for all of us. And probably for everyone else on the bus with us. A guy wearing a hat was able to get Gareth to play peek-a-boo with him toward the end of the trip. For some reason, we inherited the hat when the guy got off the bus:

We finally made it home around 9 pm, still needing to clean Gareth up and feed him something before sending him off to bed. We turned on a show for him and gave him his blanket to distract him while I removed the sliver. Then Ryan held him while I cleaned the blood off his knee and applied hydrogen peroxide (which Gareth really hated) to make us feel better about the dirt that I couldn't wash out. Thankfully our neighbor had just purchased some large band-aids, which we told him was a sticker, and he was good as new. I made up a peanut butter sandwich for him and finally got him to eat some of it, even though all he really wanted to do was suck his thumb and hold his blanket.

After getting Gareth to bed Ryan and I discovered that there really isn't anywhere that delivers in our neighborhood, or if they do they were already closed. So we foraged around the kitchen for a hodge-podge dinner of our own. Definitely not the most successful of our outings thus far. But we have the computer back now!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Of Pots and Pans

One of the most difficult trials for me in living away from our stuff is always the kitchen. I can't help missing all the little things that I never give a second thought to otherwise. My egg separator. A non-rusty wire wisk (several of them!). Multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons. Those things. I guess it's a good experience to have once in a while as it certainly gives me a greater appreciation for all that we have. While at home I'm usually so focused on what we still need that I forget how many wonderful little gadgets I have that make my kitchen life so much more enjoyable.

There are a few things that I always know I'll miss though. My knives, which I usually tend to think of as "not as sharp as they could be", until I use someone else's knives and then I thank my lucky stars that my mom was always so insistent that we would all have high quality knives. My food processor. My griddle. But the biggest of all these is my pots and pans.

I was hopeful in coming here that we'd have better pots and pans than in corporate housing (those are terrible). And we do, thankfully. They're Calphalon. I'd heard good things and many ravings about Calphalon in the days since our marriage, so I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to try them out. But I must say, I don't like them. For all their supposed non-stickiness, food sticks to them something awful. Rice, oatmeal, pasta. You name it, it sticks. Foods that don't stick (or at least come off easily if they do stick initially) in my All-Clad pans, stick to the Calphalon - and don't come off easily, even after soaking. Now, I will admit, eggs stick terribly in my All-Clad frying pan. But they also stick terribly in these Calphalon pans. (I do need a solution for eggs, but I've found it in something else entirely: cast iron skillets. They're insanely inexpensive and clean-up is also insanely easy. I've got several recipes just waiting for me to invest in a few cast irons.)

Maybe this set of Calphalon is just old enough that the non-stick surface is getting worn out. That's a part of non-stick pans that really bugs me, though, the whole wearing off thing. I cooked something in one of the frying pans tonight that used canola oil. And the pan seems to have the same problem as my non-stick George Foreman grill - after you cook with certain substances the surface becomes super-gummy and almost impossible to clean. I've spent hours working at the grill surface, and it's just not worth it! I gave up on the frying pan tonight. I'll have to purchase some vinegar or something and see if that can work it off.

I don't want to sound ungrateful for what we have here, because I'm incredibly grateful for it. As I said, things are far and away better than what we'd have in corporate housing. But I'm looking forward to a joyful reunion with my trusty All-Clad.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Broken Down

Just a quick note to let everyone know we're doing well and having fun. The reason no new posts have made it up yet is that Ryan's computer is having some issues that caused us to take it in for repairs this weekend. (That may not be a wonderful description of what's wrong with the computer - Ryan will have to correct any false impressions I may be giving you...) We should be up and running again in a few days. I can use my phone for a lot of things, but writing blog posts isn't one of them!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woodland Park Zoo

Gareth and I went to the zoo today with our upstairs neighbor and her son. Aside from Gareth whining a whole lot, it was a fun trip. I like that this zoo seems to have a lot of outdoor areas for the animals that are nice and large. It's also the most active animals have been when I've been to a zoo (maybe the fact that it's not ridiculously hot helps?).

A large part of Gareth's whining was him wanting to spend the whole time watching the penguins. It's what we saw first and he seemed not all that interested in them initially, but once we tried to move on to something else that's all he wanted to go back to. The jaguars were cool, but Gareth was more interested in watching the schoolkids and other people around him. Due to his unwilling mood, I was only able to get one, slightly blurry, picture of him enjoying himself:

He did finally let himself enjoy watching the gorillas, and even took a picture of them.

Then we saw some pretty amazing birds:

Then on to the zebras, oryx, and giraffes. The giraffes were especially cool because they were moving around and eating (I hadn't remembered how long their tongues are; it was amazing to watch them twist their tongues around branches and pull the leaves off!) I think I've only seen giraffes in indoor space before, so it was fun to see them outside.

We went to see the lions last, but they were sleeping. Gareth's behavior was indicating that he needed some lunch and a nap, so we headed for home. I'm betting we'll make at least one more trip to this zoo while we're here. Hopefully the next time around Gareth will be more amenable to seeing all the animals and less interested in whining!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Settling In

We moved into the apartment we'll be in for the summer on Saturday. We were planning on using the bus to get all our stuff over there, which would have taken a few trips and five hours, but the people we're renting from offered to come pick us up. Yay for nice people! They weren't quite done moving out yet, so we just hung out for a bit. Gareth got to explore their yard, which is made up of patio and gardens. There are also rabbits and chickens. I guess we could get involved in feeding the chickens and get their eggs sometimes, which I'm sure Gareth would enjoy, but I'm not sure I want to deal with it. Gareth enjoys visiting the rabbits, but the owners will be taking them for the summer so they'll be gone in the next week or so.

We're now in the area code that is the most diverse in the nation. Lots of Vietnamese eateries around and I've been told many Somali refugees live in the area. That's mostly what we've come across in our small meanderings thus far. It's a nice neighborhood (definitely better than by the hotel), but there are some run-down looking homes mixed in with the well-kept ones. There are a lot of parks around, which Gareth lost no time in discovering. We will likely be spending a large amount of time at those throughout the summer.

I've discovered this cool thing called Amazon Fresh, which delivers groceries to your door (only in the Seattle area). It can be pricey since you don't have the option of store-brand items, but it was helpful for us to get large or bulky items such as laundry soap or boxed things. (We don't have a car here, so we have to walk to the store, and there's only so much we can carry back in one trip.) So, I made up a list and ordered the items from it that I thought I would be getting for a comparable price at the store. It saved us several trips to the store this past weekend. I'm not sure if we'll use it much more, but it was definitely helpful for that first big trip.

Our neighbors on the upper floors of the house have been incredibly nice and helpful. They've got kids, so Gareth already has some friends (who've been quite forgiving of his initial grumpiness from lack of sleep and changing routine). His new friends have also been great about sharing their toys since he's seriously lacking in that department due to my unwillingness to ship any out here. (We did bring a few small things, but they aren't keeping his interest through the whole day.)

We're still settling in a bit, figuring out where everything will go and such, but hopefully by the end of this week we'll be ready to start exploring!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Advertising Fail

This yogurt was delicious, but I think they need to double-check their labels before shipping their product out. I'm pretty sure this isn't the message they were trying to send:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day-Long Travel

We finally made it out of Indiana on Tuesday. I didn't want to bother anyone for a ride to the airport (taking three hours out of their day), so I just tried to find a ride to the shuttle that goes from our town to the airport (only 5 minutes of their day). Good thing, since I had to call several people before finding someone who was available at the necessary time between their own schooling or their kids' end-of-school-year activities. The morning almost turned stressful when the woman I'd arranged a ride with called and said she'd forgotten her sons had dentist appointments that morning. Thankfully she'd already called and found someone else to take us.

We left our house at 10 to be on time for the 10:30 shuttle. We made it to the airport with no problems, except for the woman on the shuttle who decided to be irritated with Gareth for no reason and kept shooting daggers my way. We weren't sitting behind her, so he definitely wasn't kicking her seat and he wasn't being terribly loud or obnoxious in any other way. Maybe she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

We used the curbside check-in, which was awesome. There was no way I was getting two bags, the carseat, Gareth in the stroller, plus our carry-ons into the indoor check-in lines by myself. And, for some reason, we didn't get charged for our checked bags, so we only paid a tip to the check-in guy! And when it came to the security we were able to use the family lane, so that went quickly and smoothly as well.

The difficulties started after that when Gareth was tired of sitting in the stroller rather than getting to push it. We got to our gate and got seat assignments and then I released him from his stroller. Bad idea. He was happy watching the planes for about two seconds before he wanted to take off running through the airport. Getting on the plane didn't improve anything. The light buttons on the plane were conspicuously large and yellow. Gareth had already figured out how to undo the seatbelt, so that was no help. He spent the whole plane ride wanting to turn on the lights and then turn them off and on and off and on and off. He refused to sit still and kept waving things in the faces of the people behind us. I was exhausted and my back was starting to hurt by the time we reached Dallas, where Gareth was even more wound up than before.

I tried to find us some dinner, but had a difficult time finding anything even remotely healthy. In the end we settled for pretzels and a berry parfait with granola and yogurt. Gareth was mostly uninterested in food and just wanted to run like a maniac. Thankfully most of the people around us were understanding. On our second plane we were on the very back row, right next to the bathrooms. One of the flight attendants was a seatbelt nazi. We went through some light turbulence so the seatbelt sign was on rather frequently. So, we had to hear a lecture anytime he managed to get out of his seatbelt (not hard for him to do). In her defense, I think they were required to remind people of the seatbelt thing, but it got old really fast. There were a couple of college-aged girls across the aisle from us and they were nice enough to lend me their portable DVD player, which kept Gareth occupied for an hour or so of the flight. (A four-hour flight with a three-year-old lasts an eternity, in case you were wondering.) The rest of the flight was spent trying to stop Gareth from turning the lights on and off over and over, taking him to the bathroom a million times, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get him to sleep. When it came time to land I forced him to keep his seat belt on, which finally got him upset enough to fall asleep 2 minutes before we touched down. The good thing about being on the back row was that Gareth got a few more minutes of sleep while we waited for everyone else to leave. Then he'd lost his toy cars under the seats, so we enlisted the help of our seat neighbor and the flight attendants to find them. The flight attendant (the seat belt one) even helped carry Gareth off the plane since, between his dead weight and our carry-on bags, I was making very slow progress.

Gareth was definitely awake by the time I strapped him into the stroller. We went and got our bags, but then I realized I should have picked up the car seat first since it was on a different belt. A family nearby watched our bags while I grabbed the car seat and then they helped me get our stuff onto an elevator so we could get up to the level where we could get a taxi. We were in the elevator with another family and they helped me get our bags off the elevator, across the walkway to the garage, and down another elevator to the taxi line. Once we were in the taxi it was easy going. It felt great to get to the hotel and have Ryan to help me with everything. After fourteen hours of travel, we had no problem going to sleep. We survived, but I don't want to ever travel alone with Gareth again - at least not on a plane and not until he's a little older.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not The Adventure I Was Looking For

Well, we're hoping to enjoy an adventure together as a family this summer. The plan is to be in Seattle while Ryan does an internship. But, so far, every time we think we've got things set we learn something new or some other key matter falls apart.

We decided we'd look for our own housing. We asked where exactly Ryan would be working so that we could look at sublets in places that would mean a shorter rather than longer commute. We never heard back, so went ahead and assumed it would be at location A. We got lucky and found something in our price range and within a 30 minute bus commute (since we won't have our car) of location A. The day after we send a wire transfer with our deposit and first month's rent and mail the signed contract, we find out that he'll likely be working at location B, a new location which we had been given the impression would not be ready to move into by this summer. Location B turns Ryan's 30 minute commute into a 1 hour commute. The silver lining here is that we soon thereafter learn that if we'd stuck with corporate housing he would've been closer (probably), but we might have been forced to pay for a 2 bedroom apartment and would have had to pay significantly more for that than we will for the 2 bedroom place we found.

The big hurdle at the moment is that we discovered on Tuesday that the relocation people had failed to purchase plane tickets for Gareth and me. We alerted them to this problem, they said they'd get right on it. Here we are today, and still no tickets. I called the airline, just to verify that they have no reservations in our names. They don't. And, being a Saturday, it's impossible to reach any of the people who could fix the problem (and they were unresponsive to our contact yesterday). So, it looks like Ryan will be going to Seattle without us. I called the hotel and they were able to switch our reservation into Ryan's name, so at least he'll have somewhere to sleep that first week.

The most aggravating thing is that I have no idea how much longer Gareth and I will be here. And the thought of traveling alone with Gareth is daunting. We're definitely having an adventure. Just not the kind I was hoping for.

Monday, May 10, 2010


When I want to dream, I just go here and drool over all the amazing vintage-style clothes I'd love to own but can't afford (especially the dresses and some of the blouses and coats, not to mention the men's trenchcoat). The ones I can't afford even when they are on sale for what are amazing prices. Definitely a down-side to Ryan being in school. I think of all the amazing dresses and such I've already missed out on and comfort myself by remembering that they'll have new and equally awesome clothes in a few months (true). I try to convince myself that I'll be able to buy some of those (not true). And then I go back to dreaming. Ryan can't stay in school forever, right?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Thoughts

Happy Mother's Day to all who wish to be wished such.

Mother's Day is a tricky business. The trickiness of it is well layed-out here. Obviously, I'm a mother, so the non-mother trickiness isn't so much of an issue for me. But the pedestal building ideal mother talks we typically have to suffer through is. And, with a smattering of Mother's Day posts running through the Bloggernacle over the past month or so, I've been thinking about what I really want or don't want out of Mother's Day.

I can't say I've nailed anything down definitively, but I've come to a few conclusions. One of my concerns with Mother's Day is that is seems to make it easy for people to cram all their "appreciation" into one day and then forget about it for the rest of the year. And then there's the idea that, really, Mother's Day can easily become women running around appreciating women rather than letting the kids or men take care of it. It's also a day that can easily build up expectations about how others will possibly show their appreciation, only to leave you disappointed and discouraged that, really, this day was no different than any other, with no one helping out or even acknowledging all the work you've done.

What would I like in a Mother's Day? Well, church-wise, I'd love the talks to simply center on Christ. Or substantive talks about women in the scriptures - maybe about some of the women prophets. And, personally, I'd like to see the money the ward spends on the women going to a local charity or organization that helps women in some way. A shelter or a group that provides a scholarship for women for schooling. Something along those lines. Basically, show me that you care about improving conditions for women rather than just talking about how important we are.

In my own home, I've realized that maybe I'm a bit high-maintenance. :) Rather than having one day where I'm treated lavishly and don't have to do anything, I much prefer appreciation shown randomly throughout the year. It means a lot more to me to come home from book group and find the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned. Or to come home and find all the laundry folded or the bathroom cleaned another night. Or to occasionally be given a few hours or a day free of Gareth, to spend however I want. Because that means that someone was thinking about what I might need or enjoy - what might make my day a little brighter - not because they have to due to a holiday, but because I truly am important to them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

3rd Birthday

Gareth turned 3 this past weekend. Though we occasionally still call him a baby (usually when he's whining too much), he's definitely a little boy at this point. (When do they grow out of the whining stage? I'm hoping it's soon.)

I decided that I'd better have a small party for him. Thankfully my parents came to visit over his birthday, or else I would have thrown my hands up in exasperation and given up. It wasn't too difficult, really. The cake was the most daunting. I found a monkey cake mold, greased and floured it up and hoped for the best. Unfortunately the cake still stuck and broke in half when we took it out. That's where I would've given up and just gone and bought some nasty frosting-covered something from the grocery store.

I'd also forgotten how much cake decorating hurts. It always looked so fun and easy when I watched my mom do it as a kid. Since I don't frequently decorate cakes, I revert to the fun and easy memories rather than the hand-cramping memories when thinking of cake decorating. Good thing my mom was here since she made the whole process go much faster and we were able to laugh at ourselves every time we made a mistake. We did an awful lot of laughing. All our work paid off in the morning when we showed Gareth the cake and he said, "Wow! A birthday monkey cake!" with no prompting from any of us.

We had hoped the weather would be good enough for the kids to play outside, but as it turned out it was windy and chilly that morning, so we kept them inside. Thankfully 3 and 4-year-olds are easily entertained and occupied themselves easily with a bunch of balls (thank you, Kristine, for bringing all of your balls over!), beanbags, and a beanbag toss which my parents brought with them. Gareth was excited to open his presents and while he usually has a favorite the day of, in the end he always plays with them all equally. (This makes it very difficult to thin out the toys in his room ever, since he pretty much will play with anything and everything that is there.)

After all of his friends had gone we decided to head over to the Bug Bowl. It was way too crowded for Ryan's taste, and Gareth wasn't in a patient mood that day so the long lines ruled out just about every activity. In the end we got him a ride on the giant rocking horse, a balloon, popcorn and a face painting and left. He was perfectly content with that and we made it home in time for him to have a nap still, which made all of the rest of us happy.

I did take some pictures of the party, but they all turned out blurry since he was moving too much. (My neighbor and parents took some as well, so hopefully I'll get those from them at some point.) We did, however, manage to get a picture of him on the giant rocking horse:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just Like Daddy

There have been many benefits to my working a few hours each week. The fact that I'm not committed to an asylum yet being high among them. But, aside from that, I think my favorite has to be that it gives Ryan time to be a stay-at-home-dad. This does, of course, depend on his school schedule, but for three out of four semesters so far it's worked out. I feel that it's definitely had a positive impact on his relationship with Gareth. Gareth thinks Daddy is pretty awesome now and is eager to be doing whatever Daddy is doing. If Daddy's at the computer then Gareth wants to "play Mario" (though that's not exactly what Daddy's doing, obviously). If Daddy's eating peanuts, or cinnamon roll, or apple, Gareth needs some as well. If Daddy's drumming, Gareth must also drum (And with the same object. Which means if Daddy's drumming with a cup coaster then Gareth will run and grab one and join in). And, if Daddy is "sleeping" then Gareth must also "sleep":

I wish any other kids we have could get the same opportunity. I can't help thinking it would be ideal if we could both work part-time, each of us working on the days the other one isn't. How awesome would it be for our kids to have both parents as stay-at-home-parents? So, while I sometimes think longingly of having a decent paycheck again, being in graduate school definitely has its advantages.

If you want to see some more of Gareth check out our neighbor's blog here for some pictures of Gareth with his "little sister". These two, if they get their way, see each other every day, beat up on each other, love each other, and totally want to switch moms (though I'm sure if they did they'd change their minds once they realize the other mom would tell them "no" just as much). Gareth will be devastated when we return from Seattle this summer and he realizes that she's gone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

No Pedestals, Please

The other day I came across this post about why this blogger is not a feminist. Not only was the post itself shallow and totally misdefining feminism, but many of the comments were simply mind-boggling. Go read the post and the first two comments. (Read more comments, really, because there are some good ones there as well as more that will, if you're like me at all, make you shake your head or want to cry or shudder. But the first two comments are mainly what I need for this post. Plus, there are over 500 comments. I definitely didn't get through them all.)

I can, sort of, look past the ridiculously false assumptions about feminists. People making such statements along the lines that feminists are all men-haters or want all women to be the same are simply misinformed. What is actually the most distressing to me about the post and some of the comments is the idea that women are more.

More than men. Better than men. Inherently more spiritual than men. Naturally more nurturing than men. And so on. This is an idea that has become quite commonplace in church anymore (and possibly elsewhere as well, but church happens to be where I hear it), and that bothers me. Such statements are incredibly offensive, and I can't believe that both men and women tolerate them. They are obviously offensive to men and, perhaps less obviously, offensive to women as well. I don't want to or need others to denigrate men in order to raise me to a higher level. Can you see how condescending that is? The idea behind it being, as I see it, that women can only possibly be close to equal with men if men are lowered. I know I'm not less than men, but I also know I'm not more. All I desire is for everyone to look around and realize that men and women are on the same level. And I can't quite believe that any traits are inherently masculine or feminine. I am, and always have been, extremely competitive. I'm not naturally so nurturing as others I know. And I certainly know many men who are much more spiritual than I am. Does this make me masculine? Judging from statements as those quoted in the first comment on the blog, yes. But I say, no, it simply makes me human.

But I also see statements along these lines as part of a constant effort to place women on a pedestal. And so many women seem to accept this unquestioningly. It always makes me think of "Philadelphia Story". I don't want to be the cold, distant, un-attainable "goddess", placed upon a pedestal where no human frailty is allowed. Not only that, but required to fit my life into the tiny space of that pedestal. And, as the "goddess" on the pedestal, pressured to please those who placed me there by fitting into whatever roles they might prescribe to me. I suppose this might appeal to some women, and that's fine. That's their choice (which I will always support their right to have). But the thought makes my stomach churn. So, no pedestals for me, please.

Monday, February 22, 2010

For those whose hearts melt easily

It's been more than two years since Albuquerque has been graced with Gareth's presence. Luckily, we've been able to acquire a few technical gadgets to capture some of the moments with.

There is a new album (link is also on the side) consisting of videos of Gareth I've taken mostly from my Nexus One phone. Since I always have that on me, it's much more likely nowadays that I'll catch something on video. There is some compression involved when uploading videos to Picasa, so hopefully that doesn't ruin them too much.

For those people who are tired of looking at, reading about, and watching everybody else's kids on all their sappy family blogs, I advise you to skip out on this one.

For those of you who love this kind of thing and will inevitably squeal with all-caps delight, there's more where this came from. Check out the bonus collage in the album. Mom, you can use it as your desktop.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Becoming More Aware

Ryan and I had the opportunity to see "Food, Inc." recently. We both read The Omnivore's Dilemma this past summer (I became interested in the book after a book group discussion of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and not too long after I finished it we first saw the trailer for "Food, Inc.". Since it was a movie I'd been wanting to see, and it was a free showing at the local Unitarian Universalist Church, and since Ryan and I very rarely go out these days, I was quite excited.

We enjoyed the movie. It's obviously biased in some ways, but since the other side typically refuses to be interviewed that can't be helped entirely (though I'm betting refusing to be interviewed can definitely be the smart move since it's likely you'll be portrayed in a negative light no matter what). I thought it was very thought-provoking. It left me thinking primarily about two main things - what are we eating/what can we do to eat healthier food and what can be done to help people with less money afford and know how to eat better?

So, here are some of the things Ryan and I have been doing and would like to work towards in the future:

-After Ryan and I read The Omnivore's Dilemma we decided to try to avoid CAFO/corn-fed beef. We now buy our beef and pork at the Purdue Butcher. Eventually we'd like to save for a large freezer so that we can purchase a quarter cow from a local farmer and have our beef for the year.

-We've tried to cut back on our meat consumption overall. Obviously, during the winter we eat more than in the summer since the produce availability is lessened. Previously we were eating about 50/50 meat/non-meat meals. We've cut that back to around 30/60 or less during the summer and try to stay slightly under the 50% mark for our meat meals in winter. (Not only is this healthier, but it's more in line with the Word of Wisdom!)

-We buy as much local produce as we can. This past summer I went to the Farmer's Market weekly and bought everything I could of what we needed there.

-When we one day own a house I hope to have a large yard so that we can plant a garden. Raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and strawberries. Also enough tomatoes to eat and to can. Lettuce, chard, peas, green beans, squashes, carrots. We may even try out onions, potatoes, and garlic eventually.

-We're trying to eat more seasonally. Tomatoes grown thousands of miles away in the middle of winter, picked when not ripe, then artificially ripened just don't taste as good. So why buy them? We're certainly not perfect at this yet, but we're working on it. Not only does it make our meals taste better, but it lessens our footprint on the environment.

-We're hoping to gradually wean ourselves off of those big, fat boneless skinless chicken breasts from the store and buy locally raised chickens. Which means learning how to use the entire chicken. It'll take some time, but the results will hopefully taste chickenier (and be kinder to the chickens.)

-We'd switch to local eggs now if we could get our hands on Polyface farm eggs. (Our Manassas readers will have to go buy them instead - last I checked Polyface farm comes to a farmer's market in Manassas, you lucky people!) Reading the chefs in Omnivore's Dilemma rave about them was startling. I'd always thought an egg was an egg. But apparently not. So, when we have a little more income we'll switch over.

One difficult thing to realize is that you can buy lots more calories for a lot cheaper when you buy foods that are unhealthy. Which is part of why we have an obesity problem. I think we could help poor people out by making the food stamp program run more like the WIC program. No more buying conveyor belts full of candy, soda, or chips with your food stamps. Really making people use the money to achieve a more well-balanced diet. When you're on WIC you're required to go online and complete a lesson about nutrition and how to feed your family well every time you go in to pick up your checks. Expanding that to the food stamp program would help as well. That's the main idea I've thought of. I don't know how many schools still have home ec. classes where they teach cooking or not, but that's another thing that could help. If kids feel like they can cook when they get out on their own they will be more likely to do so. Of course, if we stopped subsidizing all the surplus corn that becomes high fructose corn syrup, that'd help as well.

After the movie Ryan and I mentioned to each other that there are thousands of causes or issues such as this one that we all have a choice to care about or not. This happens to be one that we've decided is important for our family. There are others we don't worry about as much. It's simply not possible to take on all the issues. So, what are your thoughts? What do you choose to care about and why? If this is one of the issues you care about, what ideas are you implementing in your home?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Now that they're over, I figure I'd best get around to writing about them. We stayed home for Christmas again this year, partly because it's so relaxing and enjoyable to not travel and partly because we embarked on the potty-training adventure (which has gone really well and that's all I'll say about it so you don't have to read a TMI post).

Thankfully Ryan's semester was not as stressful as last year's, so we were able to purchase our tree at the traditional time for my family - the weekend of my sister's birthday. Gareth had a great time. Every tree was "too big tree" unless it was 2.5 feet tall and the owner of the tree farm even let Gareth "help" cut down the tree. Too bad we didn't have the camera with us! Here's the final result:

My mom sends us little gifts for an advent each year, which Gareth gets really excited about opening, even when the gift is a washcloth or a pair of socks for someone else. (We have an awesome video of Gareth and Ryan playing with socks, but I have to figure out how to upload it still. ) My advent gifts that I look forward to are the ornaments that she and my dad make for us.

These is one of the ornaments they sent this year. Gareth had a great time playing with the "car Christmas" (he tends to call Santa Christmas).

My brother and sister-in-law were able to come up and join us for Christmas weekend. Lucky them, they got to be here for the most snow we've ever seen in our two winters here! (It was only 3 or 4 inches, but that's way more than we ever had last year.) They arrived Christmas Eve in time to catch the end of the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol, which is a tradition from Ryan's family. We finally broke down and decided we couldn't go another year without it and purchased it - our splurge of the season. Gareth, of course, enjoyed the extra attention of two more adults and even climbed into bed with them one night, which meant that no one slept well.

Christmas morning we took our time getting up and ready. My family's traditional cinnamon roll breakfast is too sweet anymore for us old fogeys, so we always make Ryan's traditional breakfast - blueberry breakfast bake. That and some Christmas grapefruit are a delicious combination. Then we commenced the gift-opening. For this part we follow my family's tradition and open gifts one at a time so that we can all see what everyone else gets and to stretch out the fun. Gareth could have been content (not truly understanding what happens on Christmas) with his first gift, a Lightning McQueen car. He carried it around all day and had to have it at naps and bedtime. He received lots of puzzles as well, which he enjoyed dumping out and leaving for others to clean up, which is what he also did with his new Hungry Caterpillar game.

He's since started to figure them out and is playing with them more and more. He also had fun playing bowling and trains:

Auntie Cinira and Uncle Matthew gave us Polar Express and it is Gareth's new favorite movie. I should have known, since he loves trains so much. Yes, the rest of us received gifts as well, but that's just not as interesting as a cute kid, now is it? Matthew and Cinira introduced us to a cool card game called Bang. Christmas was full of late nights and good food and fun.

Ryan and I love to do puzzles at the holidays, so of course we had to purchase three new puzzles (since we don't have tons yet).

This is our challenging one for the year. 2000 pieces. We almost finished it in time for the New Year, but ran out of steam on the sky, so we finished it the next evening instead. We've had a wonderful holiday and hope all of you have as well. And, since it'll probably be another month or so before I get around to posting again, here are some pictures of Gareth enjoying having his Daddy home: