Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tor Does Tahoe

Demolishing a French omelette before even saying "Guten Appetit!"

Only 3.5 weeks after these events occurred, I'm finally posting the last of my holiday installments. I have many excellent excuses, but you're here for the goods. Highlights of our time in Tahoe included late Christmas/timely birthday present opening (which filled the whole week), snow play for Tor, two ski dates for Lars and me while Ah-Bee graciously watched Tor, Ah-Bee/Mama/Tor outings ranging from shopping sprees to the Tahoe Tot Spot, cozy evenings chatting and watching movies after Tor went to bed, and, as always, great food.

Realizing his lifelong dream of owning a pizzeria

He may have to grow into CubeBot

Fledgling Jacques Pepin

"Snow. Snow! Snow! Snow! SNOOOOOOW"

We hustled him out the door before he could change his mind
"No need to carry an ice scraper, Mother; I'm on the job."

We captured Tor's sledding initiation on film just before Pakka tweaked his back dragging around thirty pounds on a two-foot snow shovel. Totally worth it, right, Pakka?

Cocoa time rolled around 25 minutes after Tor initially left the house.
We all drank out of the same mugs, but the rest of ours contained egg nog and Grand Marnier
Nope, he never changed out of his PJs that day

We forged ahead with the snowman the next day. And by "we" I mean Pakka and DaDa--Tor helped until he figured out the snow resisted packing, and then he focused on sledding. He was willing to decorate and pose for a photo with the finished product, though, and for the next few days he became highly agitated whenever its cork teeth fell out.

"So, why do you guys have all these corks?"

Faceless yet . . .

. . . but once decorated, it resembled Gaia

When Tor's attention began to slip from sledding and the snowwoman, we broke out the skis. Oh yes: the skis. Ah-Bee found them at a secondhand store for $4, and the bang-to-buck ratio was unbeatable.
Thundercats GOOOO!!

On to poles already: obviously a prodigy

The Grand Marnier lurks temptingly
Working the magic
Clip imp

One more trip where his head didn't get stuck = success!

Chilling at Sam's

The Tahoe Tot Spot, as it turned out, was willing to part with its floor model of a cunning wooden play kitchen, so we spirited that back home along with all the new presents. It was a full car, but now our house is a way better place to play.
Shortly before I removed him for madly bailing balls over the side

"Where have you been all my life?" (Note kitchen in background.)

This post would be incomplete without a farewell salute to a longtime part of the family.
Lars's Beard: A Tribute

The night before we departed for home, Lars bowed to the pressure of his upcoming Oxford interview and hacked his overgrowth down to a distinguished goatee. As these things should be, it was a family affair. Lars had no shaving equipment to his name, so his dad supplied the necessities while the women heckled and Tor tried to do whatever DaDa was doing at any moment.

Obviously a solemn occasion

Then we got punchy

Toy razors: why so hard to find?

Presumably, we can thank this episode for earning Lars the job offer! Stay tuned for an agonizing decision-making process along with more snippets of our daily Newark lives.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Birthday Recap

All right--installment two, albeit following a healthy lag time: Tor's second birthday!!

Lest anyone we encountered on the 29th forgot the occasion, or had the misfortune not to be acquainted with Tor, he reminded them with a "Birthday Boy" shirt (courtesy of Melissa and Ulises). We began the day with an omelette brunch with Oma, Opa, Tim, Caitlin, Mormor, and Erik and Heather's family. After stopping by the Karplus house for a visit with Grandma, Peter, and David and Catie's family, Lars and I drove a sleepy Tor up to Tahoe for a post-nap dinner, cake, and presents with Ah-Bee and Pakka. Whew!

First "Happy Birthday" rendition of the day
Ladies who brunch . . . and Tim
Buried in his cupcake before anyone else started the main course

Mugging for cousins Hanne and Meg

Without one of these puppies, the party never happened

Tor hasn't been as into playing our little keyboard lately, although he's still wont to make me jump by dropping a La Vida Loca bomb while I'm in the bathroom. Real pianos are where it's at. He warmed up on the Andersens' and was ready to unleash his inner Stevie Wonder by the time we got to Tahoe. (Warning: the piano movie is waaay too long.)

Dodging Christmas keyboard detritus

Before dinner, Tor got to unwrap a new bib and plate from Ah-Bee and Pakka. We captured the plate emerging:

And a big-boy water bottle rounded out the set

The piece de resistance of the Hansen party was this:
His little brain probably generated some surreal dreams that night

Nay, not one Elmo cupcake, but an Elmo cupcake pyramid supported by an Elmo scaffold! (Scaffold available for parties. You know my digits.)

Insulin spike ramping up to outdo its earlier record

And then we tried to make him use his fine motor skills
As we enjoyed a largely relaxing day, the main thing we learned was that while Tor eats up attention from his family, he has little interest in opening many presents after the first one. And sometimes not even the first one. By the time we got to gift-opening time in Tahoe, tears of protest were shed. (Yes, yes, poor Tor.) So we opened presents for the next six days. (I've never thought of Hanukkah as more kid friendly than Christmas, but one could make the argument.) To Tor's credit, he's getting pretty good at remembering to say "Thank you," so there's that.

Thanks to everyone who helped make Tor's  day special, and also to those who sent fond thoughts from afar!

Next post: Sledding! Skiing! Snowman! And a genuine DaDa beard-trimming!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kauai Christmas

The Queen's Bath, with Bali Hai in the background

After reviewing last year's holiday post, I realize that the academic calendar leads itself to a massive buildup of photos right around now as we return from family rendezvous and holiday galas. With Tor's birthday thrown into that mix, I'm of a mind to crank out a few posts in rapid succession so each phase gets its own treatment.

Phase one is Kauai--warm, beachy, Mai Tai-y Kauai for ten amazing days. My mom and dad, brother and his wife, sister and her husband, and we three Hansens occupied a house on the south side of the island, at Po'ipu. Our explorations ranged from one of the rainiest spots on earth, Mount Wai'ale'ale, to Hanalei, of "Puff the Magic Dragon" fame, and involved snorkeling, body boarding, sampling the local cuisines and eateries, checking out a hula show, sightseeing, and enjoying lots of time getting to know each other better. I was also tickled to see several of the spots that Lars remembered from his five years there.

Waiting for our view . . .

. . . and BOOM!

Sunset, takeout, and 40 strangers singing "Gangnam Style" on karaoke = magic

Crabbing around
"Hmm...80 degrees, yet the decor says Christmas"

Pulled pork pizza: a new favorite

First coin-operated carousel ride (with Caitlin)

Lars's high-school buddy is now a first-class bartender

Sharing Opa's cone

Typical morning snack position

Back in the saddle for a botanical garden hike

With hibiscus in death grip

With hibiscus reserved for upcoming freakout

Taking the prize for most self-sacrificial Christmas gift, Opa got up with Tor every morning so that Lars and I could catch up on some much-needed sleep. Recall that Tor usually gets up at the crack of dawn (or before), and that Kauai time is two hours earlier than California time. Opa shout-out!

Catching a cloudy sunrise in PJs

With turtle and whale sightings five minutes from the house!

Oma took some serious shifts as well

We celebrated Christmas with a Christmas Eve service at the Hyatt, cookie decorating, Tor setting up a nativity scene again and again and again, a merry unwrapping session on the morn itself, and a lavish buffet  with an ocean view at the Sheraton.


Thematically appropriate Good News candy bars
A brief flashcard interlude
"Is it a properly fitting shirt?"

Best part of getting a stocking:
the stocking
His potato-and-squash snowman anticipated
our Tahoe activities

How were children successfully photographed before the infinite do-overs of the digital era?

After we mocked this, a girl on the plane had one

Getting Jurassic on it