Sunday, June 30, 2013

Road Trip!

Helping Aunt Christina destroy evidence

The elusive bubble shark
Those are the only two pictures of us in Newark, because we recently decided to pay Oregon one final visit before leaving the country. Because Lars was doing field work, my brother Tim rearranged his work schedule and flew down from Portland so he could drive up with Tor and me the following day. He was altogether heroic, playing at least four hours of children's songs on the ukelele, cleaning up a massive syrup explosion (not a euphemism), sharing driving time, and making the impossible task of minding both Dendro and Tor at rest stops a possibility. Thankfully, Tor's gotten the hang of "I spy with my little eye," which also helps pass the time. We left at 4:00 a.m. and got to Corvallis by 3:00 p.m.--solid.
This is how I repay Tim's kindness

Oma, Opa, and I took Tor to the local outdoor pool area, which has some crazy water features AND a dedicated toddler time. Tor's usually timid in water, but following Opa's lead, he played the hardest and longest I've ever seen. He went down water slides, floated on a current, and stomped fountains, despite the constant waterlogging of his standard-issue plastic tot panties. Opa even convinced him to endure a tense wait as a massive bucket filled with water and poured down right on Opa's head. We've got to get this kid in swim lessons before he loses his new-found nerve.
Hysterical post-splashdown recap

"Is this thing on?"

Rightfully intimidated

DaDa did not have the Father's Day of his dreams (or at least mine), since he was driving from southern Oregon back to the Bay Area before traveling to Corvallis the following day. Tor and I celebrated with Opa and Oma by going on a hike near my old high school, but we saved the gift-giving for Lars's arrival.


On the way downhill, Tor wanted to walk by himself--which actually meant run--for most of the way. He repeatedly insisted that he was being "careful" while hurling himself pell-mell down the rocky trail, sometimes with sticks (before we made him put them down). Then he found a small log covered with spider egg sacs, pretended it was a guitar, and sang us most of his repertoire, including multiple renditions of "ABC" and "Itsy-Bitsy Spider," as he marched. Even after I stuck him back in the stroller, he kept a death grip on the log, but finally relinquished it when told that we should leave it for other hikers to enjoy.

Carefulness in action

The next night, DaDa arrived, and we collected some sticks and lit a fire in the mini-grill for Tor's first s'mores. Turns out Opa has some serious marshmallow-roasting sticks. And once he'd smeared all the s'mores into his mouth that we allowed him, it was present time.
Getting the motion down before introducing actual marshmallows

Taking every possible photo combination while we waited for the flames to die down

We did not count this as Baby Brother's first Father's Day
Exactly how I pictured him eating it

"Heard your new job demanded slightly more formal attire, so I made you a little something"

Harder to knock over than regular blocks

Oma and Opa had busted out a bunch of the toys that Tim, Christina, and I had when we were kids, and they held Tor's attention pretty admirably. Duplos and the Fisher-Price parking garage were fast favorites. Opa, DaDa, Tor, and I also headed to a place called (I kid you not) Wacky Indoor Bounce, where Tor explored every inflatable play structure on the market.

He's found his sitting position of choice

When DaDa arrived, he and Tor embraced their simian ancestry

"Quid pro quo, Father"

Mounting one of the few non-inflatable toys available

We also drove up to Portland for a visit with some old friends. Dan was the best man in our wedding, and he and his wife Julia have a one-year-old girl, Molly, whom we'd never met. Tor enjoyed playing the big-kid role with her, mostly being gentle but trying to "help" her a little too enthusiastically a few times. It's encouraging that he digs babies, but we'll see how he feels when one is demanding Mama and DaDa's attention instead of another parent's.
DIY "sunglasses"

Never too old for a big block tower, is one

Learning about Neanderthal orifices at OMSI

"Wow, I've grown

"Helping" DaDa with his work
Rounding out the trip with a visit to Uncle Tim and Aunt Caitlin's pad and the nearby park

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


At the end of April, our dear friend Annia came out for a weekend. We tried to pack in all the activities we could while allowing for nap time (which really breaks up the day).
Homemade bagels in the park

Larger than life

"But where are the rocks, DaDa?"

Prepping for sweet English rave parties

Between visits here and there, we've continued our regular Newark diet of library and park visits. Here, Tor checks in with some denizens of the children's section.
"Watchoo readin', ninos?"

Bad parenting 101: photographing when you should be spotting


The Oxford libraries probably have costumes too, right?

Pre-Minnesota Mother's Day pop-in by Oma

Handmade with a little help from Sonia

No clue where he picked it up, but he's started to exclaim, "Oh, MAN!" when either stymied or excited. At first a sometime quirk, it got reinforced when he dropped his cheese off a bar stool, leaned over to look at it and said, "Oh, MAN!"  and got an uproarious laugh from all assembled. Now it's popping up at least five times a day.
"Green playdoh! Oh, MAN!"
We stayed much of our recent two-and-a-half-week trip to Minnesota with our friends the Burnetts, including the irrepressible Madeline. She and Tor fed off each other's crazy, but in an overall great way that makes me hope they'll keep hitting it off every time they visit. Tor was also wild about MJ's sister Greta, who's just about ten months old and the smiliest chunk of baby you'll ever meet.
Whatever MJ gets, Tor wants . . . up to and including pigtails
I assure you this activity is much scarier to look at in person

The drama continues at the Children's Museum, enveloping Owen

About to get nailed in the belly with a perfect underhand spiral

Some of our buddies here got together and spent three days helping Dave and Lindsay redo the roof on their garage. Tiffany likened it to an Amish barn-raising, in which the men do the hard work while the women watch the kids and cook. We've come a long way, baby.
Lesson #1: Don't walk under the ladder

Sawdust, we discovered, is a lot like velcro

Tor's near-contemporary and comrade in size 4 diapers, Sonia, joined us for a day of shenanigans. If Tor is tricky to capture with a non-blurry photo, the pair of them is nearly impossible. We were delighted to learn that Sonia's dad will be doing a postdoc in Cambridge for our first year and a half in Oxford--I predict we'll get to know the bus route that connects the cities well.
Right before Tor's bricks slid out from under him

The mashed potatoes inexplicably did not pass muster

And back outside for pirate training

An evening of pizza and wrestling at the Lascus's
Of course, we also got together with Tor's beloved first daycare providers, Melissa and Ulises. Tor spent a day at their house and visited with me another morning, and we got to take them to dinner one night along with Dave, Lindsay, and Owen (who now attends My First Steps). They surprised Tor with a tiny Gophers basketball uniform, so he'll be the hippest expat in Oxford.
Abandoned the highchair after appetizers
Stone-cold sober and insisting the shorts are a hat