Sunday, August 31, 2008

much ado

this past week saw the wheeler clan entertaining my brother, kenny, and his fiancee, emmelie. unfortunately, the two lovebirds stole away with the pictures from the many varied festivities, so all will have to wait for photo representation of our good times until they send some to us (which, at the beginning of the semester, could be weeks).

but here's the low-down anyway:

--mariner's baseball game
--evergreen state fair
--weird al yankovic concert
--snoqualmie falls
--blackberry picking
--space needle
--science fiction museum
--experience music project
--duvall farmer's market
--pike place market

and of course, family staples of eating out, watching tv/movies, and playing games.

hosting those two has made me come to realize how old and tired i am. we changed many a plan because i wanted to stay home and take a nap. luckily, dealing with an engaged couple is rather straightforward as all they really want to do is spend time alone together. they happily obliged my nap requests and wandered around our quaint town whilst summer and i enjoyed some zzzzs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

vulcanology redux

There is an art and science to touring the Pacific Northwest with any degree of success. We learned this via the school of hard knocks last September during our first attempt to visit Mount Saint Helens. For those of you who refuse to click on my links, all we really saw was a dense wall of fog.

The key take away lesson is that you need to cram all of your sight seeing into the short but splendid summer months. Last year, Emily's brother Matt visited a little late in the season. This year, however, Emily's brother Ken has caught us in the Pacific Northwest prime. In addition, we now take weather reports more seriously since it's generally more convenient to go fog watching from the comfort of my living room. Fortunately, yesterday's weather prediction was nothing but clear skies. As you might expect, the trip was a bit more rewarding.

family expansion

For those of you wishing that we'd post something other than baby photos (hi Scott), today is your lucky day. For everyone else, be patient, and I'll indulge you later today.

Emily and I have always had a bit of a contrarian bent. For example, when it was cool to dabble (or bet the farm, in most cases) in the real estate bonanza of the last 5 years, we avoided it like the plague. For us, however, swimming upstream against the American zeitgeist is really just a matter of timing. Case in point: America's new found fondness for the Honda Civic.

When we ditched the 4Runner back in in November, Americans still weren't blushing at the sight of gas prices, but we knew the near future held a much smaller car for us. Imagine our dismay when we started visiting dealers and discovered the severe Civic famine. Even large dealers had anywhere from 0 to 2 models on hand. Bummer.

Naturally, the more sleazy salesmen tried to convince us that our needs would be better met by one of the larger (and much more plentiful) cars on the lot. I, on the other hand, was ready to cast away my long standing Honda brand loyalty in favor of a Mazda, but Emily was steadfast. Just as I was ready to turn my back on Honda, a dealer searched their incoming inventory one more time and discovered they would be receiving a perfectly configured car in another month.

Well worth the wait.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

summer goes to the beach

some photos of our dip in lake crescent:
summer is just too cute in her scandalous 'kini.
descending into the lake (she looks a little skeptical).
ps:  speaking of the vampires, if you ever wondered what they might look like
with their crystal-bright, sun-reflective skin, i think i may have a close representation.

monkey see, monkey do.

again with the cold water.  why do we torture her so?

another cute 'kini-clad shot.  i just can't resist.

summer rides a ferry

go west, young man

Wishing to capitalize on the finite supply of sunny weekends in the Pacific Northwest, I loaded the girls in the car on Friday afternoon and headed as far west as I could. After making a layover in Port Angeles that night (thank you, Hotwire), we resumed our journey in the morning and eventually found ourselves hiking the shores of Rialto beach.

Much to our chagrin, the area immediately surrounding the trail head was shrouded in a thick fog. Pity the overwhelming majority of families who refused to venture more than a couple hundred yards from the parking lot. Roughly a mile up the beach, the sun was out again.

For those readers who have never experienced a northwestern beach, you should cast away any notions of nap inducing warmth, refreshing water, and beaches of perfectly silky sand. However, what these beaches lack in traditional accoutrements, they more then make up for in raw, rugged beauty.

After the beach, we headed towards Forks. Frankly, we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of vampire related tourist attractions (if confused, see here). I guess not everyone wants to cash in on the fame imparted by best sellers.

Following Forks, Emily vetoed my Hoh Rain Forest aspirations and plotted a course for one of the most photographed features of Olympic National Park: Marymere falls. Turns out the honor of "most photographed" has more to do with accessibility from major road than scenic grandeur.

Fortunately, in the neighboring environs, we discovered the East Beach of Crescent Lake. By this time of day, the tourists had fled and the natives were enjoying the local swimming hole. It was a good reminder that the average American in no way resembles the average inhabitant of Seattle's East Side.

Having gone as far west as we could in one day, it was time to turn eastward. Remarkably (given how much she loved her Yellowstone excursion), Summer was rather well behaved on the trip home. And yes, she may have inherited an affinity for ferry rides.

Rialto Beach.  La Push, Washington.

Emily and Summer experiencing the beach.

Summer discovers sand.  And eats it.


The creature from Alien?  No, just seaweed.

While she may love ferries, we learned on our trip that Summer hates cold water.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


summer wheeler. public enemy number one.

Monday, August 11, 2008

on the move

oh yes, summer is crawling. granted, she still needs quite a bit of improvement in her form. i.e., her patented crawl with one leg and walk with the other shown in the first photo is proving to be rather inefficient. and we won't be entering her in any diaper derbys quite yet as she crawls v..e..r..y slowly, cautiously sliding one knee across the floor and then the other.

even though she's only been "mobile" for a few days, her injury incidence has already gone up like 400%. something tells me those bumps and bruises will be a mainstay for a few more years.

i guess ben got it right: it hurts to grow up.

Friday, August 08, 2008

teaching tranquility

so i went to the pediatrician today for summer’s nine month check-up and also because i was sure there was some malicious illness corrupting my baby. when my doctor asked me if i had any concerns, i was quick on the draw: what’s with all this screaming?! ALL THE TIME. ALL DAY LONG. now i knew our daughter was a screamer from the get go, but this? this is intense.

ear infection? nope. teething pains? nope. broken bones? nada. well, surely this can’t be normal; give her some medication that will make this wretched disease wither!

uh, that would be a no. americans are big on the miracle drugs, but sadly, we haven’t invented a cure for “asserting control” or “finding one’s voice” quite yet. so until we do, all across the world, babies from eight to ten months will be screaming their lungs out just because they have discovered that they can. and those with advanced abilities, like our dear summer, will be screaming louder and longer than most.

the antidote the good doc gives me? remain calm. what?!?! me? calm? firstly, as a general rule, people with pointy hair are not “calm,” and furthermore, i practically fly off the handle when bryan takes huge bites out of 8 oz. cheese blocks -- not really the paragon of serenity.

(though lest i villainize myself too unfairly, in relationship to summer, my patience capacity has far exceeded what even i had expected. still, her power is increasing and so must mine.)

before leaving our appointment, i asked my pediatrician if i could teach her not to scream. oh yes, he said, teach by example (sheesh. like i’ve never heard that before): she screams, i respond calmly (if at all), and in a few months (or many, many long years), we should have most of the kinks worked out.

until then, i’ll be drinking lots of chamomile tea and searching diligently for my inner zen.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sumptuous Snoqualmie

In a perfect follow up to Duvall Days and the Carnation 4th of July Celebration, we completed our local small town Triple Cup and paid a visit to Snoqualmie's town fair.
Regrettably, my morning's ride got me back too late to take the girls to the parade, so by the time we arrived in Snoqualmie, the main attractions were the fair vendors.
I'll confess that I have a certain weakness for fair food. In fact, I almost always prioritize novelty over quality in these situations. The giant basket of curly fries is a case in point (note: those are not Emily's hands; she wanted me to make that clear as she's none too keen on the nail polish). Had I ever seen such a creation? No. Would I ever want to eat one again? Definitely not.
A local snake charmer capitalized on the local crowds to get some much needed personal attention. Unfortunately, Emily refused to wrap the snake around her neck for a photo op, and by this time, Summer had received her quota of FFF (forced family fun) and decided to go to her happy place.