Friday, August 28, 2009


summer loves to have afton lie (lay?) on her lap.

lunchtime nap

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail

Rain. 60 miles. 5 days. And did I mention the rain? On Thursday night, I sat in my tent overlooking Spectacle Lake. Near freezing temperatures, wind, and incessant rain once again forced us to retire early for the evening. As my legs quivered with fatigue, I found myself strangely unable to suppress a smile. In spite of the trek’s misery, I loved it. Against all odds, I was giddy with contentment.

Our idea for the scout’s high adventure was simple. We would hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 2 to I-90. Under normal conditions, the trek would be challenging. Under somewhat extreme weather conditions, it would turn into a serious endurance event. Despite the hardships, the scouts performed most admirably. I didn’t hear a single complaint from our group the entire time.

The rest of this post is taken mostly from my journal. Although it seems a little glum at parts, I’d most definitely do it again.

Day 1 – Hwy 2 to Deception Lakes
After breakfast at Tyler Allen’s house, we hit the trail at 8:30 AM. My pack officially weighs in at 44 pounds. We follow Deception Creek as it steadily climbs to Deception Pass. One mile into the trip, I take a fall and hurt my left knee. Not good. We make good time until we take the fork to Deception Lakes. The last 1.2 miles are excruciating. I setup my tent after soaking my knee in the lake for 30 minutes. After playing Harry Potter Uno, John Durant, Tyler, and I regale the scouts with stories from our missions. We struggle to hang the bear bags that night. The rope breaks, and the subsequent fall crushes Nick’s Pop Tarts and apples.

As it begins to rain, I realize it was a mistake to wash my clothes which aren’t yet dry. Hope the girls back home are holding up OK.

Day 2 – Deception Lakes to Deep Lake
Rain makes breaking camp a chore. We hit the trail at 7:30AM under a steady drizzle. Pack weight has increased significantly due to absorbed water. The first few miles are easy, but dense fog spoils the views. Midway, we cross a treacherous creek. I lose my footing and soak a boot. After crossing, we begin the ascent to the base of Cathedral Rock. The country is spectacular. Six and a half hours after leaving camp, we arrive at Deep Lake. Although my left knee pains me significantly, I was only a mild hindrance to the pace of the crew. Sun breaks in the mid afternoon allow us to dry out a bit.

Day 3 – Deep Lake to Waptus Lake
Broke camp again under a drizzle. The hike to Waptus Lake was an easy six miles. Unfortunately, I forgot my regimen of stretching and pain killers so the knee doesn’t want to bend for the first couple of miles. Upon arriving, we light a fire (Waptus was the only lake on the itinerary where fires were allowed). The fire is a most glorious sight. At noon, the first of our Big Rock brethren meet us (they started at I-90). The fire and the company make for a significant morale boost. We take turns diving into the lake from a fallen log that extended 50 feet from the shore. The last Big Rock guys don’t show up until nearly 6PM. They look like death warmed over. Some of the scouts had decided a tarp would be much lighter then a tent. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that a tent would be much more effective in inclement weather. Nothing teaches quite as effectively as the school of hard knocks. Much of the evening is spent trying to dry various articles of clothing by the fire. After drying out my socks, I carefully place my boots by the fire and go to go pump water. When I return , Jacob asks “whose shoes are melting?” They are mine. D’oh.
Spence Darrington, Bryan Wheeler, and Nick Cardon swimming in Waptus during a window of non-rain.

Day 4 – Waptus Lake to Spectacle Lake
In the morning, a group of hikers from the British Army make it out of camp before we do. Our competitive spirits flare up and we make haste to break camp. In our rushing about, we miss a key junction on the trail and go a mile out of our way. We pass the British group mid-way through the hike and arrive at Spectacle Lake nearly 2 hours before our British counterparts.
Once again, we make camp in the rain. Spectacle Lake has to be the most fantastic destination of the trip. On a warmer day, we would have spent hours swimming and exploring. Instead, we shiver under a clump of trees.

Day 5 – Spectacle Lake to home
At 3:30AM, I can’t sleep any longer. I’m dry, warm, and reasonably comfortable, but the sound of the rain against the rain fly isn’t very motivating. At 4:45AM, I can’t take the boredom any longer and being my morning regimen. After stretching, taping my feet (to prevent blisters), and stowing my sleeping bag, I emerge from the tent. John and Tyler are also up. Andrew volunteered for the leaky tent that night and hasn’t slept at all. We rouse the other boys and begin breaking camp.

Ridge Lake is over 12 miles away. The conditions on the trail are extreme. We spend 3 hours at nearly six thousand feet. I can’t feel my hands. My fingers are so clumsy that I can’t open a package of Gu. The boys lack decent rain gear and shiver in hoodies soaked in rain water. Much of the trail is treacherous. The path cuts across steep rock slides. The views should be fantastic, but the dense fog reduces visibility to a couple hundred feet. We spend hours in silence, each of us ever respectful of the chasm to our side.

We reach Ridge Lake and don’t even pause. It’s 7 miles to I-90 and we trudge along. As we pass other hikers, they ask where we started that morning. When they hear Spectacle Lake, jaws drop. By 2:30PM we’ve made it to the trail head. Nearly 20 miles in 8 hours. We never even stopped to take off our packs. Not a single complaint from any of the boys. Most impressive.

Now it’s home to a good meal, warm bed, and three beautiful girls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

singing in the rain

our first game of who's who.
i think this one is pretty obvious.

Friday, August 14, 2009

understanding your toddler

since last week’s breakdown, my feelings of control over the violent upheaval that is summer’s toddlerhood have increased dramatically, thanks, in part, to the helpful perspectives, reassurances, crystallization, and much amusement gleaned from a few of the books that amazon so sweetly (and promptly!) sent my way.

the first and most basic rule of thumb is that i’m not a bad parent if my child throws fits. this is an especially difficult concept for anal-retentive success junkies like me to accept, but it’s an important one. the hallmark of my good parenting will not necessarily be how my children are behaving (because sometimes, they will behave badly, and if yours don’t, a plague on both your houses!), but how am i behaving? let's remember those three c's: calm, consistent, and in control. goodness knows we don’t need two of us throwing tantrums.

so if it’s not emily’s fault, why is summer being difficult?

i’m going to have to side with piaget on this one.

basically, at the behest of laurence fishburne, we forced the red pill down her throat and she has now left the matrix.

let me explain. heretofore, all summer’s reality was based on the fact that she was the center of the universe. when she was hungry, i fed her. tired, i rocked her. bored, i entertained her. a vital phase in development that should in no way be undermined because it was through my quick and sensitive responses to her basic needs that summer learned to trust me.

but enter toddlerhood, and now it’s time to be “unplugged.”

she rather abruptly discovers that the reality she has been living is actually not reality at all. now I tell her when and what to eat, I tell her when to sleep, and I tell her what she can and cannot do (and unfortunately, there’s a lot she cannot do). where she previously thought she was in charge, now my job is to make her believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in charge.

and what makes the terrible twos “terrible” is that like any dictator worth her salt and facing an insurrection, she’s not going down without a fight.

but that’s no excuse to go all jack bauer on her. while summer can be a bit thorny, she can also be a lot of fun. the goal now is to focus on her strengths and make this all-important transition of power as smooth as possible.

after all, there’s no use replacing one menacing tyrant with another.

though, i would make a most excellent menacing tyrant…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

one month

ah, sweet sleep deprivation, you are my dear companion yet again.

gone is my dozing silent newborn. now lu spends her days grunting, squeaking, squawking, and cooing. *sigh* (some) beautiful baby noises.

her marine blue eyes are often wide open, examining, observing, investigating and taking in her world. (they open really wide when summer is near).

as with most one-month olds, she has trouble self-soothing, and it therefore falls to those with more experience (yes, that would be moi) to help her out with all the swaddling and shh-ing and sucking and swaying. i admit to not always cherishing these tender moments for what they are, sometimes feeling too busy or too tired and nearly begrudging her neediness…

but if i could live life in a vacuum, i would do nothing but hold and rock and love my baby girls.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Buzz Cut

Inspired by Colbert's visit to Iraq and seizing upon the opportunity afforded by the backpacking trip with the Scouts, I decided to drastically alter my hairstyle. Before Emily jumped in the shower on Saturday morning, I asked her where I should buzz my head. "Anywhere outside the house" came the reply.

When she finished her shower, this is how she found me:

She was suprised on two counts:

1. How could anyone screw up something so simple? Turns out shaving your head is much harder than it looks on TV.

2. When I asked where I should cut my hair, she assumed we would cut it together later that afternoon. I assumed it was obvious that it meant I would be cutting it immediately. Later, she remarked that my thought patterns were not unlike a certain toddler in our house.

After some help from Emily, this is how it turned out:

Thursday, August 06, 2009


just like we did for summer (aka bizzins), bryan and i have unknowingly come
up with a random nickname for afton. in case we ever forget, here is its genesis:

af a laf
af a laf a lu
af a laf a lu la
"lu la"

and actually, we often just call her "lu."

who'd have thunk?

Monday, August 03, 2009

self portrait

this is me.

and this is the list of books i just purchased from amazon:

Making the "Terrible" Twos Terrific

Setting Limits with Your Strong Willed Child:
Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries

Playful Parenting

1,2,3...The Toddler Years:
A Practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers

I Brake for Meltdowns:
How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of your 2 -5 Year Old

heaven help the wheelers.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Although the Pacific Northwest may be cloudy and rainy for 8 months of the year, Summer is a season of endless sun. The effulgent rays so excite Seattleites that we actually organize a giant celebration: Seafair.

We've never actually been to Seafair proper, but this year, my boss invited the team to board his boat on Thursday and watch the Blue Angels practice their crazy stunts over Lake Washington. Good times indeed.