Friday, December 31, 2010

the final frontier

we recently visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, which really didn't have much by way of entertainment for the three and under crowd, but they did have vending machines full of dippin' dots (the ice cream of the future). that, a small play area, and two missions to mars (via a motion simulator) had summer and afton very excited to visit outer "stace" again sometime soon.

the wheeler 500

finally: our five-hundredth blog post. what started in august of 2006 (see opening day) as a place to house the random musings of a younger, hotter, and hipper bryan and emily wheeler has blossomed into a regular cacophany of craziness managed and produced by the still pretty young, hot, and hip dynamic duo (and encouraged in large part by our little mischievous misses).

thanks for sharing the ride.

in honor of this momentous occasion, here are a few fun facts about our little corner of the blogosphere:
  • Monthly visitors
    • Jun 2007 (the first month we turned on analytics): 32
    • Dec 2010: 239
  • Monthly page views
    • Jun 2007: 228
    • Dec 2010: 1750
  • RSS subscribers: 49
  • Number of US states sending visitors: 50
  • US state sending the least visits: New Hampshire (1) --come on NH, show us the love!
  • Number of countries sending visitors: 72
  • Site referring the most traffic:

so...think you can handle 500 more?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

sweets to the sweet

filthy the snowman

it hadn't snowed on christmas in huntsville, alabama since 1963.
so the girls and bryan made good use of the white stuff.

an almost white christmas.

christmas morn

matching christmas jammies are never out of style.

Friday, December 24, 2010

o holy night

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

merry and bright

merry christmas from the wheelers!
afton, emily, summer, and bryan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tarp me!

Back on Labor Day, I found myself staring into my laptop screen. We hadn't made plans to take advantage of the holiday. I chided myself; I still hadn't fully transitioned out of "this-project-at-work-is-taking-all-of-my-waking-hours" mode. My mind began to daydream about how I might spend my weekends in the wet fall and winter of the Pacific Northwest. My thoughts turned to a problem that had plagued me in the spring: How to keep dry while getting in and out of my bivy during a rain storm.

Internet searches yielded no commercially available products that would meet my needs. I did, however, stumble upon the dark underbelly of the backpacking world: weight conscious minimalists who fret so much about the weight of their gear that they fabricate their own backpacking shelters instead of buying stuff off the shelf. On various online forums, I found links to suppliers of ultralight materials and plans and tips for creating your own gear. Within the hour, I'd placed an order for 6 yards of silicone impregnated ripstop nylon, 55 yards of fortified thread, and a few feet of grosgrain.

When the supplies arrived (actually, minutes after the charges hit our bank account), Emily gave me a pep talk for the arduous and exciting task ahead. And by pep talk, I mean a stern warning that this little sewing project for me better not turn into a large sewing project for her.

I replied that I wouldn't be "sewing." I would be "tent engineering." And all I needed from her was a quick primer on how to operate a Singer "tent engineering" machine, and I wouldn't bother her again.

After the intro to sewing, I quickly got down to business, sketched out a design (complete with a caternary cut), and crafted a prototype out of hot pink cotton. Satisfied with my results, I turned the scissors to the real material.

Around this point in time, I found myself working in another "this-project-at-work-is-taking-all-of-my-waking-hours" mode and the tarp was mothballed. Until the other day.

Starting in the afternoon and working until 3AM, I emerged victorious from the sewing table tent fabrication floor.

Behold the tarp in it's pitched glory!

At this point, it's probably worth a comparison with its well known, readily available brother: the blue 8x10 tarp.  Which gains the advantage?
  • Packability -- my tarp. It rolls up nice and compact.
  • Weight -- my tarp. I don't have a scale on hand, but there raw materials weighed about 12 oz.
  • Stability in a windstorm -- my tarp. The caternary cut allows it to be pitched super taut. Wind flows right over it.
  • Flexibility -- blue tarp. The caternary cut makes it less useful in other pitching scenarios. And I probably wouldn't use it to protect my driveway from a dump truck full of mulch .
  • Price -- The blue tarp. It's less than $3. In material costs, I'm probably looking at $50 for my tarp. The labors costs might be 20 to 40 times more.
For those of you crazy enough to try this on your own, let me offer a few pointers:
  1. Only do it if you want to do it. Other people can make it better and more cost effectively
  2. Silicone impregnated nylon is difficult to work with -- my prototype material was cotton and made me think I was a pretty awesome tent engineer. The nylon took a serious toll on my self esteem.
  3. Be ready to improvise -- for example, since I couldn't use an iron to press the seams and hems, I resorted to glue sticks and paper clips.

A closeup of my handiwork. Surprisingly good in some places.
Embarrassing in others.

Monday, December 13, 2010

captain underpants

shop to it

the other day, summer brought me a piece of scrap paper and instructed me to jot down her grocery list.

it's great to see she's got all the important food groups covered.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

visions of sugar plums

seriously, is there anything the oreo can't do?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

you better not pout

eureka! summer has finally softened in her feelings towards st. nick.
while afton (who was awake this year) isn't quite feeling that holiday vibe.

merry christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

tis the season

for cashew caramel corn.

feeling adventurous?  add bacon.

(fun wheeler family factoid:  the first gift a young, newly married bryan and emily received from santa for christmas was a hot air corn popper.  the very same one i used yesterday.)

happiness hit her

summer has a new favorite song.  it's been a fave of her mom's for several months now, and summer's capricious musical interest has finally grabbed hold.

florence + the machine call it "dog days are over," summer just calls it "dogs" (or sometimes "puppies"), and she requests that the song stars in our afternoon dance party most every day. (to which afton chants, "dance! dance! dance!")

(side note: do you bite your thumb at us, sir?)

i think the song's lyrics must really resonate with the trials of toddlerhood.

that's right, summer, "leave all your love and your longing behind, 
you can't carry it with you if you want to survive."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

today's episode

is brought to you by the letter P.

my Princesses eating Popcorn in the Palace.

one boot wonder

every evening, around dinnertime, afton finds summer's rainboots
and wanders around the house for a few hours with one of them on.

the left one.  

Friday, December 03, 2010

three's company

raise your hand if you love pink!

i love to see the temple

 one of our favorite things to do when visiting the SLC is to tour temple square.

the girls love it, too.

death by chocolate

once you have ina's fudgy, buttery, nutty, chocolaty (!!) brownies
you'll never go back to the box again.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

a winter wonderland

we traded in the flurries of snow in seattle for a few feet in eden. 
summer is now at one with the white powder, while afton remains skeptical.
(and in other breaking news:  mama's hair looks like a chia pet.)

 cousin kellyn.

aunt cindy and cousin joshua.

uncle james and cousin kellyn. 

at snowbasin.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

the whole fam damily

we will post the "real" wheeler family photo soon (photoshopped and all).  

until then, here's a teaser:

thanksgiving feast

we were lucky enough to have been treated to a fabulous feast at the grand america in salt lake city for thanksgiving this year.  such a perfect way to spend turkey day:  dressing up, going out, eating, eating, and eating (and eating), and not having to do any of the work.


a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
(usually initial capital letterthe coming of Christ into the world.
(initial capital letterthe period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

look alikes

we just returned from a fab thanksgiving vacation and will shower the blog with updates soon. but before we do, i need to post a brief moment of record as today, for the first time EVER, i had not one, but TWO folks comment that summer looked exactly like me.  yes, this is the very first time that someone (anyone!) has stated that summer bore any resemblance to her mama.  do they need to get their vision checked?  perhaps.  but still, the experience warmed my heart.

love my little look alike girl.

Happy Movember

In honor of Movember, a moustache growing event in November to raise funds and awareness for men's health issues, I spent the last few weeks not shaving. I learned a few things:
1. I don't have good facial hair - I've known this since I was 16 but always fantasized that by the time I was 30 the problem would correct itself.
2. My closest relative genetically (aka my brother) can really rock the beard look.
3. Moustaches make me look creepy - As such, the moustache is now gone.

Five Below

In an ancient family tradition dating back 4 years, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the snowshoe season. Whilst enjoying Eden, my brother, dad, and I donned our winter garb and set out at daybreak.

When we started down the trail, the temperature was -5. My newfound beard quickly froze over.

Fresh snow. Note the elk tracks behind us.

The latest photo from a series James entitled "Cain and Abel."

That's right... my dad didn't bring proper gloves or pants yet somehow the ski goggles made it in his suitcase.