Sunday, July 24, 2005

We Have A Slab

The slab for the new house was poured Friday morning. Here you can see our builder, Decker, setting up sprinklers to keep the concrete wet over the weekend. He promised that on Monday the site would be "crawling with carpenters."

We can hardly wait. This really makes it feel real.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Our Trip to the Northwest for the 4th

We haven't had a chance to recount our trip to the North West for the 4th of July holiday.
The week of the 4th we went to Seattle and then to Coeur d'Alene and then back to Seattle and down to Tacoma to show off Dada to all the family on Eliot's side.

This picture was taken at a Dairy Queen in Clee Ellum, Washington, on the way back to Seattle from Wenatchee, where we had spent the night with cousin Vanessa. This is quite possibly the best picture of Dada we've taken to date.

We started the trip by flying from Austin to Seattle the Thursday before the 4th. The trip went about as well as it could when flying with a toddler. Dada did well on the plane, no significant screaming. We were reasonably successful at keeping her entertained when she wasn't sleeping, which thankfully she did for a good part of the flight from Houston to Seattle (a four+ hour flight). Julie once again proved that she is the Best Wife Ever--she had found this bag for the car seat that turns it into a rolling bag--it made all the difference. We observed several other traveling families with car seats being carried in all sorts of awkward ways, including a child of four or five dragging a car seat through the airport.

We had rented a car and Hertz gave us the perfect vehicle: a Subaru Outback. Small but with lots of room for our stuff, comfortable for the long drives ahead, fuel efficient. It was pure chance--I hadn't requested it or anything. So the trip was off to an auspicious start.

We arrived at my sister Catherine's house and had a very nice time playing with cousin Sophia. On Friday I worked and Julie and Catherine entertained the kids with shopping and whatnot. Around 6:00 we all headed out for Coeur d'Alene, where we would spend the weekend, returning to Seattle on Tuesday. The drive was uneventful. We arrived in Cd'A about midnight and found our hotel, which I had booked on line. It turned out to be a bit less nice than I had hoped. I had chosen it because it was the only hotel available that was less than $100.00 a night and still in Cd'A. Oh well. I've stayed in worse hotels. And they did have real waffles for breakfast in the morning.

On Saturday we visited my sister Rebecca where Dada met her cousin Julia for the first time. My mother joined us with Sophia and all three cousins played harmoniously. Then back to the hotel for a nap. That evening we attended a hootenanny hosted by our friends the Flecks, long-time family friends there in Coeur d'Alene. The Flecks are musical folks by profession and avocation and often host informal musical gettogethers. It was a lot of fun, with the cousins dancing and all of us trying to remember songs. At Dada's bed time we took Dada back to the hotel where Julie stayed while I went back for more musical fun.

On Sunday we visited with my foster sister Jeanne and her family. Jeanne has two children from China, Brianna and Kelly. She and her husband John live outside Coeur d'Alene out in the country in a beautiful spot up in the hills. They have horses and dogs. We had a wonderful time. Sophia and Dada got to meet horses for the first time. Dada was not keen on sitting on a horse but Sophia did. (Julia was attending a friend's wedding with her mother and could not attend.)

On Sunday night Julie stayed at the hotel with Dada while I went out with my sister Rebecca to a drag show. Coeur d'Alene has a long-running summer theater, where Rebecca works in the box office and has been involved essentially since infancy. All of us participated in Summer Theater in various capacities growing up and Rebecca has stayed involved all these years. Anyway, some of the actors in the theater are accomplished drag artists and put on occasional drag shows. Judy joined us and we had a great time. I thought they did a great job, although I can't claim to be a connesseur of drag shows.

On Monday, the 4th, we hung out at the Fleck's again. They live a few blocks from Cd'A city park, which is where the 4th of July parade ends. So we all trooped down to watch the parade. Here is Dada asleep in the stroller:


CIMG0809At some point a big truck in the parade blew its air horn and woke Dada up. She really got into the spirit of the parade. We watched the parade to the end, then went back to the Fleck's for lunch and more music. At some point Sophia and Dada went down for a nap (Julia was with her father and couldn't join us).

CIMG0821That afternoon we went down to the lake to spend the afternoon on the beach as it would be our last opportunity on this trip. We had a nice time playing on the pebbly beach and just hanging out. The lake water was wicked cold, so we didn't swim. Finally, back to the Flecks.

Julie and Judy and Rebecca were going to go to a movie while I stayed with Dada at the hotel, but Rebecca got a better offer and so we decided to go over to Rebecca's house and play cards, which we did. This did mean that Julie lost her one chance to have a night out. But we had fun playing scrabble with Judy and then bridge when Catherine showed up. We had all decided that the thrill of fireworks shows was pretty much gone for us and it's always a big crush downtown, so we ended up watching what we could see from the street in front of Rebecca's house. Eventually we all got too tired to play bridge and broke up the party to go sleep. Catherine had to get up early to pack and we had arranged to meet Judy and her long-time friend Cindy Jones so Cindy could meet Dada.

We had a nice breakfast with Cindy and then headed out in the direction of Seattle. We had decided to stop off in Wenatchee on the way back to visit my cousin Vanessa, which we did. Vanessa invited us to stay the night, for which we were pathetically grateful. After the business of the trip to that point, it was pleasant to have a relatively quiet evening of just sitting around watching TV.

CIMG0829The next day we stopped at the Aplets and Cotlets factory, which is just outside Wenatchee. Aplets and Cotlets are a cloyingly sweet candy made from apples and apricots that is unique to the Northwest. We had fun taking the factory tour, although it was a challenge to keep the required hair bag on Dada. Then, it was back on our way to Seattle.

CIMG0837So on Wednesday we arrived back in Seattle about 2:30 in the afternoon, just in time to catch up with Sophia and Catherine, who had gone to the zoo that morning. We went and played in the park and then I went out to find an Internet connection so I could catch up on my work, check my email and whatnot. It turns out that a little neighborhood near Catherine's house has been turned into a free WiFi zone. That was pretty cool. We also played in the park near Catherine's house.

On Thursday our plan was to meet up with my father down at the Seattle Aquarium and then continue on to Tacoma, where we would spend Friday and then on Saturday leave for home. In the morning, we all went out to find a coffee shop for me, where I could get in a few hours of work, and a place to play for Sophia and Dada. I worked and the girls and their mother's played. Then we all met back up. It turned out that by the time we were scheduled to go to the Aquarium, Sophia was due for a nap so she ended up not joining us, so Julie and Dada and I got our stuff packed and loaded and headed down to the Seattle waterfront to meet Grandpa.

Miraculously, as we were pulling into one of the parking areas along the waterfront, we saw my father preparing to cross the street and were able to get his attention. This after we had made elaborate arrangements for how to meet up (as my father does not carry a cell phone, we have to resort to the old ways when arranging meetings--I can't believe people lived that way for centuries).

The weather was perfect--bright and clear and pleasant temperatures, so we found an outdoor table at the local clam place where we could have a beer. Dada had fallen asleep in the car and was still sleeping, so we let her continue her nap on my shoulder while we all had a beer and considered what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Being a Thursday, traffic was an issue--we didn't really want to try to head back to Tacoma during rush hour. So we decided to visit the Aquarium and then have dinner at Ivar's, the famous clam place there on the waterfront.

CIMG0845We had a nice time at the Aquarium. Dada seemed to enjoy looking at the various animals and Grandpa got to spend some quality time with his Grandchild. We did a little shopping to kill time before dinner. We had a nice dinner at Ivars, although I spent most of my time following after Dada who wanted to walk around and practice her stair walking. Then it was in the cars and off to Tacoma.

Bill had done a good job of preparing for Dada's visit, putting the breakables out of reach in the family room. Fortunately, his house is arranged so that the areas with the most precious and fragile items can be completely closed off. It was nice to see the house all back together after the fire--my father only just recently finished the last of the unpacking following the rebuilding. The house looked great, brought nicely up to date from it's mid-70's style. We had a quiet evening and everyone went to bed early as we were all exhausted.

CIMG0854On Friday it was rainy so our plan of going to the park to run Dada around had to be reworked. We ended up going to the mall and then shopping for a few toys to have at Grandpa's. In the morning I found a coffee shop with free wireless where I could get in a creditable amount of work before it was time to get Dada out into the world. We had a nice walk in the mall and then got some toys, which kept Dada fairly well entertained the rest of the evening.

In the morning we got packed up and headed out for the airport. I had booked a relatively late flight so that we wouldn't have to leave at zero dark thirty for the airport, and I'm glad we did. We made it to the airport on time although we started to feel a little pressed for time when we started policing up all the random toys and whatnot that had filled up the car over the week past. I should have cleaned all that stuff up the night before but I hadn't. But in the end we got it all packed up and got checked in and through security with plenty of time. Then of course our plane was delayed leaving the Seattle.

The flight back was OK. Dada was a little more restless on the way back, probably because she was simply exhausted from all the travel. But the lady sitting next to us was reasonably patient with a busy toddler in her row and there wasn't too much screaming. Eventually we made it back to Austin and our own home with our own beds. Hoo-ray.

We had a great time on the trip and the actual flying experience, our first with Dada since returning from China (which we can't really count as typical as we were all in totally whacked out states on that trip and we had Grandma Peggy with us). But I'm not sure I'm in a hurry to make a trip of that length again soon. Fortunately, we have no need to do so any time soon. By this time next year our new house should be built so people who want to see Dada can visit us and have a place to stay.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
They've set up a temporary chain-link fence around the construction site. This should help cut down on the pilferage and dumping we've been experiencing. You can also see where they're setting up the forms for the pillars that will support the carport side of the garage/carport, there on the left side of the picture toward the back. So it's getting serious now.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Back to Work

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
The builder got the final plans the Friday before the 4th. The builders are now back at work, having repaired the damage from the Copper Pipe Caper. Yesterday the delivered a portapotty and today they appear to be completing the installation of the reinforcing rebar. So they might be pouring the concrete real soon now.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Survival Kilt: Best Daddy Tool Ever

Originally uploaded by drmacro.
Here we are in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho on the 4th, playing in the park. Note the Survival[tm] Utilikilt[tm], the best thing for fathers of toddlers. It holds everything I need to keep Dada happy and alive.

Click on the picture to view it on the Flicker site, where I've annotated the key features of the kilt in it's "daddy mode" configuration.