Over Labor Day weekend, we took a trip down to Cannon Beach. It was somewhat of a last minute thing, but it was great to go relax by waves, sand, sun, and breeze. I think we finally convinced Spiky that playing in the sand is fun.
We left Sunday after church, taking the scenic route closer to the coast. We crossed into Oregon over the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is probably the longest bridge our kids have been on so far. It was pretty impressive seeing it before we got on it from the Washington-side:
Astoria-Megler Bridge
When we got there, there were still lots of people outside enjoying bonfires. That first night, we probably heard more people than nature. Waking up Monday morning and getting to see this:
morning view
outside the window was great! After a quick breakfast, we played around with the sand and the waves. Well … we tried anyhow. Chops really enjoyed this, and the excitement of seeing lots of dogs and kites being flown. Spiky not so much:
spiky on beach1
It wasn’t until we were about to leave that he finally warmed up to the idea of beach and sand:

We will need to see about revisiting — our stay was not quite long enough!

A few weeks ago we had two birthday celebrations, one for our son and another for my mom. Both were just-family celebrations which was quite nice. First up, our mischievous little two-year-old!
like cake

He sure has changed quite a bit this last year! He now not only is able to walk, but he runs :). While this is not completely representative of his current running technique, it gives you a glimpse:

I just love how he swings his arms and quickly bumbles his way around in an attempt to run (especially to keep up with his sister). As was the case last year, he still despises pretty much every vegetable. His one typical concession is to eat broccoli. He’ll sometimes also eat some spinach and other (Chinese) leafy greens my mom cooks in an attempt to expand his (vegetable) horizon. He really loves The Sound of Music which he requests with a “kan do-re-mi!”:

He’s starting to get more words, more in English though some in Chinese. He is currently obsessed with birds (he only really knows crows, ducks, and hawks, so all birds fall in one of those categorization), cars and trucks (he exclaims “caa!” repeatedly when he sees one which can be tiresome when driving around, and also “tuck!” when he sees any large vehicle such as buses, trucks, vans, etc.). He also gets very excited about airplanes (to which he exclaims “ah-den!”). The funniest though is dogs: he will point at one and say “gǒu-gǒu” and try following, but if the dog is actually friendly enough to want to play, he becomes scared and starts crying.
We thought that he would know what to do with the candle now that he’s two, but alas he did not. There was a lot of blankly staring at the flickering flame while we tried to convince him to blow them out:
candles?!
For Mom’s birthday, we had my parents and brother over for an extended weekend. We started off with some grilling for dinner (yummy ahi tuna, and nicely smoked-seasoned steaks with greens from my parents’ garden as accompaniment). Chops wanted us to have the celebration dinner outside so she nicely helped set the table:
setting table
Mom had no problems blowing out the candles :). The kids wanted to be closer to the candles and cake. So we got a family picture together with the birthday “girl” and her cake:
family
The following day, we started the day off with some french toast and bacon breakfast then headed out to enjoy the nice, sunny weather by kayaking around the nearby lake. Everyone got to go out at least once, except for little Mr. Spiky. In the early evening, I managed to convince my Dad to go geocaching with me. We found Paws and Reflect and An Island Oasis together without much difficulty.
I like that we have some family nearby and that we’re able to celebrate birthdays together in this manner.

One of my friends, after seeing some of my pictures, asked if I was intending to start a blog called “the determined urban gardener” :P. Since I do already have a blog and I have traditionally made mention of it in past years but have not yet done so, here’s a overview of what this year’s garden looks like.
Back in early April, I started some corn, acorn squash, swiss chard, and beets from seeds. I also acquired two types of cherry tomatoes, some beans and snow pea plants, as well as a pumpkin plant, and a small flat of swiss chard. To this, I added dwarf gray peas, painted lady pole beans, more beets (which I failed to properly transplant), music box sunflowers, bush yellow scallop squash as seed starts in early May. And then 🙂 … I also added two varieties of carrots (from seed), some lettuce plants, cauliflower (from seeds), as well as radish (from seeds) :D. Oh — and I decided to continue doing potatoes since I had some from last year, but decided to expand and get a secondary variety (different colors — I like colorful edibles).
While this all seems like a lot (which I suppose it sort of is), we’ve only really harvested some strawberry:
strawbeerries
snow peas:
snow peas
chard, lettuce, blueberries:
blueberries
and a couple of radishes:
radishes
so far. A lesson learned (since I moved where I tried planting lettuce this year from previous years): even though online sources say that lettuce will grow in the shade this isn’t completely true. Sure — it’ll grow. But it’s spindly and gangly and not very productive, so poo for that :(. I had such high hopes.
I suppose the thing that’s exciting for me is that the garden in the back currently looks like this:
backyard garden
with blueberries starting to ripen, acorn squash growing, potato plants starting to flower, cherry tomatoes forming, and the painted lady scarlet beans (as well as the normal kind of beans) are starting to bud! The front “garden” is not doing that shoddy either. The corn looks like there might actually be corn developing, I have a few orange blossoms (but given the previous experience of them blooming, I am not exactly expecting fruit … still smells super nice though!), Chops might actually get to have some little pumpkins as she requested :), and I’m hoping that the carrots planted will be bigger than the carrots I planted late last fall as a stab at “fall planting” which I unearthed prepping this year’s garden.
It’s fun having a vegetable/fruit garden! I think it encourages me to have our family eat more meals at home … and healthier ones at that to incorporate the harvest.

No — we did not travel for a full six months. Nothing close to that, but we have been on a number of road trips in this time duration and just never got around to sharing some photo highlights from them. So here goes …
Back in April, we went to the Tulip festival. Chops in particular enjoyed it. In her class at daycare, they’d been learning about flowers (hyacinths, tulips, etc.). Sprinkles were in the forecast, but fortunately for us, it remained relatively dry the whole time we were in the fields enjoying the tulips and daffodils:
Chops with tulips
We found some nice strangers to take a rare family photo for us:

and concluded the day with a stop at the Snow Goose stand where we enjoyed some rather large ice-cream cones:
ice cream!
… that was the kid-sized cone!
In May, we acquired a larger vehicle and decided to go on a overnight road trip over Memorial Day Weekend. Here we (the kids) are about to get on our way!
Memorial Road Trip start
The trip consisted of going from Washington state, through Oregon to Idaho. The goal was to see Shoshone Falls, which we successfully achieved:
Shoshone Falls
The next trip we made after that was to Portland when Dan’s sister was able to come out to visit us. Apparently we picked a rather interesting weekend to visit and picked just the right place to stay at — we got to see (from afar) the Naked Bike Ride Race:

We also made the obligatory stop at Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls
before returning via Leavensworth, WA (which for some reason I don’t see photos of …).
In late June, friends of ours invited us to Coyle for a weekend. It was the first time for Spiky to ride a ferry. While there, Chops was excited by all the starfish she got to see (and hold) as well as a very long, very red, highly unusual worm:
orangish starfish chops holding starfish awesome worm purplish starfish
This trip was doubly exciting for Chops since it was our first time as a family going on a trip involving sleeping bags and tents. Despite the novelty, both kids actually did a fairly decent job of sleeping.
The last one in the “series” is more a field trip than a full-on trip. We went to Remlinger Farms with our small group.
Here are some of the kids:
kids at remlinger farm
Chops really enjoyed all the things with wheels!
Pretend-driving the tractor:
driving tractor
Riding the “train” through the park:
train riding
Going on an imaginary carriage ride with her friend:
carriage ride
And driving mommy around in an old-style car:
driving
She also got to ride a horse for the first time:
horse riding
Can’t say that it was as exciting for Spiky … ;).

Our little one is sure developing quite the personality. While he still shows no interest in walking, he’s been experimenting with standing hands-free for brief periods of time (including while in a high-chair). I’m optimistically hoping that it’ll be fun once he starts walking 🙂 (and that he does so before he is 18 months old).
On the other hand, it appears he is attempting to skip on to acquiring other life skills, such as wiping his face with a napkin, blowing his nose, and putting his own socks on. None of these attempts are very successful for the time being, and I will need to get photo/video evidence, but they are entertaining to watch.
One of the things he does that cracks me up is his modified peek-a-boo routine. Observe the following video:

Despite a reluctance to transition to being a biped, he enjoys moving around. One game he likes playing is sneaking upstairs when we aren’t paying attention (there are 15 steps between the two levels), or semi “racing” us up the stairs. Another thing he enjoys doing is playing with the sound system, even knowing full well that he isn’t supposed to do so:
up to no good
Can’t believe he’s inching ever closer to being 18 months old!!

Pronounced “zhu ni sheng ri kuai le“. We have recently had two birthdays in the family.
First, a certain little boy turned one not too long ago!
birthday boy

We had friends over. “Little friends”
little friends

as well as big friends
big friends

There was pizza and salad for dinner, followed up with birthday cake/cupcake, and assorted other snacks/desserts (like mochi brownie and fluff that friends made):
cake!

A few of the things we’ve learned about our little one so far in one short year:

  • though he is often serious in a new situation/environment, he is actually exuberantly happy once he’s gotten the lay of the land
  • he loves engaging with other people and especially enjoys playing and interacting with his older sister. they often jabber and giggle with each other in the backseat while we’re driving from place to place
  • he is very laidback. This caused some concern for me initially (didn’t crawl until 10+ months, and even then, it was a funky manuever).
  • he loves to be held and it generally doesn’t matter who it is, but (unlike his older sister) isn’t as big on reciprocating shows of physical affection
  • says “mamamamama!” without crying/fussing (which his older sister did at similar age), and also says “bao bao” (or something close enough to it that I’ll give him credit for it)
  • kind of a picky eater and will squirrel away food and pull out items he doesn’t like from his mouth (such as beans, peas, tofu). Like Chops, he seems to enjoy his starches ( 🙂 anyone say bread?! )

We also celebrated my mom’s birthday recently. As the weather was nice, we decided to enjoy the nearby state park. Here are some of us at the beginning of the “hike”:
a-gong with Spiky
Most of us were tired from our excusion and managed a nap in the afternoon. We followed up our family nap-time with some grilling (skewers, hotdogs and hamburgers):
dinner

cake:
cake

and a board game.

Thankful for family close by, for the blessing of good weather especially during birthday celebrations, and all the blessings in our family with the passage of an additional year! Here’s to many more!

Excuse the pun, but I’m enjoying our strawberries. This is the first time in my life where I feel like we can go without buying strawberries from the store, at least for the time being. It’s great fun to be able to go in the backyard and pick a few strawberries for immediate consumption and so very gratifying to know that we grew it ourselves. All the strawberries below were just “harvested” tonight.
Part of me wants to propagate the plants and get even more next year … 🙂
strawberries
Looking forward to our (still meager) blueberries. And considering more strongly some raspberry canes!

While on a recent road trip, Chops asked us to do “ti-tar”. We were told to wait until the musesh starts and that the proper way to do this was to move one hand up and down in short, quick motions across the chest.
… in other words, she wanted us to play air guitar (musesh = music). 🙂