Saturday, November 28, 2009

Unexpected Snow Storm

Despite a zero percent chance of precipitation in Big Bear Lake this weekend, this morning we woke up to four inches of snow. It has been snowing off and on all day. We were pretty unprepared for snow and had to go out and buy chains. We've improvised with the old plastic bags in your shoes for the girls for snow wear. It has been very old school... We've had two great sledding, snowball fight, snowman sessions in the back yard and one walk through the snowy neighborhood. I managed to fall on my butt and konk my head on the concrete. Despite that, it has been great to play in the snow. We're looking forward to more snow in December at Grandpa Jim's and Grandma Jo's and even more snow in Mammoth in March.

Friday, November 27, 2009


We're spending Thanksgiving break with a group of our friends from graduate school. They have been spending Thanksgiving together for about 16 years and we have been joining in for the past seven years. We always rent a house somewhere in California, usually in the mountains or at the beach. This year we're in Big Bear Lake. It is nice to be up in the trees. Yesterday we went to Moonridge Zoo and saw some neat animals like Fishers, brown bears, a snow leopard, and others. It is a sort of wildlife rescue facility. One of the coolest things that happened while we were there. A fire engine drove by and and all of a sudden the whole wolf pack (two adult females, one adult males, and six young wolves) started howling. They kept howling for about fifteen minutes and it was the most amazing sound to hear and even to see the wolves putting their heads up high and howling. I could close my eyes and imagine that I was in the middle of some dark spruce woods in Canada somewhere in a small cabin at night listening to wolves outside. It was definitely a highlight of Thanksgiving 2009.

Here are some other highlights of Being Thankful 2009:
- the great bug hunt of 2009 (Rob's invention of an easter egg type hunt for rubber bugs)
- talking health care with the peeps
- delicious food as usual including fabulous spice cake
- the kids playing money with poker chips
- the girls learning the underarm slide at the park
- seeing our friends!!!
- Disneyland as always plus Rob, Becca, Ava, and Max (B referred to Disneyland as the seventh circle of h*ll).

And we still have two days together left!

By the way, here are some things I am thankful for:

- good friends, especially ones that I have known for more than ten years- longevity counts!
- healthy families
- fun kids, even when they are grumpy
- wild animals
- wild plants
- knitted hats
- fleece
- good wine and gin drinks

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Relaxing Weekend

After my busy trip to Seattle, it is nice to have a relaxing weekend at home. On Friday we took the girls to Arroyo Verde park to play on their three different playgrounds. On Saturday we took the girls to Storyfest, our local reading festival. And today we'll go to the swimming pool and maybe squeeze in a trip to the grocery store. It may not sound like much but when you pencil in breakfast, getting dressed, twenty UN negotiations over toys, snacks, changing diapers, doing laundry, naps, lunch time, a two hour search for a missing Ariel doll, and some other day to day activities, it adds up.

We had a scare this weekend with Little Jimmy making a trip to the emergency room. But after surgery to correct a bizarre structural anomaly of the intestine that 2% of the population has, he is now recovering well and will be fine. I don't envy Barbara, Judy, and Jerry the next two months though as they hang out with Little Jimmy during his no exercise period... I think of Little Jimmy as someone who maintains his strong grip on reality and overall good humor through regular doses of nature and exercise via bike riding. Good luck Barbara Jo, Judy, and Jerry - we'll be thinking of you (and you too of course Little Jimmy)!

Why Don't You Just Color Yourself Then?

Here's a recent pic. of JoJo emulating her favorite Lightning McQueen face (when Lightning jumps the cars in during the race).

Mitch and Josie were coloring together in a coloring book while they waited at UCLA for Josie's test last week. Josie was showing some pictures to Mitch. Mitch noticed that one of the pictures was of a frog holding a crayon in each hand. So Mitch says something along the lines of,

"Hey Josie, look at this one. The frog has crayons."

And Josie replies,

"Oh! Then he can color himself!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

J.B. Kidney update

Mitch took Josie to the urologist today all by himself. She had her second voiding cystourethrogram. A painful procedure that she didn't like but that they were able to do without sedation. It turns out that she still has some reflux from her bladder back to her kidney on her bad side (I can't remember whether it is the right or the left). Before her surgery her reflux was classified as grade IV and now it is classified as grade I or grade 1.5 so that is a significant improvement. The urologist recommended that we finally take her off antibiotics but he also suggested that she will likely get some more kidney infections. He said the reflux may resolve itself as she gets older or she may have to have another surgery. He suggested waiting 2 years to see what happens. Now the priorities are to get her potty trained and get her to pee more often. Apparently she holds in her pee even when her bladder is full which puts a lot of extra pressure on the bladder and may be the cause of her reflux at this point.

So that's what we know for now. Not the 100% cure that we were hoping for but still a significant improvement.


Today I am in Seattle for possibly the final face to face meeting of the Pacific West Region Science Strategy Working Group. I think the rest of the group is pretty tired of these meetings and possibly of the whole project in general, but I have to admit that I love these meetings. It isn't every day that I get to hang out with the luminaries of science in the National Park Service and argue over what the future of science in the Pacific West Region of the NPS should look like. I'm really grateful to Ray (our former division chief and now PWR regional chief of natural resources) and Angie (Great Basin and CA CESU coordinator and my supervisor for my CESU detail) for getting me involved in this project. It has been so fun. Don't tell anyone that I said that though, it is definitely not cool to think that these meetings are fun...

It helps that the meetings are always in either Oakland or Seattle. When they are in Oakland, we drive up with the whole family and Mitch and the girls go to Fairytale Land or the California Academy of Sciences. We eat yummy indian and thai food at good restaurants that are in downtown Oakland (this is when I'm not at the meeting by myself with Ray while downtown Oakland riots in response to a BART shooting...). When the meetings are in Seattle I get to stay in swanky hotels in downtown Seattle and drink lots of coffee.

This trip I was finally able to meet up with my brother and one of my closest friend's from college, John, and John's new wife Nina. Usually I'm too busy working and too last minute to actually meet up with anyone. But this trip I got here early enough that we all went out to dinner. It was great to see all of three of them.

I get to go home late tomorrow night so that I can have my full three day weekend with the family. There is even a rumor that Seth and Mitch might actually get some of the drywall done in the little house.

Long Time No Blog - Catching Up

This is not my child since I didn't take any pictures of the girls at the museum but they spent 45 minutes or more playing in this "stream" at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in S.F.

It's been a while since I've had the motivation to write anything for the blog. We have been busy getting our house ready to be painted and doing some traveling. Then on top of that, several colds, some books that were just too good to put down, and now a new-ish t.v. show that I am addicted to.

So here is a wrap-up of the haps:

1. The house. Mitch, Elise and Seth took off all of our fascia boards (termite damage) and replaced some portion of the roof. The boards have now all been replaced and we've almost settled on a color scheme for the new paint job. I think painting may start next week. We are leaning towards a sage green for the wood with a tan or grey for the stucco and a dark purple for the fascia and some of the trim.

2. The travel. I went to a conference in Visalia. Pretty darn fun (Cal-IPC, the most fun people ever) except that I had a heinous cold the whole time. A big thanks to Irina for making me buy over the counter pharmaceuticals. Then two weekends ago we went to San Francisco for the weekend to visit with my dad and Sue who were taking a mini-vacation in S.F. We had a great time at the Bay Area Discovery Museum and the Aquarium and some other kid-friendly activities. The girls loved seeing Grandpa Tom and Grandma Sue.

3. The good books. I read Into the Woods on the recommendation of Seth and Elise. It was impossible to put down. Good and spooky! Now I'm reading How Dogs Think which is interesting but less of a page-turner (thus time for the blog). I also read Nurture Shock. Stupid title, fascinating book. All parents should read it. Lots of neat summaries of recent research on child development and learning. Lots of counter-intuitive stuff.

4. The t.v. show. I hate to admit it, but I love Friday Night Lights. How can this be? I hate football (yes Dad, hate). I grew up in a football crazed small town with a football crazed college and a football loving dad and brother. It is boring and violent. But Friday Night Lights is a great show. Really well-acted, compelling stories, interesting relationships. We're watching it via netflix online which means that we can watch several episodes an evening. It wins out over the blog every time (I'm out of town tonight. Thus the blog).

5. Halloween. The girls were both princesses. Lucy dressed up like Princess Aurora and Josie was a Halloween princess in an orange dress covered in spiders (thank you Grandma Jo). They loved it. Josie doesn't understand why we can't go trick or treating every night.

That about catches you up on the happenings around 613 empire.