Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lake living

A few months ago Erik’s parents realized their dream of buying a lovely lake cottage for sailing, swimming, and family gatherings. We flew out to visit last week, eager to see the new place and spend time on its pretty beach with them. Even more idyllic than we’d imagined, isn’t it?

Erik’s mom went to great lengths to make the house immaculate for her floor-fancying grandchildren. Also, in less than two months of ownership, they had completely furnished and equipped the place, from dishes to seating to child gear! Erik’s handyman genes are definitely thanks to his father, who was nearing the end of a tricky roofing job there. Can you see him ably perched on the peak?

Luke and Ellie spent many happy hours in the ‘toy room’ with Grandma and Grandpa. In fact, despite the two hour earlier time change, our typically late-rising toddler was up by 6:30 each day, tiptoeing past his sleeping parents to go find Grandma!

Here they are doing puzzles in the toy room,

listening to the ocean (in seashells) on the back porch,

reading books in the living room,

and going gourmet in the kitchen! (Luke’s wearing a shirt that cycled through Erik and his brothers in this picture, and a little robe made by Erik’s grandmother in the next one.)

You don’t think that these kids could have been spoiled, do you?

Of course the beach was a hit, from filling buckets and dumping trucks

to getting buried by Uncle Travis and Uncle Bryan.

The clear lake water was perfect for splashing,

wading with Grandpa,

and playing ring-around-the-rosie with Grandma.

Both kids also tried out new floats. Ella was delighted by her watercraft.

She astonished us by almost falling asleep in it a few times. What a little water baby!

Swimmies and a ring float came out to assuage Luke’s injured ego. A few weeks back, Erik and Luke filled our kitchen sink and performed float/sink tests on various household items. Luke extrapolated from the exercise that “Luke float.” After all, his “paddle, paddle, kick, kick” seemed effective during parent/tot swimming lessons in June. But at the lake he tripped and came up choking on water. Once his crying subsided he turned to Erik, wide-eyed, saying “Luke sink! Luke no float! Luke sink!” It was hard to tell which was more offensive to the little guy, the water in his chest or the falsification of his hypothesis. But after a few days of closer supervision and swimmies, faith in his initial conclusion was restored-- “Luke float!”

While we were there, Erik’s dad’s anchored his big sailboat to its new mooring. Luke was a little intimidated so no sails for the little guy this time. But I’m sure he’ll love it when he’s a little older. She looks at home on the lake too, doesn’t she?

You can find a boatload of lakeside pics from the week here. Luke’s already packing his bag for next year and we’re all looking forward to many more lake memories in summers to come!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summery stripes

Summer has slowly established itself in our living space. Most dramatic is the canvas I painted to inject some sunshine over our fireplace. 

I modeled it after a similar project I found here. Except I did mine in warm colors and added a few contrasting grey stripes to tie it into our walls and fireplace.

The blue striped covers (first pic, right side) add an ocean vibe underneath the sunshine-y art, and the embroidered coral pillow (first pic, left side) adds some delicate seaside interest. Are you thinking that coral seems out of place in the high desert? Albuquerque lies in an ancient seabed you know!

Behind our kitchen table, I love the beachy texture of these frames that announce the real theme to our home: The Luke and Eleanor Museum of Activity. The photos (12x18’s) print for only $2.99 at Costco, so I have plans to change out the Ellie print again soon. I’m thinking a shot of Ella in our desert willow tree like this one would go better with Luke’s rocky backdrop. But anyway, here’s the bookcase as it stands now, tray of toddler art supplies and all.

Unlike most museums, the LEMA’s exhibits are always on the move. Curator Luke particularly enjoys relocating trucks, trains, and sisters.

Happy summer!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Playground firsts

Poor little Ellacub missed the entire sprayground outing last weekend sleeping off some vaccines. But then that evening, she took her first seat on a swing! Yay, Elza!

And to our surprise, Luke adeptly climbed to the very top of a tricky playground ladder and then stepped over onto the play structure. We have two little monkeys on our hands!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Water bombers

Yesterday at the Sprayground, the rainbow sprinklers weren’t the only thing we saw that sprays water. A few of these C-130s passed by overhead, painted with Forest Service colors.

Well, my knowledgeable neighbor said they are painted with Forest Service colors, but I couldn’t find anything online to confirm or deny that statement. Why is the paint the most interesting part to me? Do they repaint planes back and forth between regular and forest service markings all summer long? Why do they need to be painted with Forest Service colors in order to fight fires? Wouldn’t the painting time be better spent dropping water on fires?

But I’ll let you ponder those mysteries yourself and return to the story. With all the fires that have been raging in New Mexico, these aircraft have been dropping water and fire retardent non-stop during daylight hours for weeks. Despite their clunky size, they are said to be quite maneuverable and able to pinpoint hard-to-reach fire sections. Two planes were sent from North Carolina and two from California. The California contingent was then replaced by Colorado planes, but the NC craft seem to have stayed on. (North Carolinians are helpful people!) The planes operate out of Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, which is just a few miles from our house. We hope their hard work can end soon, but what a magnificent parade of aircraft it’s been for a little boy!

An Air Force press release states that the C-130s ‘can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, drawing lines of containment that can cover an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.’ How is it that I read firefighter books day in and day out with Luke and I’d never heard of these? I’ll have to write my own fire fighting book for preschoolers! Now what to name the air tanker? Artie?

For those of  you more interested in the foreground of our air tanker scene, I’ll wrap up with a few Sprayground snapshots. There were puddles for stomping,

fountains for tasting,

and tunnels to run through.

Luke had a terrific time exploring the various water dispensing structures. I think his favorite part was holding his fingers over the little holes that spray water. Get it all out of your system there, Luke, so you can stop spraying Mommy with that trick when I wash your hands!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ellie’s first Fourth

Yesterday morning, Luke and I took a special trip to the store to look for sprinkles and sparklers. Sadly they weren’t selling sparklers, but we did find sprinkles! Here Luke pours them into bowls for a patriotic treat to share at the cookout we’d soon be hosting.

His naptime came before we got too much farther in the preparation, so Mommy finished them herself. A simple dip into white chocolate and then one in blue sprinkles.

Later this week we’ll have to try this with pretzel sticks when Luke is awake since he loves helping in the kitchen these days. No-stove, no-knife ‘recipes’ like these are perfect for the Lukish chef!

With all the hubbub, I never dressed Ella in her holiday outfit. Alas! She was a show-stopper anyway though.

Meanwhile Luke and his buddy Marco sported red, white & blue a-plenty.

After dinner, the boys cooled off in the kiddie pool, rode bikes, and cruised in the cozy coupe.

While Eleanor was more interested in girl talk with her bestie, Eliana.

On our previous two Independence days here, it seemed as if almost every backyard hosted a little TNT fest of its own. This year, the extreme drought (just 0.14 inches have fallen at the ABQ airport in 2011) prompted warnings against fireworks. The city must have heeded the appeals, as the night passed much more quietly.

At times Luke thought the few faint booms were made by fire trucks, since any mention of fire conjures up red trucks in our little boy’s mind. At other points he thought that crickets must be the cause, since they are what we usually go out in the yard to listen for at dusk. He’s always been a little mystified by those loud, invisible insects that neither of his parents can imitate, so it was easy to ascribe booms and pops to them as well. We’ll have to take him to the fantastic Princeton fireworks some year soon to clear up his confusion. In New Jersey, it’s thunderstorms, not drought conditions, that threaten the show!

Honoring Grandma

Eleanor and I took a very quick trip out to Maryland this weekend to visit with family and honor my Grandma on my dad’s side. She has been declining after a long and full life of farming, raising children, hosting grandchildren on her farm, and she was a pretty sharp pinochle player too! My sister and I will never forget our small claim to farming know-how -- we once showed cows at a county fair when we visited Grandma for a week as kids. This weekend’s gathering was a bittersweet time, set at the lovely National Colonial Farm in Accokeek, MD where my cousin Polly works. Here’s Polly with her sister Jessie.

And here’s the National Farm. What a peaceful spot!

It’s just across the Potomac from Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate.

In the dozens of flights I’ve now taken with kiddos, this was the very first one on a carrier other than Southwest Air. It reminded me that Southwest’s open seating policy delivers the benefit of seatmates who have self-selected to fly next to a small child. What an advantage! But nonetheless, Ellie and I made it there and back just fine, and she charmed several kind passengers along the way.

Of course we saw Uncle Jack and Uncle Sam. Those two are always up to trouble.

And Ellie’s beloved Aunt, posing for a Diet Coke commercial?

And there was another baby celebrity, my cousin Brenna’s adorable 11-month-old, Emerson.

My Aunt Mary Lynn did a wonderful job organizing the gathering. She also has made gorgeous quilts for Luke & Eleanor. Here is the talented lady herself!

My dad is one of six, and all of his siblings were there. Here’s my Uncle Flip.

My Aunt Barbie, ever technology-savvy

And I missed getting a photo of my Uncle Johnny because we didn’t overlap for very long. But he is my dad’s identical twin, so this photo with my dad will have to count for both of them. Here is my dad (far left), his sister my Aunt Betty (middle) with my grandmother.

It was wonderful to visit with so many aunts, uncles, and cousins who I haven’t caught up with in so long! I also treasured seeing Eleanor meet her great-grandmother. We love you Grandma and are praying for you!