Blog Archive

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Favorite Kind of Weekend

This past weekend Dave was home for his full three days.  Logging is finally (mostly) done so he doesn't have to work every other Fridays anymore.  Woo!  We had a great weekend--my favorite kind, in fact--because it was a mix of family stuff, yummy food, helping friends, and festivity preparations.  Oh, and ice cream treats.

Friday morning we took Eddie to gymnastics 15 minutes early so he could play in the toy area before class.  When I walk in there at 8:59 am for a 9 am class, he gets shy and sometimes doesn't want to participate.  It annoys me but I don't want to get upset with him since independent participation is something he needs to learn to do on his own.  So we decided to give him some "warm up" time of his own at the gym.  We've only tried this once, but it worked!

The boys took off after that to get new tires on Dave's car while I got some stuff done at home.  In the afternoon, we chaperoned a field trip to the pumpkin patch for Eddie's daycare.  Our minivan was stuffed with car seats, kiddos, and pumpkins.  The kids played on the haystack, got to pet all manner of baby animals (goats, pigs, kittens, ducks, chickens, donkeys, etc.), and picked out their own small pumpkins.
Eddie and Isaac played with their pumpkins a lot--by picking them up and sitting on them.
Eddie and his buddy Isaac.  Aren't they adorable?
What a strong boy!
Can I put 'miniature goat ' on my Xmas wishlist?
This is Abby.  Doesn't Dave look good holding a baby girl?
Afterward, we went home and I made a yummy dinner of post roast, wild rice with pan gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, and a sugar free apple pie for dessert (I used honey instead).
Dave and Eddie bought me flowers while running errands that day (so sweet!) and having them on the table prompted me to use our wedding china (Waterford's Ballet Ribbon pattern) for dinner that evening.
Saturday morning we ate breakfast and then scooted out the door to Cassie's for a parent work day at the daycare.  It was a busy and productive 5 hours--the gates were mended, grass and flowers planted in the yards, the school room windows were trimmed out, a fence was removed, and garden beds were made out of recycled pallets.
Work party pizza break.  The kids got to make masks in the school room while the parents worked outside.
Pallet planters--we made two double stacked ones like this and then three single stack ones.  Cute, huh?  We had some pallets at our house and then I found more at my building near the dumpster.
On our way home we stopped at Dairy Queen for Blizzards, yummy.  Eddie needed a poop break and insisted on using his red potty seat instead of the gross restaurant bathroom (I don't blame him).  Of course, he was playing with the leftover potting soil in the trailer while he pooped and flung some of the soil into my Blizzard cup while I took this picture.  I guess I deserved that...
Yeah, that's an action shot of pottying AND throwing dirt into my Blizzard.
That night I made enchiladas using left over pork roast and turned a partial jar of tomato basil sauce into enchilada sauce by adding a bit of this and that.
We always have cooked beans and cooked brown rice in zippy bags in the deep freeze, as well as tortillas and cheese in the fridge so dinners like these are a snap.
We watched Best in Show on Netflix that night while eating some of the pie (with ice cream).  I checked on Eddie that night before we went to bed and found him wearing his mask.

Sunday morning we had IHOP copy-cat cornmeal pancakes for breakfast before I scooted out the door to run some errands.  I had to replace my new phone at Verizon because it kept freezing, return/buy some stuff at Old Navy and Target, and then pop into Costco for a few things (including Polish dogs for each of us for lunch).
We voted...did YOU?  I sure hope so.
While dinner was marinating (chicken in tandoori sauce), we went on our first family bike ride, where each pushed our own weight.  At least for the ride there...  Eddie did great on the 1.2 mile ride from our house to Slide Hill Park.  Dave led the way with Eddie behind him and I stayed close enough to Eddie to remind him (constantly) to stay away from the white line that separates the bike and car lanes and to watch where he was going.  He doesn't know his "right" and "left" sides very well yet so I was reminding him to stay right behind Daddy the whole time.  Sheesh.  When he got too close to the while line, I'd scoot over into the car lane a little (while signaling) to act as a barrier/warning to any nearby cars.  All the motorists were very considerate and slowed waaaaaaaaaaaaay down for us in those cases.   Gotta love Davis for that!
Biking Bowers
At the park we mostly biked between the giant concrete slide and the play structures, which are on opposite ends of the park.
Going down the biiiiiiiiiiiiiig slide.
"Ride the dolphins, Mama!"
Eddie was most displeased (read: tantrum) when I made him ride back home in the bike trailer.  He didn't understand that the setting sun would make it VERY hard for him (and cars) to see.  Despite the whining and crying the WHOLE 12 minutes home, we did survive our very first family ride.  Woo!

That night I baked the tandoori chicken while I whipped up a batch of an Indian vermecelli dish I found on Pinterest.  I've made it before and it is soooooo good and such a nice alternative to our regular curries with rice and naan.  Eddie liked both dishes so much he had seconds of each. 
Vermicelli upma made with fresh bay leaves and pecans instead of curry leaves and peanuts.
While cooking we also carved our pumpkins.  Not surprising at all, Eddie was most interested in using the knives ("saws") instead of the actual Jack-o-Lantern end products.  In fact, he insisted on keeping a knife plunged into the side of his pumpkin.  Every day he goes out onto the porch and "saws" some more.  That poor pumpkin...

Eddie drew the face on his pumpkin all by himself (plus the "practice" one on the newspaper).  Dave made the rough cuts for him and Eddie did the rest.
I feel sorry for Eddie's pumpkin...
Eddie told EVERYONE who came over before Halloween that Daddy's pumpkin has teeth, Mama's doesn't, and his has no mouth.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eddie on Two Wheels

We gave Eddie a green Kazam balance bike for his second birthday.  My hope was for him to learn to balance before learning how to use pedals so we could avoid training wheels all together.  It almost worked--in fact, I gave him the bike a few weeks before his birthday when he figured out how to pedal on the trike at daycare.  It didn't take him long to favor the balance bike at home because he could go around and around in circles on the court with the older neighbor kids who were on regular bikes of their own.

March 2012:

In the spring of this year, though, he went back to favoring our trike.  Our trike, literally: it was my and Edward's trike when we were kids and it was probably from a generation before that, too, since my dad pulled it out of a free trash pickup heap in our neighborhood when I was a baby.  It was old and tired then, so my dad repainted it.  We intended to give it a third paint job before Eddie got a hold of it, but he was faster than we were!  So all we had time for was replacing the rear wheels.

Just over the last couple of months he got interested in the balance bike again.  This time he figured out how to put both feet up on the footrest and cruise around.  You'll see on the Kazam website that the footrest is there specifically so the child's center of gravity will be the same as on a standard bike, letting them learn how to properly balance.  Neat!

Our neighbors saw Eddie doing so well on the balance bike that they pulled out their old pedal bike for him to try.  He was sooooooooooo excited to try using the pedal bike, sans training wheels.  It only took a couple of days before he figured it out and actually pedaled, rather than using it like a balance bike.

Whenever we go to Gualala for the weekend, I always bring a trike or bike of some sort.  This time I only brought the pedal bike, knowing that he'd figure it out if he really wanted to.  And boy howdy, did he!

October 20, 2012:

October 21, 2012:

October 22, 2012:

And now he spends every waking moment at home on the bike with the neighbors.  They have a few traffic cones we set in the court to alert bikers and motorists of the kids and it seems to work well.  Eddie's come inside with owies on his face (crashing into Callen's handlebars), knees and hands (falling down), and toes (not using the pedal brakes while shoeless).  But no broken bones, yet!  And yesterday he figured out how to go REALLY fast and then go up/down the bump on the corner of the driveway.  He calls it his "dirt bike."  I'm pretty sure this is a bad sign of things to come...

Today we took him on his first "real" bike ride, on the street.  We biked from Chestnut Park to Slide Hill Park, which is about 1.2 miles.  He did a pretty good job for his first try.  Given that he doesn't know his right and left perfectly, it was basically him following Dave and me constantly reminding him to stay away from the while line at the edge of the bike lane.  Biking home, however, he had to be in the trailer since we were heading into the sun and I knew it'd be too hard for him to see, not to mention that the cars would have trouble seeing such a small person.  Perhaps he needs a flag on his bike since he's so small? 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

San Diego Trip: Part 1

As everyone knows, the Jones family is like a part of our extended family.  Dyani, Donovan, Edward, and I were always together as kids.  Our parents met when my mom was pregnant with me while at a Scottish Dance group at our church.  My mom and Kateri have been best friends for as long as I can remember.  So like the brother he seems to be, Donovan included me and Edward on the email list for a big family reunion/40th wedding anniversary event he was organizing for his parents.  

Back in April of this year he started organizing it.  At that time I wasn't sure my mom would be healthy enough to go, but lucky for us, she was.  Since I'd spent so many month working on my experiment (weekends, nights, whole weeks where I'd sent Eddie off to live in Gualala so I could work around the clock in lab) I felt like it was time for a proper Bower family vacation.  So instead of just the weekend Donovan was planning for us, we extended our trip to nearly a whole week.  It was dang near perfect.

My vacation started on Tuesday, September 26, when Eddie and I hosted a potluck party for my lab.  Some people stayed super late but I went about my usual cleaning/laundry/putting Eddie to bed and packing our suitcases.  The next day I had my first panel interview for a teaching assistant position--I nailed it and was offered the position a few hours later.  We left for Livermore that afternoon and hung out with my dad in the garden, had dinner, and then went to visit our friends and their new baby boy.  (Garden fresh dinner and a newborn baby?  What a great way to start a vacation!)

My mom, the Edwards, and I departed from Livermore at 5:20am on Thursday, September 28.  Lucky for us, Eddie fell back asleep almost immediately so we could drive in peace and quiet and there was no traffic while I drove.  We stopped at McDonald's in Lebec at about 10am for latte's and breakfast sandwiches.  Eddie got some energy out by climbing around  on the handrails outside.

Edward took the wheel and got us down to yet another McDonald's in Del Mar for smoothies.  By 2:45pm we arrived at the condo in Mission Beach.  
The condo: three floors, each with a bedroom and bathroom and balcony.  It was really nice and was soooooooo much cheaper than staying in a hotel for that many people.
Of course Eddie fell asleep as soon as I turned the van onto Sunset Court so I parked in the garage and left my mom to watch him while Edward and I used the rental house beach bikes to go grocery shopping at Trader Joe's.  I'd brought our bike trailer along, knowing there were bikes available, so we could tow Eddie to the beach.  
We used the bike path along Mission Bay to get to the store.  It was so nice.
We were definitely not in Davis anymore...there was hardly any bike parking at the store so we improvised.  You can see the security guard taking a break in his car.  He was giving us the stink eye the whole time.
That night I made a salmon chowder using veggies I brought from my dad's garden.  It was sooooooooo good.  I'll make it again and post the recipe here.
Dave and Jennifer both had to work a half day that Thursday so they met up at her apartment and then took the train to SFO to fly down to SD.  Their flight didn't get in until 11pm (and then was delayed due to fog in SF) so we had some time to kill after dinner.  After unpacking all our stuff, we decided to head out for ice cream.  Our trip happened during a bit of a late summer heat wave, so it was still quite warm out by 8pm so we decided to walk to Cold Stone Creamery.  I'm so proud of Eddie and my mom--they both made the whole way on their own.  Eddie rode a trike we found in the condo.  It was heehee-larious to see him pedal that thing really fast down the side walk.  It was a 0.8 mile trek each way and he did it all without complaining.
Uncle was nice and carried Eddie across all the intersections.
The next day when our entire household was there, us kids went to Sea World.  We biked there and back, me with the lovely (not) task of towing Eddie in the trailer.  Ouf, beach bikes are heavy enough as it is and with only one gear and a few overpasses, it was quite the workout.

Given that school was in session and it was nearing fall, Sea World wasn't crowded at all.   We started off with the killer whale show.  And wouldn't you know, the most fascinating things to Eddie were the pipes shooting water and the giant underwater gates that open/close to let the appropriate whales in/out.  That kid is 100% Bower, obsessed by infrastructure.  He sat on Edward's lap during the show and we kept saying, "Oooh, look at the whale jumping out of the water so high!  Isn't that cool?!"  And his response was, "Look at the gate down there in the water, Mama.  Uncle, what is that gate for?  Why is it under water?  Where is the shooting water coming from?"  COME ON, KID!

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the various exhibits and shows.
Adults at the sea otter show.
Bowers inside the shark exhibit.
We went to the beach every night so Eddie could play in the sand.  It was only about 30 seconds to walk there.
The boys, heading for the water.

That Friday night the Jones family arrived and all 24ish of us met up at Tony Roma's for a group dinner.  Actually, we happened to meet up with most of them on Mission Boulevard as we all walked down to the restaurant.  Catching up with everyone was fantastic and it was so fun to see Kateri and Dale with all 5 of their kids and all their kids.  Currently, they have 5 grandbabies ranging in age from 9 years to 2ish months.

It was quite late for the kids to be out, especially Eddie after a full day of Sea World-ing and only a 20 minute nap on the bike ride home in the trailer.  Plus, Dave had taken him to play on the Mission Bay beach near the condo before dinner.  So after more than a few warnings about needing to sit and eat his dinner, Dave whisked him back to the condo early, leaving me to eat my dinner with everyone.  (Thanks, Lover!  And Sorry Allen for Eddie kicking out as he crawled around on the booth.)
Dave, Eddie, and I shared a bunk bed room on the main floor of the house.  I intended for the smallest one to sleep on the top but he made me sleep there instead.  
I'll do another post later about Saturday/Sunday with the Joneses and yet another post about the tail end of the trip.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Luther Burbank Benefit Dinner

*This is a much delayed post.  My brain is a bit fried from fiddling with data and I decided to take a brain break.*

For years I've always heard that the Bowers are related to Luther Burbank, the famous botanist.  Supposedly, he was a beloved uncle of Dave's great grandmother.  I figured he was actually related or perhaps he was a good family friend who wasn't related to the family, but was referred to as an "uncle."  One of the first things I remember about the Bower family is that all the men look alike, except for Michael, who looks just like this famous botanist (quite true, actually).

A few months ago I decided to look further into this relation.  Not wanting to pay for genealogy services, I had to poke around online on many different sites and build a family tree from this free information and the Bower heritage scrap book I borrowed from Gualala.  It turns out Burbank had something like 14 siblings and his father was married thrice but had children with only two of the wives.  Like him, many of his siblings didn't have kids, but of course I couldn't find the names of all his nieces and nephews (let alone the nieces married names!).  The sketches I made were messy and confusing with all of these people and the letters/pictures/stories in my scrap book.

When I told Peggy about my searches she finally went out to the storage building, dug around in a box, and found the family tree information for me.  So Luther Burbank's sister Sarah had a daughter named Lizzy who had one child, a girl named Amy who eventually married Dave's great grandfather, John.  After all this wondering, discussing, and finally getting the answer Dave and I decided that Luther will be the name of our second born son (if we get one).  So there you have it: someday there might be a Luther Bower (Lute, for short).

Anyway, during this poking around online I came across an event being held at the Luther Burbank Gardens in Santa Rosa on Saturday, September 8.  There was to be charity dinner in the gardens, highlighting some of the fruits Burbank developed during his life.

Cute idea: green beans in the water

I arranged for Eddie to spend the night with a friend and got us a hotel near Santa Rosa.  I was sooooooooo excited to dress up, mingle with people, sip on local wines, and eat local/sustainable/historical foods.
Us, all ready to go eat some scrumptious foods and meet new people!
Me standing at the back of the famous greenhouse.
A view of the gardens
A handsome man standing at the front of his great--fifth-uncle's greenhouse
The menu
First course: a plum popscicle
Second course: raviolo (singular of ravioli)
Third course: succotash (basically tomato jelly over corn pudding).
Fourth course: chicken pot pie
I didn't take pictures of the other courses, unfortunately.

So that all looks amazing, right?  Well, it started out great...but then by the second course, Dave was in the bathroom barfing.  You will recall that only two weeks prior Eddie and I had come down with the stomach flu.  We're not sure what Dave got that night, but it sure sucked (can a stomach virus last in the house for 2 weeks?).  I'd shared drinks with him all day and I didn't get sick that time.  Who knows.  We texted back and forth and he kept urging me to stay and enjoy the food.  But eventually I left (just before dessert and speeches) because I felt so bad for Dave.

We considered making the 1.5 hour drive home but I'm glad we didn't because he barely made it back to the hotel.  That night consisted of him going between the bed and the bathroom, me running downstairs to refill our ice bucket and buy Gatorade, and both of us trying to sleep.  Poor Davie.  It took him a few days to feel 100% again.

Eddie, of course, had a fabulous time at Renee/Kelly/Jeff's house--playing, doing art projects, etc.  We played at a new park, had a picnic dinner, and generally stayed out of the house for the rest of that Sunday so Dave could recover in peace and quiet.

I'm confident that our next visit to the Burbank Gardens will end much more happily and healthily!

On a happier note, Burbank also wrote a book about raising kids called The Training of the Human Plant.  Mind you, he never had kids, but he had some great insights.  My dad has had a quote from this book hanging near his desk at home since my childhood:

"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who is deprived of these has been deprived of the very best part of his education."

I heartily agree.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day in the Life: Thursday

Today I took a picture of whatever I was doing for each hour that I was up.  I chose today because it was (supposed to be) pretty typical: school, daycare, etc. There was only one little hiccup but it turned out okay.  This quarter I am not teaching and I'm only attending my grad group seminar and our lab meeting each week.

7am: I started the coffee and then got to work cleaning up the kitchen.  It sucks that it's so dark  now in the mornings. Come on November 4, I need my light.
8am: Cooking breakfast, watching the news (Eddie was watching a Mickey show in the living room).
9am: Bike packed up and ready to go...sort of.  I wish I'd have been organized enough to have Eddie in the trailer already.
But who am I kidding?  We never leave the house before 9am.
10am: Weighing out samples on the microbalance.  I listen to This American Life while I do lab work like this.  I listen to the podcasts backward chronologically.  Right now I'm in the middle of 2001 and it only goes to 1995.  I better finish up this PhD before I run out of shows.
11am: Backing up my data using Dropbox.   Like my Tupperware footrest?
12pm: Lunch was leftovers.
1pm: Trying to do some stuff in R.   
2pm: Still trying to do some stuff in R. The subset function changed some variables into NA instead of  numbers. Not only was that weird, it was really annoying.
3pm: Coffee time!  Don't laugh, but I drink decaf during the day now and it has plenty of caffeine to keep me going until bedtime.
4pm: Cassie texted to say that Eddie had a bit of a cough and after his super long nap (3 hours!) he refused to get up from his mat because he said he didn't feel good. So I biked home in some crazy wind to get the car, assuming he was too sick to want to bike home in the trailer. Turns out, he was fine (minus a small cough). I think his post-nap crankiness conned them into thinking he was sick. This stunt makes me worried about how he'll act when he's a teenager...
5pm: We picked up our CSA basket on campus. I put everything away while Eddie watched a show.
5pm: Just wanted to include a pic of Eddie and the doggies watching some Mickey show.
6pm: I shelled beans while Eddie watched even more of that Mickey show. He couldn't tell that I had ear buds in and was listening to another episode of This American Life.  Shhhh, no need to burst his bubble that I don't enjoy his kid shows as much as he does.  I paid juuuuuuust enough attention to it to answer Mickey when he asked which tool was needed to save so-and-so.
7pm: I watched the debate while I made dinner. Ryan reminds me of a hotter version of Gabe from The Office.
8pm: Eddie took a poop break from bath time.
9:30pm: Doggies were getting the bed all warm and hairy for me.  Dave's ETA tonight is 11pm.