Sunday, June 27, 2010

Father's Day & another new experience...

I think Todd had a good Father's Day. Mercer & I wore him out, but it was an adventure -- much like how Mother's Day turned out -- a little more than we bargained for!

We went hiking in a spot that we like going to - Sope Creek. It's got a nice river and ruins of an old paper mill. In fact, last year, we took some really nice photos of Mercer on the river back in March of last year (blog entry - ). This year, it was a very different place. We've had a year's worth of rain and this river was quite different. It was a much fuller and faster than before. We hiked through the woods down... down... down to a point in the river; our plan was to "rock hop" back up the river and end at the ruins. Unfortunately, most of the rocks seen in the pics from last year that we were hoping to come back on were under rushing water. It was actually pretty challenging to make it back up the river and at times was a little nerve-wracking. Todd would go ahead / jump down a rock / I'd hand Mercer down to him / jump down. We did this over and over again dozens of times.

When we did reach the ruins, it was a pretty easy hike back to the car, thankfully. Also, we discovered a small waterfall that we hadn't seen before (seen in this pic with Todd & Mercer). All sweaty, dirty, and gross - we stopped for ice cream afterwards. It was a memorable adventure, indeed! Todd said all-in-all he had a good day. I think we both felt a sense of accomplishment and in the end was happy we made it home without anyone getting hurt!

This past weekend, we all had a new experience: we went to a Korean-Christian wedding. 95% of the people at the church were Korean and the majority of the service was in another language, but it seemed to follow the rituals of a typical Christian wedding, so we were able to follow along for the most part. There were a few things that caught us off-guard, though:
- The part where the minister reads a few things and asks the groom a few questions... and the groom responds with "I do"... the groom, Young, yelled "Hi-k" (real loud / real quick). The minister asked another series of questions and Young yelled it even louder! Todd works with the groom and says that he's normally quiet / reserved / often sounds unsure of what he's saying. This -- vowing to love and cherish his wife -- he was definitely sure of!
- at the end of the wedding when the bride and groom walked down the aisle as a newly married couple, people crowded around and set off these paper-filled fire-crackers. We were startled to hear POP POP POP until we saw the streamers being shot out of these paper cylinders.
- how impassioned the two ministers were when they were praying. They became somewhat animated and their voices grew ever louder. It was very interesting.
Overall, Mercer did well. He enjoyed the singing and clapped when the audience clapped. We were glad that we got to be a part of this ceremony and catch a glimpse into their culture... even if we didn't understand a word of it!

After the wedding, we went to a neighbor's house who was having a back yard camp out (there's a national event that they were doing it in conjunction with - the Great American Back Yard Camp Out). Todd set up the tent earlier in the day so it would be ready when we got home from the wedding. We went down, hung out, Mercer played with the other kiddos, we socialized with the other adults... then it was time to try to put Mercer to bed. He admitted he was tired and wanted to go to sleep (it was a couple of hours past his bedtime)... but he fought and fought laying down. Because we were in a tent? Because the older kids were still running around laughing? Because the adults were talking & music was playing? Eventually -after many many many many many attempts to get him to lie down with me - he said he wanted to go HOME and sleep. Argh!! Oh well! There will be another camp out next year. Better to be close to home instead of far from home when learning this lesson. We'll have to keep try again in our back yard 'til he's comfortable falling asleep in a tent before we give it a try for real. Oh yeah - and wait 'til he's potty-trained before we try out in the wilderness.

A few things that he's saying now:
- thank you which actually sounds like "Dit Doo"
- "I'm going to get you" (he likes to run and grab us -- which is really a signal to reciprocate -- us run and grab him)
- "Your turn" (he will do something like pile pillows on top of him and explode out of them... then want us to do it too. sometimes he does things we really can't do -- like sit in his little kid-size rocking chair... say "your turn"... and get frustrated if we won't sit in it too.)
- When accidentally hurting me (bumping heads, for instance) - he will hug and say "I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry" which is cute because he's sincere. This happened several times in the past week somehow.
- When he wants something we have, his voice gets really soft, he cocks his head a little to the side, he smiles a little and says "can I have some? can I have some?"
- He's also getting better at counting and identifying colors.
The little guy is advancing and growing.
On a non-Mercer-related note:
I am officially an "Ambassador" of a program called the Living Building Challenge ( I went to a training last week and got to know the trainer / a woman who basically runs this program out of Portland. I brought her to our office and gave her a tour of our green building ( -- the greenest building in the southeast -- and our new Eco Office building doesn't even come close to meeting the Living Building Challenge. The challenge is very "out there" but I'm excited about it because it pushes me outside my box and prompts me to dive deeper. I've got a lot to learn and a lot to do before I start teaching people about this program which promotes zero energy / zero water / etc. (basically off-the-grid)
Speaking of which... I watched a film this weekend that was about the crude oil industry... showing the history of oil & where we get it from... the energy crisis in the 70s... interviews with people from OPEC and professors / researchers from Stanford and Cal Tech who have been watching trends & following technology around finding and producing oil... um... there were some shocking things in the video such as: in about 20 years, scientists predict that there's going to be a major shift in how we as a (global) society function because the oil should be tapped out by then & all we will be working off of is reserves. Worldwide population keeps growing and countries like China are becoming more consumptive like America. This is not predicted to go in reverse (conservation will slow it down - but at the rate that consumption of other countries and general population is increasing - things will still run dry)... it's a little scary.
The research technology to analyze the earth's crust and depths below was fascinating to see. Unfortunately, automotive technology isn't far enough along (nor do they predict that it will be) to react to the shortage. Biofuels can't even come close to meeting the daily or annual demand (nor do folks think it's good to tap our food crops for this). Things such as air travel will cease except for the really rich. That was shocking! Mercer - when in his early 20s - may not be able to travel abroad. WOW. We've always said we wanted our children to study abroad in college because it's so enriching.
Manufacturing, farming, etc will also be affected. The video closed with an off-the-grid family indicating that people would be reliant to farm their land again like they did 50-100 years ago, practice conservation & rely on renewable energy. I am accustomed to think about this at a building scale because of the work I do... and I feel that technology is available to get us there building-wise... but transportation-wise (especially the air travel) really was shocking. I hope that the predictions are wrong... but it was very eye-opening to think about none-the-less!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cupcakes for who?

For Todd's birthday, we went to a cupcake shop on the square after we picked up our local milk & our first CSA distribution from the farmer's market. (Community Supported Agriculture)

It appears that Mercer really enjoyed his cupcake! Throughout the day, we kept telling him that it was "daddy's birthday." He kept saying - "NO - it's MY birthday!" Eventually, he did admit that it was Todd's big day. Todd & I hired a babysitter so we could go to dinner & a movie. It was nice feeling like human beings again. It's been a long time since we've been out w/out juggling the little guy.

We, of course, are enjoying him while we juggle. One thing that's cracking us up: how excited he's getting by things that are the same & how excited he gets when he "figures" something out. He has to grab one of us.... "come".... drag us over to the object(s)... and show us what he's discovered. He has so much pure enthusiasm. It's tiring (to be dragged around & having to act enthused each time) but it's also refreshing at the same time.

Mercer had another new experience this past week: it was his first time to wash Todd's truck. Really, he only played in the bucket of water and washed the bumper several times -- but he had fun with it. He also enjoyed getting sprayed with the water and doing some of the spraying.

Some other phrases which are common now are "I'm going to get you" and "I got you" after he crashes into you. His daycare says that his new phrase there is "I'm faster."

I had a good week at work. I got to attend a lecture on Monday. There's a new green building program called the Living Building Challenge. It's pretty exciting and goes way beyond what we're doing at my office currently.

We have a good weekend ahead planned. We hope you do the same.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

an interesting week....

This was an interesting week. I learned a new skill -- canning (putting stuff in jars and sealing it so that it can be stored in the pantry & eaten later). The new term is "preserving," actually. I got a free canning system - a big 21 quart pot, lid, rack, some other supplies, a book with instructions and recipes, 4 cases of jars, and some other smaller items to give away. I was asked to preserve stuff & show other people how to do it. I practiced a few times over the week and then had some girls over to the house to demonstrate. There were 2000 parties across the country the same day (it's called a "house party" and the Ball Canning Jar company sponsored every one of them the same way -- just asking people to expose others to preserving fresh foods).

I made pepper jelly, salsa from a recipe that came in the book, and a peach chipolte salsa I found online. Then, at the party, we made a 3 berry jam. Most of the party was hanging out & socializing with the short demonstration. It was a TON of work, but in the end I'm glad I did it -- and I get to keep the canning system, books, and tools. Hosting the party forced me to learn this skill; I have no excuse to let any of the goods from our garden go to waste this summer!

Todd and Mercer spent pretty much the whole day together, but we hung out as a family the next day. We saw a couple of art exhibits - one on rare automobiles and one on modern art. Little guy didn't have a lot of patience for the cars as we had hoped - so, we ended up taking turns playing with him in the children's area.

The photographs enclosed are of Mercer eating a sandwich. He's had pieces of sandwich before - but tonight at dinner, we put the sandwich fillings (grilled turkey sausage, squash, tomatoes, and basil) in a bowl for him to eat. He protested and pouted. "Samish" "I want samish" -- so Todd put the filling between a piece of bread, folded it over, and wrapped it in foil so the stuff wouldn't fall out the bottom. Mercer was really happy to be included.

Todd took Mercer swimming while I was preparing for the canning party. He's taken a series of lessons twice now. One series when he was about 1 1/2 years old. One series around the time he turned 2. Now, under 2 1/2 -- he's taking another series. He REALLY seemed to like it -- so much that he came home excited. He said "kick" "I kicked" then laid on the floor and kicked. "Bubbles" "blow bubbles" he laid on the floor, stuck his face to the ground, and made a funny sound. so cute.

One other thing that was interesting this week - he comprehends the word "same" now. One night, he went to bed clutching a yellow car. He woke up with it, then saw a picture of a yellow car. He pointed and said "same." He's got a die-cast blue Prius. He holds it up againt my car (a full-sized blue Prius) and proudly says "same!" He's been pointing things out all week that are similar. It's been pretty cool to see the development and recognition.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

quick post

Mercer's feeling back to his normal self. After a trip to the pediatrician (who noticed he had a fiery red throat) and a "treatment" of frozen juice pops and a little pain reliever, Mercer was back to normal in a couple of days. 'Til then, it was really hard on all of us (he was in pain and we felt helpless when he would accept our help). Luckily, he was back to 100% on Monday, Memorial Day - so we took a trip downtown. We went to a green-certified restaurant for breakfast. They were out of high chairs, so Mercer had to sit in a regular chair. He did pretty well - but has asked to sit in a "big" chair several times since. We may be getting rid of his little booster seat soon?

After a hearty breakfast, we went to the zoo. I thought that the flamingos were cool... I've never seen them up close. Mercer liked the bird exhibit, the playground, and swinging on the guard rail as seen in these pics.