Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Our pumpkin, a large warty specimen, was extremely hard to carve, but Ries applied his muscles and Gideon took all the credit.

Saturday night, we all went to a family Halloween party which always has great costumes. We went as zombies.

This year was the first year that Gideon went Trick or Treating. It was cute. Here is the trick or treating group, consisting of Ries, Pullo, and Darth Vader aka Gideon.

Ries said Gideon did well though he did need to be prompted to say “trick or treat” a few times. I did hear that Gideon once used the phrase, “I want some candy!” but reverted to the accepted standard after that. After he got the hang of it, he started tattling on other kids who did not use the proper greeting for candy.

We also taught him to say “thank you” after he got candy. Ries had to prompt for that a few times as well. Once after receiving candy, Ries asked Gideon, “Now what do you say?” Gideon replied, “Can I come in?” At least he asked first.

I stayed home with Wicket and handed out candy. She was well behaved and liked seeing all the kids dressed up.

Overall, we all had a great Halloween. Gideon had a blast and that is all that matters. Here is my favorite picture from Sunday.

To see all our Halloween pictures, visit my Flickr set here.


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It is Fall here in Houston, which means the humidity and temperature are both about 74 in the morning. Not quite long sleeve weather yet, but I keep hoping a cold front will drop us down to the 60’s any day now. It also means the leaves are doing that thing they do here… turn brown and fall off. It is what passes as fall foliage here. Sad, yet true.

We went to the pumpkin patch today and picked out a truly ugly and warty pumpkin. Gideon requested a scary face on the pumpkin so it should be just right.

Gideon is a smart little thing, always trying to negotiate what he wants when he already knows the limits, asking if I am going to spank him when he breaks a rule, and sneaking around to do things he is not supposed to do. He keeps me occupied. I spend the majority of my days alternatively yelling, “Gideon!” or “Wicket!” because one or both of them are doing something naughty.

After I told him that I do not, in fact have a boy part (which we call by it’s actual name, but I think I should probably not type here), I have a girl part (again, actual name). He asked me, “Where does your pee come out of?” How indeed. This was over lunch, mind you.

Happy Fall!

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Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

We did indeed play with sparklers over the Fourth of July. Gideon soon realized that the more dangerous your actions while holding flaming things, the more hilarious life is… and EXCITING!

The lovely lady in the video spelling is my Mom, Gideon’s Oma.

It only took a couple sparklers for him to figure out how to do a full arm pumping run while clutching his sparkler tightly. He fell a couple times and landed with his face right next to the flame in his hand.

After I got him to stop running, he would wave the sparkler wildly, often missing his head, eyes, and hair by a breath of wind.

Gideon enjoyed watching the fireworks all across the lake as well. His favorite part of the fireworks though was when my Dad and our friend Brian would light the fireworks and then run away. Gideon would scream. “They run away!” at the top of his lungs and that is the part of the story he repeats when I ask him about fireworks.

All in all, it was a successful venture with fire. No one got hurt and we had a great time.

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I decided Gideon is old enough this Fourth of July for sparklers. I love sparklers. I am going to get the kind with the wooden handles because they are a little safer than the metal ones. And by little, I mean barely at all.

Here is some great parenting at work:

Me: I think I am going to get Gideon some sparklers for the lake.
Ries: (laughing) sparklers are not safe. They are actually pretty dangerous.
Me: Uh, Dangerous and awesome!
Ries: (rolls his eyes)

Part of the fun of sprinklers is learning how not to burn yourself, anyone else, or any buildings down as you twirl them in the air. It is a life lesson. Good times.

Happy Fourth of July! We will be drinking good beer and playing with fire. A winning combination in any season.

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I said I would let Michelle post about our Amsterdam trip.  But she is busy and will likely never get to it.  I tend to describe every detail about every event that ever happened so I was refraining from posting.  I could gladly talk a long time about our trip.  We had a great time.  And I would love to talk about all the great beers and brown cafés that we went to and how it has inspired our own new projects.  So if you want to talk about it, by all means, call me.  But I am going to keep this post to a bare minimum.  Michelle just posted our pictures so I will link the different sets (organized by city) as I get to them.

Thursday:  Arrived Mid-day and just hung out a bit with Tom, Yvette, and Bernadette (Yvette’s mom’s last day of her trip there).  And I can’t forget Analisa and Baxter.  We spent the first of several nights winding down with a couple beers on the patio with the slugs.  The weather was fantastic for the whole trip.

You can find all the pictures for Amsterdam here

Friday:  This was our first full day in Amsterdam.  Yvette (with Analisa and Baxter) got us acclimated.  We walked through a few parks (Amsterdam had a lot of great parks), most important of which was Vondelpark.  We found out from the get go that it wasn’t too much of a walk from Tom & Yvette’s house (T&Y’s) to the center of town.  It was actually a nice walk through Vondelpark, which we continued to do almost every day for the rest of the trip.  Spent the rest of the day just walking around and getting acclimated to the city.

Saturday:  Probably the best day in Amsterdam.  We got up early (but later than planned) and hoofed it into town.  Stood too long in the wrong line to see the Ann Frank House.  Timing worked because we were done just in time for the opening of the Pancake Bakery (mmm, good.  Ended up going back at the end of the trip, too.)  It is probably not what you think of as Pancakes.  They are dutch Pancakes.  Next we continued to walk around the canals (in case I don’t get it in later, I loved the canals and how it creates the charm of the city) and visited a few brown cafés (that is like a very old bar, some older than the USA, that serve good beer) and then made our way to the Bols Distillery Tour building.  Really cool tour.  Wound up with quite a few bottles of genever (dutch gin, better than English) and even a Yogurt liqueur.  More brown cafés and then made it home before dark (which didn’t occur while we there until 11:00).

Sunday: Honestly, I forget what we did this morning but we got up and did something.  Then made it back in time for T&Y’s house warming party (they had just moved in) where they “bbq’d” fajitas for their dutch and expatriate friends.  Too bad the Velveeta we brought them got confiscated by customs.

Monday: I might start mixing up my days here but I will come back and correct if I remember.  We spent the first day on bikes as Yvette, Analisa, Michelle and I rode bikes to the Amsterdam Bos.  The forest.  It wasn’t that far and it was a nice day with all the dutch people out and about (surely this must have been a weekend day, I must be remembering wrong).  We ate in a big field next to a pond where the jets flew just over head before they landed at Schipol airport.  And I am talking some big planes.  I’m fairly certain that I got poison ivy this day in a country that I am pretty sure does not have poison ivy.  I tried not to let it bother me the rest of the trip.

Tuesday:  Took the train Northeast for a day-trip  to Groningen.  Not too big of a city but it has a university there and some nice squares and markets and such.  Nothing too much to talk about but we had fun.

Pictures for Groningen are here.

Wednesday:  I am pretty sure it was this day, but it wasn’t the day after Groningen, oh well.  We took the train for a day-trip Southwest to Delft.  Michelle saw the library of her dreams that she always wanted to visit.  Very modern, quite interesting.  We walked around, didn’t buy any expensive delftware, and had another good day in a nice town.

Pictures of Delft are here.

Thursday:  We took an international train south to Belgium where we stayed at a B&B over night in Brugge.  This day we walked around trying to avoid the huge crowd of old-people tourists.  Paid way too much for a lunch before we figured out how to maneuver around the town.  Then we went to a few more places to drink and stayed up long enough to take pictures of all the buildings as they were lit up at night.

Friday:  Tried to hit all the places in Brugge we didn’t hit the day before, including all the places with tons of swans.  Then we took a brewery tour at this great little old brewery called the Half-Moon, which I think is the only remaining brewery left in Brugge (that’s saying a lot for a Belgian town).  We got to see modern brewing actually taking place as well as an adventure through this old building to see the ways they used to do it historically.  We went back to this great hidden bar that we enjoyed the day before (the Belgian beer never disappoints) and then walked the park on the edge of the town on the way back to the train station.  The train ride back was an adventure as I sat with a drunk Brit, a Dutch man and a Belgian girl.  The Brit spoke the worst English of them all, but his manners were even worse (let’s just say it that way).

Brugge pictures are here.

Saturday through Wednesday:  We found out our flight home was cancelled and we would be spending 2 more days in Amsterdam.  We spent most of the rest of this time hitting up parts of Amsterdam that we had missed before.  We used a bunch of the walking tour cards with us to see things like Jewish WWII historical stuff, the shipyards, more churches, residential islands, a brewery in one of the last 2 working windmills in Amsterdam, and lots and lots of brown cafés

Unfortunately, I didn’t capture many of the great things that we enjoyed.  The Dutch people, the house boats, the beer (did I mention that), the flower market, the architecture, the canals, the Golem, all the baby ducks and swans, the cheese, the raw herring sandwiches, the croquettes, the dogs without leashes, the time spent with each other, the beer (I really enjoyed the beer), and all the different things that you see on another continent that I could talk a lot about.

-Ries, I think I’ll stop there…

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In case you hadn’t noticed, we haven’t posted to the blog in over 2 weeks.  The reason is that we were in Amsterdam for that time.  We came back about 2 days later than expected thanks to striking British Airways employees but we finally made it back.  I am not going to go into details about our trip, because my post would be far too long with the amount of detail I tend to give.  I will leave that job to Michelle.  Suffice to say, we had a very good time.

-Ries, feeling Dutch

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In honor of the recent Passover, I will describe our camping trip by listing the plagues that accompanied it.

  • Gnats: The first and most persistent plague was the flying and biting gnats.  They were EVERYWHERE and all the time.  And I don’t just mean a few, I mean hundreds flying all around your face.  Going in your eyes, your ears, your mouth.  I’m not sure what kind they were but I think there was a mix.  About 1 out of 100 of them would bite you.  Since there were about 200 or more around you at any given time it meant you were likely being bitten by about 2 gnats all the time.  Insect repellent had absolutely no effect on them whatsoever.  It is too bad about the bugs, because the weather was otherwise perfect.
  • Ants:  Gideon and Caleb Norwood were loving the outdoors.  The sites at the campsite were spacious and they loved running around and between (and away) from them.  During one of their initial tromp sessions, just after we get there, we hear Gideon saying “stomp on the hill.”  Michelle looks over to see Gideon then wiping at his legs.  He realizes that on the top of the “hill” that he was stomping on, was a big fire ant hill.  So, of course, Gideon got bitten all around his hands and legs by fire ants.  To his credit he didn’t even make a scream or a complaint about it.  He just went about his business.
  • Worts:  I don’t get worts, but it looks like I started to develop one, right at the tip of my ring finger.  Very annoying as any little scrape on the finger is [slightly] painful.  More annoyance than anything.  Figures that as I get home, it seems the wort is already going away.  Must have simply been part of the curse of the camping trip.
  • Seizures:  This was probably the big one.  At noon on Friday (had only been camping for 18 of the planned 44 hours) we were sitting at the picnic table getting ready to play a board game.  Gideon had awoken from a nap and was munching a little bit on food but mostly playing with game pieces.  From out of nowhere, he begins to fall off the picnic table bench.  I pick him up and he begins to have a seizure.  He did this when he had a cold a few months ago, so we knew what to do.  After the seizure was over we put him in the car and drove to hospital in Livingston, which was ~6 miles away.  When we got to the ER, we did realize that he was pretty hot so Michelle took off his shirt. to let him cool down.  They took his temperature (104° F), took some blood work (Gideon did not like that), and determined that it was a slight ear infection.  After an antibiotic drip and they got his fever down, we packed up camp and left.  We didn’t think it was wise to stick around with a sick kid and an impending storm.  Although it turned out the storm never came.  We made the hour trip to Michelle’s parent’s house instead of going home.  We were planning to go there the next day anyway.  The first seizure he had back in the winter was scarier because we had not experienced that before.  But the implications of this one is more worrisome.  I thought we could keep it under control if we just monitored his fever when he was sick.  But this time, we didn’t even know that Gideon was sick.  He didn’t act sick.  He was having a great time camping and his behavior was well within the norm.  He didn’t even mess with his ear.  This tells us that this is going to happen again and there is nothing we can do about it.
  • Poison Ivy:  This one, I’m not sure about yet.  I am highly allergic to poison ivy.  Michelle was concerned that there was poison ivy near our campsite but it didn’t look like it to me.  However, when we left the campsite we started to itch a lot.  Michelle’s are clearly the effect of those biting gnats.  The gnats played a role in my marks too.  But there are a few that look like they could be poison ivy.  If it is, then it is a minor case, but the jury is still out on this one.

After all that, I still wouldn’t say it was a bad camping trip.  Okay, it was probably the worst camping trip I have ever been on.  But it still wasn’t a bad time.  I don’t think.  It’s hard to tell these days.

–Ries, let my people go!

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