Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the season...



'Tis the season... to fall behind on blog entries. Fa la la la la la la!

I can't believe that nearly a month has passed since our last entry here, and that last time we checked in, it was only a little after Halloween. Yowza! Anyhow, let's see if I untangle the last couple of weeks and get everyone up to speed!

Late November brought not only Thanksgiving, but also Stella's 2nd Birthday! Since Stella's actual Birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day this year, we decided to throw a party for her on the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving week. While Stella can sometimes be overwhelmed by large groups, this time she really seemed to enjoy being surrounded by her friends, playmates and ...well... cupcakes!

It is basically impossible to take a picture of a room full of 2 year old's and their parents, but this off-the-cuff image catches some of the chaos.

Cupcakes from Seattle's Trophy Cupcakes!

Stella's old nanny, Tirza, and her daughter, Natalie, were able to come to the party. It was great seeing the two girls play with each other after several months of not seeing each other, but you could tell it was hard for Stella to say "bye" at the end of the party.

After that, it was on to Thanksgiving proper. And while, sadly, my Grandmother, Aunt and Cousin's were unable to attend our Thanksgiving dinner because my Grandma had surgery just a couple days before (I've been assured everything went smoothly), we did end up with a full table since Sarah's mom, stepfather, bother and sister-in-law came into town to celebrate with us (as well as Ambika), and be there for Stella's actual 2nd Birthday...

Stella blows out the candles on her cake. (Thanks dad, for catching this picture.)

Unfortunately, while I did click several photos during the actual meal itself, they all pretty much turned out dark and/or blurry, so I'll spare you. But, you can be assured that Sarah cooked another wonderful Holiday meal!

Owing largely to the snow (more on that later), most of the rest of that week was spent hanging out and relaxing with Sarah's family. But, we did make one or two trips out to do some sightseeing with them. Including a trip to the aquarium (which, again only yielded one or two photos) and to the Museum of Flight.

A typical scene from that week, curled up on the couch, talking, read and napping.

Sarah, Tim and Jeanne standing in front of Air Force One, which we got to walk through. I'll spare you the pictures I took of the Air Force One bathrooms...

...but I won't spare you the picture I took of the Lockheed Blackbird. AKA: The X-Men's jet. I geeked out a little.

The one cute picture from our aquarium visit. Sarah and I have gotten bad about not taking pictures any more. Need to get back in the habit. Still, this one is cute.

After Tim and Jeanne left, Sarah's mom and step-dad accompanied us on one other family tradition: Buying a Christmas Tree. For the last couple years, we've bought our tree at the Dunshee House, a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS. A great way to combine two Holiday traditions (buying a tree and giving) into one!

The tree strapped to the top of our car!

That evening, after Sarah's mom and Don had left, Sarah and I decorated the tree... with Stella's help of course. Last year, when it came time to decorate the tree, Stella was just a little over one, not yet walking unassisted, and was in bed before we even began unpacking the ornaments. This year, she was more than happy to help out. Surprisingly, she didn't show much interest in breaking or throwing anything, and instead did her best to actual hook the ornaments on to some of the lower branches. Usually these attempts ended with a plaintive "help peas," but still its the thought that counts.

Making sure every ornament is "just right."

Stella checks out a Christmas book with the tree glowing in the background.

The "family by the tree" photo. Something that's become bit of an annual tradition.

As I mentioned above, it also snowed that week. The first flakes started to drift down during Stella's Birthday Party, but it wasn't until Monday that things started to get white. And, unlike most Seattle snows, this snow actually stuck around for most of the week. The whole thing seemed eerily similar to the snow storm right after Stella's birth, but Sarah and I tried to just roll with the punches, making sure things went smoothly with her family and the Holiday plans.

For her part, Stella seemed nonplus about the snow. She took a couple strolls in it, but was otherwise content to stay warm in doors.

Trying to catch snowflakes with mommy.

Taking it all in...

...but then heading back inside to get warm.

Well, when I initially started typing this, I had hoped to get things caught up through Mid-December, but just realizes that it is nearing 4:00pm, and that I need to get ready to head down to Stella's Day Care to take part in some holiday festivities there (cookies and singing). Sarah is, sadly, not feeling well. Both her and Stella have been struggling with another string of colds recently which is another reason we've fallen behind here. But, hopefully, Sarah or I will be able to do a follow up entry in the next couple of days.

That said, I wanted to end by noting how much Stella has changed in the last couple of months. More and more, her single words are being strung into simple sentences. And, more than once, I've been struck by the fact that I almost feel like I'm having actual conversations with her. Her favorite question is still "wo go?" (where go? ...and half the time the challenge is just figuring out what the "wo" is), but she's also big on color and counting (though her version of counting involves repeating "two, three" again and and again). She still loves coloring, but also loves her play dough (which she play cooks with), her toy pots and wooden food, and especially her dolls (which she spends countless hours putting blankets on top of). She loves Elmo, but has a much more complex relationship with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, as seen in this sample conversation:

Stella: Roar!
Me/Sarah: Is the abominable snow monster scary?
Stella: Yeah. (pause) No teeth!
Me/Sarah: Yes. Then they take his teeth out, and he becomes nice.
Stella: Nice! (pause) Wheeeee!
Me/Sarah: Yes, and then the reindeer fly.


Hopefully more, soon.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ye-ya (aka "Stella")



Stella, tonight. We haven't been good about taking many videos for awhile. Partly because Stella usually doesn't really cooperate (as soon as we turn it on, she wants to be *behind* the camera) and because we've just been too darn busy. But tonight I realized that she won't talk like this forever. And I couldn't resist sharing.

video

Monday, November 8, 2010

Who's a Busy Bee?



In a number of ways, I think I'm a pretty good mom. In others...let's just say there's room for improvement. Halloween is probably one of those areas. For whatever reason, I feel pretty ambivalent about the holiday. Some people love it, plan costumes out months in advance, put out decorations, really see it was the best holiday of the year. I'm not anti-Halloween, but let's put it this way: before Stella was born, I think Tyler put a costume together for me the day of a party for about three years in a row. So you can imagine some of that washes into Halloween where Stella is concerned. And this year we had an extra hill to surmount when we all got a stomach flu the weekend before. (So much for the idea of cute pictures of Stella in a pumpkin field.) Tyler spent the Thursday before Halloween running around trying to find a last minute costume until I asked one of my coworkers if she had one from when her kids were younger we could borrow. (Thanks, Kasey!!)

But I get ahead of myself. Our first Halloween activity (on the Friday before...) was pumpkin carving. Tyler and Stella had picked one up the night before at our local produce stand, where the pickings were a bit slim. But Tyler, being the lovely anthropomorphizer he is, has a soft spot for the less than perfect gourds. Though Stella's preschool had had a few days of pumpkin-related sensory activities and an actual carving, she seemed a bit unsure and then downright disinterested.



My part--getting out the guts. The expression here is probably Stella's face after saying "no!" to my suggestion that she participate.



More carving ambivalence


Tyler steps up for the artistic part...


and acquits himself nicely!


We followed that up with our first costume party, when Stella promptly refused to put on her costume. I decided not to push it since we really wanted her to warm to it by Halloween. You'll notice she's wearing a fleece vest--she just couldn't understand why I was offering some other jacket to wear when she had a perfectly good one on!



Stella, along with a sock monkey, tiger, Snow White, Batman, Superman and Winnie the Poo.

On Saturday, we went to the zoo despite some sogginess. We had a good time but didn't manage to see the main attraction--animals eating jackolanterns. (Nor did we take any photos. Nor would Stella wear her costume.) On Sunday we had a second costume party with our PEPS group. This time, Stella acted like she didn't want to wear her costume but I popped it over her head and she decided she loved it! She'd point at herself and say "Bee!", "Bzzz" around and flap her "wings"--very cute.


This is a pretty bad phone photo, but I love the controlled chaos of trying to get a group shot of near two-year-olds. (And you can see the awesome squirrel costume Lena wore!)

Finally, it was time for the main event. We took Stella to Grandma and Grandpa's house for trick-or-treating. Stella was a little unsure of going to strange doors, but she was intrigued by the idea of candy, and like Grandma Susan's decorations!


Stella the bee! The flower-y skirt is a bit unconventional, but I figured it kind of looks like she's hovering over a field....and she wouldn't put on her black pants.


So hopefully next year we'll get our act together and avoid last-minute illness. Of course, by then, Stella will also probably have her own opinion about what costume she wants, which will be a whole new ball of wax!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The leaves aren't the only thing turning red



With the leaves turning red and the gray clouds swirling overhead, it can only mean one thing: Fall? No, wine-making season! Several weeks ago, we kicked off this year's batch of wine over at Gary and Cynthia's house, with the Annual Crush. After two years of having to juggle the crush and the U-District Foodbank Auction on the same day, this year we were excited that the crush and auction fell on separate days, and we wouldn't have to rush off halfway through de-stemming.

Anyhow, pictures!!

Our previous years wine, 2007's "Ranger Rick Red," 2006's "Round the World Red" and 2008's "Stella Rose's Stellar Red."
Ready to toss some grapes! Behind me is the 2-3 tons of grapes for this years wine.
...And speaking of grapes! Here's this years grapes. Like last year, we are doing Syrah.
...And speaking of Syrah, er, I mean Sarah! Sarah after a hard days work, proving you have to be willing to get a little messy.
Last year, we got a picture of Stella sitting on grapes. This year: Stella in a grape press!

One thing that has changed from previous years of wine making is this year, after the crush, we brought our portion of the crushed grapes back to our house for fermentation in the newly built wine-making room in the back of the garage. So, after a couple weeks of fermentation, my dad, our friend Gary, and I did the Press: Where we separate out the newly created wine, and then press the remaining skins and stems for any last wine we can get out of them.

More pictures!

The infamous Press. It was down-pouring so we did most of the press in the garage itself. Beyond my dad and Gary you can see the wall and door leading into the wine room.

Dad and Gary bump stems and skins into the press. Try not to cry for all the spilled wine on the ground.

Gary and I try some of the newly created wine. Tart and acidic. It can definitely stand to do some aging in the barrel.

My dad holds up what's left over after the press: Compacted stems and skins. Hmmm, I wonder if this would make good fertilizer?

Finally, not to worry, pictures of Stella in her Halloween costume are coming soon! We just wanted to get caught up on this, but Sarah promises to do a Halloween entry soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

That's what she said...



Back in March, I wrote a post talking about the various words and sign language signs that Stella had been using. In that entry, I made it sound like, within the next 24 hours, Stella would be busting loose with a (to quote myself) "veritable tidal wave of verbiage." Well, it turns out that things have been a little slower going than that. But, after several months dominated primarily by grunting and rapidly deteriorating sign language skills, it feels like in these past couple of weeks Stella's finally rounded a corner and not a day seems to pass where she isn't introducing a new word. Partially, I think that some of the credit should be given to her Day Care. Without being to rely on me and Sarah trying to decipher fits and screams, she's been forced to explore the world of verbal communication. But, partially, I think she was just finally ready to start talking.

So, let's take a look at some of the things she says:

"Yeah" and "Mo" - In the entry Sarah posted recently, you got to watch her uber-cute way of saying "yeeeaaahhh," which has replaced her jaw-chomping nod. But, she also says "no" too. Or, more accurately, "mo" ...which was a bit confusing since its also how she says "more."

"Mama," "Papa," "Bumpa" and "Nana" - Much to the various Grandmas joy and relief, Stella has finally started saying "Nana" in addition to the other three.

"Oocy" and "Meme" - For her friend, Lucy, and her second cousin, Mia. "Meme" is also, incidentally her word for "Kitty" these days, which is a little odd, since her first word was "kitty." I also think she knows some of the names of the kids at her Day Care.

"Keekee" - Her blanket... or her pacifier ...or "drink" depending on the circumstance.

"Hi" - Used for both "hi" and "bye." Though I think the occasional "bye" sneaks in there too.

"Tank you" - One of her cutest things she says, partially because she will often thank us for stuff without a prompting. Give her something she wants and she just respond with a quick "tank you." Very polite.

"Anana" and "cacka" - For banana and cracker. These ones are mixed blessing because usually she's screaming, crying and begging for one of them... and quite often we don't even have any bananas or crackers to give her.

"Buboh" and "Baboon" - "Bubble" (usually accompanied by the sign language sign for "bubble") and "balloon." She loves both of these things, and is happy to point out one out, whenever she sees one.

"Memo" - I discovered this one just today, when she started begging to watch her "Elmo" DVD.

"I wah..." "Wo...?" and "Igahit!" - The first two are usually used with another word above to say "I want (a banana, for example)" or "Where is (the blanket)?" The last one, "I got it," is her cute little exclamation whenever she, for examples, manages to hook some food on her fork, or some similar accomplishment.

Animal Noises - She doesn't call many animals by name, and still uses their noise to identify them. So, we have dogs ("bwu-bwu"), cats ("me-me"), birds ("caw-caw"), pigs (snorting through her nose), and various lions, tigers and bears ("raaah!" ...almost always accompanied by a charging, arms-raised run). Plus, cars ("bwoom-bwoom").

"Eish" - Since fish don't make noises, they get to be called by their name, usually while also making the sign language sign for "fish."

"Gee" or "Gish" - Sort of multi-purpose sounds, usually made while pointing something out. Probably equivalent to "see" and "this."

EDIT to add:
"Ut-oh" - Self explanatory. Whenever something gets dropped, its a big "ut-oh!"

"Ow" - Not "ouch," but "owl." In particular, here little miniture owl blanket/stuffed animal friend, that has become a constant companion.

"Wo go?" - "Where did it go?" Whenever she's looking for something, or someone leaves, we get a "wo go?" Along with questioning upturned palms.

Anyhow, that's a small sampling of some of the words Stella's been using. Hopefully, Sarah will have a chance to do a follow up entry, and maybe add to this list. I'm sure there are more, and words that I'm forgetting. But, at least this is a small sampling of what you might hear around our house these days.

And now, and obligatory Stella picture...

Monday, October 4, 2010

LA Story



About three years ago, shortly after Sarah and I returned from our trip, my brother, Travis, and his wife, Meghan, moved down to Los Angeles so that she could pursue a career in acting and he could pursue one in film production. Sadly, while they've been back up to Washington a least a couple times each year, we've only been able to go down to visit them once. But, because I have the Best Wife Evah™, and because she offered to watch Stella while I went down for a long weekend, I was able to spend some time with them, see their latest apartment (they've moved since our first trip) and explore LA some more.

So, last Thursday evening, I boarded my neon-pink-lit Virgin America flight, sat down 15 rows behind Arianna Huffington, and quickly found myself at LAX, being picked up by my brother. Unfortunately, because my flight arrived a little after 11pm, it didn't provide us with much time to explore; but we were still able to grab a late night beer and bite to eat at a neighborhood pub.

The next morning, feeling slightly worn out from our 3am bedtime, my brother and I fumbled through our morning routines, and then he took me out to show me a couple of neighborhood comic stores. The first, Skylight Books, was actually a book store proper, but their annex store features a large collection of trades and graphic novels up by the front door. The second, The Secret Headquarters, was a smallish comic book store with an old-time leather and polished wood feel. As someone who's always argued that comics should be treated with the same respect as other book forms, and not be surrounded by and buried under piles of action figures and Magic cards; both stores made me very happy.

After checking out both stores, we picked up Meghan back at the apartment, and went to check out a Cuban restaurant that they'd heard good things about, La Caridad. La Caridad ended up being a small, unassuming hole in the wall. The type of place where everyone else being served was speaking Spanish and the food was tasty without being flashy. As I eagerly ate my beef, rice and beans, I announced to Trav and Meg that this was exactly the type of thing I was hoping to do there.

As we finished our meal, we talked about what our options were for the day. Since I've been to LA a couple of times before, and even lived near Anaheim for a super-brief two-month period back around 2000, they didn't feel obligated to take me to all the usual tours traps. But, when one of them mentioned that they new the location of the entrance to Batman's Batcave (from the old, campy TV series), I knew that's what I had to see first.

A short drive, and an even shorter "hike," and we were there. A short tunnel punched through a narrow hillside, dead-ending on the other side of the tunnel.


Trav and Meg do their best Batman and Robin impression. I'll let you decide which is which.

Coming back from the Batcave, we noticed that we were near the trail-head up to the Hollywood sign. And, since Trav and Meg had never made the hike themselves, we figured it was worth a go. Now, apparently, the hike was only supposed to be about a mile and a half one way, but after going the wrong way at least once, and tromping up broken pavement in the afternoon sun, it somehow turned into a "Death March" not dissimilar from mine and Sarah's hike to the Virgin Mary's House in Turkey.

To add a little insult to injury, when you got to the top of the trail, you couldn't even walk up to the sign, but instead found yourself standing on a fenced trail above it. Still nice view, at least!

The Hollywood sign from above, and the sprawl of LA beyond.

After taking the view in a bit, there's was nothing left to do but head back down the hill and go to YogurtLand! Yum! I've never been so excited about frozen yogurt before. It was actually sort of embarrassing.

With our bellies full of self-serve yogurt, we headed back to Trav and Meg's place to burn it off with a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit, and then a late night app platter and beer at another neighborhood sports bar, Good.

Saturday morning, Meghan had to work, so Trav and I hoped on the bus and headed into downtown to walk around and do a little site seeing. First off, he took me into the library where we marveled at the atrium and this painted, domed ceiling:

The mural was amazing in its detail, but probably my favorite touch was the globe chandelier.

After the library, we wandered pass the toy district where I picked up a $2 pair of sunglasses. Note that, despite having bought sunglasses in several developing countries, this was probably the cheapest I've ever scored a pair. Then it was on to Little Tokyo for a sushi and Bento box lunch. Poor Sarah, she always has to listen to me grumble when she suggests we get sushi and what's one of the first things I do when I go on vacation without her? Get sushi. Though, to be fair, I was in Little Tokyo. It only made sense.

The Bento Box and some sushi from lunch.

With lunch in our bellies, we headed onward to Union Station. I'd seen several of Trav and Meg's amazing and atmospheric photos of them in Union Station before, so I thought it was important that I take some too.

Ooooh, artsy. I swear, someday, I'll learn to take decent photographs.

Me, posing in my $2 sunglasses, for what might someday become a Facebook profile photo.

Also, while we were there, we watched as staff set up for some formal event in a side room. The man working the information desk speculated that it was an Armenian wedding. Whatever it was, it was probably going to be a wild time, since each table included not just a bottle of wine, but also a bottle of whiskey.

Olvera St: Touristy, but pleasant.

Back outside, we made our way to Olvera Street. Besides being a market filled with Mexican themed tchotchkes, was also a quaint and shaded (if crowded) cobble-stone street, that also featured tourist-centric restaurants and LA's oldest house.It was cute, but by then we were both getting a little hot and tired and decided to make our way back home...

...but not before swinging back past the Grand Central Market and La Cita. The Grand Central Market was, like Pike Place Market for Seattle, LAs original market space. And, wandering through it, they still sold an array of fruit, vegetables, seafood and meat. La Cita, located right next to the market, is a funky old Mexican bar that seems to live some sort of weird double life: Inside, it was filled with middle-aged Mexicans and on the back patio it was rapidly filling up with 20-something, urban hipsters. The seemly easy truce between the two groups made for a surreal experience, to say the least.

Grand Central Market. When Sarah and I travel, one of our favorite places to visit are market places. The ones you find in the US might not feature as much bizarre food or questionable sanitation, but they are still great to stroll through.

Trav and La Cita. Unfortunately, you can't see much of it... beyond the wrought iron fence of the courtyard, and some Budweiser banners. But, trust me when I say the inside looked like Terry Gilliam's version of a Mexican-themed bar.

After throwing back a beer at La Cita, and making a mini-hike back to the bus stop, we were soon back at Trav and Meg's apartment. Meeting up with Meg, we decided to head back out for a taco dinner at El Chava. At El Chava, we were rapidly befriended by a guy named Al. Al was so quintessentially LA that I had trouble believing he was real: A hyperactive hip-hopper who managed to squeeze three or four celebrity names into each of his partying stories... while simultaneously declaring that he didn't really care for all that "celebrity stuff."

Making our eventual escape from Al, the night made the slow transition into a mini-pub crawl, which featured eventually running into our friends Russ and Ang, and brief (but unfortunately not brief enough) visit to "Jumbo's Clown Room," and eventually ending up with Trav and I shouting over the music at some vaguely Buddhist-Circus themed club near their hour.

The next morning, moving slowly again, we made our way back to Good for a long breakfast, and so that Trav could watch the Seahawks play.

Maybe not the most flattering picture of Travis, but it still pretty accurately represents that morning.

Then, with an unfortunate Seahawks game behind us, I was back on the plane and home again. All in all a fun trip. Before Trav and Meg moved to LA, I would always declare that it was possibly my least favorite place I'd been. But, I have to admit that, based on this visit and mine and Sarah's previous trip, I've begun to warm to LA. Sure, its large, dirty and congested. And, sure, vast swaths of it tend to suffer from the type of suburban sprawl that makes my skin crawl. But, at the same time, it's also now revealed itself to be a city filled with an amazing mix of cultures, food, interesting neighborhood and fun people. And, as long as Trav and Meg are down there, I'll look forward to visiting!

...though, maybe next time Stella and Sarah will be there too!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yeah!



Stella's second most frequent word these days is "yeah." Much better than uh-uh. And she practically turns it into a three syllable word, making it sound full of enthusiasm and pleasure. We're not complaining!

video

The rest of the speech in the video is somewhat incomprehensible, even to us. But we have counted and she's got 30+ words she does use. One of these days we're pretty certain she's just going to start spouting full paragraphs.

More of an update soon. Between my job, Tyler working and the remodel, the blog has been a bit neglected!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pacific Beach



For the past few years, my friend Alison and I have talked about going on a camping trip together, and this year it finally happened. We were all free over Labor Day weekend, so made plans to head to Pacific Beach, a small coastal town about 20 miles north of Ocean Shores. The coast felt like a bit of a risky choice at the end of the summer weather-wise, but Tyler and I hadn't been for about four years, and Alison's husband, Rhett, owns some property there (and it was where Alison and Rhett got married last year), so we were anxious to head west and hope for the best.

I wasn't too optimistic going into the weekend; the weather forecasts had all said good weather Friday, but rain on Saturday, so we braced for the worst and headed out of Seattle on a sunny afternoon hoping to get at least a little dry weather. As we turned toward the coast from Olympia, the sky got more and more gray and the wind looked stronger. Drat. We were going to miss the sun after all--mostly a bummer from our non-existent summer this year. But, hey, we're hardy Northwesterners, right?


The old pier logs on the beach

We got to the camp and quickly set up. Stella spotted some blackberry brambles and quickly got into some berries (which were definitely less ripe and more tart than those close to our house). We wrestled with our tent, sleep mats and bags while Rhett did a bit of set-up with their accommodations. He'd taken an old Ford van and turned it into a homemade camper, complete with a fridge, bed, storage, awning, portable DVD player, and rack off the door for the Coleman grill. (Sadly, I didn't think to photograph it for the blog. You'll just have to take my word for it. It's cool.) Tyler and I couldn't help but think back to our days in New Zealand, tooling around in the Spaceship.

After dinner, we decided to meander onto the beach. Following our first camping trip this year, we'd thought that the beach might be a better place for Stella at this age. Our intuition was right. She *loved* the beach. She probably could have happily spent all her waking time there--playing in the sand, sliding down hills of sand, checking out bits of shell and seaweed, looking at dogs. She still seemed to be a little overwhelmed by the ocean itself, but it was all and all a pretty awesome time.


Happy Stella on the beach! It was pretty cool and breezy, as you can tell by the serious bundling....


Kite surfer. All I can say is, "Brrrrr." I am not that hardy.



Day 2, in the sun, not crossing over past the water's edge. Apparently ocean waves are still scary.



Day 3, and the sun's still shining! Stella played with this bit of seaweed for a while--touching it, smelling it, poking her finger into, trying to stuff sand into it. A little biologist!



The camping went well, too. Stella slept well in the tent, enjoyed being outside and generally a good time was had by all. I'm beginning to think that our less than stellar time over Fourth of July was just a fluke.


Stella always sleeps in the tent with her head wedged up against the wall of the tent, often near mine.


Morning at the camp!


Rhett and Alison make "eggels" for breakfast. Apparently this is from Moonstruck? I grew up knowing this as "egg in the hole".


We were in the minority sleeping in a tent at Pacific Beach. Most people were in big RVs, and almost all had these funny wind/kite things. Stella loved them, especially these fish.


Pacific Beach itself is an interesting little place. It's tiny, but there's a cute little coffeeshop with delicious cinnamon buns, a gift shop with neat beach-y items (and cute homemade hats--where I picked up a new one!), a place called the "Wacky Warehouse" and some cute houses and cottages near the park. There's also an interesting development just down the road called Seabrook that seemed to be hopping, with pretty East Coast style houses, a cafe and a little gourmet market. But I think one of Tyler's favorite parts was the "Rhythm Katz." Over the weekend, there was some kind of festival in PB, which included a "street dance" on Saturday night and a parade on Sunday. We left before the parade, but we couldn't miss the music. Tyler and Rhett decided they had to check it out. Not having seen it myself, I'm sure I can't do it justice, but I do remember it involved a guy with a glo-stick headband, biker band members and some serious rockin'.

I think this was the first time I've camped somewhere without fire pits for the individual campsites, but you are allowed to have fires on the beach. We struggled a bit to get it started (others seemed to use copious amounts of lighter fluid), but Rhett and Tyler's perseverance eventually paid off with a very respectable fire.


We caught the sunset right before we got the fire going


Alison and I were anxious for some toasted marshmallows! Tyler rigged our toasters out of kindling and duct tape.


Long exposure of Rhett, Alison, Bisou and I by the fire



In the end, our worries for weather were proven unnecessary. Saturday morning started sunny and beautiful, and it stayed that way until we came home on Sunday. I'd forgotten how gorgeous the coast is here, and how soothing the sound of the waves is. You can't help but be relaxed while walking along the tide's edge. And it was fantastic to have some time to spend with Alison and Rhett. Perhaps this will become a new annual tradition?


Tyler on the beach


Happy Hill-Stachs!


Stella on her last morning foray to the beach, a bit weatherworn from three days on the road, but happy!