Thursday, May 30, 2013


I've never liked spring. It always seemed a muddy, windy, chilly mess. But now I realize the problem was my location. Spring can be done well and can be beautiful. Here, the sun comes out, the grass and flowers spring instantly to life, and the air becomes soft and warm. Humidity lurks around the corner like a puma, but elects to hold off. In short, no one does spring like the mid-Atlantic.
This realization made me ponder a great gift that bopping around North America has given me: the enjoyment of each season in the location that does each of them best. Here's my highly individualized and opinionated list:

Spring: Mid-Atlantic, as previously mentioned. I will also note that we had the foresight to embark on our inaugural east coast camping trip a couple of weekends ago, and it was timed perfectly. No wind (first. time. ever.), not too hot during the day, nor too cold at night. Anna had a blast and Isaac complained the whole time, mostly about being bored because no one was playing with him constantly. Despite this, he had fun I think. Mostly fun with the axe and the fire, but that's the way it goes sometimes. He also managed to fall into 6" of water and completely soak himself from hat to shoe. He waited to complete this feat until we were at the furthest point of our hike. As a result, I have this memory of him riding daddy's shoulders, wearing only Anna's graciously donated sweater, with a little bum peeking out from underneath. The point is, spring is a good time for outdoorsy stuff around here, although the ticks and poison ivy continue to terrify me.

Summer: For my (flight) money, it's Alberta every time. Warm without being oppressive, and the evenings cool down down dramatically which is better for sleeping. Gorgeous thunderstorms, but rarely a whole day filled with rain. Sunsets late into the evening (10ish), although I do have a beef with the sunrises (4ish). You can grow giant pumpkins with that much sunshine, and many do. Lakes, rivers, hills, trees, flowers, mountains, and tiny tiny bugs. I love Alberta. Counting the days until our return.

Fall: The Northeast, of course. Brilliant BRILLIANT trees. It looks like someone painted them. Much has been written about the beauty of the trees, so I won't expound on that. What I will say is that autumn also brings with it relief from the oppressive summers, which was a big deal when we didn't have central air. The fruit orchards are also without compare. Apples, peaches, plums, pears.... outstanding.

Winter: This is tricky, and it really depends on what one wants to do during this season. The best vacation I ever had was in early December on our honeymoon in Cancun. Being between the Thanksgiving and Christmas visitors, the resort was uncrowded while the weather was still perfect. But we didn't live there, of course. The best winter living is Colorado. Like snow? It can come down in buckets for all your skiing, snowshoeing, fort building, and snowball throwing needs. Sick of snow? It will be mostly gone in a week or so. Not enough snow? Head for the nearby mountains, where it stays all through the season. The temps rarely get too cold (again, this is an individualized assessment; and I'm from Canada) and there's usually a few spring-like days to beat the January/ February doldrums. Of course it can get really cold, which is a great excuse for snuggling by the fire with hot cocoa.
Of course my Dad, who hates the white stuff, would say that Yuma, AZ is the best place to spend winter. He is entitled to his opinion. Even if it's wrong.

Obviously I am partial to the places that I have lived. But I do think each of them has a shining season, and I'm glad to have experienced them.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Isaac is now four years old. This has imbued him with a variety of super powers, including (but not limited to):
- He can eat a whole Flinstone's vitamins instead of half a vitamin. What has not changed is that he can only have one vitamin per day. This was sad news.
- He can suddenly reach the mail slot.
- He no longer requires baths? Umm... no. After a long evening spent celebrating his birthday, I stated that since it was his birthday he did not have to take a bath. After a short pause, he looked at me quite hopefully and asked, "Ever?"
- He can count to 50, provided no one interrupts him or notes that he is indeed counting to 50.
- He can write out "Stop." This may be a superpower, or it may be a testament to the effectiveness of the Department of Transportation.
- His dinner time "yummys" and "yuckys" have moved beyond, "My yucky is Daddy gone [to work], and my yummy is Daddy home." Yuckys now include owies, baths (see above), and not receiving dessert after ever meal. Yummys can include playing outside, playing inside, and playing with other children (both inside and outside).

Furthermore, this lucky little man had two whole birthday parties, more or less. As a result of the eyes of pink, Isaac's official birthday party was postponed an entire week. We, purposely kept the original party small (two families), since he gets overwhelmed when many people are about. Also, we are dealing with a relatively small space here. So it was quite unfortunate when one of those families could not make the revised time. Solution: two mini parties.
The first came on Isaac's actual birthday, which morphed from a low key, family only, pizza-ice cream cake-presents affair, to a small scale extravaganza with a little friends from church. The above were included, along with a sphaghetti forest (anna's idea) and the balloon tent. Given the level of energy expended over the 2 hours our friends were here, I found myself grateful that the scale was kept small. The kids all played together very well, and Jon and I had a few moments of adult conversation.

The second party was different than expected. On Friday, we got the decorations up, stuffed the pinata, laid out goody bags, set the table, and baked brownies. Saturday morning at 5:50 a.m., Isaac woke up with pink eye and a bad attitude. So that put the brakes on having friends over.
We made the best of it. I put up streamers for the rain forest vines (goal: find the geckos without touching the vines), Anna made a couple of carnival games (throw the ball into the bag! find the cups! shake the marbles!), and they played in the balloon tent. We also played the garbage man game, which would have been a lot more fun had more kids been here. It's a simple idea: the kids and I stand on opposite ends of the hallway and throw "garbage" at each other for 60 seconds. Whomever has the most garbage on their side loses. Garbage mostly consisted of pieces of cloth, clean balled up paper towels, and empty toilet paper rolls. The pinata will have to wait until a play date. It's an item that really does need a good number of participants. Lots of food, and an impromptu Star Wars viewing completed most of the day.

It's a shame we couldn't have people over. I was looking forward to some more adult conversation. But that's life. Isaac took the down-sized celebration very well, considering how much he had been looking forward to it. Good thing I kept a present on reserve for today - that helped soften the blow. And of course there were brownies.

I must give a shout out to Anna here: she was just as excited that it was Isaac's birthday as he was. No competition, no grabbing for the spotlight, and no jealousy over the presents. She was right in there, making games, getting excited over his presents, and even carrying out the cake for him. She is our encourager and cheerleader, and this was an extension of that. She's a great big sister.