Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break in the Low Countries- Amsterdam

The train whistle blew as my dad and I scuttled down the escalator from Amsterdam airport to the tracks downstairs. Our train from Amsterdam to Brussels was just pulling away from the platform as I ran out and reached for the closing doors. So close.

IMG_3925.JPGWe’ve been lounging in Delta’s Airbus A330 Business Elite cabin for the past 9+ hours during our flight from Portland to Amsterdam, so waiting an extra hour for the next train to Belgium is no big deal. We’re back in Europe, and pumped to start our ultra-quick sampling of the Benelux countries. The next train should be here any time now. All aboard!

Overheard at the ticket booth in Amsterdam:

Sincere American Tourist: Is that the cost in dollars?
Stern Dutch Clerk: No, that is the cost in Euros. This is Europe.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walkin' In a Springtime Wonderland

DSC_0870_edited1.jpg by gkhamilton
DSC_0870_edited1.jpg, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.

Snow in late March? While a heat wave swept the eastern United States last week, record-setting levels of March snow fell here in Oregon.
Snowflakes dusted our Beaverton house on three separate occasions in the past couple of weeks, and we’re loving it. Now that Baby Lena has reached the ripe old age of 6 months, she can more deeply appreciate the fun in the air as snow collects on the ground. My middle and high school students had no complaints about scoring an extra snow day off from school, either!

IMAG2184.jpg My dad and I enjoyed the spring snow in our special way last week: skiing on 24” of fresh powder at Mt. Hood Meadows. Diagnosing my dad’s skiing accident/ concussion the week earlier, the doc instructed him to recover for 10 days before attempting any sort of “contact sport.”

Of course, Bo didn’t let his nearly 70 years of age and some wimpy concussion keep him from the ski slopes. Waiting until Day #10 on the dot, we cruised up to Mt. Hood and quenched our need for speed. Bo’s skiing day was cut short after another crash left his head (now covered with a shiny new ski helmet) feeling woozy and dizzy again. We probably should have waited a couple more days, but I’m so proud of Bo for trying!

IMAG2189.jpgAdmittedly, the fresh snow was so deep that I didn’t fare much better. I had more wipeouts (and not just on black diamond difficulty runs) than I can ever remember having in a single day. I’ll go even further and say that the bottoms of my skis gave the tops of my skis stiff completion for being exposed to the most daylight.

Judging by the thunderous response from the ski lift riders overhead, my most spectacular wipeout was a result of a huge jump that sent me flying out of the trees, under the chairlift, and landing just below the Face run. I use the word “landing” very generously, because the aftermath probably looked like something out of a wacky comic strip. I clearly should have bailed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Six Months of Lena

DSC_0808.JPG by gkhamilton
DSC_0808.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.

While others were springing forward for Daylight Savings Time last week, we were falling back on the six months of precious memories we’ve had since Lena's birth on 9/10/11 (link). Our baby girl has grown in size, physical ability and adorability.

Speaking of abilities, Lena has been building quite the resume lately. DSC_0846.JPG Although Lena loudly objected to hopping into the new Kelty baby hiking backpack that I got from R.E.I. this week, her hardcore training regimen has unleashed an astonishing array of other super-infant feats.

Here are just a few examples:

DSC_0777.JPGHolding her own bottle and learning to tilt it up to drink more baby formula

Stepping it up from milk and formula to formula mixed with cerealDSC_0831.JPG

Hit the "Play" button above for a video clip from Lena's very first attempt at swallowing formula mixed with cereal, before things got really messy

DSC_0821.JPGLifting up her head, strengthening her neck, and trying to roll over on her own

DSC_0860.JPG Recreating the Rocky IV training montage in the late March snow this week, complete with Lena’s fierce wood-saw wielding, tree chopping, and log hauling drills

Cranking out some cardio training in the living room when the weather got too nasty outside

Jab the “Play” button above for a fun video of Lena returning home from vacation to wiggle, kick, sneeze, and make baby sounds to Needtobreathe's "I Won't Run."

And lastly, fighting her first head cold… We’re actually not laughing about this one. It breaks my heart to see my little 6 month old baby girl go 12 rounds with the oogies. But those sniffles are no match for Lena.

No one puts Baby in a corner!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leaving Los Angeles

The snow falling outside the windows of the Salt Lake City airport has baby Lena’s attention as she recovers from our morning flight from Los Angeles. Waking her up at midnight for this morning’s exhausting drive from Santa Maria to the LAX airport has done little to dampen her cheerful mood.

Everywhere we traveled this week, people have gawked at our 5 ½ month old Lena and remarked at what a cute, good mannered baby she is!

IMAG1951_edited-1.jpg A lucky handful of my Delta coworkers and others got a chance to adore Lena as we bounced back and forth between ticket counters at the Portland airport on Monday.

IMAG1960.jpg The TSA agents at PDX airport each had their crummy day brightened as a smiling Lena passed through the security checkpoint.

IMAG1965.jpg Lena survived her first ever plane ride to Los Angeles like a champ! Kathy and I strategically waited each time to feed her until she was right on the verge of blessing our fellow passengers with her brute lung prowess. When the bottle didn’t do the trick, I resorted to my tried and true elixir of softly sung worship songs or personalized Coldplay melodies in her ear.

Unfazed by our short notice the night before, my Uncle Steve and Aunt Marilyn McCoy graciously opened up their house to us in Santa Maria for a few days. DSC_0719_edited-1.JPGIMAG1989.jpgThe southern California weather didn’t cooperate long enough for us to get out on their yacht in Santa Barbara, but we enjoyed everything else they offered: loving family time and lots of encouragement.

Aunt Marilyn’s cooking was outrageously delicious, although we did sneak out to Cool Hand Luke’s (for their house favorite “shark bites”)…

IMAG2023_edited-1.jpg…as well as the obligatory stop for Double Doubles at In-N-Out. My cousin Jefferson is a manager!

DSC_0728.JPG Jeff’s family-- Rebecca, Ethan, Tyler, and Hanna McCoy, A.K.A. the Jeffersons-- were also mesmerized by Lena's smile when they met her for the first time. IMAG1994.jpgIMAG2000.jpg We absolutely love these people! But since our busy summer schedule will prevent the three of us from being at the 2012 Morrow Bay family reunion, the rest of our SoCal family will have to wait to meet Lena until Delta’s flights have open seats again.

The only thing that hasn’t worked out this week (unless you count that whole blown international trip opportunity thingy that I mentioned here in my previous post) is consistent weather.
DSC_0709.JPG Lena did get her first ever glimpse of ocean waves within hours of landing in California. But rather than surfing the next day…

DSC_0714.JPG …I squandered our lone day of surfboard-beckoning sunshine at Pismo Beach with sightseeing.

DSC_0721.JPG After calling dibs on a surfboard at a Pismo Beach surf shop the previous day, we waited forever on the second day for the cold, stormy skies to clear up long enough for Lena to see Daddy ride those waves. Hey, call me a fair weather surfer… but our Oregon Coast back home already provides PLENTY of chilly, rainy surfing weather!

Now that we’re in the Salt Lake City airport, we still have a chance to bounce over to the Everglades or Alaska to wrap up the trip with some hiking. Our possible connections won’t leave for a couple more hours, so why decide now? At this point, it seems likely that the group majority will vote for a direct flight home. Either way, let’s hope that Lena has mercy on our seatmates and sings her baby songs in the muted, soothing key of “coo.” IMAG2091.jpg

Update: This cliffhanger ending is actually just an ending. We flew home from SLC shortly after I originally posted this last week. Photos added on 3/10, and I just added the video below:

Hit the "Play" button above for a video of us on the pier at Pismo Beach. This sunset was the last sunshine we saw all week!