Monday, April 21, 2014

Snow on the mountain...

Coming soon: After I return from Italy this weekend after visiting friends for a couple days, I'll upload a follow-up post filled with more snowy neighborhood photos like this of Lena, Levi, and Kathy!

Chairlift photo from Summer's Facebook page

Photo by snowboarder @JonNW, snapped at the highest point of Mount Hood Meadows as we were all about to drop into Heather's Canyon

Snow is a big deal for us in the Portland area. We spend most of the winter hoping for (or dreading) our annual snow event, and then when it finally happens the city essentially shuts down. Meanwhile, the rest of the country laughs at our unpreparedness to handle such minuscule snow accumulation. It's an annual tradition!

A live tweeted photo from my record-long 4+ hour commute home from PDX airport and Warner Pacific College on the first day of the freeze. I-5 south traffic was stopped for so long that I turned off my Jeep Wrangler, safely shot a picture, and tweeted it.

More on that local snow event in my next post...

Another annual tradition (at least we Hamilton kids HOPE it is!) is one of my dad's Christmas presents to Kathy, Mike, Summer, and me: a ski day at Mount Hood Meadows with Bo himself.

Kathy swapped out Bo's ski offer for a shopping day. And it took a tremendous amount of schedule coordination, but last month we found a day where the remaining three of us could snow ride together with Bo.

The Drive

Stopping in Sandy on our way up to Mount Hood, we fed our maple bar addiction at Joe's Donuts.

A painting from local favorite artist Michael Sorensen is on display at Joe's. Come for the donuts, stay for the artwork.

Busy Saturday:  We were herded onto the shuttle bus from Mount Hood Meadows' overflow lot

The Slopes

The sun was shining, the snow was soft, and the clear skies provided limitless visibility to enjoy God's creation.

Our 71 year old dad skied his heart out until lunch time and then set up shop for the afternoon in the lodge. Mike finished up his final snowboard run later, looking to get a head start on our post-slope festivities outside the lodge.

With a little persuasion, I talked Summer into joining me for some backcountry action on Meadows' sole double-black diamond run.  Meadows' regulars know that weather conditions often cause Heather's Canyon to unexpectedly close at a moment's notice.  We didn't want to miss our window.

The melting snow on the more aggressive stretches of Heather's Canyon was soft enough that even the most spectacular wipeouts didn't really hurt.  My little sister overcame her fears and managed the back country terrain like a pro.

And a good Samaritan was kind enough to toss my equipment downhill to me after one spill, saving me a steep climb back uphill to collect my post-wreck ski that was littering the slope above me.

The after party

Live music, variations of pulled pork and rib sandwiches, and a host of other refreshments were served outside the lodge.  It was a call, to entice snow riders as they geared down to exit the mountain.

We answered the call.

Coming next week on Garth's Blog

(or possibly the week after, depending on my overseas in-flight productivity and our WiFi signal in Bobbio Pellice and Torino, Italy)...

Lena and Levi share the spotlight for some never before seen photos in:

...Snow in the yard!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Video: Winter beard-fest

No one looks forward to the month of No Shave November more than my wife Kathy.  Including me.  Since I'm not a fan of sporting facial hair at all, I oblige her pleas for "scruffing material" a few times a year--  during select overseas trips, and right after Halloween.

After returning from my most recent visit to northern Italy in the fall (link), I used my friend visits to the Netherlands, central Italy, and other quick year's end getaways to grow out what would become an unprecedented full winter beard.

The beard is long gone now (depending on whether or not my latest casting calls/ video auditions call for stubble, anyways).

A more current, beardless pic from last month

The January night that my beard became one with the earth was a happy occasion, but only for me.

The rest of the fam didn't take it so well:

Lena isn't happy to say goodbye to Daddy's beard, painstakingly compressed for this pic.

Stage 1:  Trimming it back a little

Baby Levi refused to be consoled, even though the beard shaving process had only begun.

We had a little fun with it on Vine, though.  For anyone who isn't able to access my oft neglected Vine page, here's the embedded video:

Silent sneeze? Click the upper left of the video screen for audio

But cheer up, beard fans.  November is only 6 1/2 months away.  And our next overseas trip is always just around the corner!

Coming up on Garth's Blog...

We're getting back into it next week with some photos of frolicking in the snow,
followed later by recent tales from overseas, 
and then last weekend's harrowing adventure on the trails!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

More photos: Newborn baby Levi gets out

Thanks for indulging my World Vision and same-sex marriage rant/encouragement detour post (link) last week, everyone. We're lightening things back up with this follow-up to last week's Levi's First Week Alive photos!

Here are more very early Levi pics, beginning with our baby boy at five days old:

Levi's first time on the town

What kid doesn't love grocery shopping? Yeah, that would probably be most kids. But Lena and Levi didn't seem to mind marking their first day on the town together by running errands.

Sonic Burgers after WinCo

Levi's first post-hospital checkup

Following Levi's publicity tour among Kathy's co-workers, Lena masters the stairs as we leave the Portland Clinic.

Bumping into friends at Stir Crazy Kitchen

Thanks to Bryan and Ruth for the pic!

Throwback bonus trivia:  2 1/2 years ago, big sister Lena's first outing was also a fast food joint...

IMG_1_0035.jpg Five Guys Burgers and Fries, when baby Lena was only five days old!

Home-delivered meals from our church family

Marva was one of many friends from Aloha Church of God who prepared and dropped off delicious food at our home that week.

Visits from the grandparents

Adoring Levi and opening baby gifts with Papa and Mimi

Reading with Grandma Su-Su

Levi's first hike

11 days old, and baby Levi was already out on the trails! The nearby Noble Woods Park was where it all began, and Levi has been out in the wild plenty of times since then.

More recent hiking pics with Lena, Levi, and friends in the U.S. and overseas are coming soon!

When posting that last hiking photo on Facebook, my hypothetical question went out to everyone, "Who takes a newborn baby on a hike?"

Our friend Mary's response:  More like, "Who hikes after giving birth?!"

Good point, Mary.  Kathy is the one who endured the birthing process, nurses Levi, reads to Lena, works hard to keep the household under control while I'm at work, and does more things around the house than I could ever mention.  And this week, Kathy ended her maternity leave and returned to part-time work herself!

Before Levi's birth on January 15, we already had a loving family that included a wonderful wife/mommy and the most adorable little girl on the planet.   Baby Levi was and is the perfect addition!