Early Fall Update
Autumn has come to Portland, and it is great! I love seeing the leaves change color and not having to worry about watering our garden. I just recently switched all of our outside containers to fall/winter plants, and now our kitchen is full of tender succulents and little coleus cuttings, which I'm hoping to overwinter indoors.
This past weekend was beautiful--sunny and cool. On Sunday, we went on our third annual apple-picking adventure at Kiyokawa Orchards near Hood River. The 90-minute drive out there would have been great if it weren't for the two whining children in the backseat. Luckily, they slept on the drive home.
Apple picking itself was fun. The boys enjoyed riding in a wagon, and we sampled some delicious apples. Many of the U-pick apples were already done for the year due to warm weather, but we picked Liberty and Fuji apples and then bought some Swiss Gourmets at the farm store. Patrick turned them all into applesauce last night.
We had lunch at Apple Valley BBQ, which is a mile or so from the orchard. The boys were antsy at first, but then the hostess turned on the model train that circles the restaurant walls, and Arlo and Felix were transfixed for the rest of the meal. Good food and a train that hypnotizes children? We're totally going there again the next time we go apple picking!
Just as we were finishing up our lunch, the Parkdale Excursion Train pulled up at the train museum across the street. It apparently runs from Hood River to Parkdale; that could be a fun outing when the boys are a little older.
For now, we've had our fill of train trips. At the end of August, I took the boys to visit my mom and Alan in central California on Amtrak's Coast Starlight. We had enjoyed our Montana train trip so much, I figured it would be fun to go on one more summertime adventure and give Patrick a little time to himself (I would have spent this no-kid time watching movies and eating crappy food; Patrick went bike camping).
As it turns out, our children enjoy train rides for the first 18 hours or so (much of that spent sleeping), but anything longer than that is unacceptable. The ride to Paso Robles was 24 hours long, and we spent the last six hours just barely keeping it together. I packed lots of new toys and distractions, which helped a little, but the boys still ended up hitting each other, crying, throwing toys, etc. Having a sleeper car and all meals provided in the dining car made things somewhat easier (I can't imagine making the same trip in coach), but I'd only do it again if Patrick came along and we had two sleeper cars so we could keep the boys separated. On the bright side, we got to see Nana and Papa Baer (and the beach) in the middle of the trip, and that part was wonderful!
We also had a visit from Grandpa Rick (Patrick's dad) and Sunnie a week ago, and we've got a visit with my dad lined up in November. I wish we lived closer to everybody, but we're all happy with our current locations, so we'll just have to make the best of it!
Felix is coming up on 17 months already, and he has been developing more of a personality in the last few months. He hums "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" when he's eating, and he's super affectionate. He likes to nuzzle Patches, and he'll crawl up to us and hug our legs and give us nose kisses. So sweet!
He is obsessed with vehicles like his brother, but he's going through an unfortunate throwing phase, and he has already broken some of Arlo's little cars and trucks. The remaining vehicles are now tucked away safely for Arlo to play with during Felix's naps.
When Felix gets frustrated, he gets way angrier than I remember Arlo getting at this age; hopefully Felix's toddler years won't be too tumultuous. He thinks it's funny to bite things (and people) right now, but hopefully that will go away once he's done getting his molars in (two down, two to go). He uses our poor couch like a chew toy, but so far it doesn't look any worse for wear.
Still no walking, but I think it'll happen any day now (right on schedule, based on when Arlo started). A little over a month ago, Felix started standing unsupported and doing baby downward dog, and he is a pro at walking holding onto somebody's hand (he and Arlo were walking around the house holding hands yesterday afternoon; so sweet!). Such a fun time!
When we saw baby Greta in Montana, she taught Felix how to drink out of a straw, and we learned the "all done" sign from her. A few weeks later, Felix started signing "all done" at meals--so useful! It makes me wish we had taught him other signs too. I guess there's still time.
He has also been picking up new words. His latest: kitty, cooler, and crocodile (sounds like "duckaduckadye"). I think Arlo's vocabulary really took off around 18 months; I wonder if it will be the same with Felix.
Arlo is coming up on three and a half, and he's learning new things all the time, but we haven't had any big changes in behavior or skills over the past few months. He is full of questions these days, which can be exhausting. He insisted on wearing blue tank tops all summer, but now he has branched out to green tank tops, and maybe a long-sleeved jammie shirt if he's in the right mood. Amazingly, he agreed to wear his suit jacket (over a blue tank top) for preschool picture day last week. Now if only I could get him to wear a bow tie!
Although he's not very forthcoming about what he learns at preschool, he gives us clues every so often. He likes to pretend that we're at school--he and I are the teachers, and Felix is the student. Every so often, he'll start singing a song I've never heard before, but when I ask him to sing more, he says he doesn't remember it. He still resists going to school in the mornings, but I think he's getting more comfortable with it now that he's more used to the other kids and knows their names.
Samantha, our nanny, still comes two days a week so I can get a little work done. Last week, she helped Arlo set up a little book store. He doesn't understand how much things normally cost yet, so some of the books cost a couple dollars, and some are sixty-plus dollars. Pricy!
I've been working on a few different crafty projects in my free time. I'm trying to decrease my yarn stash before buying any new yarn, so I knit a pom-pom hat using Lee's handspun and her free Scant pattern.
I've made a couple more freezer-paper-stenciled shirts. In my last post, I mentioned that I'd made Arlo a shirt featuring his favorite yellow farmers' market truck, from Denison Farms. When he wore this shirt to the market, one of the nice guys at the stand fell in love with it and requested the same shirt in his size (in exchange for produce). I brought him his shirt the next week, and he was so excited. It was great :) As it turns out, this is the last year at the market for this particular truck. Next year, they'll have a bigger truck, and it will be white with a blue cab. I'm glad we had a chance to say goodbye to the yellow truck. It's going to spend the rest of its years puttering around the farm.
I also made Arlo a tree shirt to wear to future Friends of Trees plantings with Patrick, but Arlo refuses to wear it because he does not like trees (and he doesn't think they're pretty). I'm surprised Patrick didn't kick him out of the house for that kind of blasphemy!
I recently organized my fabric collection using comic book boards, which was very satisfying, but also a little dismaying--I need to start sewing again to use up all of this fabric! To that end (and because winter is coming), I've been working on a vehicle-themed quilt for Arlo's bed. I've got all of the blocks finished, so I just need to assemble the quilt now. I'm trying not to lose momentum (it helps to think of my poor child shivering in bed at night). More on that soon.
And a few new late-summer recipes to share:
- Beef fajitas and corn on the grill - a relatively easy, good summer meal
- Braised red potatoes with scallions and miso, served with salmon and a salad - very nice; the potatoes turned out fluffy and a little sweet
- Plum cake redux - this was similar to plum torte I made two years ago (aww, baby Arlo!). I'm not sure which I like better. I guess I'll have to make them both again next summer and compare!