Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Lake Pend Oreille Trip

It seems impossible that we've been back from our trip to the lake for a week already... time is slipping away at record speed this summer!

We headed over to Idaho fairly early Thursday morning, started answering the "are we there questions" by downtown Seattle, dropped off Buca with my brother in Issaquah, and then continued our journey across Washington into northern Idaho. Driving through our state is a very impressive experience; you see everything from coastlines to deserts, to farmlands, to mountains, and an impressive canyon for the Columbia River to travel through. We saw a few wind farms, too, which really impressed Conor. About three hours into our journey, Annika looked toward the back of our car and exclaimed, "We don't have Buca! Where's Buca?" (Apparently, it didn't sink in that we'd left him with Troy at the beginning of our trek.... she was too busy asking how much longer until we'd be at the cabin.)

After many hours, we FINALLY arrived at the beloved cabin. It took a few minutes to say our hellos to my sister (who was wearing the exact same shirt I had on... we are SO connected!!!) and unpack the car. Before I could turn around twice, Annika had her swimsuit and life jacket in hand... and a look of hopeful expectation on her face. I think we were in the lake within 30 minutes of arriving, which is mighty impressive, if you ask me. The lake in August is the perfect temperature; refreshing, but not cold. We were in the lake each day of our visit and couldn't be happier about that fact.

A few hours after our arrival, two of our nieces—Abby and Anna—arrived from San Diego (via Boise). They had an even longer drive than we did, but still managed to have that "whee! we're at the cabin" aura about them. Abby was the driving force for our trip to the cabin this year. She's decided to try out her wings a bit and relocate to Nashville, TN. Knowing she'll be so much further away, we really wanted to see her before her big move and the cabin was the ideal way to make that happen.

On our first full day, Eric and I packed up the kids and headed into Sandpoint, ID to poke around and visit the Pend Oreille Winery for my annual supply of pinot grigio. OK, let's face it... everything we did in Sandpoint was secondary to me getting my wine. ;) We wound up visiting a fun fabric shop (and I got some material to make a couple of skirts), a toy shop (to keep the kids occupied while indoors), a cheese shop, and the winery (yippee!).

After a few hours, we ventured back to the cabin ... and the bees. Have I mentioned the bees yet?? This was the year of the yellow jackets. A few days before we left Seattle, my sister called and said how many yellow jackets there were this year and that she'd have to buy more traps when she went into town... the next day, she went to town to discover they were sold out of yellow jacket traps (whoa!!) so she asked if we could bring some over. I got the brilliant idea of ordering them online and having them arrive before we did so they could start thinning the population (thank you, Amazon Prime!). My theory of thinning the herd was a bit optimistic, however. We'd bait the traps with hot dogs at night when the bees were back at their hives. By 10 the next morning, each of our 6 traps was already half full with those flying annoyances. Amazing, no one got stung during our trip, which is pretty incredible considering how many of them were around at any given time. We noticed that when we woke up each morning, you could hear a distinct hum.... almost like a sound effect from a horror movie. It was crazy! The bees definitely impacted our activities: we didn't eat dinner on the patio and didn't hang out in the gazebo gazing at the lake like in years past. We did discover that the end of the dock was a safe place to relax, which was perfect for all of our swimming activities! On Sunday, Suzanne, Eric, and I had lunch at the marina; Suzanne ordered a salad that had smoked salmon. One yellow jacket was so brazen that it landed on her plate, ignored our waving hands, and started to drag a piece of fish off of her plate!! Needless to say, we grabbed our plates and headed inside at that point. Being the victims of a lunch hijacking was definitely not in our plans for the day!

When not swimming and plotting against the yellow jacket population, we played games, went for walks, and generally relaxed.... which is what the cabin is all about. We had a real treat when Anna pulled out her ukulele. Our kids were HIGHLY impressed with Anna's "little guitar"... and she was a great sport letting our kids have a turn strumming it.

On Sunday, we packed up fairly early so we could get Abby to the Spokane airport in time for her flight to Nashville, so she could go apartment hunting. Knowing her flight wasn't going to wait, definitely made our morning more focused than it otherwise would have been. We had an easy drive home, and Conor even slept for a bit of it (thanks to the Dramamine, I'm sure!!). Annika had her chorus of "how much further?" questions, but they were fewer and further between than on our way to the cabin... I think she was too worn out to notice the time and miles passing by.

Annika enjoying the lake

Suzanne enjoying a bee-free zone

Dive, Eric, Dive!

Conor taking the plunge into the lake

Quite impressive diving form, if you ask me!

The lake offers the most spectacular sunsets!


Eric and the kids enjoying the hammock

Annika was just keeping the sun out of her eyes... she wasn't being overly patriotic

Dry... soon to be wet

Anna and Abby catching some rays

One of our swim-free activities was bubbles; these bubble guns were a huge hit

Roasting hot dogs over a fire

Photo opp!

Abby and Conor having fun

Anna helping Conor explore his musical side

Anna was not as impressed with Eric's strumming abilities

While building a campfire, Eric discovered this little lizard;
naturally, he had to bring it up to the cabin so we
could meet his new little buddy


Annika says s'mores are YUMMMY

Did I mention the gorgeous sunsets?


Auntie Suzanne and Conor walking to the newspaper box

Conor throwing rocks into the lake

Splashing is fun

Our little fish boy

In, out, in, out, in, out... Conor's lake to dock pattern

Canon ball!

Splashing Daddy is mighty fun!

Eric playing Ian ball with the kids

Abby showing offer her gymnastic abilities

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Today's "Didn't-Quite-Make-It-To-The-Waterfront" Photo Excursion

I've realized something about this photo journey that I'm on... not only is it challenging me to grow my photography skills, but it is also a great way to force me to work on overcoming my shyness. Yes, I know. Meredith? Shy?? Come on! It's true. I am painfully shy, but it is something I'm working on, so there's something to be said about that!

Today, I wandered in a bit of a square, ironically through parts of Pioneer Square. My initial goal was to hit the waterfront, but I didn't get anywhere near that point. My first distraction was a little courtyard next to my office building that I'd never really noticed before. There is a neat rockery display that I thought might make a nice photo (it turned out meh... and the rocks digging into my knees made me not feel the need to remain overly dedicated to that shot); while I was there, though, a seagull decided to swoop down and take a drink in the little water feature that I (once again) hadn't noticed. I took a few photos of the gull drinking and then got a real treat when it took to flight. Now we're talkin'!

Up, up, and away

Bye, Bye, Birdie!
(Nothing like Broadway musical references to make a day great!)

Still thinking the waterfront was where I needed to be, I headed a few blocks west, and once again, got distracted. This time, by Smith Tower, which used to be the tallest building west of the Mississippi (true story!). I've tried photographing Smith Tower before, but always had power lines obscuring the view; this time, I found the right spot.

Smith Tower, built 1914

Across the street from my Smith Tower vantage point, I noticed a wonderfully old fashioned red water fountain. It had character galore and I knew it needed my lens' attention. While photographing the fountain, I realized I could capture a reflection of me taking the photos and an obscured reflection of Smith Tower... even better!

Big Red

Hello, me! 

I meandered further down the street and met a very outgoing guy peddling BBQ for one of the Pioneer Square restaurants. He beckoned me to "come on over and have some of the best BBQ in town", but alas, I had no money (and had already eaten lunch). He wasn't one to give up easily, and offered to have me try a bite, just so I could see how good it is. I did and he was right! I'll have to visit that place for lunch one of these days! I wonder if they do take-out... hmm....

I ran into a man unloading supplies for the Seattle Fire Department and asked (once again, working on that shy thing) if there were any fire-y items I could photograph. He explained that he's a civilian working for the fire department (who knew they wear uniforms?) and pointed me to the closest fire house... one that I know well from my morning commutes. After walking a couple of blocks, searching for the front door, and giving myself a pep talk, I rang the buzzer and explained I had a random question... and then proceeded to explain 365 Project to the fireman at the other end of the intercom. He very kindly offered to let me take a few photos of his gear. He pulled his boots and helmet out of a fire engine and I began to snap photos. While I was there, an alarm went off and one of the fire trucks sped off to respond to a call... talk about exciting!

Look closely to see the red lights of the truck leaving the station

Gear with fire truck background

I like the sepia tone here ... it gives the photo an old-fashioned feel

Me getting artsy-fartsy with the photo effects
As you can see, plenty kept me away from the waterfront today, but it was definitely worthwhile!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Annika's Birthday (pt 3)

On Saturday, we had Annika's third of three birthday celebrations... the family party.

The night before, Eric and I worked on her cake, which according to Annika, needed a dinosaur and an egg. OK... gotcha! Fortunately for our little girl, her daddy is quite the artist and sculpting a dinosaur out of fondant didn't send him into cold sweats, which it certainly would have done to her mother! While Eric conquered the fondant work, I took care of stacking and frosting the cake. We let the fondant creations dry over night and then Eric used my airbrush to paint the dinosaur, baby, and egg the morning of the party. I must say that we were mighty pleased with how the whole thing turned out. We were a bit stressed about how we'd get the mama dinosaur onto the cake (Eric used an empty cake pan as his modeling platform) but it worked out!

Around 3 o'clock, the family started rolling in and the associated noise and fun ensued. There were 12 of us in all, yet we probably had enough food for about 25! We had bratwurst, cucumber salad, spinach salad, garlic bread, tuna pasta salad, and (of course) dinosaur cake!

Between dinner and cake, Annika opened her much-anticipated presents. We have one very fortunate girl to have such generous family members!! She received a variety of books (math, mazes, kindergarten skills, Junie B. Jones), wonderful clothes, an art kit, and Hello Kitty pajamas. The girl couldn't have been happier if she tried.

Eric sculpting the mama dinosaur

Finished cake

I love how Eric decided to have the mama's legs wrap around the edge of the cake

Eric helping Annika read the cards

What is it?? What is it??


Of course, she had to put one of the new dresses on right away

Hello Kitty pajamas that she has worn each night since her party

Awaiting the arrival of her cake

The candles were out before Eric had the cake on the
table ... our girl doesn't waste time when cake is involved!


Collective nouns: A gaggle of geese, a pack of wolves, a pile of cousins.