Sunday, August 19, 2007

What to Do on a Rainy Day

We were stuck inside on a rainy day. (Rain? In Seattle? Do tell!) So we decided to try something new with Oliver. We took a couple of big plastic bins - wide and shallow - and filled them with dry rice, beans, and other grainy stuff. Then we set them at chest-level on a table, put a whole bunch of measuring cups, spoons, funnels, and other gadgets in the bins and let Oliver loose on them.

(I will admit readily that we stole this idea. A few weeks ago, we went to the Bellevue Art Museum for their kid-friendly open house, and one of their toddler activities was a simple plastic bin filled with flax seed and an assortment of scoops and vessels. Oliver was completely absorbed in it, and we both immediately bookmarked the idea for later exploration.)

He loved it. Absolutely loved it. He poured rice and beans from one cup to the other, he filled up little clear tubes with stuff, he scooped and scooped and dug his hands into the rice. He made a complete mess on the floor, but it was all easy enough to sweep. The important point is that he was occupied for well over an hour, and would probably still be playing there if we hadn't packed it up for another day. (An added bonus of using airtight plastic bins: you can keep everything in there until next time.)

Here's the layout. We gave him funnels, measuring scoops and cups, a few random kitchen utensils, and several odd-sized cups. He played with every single thing we put in the bin.

The secret ingredient: pinto beans!
(And white rice, and barley, and some brown rice, too. Maybe even some couscous.)

Here's Oliver's very-very-serious expression as he carefully pours rice into a clear plastic tube.

You'd think he was conducting sub-atomic particle research,
from the look on his face.

Dad lends a hand.

And the verdict is ... great idea, mommy and daddy!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Five Years

We were married on the deck of a boat. We had found a judge who would marry us, and it was something like $200 for him to come to a location of our choosing, or $150 to do it on his houseboat in Shilshole Bay. So, of course, we went for the boat. Who wouldn't?

The sky was bluer than blue. The sun shone ferociously. It was a perfect Seattle summer day, eighty degrees and radiant, and we were gettin' hitched, floating on a boat in Puget Sound. That was five years ago, August 12th.

It was my brother, a friend, me and Mrs. B, and the judge. A five-person wedding party. I barely remember the words of the vows - he read the line, we repeated the line, and I kept staring at her in her beautiful dress, luminous in the sunlight. My feet barely touched the ground.

We had drinks at Ray's Boathouse, dropped off our wedding party of two, and headed down to a sumptuous dinner at Stanley & Seafort's in Tacoma. We spent our first night at a lush bed and breakfast - a mansion, literally. I remember feeling like we had gotten away with something.

In the morning, we had a private breakfast on a deck upstairs. Then we headed to the Oregon coast for a honeymoon of more B&Bs, more fantastic dinners, and four lighthouses in five days.

Since that day, lots has happened. I've changed jobs three times. We've moved three times. We've had Oliver, which has changed everything in our lives. We've had heartbreaking moments and moments of pure jubilation.

Some mornings, I still wake up and look over at this woman next to me, and I am filled with awe. Once, before I met her, I entertained the thought that I would never be married, never have a child, and I would be content with that. Now, I can't imagine my life without her or our son. Every one of my days is filled with joy - even if Oliver is incorrigible, even if my work is infuriating and exhausting, even if things happen that make my blood boil. My life is a joy. I have a wife who loves me and I have a son who is filled with wonder and curiosity and a seemingly unending supply of energy.

I am a lucky man.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Podcast of the Year

If you only listen to one podcast this year, listen to the latest episode of Coverville.

The show features covers of all manner of music. Sometimes they do a whole show dedicated to covers of one artist, sometimes it's genres. You get the picture. This episode is all kids' music and covers of kid's songs, and it features a couple of requests from yours truly. (Not to toot my own horn or anything, but how often do I get a shoutout on one of the most popular podcasts in the universe?) If you like music, or kid's music, or covers of Schoolhouse Rock tunes, you'll love it.