Monday, June 29, 2009

Letters Update

Thank you to everyone who had suggestions for where to get large magnetic letters. Julie's comment led me to what I wanted on Amazon, but their shipping time was longer than I wanted. But then I thought- "Duh! I should go to a teaching supply store." Which is what I did on Saturday. Pumpkin is thrilled with her new letters. And also with the new book and CD I bought. All I can say is that teaching supply stores are dangerous places for mothers fighting off colds and looking for things to keep active little toddlers occupied with minimal adult energy expenditure required. I narrowly escaped without purchasing a new puzzle, which I'm sure Pumpkin would also love but wouldn't have been necessary since the ones she already has are still occupying her just fine.

I think these shots of our newly decorated fridge should explain why the Leap Frog letters wouldn't work for us (although several of Pumpkin's friends have them and love them):

She likes to arrange her magnets by letter and by color. The girl needs to categorize things, and line them up. She's less particular about which direction the letters point. (In her defense, she has been learning new letters. She has added A and M to the letters she can recognize.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Feeling Fragile

One of my weirdest pregnancy symptoms is an increased feeling of fragility. I am much more aware of risks, and much more likely to think about risks so insignificant that they're rather silly (e.g., the risk of a car crashing through my bedroom window while we sleep). The feeling is not overwhelming or all-encompassing. One part of my brain comes up with these implausible scenarios, and another part is raising its eyebrows, saying "Really? We're going to worry about this?"

I noticed the fragile feeling the first time around, and thought that perhaps this was just a part of becoming a parent- suddenly, my life seems more important because there is a small, vulnerable other life depending on me. The feeling persisted a bit after I gave birth, even expanded to include the fragility of my new baby, but then it faded away to more normal parent worries.

I'd mostly forgotten the odd fragile feeling until it came roaring back at about month 4 or 5 of this pregnancy. This makes me think that the feeling is related to hormone levels and not just the knowledge of impending life changes. This is really annoying (it is not a fun feeling) but also very interesting. I wonder if anyone is looking at the impact of hormones on anxiety disorders? I think (but am not sure and certainly don't have the reference to back this up) that women are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men. Could it be the impact of our hormones? If so, does the fact that I experience a specialized increase in anxiety give any clues about which hormones are to blame? I wonder if there is anything in this that would help find new treatments for people who suffer from these disorders?

Some times I really miss being more involved in exploratory research. There was a time in my life (even in my post-grad school working life) when I could easily have justified spending a work afternoon seeing what the literature said about all of this.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Little Things

I was going to write a post about how am finding this pregnancy much harder than the first one (yeah, it isn't all sweetness and light here). I've never really gotten my energy back, although I do now find it possible to get off the sofa in the evenings. I haven't really found the right combination of meals and snacks to keep me feeling good. I'm feeling guilty for not pausing to enjoy the little kicks and punches that baby #2 is throwing- its like this baby is already playing second fiddle, even while still in the womb. Hubby is chaffing a bit under the strain of having to do even more around the house than he was doing before, and we're struggling to find our new routines even as we both know that it is only going to get harder when baby #2 is born. It is not that this pregnancy is more difficult in any large way, it is that the little inconveniences of pregnancy are harder to deal with this time around.

But I'm finding that I don't really have as much to say about this topic as I thought I did. Its hard. So what? Every time I listen to the news on NPR or read the Economist or even my local news website, I'm reminded of how good I have it. It seems churlish to complain. So instead, I'll share the thing that brightened my otherwise annoying work day today: an email from Modest Needs telling me that an application I'd contributed some money to a couple of months ago had been funded. A single mother in Florida had gotten her rent money. I hope it helps her get her grounding.

The email came in just before I closed up for the day. I left to pick up Pumpkin at day care feeling better than my flagging energy levels would have indicated. And to top it off, one of Pumpkin's friends came in as we were getting ready to leave, short-circuiting the "play with the magnetic letters" session that Pumpkin was getting started and getting us out the door and into our car in time to miss the worst of the evening traffic.

Pumpkin is really enjoying letters right now. She knows W, O, U, and H. She enjoys seeing traffic signs, because they have the "ABCDEFGs" on them. She particularly likes "One Way" signs, because W is her favorite letter. I clearly need to get her some magnetic letters for the refrigerator at home. I'm not having much luck finding big ones that are safe for kids under 3, though. Anyone know where I can find these? Preferably online? Pumpkin's not putting that many things in her mouth anymore, but I really like the idea of something that might keep her occupied without causing any worry while I cook dinner.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Zenbit: Canyon

Location: Waimea Canyon, Kaua'i, Hawai'i
December 28, 2008

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I've been thinking a lot lately about why I'm happy. Or more specifically, why I'm happy with my life when so many other people I know don't seem to be. We're all above the income level at which research indicates money stops to be a primary reason for unhappiness- at about $50,000/year, apparently, you're as happy as you'll be at $1 million/year. Once you get past the point where you're no longer worrying about how you're going to pay for the necessities and can afford a few niceties, more money doesn't make you happier. Or at least that's what the research I remember reading says- unfortunately, I can't dig up the article right now, it has been buried in Google under a bunch of articles about more recent research showing that giving money away makes you happy. (Interestingly, I also found some articles about research showing that a feeling of financial insecurity can make you unhappy regardless of your income level... there's definitely more to think about there).

And then an uproar broke out in the momosphere about whether or not work-at-home moms have it easier than work-outside-the-home moms, with a little bit of "hey, being a stay-at-home mom is no piece of cake, either." (You can see some of the posts on this topic here and here.) My opinion on this is that what works for one woman and her family may be an utter disaster for another woman and her family and that all of these momming options have their pluses and minuses. The trick is to figure out which one has the right combinatin of pluses and minuses for YOU and then ignore the rest of the world as it tells you that your choice is either irretrievably damaging your child(ren) or undermining the cause of women's equality. I'd say that parenthood in general is no cake walk, but I think of my single and/or childless friends (and my own pre-child life), and I have to ammend that to say that life is no cake walk. Everyone has problems, and there is no way to live your life and guarantee that it will be problem-free.

As I was reading the comments on the various blog posts in the latest round of the WAHM vs WOHM vs SAHM argument, I was struck by how many mothers sound genuinely miserable and even bitter about their lives. Sure, there was a lot of venting and some oneupmanship, but there was also a lot of genuine pain. I'd read what the WOHMs wrote and think that their lives didn't sound that different from mine. So why am I happy when they clearly are not?

It also made me think back to graduate school, and the ongoing discussions about why there aren't more women in science. One of the reasons often put forward is that it is so difficult to comine a career in science with motherhood. In graduate school, I believed that reason, and in fact was spooked by it. I seriously considered changing careers or deciding not to have kids. Now that I am in fact combining a career in science with motherhood, I have to say, it is nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. It is not perfect, and there are certainly changes in policy and attitudes that would make it easier, but Hubby and I are managing just fine. However, I know that there are women who would read that last sentance and wonder what planet I live on. Why is there such a difference?

I've pondered on this for awhile. I don't think I have the answers, but I have some ideas. Here are the five main reasons I think I'm content when so many others are not:

1. I had genuine choices
I actually could have chosen to be a SAHM or a WAHM. We did not buy our house until Pumpkin was about 4 months old. Before we bought the house, our finances would have allowed me to be a SAHM (or Hubby to be a SAHD). It was abundantly clear to me by the time we bought the house that I was not meant to be a SAHM. I have never felt so incompetent at a job in my life. I have to assume I would have gotten better at it, but even now, an entire day alone with Pumpkin leaves me utterly exhausted and with a nagging feeling that I am not doing enough fun and enriching activities with her. I have nothing but respect for SAHMs, but it is not a job that plays to my strengths, to say the least.

The job I went back to would have allowed me to work from home. I chose to go into the office. I was never able to get much done when I was trying to work and care for the baby at the same time. I just don't multitask that well, I guess. And given Pumpkin's poor sleep habits, if I did manage to get her to nap without my constant help (as opposed to with me holding her, bouncing her in her bouncy chair, or pushing her in her stroller) and there was a bed RIGHT THERE, I was going to sleep in it, not do work. Therefore, the only way I could have worked from home was to send Pumpkin to day care. Once I did that, I didn't see much advantage to working from home, and I liked how it was easier to define work time and home time if I went to the office.

So for me, being a WOHM is the right decision, and I have the experiences to make me really confident in that decision. Actually, of all the decisions that made me a WOHM, the one I made with the least information was the decision to be a mom. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I chose to stop taking those pills! But I wouldn't change that decision for anything. I love being a mom.

2. I have money
My job pays well enough that I can afford excellent day care. Once I got over the initial weirdness of leaving Pumpkin with strangers, I've never had reason to worry about how she spends her day. She is absolutely thriving at day care. And the workers there aren't strangers anymore. Not all working moms get to have this peace of mind, which I think is a sad statement on our society.

I also have enough money to pay a housecleaning service and to pay for other little conveniences that make the working parent juggle a little bit easier. Believe me, I know what a big difference this makes- it took me ages to convince Hubby to get the cleaners, and I am still amazed at what a difference having them makes.

3. I have an equal partner at home
Hubby and I have always split the household chores fairly evenly, and he is a fully involved parent. He does chores because they need to be done, not because he is "helping". He takes care of Pumpkin as much as I do. It is just a given that he will sometimes stay home with Pumpkin when she is sick. Best of all- he thinks that it is obvious that this is how it should be. We still manage to squabble over the division of household labor, but those squabbles start from an assumption that we should both be doing our equal share. I can't imagine being a working mother without a partner like this.

4. We have a great extended support network.
My mom (who is retired) will fly over to provide back up day care if Pumpkin is sick. This is wonderful, because it helps us have some actual vacation days as opposed to nothing but sick days. My parents also come over to give us a chance to catch up on our to do list and to give us weekends away. My sister lives in town, and will babysit for us and also just come over and help entertain Pumpkin if we're needing it. We have a wonderful group of friends who will watch Pumpkin for us, too. And on top of all that- most of the teachers at Pumpkin's day care will babysit. Pumpkin has had some teachers that she really loves. It is wonderful to walk out the door for a night out leaving her with someone she is so happy to be with.

5. I've been very lucky with my jobs/bosses
I got what I asked for in terms of my maternity leave and part time arrangement on my return. No one ever questioned the time I spent pumping. Although one of my younger coworkers teases me about how he could set his watch by the time I get up and leave for the day, he is just joking. No one who matters has ever questioned my dedication to my work. I have received two excellent performance reviews and raises since becoming a working mother. I don't think this is because I am some sort of superwoman- I have certainly had my share of fuzzy, sleep-deprived days. I manage to continue meeting expectations at work, and I have had bosses who have been reasonable in setting those expectations and have not been looking for examples of how I've dropped the ball since becoming a mother.

When I think back to the stories I heard in grad school about how hard it would be to combine career and motherhood, I now think that most of the problems that were raised were really plain old-fashioned sexism masquerading as something less offensive. I have certainly run into sexism in my career, but I have been lucky in that the most egregious instances happened earlier in my career, before I had a family that could be used as an excuse to attack me. I fervently hope my good fortune continues on this front.

None of this is to say that my life is perfect, or that I don't think there are some policies in the U.S. that desperately need changing. I'd like to write another post about that, but it will have to wait for another time. I'd also like to write a post about what I'd tell the "grad school me" who was so freaked out about how hard it would be to combine my chosen career and motherhood. I know that "it will all work out" would not have comforted me back then, and I'd like to write more about the decisions I made and some of the things I do that have helped make it all work out. That will also have to wait for another time. If I get around to writing those posts, I'll come back and put links to them here.
Update: I did finally write one post with my thoughts about how I keep my work week to roughly 40 hours.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Veggie... Maybe

I have written before about how Pumpkin is living up to her inheritance (or inflicting my own food karma on me) by being a very picky eater. We have yet to find a veggie she'll eat- she won't even touch my old favorites: corn and potatoes, which I know hardly count as veggies these days. I decided that maybe Pumpkin won't eat vegetables because she honestly doesn't like the taste. I can't say I'd choose a plate of veggies as dinner, either (sorry, Mom). So I am going to start trying to hide the flavor.

We tried our first experiment with this today- broccoli with cheese sauce. It worked... sort of. I definitely liked the broccoli better that way! Pumpkin tried her "little trees" and didn't spit them out. But she didn't have a second bite, either. I'm not sure if it was selling them as little trees or the cheese sauce that did the trick. Either way, I think we'll try again soon. I need to practice on my cheese sauce making technique, though. I couldn't see going through the trouble of a real cheese sauce for this experiment (sorry, whole foods fans) and I had a half-used box of Velveeta in the fridge, so I used that. I needed to add more milk, though. The sauce got way too thick and plastic-like as it cooled. Maybe Pumpkin would have had a second bite if the sauce was nicer. Hubby certainly didn't like it- he scraped it off his little trees.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Second String

For about a month now, I've been the first string bedtime person in our house. If I'm in the house at bedtime, Pumpkin insists that I should be the one to get her to sleep.

In fact, she's in a bit of a mommy-centric phase all around.

However, my parents came over this weekend to see Pumpkin. Pumpkin was thrilled to see her Mimi and Boppa again- its been couple of months since they were last over. And suddenly, I've been demoted to second string. Tonight, I was allowed to read the bedtime stories, but when it was time for her to go to sleep, she wanted Mimi. I said, "Pumpkin, its time to get in bed. Mommy will snuggle you to sleep." And she said, "I wan' Mimi to snuggle me," and went to the door. "Hopen it," she demanded. When I opened the door, she called out "Miii-miii!" much like she usually calls "Mooo-meee!" when Hubby tries to get her to sleep.

I ceded my spot in the bedroom without complaint. I suppose I could be hurt by my new second string status. But really, its been great- I've gotten heaps done this weekend. (This is , in fact, why my parents are here this weekend. Hubby and I have a massive to do list and we weren't making much progress on it with Pumpkin always trying to help us.)

My parents go home on Tuesday. I suspect I'll be back to my first string status at bedtime. But it sure will be hard to go back to getting almost nothing done!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

If I Needed More Evidence That I Should Watch What I Say....

I've been trying to make sure that I do what I can around the house, because Hubby has been picking up more of the household work than seems fair, even when you factor the whole "I'm growing another person" argument into the equation. I, for instance, haven't done dishes in weeks. Maybe even in over a month. So I put myself down to cook on Monday and tonight. These were easy dinners- Monday was tortellini (Pumpkin's favorite!) and a red sauce that I make by browning some garlic and dumping a couple of cans of crushed tomatoes on top. Tonight's dinner was one of my reliable Cooking Light quick and easy recipes- a chicken and rice dish that you make in one skillet and that takes even less time than the 30 minutes advertised on the recipe.

When I cook, I also have to come up with ways that Pumpkin can "help", because I'm usually starting dinner before Hubby gets home and Pumpkin is absolutely not interested in entertaining herself while I cook. She pulls a chair over to the counter and I get a bunch of measuring cups and spoons out. And then I try to get creative and come up with things she can do without making too much of a mess or endangering herself while also maintaining the illusion that she is actually helping, not hindering, me. On Monday, I decided to have her help me "measure" the herbs for the red sauce I was making. The amounts don't need to be precise, so I gave her a little liquid measuring cup (it measures up to a few tablespoons) and let her dump herbs into that. When I wanted to add some sugar to my sauce, I asked her to find me the tablespoon, explaining that it was the biggest measuring spoon she had. I was actually pretty impressed when that explanation worked and she handed me the correct spoon. She was pretty proud of herself, too.

Today, she was standing on the same chair, playing with the same spoons and cups. I once again asked her to find me the biggest measuring spoon. She did, and as she handed it to me she said "that's a tablespoon" and gave me a big grin. I'd never tried to tell her what a tablespoon is before Monday. Either they've been teaching about measurements at day care, or I have to be much more careful about what I say when she's around.


I have to also share another cute Pumpkinism, which I meant to include in Monday's post. When she doesn't tell someone that she has a poopy diaper and the diaper stays dirty a little too long, she tends to get a (fairly mild) diaper rash. We've tried to teach her to tell someone to change her diaper right away, so that she doesn't get an "owie on her bottom". (I realized once that to a stranger listening to us say "Pumpkin, you have to get your diaper changed RIGHT NOW or you'll get an owie on your bottom" might get the wrong idea and think we were going to actually inflect said owie... but by the time I realized this the phrase was too engrained in our family way of talking, and so we still use it, and just hope strangers give us the benefit of the doubt.)

Pumpkin has now started using the phrase, except when she says it, she doesn't have a bottom- she's going to get an owie on her "bobbin". Which really amuses me- I get this image of a little spool of thread where her bottom should be.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Trip Story: Salem and Newport

This is the second part of our Oregon trip story. The first part covers our visit to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge.

We needed a stop between the Gorge and the coast, so we spent one night in Salem. It was a good stop in terms of limiting the amount of driving we did in any one day. However, it was not quite as interesting as I'd hoped it would be. I'd chosen to stop in Salem because our guidebook mentioned a couple of good sounding kids-friendly sights: a carousel and the A.G. Gilbert Children's museum. The carousel was indeed a hit- it was Pumpkin's first ride on a carousel, so we chose a horse that didn't go up and down. She is still telling us occasionally about how she rode on a horsey and it went "'roun' and 'roun' and 'roun'", most memorably when she was almost asleep a few nights ago. She was lying next to me, playing with my hair, and I thought she was basically asleep. I was thinking I could extract my hair from her grip and get up. Then she sat bolt upright and announced in her best outside voice "I rode on a horsey and it went roun' and roun' and roun'!" Clearly, we should visit our local carousel sometime.

The children's museum had a lot of potential, too. They had great exhibits, most of which had at least some appeal for kids as young as Pumpkin. She particularly liked the room that used an infrared sensor (I think) to show outlines of the people in the room, with a short time history of movement. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but we didn't have time to try to get a better one, because approximately 20 school age kids were about to pile into the room:

And that was the problem with the museum. They had a sign up when we arrived warning that it was a "high volume" day, and they weren't joking. There were at least three school groups there. It is not a big place. We let Pumpkin check out some of the main exhibits, but then we escaped to the relative peace of the toddler room- she was the only toddler there, and thankfully, the staff and/or school group monitors kept the few big kids who wanted to come in from doing so. We left the museum feeling like it really hadn't been worth the stop- it was clearly a very cool museum, but not on the day we visited.

Hubby was a little more pleased with the stop in Salem than I was, because he got to go see the state capitol building (he's "collecting" these) and because he really liked the brew pub where we ate lunch before leaving town (the Ram Restaurant and Big Horn Brewery).

The stay in Newport was more universally successful. Due to a slight miscommunication when booking our room, we had a two bedroom suite, so Pumpkin had her own room, which was nice. The suite also had an amazing view:

This was a good thing, because it was far too windy to spend any significant time on the beach. Pumpkin and Hubby did go down for a short visit, but the main thing Pumpkin took from that was that she climbed back up the stairs from the beach ALL BY HERSELF.

The sea lions on the bayfront were also a big hit. Pumpkin liked to mimic their sound. At first, she thought they say "Ar, ar, ar", but after watching them for awhile over two days, she decided that they really say "Mmm, mmmm, mmm", which may not be as cute, but is more accurate.

One of the reasons I picked Newport as our destination on the Oregon coast was the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This was definitely not a disappointment- well, except for the bit where the octopus was hiding. Pumpkin still tells me that we didn't see the octopus, because he was asleep. We did see sea otters, sea lions, puffins, and lots and lots of fish, though. Pumpkin was particularly impressed with the walk-through "tunnels"- "I see fishies TUMMIES!"

My only real complaint with Newport is that we couldn't find a playground. We asked at our hotel, and were led seriously astray. So we Googled, and found a potential playground up the coast a bit at a state beach. We headed out to check out the beach and the playground, planning to visit one of Newport's two lighthouses on our way back. Well, the beach was so windy that Pumpkin couldn't even look straight ahead and the playground turned out to be deep inside the campground at the beach. We walked and walked and eventually found it. It was empty except for us and some workers installing new toddler equipment. Luckily, Pumpkin (who'd been told we were going to a playground, and wasn't about to let us forget that) didn't seem to mind. You can't tell in this picture, but she's jumping on the bridge, perhaps a bit perplexed by its definite non-bounciness (most of the bridges at the playgrounds we frequent at home bounce):

We did stop at the lighthouse on our way back. I'd post a picture, but it was too windy to take any nice ones.

Despite the constant gale force wind anytime we got near the actual coast, we enjoyed our stay in Newport, and left satisfied with our visit. We wanted to see at least one other spot on the coast, so we stopped in at Depoes Bay for lunch on our way back to Portland. We noted the continuing presence of the strong wind, appreciated the picturesque "world's smallest harbor", looked for but failed to see the blowholes our guidebook mentioned, bought me a final bag full of salt water taffy (why don't we sell that at the beach here?) and left the coast ready for some warmer, less gusty weather, which we found almost as soon as we turned the car inland. I'll write up our impressions of Portland later.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Pumpkin Shorts

I'll finish writing up the Oregon trip soon. Tonight, though, I give you some short stories about Pumpkin:

1. Today, while I was cooking dinner, Pumpkin decided to color on her little notebook. On the sofa. Luckily, the combination of washable markers and microfiber sofa meant that this cleaned up with a quick wipe with a wet cloth.

Better living through chemistry!

2. Pumpkin has taken to calling Hubby and me "honey". I recognize that this is completely my fault, since I commonly start sentences directed at her with "honey". So now we hear things like "Oh! Honey! There are stars on this!" and "Honey! I wan' more milk."

I think it is pretty funny, but it is bothering Hubby, perhaps because she has also started calling him by his given name sometimes, once again clearly copying me. I'm still "Mommy", possibly because she can't say my given name. We've explained that "Daddy" is a special name only she can use for him, and that it is better than "honey" or his given name. I'm also trying to cut down on my use of "honey". And, reluctantly, I've started calling Hubby "Daddy" more often.

3. This weekend, we explained to Pumpkin that we're going to have a baby. I brought out I'm a Big Sister, by Joanna Cole. Pumpkin loves the book- I've read it at least 10 times since I got it out yesterday.

If you ask Pumpkin what is in Mommy's tummy, she'll say "a baby!" And if you as her where our baby is, she says "in Mommy's tummy! On the inside." The last bit is to differentiate from having a baby in your tummy on the outside, which she has demonstrated to us using her Little People baby.

Today, I ordered another book about a new baby coming: Waiting for Baby, by Annie Kubler. The Amazon reviews said that the text-free nature of the book made it easy to use to tell your own "there's a new baby coming" story. We'll see what Pumpkin thinks.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Managerial Parent (or Parental Manager?)

I have lots of ideas for posts right now, but not a lot of energy to write them. So I'll content myself with this one observation:

Parenting books and management training have a lot in common.

The ideas about working with people's personalities instead of against them discussed in the book I mentioned yesterday (Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka) are as relevant for dealing with the adults at work as with the kids at home.

The conflict resolution techniques discussed in Siblings Without Rivalry (another much recommended parenting book, this one by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish) and in the management training course I took last year are almost identical.

I think I should add these things to my earlier list of transferable skills that one learns as a parent.

I don't know what the management training equivalent of all the sleep books is, though. Maybe those fadish books about how to go from "good to great" or similar such things? Both types of books imply a universal solution to individual situations.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Trip Story: Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge

This week has been a frustrating one at work, and Pumpkin has entered a new phase of two-ness- now, with extra stubbornness focus*! And less sleep**! Right now, the thought of writing up our entire trip to Oregon is too daunting, so I'll do it a little bit at a time.

After a delightful day and a half visiting friends in the suburbs of Portland, we headed to Mount Hood. We were extremely lucky with weather during our entire trip- we only had one rainy day. The day we drove to Mount Hood was beautiful and sunny, and the mountain was spectacular:

The real reason for the drive, though, was to introduce our little SoCal girl to snow. She talked excitedly about this plan during our drive up: "We go to MOUNTAIN. We see SNOW." She was excited to see the snow from the window of the car as we drove toward Timberline Lodge. When we actually got her out of the car and into the snow, though, she was less impressed. She didn't really want to stand in the snow, and she certainly didn't want to touch it. If you ask her about the trip now, she'll tell you (with some prompting) that she went to a mountain and she saw snow and "I not touch it."

On the bright side, Pumpkin's refusal to play in the snow made us head in for lunch a little early. We beat the crowds and had our lunch at possibly the best table in the house.

After lunch, we left the mountain and drove on to Hood River. We bought Pumpkin the first of the two new puzzles she acquired on the trip, and then found a nice spot for some ice cream (me and Pumpkin) and coffee (Hubby). The spot had a cool fountain next to it, which consisted of jets of water shooting up from a grate. Pumpkin had a great time playing in it. This was already our second experience with cool, kid friendly fountains in Oregon (the first was in the Rose Gardens in Portland), and there were more to come. I guess one of the benefits of having a lot of rain is that you don't have to feel bad about putting up fountains for the kids to play in.

From Hood River, we drove on to Cascade Locks, which is where we spent the night. Our hotel (the Best Western, which had just about the friendliest staff I have ever met in a hotel) was right on the water. We didn't take a good picture of the view from our balcony, but this one, taken from a nearby park, captures the scene well:

Pumpkin's memories of Cascade Locks are of going to the park with Daddy ("in my STROLLER") and seeing TRAINS! She really enjoyed the trains we saw all along the gorge.

The following day was our one day of rain on the trip. It didn't rain all day, and other than the downpour that caught us as we tried to leave lunch, it mostly sprinkled. We still managed to stop in and see some sturgeon at the fish hatchery and visit two waterfalls, including the Multnomah Falls. This photo doesn't do the falls justice, but doesn't Pumpkin look cute in her little rain jacket? We own one because day care asked us to send one in this the winter. I think she wore it once.

After the Multnomah Falls, we drove to the McMenamin's Edgefield for lunch. The McMenamin's brewpub chain specializes in buying historic old buildings and putting hotels and/or pubs in them. We had hoped to stay at the Edgefield, but they were booked at the time we wanted to stay, so we had to content ourselves with lunch in their pub. The lunch was nice, and Hubby reports that the beer was excellent.

After lunch, we put Pumpkin in her car seat for her nap and drove to Salem. I'll continue the trip story there another day.


* According to the much-recommended Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, I shouldn't put negative labels on Pumpkin's spirited behavior. She is focused, not stubborn, and energetic, not hyper. I suppose I should give Hubby the same courtesy, but he'll stay stubborn and hyper until he agrees that I'm intense, not emotional.

** Seriously. Much less sleep. Last night, we couldn't get her to sleep before 10. She still woke up at 7 a.m., happy as can be and full of energy. Tonight, she went to sleep at 9:30, but that was after I spent literally 50 minutes laying next to her while she played with her hair and told me random things.