Friday, September 26, 2008

Annika's first words

A few months ago, I thought maybe Annika was starting to say "all done". I was wrong. She primarily screams when she is done eating and refuses to do much sign language. She doesn't talk much at all yet, but today definitely added one more word.

First, Annika says "mama" but only rarely when she is upset and wants me. I thought she said dada, but she hasn't been using it much lately & Kyle says she never has. hmm... My dad got her saying "papa" some too.

About 2 weeks ago, Annika started saying "Bah!" which means "Boo!" and uses it in a very defnite game we play. She got it from our Peek-a-Who book (pictured below). Whenever I get to the page with the ghost, I say "boo!" and try to startle them. So she says "bah!" in the same tone and I pretend to be startled. It makes her giggle, unless anyone is watching, then she won't do it.
By the way, Saben got his first word "znn" from the book too. (znn = zoo, see how I credit intention more than actual pronunciation?)

She uses "bah" for lots of things actually - ball, bottle, etc. But the "bah!" is the only one where I know she knows exactly what she is saying.

A couple days ago, I thought I heard her say "Halla" into the kids pretend cell phone. She loves to hand it to me & I have to pretend to have a conversation and give it back to her. (over and over of course) Today, she was carrying around the FAUCET from their kitchen playset, holding it up like a phone and saying "Halla" very clearly, over and over.

Annika is all about tone. The only reason I can claim "bah!" and "halla" is that she mimics the tone I say it in perfectly. She actually sounds just like she is answering a phone. She clearly says "uh oh" and "uh-uh" (no) with proper tones & uses them all the time. She also loves to sing. She babbles in a singing voice, no recognizable tune, but definitely singing. Its so cute.

Annika's favorite book right now is one that has buttons to push that plays "baby's first bible songs". She brings it to me, sits on my lap and will listen to me sing each song over and over while she pushes the buttons. Its funny because she will very rarely sit to listen to me read her an entire book but will spend 10 minutes with the song one. She has lots of toys that play songs, but that book is her favorite one.

Its funny how much she communicates without words. Or not so funny if her chosen method of communication involves screaming at the very top of her lungs. She always goes to the kitchen cabinet where I have some food stored & starts pulling things out & bringing them to me when she is hungry. She usually picks the dried cherries which she has eaten before, but occaisionally puts a bag of dried garbonzo beans in my lap.

The best thing ever is to get both kids laughing at once. Saben's laugh is all high and squealy, but Annika has this deep guttaral giggle, much lower than Saben's. It is hilarious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bad Words

Saben: "Mommy, when I turn 9 years old, I am going to use bad words"
Me: "um...where did you learn that Saben? Preschool?"
Saben: "No, its in a book, the boy uses bad words when his grandma is over"
Me: "In a library book?"
Saben: "No, one we have"
Me: I finally realize its in our book "Love you forever" (you know, the really sappy one where you would be embarassed to admit you still get tears in your eyes on the 20th time you've read it)

Saben: "I'm going to say lots of bad words when I am 9 years old, ok mommy?"

up & down

Up: I found my wallett! Apparently I left it somewhere in Fred Meyers, which really freaks me out because I don't even remember taking it out of my purse. Annoyingly, I left a description & phone number at the information desk, but no one matched the two together, so they've had it a couple days and didn't call me. I'd call them idiots, but apparently that would be the pot calling the kettle black....

Down: Somewhere between the Fred Meyers check out & home, I lost an ENTIRE bag of groceries. I only had two bags and one is missing. Can someone please screw my head back on for me? I blame my mom who called as we were walking through the parking lot, but still... a bag of groceries?

Update: Its wasn't in the parking lot & no one at Fred Meyers had seen it. But they gave us free lettuce & artichoke hearts to replace it, even with no receipt. Hurray!


It is rainy, warm and the mushrooms must be going crazy out there in the forests. After our success last weekend, I am dying to get out again, but it is so tough with our kids! If anyone wants to come here & join me, or trade childcare for part of our catch, just let me know.....

P.S. I only eat chanterelles & hedgehogs - nearly foolproof ones that I've seen in person many times. Although if I found something that looked like porcinis I'd collect them and figure out some way to get them identified because they are delicious!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hi Ho Cherrio - the Maidenform Edition

Right before our trip, I took Saben & Annika out to "help" me find a new bra. I noticed upon leaving the store that Saben had found a bra tag on the floor and seemed quite attached to it. He made me pull the cup holder out of his car seat so he could put it in there. It rode in the car for a while and then I forgot about it.

Till I pulled out Hi Ho Cherrio, and there it was. We set up the gameboard and were ready to play when Saben reaches into the box and pulls out the bra tag. He makes a production of putting it in the middle of the board. "This piece needs to go right here!"

After a couple rounds he moves the bra tag on top of his cherry bucket. When its his turn again, it goes back to the center. Then I do the same. And that my friend, is how you play Hi Ho Cheerio, Maidenform Edition.

Week in review

Sunday: Kyle came home from his 3 week trip to Europe Saturday night and to celebrate his jet lag, we decided to drive up to Mt Baker (artists point) & do a teeny little hike. It was gorgeous, clear, sunny and warm, but as we started down the trail, Saben started whining. Really whining, then crying, refusing to walk, screaming. We didn't know what to do (and we tried everything). He has whined a bit before, but this was mostly out of character.

I carried him 1/2 mile to the end of the trail, then Kyle distracted him on the way back & we actually made it. Annika yelled/screamed off & on all the way home in the car. Sort of beautiful, sort of a disaster day.
Monday: Saben has a temperature over 100 degrees. whoops. Explains most of the behavior the day before. Home sick Tuesday, better Wednesday, then...
Thursday: Painted our garage blue when Grandma Young came to watch the kids. Very blue. Feeling hesitant about using the same color for our entire house. We like it best with plants around it & lots of white trim.

Friday: Celebrated the rain by getting boots for the kids that matched the raincoats relatives had bought them. (thank you aunt debbie & grandma young!) Saben's eye is goopy & pinkish looking, so I keep him home from preschool again, but turns out to be nothing.

Saturday: Kyle worked all day with an electrician to wire the house. Kids & mom wild with rain induced boredom. Took a walk, splashed in puddles, had a blast till Saben threw a tantrum and mom got so flumoxed dragging him down the sidewalk that she managed to drop her camera & break the flash. grrrr.

Awesome book club fondue party in the evening that made mommy cheery again.

Sunday: Amazing day. First, ended a 6 year search for the perfect chai tea recipe. (if Seattle India Bistro, Taste of India or Cedars chai tea is your idea of perfection.) Will share it with you soon in a different post.

Went on a mushroom hunting hike with the kids and found my first ever Chanterelles!!!! I was so excited and we ate them that evening sauteed in butter. mmmmm......

Monday: I lost my wallet. boo. I am on quite the streak with losing/breaking things. (I think I left it at a liquor store register and it got stolen by the next customer. I was buying brandy for some soup. Stupid liquor store.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to kill fruit flies

1. Put a 3 tbs or more balsamic vinegar in a shallow bowl or glass
2. Fill remainder with water up to the rim
3. Put some dish soap on your finger and gently touch the surface of the water to break the surface tension.
4. Leave it out for 24 hours or more.

In 24 hours, this method caught 30 fruit flies at my house and turned my kitchen from a thriving fruit fly metropolis into a veritable fruit fly ghost town. Probably the highlight of my week.

Anyone else have good methods? Feel free to share!

(I was just kidding about it being my week's highlight.)

I tried a new glass of this Saturday and you really have to work hard to get the surface tension correct. The last 3 flies I saw kept sitting on the edge drinking the liquid and not falling in. Just keep touching the surface with soap, fill it as full as you can or try adding some leftover wine. I finally got it working again, but was super frustrated for a while.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This week was Saben's first week of preschool. He loves it. I actually felt much sadder than I expected. Panicking about him growing up too fast, even though I love how mature he is getting. I hate the idea of being tied to a school schedule again. I have loved enjoying summer each year until October, I am not excited at all about summer ending in September again when school starts. Yuck. (silly, I know, but it does make the summer seem over) I think I'll homeschool, just so I can start in October instead of September. : )

My favorite moment was yesterday afternoon when I came to pick Saben up. He was putting the finishing touches on an art project. The teacher gave them each a piece of carboard with their names written in black marker. The kids were supposed to trace the letters with glue and cover the marker with jewels & buttons or just decorate the sign with glue & jewels. I quickly showed Saben how to put glue on the black lines & stick jewels on before I left. When we returned, his name was immaculately covered with the jewels. Perfect, all in line, not a drop of glue out of place. It actually shocked me, I had no idea he could handle glue like that. (the liquid kind too, not a glue stick.)

Next to his, a kid had squirted a giant pile of glue in the middle, glue lines everywhere & had about 10 jewels stuck to the glue. Other kids had jewels scattered around, some just put a few on the letters. One girl had about two letters done as perfect as Saben and then had quit. It was pretty funny and sums up my sons personality perfectly. (long attention span, detailed, type A personality)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Naples to Rome to Arlington

Day 8

Rode the first boat back to Naples in the morning and then took a taxi to go get my moneybelt. The owner of the B&B was very nice & everything was still in there (including $180 USD - whoops)

Instead of heading straight to Rome, we decided to go to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples because we could ditch our backpacks (luggage) at the B&B. We had wanted to go to Pompeii but decided visiting with our packs in would be too big of a pain. So we went to the museum that has all the things they found in Pompeii and is considered "one of the top 3 archaeological museums in Europe".

It was pretty awesome, we really liked all the big marble statues and they were in incredibly good shape for being so old. My other favorite was the mosaics from Pompeii. I wasn't expecting much at all, just your standard hodge podge of tiles. I didn't realize that the ones they did involved "tiles" or rock chips that were the size of I can't think of a good analogy. 1/4 of your pinky nail? A bit smaller than the end of a pencil eraser? Anyways, they were tiny and the mosaics were detailed and exquisite.

We went back to our hotel & got our packs, then were going to take the subway to the train station. Except we had no coins & needed change. And every store was closed because it was Sunday. And it was really really hot and I was wearing a 50lb pack because it was now full of souvenirs.

So we walked. 1.5 miles to the train station with our packs in the heat. We were in a tight neighborhood area near the station and everything was really quiet - almost no one in the streets. Then all of a sudden we heard a cheering roar echoing around us. It was incredible and made the walk worthwhile. The entire neighborhood was inside watching a soccer game.

We caught our train, rode to Rome and stepped off the train into a crowd of people. No one was moving off the platform and we heard yelling & chanting - the happy sort. Then we saw rows & rows of riot police. hmmm.... We figured it must have something to do with the soccer game and sort of pushed up a tiny bit to see what was going on.

Suddenly! Bang! The loudest boom ever, Kyle says it sounded just like a gun. We are trapped between trains but everyone is running and we jump down into the tracks & book out of there.

Here's a little known fact about Kari: She has been in a soccer riot before. It was in Cairo and involved being trapped in a van, surrounded by an angry crowd that was climbing on the van, throwing things at it, which eventually broke some windows and made my friend squirt copious amounts of scary blood all over the place. (even though it ended up being a minor wound. and there was a cat walking around in the hospital.) The bus driver was so mad, he was slamming on the gas and HITTING people, which did not help our case at all. Our teacher bravely climbed out, and finally convinced enough people near the van that we were students, NOT the opposing team that had just beaten them, and a group of Egyptian men surrounded our bus, calmed everyone down & escorted us to safety.

So I was just a little freaked when the boom/gun went off. Kyle says he saw police beating someone with a stick and later we heard an ambulance. If you want to read more about what happened that day, check here. We were incredibly lucky we did not try to take an earlier train from Naples to Rome because the main rioting/violence occurred that morning in the Naples train station. Phew. (see, I knew what I was doing when I forgot my moneybelt. Although i might have to give God a little credit somewhere.)

Next we wasted 30 minutes waiting in line to buy Kyle a train ticket till I called our hotel & found out we could buy one at the travel agent next door. Then we tried to find a bus or taxi to take to our hotel. The buses were just sitting there doing nothing. We were very confused. Someone finally said the buses were closed for the night because it was Sunday. (but the ones sitting there had people in them and one would leave every 10 minutes or so. confusing)

So we looked for a cab. None. The police said they were all around the side of the building because of the riot police vehicles everywhere. We headed around and saw bumper to bumper traffic and lots of people headed that way. I said we should just start walking to the hotel & stop at the first taxi station we saw. So we started walking, already pretty exhausted from walking in Naples. At this point its after 9pm.

We finally find a cab after walking 1/2 mile and he tells us our street is closed for a race. ARGH! So we buck up and walk the rest of the way back to our hotel (1.6 miles, remember?). This is a picture of me cursing the Nike Human Race, Carl Lewis and all the idiots running 10k in Rome at 10pm on a Sunday night.

We finally got home, showered, had a pretty good dinner near piazza Navona (pasta with shrimp & zucchini flowers for me) & went to bed.

Day 9 - last day in Italy

Our last day and nothing much on the agenda except a long walk through Rome. We headed towards Trevi fountain & the Spanish steps which were the only major sites we'd missed previously.

Pretty Trevi Fountain. But not so romantic when surrounded by this....
We wandered towards the Cappucin Crypt where there were supposed to be lots & lots of monk bones. Arranged artistically or something. When we arrived, it had closed an hour prior. So we took the metro to the Testaccio neighborhood where there was a food store I had heard about and wanted to visit. (Volpetti)

On the way there we happened by the non-catholic cemetery and wandered in to take a look at Keats grave. We looked up some of his poetry on kyle's iphone and read it. Seemed like the right thing to do.

Then off to Volpetti's ...which was closed all afternoon and didn't open till 5pm. Drat. So we walked, took a wrong turn and added 20 minutes to our route to the Travestere neighborhood. Drat again.

We finally found a bus going the right way and arrived in Travestere which was super super cute. We loved it. Kyle wanted to go see the Faranese Palazzo, so we walked over there. It had closed 30 minutes before we arrived. DRAT!@! At this point I threw my guidebook into the street and stomped my feet like a child. It felt so good.

After an espresso & gelato pick me up we walked up the hill to a park in Travestere to get some good views of Rome. This guy was getting some good views.

ha ha ha.

We were exhausted, but I convinced Kyle it would be an easy bus ride back to Volpettis. I really wanted to go there. So we hopped on a bus and were inside shopping in 10 minutes flat. I was right! It was overwhelming and really expensive, but a guy came and helped us pick out some balsamic vinegar so I felt the trip was worth it.

We went to our bus stop to go back the way we had come, and this Italian guy started chatting with us. And chatting. We got on the same bus and he just kept asking me questions.
"You like Italy?"
"You like Italian Food?"
"It is different from American food?"
"You like Italian men? They are different than American men?"
"Italian men are more romantic. You like romantic? American men are not romantic?"
On and on and on.

I was trying to figure out where the bus was, and asked him if we were in Travestere yet. He said no, so we stayed on the bus and he was nice, but would not shut up. We finally got off near St Peters because an english speaker understood what I was asking and pointed out we were way, way past our stop. Apparently the bus goes a different way when it goes back and I had been too flustered to pay attention to where we were. (and Kyle generally has absolutely no clue where we are when we travel. which is partly my fault because I hog the maps.)

By now we were exhausted so we just went to our hotel & ate nearby again instead of in the Jewish Ghetto like we had hoped. We had Carbonara and some sort of sliced beef dish with an arugula salad. It was pretty good, but not quite as exciting as I had hoped. I flew out by myself the next morning and then slept at my parents house that night. It was so nice to wake up with the kids, i was really really happy to see them.

But not so happy to see this when I got home:

Seriously, our neighbors had an occupied camper in their front yard for the last week. "hey, just come on over, your whole family can just camp in our front yard!" It filled our entire front window when I looked outside. But its gone now, so I am happy, and really I didn't mind it for a week. I was just worried it was permanent.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ode to childcare people

It hasn't been super clear from my writing, but I am actually back from our trip, home with the kids and writing all the entries from memory at night while they are sleeping.

While we were gone, our families took turns watching the kids and I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for everyone pitching in to keep them happy and entertained. The kids had such a wonderful time, and were spoiled rotten - trips to children's museums, parks, McDonalds, golfing, hiking.... I don't think they missed us at all, although Saben says he did.

It was such a gift to be able to go on this trip with Kyle. The longest we'd been alone together since Saben was born 3 1/2 years ago was about 48 hours. 11 days was unimaginable. After just three years, I have to admit that it was starting to feel really strange spending so much time alone together. But after a couple days it became normal again and by the end I felt so much more connected to my wonderful husband than I had in a long time.

When kids are around, we spend our whole time watching them, talking about them, talking to them and then trying to relax once they are in bed. It took a while to learn to be entertained by my spouse again, to make conversation over endless dinners and enjoy just being together. I think it was so great for our marriage and it will always be a memory in our relationship that I really treasure.

I don't regret leaving the kids for one second. I am so happy and excited that they got the chance to get to know their aunts, uncles, grandparents & great grandma better. I didn't worry AT ALL which really suprised me, because I knew they were in good hands and I knew that everyone would be showering them with love in my absence.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped watch the kids. It was a huge gift and I can't wait to return the favor for my nieces & nephews someday.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Day 6 - the best day

Still in Positano, we decided to hike up into the hills to visit a couple small towns and eat at a restaurant I had read about rather than spend $50 to go lay on a crowded beach. Our hotel owner pointed across the street and said "take those stairs there and just keep following them up the hill till you reach Montepertuso."

So we did. Up and up, past gardens, houses, olive groves, chickens. The views just kept getting better and better which made us forget how completely dripping wet in sweat we were.
The path was amazing, it was obviously an old path that linked the villages and it just wound around through the town and then out into the middle of nowhere. It was exactly what I had dreamed of doing in Italy - wandering through the countryside, away from tourist shops, just enjoying being someplace beautiful & different.

In the upper right hand corner is the biggest sailboat I have ever seen. Notice how it dwarfs the yachts near it. We spent all day watching it from the hills.
As we reached Montepertuso after an hour or so, we stopped & sat in some shade to try & dry our sweat a little so we'd be presentable at the restaurant.
Il Ritrovo was actually open, had a gorgeous view, friendly staff and great food. We settled in for a nice long lunch, well earned. We weren't starving, so we ordered ONE serving of the chefs fixed menu - 30 euros ($50 aprox). Here is what we had: First a plate for each of us with tomato bruschetta & a scoop of some sort of mixed meat risotto. Then the antipasto platter. I had specifically asked if the had any zucchini blossoms because I really wanted to try some. Apparently their season was passed, but the waiter (owner?) said he would see if his dad brought any from the farm that morning. Sure enough, two on our plate, stuffed with ricotta. They were delicious.

Next up was our pasta course. Linguine with porcini mushrooms, Tubes with walnut provolone sauce & pasta with tomato, porcini, sausage & mozzarella. At this point, I was stuffed.
Mixed grilled meats course. Sausage, chicken, lamb & pork, with roasted potatoes.

We also got a dessert, coffee & limoncello liquor. Plenty to stuff us both and the best value of the entire trip. (pasta is usually 10 euro, then meat about 15 -25 euro. We spent 30 and it was plenty for both of us and included the antipasto & dessert, etc)
After leaving the restaurant a couple hours later, we wandered across the hillside to Nocelle. It wasn't much of a climb this time (thankfully) and was a cute little town that was dead quiet. Just more stairs, no roads really (pedestrian only), signs for a couple B&Bs, cats and deserted piazzas.
Positano is in the lower right corner.

We decided to walk back down instead of taking a bus and were home by 6pm. Back at the hotel, we met our hotel neighbors who were from Boston and spent an hour chatting with them. The woman was a private chef, so we had a lot of fun talking about food & where to eat in Rome & Positano. Then Kyle & I went to the store to scrounge up some dinner.
We ate fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olives & marinated veggies & dessert on our terrace.
Day 7
In the morning we went to a store and rented a scooter to explore the coast. I hadn't been on a motorcycle (or scooter) for years, but used to ride all over the place with kyle when we first married. By "ride all over the place" I mean that I sat behind him and held on for dear life.
It had been a long time and we were driving on ridiculous roads - steep drop offs, hairpin turns and buses that were passing cars on blind corners. I was terrified for at least the first oh...four hours. We scooted down to Amalfi and I did really enjoy seeing all the coastal towns & villages. Amalfi didn't really look any more exciting than positano, so we kept going, up into the hills to visit somewhat famous Ravello.
Frankly, I think Nocelle from the day before was much nicer. But Ravello had stars like Greta Garbo and Gore Vidal who lived there and a couple of sites. So after getting completely ripped off at lunch (a $7 TINY glass (.33 ml) of coke and horrible food), we went to see Villa Cimbrone, whose gardens were supposed to be pretty cool. This view was great:

The rest didn't excite us a ton but was pleasant. Oh well. back on the scooter to pick up our swimsuits in Positano and then we rode all the way down to the peninsula to go swimming & explore that area a little. Swam in the "free" section that had boats pulling in & out of it, but had a nice refreshing time. Rode back and I was finally relaxed enough to really enjoy the ride and watch the sunset light up the scenery.

Dinner: Back to Il Ritrovo where we had a dinner very similar to the night before. This time we requested Scamorza on our antipasto platter - smoked cheese that is grilled in lemon leaves and once again they accommodated us. (it wasn't even on their menu at all) Then we had fish for the main course instead of meat and we both ordered our own dessert. mmmmm....... We also rode the restaurant's free shuttle van up there, which we didn't know existed until that night. Everything was wonderful, we looooove that restaurant.

sorry, I'm exhausted. the end for now.

Only 2 more days to go! Stay tuned for Youngs getting caught in a soccer riot! sort of.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Naples & Positano, part 1

Day 5
In the morning, we spent a few more hours exploring Naples before our trip to Positano. I wanted to do some shopping, so we checked out a disappointing kids toy store, a really expensive italian lingerie store, and then wandered into an area that had an open air market. I bought some dried pasta and fruit and we wandered around enjoying the atmosphere.

Around noon, we scooted over to Sorbillos and this time made it inside right before the crowds hit. Naples #1 pizza was spectacular and I ate till I felt sick.
We took this picture as our boat left Naples. The monastery on the hillside is where we went a couple days before for our views (where Kyle spilled my prosseco). So we're on the boat and I suddenly get this panicky feeling like I left something at our hotel in Naples. Suddenly I realize that maybe, I just might have put my money belt with $200 cash and my bank card into the drawer in the nightstand next to my bed. But I am not positive. I know I thought about it and I can't remember if I was actually stupid enough to do that. Maybe its still in my backpack afterall.
I loved this little fire lookout perched on the cliff. They are all along the Amalfi Coast, where we were headed. Each one is able to view the one next to it so that they could signal up and down the coast if someone spotted a fire.
Our boat stopped in Sorrento first. The cliffside architecture & caves were amazing.

Finally we were off, headed around the penninsula towards the Amalfi Coast.
The tip of the penninsula was very dry & arid looking.
Our first view of Positano. Its not a great shot, washed out for some reason, but gives you a sense of how the town is nestled into the mountians that head straight down to the sea. The hike up to our hotel was brutal, lots of stairs & heavy packs. But we made it and walked out onto our terrace to see our view...
Heaven. And only 87 euro a night which is a gigantic bargain in Positano. (We stayed at La Tavolozza and highly reccomend it) At this point, I opened my bag and searched for my money belt. Nope, not there. Long story short, the hotel in Naples finally found it in the nightstand after 2 or 3 phone calls. Luckily we had to go back through there on our way to Rome, it would only cost us the taxi ride to & from the hotel. From this point on, every time Kyle did something stupid that I pointed out, he'd just call me "moneybelt" and I shut up. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, that's for sure.

Wandering back into town, we realized it was crazy expensive, yet again. It sort of depressed us. We decided to try hiking to the other little beach to see if it was cheaper or cozier feeling. Nope, still lined with hundreds and hundreds of chairs at 10 euros a pop for the day. It was after sunset by this time and deserted, so we went swimming for free and were quite pleased with our thriftyness.

For dinner we headed up the road to a place our book had recomended. We were too late to get a sidewalk table, so we were stuck up against the restaurant with cars & scooters zipping by us every few minutes. Yes, we had a view, but it was across the road & over the heads of the people who got the good tables. My vongole was very good but several tables around us were pretty mad about the service.

Back at our hotel, we messed around with our camera, trying to capture the beauty seen from our balcony.
Then we got REALLY CRAZY and produced the following shot, using kyle's iphone as our light source.
The end of day 5.