Mother’s Day Weekend

We took a quick trip to Leavenworth, WA. It is a delightful town on the east side of the Cascades and pays homage to all things German: sausage, schnitzel, spaetzle and of course “bier”. It was Mai Fest with a parade, an art show and some good oompa music. We were surrounded by Chris’s favorite pooches – the Bernese Mountain dog (don’t tell Gretl!). Many of them had marched in the parade earlier in the day. We grabbed some lunch and checked into our hotel before heading off on our first hike, the Tumwater Pipeline Trail.

The trail hugs the Wenatchee River and made for a nice stretch of the legs. The scenery was beautiful with towering trees providing a lovely cover from the sun and the sound of the river lulled Oliver to sleep.

Then we set off for a different trail experience with the Peshastin Pinnacle trail. This was a much drier area and totally exposed with the exception of a bit of shade provided by the large spires of sandstone that are a favorite of the climbing crowd.

Oliver made a couple of new friends on this trek – a gopher snake (aka a bull snake) and a yellow-bellied marmot.  The next day he expanded his group of woodland friends to include one of four types of chipmunks found in Washington, the yellow-pine chipmunk. Oliver is looking forward to meeting the other three types of chipmunks and so are we.

On Sunday we grabbed breakfast at the hotel before making our way to the Icicle Gorge trail. The day was lovely to make the 4 mile loop. It was high enough that even in May we encountered several patches of snow along the trail. Another group hiking with their one year old little girl was kind enough to snap our photo. We ended our time in Leavenworth with a a cold one in a fun beer garden before returning home.

It was a fabulous way to spend the first of many Mother’s Days to come, with my two best fellas.

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Oliver’s first hike

It was a great weekend here in Seattle, so we loaded up the car and took to the outdoors. We checked out two hikes to get a feel of taking to the outdoors with Oliver. If you know us then you won’t be surprised that Oliver is already outfitted with the appropriate hiking gear – sans footwear. He will sport some pretty cool boots and Keens when the time comes and I fear that it will be sooner than later.

The first test with the pack was a nice little loop at Penrose Point State Park. The terrain was rather gentle so it was a good way to get Oliver all comfy for future hikes. I never thought I would pack formula, diapers or teething toys on any hike I would undertake. It was a fun loop and seemed to wear out the little guy but not so much the big guy. This park sits on the Puget Sound which offered some lovely views and  opportunities for clamming. I think next year we will go clamming with Oliver once I have perfected a few clam dishes.

Since Oliver didn’t wear Chris out we decided to undertake another excursion. We bopped over to the Thelar Wetland Trails. This property was first intended to be developed into ball fields for the local schools yet environmental concerns changed the direction of development into a wetland preserve. It was a nice flat hike through the reserve where we encounter many species of birds for the first time: an Osprey, Violet-green swallows and a Hooded Merganser. The most curious creature we saw was a 4ft sturgeon swimming along under one of the bridges.

The next day we had brunch, bopped by REI and then a stroll in Golden Gardens Park along the Puget Sound. All in all it was a great weekend.

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Airplanes and Baby

We took our first airplane trip as a family to Indiana recently and all things considered it went smoothly. Traveling with a little guy in tow can be stressful but Master Oliver turned out to be the consummate traveler.

We took off from Seattle at 6 o’clock in the morning. Yes folks you read that correctly. It was an early morning but we managed to seamlessly check-in, get through security and board the plane. Oliver was asleep before take off and slept most of the flight only waking for a meal and a fresh diaper.

We were happy to visit with Chris’s family in Noblesville and Vincennes. Oliver has now met both his great-grandmothers and been to the family farm. It was great to be able to visit with everyone on our trip. Thanks to those who traveled to spend time with us and those who hosted us at their homes. Everyone made it a truly enjoyable trip!

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Spring has sprung in Seattle

It seems that spring is in full bloom here in the Puget Sound and we are loving it. The winter was not too long or bad – I mean it was nice compared to the winters we had in Wisconsin, New York, Illinois and Germany. Yet for as mild as it was we are happy to ring in the spring here in Seattle.

Our first adventure was when Chris surprised me with a long weekend in Cannon Beach, Oregon for our 6th wedding anniversary. He took care of all the arrangements and it was a great surprise! The whole family went – even Gretl. It was great to hangout beach side and just relax. This town was a great find and would make for an easy spur of the moment trip being just 4 hours from us. I hope Chris takes the hint.

To get out and enjoy the weather we went not once but twice to see the delightful fields of tulips in the Skagit Valley. It reminded us of our trip to Keukenhof, The Netherlands but without the plane ride. Oliver seemed to enjoy the brightly colored fields and hammed it up for the camera.

Stay tuned as we intend to post more of our adventures in the region as they happen.

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So many different places to call home

We apologize for the radio silence, but boy have there been a lot of changes in our lives since the last post.

Shortly after Oliver was born, Chris made his decision final to take a new job in the Seattle area. It was a tough decision, as he really liked his job and his company. In the end, the new opportunity was just too good to pass up, and it would allow us to move to a location where we believe we may actually plant some roots and settle into. As much as we enjoy Chicago (which is where Chris’s job would have taken him back to in a few years), we decided that we would rather raise Oliver in the Pacific Northwest. So, the new job puts us in a place we love and Chris gets to keep working in aviation. Hard to beat. The downside is that made for two interstate moves in one calendar year.

So, we packed up the house in Virginia and shipped everything to Seattle, then loaded up the car for a grand adventure across this great land of ours. Yep, that’s right, a 2,400 mile cross country road trip with a 6 week old baby boy and 5 year old miniature Dachshund. What could go wrong?

Amazingly, nothing went wrong. It was a great trip. We stopped in Indiana for a few days before Thanksgiving to visit with family before resuming the drive out west. It took a total of 12 days for the trip with the little one in tow. We managed to get in a little sightseeing along the way and we lucked out with mostly good driving weather.

So, now we are more-or-less settled into our new place southeast of Seattle and we’re loving it. The new job is great, and we are really enjoying living in the Puget Sound. We’ve even been skiing twice.

With 2011 closed out, we’re looking forward to a single-address-2012. We’re hopeful that we’ll live in the Seattle area long enough to call it home and stop feeling like tourists…

And if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born
Then it’s time to go
And define your destination
There’s so many different places to call home

                – “You Are a Tourist”, Death Cab for Cutie

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Thank you for (paying for) my service

It’s Veterans’ Day again and that is always a bit of an awkward day for me because inevitably someone says something like “thank you for your service.” It’s a lovely sentiment and a polite gesture, but it makes me uncomfortable. Why? Because I didn’t chose to “serve” for your sake: I did it for me. I didn’t make a sacrifice, I made a choice. If anything, I should be thanking you for paying for my rent in Germany, my bullets and det cord at the range, my airfare to get me to Schofield Barracks (in Hawaii), and the JP8 for UH-60’s that I got to ride in. It was awesome, and I couldn’t have done it if you hadn’t worked hard in the productive part of society that generates enough wealth to pay a sufficiently high level of taxes to support young men and women in search of adventure. You were probably holed up working in an office in suburban hell while I was jumping out of airplanes or on a 3 day pass in Budapest. I’m pretty sure I got the better end of that deal. Granted, I volunteered in a time of peace and I never had to fire a shot in anger. I did have a nice camping trip to the Balkans in the late-90’s, but the Boy Scouts probably took more risks in the 90’s than a Clinton-era general.

I don’t pretend to speak for all veterans, but, really, you don’t need to thank me. Instead, and since we don’t have a holiday that honors those who pay a lot in taxes (to the contrary, we vilify you and chastise you for not paying enough), I thank you for subsidizing my four years of adventure.

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Oliver

Oliver joined us on Monday, the 17th, at 6 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long. Elizabeth had a long day, as Oliver joined us at 8PM, and we checked in to the hospital at about 8AM. But, everyone is healthy and doing great.

We are almost two weeks into this whole parenting thing, and seem to be hitting our stride. We even took Oliver on an outing yesterday for a stroll on the National Mall. He was quite content in his car seat, attached to our stroller. We’re also thrilled with our selection for a stroller, the Bumbleride Indie. It’s all terrain capability is just what the Kerns family needs.

Chris was fortunate to be able to take two weeks off to help Elizabeth get into her new routine. He even learned where the washing machine is.

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Chics with Guns

Here is an interesting article about a new book from a photographer named Lindsay McCrum that documents the relationships women across the United States have with their firearms. My favorite quote from the article (emphasis mine):

“I learned two main lessons while working on this book,” said McCrum, who divides her time between New York City and California when she isn’t traveling for work. “One is that on the subject of guns, nobody is neutral. And the other is that when you get outside of the blue-state cities, everybody has a gun.”

I’m from a red-state small town, and pretty much share that view. I know of lot of blue-state city folk, though, who have no idea.

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Baby registry

I thought that compiling a baby registry would be a piece of cake- it was more challenging than I could have imagined. I am happy that I went into it with a great itemized list that my best friend Jennie helped me put together or else I would have been helpless. Helpless in the face of all those options for wee ones out there. Seriously folks, I had no idea there could be that many available options just for bibs. Again, a big thank you to Jennie for the list and words of wisdom or I would still be staring at the wall of pacifiers at Babies R Us.

Since Chris and I are keeping mum on the gender of the baby our registry is pretty neutral in color but rich in necessities. My other “bestie” Amanda with her stylish eye found several items that I struggled to locate. Thank you Amanda.

Chris and I registered for the baby at both Amazon and Babies R Us. Yes, folks Chris did have opinions on many of the items that appear in these places. You can locate the registry by using either of our names. I figured I could not put off getting this information out to everyone any longer since I have entered my last trimester.

We plan to have the nursery ready by the end of August. We will keep you posted. Thank you for all of your love and support during this exciting time for us.

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Crowdsourcing a tribute to the man in black

Through the recent TED video of Aaron Koblin’s presentation, I learned of the Johny Cash Project which lets users create individual frames for a music video. I’m rather fascinated by the project. There are 1,370 individual frames, of which many have 10-20 contributions. You can vote for your favorite to be included in the video, and through the “Explore” feature, view a video compose of the highest rated, director’s choice, abstract, pointillism, or sketchy frames. Of course, you can try your own hand at sketching a frame and contributing to the project. It’s a neat way for fans to pay their respects.

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