Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Garbage woes

The last time our garbage was picked up was on December 11th. We then had a snow storm, Christmas and snow, several unsuccessful make-up pick-up days, and our regular pick-up this coming Thursday has been postponed until Friday due to Thursday being New Years Day.

The other day, our neighbor, who we refer to as "Chinese grandpa" (I know, not very PC) spent the better part of an hour condensing his recycling so that as much as possible would fit in the bin. Now, he does have more family member than we do, but his house is also about triple the size of ours, which a huge garage to stash stuff, if necessary. With the holidays; presents and hosting several dinners, we had trash and recycling stacked up into our pantry/laundry room, which made a seemingly simple task of, say, retrieving a can of beans, a treacherous operation.

Today, Jacob took all of the extra bags that did not fit in the containers anymore outside because, with everybody else having created an actual mountain of garbage bags around the recycling bins, our few bags were not going to make matters much worse anyway. I'm very happy to have the laundry room space back! Sadly, it's starting to look like the world in Wall-E on our street, though.

When we lived in the Marshall Islands, we discovered that waste management, like plumbing, running water and ready access to information, is a luxury. There is no garbage pick-up, let alone recycling and with all the imported junk, stuff ends up in the lagoon. Waste management means burning stuff in a hole, which is great for your inner pyromaniac, but not all that practical and it causes a variety of health concerns.

Seattle, of course, has a very well developed garbage and recycling system. They even collect our food and yard waste separately and this coming March, we will be able to recycle just about everything, from meat and dairy to Styrofoam take-out containers. When we lived in Indiana, we would save up all of our recycling in the water heater room, then load up the car and actually drive it to the recycling center because our apartment complex did not subscribe to the recycling program.

All this is to say that I will be very happy when our garbage will be picked up this Friday. In fact, there are several times a day when I calculate how many more days it will be before this joyous occasion and I imagine the relief and gratitude I will feel when the unsightly mountain of trash (not to mention all of the containers that have been left outside for a while now) be gone.

The trash collectors union should totally negotiate for a pay raise.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Christine and Jack invited me to join them at their church yesterday on Christmas Eve - Eve for some Christmas carol singing and short scripture readings. Because the service was mostly songs, only an hour long, and Joris had responded so delightedly to the carol singing at Greenlake, we took him along.

Getting there and back was an adventure in and of itself. The roads are still covered with inches thick of compacted ice, and I was happy that a) I wasn't driving, and b) we had snow chains on.

The church had nice, wide, comfortable pews and the band that was playing was quite good. One guy played a soprano sax, which you don't hear often, but is an instrument I enjoy.

Joris behaved as if he was a veteran of many a rock concert, but was unfamiliar with church etiquette. He clapped enthusiastically after each songs while loudly yelling "Yaaaaay!" and bouncing up and down. He and Coco did some throw your arms in the air, head banging sort of moves and, of course, he tried talking in his loudest, clearest voice whenever a scripture was being read.

Towards the end though, he sort of caught on to whispering and he'd whisper back when I'd remind him that we listen quietly to the story.

He alternated between sitting with Chris and Jack, using me as a somewhat inconvenient climbing object situated between them.

He explored all of the pockets of the diaper bag and managed to find the pair of toddler sunglasses that we were unable to locate when we were in Costa Rica. He proceeded to wear said sunglasses for the rest of the service, taking them on and off and pushing them to the bottom of his chin whenever he was unabashedly flirting with the cute 2 year old girl sitting in the pew in front us.

But, he made it through the whole service and I had a great time singing along to the carols. I am not much of a church person (more on this in a different post I'm working on), but I do love Christmas; the sense of excited expectation that has nothing to do with presents under a tree, the sense of community and goodwill. The snow helps, too. Although I'll be kind of glad when that's gone. A week of being house-bound is more than enough.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Thumb hole

For a few days now, Joris has started imitating words and sounds a lot as well as babbling incomprehensible toddler talk. Maybe half of the words he imitates (which are usually either the key word or the last word of a sentence we say) stick around and he will use on his own, at which point I count it as him speaking a word.

In the last couple of days these words, among others that I already can't remember, have been added to his vocabulary:

kaas (cheese)
klei (clay)
thumb hole

I don't even know if thumb hole is an actual word - or the right word for what we use it for... Whenever Jacob puts Joris' mittens on (which are a bit too big for him, still) he'll say something like "Let's make sure your thumb goes in the thumb hole" and so we ended up walking around the block yesterday with Joris exclaiming "tum hole, tum hole!" for most of the way.

He is also getting more outgoing with people on the street, especially if those people happen to be walking their dog, which recently at least seems to be the main reason people are out on the street at all. He'll say hi and bye and "bwa-bwa (dog) mwa (kiss)". He is still very much into kissing everything.

Which reminds me -- the last time we were at Avery's house I took their pictures under the Christmas tree. They are both such hams, they actually perform for the camera, so I asked them to kiss. I think there is one picture that turned out really cute where give each other a big smooch, right under the sign in the tree that says "love".

This evening Joris put three words plus one sign together, which I believe is a record. Jacob had gone to check if the mail had come (apparently it was too snowy, even for our reliable mail man to make it out today) and threw a snowball at the window. When he came back in, Joris told him "Daddy, ball, hone (snow)" and made the sign for throwing, then repeated the words in various different orders.

Last night added a few more inches of snow to our already impressive blanket and the UW library, where Jacob works, actually closed for today, which is rare. Two metro buses got stranded this morning just around the corner from our house and I think they discontinued the northern part of that route since then. Tomorrow doesn't promise to be much better, although I'm pretty sure Jacob will have to report for work, which will leave Joris and I to go on an adventure to the grocery store for Christmas dinner ingredients. It looks like my family from Portland will not be able to make it up to Seattle on Thursday, so we'll have to adjust our plans a little bit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow week

Seattle (as well as much of the Northwest) has been hit with an unusual amount of snow and freezing temperatures this last week, which means that the snow (and ice) has been sticking around instead of melting into a snow slushy hours after falling.

Joris is still somewhat apprehensive about the snow, but has been warming up to it a little since earlier this week. He likes playing with the big football and will sometimes ask "hone, biii" meaning "snow, big" or "let's go play with the big football in the snow".

Last night it dumped about 5 inches of snow, topped off by a quarter inch of freezing rain, so that walking in the snow feels like stepping on a giant creme brulee.

Here are some pictures from our week of snow:

Retrieving the big football from its snowy hide-out:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hat hair

Just after his first birthday, I took Joris to our local hairdresser to get his first haircut. I had been getting comments from strangers on what a cute little girl I had, so it really was time. I don't think I did an adequate job preparing Joris for what was to come and I think the hairdresser was not used to small children, either. He screamed and his hair ended up looking barely adequate.

We then decided to buy a buzzer and do it ourselves. His haircuts now looked significantly less than adequate, but at least we weren't paying any money for them and, best of all, it was not a screaming affair anymore. After getting some practice in, I was starting to feel like I was getting better at it and was actually pretty pleased with the last time I cut his hair. The last time before this actual last time, I mean.

We tried cutting his hair the weekend after coming back from Costa Rica. He had a meltdown mid-buzz and we had to abort the project, unfinished. He walked around with big bites out of the back of his hair for a full week.

On Saturday night, when Joris, Jacob, auntie Chris and I were enjoying listening to carolers at the Greenlake luminary walk, it started snowing. On Sunday morning, after breakfast, we suited Joris up in his snow pants, wool jacket, hat, hood and gloves and took him outside to play in the snow - or so was our plan. It turned out he was intrigued, but seemingly terrified of this "hone" as he kept calling it. He would only be carried by Jacob and any attempt to put his feet on the ground resulted in anguished pleads of "No-no. No. NOOO!!!"

This expression about sums it up:

He did, however have the most magnificent hat hair when we came back inside:

Which convinced me that it really was time to try to finish the job. He did a little better, although it still was a teary affair. And he squirmed and wiggled, which is always good when buzz cutters are involved.

The result is that, well, his hair is shorter. Mostly. There are still random strands of long hair in odd places, but whenever he catches me trying to sneak up with scissors he shakes his head vigorously and says "NO!". There also is a big chunk missing in the back...

Visual evidence of why I will never be a hairdresser. My consolation is that it will grow back and thankfully we took the pictures for our Christmas card before this!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Uh-oh, Daddy!

This afternoon, Joris and I drove home by ourselves, without picking Jacob up at his work first (it was going to be faster for him to take the bus).

When we got home, we had the following conversation:

Joris: "Home."

Me: "Yes, we are home!"

"Uh-oh, Daddy!...UH-OH, DADDY!!"

"We didn't forget Daddy, sweetie. Daddy will come on the bus."


"Yes, on the bus."

"Baba. Ami."

"Grandma and grandpa?"


"You want to give kisses to grandma and grandpa?"


"Joris, do you remember where grandma and grandpa put all their hugs and kisses for you?"


At which point my jaw dropped because I did not expect him to remember that. When grandpa gave Coco to Joris he told him that he and grandma had put all their hugs and kisses for Joris into Coco, the stuffed tiger that has become like a sixth family member already. Coco plays ball with Joris, Coco reads him books and, of course, Coco is needed at nap and bedtime. I do sometimes wonder if Coco holds such a revered place because he is the bearer of hugs and kisses from Baba and Ami.

It's after moments like these that it becomes more frustrating to have to listen to an endless caveman chorus of "uh, uh, uh, UH, UH!" when he wants something, when he is clearly capable of more sophisticated communication. Although I'm sure we'll miss the caveman, when he finally evolves...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Auntie Chris is better than Santa

Auntie Chris has always had a special relationship with Joris. She was there when he was born and ever since, through a combination of her ever-present excitement and obvious love for him whenever he sees her and the frequent visits, she has become one of the most important people in his life.

Whenever the phone rings he'll say "ngkh-ngkh".
Whenever we hang up the phone, he'll say "ngkh-ngkh".
At random moments during the day, he brings up her name.

Ngkh-ngkh holds great power, because it seems like there isn't anything Joris won't do to be in auntie Chris' good graces. Invoking her name means instant cooperation. Which is why I abuse the power whenever I can.

"Joris, we need to put your pants on."

"No. No. NO. NO. NO!"

"Do you want to go visit Auntie Chris?"


"Then we have to put your pants on. Auntie Chris does not like little boys without pants."



"That is very loud."


"Joris, can you please stop yelling?"


"You know, auntie Chris does not like it when you yell."

"Ngkh Ngkh!"

So, rather than having the one month a year when parents can manipulate their kids into cooperation by suggesting that Santa might not be pleased with their behavior - I have a year-round auntie Chris to help make my toddler behave - or at least distract him momentarily.

Also, auntie Chris is way less scary than the guy in the red suit and a whole lot cuddlier. And when we hang out with her she is both entertainment for Joris and provides great adult conversation for me - and when is the last time you ever had a pleasant cup of coffee with Saint Nick?

Which is why auntie Chris is much, much better than Santa.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Our last days in Costa Rica, like the rest of the trip, were very enjoyable. Paul, a friend of Don and Claudia who moved to Playa Hermosa permanently, took us for a walk on the rocks by the ocean during low tide. It was fun to see the crabs scuttle around and check out all of the critters in the tide pools, but the best part was the wind, which was blowing insanely hard that day. Once we got around a corner, out of the lull, we were hit full-blast by the wind - I was actually knocked over (lost my footing) quite a few times. We decided that it felt like a massage, it made you feel all tingly and alive.

On our last day, Don and Claudia took us for a little day trip to the towns of Nicoya and Santa Cruz. It was interesting to see the juxtaposition of these small cities where Costa Ricans live and work to the resort like feel of the Gold Coast towns, where it kind of feels like the Costa Ricans only happen to be there to be employed by the wealthy Westerners who built mega-mansions on their land. Nicoya has a lovely old church that we visited and we enjoyed a terrific lunch in Santa Cruz.

Saying goodbye and leaving was hard. I got a bit teary; for being thrown back into the regular, old day to day routine and for Joris, who will not see his beloved Ahmee and Baba until after he will have turned two.

Grandpa had bought a small stuffed tiger puppet for Joris, who immediately loved the little guy. We named him Coco, since Joris already was able to say Coco and there wouldn't be much use for the beach town name after we got home. Coco helped make the flights and waiting much easier; Joris would have Coco look out of the window, feed him, throw him like a ball and have us make him dance and talk.

We had kept Joris up to take his nap on the first flight, which left at 2:15pm. He was so tired by that time that he fell asleep while we were still parked on the tarmac. Unfortunately there was a diaper leaking incident and the little man woke up after only an hour of sleep (he needed 2 or 3 at least!). He was cranky and hard to keep distracted for the remainder of the 4 hour flight. I think everybody in the airplane was very happy when we finally landed.

We had a two hour layover in Atlanta, which gave us just enough time to go through immigrations, re-check the bags, go through security and pick up something for dinner. We got to board early, which was nice because we were planning to get Joris to eat his dinner, then have him fall asleep when taking off. For unknown reasons however, we taxied for over 45 minutes before finally taking off and at the end of that time poor, tired Joris protested - loudly - until he could finally fall asleep right after take off. God bless white noise.

Joris ended up staying asleep through the whole flight, the transfer into the stroller, baggage check, the drive home and being transferred to his bed. He slept until 5:30am, which I thought was pretty good.

Ever since, he has been sleeping like a champ. Well, there was the 3:45am waking the night before last, but he eventually made it back to sleep and we actually had to wake him up to get to Dutch school. This morning he woke up at 7:30am, after 11.5 hours of sleep! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will stay this way, but I'm guessing that when he is done making up for his significant sleep deficit from Costa Rica (on average, he slept a total of 2 hours less each day) he will return to his more regular 10 hour nights.

For those of you who are interested in seeing some pictures, I just finished uploading them all to my google/picasaweb account. If you want, you can order prints or download any of the pictures to your own computer. Instructions follow:

To order prints: click on the prints tab and follow instructions.

To download: click on the picture you wish to download so it gets bigger. Then click on the download tab. You can then save it to your own computer and make your own print-outs or use your own print service.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Costa Rica Word List

As I mentioned before, Joris's vocabulary has greatly increased in the last couple of weeks. Below is the list. It includes some words that he definitely would not have gained had we not traveled to Costa Rica, and will be of limited usage back home (Cactus, for example). English is definitely dominating the list:


Bij (Bee - Joris uses it for every bug he sees, and there are many here)
Mier (Ant)


I know

Either (same in either language or undetermined still)

Obaba (Obama)
Milk / melk (muh)
Coco (the name of a nearby beach)
Hacko (clock, watch)
Fish (Ha-psh)