Monday, January 30, 2012

The Quest for Wide Shoes

Lowa Renegade Running Shoes
Merrell Siren Sport Shoes
I have wide feet, very wide feet, and sometimes I feel like my life is constant quest for shoes that fit well. And I almost never find them. Usually when I buy shoes, I try on tons of pairs, find one that fits better than all the rest, and mistake that for real comfort. Days or weeks later I realize I've bought shoes that are too long, even though they feel good in the width. Over time I've realized that this habit of wearing shoes that don't fit properly probably contributes to my hip and knee pain. Occasionally I've been able to find brands that have wide sizes, but they are much more rare in women's shoes than in men's. I find it a bit funny that one of the stores that consistently carries women's shoes in wide sizes is Payless Shoe Source.

Last year I saw an ad on a bus for a wide shoe store in Shoreline (just a few miles from our house). I was so excited that I looked up their website and shortly thereafter went to the store. They measured my feet and told me that I should wear a 7 or 7.5 (one foot is a little longer than the other). I had been buying 8.5's my entire adult life!! No wonder I have joint problems.

Recently I've been on a mission to replace all my most commonly worn shoes with ones that fit my feet in both length and width (the wide shoe store has a great selection of dressy shoes, but not so much in the hiking/light hiking/running categories). I've had several pairs of Merrell's that I loved, even though they were a little too long, so I searched for wide shoes on their website. At the time, they had exactly one style of women's shoes in wide (okay, technically two if you separate the gore-tex version from the regular version). After trying on these shoes in the regular width at Sports Authority, I went ahead and ordered them in a 7.5. They came this weekend and they are great. They fit perfectly and are comfortable. It is amazing to wear shoes that are the correct length.

My running shoes have also desperately needed to be replaced for months. I really wanted to try some minimalist running shoes, but apparently not a single style comes in wide sizes (okay, one does but the salespeople at the store I went to were convinced it would not be wide enough for me). So I got regular running shoes but they are wide and they fit my feet. I've used them three times in the last week and I love them. The difference between these and the last pair I had is amazing. I've decided that from now on, if I have to search high and low for shoes that fit, that's what I have to do. It is not worth buying something that fits okay, even if it's a good deal.

Merrell did actually have a minimalist running shoe in wide on their website but it is out of stock. Maybe next year I'll be able to try them. After the new wide hiking boots I also bought last week (in my defense, the boots I've been using for EIGHT years are too long AND I bought them for $40 at a used gear swap in Fairbanks - after all the miles I've put on them for both fun and work, I think I deserve to spend the money on a pair that actually fit my feet), I don't think I'll be buying any more shoes for at least a year, much to my husband's relief.

Anybody else have any experience with brands or stores that carry wide shoes??? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

More Fondant Adventures

Yesterday I decorated this cake for a baby shower for Robin, a friend of a friend. I've met Robin a few times and she is a sweet person, I'm sure a wonderful teacher, and I was happy to make a cake for her and her baby girl - due next month.

I made a spice cake from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." I've made the recipe before, but still I managed to make a serious mistake in the order in which I added the ingredients (mistaking buttermilk for butter); the first cake turned out less than perfect. It was still edible though, so I took it to school (my class mates eat a lot of my baking experiments gone awry). I managed to read the instructions correctly the second time and bake a lovely, spongy cake.

After I covered the cake in buttercream frosting, I rolled out the white fondant, then the green and pink. The white fondant was MUCH harder to roll. I'm not sure why, but it seemed to take forever. The other colors were so much easier. That part went fairly smoothly, although I don't think I will ever understand how anyone can make the fondant drape over the cake without major creases. I always have to cut slits to make the fondant fit the shape of the cake and then I have been seams running up the sides. No matter how many YouTube videos I watch, I cannot do it myself. Luckily the stripes and dots covered most of the seams (the rest I cleverly positioned out of the photo).

The last step was adding the bow - my first time attempting this feat. I could not roll the fondant out as thin as it really should have been, so the strips of fondant were quite thick and heavy. I looked at the instructions for how to do this in my Wilton fondant book, but as my usual impatient self, I didn't READ them. I just looked at the pictures and thought, "That looks easy, I can do this." About 30 minutes later I was about to completely give up on the bow and just stick another dot on the top when I realized I was missing a key step. The problem I was having was that the bow loops were all droopy and were just flopping over. It wasn't really looking like a bow. I realized, upon thinking back to the photos included in the instructions, that the bow loops are supposed to be laid out on their sides for a couple of hours until they become dry and stiff. Then you can stick them all together and they stay standing and hold their shapes.

I went to bed and assembled the bow in the morning. It only took five minutes. Maybe next time I'll actually read the instructions!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pear Gingerbread Cake

A couple of months ago I read about this Pear Gingerbread Cake on the Food in Jars blog. I have now made it four times; twice it turned out amazing and twice it was a disaster. What was the deal? This is the story:

Attempt #1: I made this cake shortly after reading about it on Food in Jars. It was amazing. Moist, flavorful, and fluffy. I told Ryan that I thought it was the most delicious cake I'd ever made.

Attempt #2: Excited about the first cake, I made it again for my friend, and fellow grad student, Lisbeth's colloquium. This time I decided to add two pears instead of one. I also used slightly thinned yogurt instead of buttermilk (see recipe). The batter was very thin and the cake took FOREVER to bake in the middle - so long that the edges were seriously dark and crispy. Essentially the batter was too liquid-y - the cake had almost burned on the outside yet wasn't baked through in the center. I was so disappointed that Ryan even offered to run to Fred Meyer's at 10 o'clock at night to buy me a cake mix (or whatever would make me feel better) so I could make something else for Lisbeth's talk. In the end, I managed to salvage the baked, but not burned, portions of the cake. After all, grad students aren't terribly picky about free food. Even though I was disappointed, I knew there was potential for this cake to turn out so much better, so I tried again.

Attempt #3: Thinking I had learned my lesson about adding extra pear, I made the cake again in Kodiak for Patrick and Zoya's solstice party. Despite following the recipe exactly, I made one stupid mistake: I didn't bake it long enough! I used an 8x8" pan rather than the 5x9" pan I have at home. Once again, I was able to salvage some piece around the edge for the party, but I was STILL disappointed.

Attempt #4: Determined to make that fluffy, moist, delicious cake again, I've been saving a pear, waiting til it gets nice and ripe to make the cake again. Tonight was the night. Apparently the fourth time is the charm - it turned out exactly like it was supposed to.

Hopefully I have finally figured out all the bugs in this recipe and I can make this cake consistently from now on. The most important things I've learned? Use the 5x9" pan, don't add more than one pear, and don't underbake!!

Here is the recipe from Food in Jars:

Pear Gingerbread Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cane syrup or honey (I used honey)
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (or some plain yogurt thinned out with milk - be warned, this didn't work out for me!)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup peeled and finely chopped pear (I used one pear - don't use two!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease baking dish.

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Once they well integrated, add molasses, honey, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla extract and grated ginger. Mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix to combine. Once they are well integrated, fold in the chopped pears.

Scrape batter into the greased baking dish and bake for 25-35 minutes. It is done when the edges pull away from the corners of the pan and a tester comes out mostly clean.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Birthday and Awesome Skiing

Miles, Ryan W., and Steven

Two Ryans

Steven and Allison
After being (mostly) home-bound during the snow and ice storm last week, I finally got out of the house for some fun last weekend. Cabin fever was definitely getting to me! On Saturday, we went over to Ryan W. and Kayla's house. Not only was it Ryan W.'s birthday, but his twin brother Steven (it was also Steven's birthday too, obviously!), his sister Paige, and Steven's girlfriend Allison were visiting from California. We've gotten to know Steven and Paige over the years when they come up to visit so we were looking forward to seeing them again. And it was fun to meet Allison this time.

On Sunday we finally had the change to go skiing/snowboarding. As you can imagine, it dumped snow in the mountains last week. Even though there were huge crowds at Stevens, we managed to stay away from most of them and enjoy fresh powder. It had snowed overnight and it also snowed HARD throughout the day. We stuck to the back side and stayed almost completely off the groomed runs. The snow was great in the trees! It was the perfect snow for me too. I don't like the powder to be too deep or fluffy because my board gets buried easily and it's a pain to get back up on a snowboard. This was the first time I realized that maybe it's time for me to graduate to a bigger board. I got a fairly short one three years ago when I first started snowboarding because it's easier to learn on a short board. My skill level has come a long way since then (as Ryan says, I can snowboard everything he can ski, I just do it slower). I think I would have an easier time snowboarding in powder with a longer board. I still have a little work to do improving on tight turns, so I think I'll put off that purchase for a while.

Unfortunately we were so busy enjoying the snow that we didn't take any pictures!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mountain Rescue at Mt. Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park has had more than its fair share of trouble this winter.  First the tragic shooting of a park ranger and then a huge storm system which resulted in seven missing people from four separate groups in one weekend.

The first person to be reported missing was a snowshoer who got separated from his group and ended up spending two nights out but was found alive and OK in a nearby canyon.  Search and rescue (SAR) groups from all over the state were called into help with this search.  By the time I went down to the park on Monday there were over 90 SAR personnel including nine from Seattle Mountain Rescue.

It was amazing that the snowshoer was found alive but it was just as amazing that during the search two additional lost hikers were found that had not been reported missing. They had been caught in the storm and spent two nights in a snow cave before hearing the whistles and calls of SAR personnel and being guided to safety.

Our satisfaction in finding three people is somewhat overshadowed that the fact that there are four additional overdue campers and climbers higher up on the mountain.  Weather conditions have make it very difficult to search for the missing people.  On Wednesday the Park requested a small team of strong and skilled skiers from SMR to join a small group of mountain guides.   We packed up and drove to the park in an SMR vehicle Tuesday night.  After a 6am briefing we followed the snow plow from the Longmire ranger station to the top of the road at Paradise.  It took us about four and half hours to climb the 5000ft up to Camp Muir at 10,100 ft.  It was raining at Paradise but most of the way up it was snowing sideways with winds around 30mph near camp Muir.  We highly suspected we would find someone or some sign of the people at camp Muir, but instead we found nothing.  After warming up in one of the shelters, most of us headed back down to Paradise.  Two of the mountain guides spent the night in the shelter at Camp Muir. During a short break in the weather yesterday morning they searched, but conditions didn't permit them to go far. The weather has also been too dangerous for any helicopter searches (Seattle Times article here).

If it is safe to do so, the search may continue this weekend but warm weather, wind, and additional snowfall has resulted in continuously high avalanche danger.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

More pictures

I found the photos from yesterday's snow - I had thought Ryan had taken the camera with him, but I found it in the garage this afternoon so he must have decided he didn't want the extra weight. And of course there won't be much to take pictures on the side of a mountain in white out conditions. So here is what our house looked like yesterday. There's a couple more inches now and it is STILL snowing hard. There is about 7-8" in our yard now. I considered shoveling the driveway but it seems a little silly when it's supposed to be 47 degrees by tomorrow afternoon. There will be a lot of slush and flooding.

Still snowing!

Day 6 of snow

Amazingly it is still snowing here! UW has been closed for two days straight now. The time at home has been nice but I'm actually ready to get back to campus now. I don't get nearly as much done at home as I would if I were at school - despite not having to prepare a lecture for either yesterday or today. At home I'm continually distracted by cleaning, cooking, baking, helping Ryan pack or unpack, etc. I pretty much take advantage of any excuse to be productive yet not do school work.

Ryan left again for Mt. Rainier last night with other SMR volunteers to look for two parties of overdue campers and climbers. Let's hope this one has a happy ending like the last rescue.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow, Snow, Snow

Sunday morning snow
Yesterday morning I woke up to this. It snowed a tiny bit more today, but nothing serious. It was very icy this morning though but by this afternoon it had warmed up above freezing and the roads were looking pretty good. Today is appearing quite mellow compared to what is to come. They've been forecasting snow through Wednesday, but the forecasts continue to get more serious as Wednesday approaches. So far the city has kept the roads under control and I haven't heard of any major accidents.

The forecast has been saying that several inches of snow could fall Wednesday morning but would turn to rain (=Kodiak style slush) by afternoon. Now, some models are showing that instead, we could get 8-15 inches of snow!!! That is the kind of snow that doesn't happen often and is crippling to a city like this. Although it could mean awesome snowboarding at Stevens Pass (they're predicting 40-55 inches of snow on Wednesday alone), I'm honestly not looking forward to it. It means buses basically won't be running (they will but good luck trying to actually get anywhere), the roads will be dangerous (with that much snow, it will take some time before the plows make it to arterial streets), and mountain passes will probably be closed (read: no snowboarding). These conditions make it very difficult for me to get to campus. We'll see what happens, but if it really does dump over a foot early Wednesday morning, I'm betting campus will be closed. Tomorrow though I think I'll have to tough it out waiting for a bus out on Lake City - wearing good boots and a warm jacket and giving myself plenty of extra time to get there. In the meantime it's been nice to spend two days at home working on prep for my class, other research, and canning.

Ryan has been out in the mountains every day this weekend, including today. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday he was taking an Avalanche class in Snoqualmie Pass. Today he left at 4:30 in the morning with other Seattle Mountain Rescue volunteers to drive to Mt. Rainier National Park to help with a search for a missing snowshoer. The snowshoer had been missing since Saturday, so I was relieved to read in the news just a little while ago that he was found alive - cold, but okay. Glad to hear a good ending to that story and so glad there are so many capable and dedicated rescue volunteers like Ryan.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snow and Whale Barnacles

I rode the bus in to school this morning to get some work done. About 3/4 of the way there I started to see some slushy snow mixed in with the rain and started to wonder if I had made a bad decision relying on public transportation to get me home. Approximately one minute after I got off the bus it started to snow HARD. I seriously considered turning around and getting on the next bus home before the roads turned into a disaster zone. But, I had some things that REALLY needed to be done that were much easier done in a computer lab with big monitors, lots of space, and comfortable chairs than at home. After two trips to the library in the heavy slushy snow (on the first attempt it wasn't open yet - 1pm, really UW?), I was surprised when I went outside around 4 to go over to my lab that the sun was out and a most of the snow had melted. Ryan picked me up from school this evening, but even if he hadn't the bus ride would have been fine.

Most of what I was doing at school today was wrapping up some analysis I did on the Mikt'sqaq Angayuk faunal assemblage from the Alutiiq Museum's excavation in 2009 (I dug at the site in 2010, but I analyzed the fauna from the excavation that Patrick and Amy M. conducted the summer before). The focus of their excavation was on a historic component from about 1830 - the Russian period in Kodiak. One of the cool things about he collection of fauna I looked at was the presence of whale barnacles.

Humpback whale barnacles

Whale barnacles are a family of barnacles that only live on baleen whales. They have a free floating larval stage and then attach themselves to a whale's skin before they become adults. So, even though I didn't find any whale bones in the samples, we know that people were eating whale meat! I did a little research on whale barnacles on the internet (where else?) and found out that each species is specific to a species of whale. So, if you can identify the species of barnacle, you know what type of whale it came from. Seems simple enough, but surprisingly there is little else about whale barnacles on the internet. And I wasn't sure what sort of faunal identification book would include whale barnacles. When I'm stumped on a zoological question like this, I have a go-to-person, Mike, a walking zoological/zooarchaeological encyclopedia, who I can ask for advice. He suggested a book on faunal analysis from a site in British Columbia which had photos of whale barnacles. After I checked out the book, I looked through the references and found a guide to barnacle identification in B.C. which had drawings of both grey whale and humpback whale barnacles.

I was not able to identify my barnacles to species, but I was able to narrow them down to one of two species (Coronula reginae or Coronula diadema - I think these are more likely diadema, but I couldn't positively ID them without a comparative collection). Both live (almost) exclusively on humpback whales. So even though I couldn't identify the species, the important thing is that I know there was humpback whale meat at the site. Pretty cool!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lovely Colors

Setting sunlight on Rainier
We've been having unusually cold, clear weather for the last few days. I see the sun rise over the Cascades in the morning on my bus ride and it has been spectacular. Usually I never see the sunsets because I'm still in inside working, but yesterday I caught this one on my way to the library at about 4:45. The iPhone doesn't do Rainier or the colors any kind of justice, but it's all I had. Yesterday was one of the days I wished I carried a nice camera with me all the time. I also decided I should go to the library more often so I have an excuse to see this view.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Crawlspace cleaning and insulating

After three years of putting it off, we finally hired a contractor to deal with the mess that was our crawlspace.  In the 60 plus years that this house has sat here many projects and renovations have happened in the crawlspace.  The original furnace was removed and new plumbing and electrical were installed.  Each of these projects left behind a trail of debris.  But the biggest problem in the crawlspace was the falling-down insulation and torn-up vapor barrier.  The contractor removed all the old debris, insulation, vapor barrier, and installed a new barrier and new R-25 fiberglass batt insulation.  This should make the house a little more appealing to the next buyer and in the mean time we will hopefully enjoy a warmer, dryer house.

After the contractor left I went and checked out the crawl space.  There is still very little room to move around and you have to do a lot of shuffling and rolling over.  But for the first time I could see around everywhere; I felt like I was really seeing the crawlspace for the first time.

Old insulation falling down

New Insulation and vapor barrier

Monday, January 9, 2012

Backcountry Skiing

Top of Union Peak

Richard checking out the map after skiing off of Union Peak into a thick young forest
Winter is in full swing in the Cascade Mountains.  The last two weekends I headed out for some back country skiing with friends.  Both times we went to an area near Stevens Pass.  The snow was great the first weekend and still pretty good during the second.  One of the great things about skiing in the Cascade mountains is the mix of environments from steep open slopes to old growth forest.  Its all fun to ski and a little different every time.

Next weekend I am taking an Avalanche training class through Seattle Mountain Rescue.  It has been many years since I had any formal avalanche training, so I am really looking forward to the class.  While out skiing this last weekend Richard and I analyzed the snow pack stability using a method know at the tap test.  The results agreed with the predictions of the North West Avalanche Center forecast and indicated that the snow pack was fairly stable and the risk of an avalanche was moderately low.  I have uploaded a video of Richard performing this test on You Tube.

Great tree skiing

Richard was excited about his hot lunch using his new Jet-Boil stove

Meeting up with another group of skiers near the top of Jove Peak

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Artifact ID Day

The Archaeology Table

Rodrigo examining a ceramic pot
Yesterday I helped out with the Burke Museum's Artfact ID Day. It's an annual event where the public is invited to bring in artifacts, rocks, or fossils to be examined by experts. The archaeology table is usually staffed by the several archaeologists at the Burke and a few graduate students and professionals from elsewhere in Seattle. There are usually lots of artifacts brought in from the Washington, but also Alaska and occasionally elsewhere in the world. This year there was a plethora of objects from Mexico.

People have usually acquired the artifacts they bring in two main ways: they've either found them eroding on a beach or riverbank, or they acquired them from a parents or grandparent. People bring in a wide range of things - from easy-to-identify (for us) line weights from the Northwest Coast to ceramics and figurines from South America. Usually people want to know either how old the object is or whether it's a modern reproduction or a genuine archaeological artifact. If it was an object from Washington or Alaska, I usually had a pretty good idea of how old it was. But sometimes people would pull out things they bought in Mexico and I'd pass them right along to Rodrigo, another grad student, who works in Mexico! Oftentimes though, people have no idea, or only a vague idea, of where the artifacts came from. Sometimes they've been purchased at a garage sale or thrift store or inherited. In those cases, sometimes we could look through books and find similar artifacts. In other cases, we could tell if it was a modern reproduction based on the way it was made/carved.

I did see three artifacts from Alaska. The first was a toggling harpoon point. The owners had no idea where in Alaska it had come from, but based on the style I'm sure it was from the Bering Sea coast or St. Lawrence Island. I also saw a fossilized, but worked walrus tusk from the Aleutians and even a ground stone lamp from Kodiak Island. It was fun to talk to so many people and hear the stories behind their artifacts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Attic Insulation Installed

800 square feet of R-30 fiberglass insulation

Moving the insulation into the attic

Insulation installed

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about making improvements to our attic.  Molly and I started installing the R-30 fiberglass insulation on Sunday and today I finished the project.  That attic looks much nicer and now has at least three times as much insulation as it did previously.  I was also very happy to realize that I previously miss-calculated the cost of the insulation. It ended up costing significantly less than I had anticipated.

I have yet to notice much of a difference inside. However, I know the insulation is working because I used an inferred thermometer to measure the temperate above and below some of the insulation.  It was a few degrees warmer under the insulation so we are successful trapping more heat in the house.

I'm glad we were able to complete this project ourselves. The next major house improvement involves the crawl space though and that's where I draw the line; I'm calling in the professionals.  I am getting quotes later this week to have a new vapor barrier and insulation installed in the crawlspace.  Molly and I agree that this is one of the last major projects that will make our house more energy efficient, benefiting us in the long-run or making the house more appealing if we were ever decide to sell it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Have YOU ever taken a train to bed with you?

This is our nephew Oliver who is almost exactly 2 1/2. His language skills are amazing, considering that he's only two, and he is hilarious. I wanted to write about some of the funny things he said while we were in Palmer/Anchorage so I don't forget.

Oliver is obsessed with a classic little wooden train set - the kind with magnetic cars that many of us played with as kids. There is a also a little orange car that fits on the tracks. Oliver *almost* always drives the train while whoever is lucky-enough to play with him drives the little orange car. In fact, as soon as he invites someone to play with him, he says something along the lines of "You can drive the little car and I can drive the train." A couple of time his parents suggested he let someone else drive the train to which he replied "No thank you." So you can imagine my surprise when on our last night in Anchorage, I saw Ryan start to push the train around without a complaint from Oliver. In fact, Oliver picked up the little orange car and started driving it around the track, happy as a clam. I got my phone out as quickly as possible because I knew the moment wouldn't last long. And it didn't. Just as Oliver's mom walked in the door, she heard him say to Ryan "You can drive the little orange car." And we all burst out laughing. It was bound to happen!

Oliver driving the little orange car
I think my favorite Oliver moment though was when I got him out of his bed after his nap on Wednesday afternoon. He was a little sad that it wasn't his mom getting him up, so I explained that she was upstairs and was busy and that as soon as he got up he could go upstairs and play on the train tracks with Uncle Ryan. Then he said "I took my twain to bed wif me." Not expecting that one, I was like, "Uh, really? You took your train to bed with you?" He said "Yeah! Have YOU ever taken a twain to bed wif you?" Trying to contain my laughter, I said "No, but maybe Uncle Ryan has!" It was such a sweet question - he genuinely wanted to know if I loved trains as much as he did.

Some of the other funny things he said include shortening "hey guys" and "you guys" to the singular "hey guy" and "you guy." Oliver had no trouble being comfortable with Ryan and I from the moment we got to Palmer (it was pretty clear he was thinking "Yes, two more people to play with me!") but he had some sort of a hang-up about saying our names (Uncle Ryan and Aunt Molly) in front of us. He was mostly adamant about not saying my name in my presence which I'm sure has something to do with the fact that his mom's name is Mollie - the whole Mommy/Mollie/Molly/Aunt Molly thing has got to be confusing for a two-year-old! So we got quite a few "hey guy" and "you guy" directed at us which was just hilarious. Although by the end I heard him say "Uncle Ryan" (in his presence) a few times - mostly in the context of straightening-out who would be driving the little orange car. =)

One of the funniest things Oliver says/does is say "no thank you" instead of just plain old "no." It is very cute and obviously polite. But as his mom pointed out, it's become a bit edgy, a bit rebellious. Sometimes, it was pretty easy to hear that the translation was actually something along the lines of "hell no, leave me alone!" Which just made it all the more comical.

Oliver can count to 10 very reliably and count to 20 a little less reliably. He likes to sing the numbers as a "counting song." One night at dinner he sang it and then looked at Steve and said "Do you know the counting song, Grandpa? Do you want to learn? I can teach you!" And then started the song again. It was so sweet. And amazing coming from a two-year-old.

Can't wait to see these kids again!

Ryan reading to the boys on our last night in Anchorage