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wedding Scott and Rachel Kimler: Wedding Slideshow: // October 6th, 2001 Vancouver, BC CANADA ^Rachel & Scott get married. Small outdoor ceremony & reception held at Rachel's parent's 1908 Heritage home. ^ENJOY THE SHOW ^Hint: Click on any photo for enlargement. ^©TheKimlers Craig conducted a nice, personalized ceremony. ^Rachel wore the dress in which her mother got married and I wore the morning suit in which her father (and mother's father) were married! Tom Marilyn Judith Syd ^Rachel made the bootineers, corsages & bouquets. ^Weather Gods were smiling too, bestowing a glorious Indian Summer day. Jasna, a local photography instructor and one of Judith's friends, took the wedding photos. ^The black and white photos add a touch of class. ^This is one of our favorite portraits. The best man's children, Garrett & Aly, were ring-bearers for the ceremony. ^They did a great job! Not one ring was lost. Everyone enjoyed having them as part of the group. ^Great kids! A moment that will live in infamy. ^Rachel laughs nervously when she gets to the part about being faithful. Scott asks Craig to do it over again, just to be sure. ^Everyone had a big laugh. Newlyweds pose for more photos. Parental units (aka Syd & Judith) opened their home, hosting both the backyard ceremony and the lovely catered reception. Thank you! Scott's parental units (aka Tom & Marilyn) took time out from ranching duties and made the drive up from California to attend the wedding. ^(The cows and chickens stayed home). Scott and Kurt Easthouse were roommates at UC Davis for two years. Both graduated with degrees in geology. Scott was best man at Kurt & Kim's '85 wedding. Rachel & Scott walk into the backyard arm-in-arm. ^Because we were both married before, we decided to give each other away and enter together. ^It added symbolism and nostalgia to wear the same clothes in which Judith and Syd were married. ^A happy day. S M A C K ! Patti married Malcolm in November. (It's catchy) Syd says, "This is how you eat the skewered chicken." Scott's cousins, John & Nancy, flew in from California and Arizona, respectively, to attend. ^Unfortunately, Scott's aunt and uncle (Fran & Don) were scheduled to attend, but discovered (upon arriving at San Francisco airport) that their flight had been canceled. Fallout from the WTC terrorist attacks in the United States. Judith, a vice-principle at a local Vancouver high school, had the food catered through a high school work-study program. ^The food was fabulously catered and well presented. It included a cake with sugar-glazed edible flowers. ^Stunning. ^(Cute couple too) Jonathan and family (Susan & 1-yr-old Tobias) attended. ^The sunny porch was a gathering place for folks during the reception. It meant the world to us that Dave, who bicycled with us 3,250 miles across the US in 1999, flew out from NJ. ^Dave has a gravely New Jersey accent, quick with a joke and has a heart of gold. We love you buddy! Scott introduced Kurt & Kim in college, and a food-fight ensued. (But that's another story.) Wonderful aunt Ann flew from England. She won the award for traveling the furthest. (Have you spent all the money?) "What money?" she asks. If you spot Garrett, let us know. Just to show that you can have it all. Personal ceremony, delicious reception, great weather, wonderful friends ^and good CAKE to boot. ^ . . . . . THE END . . . . . ^ (or is it the beginning?) ^ stay tuned ....... //]]>
pct Scott and Rachel Kimler - Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hike Slideshow: // We left Mexico on April 14th, 2002 and followed that little black line all the way to Canada!! What an adventure. What a lot of walking! It was the trip of a lifetime... At the Mt. Laguna Campground - Rachel's mother, Judith, sews a PCT patch onto Scott's pack. Our last pre-hike activity before starting the hike on the very next day, April 14th. ^We spent about three months preparing for our adventure. We dehydrated our meals, planned our itinerary, bought and tested gear, sewed sleeping bags, etc. We thought we were finally ready. Scott & Rachel at the Mexican monument in Campo, CA. ^It was a long way to drive from Vancouver! (And ... we thought, "gee ... we're going to walk back?! Yites!" ^It was already hot in southern California. Being from the Pacific Northwest, Rachel freaked out about finding enough water on the trail. ^We had butterflies in our tummies. What were we getting ourselves into? Rachel signs the first PCT register at the Campo Post Office, near the Mexican border. (Looking back now, we were so CLEAN and CHUBBY!) Scott surveys the arid environment. Despite our concerns about the southern desert, the PCT headed straight into the mountains. Within two days, we were at 5,000 ft. Pine trees, cool air. It made for nice hiking and we were glad we started in April. ^We bought a lot of "Aqua Mira" (water purifier), but to our surprise, we got most of our water from spigots and caches, while hiking in the desert - which didn't need treating. "Trail Angels" provided jugs of water at various places along the trail. Here, an angel had built a cabinet and kept it stocked with 2 1/2 gallon jugs of water. This was, BY FAR the fanciest water cache on the PCT! ^Trail Angel kindness saved us from having to hike far off the trail in search of water. (Something we dreaded doing) ^THANK YOU TRAIL ANGELS!! The last thing we expected was an ice-storm on the Desert Divide. ^We stopped hiking when the wind was blowing so hard that we had a hard time staying on our feet. The freezing fog and howling winds kept us tent-bound for 17 hours straight. We pitched the tent in the lee of some scrub oak, which offered some protection. Ice coated EVERYTHING (pic of our tent, the next morning). In bright sunshine and bitter cold air, we continued hiking along the Desert Divide, the morning after the ice storm. ^Scott is crunching and slipping his way along the ice-covered path. The footing was difficult, but the scenery was fantastic. ^As the sun melted ice from the tree branches, chunks fell and shattered on the ground. It sounded like glass breaking all around us. Some hit us ... AND IT HURT! Rachel, with just about all the clothes in her backpack on, braves the cold. ^It was a very magical day, with both sunshine and a coating of ice on nearly everything. The stones on the trail were covered with about an 1/8th inch of ice, as were blades of grass, bushes, branches - EVERYTHING. Unfortunately, fog in the valley kept us from seeing Palm Springs, about 10,000 feet below us. Why did the squirrel cross the road? To get the NUT, you nut! ^And there was a Xing for them in Idyllwild, CA. Taking shoes off during our lunch break helps dry out the feet (and feels good too!) We liked to stop where we had a view and a comfortable place to sit. Lunch often consisted of cheese, bread (with peanut butter & honey) and ... cookies! Scott sorts through the resupply boxes at the Mt. Laguna campground. ^Scott's parents (in CA) mailed supplies to us -General Delivery- at trail towns. We sent everything PRIORITY MAIL (Note: the water jug - it belongs to Rachel's parents, who met us at our first two trail stops.) Rachel takes in the view off of the Laguna Mountains. ^The PCT is a 'crest' trail and we were often rewarded for our long ascents with glorious views. Here, we're looking over Anza Borrego desert and nearby mountains. We had to get creative about finding water. Here, Scott scoops water from a CDF 'fire-water' cistern. ^2002 was a drought year in southern California and we got water wherever we could. We descended out of the Laguna Mtns and we happened upon this godsend. We bathed atop the tower because the cistern had a concrete top (the cleanest place around). ^Would you believe that it rained only 30 minutes after this photo? We had to hurridly set up the tent in the wet, tall grasses a stones throw from this cistern. Scott hobbles along a section of trail near Warner Springs. ^He injured his knee on the 'bonejarring' descent out of the Laguna Mtns and we hitched to a campground at our 2nd resupply point. Fortunately, Rachel's parents were there and we took advantage by 'slackpacking' (hiking without packs) the following day. ^Notice the limp and trekking pole he 'borrowed' from Rachel? He wasn't too keen on the idea of trekking poles at the onset of our journey, but by the time we got to Idyllwild, he was sold on their necessity. We both bought a premium set and would NEVER hike again without them. ^Scott says, "Rachel was right, they ARE useful." We saw our first rattler on our hike into Warner Springs. ^We saw about a dozen rattlesnakes during our entire hike to Canada. All of them were in California, though they can also be found in Oregon and Washington. We never had any problem with them, though some were slow to get off the trail. (We'd toss sand and pebbles at them, from a safe distance, of course). One even scooted between us as we stood talking, after breakfast. ^Some rattled (and scared us) and some were quiet as a mouse. 15-30 miles a day with a 40lb pack is tough on the feet. Rachel tends to hers during one of our breaks, at a deserted Ranger Station. Ron, heading home after hiking a segment of the PCT, generously donated his wide-brimmed hat to Rachel. She had been wearing a ball cap, which didn't protect her neck or ears from the sun. She wore it the rest of the trip. Scott made a website before we left & Rachel used a tiny hand-held computer to write our trail journal. We had over 500 people following our adventure! Rachel looks dashing in her (relatively new and somewhat clean) spring PCT apparel. Loose, comfortable short-sleeved shirt with matching long pants that convert to shorts with a quick flip of the zippered mid-thigh cuff. ^When traveling light, you carry little clothing and these were her duds from Mexico to Canada. They took some abuse, as they were worn 5-months straight. But, aside from a couple of loose buttons, neither Rachel or Scott suffered any 'clothing malfunctions'! TRAIL ANGELS - Katie & Randy (aka 'Bug Bite' & 'Granny Low') ^Veterans of the AT (Appalachian Trail), who hiked it in 1999, took us into their home in Wrightwood. They let us take showers, fed us, massaged our feet, gave us beer and made us feel at home. It was a huge slice of HEAVEN! (and sorely needed by us). Here we are atop our first mountain peak. ^Mount Baden-Powell ^(Notice you can't make much out in the distance, because of the smog in the L.A. basin -yuck.) Brant poses for a snap. ^We started meeting other thru-hikers in Idyllwild. But it wasn't till Big Bear City that we began to form a community of hikers that would last (off and on) until Canada. ^Some 400+ people attempt to hike from Mexico to Canada in one season. They're known as 'thru-hikers'. Only about 20% make it all the way. Brant did, finishing about a week ahead of us, on Sept 8th. We saw him again in northern Washington, headed south on the trail (out for a day-hike, because he lives in Spokane). It was a thrill to see him again. Jeff and Donna, host PCT hikers at their home. Here's the group that was there when we were. (Donna did our laundry and we had use of a mobile home, with kitchen, during our stay. They even had a car they let us use to drive to town!) More "trail magic"! Southern California was filled with Trail Angels. ^Here's another example. On our hike out from Agua Dulce, we happened upon a cooler stashed in the bush. It was filled with beer and soda, courtesy of Joe & Terri - more trail magic! (Brian and Rachel are happy to see ice-cold drinks on such a hot day) We spent the night with Joe & Terri, angels in Green Valley, CA who turned their house and yard into "The Lunatic Lounge". ^We ate and drank like royalty. BBQ chicken, salad and with lots of cold beer. (Makes our hike look like a big party - Agua Dulce, Green Valley! (Don't worry, we spent PLENTY of nights camped under the stars, well away from civilization and BBQd-anything). Lots of hikers missed this scenery in 2002, because they were worried about crossing the Mojave desert and took a shortcut that bypasses this section of trail. ^It ended up being one of our favorite, least advertised, sections of trail. We hiked through on a magical, misty morning and the Miner's Lettuce was just turning from green to red, giving the trail an 'other-world' look. Hikers dread crossing the Mojave Desert because of searing heat. ^We crossed early in the hiking season and were blessed with a cold, breezy day. (It snowed on us the night before, where we were camped on Liebre mountain.) ^The trail followed the Los Angeles and California aqueducts most of the way (and it was ironic because we didn't have access to all that water flowing so close). Like San Gorgornio Pass, Tehachapi is renowned for wind. The trail passes through some of the private wind farms that make use of this renewable energy source. ^Here, Rachel poses in front of 3 large wind turbines. They really are impressive, close up, and make a 'whirring' noise. One night, we camped in the shadow of these great beasts, listening to them hum all night long. ^Scott worked briefly as a "Facility Engineer" at one of these wind farms in 1992. The one part of our body that received the most abuse - our feet. Blisters, calluses & sore feet were common. Hiking 15-30 miles per day, our feet were very important & we took good care of them. (Part of our bedtime ritual was massaging each other's feet - ohhh did THAT feel good!) ^PS - These are NOT our feet! They belong to "Fancy" and "Flutterby". Kennedy Meadows was a real gathering for hikers & the last rest before the push into the High Sierra. "Flutterby" & John consult the map. Simon (in the back) journals, as does Lee & Anne. Julie chats with Rachel (who is off camera). Finally, the southern CA desert portion of the trip was over. Whew! We had made it to the land of water, snow and sky - the Sierra Nevada. ^Pine trees, cooler air and water greeted us as we left Kennedy Meadows and crossed the Kern River on June 2nd. (We had only crossed only one river up to this point - 'Whitewater River'). We were looking forward to having an easier time finding water. ^Little did we know what we were in for! Relaxing Break - Bob is in the foreground, Brant and Lee are immediately behind (Anne is hidden by Lee), "Smokey" is resting on the left, Linda is chatting with Rachel (standing), John & Julie are sitting together in front of Rachel. Entering the Sierra means "BEARS". We rented a 'Bearikade' cannister for storing our food (black can) & used bear boxes when available. Here, Scott stows food for the night. ^Because the can couldn't hold all our food, we also used kevlar 'ursacks' (the yellow bag). On our hike, we saw bears during the day, but were never visited at night (unlike some hikers we know, who had to fight bears to keep their food!) Many streams had to be forded and let me tell you, the snowmelt water is EXTREMELY cold! Some folks went bare-footed, but we were glad that we brought sandals. ^Rachel, highly averse to the cold water, once stopped mid-crossing, climbing on a rock. "It's too cold," she said, crying, "I CAN'T go on!" Our first big pass High Sierra pass - Forrester. ^We had to cross this ice/show chute to get over the top. Without crampons or ice-axes, we gingerly made our way across the chute. (We were glad we had the trekking poles). Atop the highest pass on the PCT. What a view! Going down Forrester proved MORE difficult than climing it. Here, Linda struggles across the soft, wet snow, near the top. The trail was buried and we had to guess where to go. ^The snow was soft & we punched through with a leg (postholing) up to our thigh. Sometimes we got STUCK, our foot frozen in place & other people dug us out. ^In no time, we were wet, cold, tired & exhausted. When we began to lose the sun over the ridge, we still had a LONG way to go and we began to shiver and worry about hypothermia. What to do? Continue to struggle across the snow -OR- glissade down a rocky chute to the frozen lake a thousand feet below? ^WAHOOooooo!!! We put our packs in front of us and tobaggened down the hill. Linda & Rachel celebrate the wild descent from Forrester Pass. The dashed line shows our our path and the scary, sliding ride down a chute. We were wet, cold & EXHAUSTED from the trip (but triumphant!) We had a tough time getting down from Forrester Pass because it was late in the day and the snow was soft. We post-holed to our hips. We learned it was easier to cross snow early in the morning, when the snow was still 'stiff'. 3 PM - Too late to cross the pass, we set up camp at the base, in the bright, warm sunshine and enjoyed a solitary afternoon bathing, reading & enjoying the rugged views. We stashed our packs at Guitar Lake and tried to climb Mt Whitney. We lost the route in buried snow and when we returned, no less than SIX of these pesky varmits were ravaging our packs. (Because we had piled rocks on the packs, the damage was minimal.) Josh, Naomi, Scott & Rachel take a break at Muir Hut. The trail over the pass was snow-covered for 7 miles!! aaargh! (All sun-cupped too). It was an arduous hike. Beware of hard hiking north of Tuollumne! UP 1200', rocky & steep, DOWN 1100', icy-cold ford, AGAIN! UP, DOWN, SPLASH! (The reward: great views!) It is amazing how wildflowers will grow in the most unlikely of places. Here, near 10,000 feet, amid a landscape of volcanic rocks and harsh conditions, a yellow dandelion blooms. ^This crest walk to Sonora Pass was just beautiful. Views east, over green valleys and views west, to snow-covered peaks, accompanied us the whole way. Scott takes a break.^Hiking 17-30 miles per day is hard work! We often arose at 5:30 AM, packed up and started hiking by 6:15. We ate breakfast on the trail, hiked solid till lunch, and then continued until 6:30-7:00 PM. Long days are required to complete the trail in one season. By the time we were finished with the High Sierra, we were pretty much in shape! Sunset, from the tent, after a long hiking day. ^Daylight hours diminished after the High Sierra. There, it was light till 8:30 PM. In Canada, in September, we were losing daylight by 7 PM. Mileage was limited by available daylight, rather than stamina. Hiking the PCT in one season was a huge accomplishment, but we don't recommend it. We saw lots of gorgeous views, but we didn't have time to "smell the flowers" - we were too busy hiking all the time. We became jaded to the views. We'd walk up to a great lookout, go "Yep, yep ... another great view," and then immediately hike on. ^We recommend doing the trail in segments, allocating plenty of time for side-trips, layover days, fishing, etc. Visit the Sierran lakes late in the season (July/August - they're warmer - more suited for swimming). ^We really wanted to spend more time at some of the places we blew by. Take a day at a lake to read, swim and relax. Nope. Gotta hike-hike-hike! Rachel grins as she realizes that we're over halfway home! Lassen National Park marks the halfway point on the PCT. Boy, California is one LONG state! Enjoying cool water on our climb out of Burney Falls State Park. Ahhh! ^A heat wave kept temps above 100 degrees crossing northern Calif., from Lassen to Seiad Valley. Dust, low elevations and heat made this section tough. Many hikers quit the PCT in this section - discouraged and burned out. ^We figure that, mentally, this is the most difficult part of the whole PCT hike. Much of the planning goes into preparing for the Sierra Nevada - snows, high passes, water crossings, high elevation and the anticipated beauty. By the time one reaches Lassen, the Sierras are over, temps are HOT, water difficult, the trail dusty and you're STILL in California after FOUR MONTHS of hiking!! It's easy to get discouraged during this section. A cluster of rare, threatened California "Pitcher Plants" (AKA "Cobra Plants"). They're carnivorous & native only to extreme N.California and S.Oregon. Insects are attracted to the "hood" by nectar-soaked "fangs" or "wings". Once in the hood, insects will drown in a pool of nectar in the "pitcher". (The Pitcher Plant also does photosynthesis). Smoke fills the valleys below, as fires rage near Happy Camp, CA. Forest fires affected our trip from Castle Crags, CA to north of Crater Lake (smoke & helicopters) and rerouted a section of trail in Washington. Smoke was SO thick at Crater Lake the afternoon we arrived, that we couldn't see the lake from the rim! COUGH COUGH Rachel thinks a horse might be better! We met Bill Roberts on the trail into Seiad Valley. He packs food and supplies into trail maintenance crews and is responsible to clearing fallen trees off the trail. A great guy! Rachel celebrated her 32nd birthday in Seiad Valley, CA. ^Many of our 500+ web-site readers surprised her with birthday cards and gifts. Her parents drove all the way down from Vancouver! ^It was our first AND ONLY hotel stay for the 5-month adventure. Ahhh. A shower and a REAL bed! Luxury! ^Too bad Rachel was sick for most of the time we were there. We had planned to catch a Shakespearian Play in Ashland, Oregon, but had to give it a pass. (We'll have to return some time to do that). Now we're FINALLY getting somewhere! Scott signs the 'on-trail' register at the California-Oregon border. Can you believe that we spent 3-1/2 months (of our 5-month hike) in California? We couldn't either!! Thru-hikers wolf down a buffet dinner at Crater Lake. We couldn't get enough food while hiking. We ate 5-6,000 calories a day (lots of Snickers bars!) and lost weight - 25 lbs each. We called it the 'PCT diet' ... eat all you want and STILL lose weight! What a deal! ^(The hungry herd, left to right--> "North", "Restless Wind", "Flutterby", "Strawberry Girl", "Black Hawk", "Bed Bug", & "T" (Nobody here using REAL names!) The thick forest-fire smoke that blanketed the lake when we arrived, cleared by morning and we enjoyed crystal-clear views as we hiked along the rim of the crater. Finding water sources, again, became an issue as we headed into Oregon's volcanic Cascade Range. Once past Crater Lake, our daily mileage soared, because compared to California, the trail was relatively flat and open. We often hiked 25+ miles a day through this hot, dry lodgepole pine forest, intersecting warm, shallow lakes at various intervals. ^Not to say we didn't climb up, over and around volcanic peaks, because we DID ... but compared to the up-down terrain in California, this was tame. It made for a dry and dusty trail though! Dirty toes, after a dusty day. The dust turns to paste on sweaty feet & acts like sandpaper. Scott wrapped his socked feet in plastic bags, to avoid the grinding dust. (P.S. - Foot modeling credit goes to Lee Krancus - thanks for the gross photo Lee!) Rachel climbs up a channel of solidified lava, formed when the Collier cinder cone was breached. Near the top of the cone, we witnessed a large boulder fall several hundred feet, thundering down the mountainside and sliding to a stop in a snowbank! Scary. Looking back south, along the trail from Little Belknap Crater, we saw the 3 Sisters - North & Middle Sisters (prominent) and South Sister as a jagged "bump" on the horizon. Note: The foreground is ALL sharp, angular lava rock -- tough walking!! Scott consults the PCT guide at a trail crossing. (You're looking south, back at North and Middle Sister). The PCT is usually easily followed, but because we were taking GPS readings at guidebook points, we followed the guide closely and rarely got lost. Others often hiked miles out of their way, having taken a wrong turn somewhere. We passed volcanic peaks one after another, in Oregon: Thielson, Three Sisters (South, Middle & North), Washington, Three-fingered Jack, Jefferson, and finally, Mount Hood.^The trail mostly skirts these peaks, crossing their broad flanks, up and down various ridges. The highest point on the PCT in Oregon is (only) about 7,600 ft (on the shoulder of Tipsoo Peek, just north of Mt. Thielson).^Here, Scott stops for a snap in front of Mt. Washington. Dropping to the Columbia River, we took the "Tunnel Falls" alternate PCT route (prettier than the "Official" trail) and got to walk behind this raging waterfall. Cool! (And WET!) PERSPECTIVE - Looking like a blurry, zoomed-in image of Sasquatch, Scott emerges from the back side of Tunnel Falls.^ His blue pack is barely a spec in the center of the small circle, but when you blow this portion of the slide up to its maximum resolution, you can clearly see that this SPEC is Scott, all but lost against the verdant backdrop and dwarfed by the size of the falls. ^The falls drop some 150 feet into Eagle Creek, below. They are a popular dayhiking destination, 6 miles from the Columbia River and, for us, then end of the Oregon section of the PCT. We were treated to a wonderful day off in Portland, by readers whom we had never met - Lara, Roger & Bonnie. Roger & his long-time friend, Lara, want to thru-hike the PCT. They found our online journal & emailed us an invitation to stay. ^We accepted and they drove out to the trail to pick us up and treated us like Royalty! We had a fun stay. Thanks!! Scott crossing the Columbia River on the "Bridge of the Gods". ^This is the lowest point on the PCT (140'). A far cry from Forrester Pass at over 13,200 feet!^It took us three and a half months to walk the length of California - it took us 18 days to walk through Oregon. Concerned about the changing seasons in Washington (rain and snow), we pressed on ... A happy hiker at the Washington end of the bridge! It's now Aug 26th. Rachel naps at Panther Creek Campground, while Scott is off, trying to "yogi" 400ml of stove fuel. (Yogi bear used to steal picnic baskets ... so, anytime you get something for free ... it's called "yogi-ing") Eventually, Scott SCORED - yay! - hot food. We camped in the shadow of Mt. Adams and enjoyed a tremendous view from our idealic camp-spot. Not only was the view nice, but there was a stream nearby (water), a level spot (rare) and cleared of debris. Rating: QP+ (Quality Pad PLUS) We left Sheep Lake early in the morning and on the climb up to Cispus Pass, at an unnamed saddle, we paused for a breaktaking view back, south, toward Mt. Adams. Low clouds filled the valleys with fog and we were happy to be above it all, with sunshine-filled views. Next stop - Goat Rocks Wilderness and our first views of Mt. Rainier. Later, Rachel climbs to the Snowgrass trail junction, as we enter the Goat Rocks Wilderness (Among our last views of Mt. Adam, to the south). ^The Goat Rocks area was one of our favorite sections in Washington ... worth visiting again, and again! A passing backpacker snaps our portrait against Mt. Rainier, high in the Goat Rocks. We hiked around Mt. Rainier in 2001 (it was our pre-PCT, field-gear-test hike.) Rachel with Jim Humbard. He & his horse, packed in some great food! Jim, an avid horsepacker & outdoorsman, began reading our web journal & arranged a trail dinner for us. We hooked up at a creek crossing between Snow & Fish Lakes. ^The menu: cold beer, elk steaks, baked potatoes (w/sour cream & fresh chives, mind you), salad AND a trail-baked chocolate cake (with sprinkles on top!) WHAT A FEAST! Lining up for great food. Jim was accompanied by friends (l->r: Molly, Tony (the baker), Paula and -not pictured- Jess). We saw lots of horse packers in Washington, but none in CA or OR. Historically, horse packers opened many of these trails & are still play a big role in trail maintenance. They sure treated us GREAT!! THANKS guys! South of Snoqualamie, was some of the most heavily logged area of the entire PCT. The trail was even re-routed onto logging roads. Whole sections were being clear-cut. (On the plus side - blueberry picking is good!) Washington is renown for "liquid sunshine" of all flavors - mist, drizzle, steady & downpour. We tasted most of it, but fortunately, it never really came down in buckets. ^We were also fortunate to get lots of sunshine too. ^Here, Scott walks along a wildflower-lined trail, under blue skies, heading toward Glacier Peak, in the distance. Hiking conditions were NOT always ideal in Washington! ^Though we managed to avoid day-after-day of solid rain, we did run into much 'dampness' while trying to make Canada before the seasons changed. ^With rainpants & a garbage bag over our packs, we pushed on. Bothered mostly by soggy feet & trickles of water down our backs. Hiking is hard work and Gortex does NOT breathe, contrary to what manufacturers try to say. Scott often wore only his shirt in the rain, opting to put on a rain jacket ONLY if he was cold. ^What can we say? Rain is a pain. Condensation on the lens makes it look like Scott is STEAMING MAD, but we're just kicking back after a long climb, stopping for breakfast in the warming morning sun. We commonly began hiking before stopping to eat, getting a few miles in. Just after Glacier Peak, we rounded a mountainside and spied our first glimpse of Mt. Baker, off to the northwest. This lightened our hearts and quickened our pace, because we now knew that we were CLOSE TO HOME! ^. (One can see Mt. Baker, from Vancouver, on clear days). Fall colors underscored the fact that summer was waning and autumn was taking hold. Loss of daylight, rain & much cooler temperatures accompanied this change. ^We were now on a mission and started to really PUSH for the border. After a seemingly endless number of trail miles, resupplies & trail towns - we could see light at the end of the PCT tunnel. ^We left Stehekin, the last trail town, and had only 5 more days of hiking till we hit the Canadian border. On our final night on the trail, we were treated to a heavy rain storm and the next day, a light misting rain and (at higher elevations) freezing fog and light snow. Rachel poses for a wintery picture on the side of Lakeview Ridge, where windswept snow clung to grasses and branches alike. Rain accompanied most of our last day's hike, though it did manage to let up as we neared the border. It was a cold day and Scott hunkers down to read the map for the last time.^"How far is that dang border, anyway!! I'm ready to be DONE" After 5-months of hiking - we were happy to be back in Canada! Relaxing in the Manning Park Lodge, we eagerly quaff a well-deserved celebratory beer. Our thoughts were on the moment - beer, seeing Rachel's folks, a warm bed, and shower - rather than on our huge accomplishment. THAT would take a while to sink in. Scott's first act in "civilization" was to toss his trail shoes. ^(We both made it to Canada using 2 pairs of shoes, which we swapped near Tahoe). ^The trail took us 5 months, but the memories will last a lifetime. Still, it took a good 6 months for our feet to stop hurting. We both had developed numbness and caluses. We had lost about 30 lbs each, on the trail, but weight went on more quickly - because we were used to consuming so many calories! ^10 days after we finished the PCT, we hopped on our bicycles and cycled from Vancouver to San Francisco, then inland up to Chico, CA. //]]>
facesScott's Day with the Oop - Alex Faces Slideshow: // In early December, when Alex was about 2 months old, Rachel returned to work. On one of his first days alone with "the Nut", Dad decided to capture some of her expressions. The result of this 'experiment' with Alexandra? - this slideshow! UNCERTAIN - Are you ready for a photo session, Peanut? HAPPY - Quick, take the pic, smiles fade fast! TONGUE - A sign that the 'nut is getting hungry. INTENT - This isn't the same as content, the nut's just focused. BORED - The start of a BIG yawn. "I'm tired." ATCHOO - "Hold on dad, I've got to sneeze!" BORED AGAIN - "C'mon dad, this camera stuff is dull." AMAZED - "That dangling lens cap is neato, dad!" STILL BORED - "Let's eat! Where's the bottle?" CONTENT - The 'nut is happy & relaxed ... for the moment. FOCUSED - The 'nut has a thought. Is it a happy thought? Is it a far-away thought? Maybe it's a dumb thought? Or maybe it's a constipated thought? UH OH! - It looks like the beginning ... of a very noisy, headed-south-quickly ... red-in-the face, feed me NOW thought! QUITTING TIME - Photo session is OVER. It's feeding time. BYE! We like the happy 'nut best. Have another look. Hoped you enjoyed the show! Bye y'all. //]]>
year1Alexandra Kimler - First Year, an Oop Slideshow: //Oct 3, 2004 - It's the Oop's birthday! Celebrate by taking a look at her FIRST YEAR! --"The Oop - Year One"-- Alex as a "bun in the oven". This photo was taken near Whistler, only days before Alex was born. Rachel looks BIG here, but for most of the pregnancy, Alex helped her mom keep a slim profile. The 'bun' DID cause her mom some nausia in the 1st trimester, but otherwise, Alex grew from embryo to fetus without problem.^Alex had several nicknames, as she was growing (mostly similar-sized fruit). "Peanut" was the one that stuck & most often used. We thought that it would last BEYOND pregnancy, but after she became "The Oop". Even BEFORE Alex was born, we just knew she was going to be a HAPPY kid!^ HOW?^Alex's smile showed right through to Rachel's belly button! (Of course, we didn't know if Alex was going to be a "Alexander" or "Alexandra". Dad was hoping for a girl - and that's what we got - yippee!)^Picking names wasn't a problem. If it was a girl - Alexandra Lynn. If a boy - Matthew Scott. The FIRST photo of Alex, an Ultra-Sound ("Really COOL technology," proud papa says, "like a tiny seismic survey!") This is a profile view of Alix at 18-weeks. Her head & face can be seen in the left half of the image. Her feet, which don't show in this image, began to practice field goal kicking, shortly after the photo! Alex got the hiccups alot & was mostly active at night (a night owl). Alex popped out on her due date - Oct 3rd, 2003, early in the morning. She complains during her first bath, looking very pink and small. It was a rough day for our wee girl - delivery, poking, prodding, bath, cold air, all the light & all that HANDLING! Dad witnessed Alex's birth, even assisting in the delivery (he held a leg, encouraged Rachel & cut the cord). Alex was eager to emerge. The obstetrician told Rachel DON'T PUSH (she couldn't get her gloves on fast enough!) Alex was out in 3 pushes. (Don't think labor was easy, because Rachel had back labor for nearly 19 hours - OUCH). A quick checkup, a wipe & snip ... then Alex goes right back to mom.^At first, Rachel was determined to have a 'drug free' labor, but after 19 hours of excruciating waves of pain, she opted (begged) for a spinal tap.^"It was great," she reports, "I was able to sleep through the remainder of my labor and I was rested when it came time for the final push." Alex's first reaction out of the womb ... "Let's Eat!" as she roots for a nipple. ^Meanwhile, mom and dad, thrilled to find out their baby was a girl, were busy counting fingers and toes. They were all there and no extras!^After delivery, we were wheeled out to a nearby maternity ward, into a room that we shared with another new mom (and her very large, visiting, extended family). All we wanted was SLEEP! The drugs make Rachel the only perky one in the photo. ^She slept from midnight till around 5 AM (courtesy of a spinal tap)and exhaustion from many painful hours of back labor. ^On a cushion laid on the floor, an anxious soon-to-be-Dad lay wide awake. That exhaustion shows in his face.^Poor Alex looked like she'd gone ten rounds in a tiny boxing ring (which, I suppose, is an accurate description for being turned and trying to come out the wrong way)! Only hours after deliver, bathed, nursed (well, ATTEMPTED nursing - it isn't as easy as one might think), and swaddled in warm blankets, Alexandra Lynn Kimler (all 7lbs 8oz of her) rests contentedly.^Thankfully, she spent a great deal of time sleeping those first few days, which allowed Mom & Dad to catch up on some sorely needed rest, themselves.^And JUST LIKE THAT, we were "parents"! We looked down at our new daughter and wondered how we would perform, as parents. We were apprehensive about our new roles in life (OKAY ... SCARED!) We kept looking at her, then each other, "She's OURS!" - both excited, nervous and in wonderment. And she slept some more! .^.^.^.^.^.^.^She slept with Mom ... .^.^.^.^.^.^.^... and she slept with Dad. Awake or asleep, we marveled at this tiny creature, our daughter. Of course, we thought she was pretty neat (a ploy, no doubt, that Nature uses to ensure that offspring are well cared for).^It worked! It wasn't too long before she had us wrapped around her tiny finger. Or was Alex wrapped around DAD'S finger? ^What a grip! What a tiny PERSON! ^Oh my God - we're PARENTS! Alex slept a lot. When awake, her eyes were often closed. Here's a pic with her eyes open (a rare event)! ^The world must've been a scary place, compared to the warmth & comfort of the womb. Bright lights were new (heck, even low lights were NEW). ^It's interesting how personality is determined so very early. Alex hardly ever cried (Thank God!). The Vietnamese baby cried and cried. Not Alex. She was content & happy. (As first-time parent's, it was a comfort to be together at the hospital. Once, Rachel ducked out to get some supplies for a few minutes and tiny Alex DID CRY! Dad broke out in a cold sweat, wondering "What do I do? What do I do?" All thumbs, Dad learns diapering.^Alex's cries usually indicated a diaper problem or hunger. Early on, a poopy diaper wasn't a big deal, but PEE WAS! (She hated a wet diaper! I think it scared her, or maybe she just didn't like getting wet? Anyway, she made this panicky howl when she was wet.)^Because we were home with Alex, we decided to go the cloth diaper route (less expensive, easier on the environment, etc.) It's worked out well, but early on, we DID supplement by using disposables at night (kept her dryer) and whenever we travel (convenient). ^We're now diaper 'pros', but it's not a pleasant task. Now that Alex is 1, Rachel likes to think we have more diapering changes BEHIND us, than AHEAD of us! Rachel learns about bathing. ^As first-time parents, we opted to spend an extra night in the hospital, just to make sure we felt comfortable tending to our new tyke. Lots of folks were out within 24-hours, but we were glad for the extra supervision and time. We wanted to make sure that nursing was proceeding well, as we learned that babies typically DROP weight and become slightly jaundiced during their first few days, till they're able to learn the fine art of suckling.^So much for us to LEARN! When Scott was a kid, formula was the norm. Now, the recommendation is breastmilk SOLID, till about 4-6 months, and then as a supplement for UP TO 3 years. (At 1, Alex is eating pretty much nothing but solid food, supplemented with formula). It was drizzling, when we put Alex in her car seat (how TINY she was in it!) and left the hospital. We walked to the car, worried about her getting wet (and cold) and thinking "OKAY, here we go home, as PARENTS, with this little creature. Hope this works out because it's not like you can return her for a refund!" ^It took us awhile to get used to being "parents", but now we are and we can't believe how worried and scared we were. I suppose it's only natural. Wonder if Alex was worried and scared? "I wonder if my parents will be cool?" she might have asked herself. ^At one, Alex still uses the carseat, but her feet stick out the bottom and even with the seat set on the biggest settings, the belts are a bit tight! What a change! Of course, when you have a baby, it seems people come out of the woodwork to have a peek at the new creature. Here, Rachel's brother Jonathan and Jennifer (who were having their first kid 4 months after Alex) came by the hospital for a visit. They ended up having a girl too, in February, so Alexandra Lynn has a cousin (Ella Gray) close in age. (Bet they'll have fun playing together at family get-togethers!) Once home, people kept coming by to visit the tiny new person. ^Michelle, Rachel's friend, immediately fell in love with little Alex. She's "Auntie 'Chelle" to Alex (who has more aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas than most kids)^ Yep, our daughter is a people-person and she was that way right from the start. She's never really "made strange" (been afraid of people who weren't her primary care givers). Infact, at one year old, she LOVES company and comes alive when people come by for a visit (of course, her assumption is that they've come by to SEE HER!) ^In Edmonton, Alex has even made friends with some neighborhood pre-teen girls (mainly Taylor), but Taylor often brings HER friends by to play with Alex too! The cat doesn't like the new family additon. At first, he tried to IGNORE her (as he is here, unhappily sharing a lap), then he gave her a wide berth. Now, he RUNS from Alex (who loves the cat and screeches an excitable "MEOW" whenever he's spotted). Parents instinctively love their child. But, neither of us, looking at our new girl, initially thought she was attractive. (We thought she looked like "Mr. Magoo" - Oh My GOD, did we?)^THIS was the first photo taken of Alex where we REALLY SAW how beautiful she was ... not just personality-wise (beause she's ALWAYS had a beautiful personality - happy, content, laughing) ... but beautiful LOOKING.^She's always been LEAN, looking more like a 'little person' than a pudgy baby. Her features have always been well-defined. It took six weeks for Alex to find that her thumb make good pacifier. ^Here's an early photo where she's sucking on two fingers, slurping up a storm. We may regret saying this (because it may end up being a thumb-sucking CURSE) but what a GODSEND it was to have Alex pacify herself with a finger, thumb (or - on rare occasions - her BIG TOE!) She slept through the night, self-pacifying if she needed comfort. It meant that MOM & DAD didn't have to get up in the middle of the night. ^That's right! Alex was sleeping the night-through (8PM till 8AM) at six weeks! She's been an 'easy baby'. We did SOMETHING right! Alex is thinking, "Who is this person?" ^Alex was born with a fair amount of hair. We don't know what color it will eventually be, but with brown eyes, we're guessing she'll be a brunette.^What hair she came home with from the hospital was the hair she lived with for half a year. The darn stuff won't grow, much to her Dad's chagrin. "C'mon Oop," he'd say, "When are you gonna get some HAIR?"^Until she learned to roll over & start crawling (shortly after her six-month 'half-birthday'), she had a bald spot on the back of her head, from laying on her back most of the time. She rubbed it all off!.^At one year, Dad is relieved to see that her hair has grown enough to have 'a bad hair day'. When Alex was just three-weeks old, Scott's parents made the drive to Vancouver, from California, to meet their new (and ONLY) granddaughter. Alex appears to being saying, "Hmmmm," concentrating on some tiny thought. We like to think that she's approving of us as parents, "Hmmmm, looks like this will work out nicely."^This photo was taken when she was 3 weeks old. It's the first family portrait taken outside of the hospital (we're a little more rested, but NOT MUCH!)^Putting Alex down in her crib at night, which was in our bedroom, was difficult. She didn't like being on her back. She'd fall asleep fine in her car seat, but not the crib. One night, in desperation, we just put the sleeping kid into her crib - car seat and all! (We learned some self-preservation parenting skills early on - you do what works, no matter how wacky it might seem). We traveled to Seattle, to visit friends for Thanksgiving, when Alex was just under 2 months old. It was her first trip "abroad". OKAY ... it was her FIRST TRIP from home.^Though born in Vancouver, Alex is a child of the World. She's a Canadian citizen, a United States citizen AND a British citizen (and because Britain is part of the European Union, her British passport will allow her to work anywhere in the E.U.) Cool.^That means when she travels to Europe, after High School, she'll stay and work in some art gallery in Paris! Right now, however, it's one step at a time and over Thanksgiving, our little girl of the World learned her thumb tasted GREAT!^Alex traveled well, making friends wherever we were. No fussing in the car, despite the 4-hour drive. Dad gives Alex a bath, showing off her "backside" & cute, dimply bottom. We're using an infant bathtub here, but Alex later used the sink and now, at one, uses the regular bath for an every-other-day rub-a-dub-dub. She doesn't mind the water, but 'suffers' through a face wash and hair rinse (she doesn't like water on her face).^It's important, as parents, to take photos of your children that you can use LATER, as a bargaining chip. This might well be one of those photos!^"Alex, you don't want us to show your new boyfriend that photo of your naked butt, do you?" we might say. Ha ha.^In some really warped way, it pleased Rachel to see that tiny Alex had cellulite dimples on her bum, because she know believes they're INHERITED, rather than EARNED! Caught in the glare of the paparazzi media blitz that only a baby can fully appreciate, Alex blithely holds up a hand, as if to say, "NO MORE PICTURES, PLEASE!"^No, wait ... yes ... maybe she's just picking her nose?^Her hand is relaxed and open in this photo, but if you look back (or keep this in mind as you look forward), you'll notice that our little girl will often ball up her hands into tiny fists. This trait is expecially pronounced when she's uncomfortable or in an unfamiliar situation. We wonder if this is a passing thing, or will she always do this? In this snap, it appears that Alex has mastered the fine art of crawling. Not true. That won't come until about nine months. At just over 2 months, however, she is demonstrating some strength in her neck, able to hold up her relatively large 'noggin.^Early on, we noticed that she likes to STAND (she would stiffen as we put her on her feet and stand for quite some time, if we provided the balance). In fact, she'd often STAND when we wanted her to SIT - during bathtime, or when we put her in her car seat. She also enjoys BALANCING (Dad will lift her up, balance her on one hand, and wing her around the house. She LOVES it and giggles and coos. At one, she still loves it, but at 20 lbs, Dad tires a little more repidly. Mom, on the other hand, doesn't so much CONDONE the activity, as much as she ENDURES it.) Rachel traveled to Edmonton, in early December, to visit her best friend & maid of honor (Patti Grace), who was battling cancer. It was Alex's first plane ride and Mom's first experience traveling with an infant. "She was great," Mom said of her daughter, "She slept most of the way and suckled to relieve cabin pressurization & depressurization."^Here, Patti holds 'The Oop', who's very tired. That's one thing about babies, they sleep a LOT. Alex looks a little bit more rested here, again with Patti. (Alex is wearing a sweater knitted especially for her, by her granddad, Syd Pilley.)^Alexandra is often mistaken for ALEXANDER, in public - (people thinks she's a boy). Especially because we're not too picky about the clothes we put her in and many are hand-me-downs from her cousin, Toby, who IS a boy. Not having pig-tails doesn't help, which is why Dad has been so focused on getting Alex's hair to grow.^Rachel is glad that she made the trip to Edmonton and afforded Patti the opportunity to meet Alex. Patti lost her battle with cancer on January 28, 2004. She is greatly missed by those that knew her and loved her. Alex receives new clothes, as gifts. Here, she looks very much like a girl in an outfit that Patti bought.^Some clothing is sized right, like this outfit, which was a favorite while she was able to wear it. Others don't. As parents, we've learned that size labels don't mean much. A 3-6 month outfit might be too small, while a 8-12 month shirt fits fine.^As one would expect, Alex outgrows her clothing, rather than wearing it out. Although, since she started crawling, she HAS been soiling a good many clothes. (When she first learned to "crawl", she mostly schooched with her tummy on the ground - more like 'ground-swimming'. She once made her way across a newly planted patch of lawn, to the front door. 2 minutes of schooching ... 1 clothing change! This photo shows how Dad blances Alex on one hand. However, it doesn't do a good job of showing how MUCH Alex likes this activity (in fact, she looks a little frightened here). Rest assured that it is NOT the case! She LOVES to be balanced, lifted, tossed & thrown into the air!^Rachel seems to think that this will all come back to bite us in the butt - that Alex will turn into an adrenaline junkie, seeking out some extreme sport like sky-diving, bungee jumping, or extreme skiing. We'll see. In the meantime, laughter from our little girl is music to our ears. Alex gets into the Christmas spirit, by helping Gran & Grandpa add ornaments. (OKAY, maybe she didn't help much, but she did LOOK AT THE ORNAMENT!) Alex was nearly 3 months old, when Christmas came. Too young to appreciate the holiday, she DID begin her love affair with the cat, Tuxedo, as evidenced by her interest in this photo.^Poor Tuxedo. At one year of age, Alex's love of the cat has only grown & her ability to chase it, improved. It is one of the words she learned first (her present vocabulary: "Mama", "Dada", "Papa" & "Kitty Cat". She CAN bark like a dog "uh-uh" and meow like a cat "eeeeee", picking both out from pictures from her great supply of books). Alex may not have been aware of the holiday, but it didn't dampen her enthusiasm to meet the BIG MAN himself! This particular bespectacled Santa has an authentic set of whiskers, though I think that Alex managed to outshine him in the rosy cheek department.^This great photo is a testiment to Rachel's ability to elicit joy from her daughter, more than Alex's excitement in meeting Santa Claus, because Mom is mugging off-camera to Alex, who, in turn, is responding. (What lengths parents will go to, eh? Shameful!)^Regardless, the objective was achieved & we now have a WONDERFUL photo of Alex's first meeting with Santa. We had a relaxing Christmas at home, then ventured over to see Gran & Granddad Pilley later that afternoon. In what is turning into a family ritual, we began the morning by opening stockings.^Alex is now AWARE of the world around her, at this age, showing interest in many things. Here, her interest is drawn to a new dangly toy that we later suspended from the arm of her car seat.^Tuxedo warily looks on, from the foot of the bed, drawn to this family sharing only by the strength of his stomach (we coaxed him on the bed with kitty 'treats' - which we put into a tiny stocking for him). Christmas is a time for families to come together & while this wasn't the first time that Alex met her cousin Toby, it's the first photo of them together. Of course, Alex was busy napping at the time!^Alex is cozily wrapped in another custom-knitted sweater by Granddad Pilley!^Toby showed great interest in his cousin while she was growing in the womb. I'm not certain if he was expecting an instant playmate, but when coming over to visit, his attention to the sleeping, lifeless infant wouldn't last long. After all, there were so many TOYS to play with!^Once the photo op was over, Alex continued napping (as if nothing had happened) & Toby dashed off upstairs to play (relieved that the photo session was over). We learned is that it is important to keep a hat on a infant. It greatly reduces heat loss, which is important in a cold climate.^One problem. Alex hates hats!^This photo shows one of the reasons why! We'd put a hat on her and she'd roll back & forth, either in her car seat, in her crib or on the floor and BOOM, before you could say "light's out", it would be over her eyes! Sometimes we'd pull her out of the car (the car seat was rear-facing) and haul her into a store, only to discover that she couldn't SEE a thing!^It didn't take her long to discover that she could tug the hat OFF. We're wondering what a winter in Edmonton will be like with a kid that HATE HATS? (Scott jokes about stapling one on). He's such a sick puppy. As any parent living in a northern climate will attest, it is a CHORE to get a child ready to face the wintry elements. Here, Alex is bundled up for an stroller ride up the street, the only thing lacking - shoes. We'd set her in her stroller, then pile a couple of blankets on top. (All this layering makes 'checking a diaper' quite a challenge! And if 'checking' is a challenge, you can imagine what 'changing a diaper' is like!^In Edmonton, it gets cold enough (-40ºC during cold snaps) that children have to wear a full-face mask. (If the Oop hates hats, we afraid that she'll really detest wearing a mask ... which also begs the question, "If infants get cold in bed, during the night, will they crawl UNDER the covers?")^We have more to learn! Alex with "Mr. Whoozit".^It was her "had to have" toy. With six "arms", each with softly shaped, chewable bauble on the end. The nose lifts to reveal a hidden mirror & squeeks, when squeezed. It also features a velcro strap, for easy-dangling options.^Actually, it was this STRAP that Alex loved best! She'd suck on that for an eternity. In fact, the Oop is quite the strap and tag girl. Give her a stuffed toy and she'd play for hours with the product TAG ... sucking, pulling, chewing and whatnot. (Scott thinks this is probably universal among babies & thinks Mattel could make a killing with a TAG TOY ... nothing but a stuffed object with lots of different colored tags sticking off of it). In her 4th month, Alex was introduced to a high chair & rice cereal. We bought one high chair & Gran re-upholstered it (shown here). Alex took to cereal like a pig to slop (maybe not the best analogy). The transition to solid food wasn't difficult, though, as parents, we blew it. ^You're not supposed to give infants certain foods (fear of allergic reations). Oops! Dad gave Alex HONEY in water (as a replacement for corn syrup, when Alex was constipated once). He fed her peanut butter. Whoops!^The GOOD news? Alex ISN'T allergic to honey or peanuts! (Whew!)^In fact (knock on wood, here) Alex has NEVER been sick! Never had a runny nose, fever, cold, the flu, diahrria or vomit (just the normal spit-up, which pretty much stopped around 6-month, although still occurs, infrequently). Dad tried to get a photo of Alex 'standing' on the couch (with friction as an aid) & ended up with this amusing sequence that was posted to our web site as an anmiated GIF. Parents like to think their kid is SMART & ours is firing of an email at 4 and a half months of age! (In reality, Mom is positioned immediately behind a very unsteady Oop. Alex is merely showing a -momentary- interest in the keyboard. It does look authentic, you have to admit!) There were a lot of "firsts" for Alex, during the year, as she is being introduced to SO MUCH. Here, Mom introduces Alex to swimming. She was nervous, not comfortable with the water or the noisy natatorium, but she didn't cry. (Typical Oop - notice the 'fists') An alert Alex, with Mom, after her first swim. Jill, one of our Vancouver neighbors, stopped by to wish Alex a Happy "Half-Birthday" on April, 3rd. Dad thought it would be nice to celebrate with a special cake ... Scott baked half of a birthday cake for Alex's "Half-Birthday", with a candle representing each month.^She was pretty excited about the dubious honor!^Because she was a relative newcomer to 'solid food', we weren't sure if a chocolate cake would be appreciated by the girl of honor, but we needn't have worried ... SHE LOVED IT!^This picture shows her LUNGING forward, excited about the candles, the cake, the honor, the plate & just about everything else! (Gran blew out the candles and then we all dug in). Alex thought that EVERY bite should be for her! (No Alex, it's Gran's turn!) On her half-birthday Oop gets a new toy from Gran Pilley, this "Jolly Jumper" & she LOVES it! ^At six months of age, Alex is about to enter into a real physical development stage. She loves to bop up & down in her new Jolly Jumper, sit up in her saucer, and loves to be tossed into the air and balanced on Dad's hand!^She's not yet rolling over or sitting up, but that will come soon enough. It's just about time to put away everything on the lowest shelves, because she's just starting to 'explore her World'!^Yikes! The Oop models the latest line of high fashion headwear, while Dad snaps the pic using our new, higher resolution, digital camera. ^When you've got a tot, pictures, well ... you take a lot! (And many goofy ones!)^We figured we'd save ourselves the cost of development and printing. Gran & Grandad Pilley have a toddler swing hanging off their back porch. ^One day, we thought the Oop was ready for a new experience. ^We put her in the swing and guess what? ^She LOVED IT! ^(At one, she still does - our little adrenaline junkie). Alex under her 'Toy Tent' (with dangling objects). "Monkey" is a favorite. When she presses its tummy, it says, "I love you - SMACK" & then plays a musical tune. A portrait of our little girl, propped up in the reclining chair. She's about six and a half months here, not QUITE able to sit up yet, but we could tell that it wouldn't be long before she would learn how.^This was a perilous time for our poor little Oop. We were so used to leaving her on her back (because she wasn't capable of rolling over or really moving anywhere). Suddenly - she COULD! She fell off the couch once and bonked her head, off the changing table once ... and bonked her head! OUCH! We learned QUICKLY to keep one hand on her at ALL times, when changing diapers. She went down for her nap on the floor and not tucked into the couch! At close to 7 months, we took Alex for a long trip to visit Grandma & Grandpa Kimler, at their ranch in northern California.^Alex got to meet cows & chickens for the first time.^Alex thought it was funny they could lick their noses! The last time they saw Alex, she was only three weeks old. Lot's changes in nearly 7 months! "She's a little person," Grandpa said! (She stole their hearts). Alex liked swinging so much that we took the swing with us to California. This picture shows HOW MUCH Alex enjoys swinging! Alex is often a very serious baby. We think that she's going to grow up to be a pensive & thoughtful person.^One day, Rachel put Alex in her Snuggli (a soft kid carrier that you wear) & took her to the bank. While in line, Alex stared intently at the man next in line. As adults often try to do, he attempted cute antics, trying to elicit a smile from the Oop. He made faces, waved, cooed and smiled. ^She just stared at him, with this look on her face, as if he had just landed from Mars or something. This didn't deter the man, who kept trying to get a smile from little Alex. ^Eventually, he DID get a reaction. ^She yawned. With summer approaching, we thought it a good idea to get a bicycle trailer for Alex. Here, we embark on our first ride around Stanley Park. It was a new adventure for the Oop and she handled it like she handles most things - a great deal of aplomb & little fuss. In Stanley Park, we took a break from our bicycle ride and played with Alex in a field of Daiseys.^She enjoyed plucking at the little flowers, pulling each petal out, as if saying "He loves me, he loves me not." Then, in true Oop fashion, she'd promptly put them in her mouth.^The ORAL stage! ^Yep, pretty much everything was headed directly into the mouth ... shoes, straps, flowers, and (her personal favorite) tags. Alex loves tags that stick out on soft products! ^Occasionally, we'd pick up a small, stuffed toy and it would be SOAKING WET with kid slobber! YUCK. Rachel made a crown of Daiseys for Alex, while we rested in the beautiful spring sunshine. ^We put the crown on Alex's head, so we could get a picture, but Alex would promptly take off the crown. It took several attempts before we were successful (we were happy that we had a digital camera - we were only burning electrons, not film).^Eventually, we got a photo, just before Alex pulled it off and plopped it into her mouth! At 7.5 months, we took the Pilley's tent trailer to Edmonton (a 16-hour drive from Vancouver) on a house-hunting trip.^Alex waits patiently, sitting with sleeping bags, in her brightly colored PJs. If she hated hats, she REALLY hated sunglasses! They didn't stay on long & we've given up on trying to use them.^With a bumblebee rattle on her wrist, she's the picture of fashion, baby-style!^She liked camping & was a trooper in the car (long periods of time in her car seat). She didn't, however, like sleeping in the tent trailer & ended up sleeping with Mom, while Dad slept on the opposite bed. This caused problems when we returned (it took several nights for Alex to get used to sleeping alone again). Alex & Dad hang out together on the Pilley porch, in Vancouver. Alex & Dad resting together on the couch. Alex finds her legs & learns to crawl at 7.5 months. It took her SOME time to crawl on hands & knees, preferring the 'ground swimming' technique, shown here. Alex 'helps' load the U-Haul van, during our relocation to Edmonton.^(She's REALLY just trying to pull off her HAT ... the Oop HATES hats, don'tcha know!) We made the move to Edmonton in the middle of June. Alex was happy to arrive and be let out of the box in which we had packed her! (Hello ... we're KIDDING!) She's a GREAT kid ... happy, rarely cries (only when hungry, tired or poopy) for the most part. She loves people and is quick with a smile. We think we lucked out - BIG TIME! Shortly after making the move to Edmonton, at 8 months, Alex learned how to 'get vertical'. Her World expanded to include things on the tables, in cabinets, on chairs and (coming soon) up the stairs! ... Holy Moly!^Mom and Dad now have to baby-proof the house. Cabinet doors, drawers & baby gates now become an everyday part of our lives. For the first time, we hear those words come out of our mouth ... "Alexandra Lynn Kimler! NO!"^At first, we allow her to pull Compact Discs off the rack, books off the shelves & newspaper flyers out of the bag, because she plays happily with one or two, for a while. TOO SOON, she's just chucking them on the floor, hand-fulls at a time. We hear "thunk, thunk" from upstairs, ALL the books are off the shelves and heaped onto the floor! Yites! We begin setting limits. Family portrait taken by Auntie 'Chelle, in July, when Alex was 8 months old. Alex really motors now, at 9+ months. Tuxedo becomes fair game & becomes reclusive. He no longer sleeps on the sofa, choosing a basement hiding spot to avoid a curious Oop. Sharing a hug with Auntie Michelle, before bedtime (8 PM). Alex REALLY had fun when she discovered the toilet! Scott heard a 'splish, splash' coming from the bathroom & went to investigate. Alex was laughing and swishing her hand around in the bowl! (At first, we simply made a point of keeping the lid down. That worked fine, until she discovered the toilet paper! An unrolled heap on the floor! Now the door is closed.)^Rachel tells a funny story about her brother. Apparently, they had an old-style, elevated reservoir tank on their family toilet. Jonathan discovered that if you put the leading square of the toilet paper roll IN the toilet AND flushed ... it would unroll at a great speed while the water flushed the toilet paper down! ZING .... ! (Pilley parents wondered, "WHY is the family going through SO MUCH toilet paper?")^Alex hasn't discovered the flush handle. Nor has she learned how to USE the toilet. The diapers continue and the AMOUNT increases! During the heat of the Edmonton summer season - two weeks - we bought Alex a wading pool. ^We had to let it sit out for a couple of days, so the sunshine would warm up the water enough that we could use it.^Alex had a ball, contentedly chasing toys around the clear water. ^Her claim to fame was her innate ability to SINK every type of floating vessel we could find! Half-in & half-out, she's attempting to retrieve a golf ball that ended up outside the pool. Soon after, she herself was outside the pool & had to be plunked back in. We took Alex to the park, when Gran Pilley came to visit, and Alex got to play with a HUGE Dandelion. She also got nose-to-nose with Canadian Geese, feeding them bread crumbs. She was a bit tentative with them, especially after one pecked her fingers! Gran Pilley strolls with Alex down a park pathway.^Edmonton has an abundance of parks along the North Saskatchewan River, something that we've thoroughly enjoyed. We like the city, our neighborhood, our neighbors, but we're a little worried about the winter (-40ºC during cold snaps? ... Dude, that's COLD!)^Summers are pleasant and we enjoyed Gran's visit and our lunch in the park. Alex makes friends everywhere we go & her BEST neighborhood friend is Taylor, a 7th grader.^We met Taylor at a neighborhood picnic & discovered she lived right across the alley, only a couple of houses down from ours.^She's become Alex's best friend, bringing friends, treats & flowers over when she visits.^Alex LOVES to see Taylor (& her friends), laughing & playing. ^Of course, she's not ALWAYS NAKED, like she is here!^Taylor once asked Rachel (about Alex) "Has she EVER cried?" Neighborhood friend, Paul, just turned 75 & lives across the alley. He has season tickets to the local triple-A baseball team: the "Trappers".^One hot day in July, when he couldn't go, he gave the ticket to us & we got to take our girl out to the ball game.^Here, Dad is thrilled that Alex is so taken with the game (even sporting a "Trappers" rub-on tattoo, which they were handing out to all the kids)! ^Alex got a little fussy after about the 7th inning, but it was a good game with the Tacoma, Washington team, so we stayed & watched the whold show.^Though she HATES HATS, Alex was a good sport & let us take several pictures of her WITH her ball cap. Alex had a ball (no pun intended) at the game.^Here, she makes eyes at some of the folks in adjacent seats.^We ate hot dogs & Alex was content with her bottle.^What a happy girl she is! What a pleasure to be with. Mom proudly looks on, as Alex mugs for the camera (sporting that great tattoo!) In August, when Alex was 10 months, we introduced her to cycle touring. ^We cycled 300km with Alex, along the Icefields Parkway, a highway connecting Banff & Jasper National Parks.^It was an adjustment, towing an infant, but Alex, as usual, took the whole trip in stride.^She had a WONDERFUL time & got REALLY DIRTY for the very first time!^The weather was supurb & the scenery outstanding. Scott's ONLY complaint: "Why did they put in so many steep roads?" Whenever you embark on a trip, it is inevitable - you forget something. On this trip, as worried about traveling with an infant as we were, we forgot to bring any TOYS for Alex.^We needn't have been concerned.^After spending many hours in her "Lil' Trooper" buggy, you'd think that it would be the LAST place she'd want to be in camp.^NOT TRUE!^The buggy ended up doubling as a play pen - by her choice! And toys? Don't you know that the forest is absolutely littered with things more interesting to an infant than anything designed by Mattel.^She had a WONDERFUL time. Of course, she DID get very dirty. It bothered us WAY MORE than it bothered her. After a couple of days, we just gave up trying to keep her clean! Alex looks on, munching a cookie, as Scott fixes a flat tire. Bundled to ward off the morning chill, Alex sits in her buggy, waiting to hit the road. We set her car seat into the two-seater buggy, which made her ride more comfortable. At a lunch-stop, Alex gleefully tugs at a drawcord. The World is a fascinating place! Looking like a deer in the headlights, Alex appears stunned. Sporting a toothy grin, Alex smiles up at Mom, while Dad takes the photo.^Alex got her first tooth in April, followed very quickly by another (her bottom two).^We called her a "TWO-FER". ^By the bike trip, the upper two had come in as well, so we started calling her a "FOUR-FER"^ Then it was a while before any more showed & when they did, an upper & lower showed up on her left side. She was lopsided! She's gotten one more, for a total of seven (a "SEVEN-FER"?), but she's still lopsided! Alex plays with her buggy safety antenna at a roadside pitstop, on the last day of our bicycle tour.^Alex met lots of new folks and most LOVED that we were towing our child, remarking that we made pretty good time. ^The trip took us 5 days.^Rachel kept a journal and posted it (with pictures) on a cycling web-site. To read about our Banff-to-Jasper adventure, DOUBLE-CLICK THE PHOTO! After the 5-day cycle-tour, Oop & Dad catch a few Zzzz's at home. Mischevious grin & legs lost in her too-big overalls, Alex demonstrates her ability to climb stairs.^She mastered this quickly & only tumbled a couple of times.^She mastered going UP well before getting a handle on going DOWN.^At one, she not only goes both up & down, but also mastered getting off of chairs, couches & beds.^Yep, her World is expanding FAST. (Still can't walk YET, but we're not eager to encourage her!) Grandad Pilley serves up one of Alex's favorites - Yogurt! Gran & Grandad Pilley stopped by for a visit during late August, when the Oop was 10 months old.^We spent some time, traveling locally, exposing Alex to some local color. Alex is apprehensive about these wooly creatures.^They got right in her face and she did NOT like that much. Alex gets INTO her food! This time, it's Mom's yummy cherry pie! Then it's corn on the cob. The Oop pretty much eats it all. Alex's overflowing toy box, that sits next to the TV stand, in the living room. She'll need a bigger box, especially AFTER her birthday, because we expect even MORE will be added.^Oop doesn't watch much TV, though she'd LIKE to. We RARELY have it on during the day & don't watch, ourselves, until after Oop's bedtime. She does, however, have a growing library of children's DVDs, that she will enjoy at some point, when we REPLACE the broken TV (the big TV is non-functional & we watch an old 13" TV that we placed on top of the broken one.)^Alex likes to take toys OUT OF THE BOX & not yet discovered the fine art of putting them IN THE BOX. Alex & Taylor in a pile of autumn leaves. Alex is 11+ months here & you can see she's learning to "point" at things.^When she sees the cat, she meows & points.^She can wave 'bye-bye' and 'hello' (When you say 'bye-bye', it takes her a moment to stop crawling, sit up & wave her arm). ^Our little cutie is growing up SO FAST! This photo was taken soon after an afternoon nap. See the imprint of the afghan on the side of her face? She sleeps hard & wakes up happy. Alex DOES wear dresses, but with her still crawling, we prefer overalls or jeans. She's just too hard on her knees to justify wearing out stockings.^She's caught clapping here, excited about one thing or another.^She's a very happy girl & (mostly) a pure joy.^She has her moments! She's usually cranky only when hungry, tired or poopy ... but aren't we all? (Well, okay, maybe not the 'poopy' part ... but you know what we mean). Alex enjoyed looking through her birthday cards that arrived in the mail. (Thanks to everyone for sending one). ^One of her birthday cards made a sound when you poked it! She loved that. ^She also enjoyed seeing Cats and Dogs on the front (or any animal), because she would MEOW or BARK appropriately (or inappropriately) ... it was, after all, HER birthday!! Alex tentatively opens a gift that was brought by our landlord (Laura) and her daughter (Mairin). Alex received a Winnie the Pooh plate, bowl & a kid-approved fork & spoon! No birthday party is complete without cake & ice-cream! Dad baked the Oop a cake & here we are all sitting around the decorated dining room, pigging out on cake & ice-cream. Alex had fun during her birthday bash (conveniently scheduled after her morning nap)!^Mom is holding her up so that she can reach for her balloons, which is yet ANOTHER new experience for our still-relatively-new baby girl. ^Fortunately, none popped in her face, which would have resulted in a birthday disaster! Abandoning the fork and spoon, Alex digs into the party food, using only her fingers.^This was FINE, until she started crying because the ice-cream was too cold on her fingers! ^We wonder what the NEXT year will bring?! More OOP photos, no doubt! Stay tuned. When will Alex walk? When will Alex talk? What funny things will she say? Will the cat stay? Will diapers be done? Will the Oop have fun? ^SURE SHE WILL! - Keep up with the Oop on our family website.^.^Signed, .^The Cat who Hates Hats . //]]>
year2Alexandra Kimler - Second Year, an Oop Slideshow: //Oct 3, 2005 - It's the Oop's birthday! Celebrate by taking a look at her SECOND YEAR! Alex pinching cat food. No wonder her "meows" sound real (& her breath stinks)! Her paternal grandparents came up to Edmonton just after her first birthday.^Alex howls with laughter, as grandpa pulls her across the floor on her little wagon.^She LOVES being thrown, pushed, pulled, swung and tossed. Our little "daredevil". Grandpa makes faces at Alex, during a feeding.^She started the year off supplementing solid food with formula. Now, it's all solid food, having learned how to handle a fork and spoon with some degree of dexterity.^We're STILL not sure whether she'll be left or right-handed, as she handles a spoon (equally messily) using both! Alex plays with a lot of toys, but books remain her favorite. Throughout the year, she would plop in someone's lap and "demand" a reading.^Here, grandpa does the honors. Of course, when you're not even two years old, it's OKAY to parade around the house half-naked! ^Alex, drying out after a wet diaper change, can't decide if she should stick to her own small book, or delve into Mom's large University nursing text book. No parading around half-naked here! Edmonton winters demand LOTS of clothes. Wearing her new snowsuit, Alex braves the first major snowstorm of the season... Alex decides that INSIDE is better than OUTSIDE, promptly making tracks back to the front door.^With a cold Edmontonian winter, a baby and a 'stay-at-home' Dad ... a LOT of time was spent cooped up inside the house.^Locals say that the winter was "mild", but for a California-raised Scott and a Vancouver-raised Rachel, it was the worst we'd ever experienced!^Oop didn't care, she had plenty of stuff inside the house to amuse her. Halloween night was when she took her very first steps, motivated by all the trick-or-treaters that kept coming to the door.^Wobbly at first, she would launch herself from the couch, chair, or table and make her way till she fell.^This marked the beginning of her hard-headedness, as her tiny noggin became used to abuse. (She hit her head a lot).^Later, her head became a weapon (of sorts), as she became immune to pain through constant bashing. It sure hurt US, when she accidentally head-butted us!^At two, she's pretty steady on her feet, but she still has yet to master the subtle art of RUNNING. (It's coming though). Reading with Dad.^"A Week of Colors"^We figure that yellow MUST be her favorite color, because she thinks EVERYTHING is yellow.^"What color is that, Alex?" we ask, pointing to a blue block.^"Yel-low," she says. Trying to give Alex a "new experience", Dad plops the Oop into a box filled with styrofoam packing "peanuts".^She thinks it's FUN! ^So does Dad (until Alex starts EATING the peanuts). ^Alex is in "the oral stage", using her mouth to experience things. Surprisingly, she's been pretty healthy, mostly protected from the ills of the World via breast milk. Now that she's been off the boob for a while, our little girl will become sick. Bathing has been a mixed bag. Sometimes Alex LOVES the water, but just as often (it seems) she howls, complaining all the way into the bath.^Once in the water, however, she normally settles down, playing and playing, until she becomes wrinkled like a prune. ^Surrounded by yellow ducks and plastic boats, Alex tugs on the ear of her bovine washcloth, amid a sea of bubbles. This isn't Alex! ^Nope, it's Jordan, one of Alex's first playmates. ^After Rachel started at the University, it wasn't long before she met another "Mom" in the Nursing program.^Andrea and Dave have two kids and Jordan is only days younger than Alex. We've gotten together a few times, though when we first brought the two babies together, they mostly played NEAR each other, more than playing WITH each other. ^Still, it's nice to be able to trade off baby-sitting duties every once in a while. Dave and Scott with Jordan and Alex at the West Edmonton Mall. ^Because it's too cold to take such tiny tots outside, it's a good thing that Edmonton has the largest mall in North America!^We stopped for a bite to eat and a coffee at Tim Horton's (a Canadian coffee shop).^Everyone had a good time. This lion, nearly as large as Alex herself, was a gift from Paul, who lives just across the alley. ^Paul has become a surrogate grandfather. ^Alex looks forward to his visits and enjoys visiting with him. ^Wait! (Maybe it's because he showers her with candy treats, each time he sees her?) ^Whatever the case, Alex is thrilled with Leo, the Lion (and Paul)! Alex's play becomes more sophisticated. ^Here, she's attempting to diaper her teddy bear, "Mr. Checkers". ^Of course, if one diaper is good, then three or four MUST be better! Right? ^Sophisticated play is all good and fine, but along with THAT, comes an even greater curiosity, mobility and strength. Alex is now keeping us VERY busy, as she gets into all kinds of things! "Mr. Checkers" isn't the only stuffed animal needing care. Here, "Leo the Lion" (sporting a hair doo that looks a LOT like Alex's) gets some good grub. Alex watches Mom wave at her, while she's outside, shoveling snow from the front walk. (We toss snow at her and she laughs, as it hits the window in a white flurry)! Alex's curiosity makes her pluck the teddy bear ornament off the Christmas tree.^So, we moved it higher up on the tree. ^Soon, we had a "Toddler Tree" (one without ornaments below about three feet)! Alex tentatively greets Santa Claus. At a nearly 15 months, Alex is still unsure about the whole "Christmas" thing. ^But when Grant and Diane show up, from next door, bearing gifts ... Alex begins to get into the "Christmas spirit". ^We have GREAT neighbors in Edmonton. Winters may be cold, but neighbor's hearts are warm. The Oop is a bit out of it, because of a Christmas cold. Dressed in her Holiday finest, Alex puts aside her sniffles and in the "spirit of unwrapping", literally TEARS into the presents. ^Here, she sports a "popcorn popper" (which she bravely tries to operate, but it's several months before she gets the hang of the thing). ^Thanks Grandpa (and Grandma)! Holidays ARE for children and we thoroughly enjoy sharing the day with her. ^Here, she playfully puts a bow on her head, making HERSELF the best "present" of the day! ^It all goes by too quickly. Despiter her cold, Alex runs amok and the only way to calm her, is to give her a time-out in her crib. No problem for the Oop, as she contentedly opens presents from INSIDE! She pretends a LOT, but this is the first time that the Oop actually says "HI" on the phone. ^BOTH sets of grandparents were privy to their first granddaughter "hello", on Christmas day (despite the runny nose). ^Alex was caught up in the excitement of the day! Just after Christmas, Rachel flew to Vancouver with Alex, leaving Dad at home (alone). ^Alex happily poses with her Gran, shortly after arriving. ^Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Scott was busily learning XHTML, CSS and PHP ... building a new family website. During her Vancover visit, Alex learned about playing with "MEGA-Blocks". ^"Wow!" she said (meaning ... 'they're FUN')! ^Oddly, she came home with a bag of them. She and Dad (Dad likes blocks too) have been building all sorts of things, since. Alex poses with Grandpa and Gran Pilley Not often does Alex get to spend time with her younger cousin, Ella Gray. (Younger by only a few months). Alex gets a shove from her grandpa Pilley, as she learns about the fun of ROLLING on a push cart! ^With three grandkids, the Pilleys have a raft of FUN toys at their house. A fact not lost on the Oop, who is eager to take advantage of ALL of them!. Alex and Auntie Michelle pose for a snap. Alex plays with her older cousin, Toby, while Aunt Susan and Grandpa Pilley look on. ^Toby, whose about 4 and a half here, had his patience tested by our little girl (who wanted to be "into" everything HE was). Back at home, Alex returns to normal indoor play - "organizing" toys and pushing things around in the laundry hamper. Alex loves her books, sometimes choosing to "read" four or five at a time. ^Here, she's trying a new fashion (backwards hats), while enjoying SEVERAL of her favorite books. ^She waves "bye" to Mom, as Mom heads off to campus, each day. Then, it's her and Dad, all day (except for her two naps - one in the morning and one in the afternoon). Unfortunately, she'll drop one of the two naps by Springtime. ^In the meantime, Dad TRIES to come up with activities that will keep Alex occupied. ^Ahhh, the joys (?) of a stay-at-home dad! Who in their right mind, would dress their daughter like THIS? ^Not that Alex seemed to care, as she just went about her busy day ... organizing toys, "reading" books and being (WAY TOO) curious. ^"Is Spring EVER going to get here?" Dad wondered. Dad tried to come up with several activities to keep the Oop busy. One of those was a "threaded string", onto which Alex could thread a number of colored blocks. ^She seemed to like it, as it kept her very busy. ^Here, she models a strung string, just behind her "Colorol" wagon. One of the nice things about the Edmonton winters is that the sky is often brilliant blue. (Of course, temperatures are STILL hugely negative). But having a bright sky helps lift the spirits.^Alex and Dad go for a mid-day hike, in late January.^Of course, the Oop SLIPS a lot, on the ice. Still, we're BOTH happy to be out of the house, even for a half-hour. Alex on another early Spring outing. ^She is a happy girl. Generally, very easy to be around (even if her curiosity gets her into trouble). ^Of course, we have yet to go through "the terrible two's"! During "Laundry Day", Alex tries on a number of clothing combinations. ^Here, she's got a fanciful diaper wrap on her head, one of Dad's overly-large socks on her right leg, a too-big shoe and a normal diaper shirt! ^Somehow, it all "works", as the Oop looks BEYOND the camera lens, seeking deeper meaning. ^What a nut! Alex isn't too sure about eating marshmellow chicks, courtesy of Grandparents in California. With green candy drool that nearly matches the color of her P.J.s, Alex expresses joy after "finding" a hidden Easter Egg. Alex concentrates on Easter Egg painting. ^She painted a half-a-dozen eggs before she wondered, "Why are my hands turning blue?" ^"Having a kid means that you get to be a kid ALL OVER AGAIN" says Dad, equally excited about the prospect of Easter. ^(Truth be told, he ate HIS fair share of marshmellow chicks). Both parents have to share in the joy of Easter Egg coloring, with their daughter. ^Alex likes coloring eggs. ^Heck, Alex likes FINDING eggs. ^And she really likes EATING eggs. ^I guess you could say, Alex likes all things EGG! Alex receives a card and some really nifty clothes from her grandparents in California. ^"Thanks grandpa and grandma," she says. ^When you're young, gifts seem to come on ALL occasions! ^And why not? Alex enjoys putzing around on the computer. Constructive or destructive, it doesn't matter! The Oop is able to blow out her own birthday candles at age one and a half.^She cries, when given ice cream with her cake, as it's too cold to handle with her fingers. ^Still, the day is a success and the Oop is happy. As the weather changes, we're spending more and more time outdoors. Dad builds an "Oop Containment Field" to keep Alex confined to the backyard.^Here, Alex is asking to be picked, "UP?" (and over) her confines. We figure that the gate will only last a year, before she figures out how to crawl over it. One of the other new outdoor activities includes sliding down the backyard slide. ^We figured that the outdoor swingset would be an asset for Alex, we just didn't figure on HOW SOON it would be an asset! ^Alex was proud, the day she climbed up and slid down - all by herself! Alex tries to peek through the off-setting slats in our backyard fence, in an attempt to see Paul, our neighbor across the lane. ^Paul has taken a real liking to Alex and visa-versa. ^She ran over to the fence, when we told her that Paul was coming. She kept saying, "Hi, Paul. Hi, Paul" (over and over), so we knew she was excited to see him. About this time, Alex started "helping" around the house. Here, she helps Dad prepare dinnner. Alex helps out in other ways, too. ^Here, she's "helping" Mom vaccuum the dining room rug. ^Always happy to help out, the Oop often ends up being more of a hinderance, than a help. Still, with her cheerful outlook, who can refuse? Alex demonstrates WHY she isn't always a "helper"! We bought Alex a training potty. ^She liked it. ^She sat on it. ^She also "read" books, while sitting on it (just like Dad)! (Notice that HER book is upside-down?) ^However ... nothing ever came of all of this. She's STILL in diapers. ^One day ... (not soon enough) ... our little girl will be using the potty FOR REAL! With Leo looking on, Alex watches the marbles fall out of her container, onto the carpet. The Oop's friend, Leo, looks on (again) as Alex plays with magnetic letters.^She knows her name is "Alex" (though she pronounces it "Alek"). She just doesn't know that it's made up of letters - Yet! ^For now, she's just amazed that the colored "blobs" stick to the fridge. ^Don't you just love the hat? The only thing missing is a propeller! In spring, we took Alex to the Edmonton Zoo. ^It was a nice, sunny day & we had a good time, especially Alex. ^Here, she discovers just how stinky a goat can be! At the zoo, Alex also got to ride on her very first merry-go-round.^She LOVED it! ^Looking like a Hollywood star, she poses for a photo with Mom, enjoying the up-and-down, round-and-round motion! ^I think that this was the highlight of her Zoo adventure! Go figure. On a Zoo bench, Alex and Dad share some laughs, while resting. ^It was a warm and sunny day! (Finally) Alex enjoys watching the Bengal Tigers, as they parade around in their enclosure. ^The tigers didn't scare Alex. She knows ALL about tigers. ^She took one look at them and then said, "Meow" (which pretty much summed the whole thing up). ^Although, she might have hummed a different tune, had there not been so much chain link between her and the tigers! Alex and Mom watch the long-trunked elephant approach. Alex "helps" with the dishes (takes over the sink is more like it!) ^Alex loves water and doing dishes is simply an excuse to GET WET! ^She has a special chair that she uses for dishes. Fortunately, it's in the next room and it takes her a good 5 minutes to get it over to the sink. ^(Just enough time to get the majority of the dishes finished, before the chair is in place)! Here's another angle of the dishwashing diva. ^Alex has just gotten over another cold, which is why her face looks a bit puffy. Still, it doesn't deter her dishwashing duties! ^Too bad all this enthusiasm for water can't be translated into her BATH, in which she is NOT as eager to partake. ^Still, we can't complain ... Alex is a pretty easy toddler. ^Like we say - "The Lord only gives you what you can handle. I guess he just figured that we couldn't handle much!" Alex LIKES bubbles and thinks dishsoap bubbles taste OKAY. Dad does all sorts of things to keep the Oop entertained. ^Here, he puts Alex into an empty trash can, just to see her reaction. ^What does she do? ^Explore! (That is, until the trash can topples over). Then ... she explores some MORE! The Oop has her "likes" and "dislikes". ^It wasn't until late this Spring, however, that ice cream slid over from the "dislike" side, to the "like" side. ^Maybe it can be attributed to her improving use of the SPOON (as it kept her fingers out of the cold stuff)? ^Maybe she just finally got a CLUE?! ^Whatever the reason, ice cream (or "I-Beam", as she calls it) is now near the TOP of her "Things I Like to Eat" list. ^Here, in an unusual repose of contemplative involvement, she's concentrating on consuming a bowl of the sweet stuff. ^Sugar and Spice and all that's nice! The Oop went for a long drive to California, during her summer holiday. ^Along the way, we stopped off in Seattle, to visit with Scott's University roomate, Kurt Easthouse and his family - Aly, Kim and Garrett (from left to right). As usual, the Oop (and everyone else) had a great time! We also stopped in to see our Big Ride Across America buddy Dave and his newly wedded wife, Karen, in West Seattle. ^The Oop doesn't care about all that stuff. ^In a theme that would repeat itself with nearly everyone we visited, the Oop plopped herself in Karen's lap and "demanded" a reading! ^Alex LOVES her books. ^In this case, it's a Dr. Seuss book of 'wacky opposites' (The Foot Book). Which, we now know by heart. In California, Alex was introduced to "Piggy" (on grandpa's hand). Somebody wack us over the head with a 2-by-4! ^Why did we leave Edmonton during the summer and visit California? Temps were above 100 degrees every day we were there! We stayed in the house for the opposite reason that we stayed in our Edmonton house during the winter. ^On a rare outing, early in the morning, we took a walk among the walnut trees. ^Every walk is a new experience for the Oop! On this walk, Dad taught the Oop how dogs LOVED to be scratched on the belly. ^She thinks that's pretty neat (and so does the yellow lab)! ^Alex's face shows joy and well, so does the dog's. ^Ahhhh. Of course, not everything is as exciting as learning how to scratch dogs on the belly. ^Near the end of our mile and a half walk, the Oop became tired and needed some help. ^Alex has cut out her morning nap and is now napping only once during the day, usually just after noon. Here, she looks like she's ready for a nap and it's not even 9 AM! We discover that Alex has a hidden talent - the piano. ^Here, she demonstrates her unique (and half-naked) style! With her head bowed in quiet concentration and her fingers moving faster than a camera shutter, the Oop plays a lively rendition of one of the classics. ^None of us had heard that PARTICULAR piece before, but it was stirring, to say the least! ^She may not have hit ALL the right notes, but with the volume knob turned up, who could tell? ^Play it Oop! Grandma & Alex look at all the Oop pictures in Grandma's Brag Book. It doesn't take too much work for Alex to get Grandma to read with her. ^They're reading about "Polly Pelican", a book which has a plastic, hinged pelican beak on the top that goes, "Snap, snap!" ^It's one of Alex's favorite books (that we brought along on vacation ... she has many more "favorites" at home, too). ^Alex likes books! Scott's cousins Nancy & John (left) visited for 2 days, bringing John's family: Deirdre (next to Scott), kids Kelly & Nick (plus foreign-exchange student François, not pictured). With so many people visiting, the Oop had a captured audience from which to choose for reading. ^Here, the Oop cornered Nancy for a quick read of "The Foot Book". Later, Alex pressed herself on Deirdre, for yet ANOTHER reading of "The Foot Book". Alex doesn't care if it's family or friends, just as long as someone is willing to read with her! ^Here, she's working her charm on François, the French foreign-exchange student, who gamely plays along. ^Mixing it up a bit, Alex has chosen a magazine as "reading material". It was too bloody hot outside to do much else besides - SWIM! ^Alex (with hat & shirt to avoid sunburn) became well acquainted with water, during her California stay. ^Here, she's riding in a toddler "whale", which allowed her to float, relatively unattended, in the pool. Using his tubby-hubby waistline to displace water, Dad jumps UP and DOWN, giving the Oop a gleeful and wet ride. ^She loved the water, even after she managed to choke down a good portion of it. The unexpected gulps had her coughing, but only dampened her enthusiasm for the water for a moment. Nose-to-nose with Grandpa, the Oop mimics grandpa, dunking her face and blowing bubbles. Back in Vancouver, we meet up with Michelle (who's wedding to Bruce is in a couple of days). ^At Burnaby Park, we take Alex on her VERY FIRST train ride! The conductor even allowed Alex to blow the steam whistle! (She liked doing THAT!) Letting off a little toddler steam on the ride, Dad convinces Alex to raise her arms in excitement! ^"Chug, chug," goes the train. ^"Whee!" goes Alex! Alex's face says it all, as she plays for the first time, in a water park! Alex continued her book-reading ways, at Gran and Grandpa Pilley's house. ^Here, with her cousin Ella (who also has a penchant for book reading), the two toddlers gang up on Uncle Jonathan, for a reading. Alex looks up to her older cousin, Toby, who she thinks is a "little" adult. ^Right after lunch, she cornered Toby for (what else?) - a book reading! ^Toby (who also likes books) was happy to oblige. Toby and Alex get nose-to-nose, trying to get a glimpse of themselves in the tiny mirror, contained in the book. A trip to the beach means sand! ^What toddler doesn't like sand? ^Alex put sand in the dump truck, the ocean, her shoes, her pants ... EVERY WHERE! ^She had fun! While Mom and Dad took a 2-day side trip to Vancouver Island, Alex stayed with Gran and Grandpa, in Vancouver. ^She had LOTS of fun! ^She got to ride ANOTHER train (with Eileen, Toby, Gran and Grandpa). ^Alex knows all about trains now & everytime she sees one ... "Choo, choo!" She also got to play in a room full of BALLS! ^What fun! Gran, Grandpa & Eileen took Alex up to Whistler for a day. ^She had fun riding the gondola to the top of the mountain! When Mom & Dad returned, they were jealous about all the FUN Alex had! ^The Oop got to visit with her (nearly the same age) cousin, Ella. (Just out of the frame of the picture is a - can you guess?) ^That's right! ^A BOOK! Back in Edmonton, Alex is excited to be sharing in Mom's 35th birthday! ^(OKAY ... maybe just jazzed about eating CAKE and I-beam!) ^Happy Birthday MOM! The Oop helped her Dad make Mom's cake. ^She got to "sample" the icing. ^She thought it was very yummy! ^It's right up there with "I-beam" as a favorite "food"! Rachel patiently waits for Alex to get the hang of using the potty. ^We're STILL waiting! ^Lot's of "sitting", very little "going", if you know what I mean. Taylor, Alex's pre-teen friend, indroduces the Oop to the fun art of bouncing UP and DOWN on a backyard trampoline. ^The "bounces" are very little, but the fun is HUGE! Alex plays on a (much-too-big-for-her) go cart, at a campground in Montana. On the big adventure of the year. ^Mom and Dad towed Alex by bike, on a loop trip around Waterton & Glacier National Parks, crossing the U.S./Canadian border, twice! ^The Oop had a great time, especially since Dave, our BigRide friend, joined us. ^Here, the Oop is trying to get at a candy bar that she KNOWS is in Dad's pannier. (She brought her "Dolly" along for the ride. See her sitting on Dad's bike seat?) ^We kept a journal of our trip. To read it: Just DOUBLE-CLICK on any of the tour slideshow photos. Alex points at all the little fishes in the water at Loon Lake, in British Columbia. ^She wasn't too sure about swimming in the lake, because the water was colder than she was used to, there was so MUCH of it, and the little fishes would nibble on tiny toes and fingers! On a frigid Montana morning, Alex is bundled up and ready for a days "ride". ^With pink fingers, she gamely waves to the camera, from her buggy, while Dad stows gear on the bike. ^We cycled last year, with Alex, but this year was more difficult. ^(1) She weighed MORE! and ^(2) She's more active & needed more "breaks". ^She had fun though. Craving salt from a sweaty ride, Dave shares some potato chips with the Oop, at camp. ^We met Dave while cycling across the U.S. in 1999, while we all participated in the American Lung Association's "Big Ride". ^It was fun to cycle with him again. Toddlers sniff each other out, like dogs! Alex made lots of other toddler friends, in camp, while we were on our cycle trip. Sparwood, B.C., admiring the World's Biggest Truck. "Big Truck!" says Alex. We pose at the top of Logan's Pass, after cycling up the "Going to the Sun" Road, in Glacier N.P. Alberta celebrates its Centennial in 2005. ^As part of the celebration, they offered free entry to local parks for a day. ^We cycled with the Oop, to Fort Edmonton Park, where we got to take a look back at how the city got its start. Alex got a bad stomach virus, in early September. ^She was very sick for nearly a week and wasn't at all interested in eating food. ^It was a stressful time. Alex kept losing weight, became very fussy and we learned how helpless one can feel, when a loved one is ill. ^Grandpa & grandma sent up "Piggy", which helped lift Alex's spirits some. ^Here, she has "cuggles" with Mom and "Piggy". ^Poor Oop. With her tummy troubles behind her, Dad and Alex share a rare bath together. ^What fun it is to splash around in the tub with Dad! ^The two "kids" managed to keep (most) of the water IN the tub! Alex knew that her birthday was coming up. Mom had her's in August, Dad in September. ^"My birthday," she said! ^Our little girl is now TWO YEARS OLD! ^And to think we took this tiny blob of a person home from the hospital only two years ago?! Amazing! ^Happy Birthday Alex!! Alex says, "MMMMmmm, good" ^She likes cake and "ice cream". ^Alex's verbal skills are rapidly improving. At the beginning of the summer, "ice-cream" was pronounced "I-beam" ... now it's "ice-cream". ^Banana used to be "mhat-ma" (for some strange reason) ... now it's "-'nana". ^What new things will Alex learn during year THREE? ^Dad's rooting for "potty training"! Alex and Mom look at the nice hand-made birthday card that Gran sent. ^Alex now has TWO such cards! They'll likely be mounted in frames, one day. ^Alex brings much joy to our lives! Can you tell? Alex's Great-Grandma Milly sent knitted gloves. ^Each finger has a different face and hair! ^Alex says, "LOOK!" ^She had a fun time, opening up her cards and gifts. ^Thanks to EVERYONE for thining of Alex on her special day! "Big Box," squealed Alex, when we brought out the present we bought for her - a large, colorful, plastic kitchen center. ^We debated a LONG time about whether we wanted such a monsterous toy in our house, but plastic is cheap and besides, we thought Alex would have fun with it. ^Isn't that the point? Normally shy on the phone, Alex was a "chatty Cathy" when Gran & Grandpa called to wish her "Happy Birthday"! ^"My Turn," she said, grabbing the phone from Mom & proceeding to babble & talk into the mouth piece. "Happy Birthday!" she exclaimed. "My birthday!" So, Alex starts her third year bright and early the next morning. ^She was SO excited about "cooking" at her new kitchen center. ^She made coffee for Dad, tea for mom, feed several of her teddy bears! ^When asked is she wanted to go to day-care, the surprising response was, "No." ^ (I guess the kitchen center was a hit?!) Stay tuned for ongoing developments of "the Oop", during Year THREE! //]]>
year3Alexandra Kimler - Third Year, an Oop Slideshow: // Oct 3, 2006 - Another birthday. Wow, three already. Here's a peek at her THIRD YEAR! We pick up the story at Alex's 2nd birthday. The Oop "reads" one of her cards. (She was very enamored with them, saving & playing with them for weeks. We have video of her, sorting cards and singing, "Happy Birthday, too much!" - over and over and over). **The Card on the cover page was hand-crafted by Alex's Aunt Karen!** Alex's BIG (colorful plastic) birthday gift - a toy kitchen set. She's cook'n NOW! Still reading a birthday card (told you she was enamored with them) she models one of her birthday gifts.^This one is from Auntie Michelle and Uncle Bruce, from Vancouver.^It arrived a few days after her birthday, but the Oop didn't care! She was just happy to tear into a package.^Our little Scottish girl, eh? Just before winter hit, contract crews re-plumbed the natural gas lines and moved the gas meters outside.^Alex had a great time, watching them work from inside the house.^The crews would wave and she'd laugh and wave back.^Our little flirt! Wearing her winter jacket, gloves (and for some reason) a backpack, Alex "helps" rake the leaves.^(Notice that the rake is upside-down?)^She was very determined to "help" and we encouraged her to! (They'll be plenty of time for coaxing and prodding, when she's older). Alex and Dad pose for the photographer.^We raked a lot of leaves in Edmonton, but the second year we were much SMARTER about it.^ We learned to WAIT for all of them to drop, before we did our 'big rake' of the season.^(We're just piddling about here). Alex pours over a health pamphlet, that arrived in the mail. (HEY - it's right-side up!!) Year two with Alex, in Edmonton, was a LOT better than year one. For one thing, we didn't get a lot of snow and the weather remained relatively mild, into January. For another, the Oop could walk and tolerate the cold better.^Rachel played hooky from school one weekday and we took a nice hike at Elk Island National Park. The Oop didn't hike much, but we saw MOOSE!^(Oop learns the word "moose" and repeats it over and over ... and over.) It appears that Alex is looking into the telescope lens, during our hike. ^Because it was so late in the season, we had the whole park to ourselves. HURRAH!^You have NO IDEA what spotting this in the tiny plastic potty meant to us! (Well, maybe you do).^Year two was the big "potty training" year.^It was a tad frustrating and there were numerous accidents, but by year-end, the Oop had managed to pull it off! ^YAY! ^This was an early success, more by accident, than anything else. Still ... we made a HUGE DEAL about it ... high-fives, a few whoops of joy, hugs and kisses. (Maybe we scared her?) LOL. Halloween time rolled around and the Oop got to [really] experience pumpkin carving.^We made two pumpkins and the Oop was thinking it was a lot of fun, until she had to stick her hands into the stringy slime, to extract seeds.^You can tell from her face she's not too comfortable with it, but she persevered!^Scott made a slide show of the "Oop's First Pumpkin Carving" experience and posted it on our web site (search for "gooey pumpkin")! After we had finished carving the pumpkin, Alex got to have a closer look at the final result.^She didn't think it was so scary looking, but she really wanted to get the candles going.^It was the previous Halloween that Alex first walked ... she's now been walking for one year! Amazing. Alex's first Halloween outing. We dressed her up like the little angel she is (or was)!^ We really had to empty the closets and drawers to find white things for her (and enough of them to keep her warm). ^No snow on the ground, but it's still nippy out. ^A purchased wand and strap-on wings, completes the outfit.^Here, the Oop checks out the magic capabilities of her new wand! It took a fair bit of goading, to get Alex to walk up to the front door and say, "Trick or treat."^ Anna Houghton, our next door neighbor, fishes out some candy for Alex. ^Everyone thought she was 'sooo cute' and often gave her double the candy, because if it. (Whoever said 'looks will get you ahead in life' was right ... I'd just never experienced it before!):p ^It was a good thing Alex got double-dippings at many houses. Her tiny legs barely got us around our own block. By the time we were done, the Oop was pooped. She came home and went straight to bed.^Her first Halloween trick-or-treating was both a success and EXHAUSTING! Alex loves Tuxedo, but it's a one-way street.^Here, he's in his favorite winter spot (near the heater vent). I'm not sure what's more amazing - him letting Alex close or her fitting into the cat bed! Alex got a present from Kim Easthouse, a family friend and owner of "East house Designs Studio", in Seattle. She makes amazing family heir looms and functional ceramic designs.^She sent up this 'Piggy Bank' for Alex, after visiting them, during the summer.^Alex's hand-print, in paint, can be seen on the side of the pig.^Alex is very serious about saving coins and knows where they go, asking for help to get her piggy down and "feed it".^Just the other day (2007), Dad said, "I wish I had a million dollars."^ The Oop, ever helpful, offered, "I have many dollars!" (referring to all the coins that she's collected in the pig). At two, the Oop has a very loose and unrestrained hand, when it comes to her drawings. ^She is unfettered by conventional thinking and her art supports thinking 'outside the lines'. Her monochromatic propensities tend to dominate her work, providing a central 'mood' for each piece. These 'moods' appear to be driven more by which ever Crayola crayon is closest, rather than a pre-determined search for that 'perfect shade'.^Her creativity extends to many different mediums. Alex has been known to draw on all types of surfaces, loose or affixed, horizontal or vertical, made of paper or drywall, it doesn't matter.^This piece is called, "Santa in a Purple Snowstorm"! The Oop takes GREAT Santa photos and here 3rd encounter with the Fat Man. She seems quite comfortable with Santa (this one's got a REAL beard). Tom & Sheila, our PCT pals in Santa Rosa, spoiled Alex with a couple of pop-up Christmas books, this Christmas.^Alex explores "The 12 Bugs of Christmas", a whacky spin on an old holiday classic!^Oop says, "Thanks Uncle Tom, Thanks Auntie Sheila!!" Gran Pilley made Alex an Advent calendar, with buttons on a "tree". Pockets hold white ornaments and a chocolate surprise for each day until Christmas.^Thinking the all-white tree needed a tad of color, we wrapped the ornaments with the colorful foil wrapper off of each candy!^The Oop needed help hanging the ornaments, but not much help eating the candy. ;-) Alex helped Mom decorate the Christmas tree, this year.^She managed to put more ornaments ON the tree, than she took OFF the tree (last year it was the other way around). ^Yep, the Oop is becoming "experienced" in the ways of Christmas. No doubt she'll begin to anticipate Christmas! The Oop enjoys pretending to be a fireman, during a holiday outing. Gran & Grandpa Pilley visited Edmonton for Christmas.^We took a day-trip to the Muttart Conservatory, walking through the four glass pyramids, each of which holds plants from a different climatic zone (arid, rain forest, tropical and temperate).^The "temperate zone" features a rotating, seasonal display & when we visited, it was a wondrous display of poinsettia. Grandpa snapped a family portrait, framed in holiday packaging and poinsettias. (The Oop, of course, is interested in everything but what we want her to be interested in). Still at the Muttart Conservatory, in the Arid Zone, we managed to capture a photo of the Oop, looking at the camera. ^Having grandparents visit is extra special for the Oop, who adores all the extra attention. ^Too bad it means the the Oop is difficult to live with for a week after they leave, because she's gotten USED TO all that attention! ^Here, the Oop sports a smile and brand new blue shoes! To Alex, her Teddy Bears are her "kids" and here, she's reading them a bedtime story, on the couch. (Lots of talking, little "reading") We took advantage of the fact that Edmonton has free outdoor ice skating, for neighborhood association members. ^The Montrose rink was only a block away. ^We discovered that Alex LIKED ice-skating! ^We also discovered that California-raised Dad - not so much! (It was a Mom & Oop activity). Here's a great shot of our two skaters! ^The Oop is wearing a special kind of double-bladed, strap-on skate. ^She liked the music that blared, the other kids racing around, being out ... just about everything, except falling a lot. Wintertime was cold in Edmonton, but the sun shone a lot. ^Encouraged by the sunshine, we took Alex for a walk through the neighborhood and down to the Saskatchewan River Parkway. ^It warmed us up, but the Oop had to be bundled, as she was mostly PUSHED AROUND. The Oop helps dad shovel the back walk, after a big dump of prairie snow. ^All the snow we got this year, came after the New Year. It had been a BROWN Christmas, something of an oddity in Edmonton, but we didn't mind! ^Alex was in day-care, 5-days a week, for all of Rachel's 2nd academic year. This was nice for Scott, who was busy doing handyman and web-development work. A nice portrait of Dad's helper. ^Alex loved going to day-care and made a bunch of friends, both among the day-care providers and the other children in the "toddler room". "Curious George", who lost most of his curious nature after being sprayed by the Pilley family cat "Pushkin", looks on as Alex works on a jigsaw puzzle. ^Alex has shown a penchant for puzzles and it's something that she enjoys still (with varying levels of success and frustration). Paternal grandparents flew up from California, to visit the Oop, during Spring break. ^Here, the Oop and grandma are watching a DVD (likely a cartoon movie). ^The Oop knows that cartoons are for her and anything with real people in it are "Mommy and Daddy shows". Sitting between grandma and grandpa, the Oop (who loves a good book) listens to a story. ^Grandpa learned that Tuxedo is very demanding of a lap, when it's frightfully cold outside. (He'll often demand to be petted, in addition). While grandparents were visiting, we took advantage of some sunny weather and we all went out to the Edmonton Zoo. ^Alex enjoyed watching the monkeys, tigers, elephants and prairie dogs. ^(Alex is amazed that Dad is in the cage, with the monkey, while taking this picture!) We watched Prairie Dogs & Prairie Dogs watched us. The best part of going to the Zoo, for the Oop, aren't the animals. Although many of the activities weren't yet open, so early in the season, the Oop DID get a chance to be the conducting engineer on a train! On April 3rd, Alex celebrated being 2 1/2 years old! ^How? ^By helping Daddy make her a half-birthday cake! (She gets "into" her work)! ^Blues and greens were the colors she chose. The Oop digs into the cake and ice cream! The Oop takes her kids for a ride in her "automobile". ^Dad gets suckered into pushing it around the house: living room, dining room, kitchen and back again. ^When he finally stops, the Oop says, "Fry it again, Daddy!" Alex experiments with static electricity, playing in the trash can. It's often less about coloring & more about organizing! Dad and Alex practice colorology, while making dyes for their Easter Eggs. ^(Dad explains to the Oop why raspberries are so good!) Some of the eggs broke, while boiling. "No worries," said the Oop, "Eat it Daddy!" Alex and Dad show off their finished colored eggs. ^This year, we did a home-brewed dying technique (food-coloring and vinegar), with oil & crayon effects. ^I think Mom had the most fun! ^Notice the Oop has red fingers? (She did the reddish ones) Fashion sources noted how dapper Alex looked, while attending her very first social function, a birthday party for one of her day-care friends, named Kylee. ^"She just looks smashing," reported ET Canada, "with a casual pink top, bluish knitted sweater and pink, blue and violet polka-dot pants ... all topped off with a beige pith helmet." ^"She arrived at the party, driving a line green and pink tricycle, complete with purple wheels." ^"Simply Divine." Alex claps with delight, after singing a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday". Nearing May, the Oop has mastered the fine art of potty training. ^To help encourage her, we've handed out stickers, for each successful "trip". ^Though she wants the stickers mostly on her wrist, some end up on her colorful plastic potty. (By the end of the year, it looks like a war plane, with so many "kills"). As the weather changes, we're spending more and more time outdoors. ^We took a trip to nearby Rundle Park, to play some frisbee golf, but the Oop was more interested in watching kayakers play "soccer". ^Eventually, we got to the frisbee golf course, but the Oop didn't "get it". She just ran after the frisbee, picked it up and ran to the nearest "hole" to toss it in. ^She did get some exercise though! The Oop practices on the big potty. ^We didn't coax her to use the big potty, she did it on her own (inventively using the bathroom trash can, as a stool). ^It wasn't the most stable of platforms and sometimes we'd hear a big CRASH, from the bathroom. ^"You OKAY, Oop?" we'd ask. ^"I OKAY," she'd shout back. Warmer temperatures meant that Tuxedo began his messy, annual molt. ^Here, Alex (with a blob of cat fur on her chest) gingerly gives Tuxedo a brushing. ^He doesn't generally like to be handled by the Oop, but here, he's (barely) tolerating it. ^"Prrr," he says, until she whacks him too hard and he bolts for a safer spot. After the snow melted, the flowers bloomed and everything turned green. ^Alex played a lot in the backyard, smelling flowers (last picture), sliding, swinging, climbing and exploring. ^Summer in Edmonton is absolutely glorious (it's winter that sucks). :p When the old mower finally died, we got a new one. Here, Alex helps Dad put it together. With the confidence of an almost three-year-old, Alex decides that she can put the lawn mower together, all by herself. ^When it came to OPERATING it, however, it was a different story. (Alex doesn't like noise much, and ran when Scott started it up!) ^We posted a cute video of the incident, on the web. (Search the site or Google for "oop scary mower") Alex's first encounter with bubbles was a delight to watch. ^The next few slides show her joy and enthusiasm for the light, round, colorful things. ^It was a perfect evening breeze, that carried them around the yard, with a barefoot, giggling Oop, following! For two weeks, it was warm enough for Alex to splash around! Alex admires herself in the mirror, after an attempt at pig-tails. On Father's Day, Alex gave Dad a sunflower seedling. ^He planted it. ^Over the next number of months, we watched it grow, keeping web readers informed about its progress (and Alex's). ^It became known as the "sunflower project". Standing on the counter, Alex helps put dishes away. Our neighbors gave us this giant folding toy, for Alex. A group photo of some of Alex's "kids", all diapered up, with nowhere to go! Alex's artwork improves over the course of the year. ^She mixes up the colors, leaving behind the monochromatic phase and draws inside the line. ^Mom and Dad are thrilled and the refrigerator looks more colorful than ever. In late July, we took a flight out to B.C., to look for a rental home near Nanaimo. ^We didn't find much suitable to rent, but we found a 4-bedroom home on 5-acres to BUY! ^The Oop appears a tad uncomfortable, on the plane ride out, but that's not the case. Balancing with Dad's assistance, we take a walk along the Nanaimo harbor. ^We spent the better part of four days, scouring the listings for rentals and looking at a few acreages. ^We were surprised to learn that many older homes on Vancouver Island, don't have garages. ^(A requirement for Scott) ^But a harbinger of more temperate weather! Like a baby bird, Oop has her mouth open for a feeding of island blackberries. YUM! Close to the tip of Yellow Point (and not too far from where we, ultimately, bought our acreage) we stopped to let Alex frolic in the coastal waters. ^Rachel made the comment, "I hope we never lose sight of how wonderful it will be, living in such a beautiful, temperate area, so close to the ocean." ^Hear! Hear! The Oop is content to draw, while waiting for a bus to take us to the Vancouver airport, on our return. ^Notice that Alex's feet are resting on her plastic portable potty (a must have item). It was nearly used, when we weren't paying attention, in the middle of the airport terminal! ^It's August 3rd, Rachel's birthday. ^"Happy Birthday!" AUG 5th - Alex's sunflower has been growing for two months and it's nearly as tall as she is. ^The plant suffered some early trauma (too close to the cat's spot & not enough sunlight, so it was replanted. ^It's fully recovered here, but running short on summertime. ^The big question: "Will it bloom before the snow flies?" We hung out at Kinsman Park with some friends we made through the UofA. Moms were both nursing students, both had families and the age difference between Jordan and Alex is only 3 days. Ideal! ^Mind you, it helps that they were great people too! ^We went to the park a few times, had a BBQ dinner and let the kids run around, while we "supervised". Alex waves as she "drives" Jordan (and Armand in the back) around the sand box. Alex ZIPS down the huge plastic slide at Kinsman Park. ^Alex has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to adrenaline. She likes to go "higher" and "faster"! ^"Are you OKAY?" Dad asks. ^"Fry Again!" she screams, giggling ("Try Again" is what I think she's trying to say, but what she really means is "Do it again!") Alex loves to go to day-care (or as Scott calls it ... 'Play Care') ^Mind you, that doesn't mean we don't get tears, in the morning, when we drop her off. Some days she couldn't care less when you go, others she clings to you for dear life. ^Go figure! ^Here, the Oop stands in front of the check-in counter, surrounded by artwork. This is the 'Toddler Room' (to age three) where Alex spent most of the year. SEP 11th - It's been 108 days since Dad planted the sunflower seedling. It's now taller than the Oop, with a well-formed head. ^A bloom is coming, but will it happen before we move from Edmonton, on September 30th? The Oop helps load the car. Rachel moves to Vancouver Island ahead of Dad & Oop. Saying good-bye to our neighbor Paul, was more difficult for Scott & Rachel, than the Oop. We knew that we'd probably never see him again. Jerry, who finally figured out that the Oop was a GIRL, says good-bye. ^Jerry & his wife travel a great deal and have promised to visit us on Vancouver Island. We hope so! All dolled up, Alex says "bye" to her primary care-givers at Montrose Day-Care ^(Monisha, Bea & Dorothy). ^She still talks about her friends at Montrose, but she's quickly making new friends here on Vancouver Island. 'Super Dave' helped us load up the biggest U-Haul truck we could rent! Thanks! "Sunflower Project" SUCCESS! The bloom on Sep 30th, the day we moved out. Mom & Alex pose in front of the truck, on our way to Vancouver Island. Not yet moved into our new Yellow Point home, Alex celebrated her third birthday at Gran and Grandpa's house in Vancouver. ^This year, she had a bona fide birthday party, with relatives and some neighboring friends. The Oop works at one of her birthday puzzles, putting Elmo and his buddy Bert, together. ^Alex stayed with Gran and Grandpa for a few days, while Rachel and Scott took all the belongings over to the island, storing them in the garage of the new house (thanks to the kindness of the previous owner), until the closing date, on October 17th. ^Scott and the Oop are headed down to California, next, while Rachel continues working at the hospital, temporarily letting a room, nearby. For her 3rd birthday cake, her Gran bought one made of ice-cream! ^YUMMY! ^Gran and Grandpa were in the midst of their large kitchen renovation, so celebrations were made in the (new) basement suite. Alex, Aunt Susan, cousin Toby and Gran. //]]>