Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adding Vocabulary

As Gunnar closes in on the two-year mark (he turns two next March), he has passed a key developmental mile-mark. That's right, he has begun to speak. Here are a few of his words, their meanings, and how they are used in day-to-day speech.

"Uh-oh." This phrase is used immediately prior to throwing something to the ground. Note: the more the item can splat or splatter, the better. Example: "Uh-oh!" [throws open cup of milk from high chair to floor].

"Apple." This word applies to anything edible. Except apples. While he'll eat apple sauce like a champ, he doesn't usually prefer to put apples in his mouth -- unless they are covered with peanut butter, in which case he will lick off the peanut butter and then throw apple slice to ground (see "uh-oh). Example: [Sees my plate of curry potatoes, vegetables, and beet salad]. "Apple!"

"Deet-doe." This phrase means "here I go" or "here we go." Usually used in a command form i.e. "Here I go and you are coming with me." Example: [Sees that I have sat down after a particularly strenuous activity]. "Deet-doe!"

Meanwhile, Gunnar continues to use another language for a high percentage of his conversation. As he learns more English, I will be sure to ask him before he forgets about what he was saying in that other foreign language. Some of it sounded pretty important.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trip Report: Austria 2014

It was the trip of a lifetime. Okay, let's back up a second. On paper, there was plenty that could go wrong, right? A European vacation with an 18-month-old and the in-laws? Get real -- what was I thinking!

Moving back to real time, as I mentioned, the trip of a lifetime. The five travelers in our group were completely compatible, due to shared interests and a total can-do attitude. It would have been tough not to have fun. Ali and I -- despite limited practice (okay, who am I kidding... I did not practice at all) -- had a great time communicating in German. In fact, my understanding of the language was the best of all five times I have visited this area of the world. I can't wait to go back.

We biked, hiked, ate amazingly good food, sampled the local beers and wines (and plenty of them), and did a few tourist things. There were three legs of the trip -- Obertraun (a tiny little Austrian mountain village), Ruhpolding (the hometown of old friends the Pichler family), and Salzburg (tourist central -- and we were right there with 'em).

Leg One (6 days): Obertraun. Stayed at Haus Hepi. The longest leg, we were surrounded by amazing mountains, we did three great bike rides, we ate exquisite food prepared by Larry, co-owner of Haus Hepi, and we had just a fabulous time. Here, Gunnar established that he was going to travel like a champ. We also jumped in the Kaiserlauf -- Bad Ischl's local half-marathon.

Leg Two (2 days): Ruhpolding. Pam Pichler hooked us up with the Heigermoser family who have a couple of vacation apartments (and who make the best cakes in Ruhpolding) and took us on a breathtaking hike through alpine meadows to a Gipfelkreuz on a knife-edge ridge that came out of nowhere. Thank you Pam for the locals' knowledge! We also took Gunnar to the local pool -- which had the most amazing kiddie pool setup I have ever seen (Ali and I also took turns hitting the water slide).

Leg Three (2 days): Salzburg. Ali and I had both been here before but mostly passing through. My memories of prior visits: (slightly fuzzy) large beers, bad food, no flow. This visit was different on all counts. It turns out one can order a half-liter beer at the Augustiner beer garden (not sure if this option was available last visit or if I only saw the full-liter option). Meanwhile, we had incredible food both days, and we had a great time wandering the city.

I love visiting a place and speaking the language. I love how beautiful Austria and Bavaria are. I love Austrian and Bavarian beer, wine, and food. Most of all, I loved traveling there with our team -- Ali, Gunnar, Doug, and Ruth.

Two take-aways from this trip. It is possible to travel with an 18-month-old... and have a good time.

Second, let me know if you hear of any ski instructing jobs in the Obertraun/Dachstein area. I'd take it in a second.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Raising Parenting Concerns

Books are not buckets. That is, authors aren't dumping their points of view into bins (in this analogy, readers are the bins). Rather, the act of reading is exactly that -- an act. Not passive. As one reads, one reacts and internalizes the text (or not) depending on one's background, interests, and personality. Who a reader is will certainly correlate to the effect a book has.

I am currently reading Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It's about many things: generation X, relationships, personal responsibility and accountability. Oh, and it's about parenting. As in, more specifically, the book contains examples of really bad parenting -- like, parents would probably be well-advised not to do some of the things highlighted in this book.

But the more I read, the more concerned I become. Because I strongly identify with the main character. That is, the bad parent. (Did I mention, by the way, that -- as a parent -- he really does a lot of things poorly?) So you see why I'm concerned, right? As a parent who identifies with the bad parent character (I'd even say "likes and admires certain things about said character")... does that not, by the transitive theory, then make me a bad parent?

As I often do in dire situations, I turned to my wife Alison, who yet again served as the voice of reason. "You're not a bad parent," she said. "It just means Eggers is a good writer."

I hope she's right.