Friday, October 29, 2010

My Road Trip: By Stellan Cook

My parents thought it would be a brilliant idea to strap me to a chair and drive me thousands of miles just for the fun of it. Well, it was mostly fun. Although I could have done without so much driving, I did have a really good time. I met lots of kids; in fact, I still talk about "the 2-boys house" or "the 3-kids house" when I recall our many adventures. And of course aforementioned kids' toys and trampolines.
I also went to some really great museums and ate way too much McDonald's. Which I'm complaining about (but my parents sure did). And the hotel rooms with cartoons! Well, that is something worth travelling for, let me tell you.
Anyway, my mom put together this slideshow for you. She's also working on a video that I think you'll enjoy, but you'll have to wait for that one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

They Grow Up So Fast!

I'm woefully behind on blogging many things, so I'm going to take the time to update you with the promise of photos later. Our little Rachelle is sprouting into a little lady before our very eyes. Two weeks ago she discovered her foot on a Tuesday morning. By that afternoon she found the other. Now they are inseparable - Rachelle's feet and her mouth, that is. (Her feet are just fine at separating.)
Last week she had her 4 month check-up. She is in perfect health, and I was surprised when her pediatrician informed me that she was teething. You see, Rachelle is such an angel baby that it was only in hindsight that I realized she had been just the least bit fussy for a couple of days. But sure enough, there they were; two teeth on the bottom. So far she hasn't bitten me while nursing, so that's another brownie point for Angel Baby.
Today she completed another milestone. She can now roll from front to back, and also from back to front. Both in the same day, I might add. Stellan figured out one before the other and nearly drove himself crazy when he found himself stranded. But Rachelle was enough of a planner to see that it was worth waiting a bit longer than her brother did so that she could get herself in the position of her choice.
After three milestones in two weeks, I'm at the point that I say to my sweet tiny baby, "Stop growing up, you! I'll blink and you'll be off to college."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Answer to the Riddle

Path of solution for Saturday's riddle:
1. Try to dig up dirt with a plastic cup (no shovel) and throw it on the fire. That isn't helping, it just splashes gasoline out of the quickly melting gas can.
2. Douse ground all around the fire area, especially that wooden fence 4 feet away. Must use the two unpacked plastic garbage cans, no hose.
3. Watch the flames get higher, passing 6 feet as the top of the can melts off completely.
4. Realize that there are probably still 3 gallons of gas in that can.
5. Hope none of your new neighbors see what is happening. This would not be conducive to a warm welcome to the 'hood.
6. Call your friend Riki the firefighter. This is the first good decision of the afternoon.
7. Riki and her firefighter friends (with whom she happens to be hanging out - how convenient!) recommend throwing a wet towel over it.
8. Rummage through boxes to find a towel, then douse in the bathtub.
9. Run the towel to the backyard, throw it over the huge inferno and watch it go out instantly with a "phoomp" sound.
10. Report back to Riki that she's a genius and that it worked.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Riddle For You

You've been in your new huge backyard killing ant colonies by dousing their holes in gasoline and then lighting them. (You have been careful to also douse surrounding lawn with water.) You decide to get that one last ant hole that is less than a foot away from an already burning ant hole. The gas can lights on fire, so you set it down very quickly.
Question: how do you put it out? You have no shovel, no bucket, no hose. You do have some household items including medium-sized waste baskets, but they may or may not be unpacked yet. Please respond in comment section, official Cookie Jar answer on Monday.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Made It!

We have arrived in Shalimar, unloaded the U-Haul and set up our modem. Now we need to unpack...oh, and sleep! Lots of pics and stories to come. South Florida, we miss you already. But the people here are nice. Really nice. I'm almost creeped out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guess Who Part 2

Upon further review of photos of Rachelle and Stellan, we came upon this pair. Although by no means identical, they are definitely siblings! (A special shout-out to Mikey and Patrick, and of course their moms, who made this onesie for Stellan. It looks just as cute the second time around!)

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Monday, October 18, 2010

My Road Trip: By Rachelle Cook

Dear Blogosphere,

This is my first post. Even though I'm not even 4 months old yet, I have some definite views to share about my family's recent Epic Road Trip. Please enjoy this slideshow highlighting the events as I saw them. (I appreciate my mom's support in transcribing my experiences.) Reports from my brother, mom and dad to follow in subsequent posts.

Editor's Note: video of Rachelle's interview is available here:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guess Who?

We visited some old family friends of ours, who passed along this photo of me as a baby. I was taken aback as I realized I had taken a photo just like it earlier that afternoon:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Amazing Gift

When I left my fantastic job at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History two years ago, I didn't leave empty handed. I took with me somewhere between 25 and 35 t-shirts I had collected over 13 years there. Although I loved them, no one needs that many t-shirts. So we disappeared them.
For my birthday, my incredible mother-in-law reappeared them as this:
with a little of this on the other side...
Thanks, Mom! The quilt is so cool. Every time I look at it I feel the love.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Doin' It Old School

With the untimely death of our laptop, we had to change our travel strategy for the Epic Roadtrip. We had been planning to use it extensively to get directions, book motels, etc. It died three days into our trip, so we had to seek an alternative. First we went to Best Buy and looked at GPS units. But since we've been jobless for a couple of months and the first paycheck is still a month out, we made the parsimonious choice and decided we didn't need a GPS; we would rock it old school.
Our parents all did it. They used maps, charted courses and even (gasp!) stopped to ask for directions. We decided that we could follow their example and go retro.
Well, times have changed. It turns out that you can't actually purchase maps anymore. Well, not at gas stations. A friend did point out that you can buy maps at your local Barnes and Noble, but if you're in a strange place, you're going to have a hard time finding one. Unless you have a GPS.
We mostly did OK. We used a a Bob Evans map (Bob Evans is a restaurant chain based the midwest, and they apparently distribute maps of their locations nationalwide) gifted to us by one of our hosts. We also got a motel discount magazine (like you see at IHOP and similar locations), which had maps and of course motels. But we did have to put in a couple of help! phone calls on our cell phone. Good thing we still had our phone, imagine us trying to find a pay phone! (Did I mention old-school is not what it used to be?)
About a week in, Jerry and Vivian had pity on us and let us borrow their GPS. It was invaluable. I still believe we could have made it work old-school, but I also now know that you can't overlay a previous way of life into a contemporary paradigm. In short, you can't go back. Sorry, Mom and Dad; we tried.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Epic Stats

Days Gone: 16
Miles driven: 3255
States visited: 15 (plus the District of Columbia)
Time zones covered: 1

A map of our trip, including overnight stays and major destinations:

View Epic Road Trip in a larger map

$ spent on tolls: we stopped counting at $80
Photos taken: 566
Blog posts to come on the subject: many
Homes we invaded: 8
Best motel: Westport Inn (CT)
Meals eaten at rest stop McDonald's: too many
# of other kids' toys Stellan coveted: all of them
Approximate value of damaged electronics: $500

A diagram of sleeping arrangements:

Museums visited: 4
Major diaper blowouts: 0
Minor diaper leaks: 3
New decks of playing cards: 4
Apples picked: 26
Best tap water: Tie between Columbia, MD and Winona Lake, IN
Worst tap water: Richmond, VA
# of kids in the car: 2
# of kids you might think were in our car based on decibel level: 0-5

Epic Roadtrip: priceless

Friday, October 8, 2010

Your Input Needed

While you wait for the posts devoted to our epic road trip, please take a moment to help us decide which family photo should replace the very outdated one that appears now. The photos are below, the poll is on the blog's right-hand side. We'll give it a week before we close the poll. Vote now!