Saturday, March 29, 2008

Aaron's 30+ birthday






Aaron's birthday was a month 1/2 back- here's some documentation of the fun. Our friend Kristin Imig is an actual-for-real-get-paid photographer (one of two that we know!). These are some shots she took of the evening at Neptune, our local independent coffee shop.

I know what you are thinking...."Aaron had his birthday party at a coffee shop? Just what has marriage and fatherhood done to him?!!" I know, I know, it seems wrong on so many levels. Really, a coffee shop is the last place you would think we'd go to celebrate his birthday. Before you really panic and think hell is on the way to freezing, let me explain a little bit about Neptune. Dan the owner, in a stroke of brilliance, added beer and wine to his beverage menu. He explained it in simple terms to me- he's already paying the overhead to have the place open, he may as well provide a full range of mood enhancing liquids. We couldn't agree more. This made Neptune a perfect place to have Aaron's party- all ages, beverages for teetotalers, beverages for sinners, no waiting for tables, no uptight patrons looking at your child like they don't belong there....we love Neptune.

Side note...somebody once asked me if I had to give up either coffee or red wine for the rest of my life, which would it be? Oh, I said, I'd have to give up life.
I spent the day baking cakes for the occasion. No telling how many people would come and I wanted to be prepared. For some reason I had gotten in my head that Aaron liked pineapple upside down cake. After an exhausting 3 minutes of research I found what I thought would be the perfect recipe. Lots of butter, lots of brown sugar...sounded great to me. Well, I'll spare you the details, but the cake was a let down. It looked not unlike a mound of steaming cow pie. I went back to recipe research while Aaron cut into the cake, proclaiming he had never had pineapple upside down cake.

Oh.
Never. Had. It. Ever.
Oh.
Damn.

It was all too late, I had all ingredients at hand, so a damned pineapple upside down cake was what he was going to get. Fortunately for all involved, the second try was a success. Who knew you could make a cake in a cast iron skillet?!

When I surveyed the plate-sized one layer cake, it dawned on me that it would only feed two Erbecks (Uncle Lincoln and Aaron) or a family of four. We were expecting more so thought I better get to work making another cake. The kitchen air was dripping with the smell cooked pineapple and caramelized sugar- I simply could not make another pineapple cake and have all of us survive. Surely we'd suffocate from the lack of oxygen.
I scanned the cupboards for ingredients. Flour, sugar, oats, the usual. This was going to be a culinary challenge (particularly so for a girl who would rather be anywhere than the kitchen). More research (hello Google), some creativity, and voila! A semi-original design is born- coconut cake with coffee frosting. Doesn't sound quite right, does it?! I surmised that if I made something with coffee in it, Aaron would surely like it (in general,this works with peanut butter too). Again a cake resembling the by-product of food ingested by a cow, but it was a success. Which simply means that nobody involuntarily spit the first bite back out.

On to the party!

Neptune is only a few blocks away, so we loaded True's stroller with cakes, ice cream, forks, napkins, knives, candles, and whatever else we could throw in without crushing the poor kid- and off we went, a gypsy like caravan of Erbecks.

When Dan saw us come into his establishment, his eyes were wide and he started visibly trembling. I think he wondered what he got himself into by agreeing to let us celebrate there. We unloaded our menagerie of kitchen goods onto one of his tables, stuff cataclysmicly dropping out everywhere, while True promptly began ransacking the neatly stacked shelves of newspapers. Lincoln and Aaron opened beers, I filled a glass with red wine, we sounded a rowdy "CHEERS", clinked our glasses and chugged our libations. Yes! The Erbecks have arrived!!

The guests started trickling in until the place was full of our dearest friends. Greg and a very pregnant Heather, Matt and Jenny, Roberta, Suzanne, Peter and Jan, Clark and Vanessa, John, Heidi and Petra, Tom and Lisa, Konrad and Kristin, Holly, and every single one of the Dahlstrom gang (Andy the partriarch, Hilary the matriarch, Ivy the elder rugrat, Harriet the youngest rugrat, Raymond the boy rugrat).

(Secretly, we aspire to be as cool as the Dahlstroms, but don't tell them that....)

We were doing our best to drink Neptune out of their beer/wine/soda stock, when the closing hour came. We ignored that and continued our celebration, oblivious to the employees staring at us, looking at their watches, looking back to us, shifting from foot to foot. I surveyed the shop and saw a sea of dirty plates and trash strewn from one end of the shop to the other. Cake frosting coated tables and chairs. Yes, I'm sure Dan was regretting his decision.

I didn't want to get banned for life, since I had planned on Neptune becoming my new haven (again people, coffee AND wine)... so we cleaned up and started loading the stroller. You would think we would be traveling home with less.... but we ended up toting a 1/2 case of wine, numerous t-shirts for Aaron (a uncoordinated gift theme), and a Billy Ocean cd.

Side note. I had to explain to Aaron who Billy Ocean is. My formidable years were the mid-80's. I KNOW who Billy Ocean is. And I LOVED that album, which of course I owned on cassette. Yes folks, it is a fact- Aaron is younger than me. Regardless, I still feel like he should have known Billy Ocean, but maybe we're looking at a culture difference here between West Coast and Midwest. Or maybe, and more probable, Aaron was just a whole lot *cooler* than my top-40, mtv, crimped hair havin' self. Reality can be really harsh.

Happy Birthday baby.




Friday, March 21, 2008

Parenting



Kids need rules. Everybody knows that. Sometimes they rebel, they fight, they insist on breaking the rules. They test you....how far can they push it, how fast will you crumble....




Sometimes, the other parent in the family will help the kid break the rule. Here are pictures of True, breaking a rule. Guess which parent helped the kid up on the table....?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rain Days




If you are a kid and you want to have fun in Seattle, you have to grow accustomed to plastic and rubber clothing. It's the only way Mom will ever let you outside to play in the mud. Here's True, in his rain day best, including the super cute "bee" boots, a gift from Jan and Peter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Friends


some photos are just too priceless to not share. Here is one of True and his good friend, Enzo.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday at the Erbeck's

Everybody has a job on Sundays....Even True!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Alki/Rubicon Training Camp, Orcas Island




Folks in the cycling world often laugh at the Alki/Rubis for having a training camp in the northwest in the WINTER. Who can blame them? The truth is that only one of these camps in the past four years has had significant rainfall (and quite honestly, it wasn't the drizzle we usually see, it was a downpour with sideways gale force winds). Although rain was in the forecast, we saw more sunshine than drizzle. Things were a little windy on Saturday, but really, not enough for even ME to complain about.


Enough about the weather, let's talk about the trip!


Aaron twisted his mother's arm and secured her grandmotherly tasks as A number 1 babysitter and keeper of our sanity. Kathleen, or Momster as she is affectionately known to me, arrived a few days before to become acclimated to True (the kid is cute as all get-out, but he takes some getting used to in order to fully appreciate his unique-self). Throw in Auntie Gayle fresh from LA and brother Lincoln and we had ourselves a proper Erbeck/Berens party! We dined at our favorite kid friendly pizza spot, Tutta Bella (try it, this place rocks) to fuel up for the trip out to the islands.


Have you ever tried to get one car to fit 4 adults (Aaron, Momster, Lincoln, me), 1 toddler (that would be True), 3 bikes and subsequent gear for a 3 day weekend? I really TRIED to pack light. It's impossible. I am who I am. I've stopped trying to fight it. Of course I pack True's stuff, which means he will have my issues by proxy. This means that he needs a cute outfit(s) for either warm or cold weather, causal clothing that fits either cold or warm weather and of varying sizes and color which come in handy depending on the wearer's mood. Then, of course, there are shoes to think about. True is not able to vocalize all of this to me, but I'm certain we're both on the same track here... but I digress.... Aaron is my personal hero and he managed to shove us all in there, shoes and all, quite comfortably.


Despite Aaron's organizational skill, we found ourselves speeding down the freeway trying to make the 1:40 ferry. It was looking grim as we stopped for our 5th traffic light in Anacortes. Things got even worse when we ended up behind a car driven by Mr. Geriatric. There is no passing in Anacortes, folks. I don't care what time of day it is, I don't care where you are in that town...some cop's seattle radar will sound and they will find you and they will ticket you. We could see the ferry at the dock in the distance, the cars loading, seamfoam swirling in the water indicating departure...we were doomed. Well somebody in our car must have made some good karma earlier in the week- Aaron tossed money to the ticket agent, we barreled down the dock and coasted on...the last car to make it. I'm pretty sure the boat was actually moving and Aaron managed to jump a 3 foot gap to get us there.  Lincoln spent his ferry time on deck searching for whales,  Aaron took a nap,  Grandma watched *True-vision*, I daydreamed of owning a cliffside home on one of the San Juans.

On Orcas, Aaron took Grandma and Lincoln to one of our favorite spots for dinner, Christina's.  Christina is an amazing chef,  the restaraunt is swanky, but the best kept secret is the happy-hour bar menu.  The best burgers (apparently, like I'd really know) along with shoestring fries and the world's best homemade ketchup.  I don't even like ketchup and I could eat that stuff by the spoonful.  The Erbeck Originals were kind and brought me back some dinner of mac and cheese and the biggest plate of french fries you have ever seen.   This was accompanied by a full container of the ketchup.  I dusted it. No problem.

The Saturday Rubi crew showed up promptly at 11:15 a.m. and it wasn't long before the team was in full kit ready to take advantage of the sunshine.  Riding were Dave, Clark, Nate, Lincoln, Barry, Hahn, Aaron, Kevin, John, Nicola, Ilona, myself.  Jason missed the ferry and had to play catch up later.  Clark took us over what felt like every damn hill on that island.  And why did we have headwinds both ways?!   I struggled to hang on to those boys at every turn.   I couldn't complain though-  it was an amazing ride!  Orcas is truly a beautiful island.   Mad props goes out to John Stambaugh, who gave Nic and I a wheel for the last 7 miles.  We needed it!   

Straight to the hot tub for me.  But Aaron and Lincoln (being Aaron and Lincoln) had no time for sitting around-  they were off to the skate park with Grandma and True.  This was True's 3rd trip to that particular skate park and the kid isn't even 2 years old!   If Aaron has it his way, True will master ollies by summer time. 

One of the rules of an Alki/Rubicon training camp is that there must at some point be a lot of beer swilling around a lot of fire.  Lincoln supplied both the beer and the fire- he dusted off his wallet to pony up for the purchase of GOOD beer and had spent the better part of the morning collecting wood.   There was lots of sh#! talk, but I'd call it tame compared to last year.  Where's Duquette when you need him? Grandma stayed up late with us, in fact, I think I beat her to bed.   Aaron, Lincoln, Lisa, Emily were the last ones standing (I might add for those that do not know, Lisa is mom to the Rider twins and Emily is Kevin's youngest daughter... brave girls...or should I say, poor girls...)

Sunday was the "big ride".  We all headed out (this time with Jason) with one goal in mind-  the top of Mount Constitution.   For Nic and I,  we just wanted to make it up.  For the boys,each one wanted to be the FIRST up.  There can only be one first.  They all fought for it- not that I'd see the win with how far back down I was.  Getting to the top is bitter sweet-  yeah, you made it and all, but damn, the icy wind makes it hard to enjoy the hard work!   We were socked in anyway, no views to be had,  so we descended, careful to not slide out on moss, snow or ice.  Most of the crew went on to ride another 20 miles of hills.  The smarter of us went back to get into the hot tub.  I, being the smartest of all, stopped at the hippie grocery/deli to acquire the best croissants I've ever had.  Warm.  With fruit.  And cream cheese.  I stuffed three of them into my jersey pocket in order to reward Kathleen (that would be Grandma, or Momster) for her babysitting duty and for True,  because the kid could use a little butter fat.   It was all I could do to not devour them before I got back.   

Sunday night was one of the funniest Alki-Rubicon parties yet (impromptu, mind you).  Although I don't care what Nate or Jason have to say, I do hope Starla  and Laura didn't mind the team invading their little slice of heaven of a cabin.  Honestly, my gut hurt from laughing so hard.  Ilona is hilarous and she was in fine form.  So was the rest of the squad.  If we suck at bike racing, we could have second careers as stand up comics (and may be better at it). 

I should take one minute to mention all of the folks that did come to the camp this year.  In addition to the riders mentioned above we had the rest of the team- the team support, the folks that put the FAM in FAMILY...these people are every bit as important to the team as each rider.  Here goes...
Lisa+ EJ (the twins)
Vanessa  
Karina+ Odessa
Starla
Laura
Megan and Emily
Ella
Skyler
and...Monty

Sunday we all had plans to summit Constitution again, but Mother Nature had other ideas.  The rains hit and we packed it up and flew onto the ferry in the same fashion as we did for the first leg of our trip.  I swear... last car again... full 3 foot jump to the deck.   One of the Erbecks does have some serious good karma....

We all know who that is.... GRANDMA!!!!!!