Thursday, December 9, 2010


for those of you wondering if Garrett's eyes have changed color yet, we will let you be the judge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fun with puffs

If you are not a parent of a small child, you may not understand the awesomeness that is a container of baby puffs.  Really they are puffed air that dissolve upon contact with any liquid, preferably slobber.  They are an amazing baby distractor.  Also, they have a serving size of 75 for 25 calories, so if you are on the market for a low-cal munchie, they may be just the thing.

And Garrett loves them. 
And they keep us from needing cable television. 
Just watch...

Monday, November 29, 2010

What are we thankful for?

We are thankful for sunny days at the park!

and slides...


and swings...

and smiles!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A little clip of life in the DeClercq home

I could hear the giggling from the kitchen so I crept up to get some candid video.  It is so fun to listen to him laugh!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

school spirit

The Booster Club surprised us this afternoon with a little something special for Garrett...

Is he not the cutest water polo fan EVER??  Ok, it's not the best picture ever, but you know he's cute.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

the Halloween debate has been settled

and here he is in all of his costume glory...

that's right, he works at Best Buy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

 As Halloween draws near, the great costume debate has been poked and prodded by my lovely wife and myself.  We've briefly talked about the subject a few times, only to move on to more palatable discussions.  Well, that might sound a little harsh, it's not like you're a sinner if you allow your kids to dress up.  They'll probably go straight to Hell, but hey, its for candy.  I kid! 

I grew up going to fall festivals at church and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.  Then my parents went crazy with their extreme conservatism and we boycotted Halloween.  Instead of a night around the neighborhood, we packed up and went to a hotel for the evening.  I don't know if my parents planned for this side effect, but Halloween became to coolest holiday ever!  We played in the pool, ran around like, on a sugar high in the sauna and steam room, spent hours going up and down the elevators, and, of course, watching cable TV.  Ah, those were good days. 

Laura's parents allowed her to dress up and trick-or-treat.  No "hiding from the devil" in the Bostwick household. 

But now that we have our little one, we must start making-AHHH!- grown up decisions.  Do we dress up our little Garrett and risk people thinking we dabble in witchcraft?  Or do we sideline him from all the fun?  Oh, decisions!*

We'll keep you posted as we figure this issue out.  Until then, we will celebrate the fall.  Here are some precious photos of our precious son!

*No feelings were meant to be harmed in the making of this post.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Your attention please

I interrupt all this cuteness to inform you that I will no longer clutter this blog with book reviews.  But don't dismay, you can still catch all of my insightful comments here:

Saturday Morning People is my new Wordpress blog dedicated to reviewing books.  I'd love it if you would head over there, add it as a favorite and frequently visit.  You should also participate, too.  It's going to be great fun. 

See ya there!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have a beautiful sister who will very soon give me a beautiful niece

I had a lot of fun going out with my sister and brother-in-law and shooting some images of them before their big day.  And I think they truly got some nice shots.  They're probably going to have the second cutest baby I've ever seen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

tooth sighting

This weekend we caught the first sight of Garrett's very first tooth.  By Monday, there were two teeth in sight.
I tried to capture them on video for posterity.  It was a big-time fail. 

Adam was able to get a picture of the two little tooth nubs sticking out of his lower gums.  Baby Tylenol is our friend, as of late.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DeClercq Family Togetherness

This weekend proved to be one of the most loving in the history of the DeClercq weekends of Loving.

Here's the proof:

(I'm not sure what is going on with Laina's eyes here.  She is either thinking "I'm preggo and sexy and I'm turning on the supermodel flair" or "my feet are killing me and I will burn through your skull with my lazer eyes if you don't take that picture!")

And now for a few from the star of this blog:

And now you may leave your comments below to a) tell us what a beautiful, loving family we have or b) tell us what a beautiful son we have.   And yes, comments about his fat cheeks count.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer Reading Extravaganza: Graphic Novels

I know, summer is long over.  What can I say?  Between work and bath time (for Garrett, not me) I don't have much energy (or motivation) for blogging. 

Ah, but tonight, I have a small surge of energy and feel I can tackle yet another book review.  Perhaps it has something to do with my little brother being a published writer.  Regardless, I've got three books to tell you about. 

The first is Temperance by Cathy Malkasian.  All I can really say about this one is weird.  I didn't really get it.  The back cover suggests the story tackles lofty themes like how war and enemies interact with culture.  It even wonders if conflict helps hold culture together.  If these themes are in this story then they were unrecognizable to me.  Yes, there was a bad guy.  Yes, there was a secondary plot about lying to keep control but in the end neither plot added up to anything. 

The story started out with strong narrative promise.  A grumpy, violent man, known as Pa, is nearly done building a fortified castle.  He believes it is his job to protect his people from the enemies abroad.  Two of his people, two young girls, watch him from a distance.  It quickly becomes apparent that Peggy, one of these girls, has an ethereal quality.  When Pa tries to force himself on Peggy she floats away.  Then a few pages later Pa just walks off.  That's the last we hear from those characters for a long time. 

Instead, the plot focuses on Minerva, the other girl, and how she tries to save her people by taking Pa's place.  There was a lot of really good story to have mined here, but Malkasian meandered down stranger and stranger twists to the point that I didn't have a clue what anything really meant.  It became hard to differentiate between the real world set up for us and a dream world.  Which isn't always a bad thing when done well, but it was hard to get a clear picture of who the main character really were, what they were, and what motivated them.  And then the ending had transcendentalist qualities to it, images of nature being so much more than nature and the reality transforming into something so much more.  Blah, blah, blah, I'm even boring myself as I write about it.  Weird mumbo-jumbo. 

The art was impressive.  Clear, clean, detailed.  It has nice pencil-sketched tones of gray and brown.  But no matter how well illustrated a story is it still has to have a story.  I'll give this one a 2/5 stars and that feels a little generous. 

Up next is the detective noir You Have Killed Me.  On my visit to Powell's I was drawn to this book because a) I had read a positive review about it and b) it was an autographed copy! 
I enjoyed this book.  It is a bit cliche with its crusty, hard-edged private eye taking a job from a lovely young woman who saunters about his tiny, crusty, hard-edged office. 

But even with the tried and true story line, it is an fun, familiar ride.  The plots twists are simple (unlike many modern thrillers that twist and twist and twist until you can't see straight).  The bad guys are bad.  The good guys are tough.  The women are sultry, needy, and mysterious.  The band plays jazz and the backroom has gambling.  I'm not saying its original, though the story is interesting enough to keep you reading. 

But here is why you should read this: the art is perfect.  Done in immaculate black and white, the lines are as sharp as a razor, the shadows have depth, the people look real; this has a classic, reality based graphic form.  And it works.  The language is tough but clean and avoids any inappropriate use of the visual form in regards to the ladies.  If anything, this would garner a PG-13 rating for the mild violence.  It gets a 4, maybe a 4.5/5 stars from me. 

Then, rounding out my graphic novel reading for the summer is Bottomless Belly Button.  This one does all right in my opinion for all the opposite reasons of the previous book.  The art in this book is much less refined.  The author, Dash Shaw, has more artistic skill than I do, but that's not saying much.  I mean, his studies with lines and dots at the beginning and end are cool, but he doesn't pull off people very well.  Overall, the art is awkward but gets the point across.  Instead, this one has an interesting, surprisingly original plot.  Many graphic novels follow a memoir/narrative style, but this one shifts the focus from one family member to another as the grown children react to the news that their elderly parents are getting a divorce.  The emotions seem real, the reactions sincere, which is a commendation to the strong story telling abilities of the author.  This one read like a novel with interesting character motivations and conflicts.

Be warned, this is not a comic book and is not for children.  I give this a 3.5/5 stars.

Next time, I've got some advanced copies I want to tell you about.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

green beans

Garrett is an amazing eater; he has been since day 1.  He has done exceedingly well with each of the solid foods we have introduced... except green beans.  Now, green beans don't exactly strike me as a "first food", but my internet source assures me that they are.  So, I steamed them, pureed them, and offered them.  Adam videotaped.  The green beans did not receive a warm welcome.

We have given Garrett a break from the green beans.  He is eating rice cereal, avocado, banana, and sweet potatoes with no problem.  Next up... butternut squash.  Then peas.  Then apples.  Maybe oatmeal or pears.  Oh the culinary choices.
As a side note... I love LOVE the kidco food mill my cousin handed down to me.  It is
amazing, a little messy, but in a fun play-doh sort of way.  If you are thinking of making your own baby food, this a much less expensive solution than a food processor.  Unless of course, you really want a food processor, than by all means, don't let me deter you from purchasing a kitchen gadget!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

more of our favorite baby

Garrett wants to go straight to a big cup.  No sippy cups here...

here is our new game:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

what we've been up to

When he wants to be, he is a true rolling machine...

This is his new toy...

Watermelon might not be on the list of foods to feed a 5-month old, but he sure does love it...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hungry for good literature? Summer Reading Extravaganza continuted

At some point in the future the United States of America will cease to exist. In its place will be a unified North American government. That will eventually be ripped apart by rebellion which will destroy vast swaths of land and leave the people living in 13 districts.

As a reminder to the people that rebellion will never succeed, and a reminder that the Capitol has total power over its citizens, the Capitol has a game every year. The rules are simple—fight to the death.

 Such is the story of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Each year two tributes are picked from each district; two children between the ages of 12-18 are randomly picked to play a gladiator style game where the last person alive is the winner. The Hunger Games is narrated by Katniss Everdeen, a 15 year old girl from district 12. Though she is a skilled hunter in the forest, she knows she will not have good odds of surviving, especially when the boy from her district, Peeta, is so much larger than she. She also knows that other districts have tributes who have trained for years to be killers.

Katniss is determined to survive, though. As she tells her story, she reveals that she is distant, emotionally cold, and very calculating. She carefully considers each and every action by how it will affect her survival. Still, she is very likeable and you will root for her survival, even though it means watching her kill other teenagers. The reader, like the characters, has to walk an intense, fine line between rooting for a winner, (while watching other children be murdered) feeling the excitement of battle, (while understanding that it is simply a tool used by the government to maintain power) and maintaining a human connection (even though it is clear that the game must be played).

Katniss is such an honest and engaging narrator that you can’t help but be drawn into her world. She tells you the events in the present tense (a remarkable stylistic device) which creates the sense of urgency and speed that will rush you along.
This book is amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I’ll give you a minute to rush out and get your own copy. (Costco now sells The Hunger Games in paperback, or you could click on the link below and purchase this book from Amazon!)

Okay, got your copy? Good, now read it because the story continues in book two of the trilogy, Catching Fire. This book is as good as the first. I must be careful, however, about how much I say because I don’t want to give away anything about how the first book ends. Just know that as soon as Laura finished the first she jumped into the second. So did I. So did my mother-in-law. So did my mother. So will you too. Just know that it will not disappoint.

Finished book two? Well, I’ve got more good news for you. Book three, Mockingjay, is going to be released this week so you won’t have to wait for the conclusion like the rest of us did.

Have I mentioned that this is a great series? It is. A pesky colleague recommended it. I hemmed, I hawed, she threatened my life, and so I read it. (Well, that's not really how it went but that's how I'm going to remember it.) As a high school reading teacher, I've read quite a bit of Young Adult literature. Some of it is enjoyable enough, but let's face it, it is written for 12-17 year olds. But The Hunger Games is a new force in the Young Adult genre. This is a book for mom, dad, and the kids. Everyone will enjoy it. (And there are no sparkling vampires-so it is a dozen times better than any other YA books on the market.) It was so good that Laura and I bought our own copies of these books. Our copy of Mockingjay has been preordered and should be delivered next week. We can’t wait.

Okay, your turn. Once you’ve read the series tell me what you think. Leave your comments below.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Reading Extravaganza!

As you all know, Laura, Garrett, and I took a wild ride up and down highway 5 this summer.  We spent a lot of time driving, a lot of time with friends, and a lot of time with family.  But we also spent a lot of time with books. 

One of the highlights of the books experience this summer was our trip to Powell's Bookstore in Portland.  That place is amazing.  It is my wish for everyone to take a trip there someday.  I have mentioned before how I receive daily book reviews in my email via Powell's Review-a-Day newsletter, so I've had an invested desire to visit the actual store at some point.  It was more than I could have hoped and it made me desire a good, local bookstore all the more.  This place is no Borders or Barnes & Noble.  Though organized, there is no simple floor plan, no chairs dispersed throughout the store.  It has a gritty, hard edge to it that screams in your face that this is a used bookstore, a proud used bookstore that won't apologize.  And it doesn't need to.  There is a tremendous selection of books.  And one of the best aspects is that new editions are placed right on the shelves next to their used counterparts.  So, while browsing, you can decide to purchase a new copy or a cheaper, more loved, used copy.  Brilliant!  It was so fun, going up and down the stairs and aisles, searching for who-knows-what and finding books on everything (even entire books devoted solely to fountain pens!).  We spent about 4 hours in there and it was not nearly enough time.  We also spent a pretty good amount of money which was not really enough (but I had to cut myself off at some point.)  We walked out having bought something for everyone, but it was the experience I will treasure.  Okay, it is really the books I'll treasure, but the visit to the world's largest independent bookstore was special. 

As for actual reading, I've done an impressive job of covering some written ground this summer.  So I'll just jump right it with my reviews and when I'm done you can tell me how impressive it really is.

Book one: I started Under the Dome by Stephen King the beginning of June.  It took me just over a month to complete it.  I thought the 1072 pages would take me all summer.  But this book really is a quick read.  And it is fun.  In the author's notes King says "I tried to write a book that would keep the pedal consistently to the metal."  He delivers.  He most certainly delivers.  This books was a thrill ride that starts on the first page and keeps going; which is why it was such a quick read.  There were many nights where two more pages turned into 20 more pages.  It was just as hard to put down as it was to pick it up (Ha!  a joke about its size). 

Here's the plot: an impenetrable dome drops out of no where on the small of Chester's Mill in Maine. It locks the people that were in town in, and the rest of the world out.  This even happens in the first two pages.  The rest of the book deals with the ramifications of people being locked up with ever dwindling resources. 

But I would be remiss not to mention at least one of the characters, Big Jim Rennie.  You'll hate Jim Rennie.  He is a big fish in a small pond and instead of looking for a viable option of getting out from under the dome, he uses the dome as an opportunity to assert his power and agenda over the towns folk. 

There are numerous other characters (and a convenient character list at the front of the book).  You'll root for the two main protagonists, Dale "Barbie" Barbara and Rusty Everet and all the people that join their side, once it is clear that sides are forming in this small town.  But the biggest reaction you'll have is to wonder what you would do in such a situation.  You'll wonder how totally out of control life would spin if a dome locked you inside with 2,000 other people. 

King's writing is tremendous and I feel terrible for brushing him off as a cheap horror writer.  He is an expert story teller.  Though intense, this is no horror story.  It is a thrill ride.  The riot that breaks out at Food City is told with such speed, urgency, and pacing that it was delightful to read; it was really more like watching it in slow motion where you can catch every tiny detail yet it kept the pace and excitement of intense moments of action. 

He also makes sudden shifts of narration on occasion which help break up the story.  He does it expertly, not in an annoying way at all. 

Bottom line, 5 out of 5 stars.  The resolution, I think left a little unexplained.  I feel he might as well just gone on for another 200 pages to round it all out, but the resolution still worked and did not leave me disappointed.  Oh, and the bad guys use bad language and do bad things.  The good guys also occasionally let a soft swear fly.  And King doesn't shy away from gritty descriptions, but that made it all so real. 

I'm realizing now that this could end up being one really long blog post that no one will bother to read.  So, I think I will cut it off for now and just like Pastor Ken, will take my one part book review and turn it into a 3 or 4 parter.

Friday, August 13, 2010

to Portland and back again

We spent only a couple of days in the Bay Area with family before re-loading the car and kid (no dog this time) into the car and heading North again.  We drove over two days to Portland, Oregon.  We made this massive drive to visit our dear friends the Welbourns.
While there we took in the sights of downtown Portland, namely Powell's Bookstore (more on that to come from Adam, I assure you).  We spent 4+ hours perusing the many floors of books.  We each walked away with at least one book.  Ok, Adam walked away with at least 4, maybe more.

We also enjoyed lunch at Deschutes Brewery, browsing the shops, and just chatting.  Garrett was a champ in the stroller and was usually pleasant enough.

We spent one day visiting my cousin in Camas, Washington, just over the river.  She and her family live on 6 acre farm.  They have beautiful property and gave us the grand tour of their land, complete with chickens, bee hives, 2 greenhouses, and rows and rows of growing veggies.  We left laden with delicious gifts- fresh garlic and honey.  And a  handful of fresh raspberries straight from the bush.

After a week of friends, we made the drive south back to the Bay Area.  We spent two weeks just enjoying our families.  We went to the pool, went out, stayed in, let the grandparents get in all the Garrett holding they could manage.  It was lovely. 

Adam had the opportunity to spend 4 days in Yosemite with his dad and brother.  Garrett and I were thankful to be at Grandma's house while Adam was gone.  Grandmas and uncles are so wonderful!  Because then you get pictures like this...