Fry Lodge Pillow Talk 

Thanks to Aunt Donna, the Fry Lodge living room is now branded! And, this gives me more ideas for customized items we need to order from Marshes Fields & Hills.

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The Nine Days of Ruby 

Given their proximity to Christmas on the calendar, December birthdays are always at risk of being eclipsed by another widely celebrated birthday. I can’t believe I was ever concerned about that with Ruby. She has made it perfectly clear to the rest of us at Fry Lodge that the first half of December belongs to her.

Ruby turned nine on Friday. There was no school that day. Coincidence?

Breakfast in bed is a Fry Lodge birthday tradition. Ruby ordered nine waffles.

Her birthday cake request? Nine chocolate cupcakes. Candles to be inserted into her  cupcake? Nine. 

The number of guests to be invited to her bowling party today? Nine.

Is there a limit to our love for this little force of nature? Nein. 

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2017 Fry Lodge Christmas Tree Hunt 

With a new twist every year, the Fry Lodge Christmas tree tradition never gets old. This year we tried out yet another tree farm, Small’s Northwest Evergreens up in Ferndale, which the kids have decided should be our go-to tree farm in the future. We found a nice selection of noble firs, a cool 2017 Fry Family ornament in the gift shop, and ducks to feed at the end of it all.

Once home, everybody was in the Christmas spirit, so we got to work decorating the tree, listening to some Jackson Five and Bing Crosby Christmas albums and creating a make shift nativity scene. This was Henry’s year to put on the star. 

As we decorated, we remembered last year’s spider-infested tree. So far, we’ve only seen a lady bug crawl out. 

Presenting the 2017 Fry Lodge Christmas Tree 

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Beer Relations 

I spent three days in San Antonio, TX this week at the National Rural Economic Developers Association conference. While there, I took a great tour of the old Pearl Brewery, which became Pabst Brewing Company (PBC) for the last 15 years of operation, until it closed in 2001. This is where they brewed PBR, Pearl, Old English 800, Olympia Beer. You know, quality American beers. Kristine’s cousin Aaron lives in Austin, so he drove down to meet me for dinner before my flight home to Seattle. We decided to meet at the old Pearl Brewery, now known as The Pearl District. 

When Aaron arrived, he told me something I never knew: he used to be the chief microbiologist for PBC in the 1990s. He proceeded to give me my 2nd tour of the old brewery in two days. I learned more about the brewing process in a few hours with Aaron than I’ve learned after decades of beer drinking. Part of the old brewery has been converted into the very cool Hotel Emma, which has a reading library for guests. On a shelf on the 2nd floor of that library are the old, handwritten brewer’s journals where Aaron, in pen, would record the tests of every batch of beer that came out of the brewery between 1993 and 1997. He taught me about the acceptable levels of  bacteria and what his  “TMTC”  notations meant (Too Many To Count).  It is likely that Aaron tested almost every can of PBR I consumed as a young man. If I knew then what I know now…

Aaron, former PBC Chief Microbiologist, reviewing his handwritten notes from nearly 25 years ago. 

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Guinea Pig: A Path to New Habits 

On Saturday, Ruby and I had some tense moments, which resulted in this declaration: “Tomorrow I’m taking the screens away forever.” Like many parents, Kristine and I struggle daily with the first world problem of how much screen time we allow at Fry Lodge. Are these devices hijacking our children’s minds? Are our kids being irreparably harmed by the amount of time they spend staring at screens?  Are they getting enough exercise and interactions with real people? These are among the questions that kept me up last night.

This morning, Ruby brought me coffee in bed and said she had a proposal in mind. It involved buying her a guinea pig. I saw an opportunity. After breakfast, the Fry Family Quartet took a walk. Ruby and I paired up to discuss her proposal. We decided that she will pull together a presentation outlining her case for a guinea pig. It will include: goals, strategies for achieving those goals, ways to measure whether she meets the goals, and a timeline. On the walk, we came up with some strategies to address in her plan: 1) respectful attitudes (e.g., volunteering for chores, no parroting her mom) , 2) clean house (e.g., making bed, cleaning guinea pig cage, etc.) and 3) healthy lifestyle (e.g., Sunday walks with dad, strict adherence to limits on screen time). 
As soon as we finished our walk, Ruby began her PowerPoint presentation. I caught a glimpse of her title slide:

GUINEA PIG: A Path to New Habits 

I’m looking forward to this presentation. 

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Estimating Henry 

“If you had to choose, would you rather underestimate or overestimate?” This is the type of question from Henry that formed the basis of our 3-hour conversation as we made our way to Lost Lake and back this sunny fall afternoon on Chuckanut Mountain. Henry had slightly underestimated how long the hike would take us, and I had overestimated my ability to keep up with this boy, who has benefitted from a soccer season of constant running. Neither of us minded the time nor the exhaustion, which were far outweighed by the scenery and conversation.

This fall, Henry has been enjoying regular outdoor adventures made possible by Wild Whatcom, Bellingham’s year-round outdoor program for youth. A few weeks ago, the program took him to Chuckanut Mountain; so today Henry acted as my tour guide along the trails he and his buddies had previously explored.

Along our path, we crawled inside “the cubby holes,” descended “the stairs,” and finally ate lunch while hanging our feet over a log jutting out into Lost Lake.

Throughout the day, it occurred to me that Henry has turned the corner to early adolescence. He easily shook off having accidentally submerged his boot into the lake, something that not too long ago would have ruined his day. When we became momentarily lost, it was Henry who proceeded with confidence to find the trail again. And, as we hiked 2 miles straight uphill, it was Henry who left me in the dust. Henry Fry, he’s not to be underestimated. 

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Henry and Ruby hear from their Representative

Henry and Ruby received both received a letter from their Congressman, Representative Rick Larsen, this weekend. Back in June, their friend, Sam, who lives in Maine, sent the kids some postcards to send to Larsen – reminding him to keep fighting to help preserve our oceans. They were thrilled to get a response. Thanks to Sam, Henry and Ruby for reminding us how it’s supposed to work. Oh, and Patty and Maria, we’re sure your letters are in the mail. 

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