Friday, June 2, 2017

Eleven years! Time to celebrate

Hey, hey, hey! Who-ho-ho! We got married 11 years ago, and that is something to BRAG A-BOUT. So I will, mostly in picture form.
Joe and I planned out a lovely 2-day trip to Seattle! Although not far away, it does involve traffic, which makes it feel roughly similar to going to the moon, and you just don't want to pan trips to the moon all that often. Let's face it, I can hardly make it to the library to get my books back on time. But our anniversary seemed worth the trouble, so we booked a hotel and staked out a few "great to visit if you have kids" kinds of things to do. 
Out first stop: a baseball game! Mariners versus Rockies, aka Our New Home Team versus our Old Home Team. We loved it! We got there early enough for the anthem and first pitch and everything. We ate hot dogs, chicken strips, drank loads of Dr Pepper, and ate ice cream. Quite frankly, it was wonderful and awful at the same time! The kids did pretty well during the game, there were 2 home runs and some fireworks, a couple foul balls our way, and we had splurged (just a touch, nothing too crazy) for some decent seats so they would be more "in the action." I loved being 6 rows back! And I love watching baseball, so it was all very dreamy for me, but the point was also to keep it exciting for the kids.

Safeco field, the baseball stadium, is right next to CenturyLink field, the football stadium. We took the picture with Russell Wilson behind us to make Kari mad. We're SO hilarious!

Boys in front of the sign.

Arriving inside the stadium. The weather was supposed to be overcast, maybe rainy, and 65 degrees. We regretted the sweaters, and lack of sunscreen, because it was hot and sunny the whole time!

Our seats - oh, la, la!

Look at that baseball feast! I think Ethan has an entire footlong hot dog in his mouth right here.

For reasons that remain unclear, the Mariner's mascot is a moose. Their symbol is a trident. Who thinks this nonsense up?

View from our seats onto the field

I loved that Eli wore a hat! Eli also loved that he wore a hat, it was protection from the sun 
(when he wasn't wearing it like a dork)

After the game we were still SO STUFFED from the food we ordered in the first inning we took a nice walk to the famous Pike's Place Market. Sadly, they were closing as we got there so we didn't get to look around as much as we had hoped, but actually it was GOOD they were closing up because the kids found plenty of things they *wished* they could buy, but the stores were closed. PHEW! Saved! We did see lots of fresh seafood and beautiful flower bouquets, which are the primary charms of the market, and we visited the "World's Largest Shoes" museum, which is a wall where you can pay a quarter to look at shoes that once belonged to famously giant people. 

The best part of the market is that it's right next to the giant Ferris Wheel! I didn't care one way or another about Ferris Wheels until I read "Devil in the White City" and it's interesting tidbits of the history of the first ferris wheel at the Chicago World Fair, and now I find them quite interesting! The kids find them interesting because they are kids.

Eli is a cutie

So up in the wheel we went! Each compartment held up to 8 people, but it wasn't crowded on a Thursday evening so they gave our family our own compartment, and let us ride around 6 times instead of the promised 3. Really gave us our money's worth! (Which is good, cause it was more money than I thought I'd ever spend on a Ferris Wheel)

The kids kept wishing we would get more rides, it was so fun that they got their wish! On the 5th and 6th times around we saw the Ferry pulling into the harbor, and that was awesome too.

The city behind us

My sweet girl <3 p="">
(and a better view of the city)

We walked home from the Ferris Wheel and Pike's Place Market, which was about a 20 minute walk and the kids, with the exception of Ethan, all thought they were dying. Happily, the city is interesting, there is always something to look at - this vista was outside our hotel! And like the Ferris Wheel was built for a World Fair, so was the Space Needle! Now it's suddenly was more interesting to me, and I'll have to read a book about it before we go again, so I can appreciate it before I pay gobs of money to go in an elevator to the top.

The boys refused to pose for more pictures around this point, but Caroline was happy to oblige, and gave me this gem where she looks like she's plotting to murder Ethan, and Ethan's a bit nervous because he knows it. 

Then Caro wanted to swap, so she took our photo.

Back at the hotel Thursday evening we went swimming with the kids from 8-9, watched TV from 9-9:3-, then yelled at them until 10 until they went to sleep. We are amazing parents.

Friday morning we decided to hit the Pacific Science Center. It had ho-hum ratings from the site I was looking at to plan our outings, but quite frankly it was one of the less-spendy things available and was RIDICULOUSLY close to our hotel, so we walked on over. Lo and behold, the Science Center is in a whole campus of cool spots, including another Children's Museum, the Armory, a Chihuli Gardens and Glass, the Museum of Popular Culture (or MoPoP), and the space needle itself.

Awesome climbing structures! They were challenging and fun and HUGE

The slides were impressive! I saw more than one adult go screaming down them

This was there by-far-favorite part of the part. What is it about spinning that is amazing when you're a kid, and absolute death when you're an adult? Blech.

We eventually left the playground and made it the 500 feet to the Pacific Science Center. We finally convinced them by promising there were dinosaur exhibits

There were indeed dinosaur exhibits! They moved and everything.

There were also oceanic exhibits, solar exhibits, health and fitness exhibits, and an entire half of the museum that we missed even though we spent 2 hours there! Happily a family membership was just $20 more than daily admission for us, so we got a year pass and we'll go again some time this summer.

Everyone agreed their favorite part of the museum was the Butterfly exhibit, where the butterflies were all free to fly around and land on you. 

Ethan was real ticked the butterflies wouldn't land on him

Also in the campus area was the monorail! Not a terribly effective way of getting around, as it only has two stops, but it sure was fun to ride.

Again with the murderous squish

We had to make use of that one monorail stop, so we walked around a shopping square - it had this cool water sculpture you could walk through...

...and public foosball and Ping Pong! We enjoyed a close game. 

After the foosball game we hopped back on the monorail, to scoot back to the campus, to walk back to our car, to drive back to Olympia. Lots of travel for two days, but even BETTER was lots of FUN in two days. 
We had a really, really, really wonderful anniversary trip with the kids! I was so happy to see everything go smoothly, and the kids have fun at every stop, and we adults only lose our cool a time or two while having as much fun (if not more) than the kids themselves. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cute kiddos

Fresh fruit is in season! We have been picking up strawberries, cherries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew, along with our standard fruit fare of apples, bananas, and pears. This led to a breakfast brainstorm of fruit pancakes - namely blueberry, strawberry, and banana. Caroline was so excited she just couldn't wait for the pancakes to be done, so she asked if she could taste the batter. Ethan queried, "Why don't you want to taste the gooder?"

We were trading out jokes and Caroline came up with one of her own:
Q: What has wheels and a screen and shows parts of a movie?
A: A trailer!

Ethan picked up on the phrase "pitch black" and has transferred the adjective "pitch" to mean "very," rather than it's coinage of pitch being black. He uses it at his own discretion, which always makes me grin when things are "pitch wet," pitch hot," or "pitch orange."

Ethan has a small yellow bike that fit him pretty perfectly, and had training wheels. He has been using this bike since he was about 2, and Eli used the bike before him, and between the two of them the bike is well-loved! Of course by well-loved I mean well-worn, particularly the back tire because the kids think it's hilarious to get the bike high-centered on the training wheels and let the large rubber tire free-spin while grazing the ground. The grazing wore the tire right to the inner structure of the treads, and one day while riding Ethan wore it THROUGH that inner stuff and popped the whole tire! Not just the inner tube, but blew out the exterior tire too! It made a lovely loud bang.
Although he still needed training wheels, this was a good chance to move Ethan up to Patrick's old red racing bike, which Ethan has been eyeing the past year. He is a great size to reach the pedals, but not the ground, so we simply relocated the training wheels and he was off like a shot! As long as training wheels were being removed, we made Caroline's bike an official two-wheeler - not at the request of Caroline, but of Ethan! He wanted to try out a two-wheeler on a bike the same size as his yellow one, but without the popped tire. It was one of those moments where he was clearly ready long before I was because he had that thing mastered within the day - apparently I had been holding him back by not removing his training wheels long ago!
He happily rode circles around our new driveway, completely upsetting his sister - how could HE ride HER bike before SHE could ride her bike?!  With a little practice mixed with a little pouting, she got the hang of it! We were all so proud. Long story short: WE ARE OUT OF TRAINING WHEELS! Everyone is riding two-wheelers! It is an exciting day, and has opened up new horizons. The bad news is, I can't keep up by running like I could before, and now my bum hurts because it's been ages since I rode a bike.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Van

The chaos of buying a new car also happened the same day as the chaos of throwing a silk-screening-birthday-fail ... I mean party...

We had decided about 2 weeks prior that we needed a new van, ours was quite old but since it was relatively new to us we still owed money on it. It's a reliable about-town car but we didn't want to rely on it to get us to Colorado (or California in October), meaning we were paying car payments AND airline tickets and rental car fees every time we want to go somewhere. We researched available used vans around town, got a lot of online reports, and Joe had already scheduled a friday off so we decided that would be a good day to go look. Looking for us usually means buying, and sure enough we found a vehicle we were happy with at a price we were happy with and boight a van!

But nothing easy is ever easy... That Friday was a half-day at school (which was also the reason I had picked it to have the party, instead of on a Saturday), so we had to leave to pick up kids, I had to return to sign more papers, the kids didn't want to go sign papers so they stayed at the neighbors,  the papers took a lot longer than they should have because the computer kept auto-filling withother people's information, blah blah... We finally had keys in hand at 3, the party was at 5, and I still hadn't decorated or frosted the cake! This is also why I didn't have extra games in place, I was busy buying a van, which should only have taken us until 1:00, not 3:00.

At any rate, the party's over but the van is still here, so I'd say it was worth it ;) it's a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan, black, has about half of the bells and whistles (electronic doors and hatch? Yes. Installed DVD players? No.), and we can now drive ourselves all over the country in comfortable peace of mind!

Patrick's birthday, Part Deux

Since Patrick's birthday fell on a wednesday we had his birthday party that friday. I ordered pizza (easy) and made a simple 9x13 cake (also easy) and planned a silk-screening party (ridiculously difficult). I bought a slew of cheap, colorful shirts so the guests could pick what they liked, then cut out a bunch of shapes on my silhouette so they could have a lot of options to design their shirts with. As they made their choices and placed them on their shirt, I took them to the garage where we had our workspace set up to do the actual silkscreen, and I would help them blob on and squeegee the paint through the screen.
This all sounds relatively simple, but multiply it by 6 age-9 guests, add 3 even younger siblings, divide it by 2 adults, and add paint - your final sum is utter chaos! It wasn't helped by having 6 color choices because with 6 guests I figured we would overlap and two people might pick the same... But when has my figuring ever turned out? They all chose different colors, so I had to go by who wanted lighter colors of ink first, and (of course) those were the kids who finished placing their designs last. Terrible. We got all the shirts done, but all the jostling in the garage (of COURSE they wanted to play basketball in there and not just watch! Why didn't I think of that?) meant I sent everyone inside who wasn't actually doing a shirt. Because the shirts were the actual activity I didn't HAVE any extra activities for while they waited (they were SUPPOSED to be watching), so poor Joe was inside wranglings hyped-up party guests who ran around, led by one friend in particular who turned his show-off mode up to full blast, turning everyone into CRAZY people. They sat still for about 15 minutes total - 5 to do a shirt, 5 for pizza and cake, 5 for gifts... 1 hour and 45 minutes of screaming around my house.
Silk screening is good with a much higher ratio of adults to kids.
Silk screening should be done with fewer kids, period.
Younger siblings should make their shirts ahead of the party so as not to add to the chaos.
Silk screening should be available in ONE COLOR ONLY - this is not the time to up the creative ante.
Side activities should ALSO be in place; possibly something that requires them to pretend to be asleep or act like a dead animal so they stop running around.
Find out who the crazy kid is, and DO NOT invite them.

It was so chaotic I didn't even get a single picture during the party! In that regard it reminded me of Patrick's party 2 years ago where kids started throwing knives and blocks of ice ... I was trying to help them not die, so pictures were the last thing on my mind. (I'm pretty sure my party planning skills for kids need work!) Happily, we will now be instituting a family-party-every-other-year rule, so I have zero planning until late 2018. PHEW!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Birthday Derbies

The Pinewood Derby happened to be on Patrick's 9th birthday (today)! We prepped for weeks, I even bought and axle-setting kit and weights, then polished the axles because last year his poor car was abysmally slow... He was embarassed, and I didn't want that to happen again! And it didn't happen, but his car wasn't terribly fast, either, as it ended up still being quite underweight (turns out I should have bought a digital scale, too!). ButHe aberaged about 3rd place each heat instead of dead last, a la 2016. But it WAS super-cute, and I think that counts for something! If nothing else, it caught the corner of my eye more than once and got me all excited that there was a snickers bar, only to be let down that there was a painted hunk of wood taunting me. 
After the derby they had cake (which I also counted as birthday cake, therefore having zero calories, which is the real beauty of 'birthday cake' vs 'regular cake') and they handed out these adorable certificates! Adorable because they already had the picture printed! If you save me some legwork, you are ADORABLE.

A few weeks ago I began a conversational journal with Patrick (I also have one with Eli), so I wrote him a birthday note and left it under his pillow. I thought his response back was adorable:
"Thanks for thinking of me" - I died! And my heart melted that my note perked up a bad day (their class changed desks again, 3rd time in 3 weeks, he was very disgruntled). If we can keep up these notes I think I'll really have a fun time with it :) Boys can be reticent and girls can be moody, but it's often helpful to write things down; this will probably be as helpful for me (if not more so) than it is for them! 

Anywho, happy birthday to Patrick! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Healthy wife, healthy life

We have really been focusing on daily fitness at our house, which makes me realize we really weren't focusing on fitness at our house! We're mostly healthy, we eat most meals together daily (kids obviously eat lunch at school), I cook those meals myself, outside of meals I push fruits and veggies and water for snacks, I feel like everyone runs around and we try to get out and hit parks and ride bikes and stuff... but I had a minor meltdown at Eli the other day.

In Ninja class they do basic fitness moves like sit-ups and pushups (I mentioned that), but of course class is only one night a week, so I had been encouraging a short fitness *something* before bedtime - usually a kids workout video or some exercises together. He kept giving up - "I can't do pushups, I can't do lunges, I can't do sit-ups..." so I hauled him to bed and sat and stewed and brainstormed. I have a high metabolism and can basically eat what I want - within reason - and be generally active and not worry about gaining a single pound. Eli is a whole different animal, and my approach to health has apparently not been working with his body type. He looks exactly like Joe did when he was Eli's age, and then Joe had a crazy growth spurt in middle school and leaned out, then bulked up with muscle for football and track. GREAT, except I do NOT want to sit around hoping that in 8 years Eli will luck out and lean out without any contributing outside factors. JOE also doesn't want that for him because, from experience, he says "it is no fun being the fat kid." So even though I've been conscious in the back of my mind, I haven't been focusing on fitness, and that needed a boost.

Changes include:
60 possible minutes of screen time, as usual, but minutes are earned by exercise. If you do 0 minutes of exercise, you get 0 minutes! Anything above and beyond 60 minutes of exercise, though, you still only get 60 minutes of screen time.
Dessert is a weekend thing. I LOVE dessert (do you even know me at all?!) so I made something sweet nearly every night, but in an effort to ditch unnecessary calories I had to calm down on the frequency.
I've been sending along CapriSuns in their lunches. I now only send water.
Our weekend fast-food trip as a family has been reduced to every-other weekend. This was actually a financial decision, but dovetails nicely.
Last but not least, I need to re-think exercise.

Here again, Eli is a different animal. I really enjoy the gym! I enjoy that physical challenge, I enjoy sets and reps, I enjoy working on my form, I like competing with myself. Caroline and Patrick also enjoy these things! Eli enjoys none of these things. Many articles I came across reiterated that kids get exercise differently than adults. Running around at the park is fun and healthy and involves running - I SIT at the park, and if I wanted to exercise I would run laps around the park. Different, see? But both running. So I have been brainstorming ways to be active without saying, "hey everybody! We're about to be active!" It gets tricky when it's not a ninja night and the weather isn't cooperative, but that's when my Mall Bingo from my last post came in handy.

For the future, though, I signed up the boys for soccer, because RUNNING. Starting in March.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mall Madness

I made up a game of Mall Bingo last week, as we needed to get out of the house (but not into the downpour outside). I looked at a few ideas online, but most of the things they listed were mean-spirited, like "someone wearing sausage-casing for pants" or "visible buttcrack." Yeah, you probably COOULD spot all those at the mall, but I wouldn't want my kids LOOKING for them - there are so many good things to see! So I kept my board pretty simple, a mixture of types of stores, things you find inside the store, and people you see shopping. My most mean-spirited was "kid missing some clothes," which could include shoes, which they saw at the indoor play place because that's the rule. As a bonus, I added seeing someone being kind to a stranger, because THAT is worth keeping an eye out for ;)

As you can see, this is very homemade, but it was fun! So I scanned a few extra copies and we can do it again another rainy day.