Sunday, February 24, 2013

Midwinter Break

Since we are saving money for closing costs on the sale of our house in Wisconsin, we decided that midwinter break would be a staycation this year.  Obviously, the goal was to spend very little money, but to get the kids out having some fun so they really felt like they were on vacation, not just sitting around the house for a week.
We kicked things off on Friday night with a campfire complete with s'mores, followed up by a family movie night.
On Saturday we went to Fort Ward Park to see sea creatures.  Kennedy had seen an announcement at school that there would be divers at the park for a couple hours, bringing up creatures for people to see.  We figured it was a great FREE opportunity, so we went over to check it out.  It was so fun!  This is a great example of the amazing opportunities our kids have living here.  This was so far removed from anything I could have experienced growing up.  Julia dreams of becoming a marine biologist.  What better place to live than on an island surrounded by marine life? 

 Moon Snail- Sometimes the foot would be out so far the entire shell would be covered.
 Disembodied sea flower leg clinging to Julia's finger.  She eventually had to scrape it off because it wouldn't let go.
 We saw spider crabs, hermit crabs, mottled starfish, leather stars, sea flowers, squid eggs, moon snails, a sea slug, a flatfish, and a (dead) jellyfish.

 Tuesday we celebrated Devon's birthday and the kids played at the park for a while.  Wednesday we went with friends to the Olympic Game Farm in Sequim, WA.  It's a drive-thru park and you feed the animals from your car as you drive through.  The kids had a blast.  They laughed and screamed and giggled like crazy. 

After the game farm we had a picnic at a park in Sequim.  The kids played on the playground and chased the hundreds of ducks around.  After lunch we walked on the beach near the Dungeness Spit.  (Pictures are out of order because I'm sick of trying to fix them.  Sorry.)

Julia thought her hand was going to be lunch for this bison.  Their tongues are VERY long (and scratchy) and right after this picture was taken, he wrapped his tongue around her wrist.  She screamed and pulled it back and laughed and laughed.
I love this picture my friend Lindsey captured.  I'm not sure what the bison had just done to elicit this expression from me, but it is priceless.  Also?  He is huge.  I'm in an SUV, not a low car.   
I also love the look on Jesse's face in this picture.
The waving bear.  Not waving.
Yak wants bread.
On Friday the kids and I headed in to Seattle.  We took the ferry to Seattle, then walked up the waterfront to the Aquarium. 
 We have a membership there, so it was no additional cost.  Jesse LOVES the octopus.  He would sit and watch it for hours.

After the aquarium, we walked to the Westlake station in Seattle and caught the monorail.  The kids really enjoyed the ride, but it is very short.
The monorail takes you to the base of the Space Needle.  From there, it is a straight shot down to Lincoln's building at Amazon.
Unfortunately, we discovered that there is a major road cutting through there with a concrete wall divider.  We couldn't cross.  We had to hang a right, walk several block in that direction to where we could cross, cross the street, then walk back the several blocks to the road that leads to Amazon.  Except we got back to that street and there was no crosswalk.  It was a busy and wide enough street that I didn't want to try to cross it with five kids and no crosswalk, so we had to go down another block, cross, and then proceed toward Amazon.  When we got to the correct cross street, we turned and walked the block back to the intersection Lincoln had told us to meet him at.  The kids were exhausted at this point.  And don't let the sunshine fool you; it was cold and windy.  Luckily, we were able to ride an Amazon shuttle back to the Pikes Place area.  When we got out, the wind was blowing even harder, the sun was getting lower, and it was dang cold.  We walked down to the waterfront and took the kids to Red Robin for dinner.  I forgot to mention that I was sick.  I had a terrible sore throat and headache.  The medicine I had taken in the morning had left me a bit woozy  and dizzy.  I was so happy to sit down in Red Robin with my Baja Turkey Club sandwich and french onion soup.  From Red Robin it is just a short walk to the ferry terminal.  We arrived home thoroughly exhausted, but it was a fun day.

Devon's Birthday

This past week we celebrated Devon's 9th birthday.  It really is truly amazing how quickly the years slide by.  One more year to double digits.  I am very proud of the responsible young man he is.  Since our move to Washington he has been able to participate in Cub Scouts through the church and it has been a very positive experience for him.  It really fits his personality.  He likes having a handbook with specific instructions to follow, loves wearing a uniform, and delights in having a code of honor to obey. 

Because we got a late start, and his parents are Cub Scout greenies, we barely made it, but did succeed in passing off all his requirements for Wolf.  He is now a Bear and ready to tackle the new requirements quickly so he can do the fun arrow point activities.

Once again, Devon requested a Harry Potter cake for his birthday.  Sadly, I procrastinated so long (I was honestly really busy) that I had to make the entire cake the day of his birthday.  To top it off, the kids were on mid-winter break from school, so I had a houseful of kids here while I was trying to work on it as well.  That does not make for my best work.  The good news is that he asked for chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, so I knew that even if it didn't look amazing, it would taste amazing.  He did not want fondant over the entire thing either.  That makes for a not so tidy cake, but yummier.  (Final battle between Voldemort and Harry.  Trees represent Forbidden Forest, bricks represent Hogwarts in shambles.  Very conceptual.  ;) )

The real life-saver of the day was his birthday dinner request: Sub sandwiches and boxed macaroni shells and cheese.  Dinner required almost no prep time. 

Devon had been asking for a suit coat for quite some time, so I started checking thrift stores for one several weeks, maybe even a couple months ago.  Finally, the week before his birthday, I found one at Goodwill that I thought might work.  I dropped it off at the dry cleaners and hoped it would fit him.  I also picked up a new white shirt for him.  Luckily, the coat fit, but probably won't for long.  I can't keep up with this growing boy!  He was so excited when he opened it up. 

Another thing he has been asking for FOREVER, is a new wand.  Last year for his birthday, my cousin Karen had made him a wooden wand carved from one of those oversize pencils.  He loved it and carried it everywhere with him.  One day he jumped off the stone wall and the wand broke.  We taped it up and repaired it as long as we could, but it finally had to be thrown away.  I then gave him a wand that I had originally purchased for his birthday, but never gave him because of the cool wooden one he got from Karen.  It was a plastic one that lit up and made sounds.  Totally cheesy.  That was sufficient for a while, but he actually didn't like the bells and whistles much, or the plastic look of it.  He kept asking me to call Karen and have her make him a new one.  I decided I would make him one for Christmas, but never got around to it.  I put him off for a couple more months, during which time he finished reading the Harry Potter books and then watched the final movies.  That's when I got the idea to make him an elder wand.

 My efforts were worth it.  He loves the wand and proclaimed it his favorite gift--which is saying something since he also received a couple Lego sets. 

So birthday #9 was a big success, and our first little boy is not so little anymore. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jesse's Birthday

My baby boy has turned 6.  Crazy.  Yesterday was an insane day.  I had planned to do some grocery shopping, then use the rest of the day to prep for birthday festivities.  Instead, after getting the little ones on the bus, I took off for Poulsbo to bring the Mountaineer in for a brake job.  After looking the car over, the technician informed me that the front driver's side tire was so bad it was at risk of a blow out at any time.  Since it is an all-wheel vehicle, it is necessary to replace all four tires at the same time.  They quoted me $800 for tires.  After the $360 brake job.  I decided I would wait until I got to Costco and get a quote there as well.  So off I went to Costco, another 15 minutes down the highway.  I made a quick stop at Trader Joe's then went to Costco.  I purchased two carts full of groceries, then popped over to the tire center.  They quoted me only a slightly better total for the tires, but it was necessary to order them.  The guy asked me how bad my tire was and I told him exactly what the previous technician had told me.  He took a look and couldn't believe the folks at the other place had put such a bad tire back on my car and let me drive down the highway with it.  So he ordered my tires, and put my spare on for me so I wouldn't blow out in the meantime.  After waiting for the spare to be put on, I hurried home to go with Lincoln to pay to get his car out of the impound lot and make sure the tow truck came to haul it to a garage o be fixed.  Lincoln had to be there because the car is registered in his name, and I had to be there because the AAA card is in MY name.  But after a frustrating phone conversation with the lady at AAA, we realized we would not have time to go and get back before a friend was dropping off Jesse, and three of her kids.  So I had to run to the school and pick up Julia an hour early so she would be here to watch the kids.  After getting her home, Lincoln and I took off, back to Poulsbo, for the impound lot.  After arriving and paying the charge to get it out, we made another call to AAA for the tow truck.  Sometime during the hour that we had to wait for the tow truck to arrive, we realized Lincoln did not have the keys to his car.  We hoped they would arrive with the capability to tow it without the key.  Sadly, when the guy arrived, he very grumpily informed us he had to have the keys.  At this point, it was almost 4pm.  I made a quick call to Kennedy's flute teacher to let her know we would not make it for her weekly lesson. Luckily, the driver informed us that the guy starting his shift at 4pm has a truck that could tow without keys.  In a quick consultation with the lady at the impound lot, we were told that if the tow truck didn't arrive before 5pm, it would be an additional $95 for an after hours pick up.  Thankfully, the other tow truck arrived at about 4:45 and we were finally free to go. 
By the time I arrived home, I was beat. As much as I wanted to just crash for the evening, I did take the time to bake Jesse's birthday cake and make a double batch of marshmallow fondant. 

This morning, Julia and Renie got up extra early to put up some decorations and make a menu for Jesse for breakfast.  They put on aprons and served him his meal.  It was so sweet.  I'm so proud of these kids for being so thoughtful.  Especially Julia.  She is usually the one behind these kindnesses. 
I still hadn't prepared anything for Jesse to bring to school for a birthday treat.  I figured I would use a cake mix to bake some cupcakes in the morning.  First thing this morning I emailed his teacher to find out what time snack time was.  When she told me it was 9:15, I knew I wasn't going to have time to get cupcakes done, and I hated to even take the time to run to the store to buy something.  Then I remembered I had all the stuff on hand to make Rice Krispie treats.  I threw together the treats with some chocolate chips and confetti sprinkles tossed in.  After a quick delivery to the school, I came home to work on the cake.  I didn't get very far when it was time to pick Jesse up from the bus stop already.  I picked Jesse up and we took off for Poulsbo...again.  On the way, Jesse got his birthday phone call from Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Chrissy.  We stopped at the bank to make a deposit, then I took him to McDonalds for a birthday lunch.  Jesse got his usual- chicken nuggets Happy Meal with chocolate milk, and then spent some time on the pretty awesome playspace.

After lunch, we stopped by the garage to drop off the keys to Lincoln's car, then made one more stop to pick up a few groceries we still needed for the birthday dinner. 

So, I tell all of this to paint the picture of how crazy the 24 hours leading up to Jesse's birthday celebration were.  I still had all of the cake decorating still ahead of me.  I worked for a few hours on the cake, and thankfully I had three willing and happy helpers in the kitchen when it came time to prepare Jesse's chosen birthday dinner- tacos. 

Cake got done, dinner was delicious, and I even got Jesse's gifts wrapped.

 My sweet baby boy had a wonderful day, and amid all the craziness, I observed how big he has gotten, and reflected  on how quickly time has flown since he was just a babe in my arms.  He is funny and sweet and brings so much joy to our family.  I'm so very glad I was blessed to be his mommy!