Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Glasshouse Studio Photo Op

Yes, I've taken on a new project... I know, BIG shocker! 

To further my photography skills, I joined a daily photo community called 365 Project. Basically, every person posts 1 photo per day and everyone else gets to see them. It isn't a contest or competition; it is just an opportunity to grow as photographers.

Yesterday, I decided to explore a new venue to see if I could capture a neat photo; I took a little walk from my office to a glass art studio in Pioneer Square called Glasshouse Studio. The artists were incredibly hospitable and I couldn't be more grateful to them for making me feel so welcome. 

One of the artists made a glass horse while I peeked in; it didn't release from the pole, so he had to break it. I missed the breaking moment, so he offered to make another horse strictly for the purpose of being broken for me. Wow!!

As I sat on the floor just outside of the work area, I felt myself getting warmer and warmer. I asked one of the artists how hot it was inside the studio and he said 109 degrees. Ugh! No wonder I felt the need to peel off my cardigan!

If you are ever in need of amazing glass art, stop by. They have everything from doo-dads to bowls to light fixtures... oh, and glass horses!

This is the photo I submitted for my daily photo entry;
I like how it freezes the process of working with the hot glass
Heating the glass

Peering into the kiln; I was surprised to see
how many round trips between the work area and the kiln
that the artists make for a single piece of glass art

Shaping a light fixture

Some of the finished pieces in the storefront

Hind legs of a horse

Finished horse
Flash cooling the hot glass with cold water to fracture the horse
Talk about having a lot of irons in the fire!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fun at Bitterlake

As I've said before, we have had a marvelously beautiful summer this year. Recently, I took the kids to Bitterlake Park to burn off some energy and enjoy the morning sunshine.

We had the playground to ourselves, which is always a perk; it makes it much easier to keep track of the kids and know their whereabouts at any given moment. And, of course, as soon as we get to the play area, one kiddo heads 180 degrees from where the other one goes. These are the times I really do need eyes in the back of my head!

Both kids had a fantastic time playing and exploring the play equipment. They went up and down (and up and down) the slides, across the monkey bars, across the wobbly bridge, on the merry-go-round, and much more. I loved watching our kids play because this was one of the days they found a perfect balance between independent play and playing as a two-some.

Love how he wears his hat at a rakish angle ... he's so stylish!

Annika mastering the monkey bars

Conor after his journey down the twisty slide

Annika flying around the merry-go-round

Conor in jail ... OK, not really .... just at the top of the climbing structure

Annika swinging on the rings

I've realized that her feet weren't on the ground in any of these
pictures .... that's a pretty accurate representation of the day!
Someone had looped the swings around the upper bars, making the swings too
high for the kids to sit on; that didn't stop Conor from having his fun, though!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July Baking Challenge: Eenie Meenie Miney Moe

This month's baking challenge was super easy and super hard all in one. We had the opportunity to go back through past challenges and pick one that appealed to us. Naturally, just about ALL of the past challenges sounded great and like possibilities, but after much contemplating, I chose to make challah (again). The main reason behind this decision was I've been hankering for really good French toast and nothing makes better French toast than challah. 

Our dear family friend, Barb Simon, has supplied me with a few wonderful challah recipes over the years and I chose to make one of the recipes she sent to me along the say. (Thanks, Mrs. Simon!!!)

With this bread (makes 2 loaves, even though only one is shown below), I decided to return to the dreaded 6-strand braid. I found a resource online that explained it VERY clearly and now, I find the 6-strand braid a snap. Yippee!!!

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Annika's Before/After Tooth Pictures

I just realized I never posted Annika's before/after pictures from losing her first tooth. (Not earning many points for the Mom of the Year award at this pace!)

It tickles me how her speech changed after the tooth came out... she spoke with a bit of a slurr for a couple of days.


The tooth!
Gnawing on ice in a paper towel to help stop the bleeding


Conor's Sprinkler Fun

We have had an incredible summer this year. Some years have provided cool temperatures, cloudy skies, more rain that we knew what to do with, and many failed outdoor plans. This year, that is not the case. Our kids have had ample opportunities to play outside, run in the sprinkler, and enjoy a beautiful summer.

A couple of days ago, Annika wanted to ride her bike after dinner. Conor wanted to run through the sprinkler. Easy! I set them both up in the back yard and let them do their thing. I parked myself on a camp chair under the shady trees and happily watched the kids make the most of their evening. It was tranquil and fun ... the epitome of what a summer evening should be. And, yes, Conor held that stick the entire time he played in the sprinkler!

(Look closely, you can see our new hedge behind him!)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July Mamas with Cameras: Reflections and Bubbles

Last night, the Mamas with Cameras group met up at Volunteer Park to work on photographing reflections and bubbles. It was a perfectly fun, relaxing, and easy-going evening. Not often do we get the chance to play with bubbles without children around to pop them.

The original hope was to capture reflections of the trees and Space Needle in the reservoir, but it was drained and concrete just isn't very reflective. So, we opted to use the koi ponds instead; we worked on capturing reflections of the various plants, each other, and ourselves. Pretty impressively, no one fell in. :)

Wenmei, the group leader, brought a few bottles of bubbles and a selection of bubble wands for us to use in hopes of getting a beginning grasp of photographing bubbles. One of the keys she mentioned was using an f-stop of 5.6 (or there abouts) to make sure the bubbles don't wind up looking too flat. She also suggested shifting around the bubbles to capture the different ways the sunlight plays off of them. We had a tricky time getting the bubbles to stay put (it was a bit breezy at times) and not pop on the grass.... the bubbles didn't last as long as we'd hoped at times, but our giggles as bubbles burst on us made up for it.

Because we carpooled, Wenmei and I were the last two to leave the park. We decided to take pictures of the setting sun and a few flowers before heading out. It was really neat to pick her brain a bit and just watch her work; highly impressive!

A mama's reflection in the koi pond

More reflections

Look closely... you can see my reflection in the bubble

Playing with bubbles

I like the light creating a rainbow on these bubbles
The Space Needle through The Black Sun

Monday, July 22, 2013

Annika Is Two-Wheeling It!

We spent most of this past weekend on Whidbey Island visiting Eric's parents. And, let me tell you, it was one full weekend!! On top of it being the weekend of Annika's 1st fishing trip, she also figured out how to ride a two-wheel bike!!!

In the weeks leading up to this weekend, Annika had been anxious to learn how to ride her bike without its training wheels. Knowing how much flat, non-traffic space is at the house on Whidbey, we convinced her to wait until our weekend away to really give riding her bike 100% effort. Until then, she happily rode Conor's bike (the one without pedals), which I think might have been a big plus.

On Saturday, she went outside with Eric's mom (aka Bestemor) and basically started riding within seconds. Needless to say, everyone was rather stunned and highly impressed. Once she got it, she GOT IT!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sisters Day

Some people count down to their birthday while others count down to Christmas. Most recently, I counted down to last weekend because my sister flew up from San Diego to visit us.

We don't get to see each other nearly enough! Yes, we do talk every few days and text regularly, it isn't the same as spending time face to face. This weekend, we made up for lost time. We laughed, caught up, chatted, talked, laughed some more, and reminisced. It was perfect.

Before her arrival, Suzanne requested that we take the Theo Chocolate tour (highly recommended for anyone living in or visiting Seattle!) and going kayaking in the Montlake cut. Easy! We dubbed the Monday of her visit "Sisters Day"! Our sister-in-law, Staci, who (let's face it) is just as close as any biological sister could be), Suzanne, and I met up at Theo Chocolate to kick off Sisters Day. Staci and I did the Theo Chocolate factory tour together just after the new year and loved it; not only did we learn about chocolate, we got to sample some mighty fine confections. In fact, we raved about it so much, that Suzanne requested a chance to go on the tour. Oh twist my arm! We donned our fancy hair nets and hit the factory... and it did not disappoint. At the end of the tour (which conveniently ends in the Theo Chocolate gift shop), I even remembered to pick up some burlap bags (that the cocoa beans are delivered in) so I can do something creative .. a messenger bag, perhaps? (Currently, the bags are airing out on our deck... they still smell like the fermented cocoa beans... not exactly pleasant.)

After our visit to Theo Chocolate, we headed to Agua Verde for lunch and kayaking. I put on my game face and was able to scope out a table on the deck for us. I was basically like a vulture waiting for someone to show any sign of departure; when I saw a group wipe their mouths, I swooped in and claimed our territory. Oh yeah, baby!!!

Fortunately, the weather was very cooperative on Monday, which made kayaking a very pleasant experience. There was a bit of wind, which made paddling toward Lake Union slow going, but paddling toward Lake Washington incredibly speedy!! It was such fun to watch the ducks paddle next to us, not to mention scope out the yachts we'll never be able to afford (and I'm OK with that!). We attempted to chat during our kayaking, but wound up just yelling into the wind at each other... resulting in a lot of laughter, but very little meaningful conversations.

All in all, it was a marvelous day... except when I had to say goodbye to my sister as she got into Staci's car to spend the night at their house before returning to San Diego the next day (that part kinda stunk). That said, knowing we might see each other next month at their cabin helped ease the sting of goodbye a bit.

Staci and Suzanne before our kayaking adventure

The three sisters.... Staci was kind enough to make Suzanne and me appear taller than we are

Speed is your friend, Staci!

Suzanne enjoying her breezy boating

Staci with I-5 in the background

Paddle, Suzanne, paddle!

Yacht = big, kayak = small


Pretty lillypads

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Annika's First Missing Tooth

On Tuesday (July 16, 2013), Annika reached a childhood milestone: she lost her first tooth.

To be exact, she didn't truly lose it, but it is no longer in her mouth. After dinner, she came up to Eric and me and said that she felt a cavity. Quite perplexed, I asked her to show me. Instead of seeing a hole in her tooth, I saw her demonstrated the ability to basically pull so far back on her loose tooth that we could see its underside. Yeah.... definitely time for it to come out.

As soon as we told her it was time for the tooth to come out, she freaked. The idea of it completely set the poor girl into mountains of fear and anxiety. We tried to calm her down, but no to avail. Eventually, though. with the help of many deep breathing sessions and the promise to let her have music playing through her headphones during the procedure, she agreed to let Eric pull her tooth.

It took a try or three for Eric to get a good grip on that wee little tooth, but one he did, it popped right out. Once it was out, Annika became the most excited girl history has ever seen. She was beaming and bounding ... proclaiming that she's such a big girl now. We were amazed by how she reacted to her lost tooth.... especially considering we were doing some serious breathing exercises just a few minutes before.

Needless to say, Annika rushed to put her tooth in the tooth pillow we'd made. About an hour later, it was time for bed. She was still buzzing with excitement, but did get herself to sleep ... I'm sure it was quite a feat for her to even close her eyes.

The next morning, she was greeted with a golden dollar and a note from the Tooth Fairy. We were greeted with the same excitement, energy, and enthusiasm we'd witnessed the night before. Conor was feeling a bit left out by this point, so he began announcing that his teeth were loose, too.  (Nice try, little man.)

We explained to her that a dollar is worth 100 pennies; after arriving at school, she showed one of her teachers the hold her tooth left behind and proclaimed "the Tooth Fairly gave me 100 dollars!!" I quickly jumped on that and corrected her that she, in fact, got a dollar that was worth 100 pennies. (The Tooth Fairy would be broke by the time our kids baby teeth were all gone if that was the case... OY!)

Annika has another loose tooth and, now that the first tooth is gone and she realizes it isn't traumatic to loose a tooth, she can hardly wait for it to come out. I think we have a few more weeks, though.

I'd like to note that while the idea of our baby girl being old enough to lose her teeth did stab me in the gut a bit, I was able to control myself and not cry about it. (Mom win!!)

Toothless in Seattle

Friday, July 12, 2013

Vocab Lesson, Courtesy of Conor

Last night, I was helping Conor get into his PJs. 

I asked him to put his arm in the sleeves. 

"NO!" he replied. 

"Excuse me??" I asked in my most Mommy voice I could muster. 

"They're not sleeves! They're arm shirts." 

I stand corrected.

Just in case you needed a visual reminder

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cabo Vacation Recap (pt 3)

One of the things that most excited our kids about going on vacation—aside from the fact they'd be in a pool every day of it—was the fact that their big cousin Ian would be on the trip with them. I'm pretty sure our kids think Ian walks on water; he is marvelous with them... truly, the King of Patience. One of the activities that he devised was to make forts out of the various patio furniture cushions for Annika and Conor. They LOVED this activity... and Ian built countless structures for them... mostly because we were there for an entire week and Conor thought he was Godzilla and the cushion buildings were Tokyo in need of a good crushing.

Annika and Conor enjoying Ian's architecture skills

The creations were everything from forts to jails to bridges to boats

Ian rocks!! (just ask our kids if you need  more details)

One of the nights we were gone, Troy and Staci offered to watch our kids so we could have a date night. Sweet!!! Because we did the all-inclusive package at the resort, our dining options were somewhat limited, but Troy called the bar in the main building (aka the bar that had Eric and Troy's new best friend, aka Delfino the bartender) and confirmed that we could eat there while everyone else ate at the restaurant one level below. He was told that it wouldn't be a problem at all.... insert we think this is where the language barrier comes into play. Eric and I sat down at the bar, ordered drinks, and then asked for the menu. The waiter, quite confused, informed us that they don't serve food there, only drinks. Hmmm... so, we decided to risk going downstairs to the same restaurant as the rest of our crew; fortunately, they put us at a table hidden behind a column that blocked the kids from seeing us and, thusly, deciding to come on over for a visit. At one point, we sent drinks to Troy and Staci as a thank you for watching our kids... plus, we were on the all-inclusive, so we weren't even out anything. (Yes, we are THAT cheesy!) Even though the evening didn't quite turn out as expected, it was still incredibly fun and the added humor of hiding from our kids made it even more memorable.

Eric and his date night beer

Meredith and her date night wine
Little did we know at the time, but a hurricane (Hurricane Cosme, to be exact) was brewing in the Pacific, which caused insanely HUGE waves for us to ooh and ahh about. These suckers were a good 12 feet tall and raged as they crashed onto the beach. Because the ocean was so stirred up, the resort posted workers to patrol along the beach to keep people a safe distance from the water. I got as close as I could to get a few photos of the gorgeous waves, though.

Annika posing
(this is what I got when I said, "look over your shoulder at me.")

Did I mention the cushion creations??

 The kids were enamored with the fountain on our building. Every time we were near it, they insisted on taking a look in the collection pool and playing in its water. Once we even found two dead cockroaches in the water ... that was a bonus, just ask the kids!

This picture makes me giggle. A lot. I think Staci was either being held up by a really funny bandit or is doing her best mime impersonation. Your thoughts??
Stick 'em up, Staci!!
The last time we were in Cabo, Annika was 6 months old. Naturally, she doesn't remember anything about the trip, but we sure do. One of our favorite photos from that trip was her in front of this very swim-up bar splashing in the pool water. It tickled us to have a picture of our baby at a bar. Because of that bit of history, having the kids (again, really funny that our 3 and 5-year-olds are sitting at a bar!) at the bar just seemed to be an imperative for this trip. Before much longer, Annika is probably going to feel like Norm from "Cheers"!

Conor and Annika at the bar
(fear not, they only had a bottle of water!)
Annika at "her" bar

Conor ponying up for a refreshing cold one ... bottle of water, that is!