Monday, November 28, 2016

Reaching New Heights

Last week, the kids were off from school due to parent/teacher conferences and Thanksgiving. They had a great time relaxing and recharging their batteries a bit.

Eric and I took turns being home with the kids during the first three days of their break. (We were off Thursday and Friday, so that was easy!) Eric opted to take Monday off instead of working from home (what I did Tuesday and Wednesday), so he and the kids loaded up on fun stuff. Annika had been asking to go rock climbing for a few weeks and Monday seemed like a great opportunity for that to become a reality.

Eric loaded up the kids and headed down to the Stone Gardens climbing wall in Ballard. The kids donned their climbing shoes and hit the wall with gusto. Conor was content to stick closer to the lower and middle portions while working on his confidence, footing, and grips. Annika, on the other hand, had no qualms about scaling the wall and even making it to an overhang area. Both kids did a great job and, per the periodic texts and photos I received from Eric, had a fun time. Annika is now gung ho on rock climbing and wants to take lessons. Conor says he wants to take lessons, too, but we aren't as sold on his enthusiasm quite yet.

After they kids finished up at the climbing wall, everyone piled back into the car, stopped at Dick's for lunch, and then headed home for some R&R. When I got home from work, it was such fun to hear them regale me with stories of their day and their rock climbing experience.

I love that the kids got to have a special date with Eric. Too often, I hear about fathers who aren't involved in their kids' lives (for a variety of reasons), and I feel so blessed to have a husband who is also an active father. He wants to be part of their lives.... and there is nowhere else the kids would rather have him!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans' Day 2016

This morning, the kids, Eric, and I headed to the local cemetery to meet with some of our school friends and many of our community members to place flags on the many veteran graves. It was truly a humbling experience.

I'm so proud of our kids for being willing to roll out of bed on a day they could have lazily slept in (no school), but they understood the importance of paying our respects to those who served our country.

After listening to a brief set of instructions, we headed off with flags in arms to pay tribute to those who served our country. The kids were diligent in their efforts, only stopping now and then to read the names of some service members. They were respectful and focused; as a parent, I really couldn't be much prouder of them.

The sky practically hummed with radiant colors as the sun rose. 
My husband is no slouch when it comes to flag carrying!

A humbling vision
Annika making sure her flag was perfectly placed
Conor looking for graves in need of flags
The plaque at the cemetery

Eric and Conor reading the name of a soldier

Annika reading grave markers

Eric and the kids reading

"Hey! This one was named Robert!"

To all of our veterans, we thank you.

Friday, November 4, 2016

An Evening at Carkeek

Yesterday, we had the luxury of clear weather after many recent days of rain, rain, rain, and some more rain. As I drove to the kids' school from my bus, I had an "ah ha" moment .... this would be a perfect opportunity to snap some photos of the kids for our annual Christmas card photo. So, I swooped in, nabbed the kids, high tailed it home, got their clothes changed, and out we went to Carkeek.

The kids had a marvelous time running around, climbing on the various pieces of driftwood, and spending time outside. They suffered through their mother's relentless attempts at getting a picture for the Christmas card. (Yes, I am that mean.)

I was quite surprised (although, shouldn't have been considering the weather) by how many people were at Carkeek. There were lots of families there letting their kids run and burn off energy, too. (Smart!)

The kids see Carkeek as their stomping grounds and look their "their" pieces of driftwood from the last time we were on the beach. In their typical fashion, they also moved some of the driftwood around to better suit their needs ... this time, they built a driftwood teeter totter.

Carkeek is one of my favorite places, too. The sight of the Olympics paired with the Puget Sound calms my soul and helps me feel centered.

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay too, too long because homework and dinner were needing our attention at home. That said, we did take a few minutes to stand on the railroad bridge to watch a commuter train zip by below us.

On our way out of the park, we saw something new ... red chairs of varying sizes. One of them was HUGE ... think "Incredible Shrinking Woman" huge. OF COURSE, we had to stop the car and take a look. There was a sign nearby asking for people to submit their photos to the artist, but nothing asking people to stay off of  the chairs. SO, up they went!!

Conor lending a helping hand

Annika determined to help Conor up

Jumping down from the big red chair

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016 Recap

Happy November!!

With today being the first day of November, that means yesterday was HALLOWEEN!!! I'm pretty sure that our kids were almost excited for Halloween as they will be for Christmas. Their energy was effervescent and, at times, insanely loud. (Go figure!)

Pumpkin Report
We started out the festivities on Sunday, when we carved our pumpkins. Eric and Annika methodically laid out the plans for her pumpkin, which Conor and I more "winged it" for his. The kids had a great time "ick'ing" and "ewww'ing" as they scooped out the pumpkin guts. Really, it doesn't get more fun that that, does it??

See the planning going on here??

Costume Report
Annika decided she wanted to be a gum ball machine for Halloween, and I loved the idea. It took a LOT of hot glue sticks and pom pom balls, but turned out really cute and came together rather easily. She was thrilled with the final result.

Then, there was Conor's costume. He decided that he wanted to be a mummy. "Easy!" I thought. Boy, was I ever wrong. His costume turned into a MUCH bigger project than I anticipated. That said, after way more time than I thought, much more swearing than I'm proud to report, and a few "gotta re-engineer this project again" planning sessions, his costume turned out quite well and I was (mostly) happy with the final product.

The kids wore their costumes to school, but found both to be quite warm and opted to change into the play clothes I stuffed into their backpack "just in case". I'm not at all surprised by their wardrobe swaps ... Conor was wearing a sweatsuit plus three yards of muslin and Annika was wearing about 5 pounds of pom pom balls made out of synthetic materials. ... not exactly "breathable" clothing options. Both kids had a marvelous time at their class Halloween parties and even more fun at the Extended Care program's party. Annika was even the one who gave the pinata its deathblow.

Sugar Report
After the stress of Conor's mummy costume, I needed to slow down and take a few deep breaths ... basically, return to my center. So, I opted to decorate some Halloween cookies. It was lovely to sit at our table with my piping bags of orange, white, and black royal icing and just be zen with some cookies. It put a smile on my face. (The glass of wine didn't hurt, either!)

 After dinner, it was time to re-costume our troops and head out for the one night of year we condone begging from our neighbors. Bring on the trick-or-treating!!

Because of how hot (and restrictive) his mummy costume was, Conor opted to wear a hand-me-down karate gi from his big cousin Robert. Annika returned to being a gum ball machine, but with the added bonus of a "Gumballs 25¢" sign attached to her headband. Eric put on some spooky face paint. I found some glow-in-the-dark glasses in our Halloween box, so wore those.

We, by chance, met up with some neighbors who have kids our kiddos know, so we went around the neighborhood as a bit of a pack. The kids had a great time running around with each other and experiencing Halloween as a bigger group. We've gone trick-or-treating with this same group of neighbors before, so it has become a bit of a tradition to wander around together.

Karate boy

Gumball girl

"Look! My candy bag looks like a beard!"
 The only glitch of the night was when Conor didn't see a decorative rock at the corner of someone's lawn and took a bit of a nose dive (chin dive, to be accurate) onto the sidewalk. From the sound of the fall, Eric and I were concerned he'd split open his chin. Fortunately, no major damage ... just a little road rash on his chin accompanied by a scraped palm and finger.

With that, we say goodbye to October (boo!) and hello to November and all its Thanksgiving glory (gobble, gobble!!).