Friday, June 24, 2022

Honkfest and Birthday Walk

Nothing much going on here, just plugging away at life. The kids wrapped up the schoolyear, which felt like it flew by from my perspective. G will be doing driver's ed this summer and it was a shock to the system to realize they let kids get their permits/licenses so young here - there were multiple freshman taking their driver's ed courses during the schoolyear but I just couldn't even think about how to fit that into the school schedule.

Shortly before the end of the schoolyear M requested we attend Honkfest, which is essentially a bunch of street bands playing throughout the day. One of the after school care counselors was playing in a band, so hence the interest. I took him down to Columbia City to experience that. Very mixed quality of the groups. They had 3 bands playing at any given time, but spaced out such that it wasn't a cacophonous mess; we stayed for a while, got him some lunch, and then headed back home.

On Ryan's birthday we both took off work, thinking we'd go on a day trip somewhere. We had picked Bellingham, but then he didn't feel like driving - fair enough, a 2+ hour drive each way isn't how I'd want to spend my birthday either. A couple weeks earlier he'd asked if it was possible to walk all the way downtown, if one wanted to. I said I was sure you could and we confirmed on the map that indeed, you can do that. The weather was decent on his birthday, so he decided we should try it out. We ended up only going to Capitol Hill because our feet were a little sore by the time we made it to our lunch spot. Google wants to take you in a pretty direct line there, but that keeps you along busier roads and not far from I-5 at points and we wanted a more scenic hike. We opted to stay off the busiest roads for the most part, walk through UW campus and across Montlake Bridge. Things got a little hairy for a bit just after that due to all the construction on 520 - Google tried to tell us to go through some federal property that was very much not open to the public! - but we sorted it out and made our way to Interlaken Park. This felt like a proper foresty hike just nestled in a (super expensive) neighborhood. 

After winding through there, we went through Volunteer Park and then just a short bit further on to our destination. 

8.2 miles total. It really wouldn't be that much further to downtown from there, so maybe we'll tack that on another time. Opted for taking the lightrail home instead of walking back - not that walking back was ever under consideration. We didn't do much else to celebrate given we were tired and I had rehearsal that night. But this felt like a good celebration all on its own.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Spring Break Light Rail Outing

I managed to not cancel my planned days off this past week - these days coincided with some of spring break for the kids. The first day was busy with their annual checkups and then I had to run to a baby shower for a coworker. But Friday Ryan managed to take off work as well and we decided to go on a city "hike"/another light rail adventure.

We hopped on the light rail and headed for the Westlake stop. Both kids needed new shoes (M desperately so) and all the shoe stores that used to be near us are gone now since the mall is being redeveloped. M had apparently been suffering through shoes 2 sizes too small for the past several months (oops). They didn't have the shoes he liked in his kids size, but we were able to get the women's size that is equivalent (and pay $30 extra for them being women's instead of kids, sigh). 

Then we headed off toward the waterfront. The kids were getting hungry, so stopped at Lowell's for lunch and got a table next to the window.

After lunch we did a touristy thing and rode the ferris wheel. M was very anxious about this given their dislike of heights. But with lots of reassurance we got him to get on and realize it wasn't all that bad - the cars are completely enclosed and you're certainly not moving very fast. Some lovely views of the Sound and downtown.

Then we walked along the waterfront to Olympic Sculpture Park. The kids ran around on the grass while Ryan and I just enjoyed sitting for a bit. M described this piece as "some sort of art" (to be fair, he wasn't viewing it from this angle when he said that):

You could apparently walk 8+ miles if you followed the entire waterfront path, but our feet were tired. We hiked back to Seattle Center, grabbed the monorail to Westlake, then the light rail back home. I cannot overstate how much I love having light rail so close to us. Even though we had good bus access to downtown previously, it never felt as easy as the light rail. Trips like this felt like they required more planning and were therefore less likely to happen. And, of course, some of the places we can get to with light rail (Capitol Hill, for instance) were significantly more difficult to get to via bus. In my casual scrolling of unaffordable houses for sale, even when I find one I love I always end up realizing that they don't have light rail in walking distance and I can't give that up.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

February and March Whirlwind

Things have been on the intensely busy side the past few months. I presented at a conference and my slides were due in February with the conference occurring at the end of March. That plus my usual workload meant for a stressful first few months of the year.

We've been trying to take advantage of weekends and light rail whenever we can to get out and explore. Back in February we went to Capitol Hill again, ventured to the U-District Farmer's Market (sans G, who was off skiing with friends), and met up with friends at the aquarium. We've never been to the aquarium before since it's pricey. It was fun to check it out, but especially now that the kids are older, not something I feel I need to do regularly. M really enjoyed the things he could touch and watching the otters - especially enjoyed the fact that an otter pooped in front of us.

We had a few nights with absolutely stunning sunsets that month as well:

In early March we were able to head out on our first hike of the year - we stuck to a fairly simple trail near what was once a coal mine. G had pretty constant commitments elsewhere for several weeks, so also missed this trip.

As we wrapped up the hike, M saw this sign and asked me "what does the pants symbol mean?". Took me a moment to figure out what he was talking about:

Sadly, I've been working every weekend for the past month and had to cancel some time off I'd planned on because our service was just too busy, so our outing opportunities have been limited. It's a whole thing with doing 24/7 on call, increasing acuity of our patients, and then also being expected to be part of weekend ICU coverage - we're going to be having some conversations with our manager about the absurdity of this (no other RDs take call and no one covers for us when we're out, so makes no sense that we're expected to cover weekend ICUs) and hopefully won't have to cover ICUs on the weekend.

I survived the conference presentation at the end of March and the next weekend I managed to pull off a small birthday party for M. Took a couple friends to the ice rink for skating - the public skate is usually pretty crowded but they had fun until their feet started to hurt from the rental skates. Then we headed home and they played video games before having donuts. It's the first time in a couple years that he's had friends over and it felt so much easier now than when they were 6 and 7. 

At some point I managed to make his birthday cake but then it sat in the fridge for a week waiting for me to frost it. It was a rather spread out birthday, which M said he didn't mind, especially as he at least got dumplings and presents on his actual birthday. For his cake, he wanted a simple design from the show Naruto:

Here's hoping things calm down a bit in the next few months - I'm certainly much less stressed now that the conference is over!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Holidays Continued

We started on our puzzling just after Christmas this year since part of our holiday plan was to watch Lord of the Rings with M, who had not yet seen it. We also got snow the day after Christmas and then a couple days later, along with bitterly cold temperatures. We did our best to keep the sidewalk shoveled and clear.

It took a few days, but G, Ryan, and myself finished this puzzle during our LOTR marathon - we let M focus on watching the movie. M picked out our next puzzle to complete, a repeat from a few years ago, even though they weren't actually doing much puzzling themselves. 

I ended up doing most of the second puzzle. Ryan did Mt. Rainier and some of the sky. G did one building and then got frustrated one night when he spent ages looking for a piece and I looked down and found it instantly. But I was also the only one working on the puzzle during the day as well, since they were all busy video gaming.

New Year's Eve we watched Casablanca with my sister's family. M wasn't very interested in it seeing as it's neither a comedy nor an action movie, but everyone else enjoyed it. 

We used the opportunity to try out some new cocktails and use the coupe glasses Ryan's brother and sister-in-law got us for Christmas! We started with a brown derby - it has grapefruit juice in it, so seemed appropriate to make given we have Christmas grapefruit on hand.

Then tried a Jasmine, which is more citrusy - and pink!

And then the atholl brose, for which you let some oats and water sit overnight to make an oatmeal "liquor", combine that with some scotch, half and half, and honey. It's kind of a dessert cocktail.

We were thinking of doing a French 75 as well - this drink is named after 75mm field guns used by the French during WWI - given that it's the only cocktail mentioned by name in Casablanca (despite the copious imbibing!), but we were done and decided not to make them. 

We did make a gingerbread house this year, but I didn't love the batch of royal icing I made up. Took forever to dry and even when it did it was very powdery. Not sure if I just needed to beat it even more or if it's because I used meringue powder instead of egg whites this year. So it ended up with minimal decoration and I didn't manage to get a picture. 

The kids got an extra day off because the district decided to offer covid testing clinics to students and staff before resuming school. I did drive the kids over to our local one, but parking was a nightmare, the line was already super long and outside (it was still so cold!), and given we hadn't been anywhere or around anyone outside of our house since Christmas day, it seemed very unlikely the kids would have been exposed, so in the end we didn't stay and get them tested. They've both had kids in their classes get covid in the last couple weeks, but have both stayed healthy. Ryan and G are now boosted and most of my clinic visits are back to telemed, so hopefully that will help us avoid omicron.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Christmas Time 2021

I think the kids woke up at their earliest time yet - 7:45. They waited semi-patiently for Ryan and I to get up and ready then we headed down for stockings.

They're just blurs as they run down the stairs to Christmas morning. Ryan opted for our fireplace this year to be from The Witcher. And we did manage to get our Christmas grapefruit! It was touch and go there for a bit as they arrived in Seattle and then went to Renton, Kent, and Auburn - gradually further away - before finally being delivered several days after it was initially estimated to arrive. I'd had another package that had come from Virginia, supposedly be out for delivery in Seattle but never arrive, and then get sent all the way back to Virginia inexplicably, so I was pretty anxious while my grapefruit was so close yet getting further away every day.

We'd thought we might get a white Christmas, but as you can see from the yard here, we didn't. 

Daniel joined us for part of the day, so we added a gluten-free breakfast bake to our usual breakfast bake. And he discovered that grapefruit is delicious and why we are obsessed with our Christmas grapefruit tradition.

Ryan received a bidet attachment and we all got a laugh from the many stool jokes included in the packaging/instructions.

He also got a coffee sampling box!

Many delightful gifts later (G got lots of D&D stuff that they were excited about, M got a mix of things, but all hitting on everything he'd wanted - hiking gear, nerf, light sabers, book series he likes, etc) we finished up and set about enjoying the rest of the day. I'm a fan of Christmas on the weekend since it meant guaranteed Christmas Eve off for me plus the day after Christmas as well. I've so far avoided having to work Christmas day or weekend - I'm sure it'll happen eventually but I'm just hoping to push it off until the kids are older.

Ryan has made one batch of toffee and needs to make another. We still haven't done any of our usual cookie baking, but maybe now that I'm off work the next few days that will happen.

We woke up to 3-4 inches of snow the next morning and got at least a couple more inches through the day. We did our part to keep the sidewalk clear. We also put faucet covers on our outdoor spigots for the first time ever given our predicted overnight lows of 10-15 degrees. I can't wait to get back to 40 degrees and rainy, but that's a little ways off still.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Christmas Prep

We've had fun preparing for the holidays. Haven't managed any baking just yet, but hopefully in the next couple days.

Started by clearing some space in the living room and set up the advent box on the small table.

I got a tea advent to try out this year and it's been a lot of fun to sample all the different flavors.

And see the pretty colors of the various herbs and flowers added to the teas!

M isn't a big tea drinker, but enjoyed the cinnamon spice rooibos tea. They curled up on the couch with their tea and a blanket and declared "Fridays are the perfect day to unwind and drink tea!" and then patted the couch and told me to sit. That was...unexpected. This was followed with "Sundays are when you wind the max!"

We also got a new Lego advent set this year - Harry Potter!

As usual, we waited until mid-month to get our tree. I was worried it was a little tall, but it fit perfectly!

And we even managed to get it decorated the same day. Now we have some advent presents from Gram sitting under the tree, conveniently close to the advent box.

I've asked the kids to start on some cookies, but they haven't yet, preferring to play video games. Hopefully they (and Ryan) can find some time for that the next couple days!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The Yard

Midway through the year plus of everyone being home together all the time, we were really starting to feel the itch of our house just not being large enough for this. I knew we couldn't afford to add on or anything right away, but needed to stop my brain spinning on it with some hard numbers, so reached out to a local architect dad. And the $600,000-800,000 guesstimate for a modest addition quickly put a stop to any spinning of any sort, likely forever. We were pretty discouraged by that for a few days, but we've since decided that our goal will just be to make the space we do have work for us as best as possible. And that includes the outdoor space, which will be expensive to transform, but not 600-800k expensive.

I'd already found a landscape designer that I thought I wanted to work with and just hadn't called them yet, so went ahead and reached out. The initial visit was essentially "I don't really know what I want, it's all a very blank slate and overwhelming me. Except I do know I hate everything that's currently here. Oh, and I'm thinking a fence at the front with espaliered fruit trees and we must have blueberries and gooseberries and (contained) raspberries and strawberries and maybe some rhubarb. And I adore front porches, so maybe we rip out all these bushes and make one of those?" 

And now, several months later, we've got some initial proposals and have started by tearing out most of the hated things. I'm realizing I should've had them remove the awkward cherry tree while they were at it, but that's okay. It can wait for another phase of the project.

One proposal:

The second one isn't all colorful, but has more details about the plantings. The other proposal:

Our next job is to look the proposed plans over and decide what we want to do - we can mix and match between the two plans - and then the designer will put together a final plan based on our discussion.

Start of demo progress - removing the hated bushes and blackberries near the street

Front yard all done

Side yard

I can't remember the last time I could actually see the bricks here. Of course, they'll all get torn out eventually anyway. 

And this has just been a super thick bed of pine needles for the past 2+ years

I showed the kids the plans last night and they're very excited. I had to keep reminding them - partly to remind myself as well - that this will be a slow project and likely take several years to implement.