Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sidewalk Follow-Up

Completed sidewalk!

It's been done for a while - since just before Christmas. And our car even just barely fits in our driveway! They've slowly worked on putting up mailboxes and just today added in some "No Parking" signs across the street today. It's lovely, and I appreciate it every time I walk home from the bus stop. I appreciated the width of it a little less when it came time to salt it during the snow storm recently, but since we only get snow once or twice a year, I think the whole having a sidewalk thing is still an overall plus.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Post-Christmas/New Year

I headed back to work a couple days after Christmas (helping cover the NICU, so it's been an enjoyable week), but I did have New Year's Day off. On the 30th I started our puzzle, just getting some work done on the edge. Ryan completed the edge during the day on New Year's Eve. By the end of the night I'd completed the following (Ryan did the couple of trees in the middle left and right of the puzzle):

We also enjoyed a nice spread of treats, cheeses, etc. Daniel and Emily joined us for dinner, but dinner happened a bit late so they had to leave before we made it to the cheeses. Mal stayed up until about 9:30 or 10, the rest of us stayed up much later.

The boys received a cookbook from my sister for Christmas and Mal was eager to start trying recipes on New Year's Day. First up? Pancakes. I struggle with letting go of control/knowing everything will be a mess when they're helping in the kitchen, but I also really really want to encourage them to feel confident and comfortable with cooking/in the kitchen. So lots of deep breathing in store while they learn, but it'll be worth it. And Mal is really quite good at flipping pancakes we discovered.

I spent the rest of the day focused on the puzzle. By the end of the night I was further along than this picture shows, with just some small sections left in the upper left and right. I was the only one who had put significant work in on the puzzle at this point, so was actually a little worried that everyone would finish it while I was at work the next day.

Sure enough, they did. I was definitely a little sad about that. But it's a beautiful puzzle and was lots of fun to make.

Mal requested he make chili that night, and danced some while stirring the vegetables in the pot.

This morning he insisted on "baked breakfast", so we made the blueberry muffin recipe. He has lots of other recipes marked in the book, so we'll have to get all the ingredients and work on those through the coming weeks. He did much better with cracking eggs this morning than he did with the pancakes, so he's definitely improving and learning. I'm loving how much he's enjoying it.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas 2019

Christmas Eve we had Daniel and Emily over; Emily's family typically spends hours making spaghetti and meatballs. I gave over the kitchen to her and she went to work and made the best spaghetti and meatballs I've ever had. I made some roasted brussel sprouts with shallots and garlic, green salad, and a flourless chocolate cake as well as a ginger-pear punch. It was a delicious Christmas dinner and the chocolate cake even turned out well! Also, bonus, Mal loved the brussel sprouts and asked for seconds.

Afterward we all watched A Christmas Carol together. Normally we would have hot chocolate during this, but we were all quite stuffed from our dinner and the chocolate cake so skipped that this year. Everyone headed out/off to bed and Ryan and I stayed up to prep for Christmas Day.

We started with the boys hanging out in our room while Ryan and I got ready, then stockings and our traditional breakfast. Then regular present-opening. Mal got a kindle, Gareth got Mario Maker 2.

At our friends' white elephant party, Mal had grabbed a bow, stuck it on himself and declared, "I'm a present for today!". He repeated this with three bows Christmas morning and curled up in a ball on the floor and made me pick him up to "open" him.

Then he made a hat out of the top of Ryan's present packaging.

I was pretty proud of my gift for Ryan. Managed to stump him when he was opening it. After he got the wrapping off, he saw it had been shipped from England, which only stumped him more. When he was a kid, they'd had the vinyl album for Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds musical (Ryan will play this sometimes for us all; I rather enjoy it). He would spend a good chunk of time staring at the album art, particularly the pieces by Geoff Taylor.

Image result for war of the worlds album art

Image result for war of the worlds album art

He'd pulled these images up online a couple times in the past year. I decided to see if I could find any of the artwork. Turns out it's pretty hard to find, but I found reference to a limited edition run of prints from several years back. Found the artist's website and they were on there, but with no price information or any indication if any were left. So I emailed the artist and there were some left, so I ordered a set from him. I debated getting them framed before gifting them to Ryan, but realized they wouldn't be ready before Christmas, so we'll take them to the framer sometime this next week.

We also received a delightful book to add to our "children's" book collection. Mal, who won't watch Dr. Who because it's too scary and who claimed to have difficulty sleeping after watching A Christmas Carol, loves these sorts of books. We all got a good laugh out of the first story about a malicious playground.

Emily and Daniel came over in the afternoon and we made some GF sugar cookies, enjoyed various family video chats, and just generally enjoyed one another's company. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2019


It's been a little off-feeling to have Thanksgiving at the very end of November and thus have just a couple days between it and the start of Christmas season. The past couple weeks have passed by in a whirlwind. This past weekend we went out looking for a tree. We started at a lot just a few blocks away, but quickly discovered that while their trees were inexpensive ($35!!), there was perhaps a reason for that. They were almost out of anything over 5 feet, didn't have much supply in our favorite type of tree, and what they did have was a little sad-looking (and short). They promised they would be getting more trees in the next day, but we had set the time aside for this that day and couldn't wait. So off to Swanson's we went. Where the trees are more expensive, but you're guaranteed a certain level of quality and decent selection.

There, we found a tree in just a couple minutes, paid for it, they loaded it on the car, and we were on our way. And for the first time in years, we managed to get the tree up, lights on, and ornaments on all in the same day!

Saturday, November 30, 2019


We're getting one block of sidewalk installed by our house. We're all very disappointed that they aren't rounding the corner and just continuing on up the road to connect with the sidewalk by the school. Maybe in another decade or two that will happen. BUT, we're going to enjoy the sidewalk we are getting. Though I'm trying to tell myself that they'll probably do something with how they make it that will be less than ideal, just to temper my excitement (and disappointment if they do mess something up). We've known about the sidewalk plan for about a year, but just saw the signs go up indicating they were starting work a couple weeks ago.

Per the signs, it seems they're planning to get the work done by mid-December. We'll see if that actually happens. So far they've got some curb and driveway cut-outs in. But they haven't gone all the way down the street with those things yet. When Mal saw the initial preparation work he exclaimed, "They mined!" (Ryan and the boys have been playing Terraria lately.)

It was a bit of work to figure out how to get our bins out for collection day since they were cut off from the street by the trench. But Gareth managed it in the end. And then, after initially being hopeful about our prospects of being able to park in our driveway after this is all done (it's a rather short drive and has always been somewhat dependent on the right of way), once they poured the curbs we were worried we wouldn't be able to and would have to figure out an alternative solution. But now we're back to being a little hopeful again, since they uncovered the cutout and the small section of sidewalk they poured next to the cutout and it looks fairly promising. Even if we can't park in our driveway, I'm happy to have a sidewalk. I've told Ryan we can buy bags and bags of salt and I'll salt the entire thing (since no one around here ever bothers with that) if we have any risky days. I'm seriously tempted to salt the entire 4 blocks to my bus stop on icy days.

I've also gone on a couple more bike rides recently. One across the 520 bridge and back on the I-90 bridge. Then we rode up some steep hills through south/downtown Seattle to work our way back to my house. And another to the Discovery Park Lighthouse (which has a very steep hill coming back up). The last time we rode to this lighthouse together, Mal was with us in the trailer and much smaller than he is now. It was also a cold day and he wasn't at all happy when I pulled him out of the trailer for a picture. Didn't see any eagles on this ride like we did then, but it was a beautiful, if chilly, day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

October/Early November

At some point in all the busyness of October, we managed to squeeze in a few minutes at the elementary school fall carnival. Mal made a fun craft, which he then used the next weekend to set up "camp". He used the lantern as the campfire, set up the play tent, and had books and games ready to go. He named it "Camp Qest" (camp quest, just like summer sleepaway camp). We had a great time "sleeping" (I actually fell asleep for a bit!) and playing some Forbidden Desert after we woke up.

While Ryan was away at his friend's wedding, I got home one day just in time to take Mal out for a treat after school. The next day Gareth was at a sleepover, so Mal and I went out for pizza. He likes to color in the squirrel to match the menu. I tried to convince him to let me get half pepperoni, half margherita, but he wasn't having it.

My orchestra is celebrating our 75th anniversary. Our first concert included several Copland works, including Lincoln Portrait. Tom Skerritt lives in the area, so we got him to come read the narration. I really only know him from his role in Parent Trap 2, which would quite possibly horrify him. He seemed like quite a nice person from my minimal interactions.

And somewhere in all of this, we found some time to carve pumpkins. It helped that the kids had a good idea of what they wanted to do before they started.

On Halloween, we had quite the crew over. 3 friends joined us and Daniel and Emily came and hung out with Ryan/helped pass out candy. Myself and one of the other parents took the kids out, making it several blocks before we decided we were done. Mal was getting tired of carrying his bag because it was so heavy and my feet were getting cold.

We then got a one weekend reprieve before I had to start final preparations for our orchestra fundraiser (the orchestra's in a not-great place financially, which is frustrating, but we're working hard to try and make it through the year and hopefully do some work to get to a better financial footing). We held it at a large brewery that offered the use of their space for free. Ran a small silent auction, which I think a lot of people thought would be simple to pull together, but which I knew wouldn't be. And it's not made easier by people waiting until 4 days before the event to let you know what they're going to donate to auction off. The woodwinds ended up putting together quite a nice little wine-themed basket. It included a gift certificate for two to a 2-day wine tasting event on Bainbridge Island. I tried to bid on it, but someone came in and grabbed it for the "Buy It Now" price. I won a knife-sharpening party instead (my knives are really needing a good sharpen after almost 15 years).

In the end, we pulled off quite a nice event. Had lots of small ensembles made up of orchestra members playing and the auction did about as well as I expected it to, with everything getting auctioned off.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Skagit Color Classic

The day after our pumpkin excursion, my friend and I went on a bike ride. It was the route of an organized ride called the Skagit Color Classic, but we did it one week late. We were hoping to see some great fall colors, but sadly could count on one hand the number of colorful trees we saw. The organized ride a week earlier must've been particularly disappointing! But, the weather was beautiful and clear and we got to ride on the ferry. It was a great ride, with lots of rollies and a few larger hills, which made up for it only being 25 miles.

Took some photos on our ferry ride back:

Our trusty steed!

Mount Baker, I think? This definitely wasn't looking toward Rainier, so that's my best guess.