Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woodland Park Zoo

Gareth and I went to the zoo today with our upstairs neighbor and her son. Aside from Gareth whining a whole lot, it was a fun trip. I like that this zoo seems to have a lot of outdoor areas for the animals that are nice and large. It's also the most active animals have been when I've been to a zoo (maybe the fact that it's not ridiculously hot helps?).

A large part of Gareth's whining was him wanting to spend the whole time watching the penguins. It's what we saw first and he seemed not all that interested in them initially, but once we tried to move on to something else that's all he wanted to go back to. The jaguars were cool, but Gareth was more interested in watching the schoolkids and other people around him. Due to his unwilling mood, I was only able to get one, slightly blurry, picture of him enjoying himself:

He did finally let himself enjoy watching the gorillas, and even took a picture of them.

Then we saw some pretty amazing birds:

Then on to the zebras, oryx, and giraffes. The giraffes were especially cool because they were moving around and eating (I hadn't remembered how long their tongues are; it was amazing to watch them twist their tongues around branches and pull the leaves off!) I think I've only seen giraffes in indoor space before, so it was fun to see them outside.

We went to see the lions last, but they were sleeping. Gareth's behavior was indicating that he needed some lunch and a nap, so we headed for home. I'm betting we'll make at least one more trip to this zoo while we're here. Hopefully the next time around Gareth will be more amenable to seeing all the animals and less interested in whining!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Settling In

We moved into the apartment we'll be in for the summer on Saturday. We were planning on using the bus to get all our stuff over there, which would have taken a few trips and five hours, but the people we're renting from offered to come pick us up. Yay for nice people! They weren't quite done moving out yet, so we just hung out for a bit. Gareth got to explore their yard, which is made up of patio and gardens. There are also rabbits and chickens. I guess we could get involved in feeding the chickens and get their eggs sometimes, which I'm sure Gareth would enjoy, but I'm not sure I want to deal with it. Gareth enjoys visiting the rabbits, but the owners will be taking them for the summer so they'll be gone in the next week or so.

We're now in the area code that is the most diverse in the nation. Lots of Vietnamese eateries around and I've been told many Somali refugees live in the area. That's mostly what we've come across in our small meanderings thus far. It's a nice neighborhood (definitely better than by the hotel), but there are some run-down looking homes mixed in with the well-kept ones. There are a lot of parks around, which Gareth lost no time in discovering. We will likely be spending a large amount of time at those throughout the summer.

I've discovered this cool thing called Amazon Fresh, which delivers groceries to your door (only in the Seattle area). It can be pricey since you don't have the option of store-brand items, but it was helpful for us to get large or bulky items such as laundry soap or boxed things. (We don't have a car here, so we have to walk to the store, and there's only so much we can carry back in one trip.) So, I made up a list and ordered the items from it that I thought I would be getting for a comparable price at the store. It saved us several trips to the store this past weekend. I'm not sure if we'll use it much more, but it was definitely helpful for that first big trip.

Our neighbors on the upper floors of the house have been incredibly nice and helpful. They've got kids, so Gareth already has some friends (who've been quite forgiving of his initial grumpiness from lack of sleep and changing routine). His new friends have also been great about sharing their toys since he's seriously lacking in that department due to my unwillingness to ship any out here. (We did bring a few small things, but they aren't keeping his interest through the whole day.)

We're still settling in a bit, figuring out where everything will go and such, but hopefully by the end of this week we'll be ready to start exploring!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Advertising Fail

This yogurt was delicious, but I think they need to double-check their labels before shipping their product out. I'm pretty sure this isn't the message they were trying to send:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day-Long Travel

We finally made it out of Indiana on Tuesday. I didn't want to bother anyone for a ride to the airport (taking three hours out of their day), so I just tried to find a ride to the shuttle that goes from our town to the airport (only 5 minutes of their day). Good thing, since I had to call several people before finding someone who was available at the necessary time between their own schooling or their kids' end-of-school-year activities. The morning almost turned stressful when the woman I'd arranged a ride with called and said she'd forgotten her sons had dentist appointments that morning. Thankfully she'd already called and found someone else to take us.

We left our house at 10 to be on time for the 10:30 shuttle. We made it to the airport with no problems, except for the woman on the shuttle who decided to be irritated with Gareth for no reason and kept shooting daggers my way. We weren't sitting behind her, so he definitely wasn't kicking her seat and he wasn't being terribly loud or obnoxious in any other way. Maybe she just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

We used the curbside check-in, which was awesome. There was no way I was getting two bags, the carseat, Gareth in the stroller, plus our carry-ons into the indoor check-in lines by myself. And, for some reason, we didn't get charged for our checked bags, so we only paid a tip to the check-in guy! And when it came to the security we were able to use the family lane, so that went quickly and smoothly as well.

The difficulties started after that when Gareth was tired of sitting in the stroller rather than getting to push it. We got to our gate and got seat assignments and then I released him from his stroller. Bad idea. He was happy watching the planes for about two seconds before he wanted to take off running through the airport. Getting on the plane didn't improve anything. The light buttons on the plane were conspicuously large and yellow. Gareth had already figured out how to undo the seatbelt, so that was no help. He spent the whole plane ride wanting to turn on the lights and then turn them off and on and off and on and off. He refused to sit still and kept waving things in the faces of the people behind us. I was exhausted and my back was starting to hurt by the time we reached Dallas, where Gareth was even more wound up than before.

I tried to find us some dinner, but had a difficult time finding anything even remotely healthy. In the end we settled for pretzels and a berry parfait with granola and yogurt. Gareth was mostly uninterested in food and just wanted to run like a maniac. Thankfully most of the people around us were understanding. On our second plane we were on the very back row, right next to the bathrooms. One of the flight attendants was a seatbelt nazi. We went through some light turbulence so the seatbelt sign was on rather frequently. So, we had to hear a lecture anytime he managed to get out of his seatbelt (not hard for him to do). In her defense, I think they were required to remind people of the seatbelt thing, but it got old really fast. There were a couple of college-aged girls across the aisle from us and they were nice enough to lend me their portable DVD player, which kept Gareth occupied for an hour or so of the flight. (A four-hour flight with a three-year-old lasts an eternity, in case you were wondering.) The rest of the flight was spent trying to stop Gareth from turning the lights on and off over and over, taking him to the bathroom a million times, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get him to sleep. When it came time to land I forced him to keep his seat belt on, which finally got him upset enough to fall asleep 2 minutes before we touched down. The good thing about being on the back row was that Gareth got a few more minutes of sleep while we waited for everyone else to leave. Then he'd lost his toy cars under the seats, so we enlisted the help of our seat neighbor and the flight attendants to find them. The flight attendant (the seat belt one) even helped carry Gareth off the plane since, between his dead weight and our carry-on bags, I was making very slow progress.

Gareth was definitely awake by the time I strapped him into the stroller. We went and got our bags, but then I realized I should have picked up the car seat first since it was on a different belt. A family nearby watched our bags while I grabbed the car seat and then they helped me get our stuff onto an elevator so we could get up to the level where we could get a taxi. We were in the elevator with another family and they helped me get our bags off the elevator, across the walkway to the garage, and down another elevator to the taxi line. Once we were in the taxi it was easy going. It felt great to get to the hotel and have Ryan to help me with everything. After fourteen hours of travel, we had no problem going to sleep. We survived, but I don't want to ever travel alone with Gareth again - at least not on a plane and not until he's a little older.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Not The Adventure I Was Looking For

Well, we're hoping to enjoy an adventure together as a family this summer. The plan is to be in Seattle while Ryan does an internship. But, so far, every time we think we've got things set we learn something new or some other key matter falls apart.

We decided we'd look for our own housing. We asked where exactly Ryan would be working so that we could look at sublets in places that would mean a shorter rather than longer commute. We never heard back, so went ahead and assumed it would be at location A. We got lucky and found something in our price range and within a 30 minute bus commute (since we won't have our car) of location A. The day after we send a wire transfer with our deposit and first month's rent and mail the signed contract, we find out that he'll likely be working at location B, a new location which we had been given the impression would not be ready to move into by this summer. Location B turns Ryan's 30 minute commute into a 1 hour commute. The silver lining here is that we soon thereafter learn that if we'd stuck with corporate housing he would've been closer (probably), but we might have been forced to pay for a 2 bedroom apartment and would have had to pay significantly more for that than we will for the 2 bedroom place we found.

The big hurdle at the moment is that we discovered on Tuesday that the relocation people had failed to purchase plane tickets for Gareth and me. We alerted them to this problem, they said they'd get right on it. Here we are today, and still no tickets. I called the airline, just to verify that they have no reservations in our names. They don't. And, being a Saturday, it's impossible to reach any of the people who could fix the problem (and they were unresponsive to our contact yesterday). So, it looks like Ryan will be going to Seattle without us. I called the hotel and they were able to switch our reservation into Ryan's name, so at least he'll have somewhere to sleep that first week.

The most aggravating thing is that I have no idea how much longer Gareth and I will be here. And the thought of traveling alone with Gareth is daunting. We're definitely having an adventure. Just not the kind I was hoping for.

Monday, May 10, 2010


When I want to dream, I just go here and drool over all the amazing vintage-style clothes I'd love to own but can't afford (especially the dresses and some of the blouses and coats, not to mention the men's trenchcoat). The ones I can't afford even when they are on sale for what are amazing prices. Definitely a down-side to Ryan being in school. I think of all the amazing dresses and such I've already missed out on and comfort myself by remembering that they'll have new and equally awesome clothes in a few months (true). I try to convince myself that I'll be able to buy some of those (not true). And then I go back to dreaming. Ryan can't stay in school forever, right?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Thoughts

Happy Mother's Day to all who wish to be wished such.

Mother's Day is a tricky business. The trickiness of it is well layed-out here. Obviously, I'm a mother, so the non-mother trickiness isn't so much of an issue for me. But the pedestal building ideal mother talks we typically have to suffer through is. And, with a smattering of Mother's Day posts running through the Bloggernacle over the past month or so, I've been thinking about what I really want or don't want out of Mother's Day.

I can't say I've nailed anything down definitively, but I've come to a few conclusions. One of my concerns with Mother's Day is that is seems to make it easy for people to cram all their "appreciation" into one day and then forget about it for the rest of the year. And then there's the idea that, really, Mother's Day can easily become women running around appreciating women rather than letting the kids or men take care of it. It's also a day that can easily build up expectations about how others will possibly show their appreciation, only to leave you disappointed and discouraged that, really, this day was no different than any other, with no one helping out or even acknowledging all the work you've done.

What would I like in a Mother's Day? Well, church-wise, I'd love the talks to simply center on Christ. Or substantive talks about women in the scriptures - maybe about some of the women prophets. And, personally, I'd like to see the money the ward spends on the women going to a local charity or organization that helps women in some way. A shelter or a group that provides a scholarship for women for schooling. Something along those lines. Basically, show me that you care about improving conditions for women rather than just talking about how important we are.

In my own home, I've realized that maybe I'm a bit high-maintenance. :) Rather than having one day where I'm treated lavishly and don't have to do anything, I much prefer appreciation shown randomly throughout the year. It means a lot more to me to come home from book group and find the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned. Or to come home and find all the laundry folded or the bathroom cleaned another night. Or to occasionally be given a few hours or a day free of Gareth, to spend however I want. Because that means that someone was thinking about what I might need or enjoy - what might make my day a little brighter - not because they have to due to a holiday, but because I truly am important to them.