Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Travel

One of the reasons this will be our last year away from home for the holidays is because I absolutely hate travelling during the winter. Everything's crowded and everyone's tired and the chance of delays at the airports is just way too high. The only reason I was willing to do it this year was because we found a flight into Philly with a layover in Newark. I figured if the weather was bad we'd either end up stuck in Seattle or Newark, which is close to where we wanted to be anyway.

Things on Wednesday started out great. We took the bus and the light rail down to the airport and were there in plenty of time to catch our 11 am flight. Travelling with a 4 1/2 year old is soooo much easier than with a 3 1/2 year old. After getting through security, Gareth obediently and patiently sat waiting on a chair while we gathered all our stuff, got shoes on, etc. We never once had to worry about him running off (meaning we never had to use the tail/leash of his monkey backpack). It was awesome - until we got to our gate and they announced that our flight would likely be delayed at least an hour. They started boarding around noon, got the plane going down the runway, and then announced that we'd all be sitting there for about an hour before the people in charge gave us the go-ahead to take off. Things were delayed in Newark. I'm sure the couple behind us with 20 month old twins were thrilled to hear we'd be stuck on the plane an extra hour. We finally took off about 1:30 pm.

Gareth was also remarkably well-behaved on the plane, despite our having few toys to entertain him. He enjoyed making the babies behind us laugh (I think their mom appreciated his entertainment as well because he was keeping her kids from having a meltdown). Thankfully it was a smooth flight, so we weren't stuck in our seats the whole time. Gareth was able to kneel by his seat and play with his cars and I was able to get up and walk around from time to time. Even still, about half way through I was ready go crazy being cooped up in there. It's been a while since we've been on a flight that long and I'm not eager to do it again any time soon (after we get back to Seattle that is).

We figured we'd miss our connecting flight to Philly, since our layover was only supposed to be an hour and we weren't going to get into Newark until 30 or 40 minutes after that flight was supposed to leave. But we figured they'd either re-book us or let us just go (definitely our preferred option, since Newark is closer to my parent's house than Philly). Things got bad once we started descending. I was walking back to my seat as the turbulence started and almost got knocked over a few times. But what was worse was the feeling of extreme nausea that took over as soon as I sat down. Gareth thought the bumpiness was fun (but his ears were bothering him). They told us we'd be on the ground in a few minutes, but it felt like hours to me. A little kid sitting across from us threw up and I grabbed our bag of bagels in case I needed it (I even took the remaining bagel out so I wouldn't puke all over it). I gave up looking out the window, hoping I'd see ground, because every time I did we seemed no closer. Apparently Ryan was feeling sick as well. We did make it on the ground eventually and the pilot came on to tell us that the winds had been 60 mph while we were landing. Blech. Then we got to sit around and wait for quite a while longer in order for another plane to leave the gate we were going to.

We got to our connecting gate (no one had missed their connecting flights since the entire airport was delayed due to the winds) and found that our flight to Philly wasn't scheduled to leave until at least 11 pm (our original schedule had us arriving in Philly at 9:45 - we'd landed in Newark just after 9). We tried to see if the airline would let us just skip the flight to Philly, but if we did that they'd cancel our return flight unless we were willing to pay almost $500 to re-book the return flights. So we settled in for the long haul, even though I wasn't sure I could mentally cope with another flight that night. Ryan found me some food since I was shaking from hunger by this point. Our departure kept getting pushed back - the last time I heard was something like 12:10. The plane we were waiting for was coming from Buffalo, but it never came. Finally, just after 11, they cancelled our flight. I was initially discouraged by this, but Ryan thankfully was smart enough to realize that this was our out. He talked with the people at the desk and they said we were free to go and that our return flight was still scheduled. We even thanked them profusely, though we later realized it's not like they had actually done anything - we should have been thanking the horrible weather! But I'm sure it made them happy that at least some people had been pleased to hear the flight was cancelled. Elated, we called my parents to come pick us up. They were happy to trade a trip to Philly at 1 in the morning for the shorter trip to Newark at 11 pm.

So, yes, everything worked out. But I'm not planning on travelling during the winter again for a while. It is fun to be here with all my family, but I'm definitely looking forward to a travel-free Christmas at home next year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Couch (and some holiday thoughts)

So last weekend our couch was delivered. We'd been a bit worried about if it would fit through our entryway or not, which requires it to come through the door and then only has 4 feet before you hit a wall and have to turn to get into the living room. We obviously chose a good size of couch for our house, since it came in quite easily. We were expecting they might have to take off the legs to get it through the door, but they didn't even have to do that. The whole getting it in the house process took about two minutes. Gareth was overly excited and wanted to start jumping on it right away - something which we've been asking him not to do ever since. He always replies to our reprimands by saying, "But I'm not jumping! I'm playing!" Ah, yes, because if it's playing that involves jumping on the couch that makes it all okay.

Enjoying resting (Gareth rarely lets me actually nap)

And here's a view of Gareth right after the couch was delivered:

The room is starting to actually look like a living space rather than somewhere we stick random stuff we don't have anywhere else to put! I am hoping to find a replacement shade for the floor lamp one of these days (anyone know where I can find one?).  Our next purchase will be a TV to go across from the couch and we're hoping to purchase an area rug for the floor before next holiday season. While we still can't entertain tons of people, it is nice to know we could invite another family over and have a place for them to sit that's not a hard floor.

In the second picture you can see some of our holiday decor, sort of. There isn't much of it anyway as we don't get a tree when we're not going to be home on Christmas. I'm excited for next year when we'll have one. It's rather fun to have a fireplace mantle to put some things on. Next year we'll have to purchase some stocking hanger things, because the push pins currently holding them in place wouldn't win a match against gravity if we actually filled the stockings. And since Ryan wants to occasionally have a fire in the fireplace next year, I'd rather not have our stockings go up in flames.

The packages across the mantle top are from the advent presents my mom sends us every year. Usually I attach them to a red and green rope and hang them like a garland. I didn't have time to do that right away this year and in the end decided that I liked having them lined up across the mantle.

Gareth is, of course, very excited for the holidays. He had a couple of days this year when he asked lots of questions about Santa. I'm wondering, does anyone else feel bad pretending Santa is real to their kids? I'm very torn, because I loved believing in Santa when I was little, and really wasn't particularly upset or disappointed when I realized Santa wasn't real. But I feel horrible lying to Gareth about it, telling him that Santa can fly because he's magic and other such things. I see how easily he accepts my explanations and I'm not sure that's something I want to encourage. I don't sit around telling him other myths are true. Usually I would encourage him to question. Would it diminish his excitement any if we didn't pretend Santa was real? At the same time, though, I don't think it hurt me to believe in Santa as a kid, so for now I continue to pretend the myth is real.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Shortly after we moved Gareth discovered my old Cabbage Patch dolls. While he occasionally plays with the "baby" one, he's really taken to the "toddler" one. He started referring to it as his brother and decided it should be named Lightlipe. Strange, yes, but more creative than me, who always referred to the doll by the name it came with. Well, sort of. The name it came with was Majestic Tiffany. Even as a young kid I guess I thought Majestic was just strange for a name, so the doll was always called Tiffany. But now it goes by Lightlipe. Lightlipe has come for rides in the car and came outside to play a couple times this summer and frequently has to be tucked in bed beside Gareth.

Poor Lightlipe's clothes from the '80s aren't quite cutting it anymore (the pants just fall right off all the time), so I'm planning on attempting to make some new clothes for the doll at some point. You can still find a few patterns for the dolls online. Anyway, a mom in our co-op is getting rid of some of her baby items and since we didn't have much of anything from Gareth I took her up on her offer to pass them on to me. She told me the batteries on this seat thing were probably low because her girls constantly turned it on and played with it. Sure enough, within seconds of seeing it Gareth was turning it on and putting together the bar for the animals, and putting the animals on. He was pretty bummed when I told him he was too big to sit in the seat himself, but soon found that Lightlipe works great.

I think it's pretty cute how much he likes to take care of his doll. Hopefully he'll be interested in entertaining a real baby in a few months after he discovers how much they cry, how much attention they require, and so on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween 2011

After doing very little of the work last year, I'd say I did the bulk of it this year. My mom also helped out a lot by making the pattern for the costume this year and spending time on the phone with me whenever I had questions. This year's costume is proof that making your own is certainly not always less expensive. Buying knits at $15 per yard will definitely run up the cost. But we needed a medium weight knit for it to lay nicely, so spend we did.

We started the Halloween weekend by dressing Gareth in his (almost) finished costume for preschool on Friday. I forgot that the kids all have to wash their hands on arrival at school, meaning that the costume was quickly stained with blue paint. Ah, well, at least we knew it'd come off easily when the time came. It was raining when I picked him up, and I stupidly let him run from the car to the house (they're supposedly doing sewer maintenance on our street, so we can't park in front of our house for a while - though I've only seen them working out there twice, and then only for half the day). He made it to the house no problem and then promptly slipped and fell, getting mud all over his costume. Luckily the parts that I needed to adjust were spared so I'd be able to fix them rather than washing them.

Saturday we went to a pumpkin carving party we'd been invited to. It was down in Maple Valley on a ranch owned by the in-laws of one of Ryan's co-workers. We were a bit late, but it was a beautiful drive. If it weren't for the sometimes two hour commute by car and the work of living on such a place, Ryan would be incredibly tempted to move to a horse ranch. Gareth had a great time driving around the battery-powered toy cars they had and going on a hay ride. Ryan worked really hard and managed to carve this pumpkin:

The stem accidentally broke while removing the top, but he was still able to find a use for it later.

Sunday was spent washing Gareth's costume and finishing up the adjustments to the cape portion. Then we were able to clean up the basement, which was quite a mess after my spending a couple weeks working on the costume rather than cleaning up or folding laundry or other such things. Once we got some clean-up done Ryan started on Gareth's little pumpkin.

Gareth "helped" for a little while. Ryan gave him some face options and he chose what he wanted. But when it came to digging out the pumpkin and carving, that was a little beyond Gareth's skill level. He soon left Daddy to work and came over and helped me make up a few batches of popcorn for our traditional Honey Popcorn recipe. He was very excited about the finished product, though.

I carved my pumpkin after rehearsal that night while Ryan made the coating for the popcorn. Here are all the pumpkins together:

Halloween morning I took Gareth to get his head shaved and figured I'd get mine cut while I was at it. I started getting Gareth's paint on at about 2 pm on Halloween. It needed to dry so we could apply a fixative (otherwise it rubs off on everything, the fixative prevents this, but doesn't protect against water). I underestimated how long the head arrow would take, since I hadn't done a complete arrow on Friday since we hadn't shaved his head yet. (We did, by the way, try to get a bald cap, but couldn't find any in a child size and the adult size one just looked ridiculous.) We got all that done, and put the costume on then off we went to Ryan's office where they were having trick-or-treating from 3 - 5 pm. We got there about 4. Ryan's team is pretty lame, as only a couple of them were passing out candy. :) Even those who were in other teams frequently just had it out on a chair so they could keep working. But a few stopped to notice the kids. It was a good place to go do some trick-or-treating because I knew Gareth's costume wouldn't be widely recognized later that night. Ryan's workplace is full of people who would know Gareth's character, and who thought it was a well-done, awesome costume. I was able to get all the gratification I needed for the hard work I'd put in. Gareth also got this cool balloon animal/hat:

It used to have another leg, but one of them popped last night shortly after we got home. We got home, ate some quick dinner, then Gareth and I left to meet up with his friend and go trick-or-treating in Montlake. It was a good neighborhood to go in and lots of fun, though it did start getting quite cold toward the end, but I think next year we'll stick around our neighborhood. I found I want to just be able to be home after we're done, rather than having to drive elsewhere and therefore drive back home after we're done. I was right when I figured that there would be little recognition of Gareth's character, but a few people knew it and were especially impressed that he'd shaved his head for the costume. I'm not as good about remembering to take pictures as Ryan is, so we ended up taking pictures after we got home. All Ryan needs to work on is not getting the camera wrist band in the pictures. :) Here is Aang, from Avatar: The Last Airbender:

The main costume I sewed from the pattern my mom made. We purchased some brown tights and then some water shoes, which I spent four hours sewing brown fabric onto (no, I couldn't find any brown water shoes for kids - very lame). Unfortunately we weren't able to make Aang's staff for the costume, but that would have been very cool. Maybe if we get to re-use the costume ever we'll be able to put all our work into that. He brought home three pounds worth of candy. Usually stowing it away and rationing it out works pretty well, but he's having more difficulty with that this year. I've already dealt with a couple tantrums this morning over not being able to have candy at 8 am. I was excited that we might actually get trick-or-treaters this year. We got three. So that's kinda sad, but now we know to only buy one small bag of candy next year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Gareth started preschool today. And I totally forgot to take the obligatory first day of school pictures. Ah, well - that's kinda how life is going these days.

We're doing a co-op preschool, which means that the parents help run things and that keeps costs down so it's much more affordable. So I'm the class secretary and I work in the classroom helping Gareth's teacher, Teacher Lauren, every Tuesday. The preschool is through one of the community colleges, so we have parent education classes every month and I'll take the minutes and attendance at those. Apparently there's a bunch of stuff I was supposed to get from the outgoing secretary, but never did. We've finally been put in contact, so hopefully I'll get that soon and can have a better idea of what I'm doing.

Gareth has been very excited to start school. Teacher Lauren sent everyone a postcard a few weeks before school started and I had to read that several times a day for a few days until he forgot about it on top of my dresser. Then last week he had a tour of the classroom with Teacher Lauren. He wasn't quite as social as he normally is, I'm guessing because there is so much to take in in the classroom. So many new things to look at and so many cool toys and whatnot to play with. Then today he was running around waiting for the last few minutes to pass before we could leave, and he ran into the cardboard box that has been his "house" in our living room the past few weeks. And had a total meltdown, sobbing about how his house was broken and he didn't want it to be broken (even though it really didn't sustain too much damage) and you would have thought the world had ended if you'd been here. Thankfully he was pretty chipper again as soon as we set off for school.

His friend that we've been getting together with all summer is in his class, so they spent most of the time together. Gareth is one of just a handful of new kids - all the rest are moving up from the younger class. And, it only being the first day, most of the kids seemed pretty happy to stick with the friends they already knew. So I was glad that Gareth had a friend because otherwise it could have been a lonely day for him. Hopefully some of those boundaries will break down as the year progresses. He spent the day painting, playing with marbleworks, the play kitchen, trains, playdough, puzzles, and various other toys. He ran and ran on the playground until he was red in the face. During circle times he sat quietly, partly because he doesn't know anyone or any of the songs they sing, and I couldn't tell how much he was really taking in of what was going on around him. He often seemed oblivious to everything anyone said. He only had a couple of difficult moments - having to share the marbles and then when Teacher Lauren tried to teach the kids a new song he got very frustrated that he couldn't get it all right the first time (yes, he comes by the perfectionist strain quite naturally) and was on the verge of tears, saying it was "really hard". But no one noticed his distress (I was on the other side of the circle) and he moved on eventually.

He was completely tuckered out when it was time to leave. Of course, he wouldn't admit to being tired. And I got to deal with a lovely tantrum he threw a little later because of his exhaustion. Hopefully he'll eat more snack next time around and will adjust to the schedule as the year goes by and not be quite so monstrous after preschool every day. I'm tired out as well - three hours on my feet is exhausting!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pacific Science Center

I can't even remember how many weeks ago we did this play date, but I haven't taken any pictures since, so you get to see this outing anyway. We've been having weekly play dates with a friend and this one was a definite success. I'm considering purchasing a membership to the science center because Gareth loved it so much (but I'll probably wait and see how busy we are once preschool starts before shelling out the dough).

There's a ton of stuff to see/do there, though obviously some of it is a bit advanced for Gareth yet. They have a great kids play area that he loved and a place where you can pet star fish and such. The butterfly house was cool - he enjoyed watching butterflies eat some bananas (which the one below is not doing).

The kids all enjoyed climbing on any statues that were around.

And he loved the "rocket ship" so much we had to go stand in line to play with it twice.

They also have fountains outside connected to water gun type things you can spray into the water. Gareth was pretty bummed that we didn't take the time to do that this time around, so we'll have to be sure to play with those on our next visit.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vanilla Souffle

For my birthday, Ryan gave me Mastering the Art of French Cooking. We're excited to try out some of the varied recipes, but there are some we'll skip. Specifically the recipes for cow and lamb brains. Saturday night we made our first recipe from it - a vanilla souffle. For whatever reason, I've never whipped egg whites before, so Ryan thought it'd be good to not only read up on it in the cookbook but also watch a video of Julia Child making a souffle. Turns out a souffle is pretty simple.

We started by buttering our mold and dusting it with sugar.

Next up was making the sauce.

Ryan whipped the egg whites.

Here Ryan's folding the egg whites into the sauce.

Then we baked it, not sure whether it'd actually turn out or not. The recipe said there should be 1 1/4 inches between the top of the mixture and the top of the mold. We didn't have that, so we made a collar for the souffle.

It turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Space Needle

We very well might have lived in Seattle the rest of our lives without ever entering the Space Needle. It's quite expensive (eighteen dollars a piece or thereabouts) and to us the cost isn't worth a view of the city. But we have a friend who is working at the Space Needle right now and he's able to take a few others up with him for free. So a couple of weekends ago we hopped on the bus and met our friends there.

Here we are, with Lake Union behind us. Gareth really wasn't interested in taking a family photo - I was having to fight a bit to keep him in my arms. What he wanted to be doing was looking through the telescopes at the boats on the lake, the buildings, whatever he could see. He got to do plenty more of that after we took the picture, so in the end he didn't mind that we put him through one picture. On the elevator ride up he made most of the adults chuckle as he said, "Wow!" over and over and over as we went up.

I'm glad we went (especially since it was free) because it made quite the impression on Gareth. When we were driving past the next weekend he was excited to see "the building we went to yesterday!" from the car.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Father's Day

Our Father's Day dinner may have been a complete flop, but our breakfast certainly wasn't!

We made up this granola, and this time around we layered it with plain yogurt, bananas and blueberries. I often have this granola with yogurt for breakfast and then again for lunch and have even been tempted to serve it for dinner, it's so delicious. I cooked up some sausages from our local co-op market to serve alongside. Ryan then spent the day reverting to teenage-dom by playing Starcraft II. And while we didn't have a great dinner, we did enjoy some pastries from our local Larsen's Bakery for dessert.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More Fabric

Today I went to my local quilt shop again (I seriously lucked out with this place being so close) and found the rest of my medium and dark fabrics for Gareth's quilt. I was only planning on buying eight different fabrics total (and I already have two), but there were so many awesome options that I ended up buying a little less of these new ones in order to purchase more variety.

And even with ten fabrics there were some it was hard to give up. Going to the quilt shop on a Saturday is a must from here on out - it's such a rejuvenating experience when I don't have Gareth along with me! This particular shop is awesome in that they have a corner with toys to play with, so Gareth isn't pestering to leave or getting into all the fabric, but it's obviously still easier without worrying about him bugging everyone else. I'm excited to go back for my lights, but in the meantime I can start washing and cutting!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Just a few weeks ago our garden looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

If you remember, Gareth loves lettuce. He asked to go cut some off while I was practicing this morning:

I distinctly remember disliking lettuce as a kid, so he's a bit baffling to me - but I'm not going to complain!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Since we've moved in here we've started a new breakfast routine: on weekdays we have oatmeal (with steel-cut oats!) or toast or some other every-day easy thing, then on weekends we do something more time-intensive (and usually less healthy).

When Ryan and I got married we were given a cookbook that I haven't ever used much. I've often looked through it, eyeing the sumptuous-looking dishes contained therein. But, most of them are intended to make enough for two people and many of them have very expensive ingredients. So I always figured I'd use it when we were empty-nesters and had more money. When we decided to try to make exciting weekend breakfasts, I needed ideas and thought it'd be worth a look.

Turns out their pancake recipe is marvelous. And the berry sauce/syrup that goes along with it as well. Ryan actually prefers the berries to maple syrup because they're not as sweet.

Melted Berries:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
pinch of kosher salt
fresh lemon juice as needed

1 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. baking soda
unsalted butter, melted

To make the berries you combine the berries, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan and cook until the juices flow (we use frozen, so we basically cook them until the berries are thawed.) I gave you the amount they call for sugar-wise, but we actually put in much, much less. Partly because the only frozen raspberries at our store are already sweetened and partly because that's just way too much sugar for our taste. We put in a couple of tablespoons, though I've also done it without any added sugar and it works fine that way as well. The lemon juice is optional.

For the pancakes: stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt (if I remember rightly, I use less salt than they call for) in a small bowl. Then whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and add the buttermilk (I use soured milk), sour cream, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture and mix it all up. Stir in 1 tablespoon of melted butter. To cook them, I melt a little butter on our griddle before spooning the batter on.

I usually double the recipe to make sure we have enough (depending on how much berry mixture people use you might or might not need to double that - one week we didn't need to, another we did). We usually have some leftover batter, which stores well in the fridge for one day, so we always make the leftover up either the next day or later the same day. Ryan likes them so much that he wanted me to be sure we shared the recipe with everyone. And, as you can see, Gareth loves them as well!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zoo Playdate

First, I apologize for the lack of blogging lately. My excuse is that I've been practicing several hours a day the last few weeks, and, honestly, that takes priority over blogging. Hopefully as we shift and balance things I'll be able to find more time to update.

A few weeks ago Gareth and I got together with a friend who will be in his preschool class in the fall. We decided to meet at the zoo since they're having a dinosaur exhibit right now that the boys would enjoy. It turned out to be a beautiful day (one of the first really nice days we had this spring) and was perfect for spending at the zoo.

We let the boys each choose a couple of animals to see in addition to the dinosaurs. All our pictures this time are of them sitting on statues of the various animals we saw (though we also visited the elephants, orangoutangs, and a few others). Gareth loved the dinosaurs, of course, so we went through there twice.

Gareth's asked a couple of times since to go back (primarily for the dinosaurs, which won't be around forever), so we might have to get another visit in over the summer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Project

I've been hoping to start on a quilt for Gareth's bed for a while now (he currently uses his baby quilts which, while they still cover him, look a little silly on the bed). I'm planning on making a log cabin quilt and the one I like uses really small blocks. The center squares start out at 1 3/4" and the finished blocks are 3 3/4". I found a great quilt shop close by and purchased the first fabric for it the other day:

I've got limited funds each month to put toward this project, so I've got to buy the fabric piecemeal. I'm expecting to use sixteen or so fabrics overall. In order for this to not take forever, I'll probably do all the piecing and then pay someone to quilt it. I simply do not have the machine quilting skills (or the tools that'd make it easier) in order to do it myself, and hand quilting would probably leave me finishing it as he graduates from high school. Hopefully I'm not biting off more than I can chew!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lettuce, Carrots, and Apple Blossoms

Our lettuce, chard and carrots are up!

Ryan was quick to tell me that he didn't think the lettuce would fill him up. The apple blossoms are starting to pop out as well - some of the blossoms on the upper boughs have actually opened, but all the lower ones are tightly closed still.

And, because I never got around to an Easter post, here's Gareth in his new apron:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Onion Easter Eggs

I just came across a couple of different methods for dying eggs with onion skins - here and here. We are definitely trying this out next year! Thanks, Kristine, for sharing the idea!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birthday Time Again

Gareth was pretty excited for his birthday this year - now that he's fully aware of what presents are and that he gets them for his birthday and all that good stuff he gets way more excited for things like Christmas and birthdays.

We were debating whether to get him a bike or a small drum set, but the bike won out. We'll save up for a small drum set for him along with saving for Ryan's and buy that at the same time that we get Ryan's. Initially I was thinking he'd be too big for one of those balance bikes, but when we went to their site after everyone kept telling us that was the way to go, we discovered that we could purchase an extra-long seat which will hopefully enable the bike to last almost a year. Hopefully by that point he'll be ready to go to a regular bike (maybe even without training wheels).

We had a playdate/lunch with our friends from the summer a few days before his birthday, which was especially exciting for Gareth since it'd been a while since he'd had a chance to play with other kids. Then on his actual birthday we kept things pretty relaxed.

We gave him his helmet in the morning and helped him find the bike down in the garage. He hopped on and off we went to the park. (Notice the overgrown, nasty-looking grass to the right in the picture. Hopefully it'll be chopped back tomorrow.)

He enjoyed playing at the park with another little boy, who we discovered will be in his preschool class in the fall. After a bit, the boy's parents invited us over to their house for some coffee cake. We enjoyed chatting with them while the boys played. Then it was back home for a late lunch and some playing. Ryan took Gareth out for some more riding while I made dinner.

After chatting with family for a bit, he opened presents and we had some strawberry smoothies for dessert (I was planning on making pound cake, but it didn't happen).

As you can see, a couple of his other gifts were yellow rain boots and Cars. Oh, and he's really into crouching down when you take pictures of him. Gareth's been out riding every day because we've had an unusual entire week of sunshine. We'll pay for it this next week with an entire week of rain (not so unusual). All the good weather means that he's improved rapidly with the bike and can even coast for brief periods now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yard Clean-Up

I know some people reading might think I'm crazy, but I have missed doing yard work! Somewhere in all those childhood years of getting up at 6 am to work in the garden I grew to love it. There were always some aspects I loved - planting seeds was one of them. I remember looking at the seeds, fascinated that something so small could turn into a carrot or a beautiful flower. And, of course, eating what came from the garden was definitely enjoyable. Anyway, I haven't been able to do any of that yet, but I have had a chance to mow the lawn (it needed a couple of mowings since it hadn't been touched since the owners moved out, so for about 9 months), weed the existing beds, and start hacking at the pampas grass out front.

You might not be able to see so well in this picture, but our grass is now an acceptable length, except along the edges. I'm not willing to fork out the money for a weed-wacker, so I'll have to get some clippers or something to trim around the edge of the yard.

And I know the beds don't look super-clean, but that's because of the pine trees. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to them being full of pine cones and needles because otherwise I'd spend half my life out there trying to clean them out.

No pictures of the grass out front yet, but I'll take some before and after pictures before I finish with them. They look awful before, but don't look any better after. I'm hoping that after they grow back out a bit they'll enjoy a stage at some point where they look decent. But I've decided that I hate them and will never plant such a thing at any house we own (and felt even more justified in my hatred after the landlord told me that she didn't like them either, had thought she was buying dwarf plants, and agreed with my decision to chop them way short). Since I don't have those pictures, I'll share this one. Does anyone know what it is?:

It looked a little too like an intentional planting for me to be willing to pull it up, but there were some pretty large weeds in the beds...

Friday, March 25, 2011

This and That

Gareth really, really, really wants a bike for his birthday. And he wants a pink one. I'd totally honor this request, but his color preferences change so rapidly (in the past several months he's been through green and orange as well and might already be moving on to red...) that I think I'll stick with something that will be easier to find and probably more boring (especially if I buy something that's not the cheap garbage you get at Walmart). But I am very pleased that he enjoys all colors.

I purchased a raised bed today - I'm too lazy to dig a hole in the ground - and am extremely excited. Hopefully as the summer progresses we'll have a good crop of lettuce, squashes, peppers, green beans, etc.! Keep your fingers crossed that some part of our yard will get enough sun for this to work! (I really wouldn't mind if the people behind us got rid of the gigantic pine trees in their yard that shade most of our yard, not to mention drop a ridiculous number of pine cones...)

I've spent the past week washing every clothing/bed linen/towel item we own and furiously cleaning. Gareth was getting bitten by something every evening. I haven't seen any of the signs of bedbugs that I've read about, so I'm really hoping it's not that. I'm thinking it might be fleas left behind by that stupid cat that lived here. So, I've vacuumed, washed curtains, cleaned blinds and windows as well. But, hey, all the clothing and bedding needed washing anyway since they all smelled musty from our place in Indiana. Now if you come visit us, we won't smell like mildew! (And the cleaning seems to have helped with the bites a little bit at least.)

What's up with Easter being so late this year? I'm sure it has been before, but I can't remember when. Anyway, the other day I pulled out a few plastic eggs and hid them in the yard for Gareth to find. Kind of a practice run, since we've never done an egg hunt before. Our long, hasn't-been-cut-since-who-knows-when grass is great for egg hiding. Gareth definitely enjoyed it and was pretty cute as he was pretending there was a baby chick inside each egg he found. He'll like it even more on Easter I'm sure when he finds candy inside. There's a hunt at the community center on that Saturday that we'll likely go to, then we'll do a little one here at home on Easter Sunday.

Most exciting of all is that I was able to get him into a preschool for the fall! I'd gotten myself okay with the idea that he might not get into a preschool at all. (I really don't think it's all that necessary for him academically. I just like it for helping him adjust to a classroom setting and for making friends. Oh, and for the break it'll give me if I don't have any work yet.) So it was a pleasant surprise to find out that this particular class actually had a few open spots and we were able to get one. It'll be across the street from the elementary school he'll attend, which is within walking distance for us. So by the time Kindergarten rolls around he'll be totally used to the walk and the school playground and at least the exterior of the school will look familiar. Hooray!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


We forgot to call Comcast early enough before our move date to have internet that same day, meaning we had to go for half a week without. Ryan wasn't sure he'd survive. (Oddly enough, my phone still received emails and instant messages, even though we have no data plan. But if I tried to open the browser it'd realize I wasn't supposed to be getting data and stop receiving everything for a while, until it'd forget again and I'd get more emails.)

One thing is certain - moving with an almost-4-year-old is much easier than moving with a 3-month-old. The men who brought our stuff out of storage were great with Gareth - they even let him use their tools to help tighten the screws on his bed. And, here we are, not even a week later, and most of the boxes are empty. When we moved to Manassas it was two or three weeks before my parents came to visit and there were still unopened boxes everywhere.

The empty box room. Eventually we'll get a sofa...

We've been doing well at making sure everything is put away somewhere before moving on to another item or a new box. The basement looks particularly awesome, with all sorts of open space:

Yes, the drum set will go there one day (around that corner, in the area you can't see), but there should still be plenty of space left for Gareth to play in. (He's almost as excited about the drums as Ryan is and tells everyone who comes to the house that we're getting "loud drums!". A junior drum set might be somewhere in our near future...)

The only thing left to do in the kitchen is clean out the freezer. Gareth helped me wipe down all the cupboards, and really did quite a good job of it.

Cleaning the fridge and the freezer has probably been the yuckiest part since one of the previous tenants had a cat and there seems to be cat hair inside the fridge (as well as several other odd places around the house). Blech. Thankfully they were required to have the carpet in the basement cleaned and it smells so much better than it did when we first looked at the place, but every once in a while I still catch a whiff of smelly cat down there.

There is quite a bit of work to be done out in the yard as the previous tenants didn't do much there. We have to get rid of some moles and the grass needs mowing. There's some long ornamental grass out front that needs cutting back so we don't get our recycling/yard waste/trash bins caught in it every week (tangent: one thing I love, love, love about Seattle is that we'll have hardly any trash as most everything can either be recycled or put in the food/yard waste bin). And the couple of gardens have been sorely neglected and need some weeding and clearing away of pine cones (Gareth will enjoy that bit) and probably something planted in them as well (something shade-loving as the pine cones are from trees that overhang that part of the yard). I'm just itching to be done unpacking and organizing inside so that I can have some fun with the yard. We actually had a sunny weekend and it's been killing me to see everyone else outside doing yard work while we're stuck inside unpacking! Of course, we need to purchase a few items (like a lawnmower and a rake) first anyway. The biggest "downside" to move-in day was that our TV was broken in the move (the screen was pushed way in and the sides were cracked and broken), so I guess we'll finally have to upgrade.