Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Week Left

School doesn't start here until next week, after Labor Day. At least, it's supposed to start then. Apparently the district and teachers are still negotiating their contract and if they can't agree on something by next Tuesday, school will not start on Wednesday.

Anyway, Gareth and I are both excited for him to be back in school. We've done a lot of fun activities this summer, but my best efforts at playdates/outings simply aren't enough for him - he would love to do those things every day. While I'm excited for him to head back to school, I've been dragging my feet about getting supplies and shoes and whatnot. I guess I'm more than happy to have Gareth back at school, but am not so ready to have our lives follow a more structured schedule again. I'll start rehearsals for both of my groups the same week Gareth starts school and he'll start having soccer games around that time as well.

We finally got around to getting shoes yesterday. I think I might hold off on new clothes until it starts getting a little cooler. I've told myself it'll be okay to wait until after tomorrow to get the school supplies. They've got a school event to help get the grounds ready and where the kids can meet their teacher and see their classroom. I can ask his teacher then if the things on the list are actually needed/if there's anything not on the list they need. Maybe then I'll be able to convince myself that school really is (maybe) starting and that I actually do need to purchase the supplies.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Malcolm is finally trying to walk. The 3rd is when he decided that this walking thing might not be so bad after all, but we definitely hadn't hit primary mode of transit yet. He was still super wobbly and usually only took four or five steps before lurching into someone's arms, or having to catch his fall himself. But he was standing up without pulling on anything multiple times each day and would usually try to take a few steps after having done so. And he was less likely to scream that you were torturing him if you grabbed his hands and helped him practice walking.

Only a week later and he's made tremendous progress. Still some crawling, but we're thinking Saturday might be the day we can say he really started walking. It seemed every time you turned around he was standing up and walking somewhere. A lot of last week's wobbliness is gone already, though there's still some of it there. I think it's safe to say that crawling is no longer viewed as the best way to get around.

The past couple months he's been doing this adorable thing where he pulls out a book, opens it up, and then lays down on his stomach to "read". He usually only hangs out that way for a few seconds before moving on, so it's been tricky to get a picture. I finally grabbed one the other day when I saw him pulling an old atlas off the shelf. This is totally something he's picked up from Gareth, who frequently reads this way at bedtime and throughout the day.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Museum of Communications

Yesterday afternoon we headed down to the Museum of Communications, which is located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. They're only open Tuesdays and the first Sunday of each month, so it's taken us a while to fit this one in.

In all honesty, not the easiest of museums to do with a baby. Gareth was just fine, so I'd say okay for kids probably starting around age 3-4, depending on the kid. But Malcolm really just wanted to get down, crawl around, and get into everything. I did let him down a bit, but the floors were quite dirty, so his hands and knees were nice and grey by the time we left. I should've just kept him in the carrier the whole time, but it was really hot in there and we were both sweating within minutes of starting our tour.

Anyway, the museum is full of old phone stuff (can you tell I don't know much about the inner workings of phones?), as well as some other communications items. They have people there who can give you a quick tour of the upper floor, most of which I missed because Malcolm was fussing. But Ryan declared that it all seemed much more complicated than what he does every day. Some of the phones are connected with other phones in the room, so they can dial and show you how dialing would look at the central office and it gives you a chance to try out some of the old phones, which Gareth thought was quite fun.

Ryan reading about the step by step switching system

Other items there - old teletypes, dictaphones, oldish computers, telegraphs, army field phones from WWII, operator's desks, etc.
A teletype

Magnetic recorders (answering machines) - the messages were recorded on thin metal wires. Too expensive for households, but used by businesses.

Gareth thought being inside the British phone box was fun - except that the door was a bit too heavy for him to manage himself. Apparently the phone company for the area - Western Electric - also got into manufacturing household goods such as irons, clothes dryers, vacuums, etc. for a while, so they've got some of those as well. Ryan entertained himself on the second floor by reading the Bell System Technical Journal. An especially fun place to visit if you're really into that stuff, but even if you're not, it's quite interesting to look at all the old communications devices.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Today we headed to the Kids Discovery Museum over on Bainbridge Island. I was interested to check it out and compare it to the Seattle Children's Museum. I knew it'd likely be small and didn't have terribly high expectations going in, but admission was free today (free the first Thursday of each month) so all it would cost us was a bit of time travelling and bus and ferry fare. I had a coupon that would get Gareth on the ferry for free and even saved his bus fare home because apparently some drivers are under the impression that 6 and under ride free rather than 5 and under (and possibly because the driver understandably didn't want to take the time to add in a youth fare when there was a long line of people waiting to board). So aside from time, this was a somewhat inexpensive venture for us.

Turns out, despite its small size, that it's way better than the Children's Museum. We went to the Children's Museum last summer and I was quite disappointed by the use of the space. It seemed activities were rather sparse and a fair amount of what was there was broken. Considering you pay $8.25 per person to get in, I really felt stations should have been better maintained and have a little more to them. Maybe we caught them at a bad time and they were working on putting some new stuff in or something and it's better now, but it was bad enough when we went that I'm not willing to go back and check to see if it's gotten better.

Anyway, KiDiMu usually costs $6/person and does an excellent job of making the most of their small space. I was expecting it to be overcrowded because of the free admission thing, but thankfully it never felt overcrowded. A lot of kids definitely came through, but there was plenty of space for everyone who was there. Probably helps that the museum is on Bainbridge rather than downtown!

Malcolm waiting patiently for me to release him into the tot area

The first floor has a small tots area, which Malcolm had all to himself for the entire time he remained interested.

It also has a pirate ship tree house thing and areas that are a bank, grocery store, ferry boat, doctor's office, car, and a park, if I remember correctly.

The upper floor has several fun activities that use golf balls - things where you can play with centripetal force and various other aspects of physics, as well as some magnets and gears. There's also a train table and a large Lite-Brite type thing. Off of the first floor there is a very small outdoor area that has a water table and bubbles and a play ferry boat plus a couple of picnic tables. The outdoor area is nothing amazing, but convenient for feeding kids a snack.

Malcolm really enjoyed pulling the lights out, but never did catch on to the idea of putting them in
Gareth checking out how centripetal force works (Malcolm was a fan of this as well)
Having some more golf ball fun (this device looked fairly roller-coasterish - trying to figure out how much force you need to get the ball to run the entire track I'm guessing)

Gareth could have stayed happily for hours on end, but by 3 Malcolm was quickly fading, having had zero nap time, so we headed back to the ferry terminal. We snapped a picture of octopus Gareth on the way - surprisingly well done considering seeing my phone screen is impossible outdoors.

Malcolm fell asleep on the couple minute walk to the ferry and stayed asleep for most of the ride back. He really didn't want to wake up, so was pretty grumpy for the rest of the ride and struggled a bit on the bus ride home. Despite how great the outing was, it's not likely to be repeated often. The travel is quite wearing - we left the house around 11 am and took two buses to get to the ferry terminal just in time to catch the 12:20 ferry, which got us to Bainbridge around 1pm. We probably left the museum around 3:15, caught a 3:50 ferry and then took an express bus home (crowded). This particular bus dropped us about 8 blocks from home, so we had to walk a bit (we could've waited a few extra minutes for the express that would drop us a block from home, but Gareth wanted to ride with his friend) after the bus and got home just after 5:30. So, yeah, about two hours each way for a couple hours on the island. Ryan has yet to take the ferry to any of the local islands and I would like to check out Bloedel Reserve, so we'll have to go again at some point. But that trip will require the car (more expensive, and you have to pay both ways on the ferry), so we'll have to get some other must-see Bainbridge tips from my friend Alanna and make a day of it so it'll be worth the cost and travel time. Anyway, glad we went today, but I just don't see myself doing this often.