Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Burke Again

I knew today was going to be rainy, so I decided it would be a good day for an indoor activity. I've been meaning to get to the Burke Museum with the boys since school got out. I figured we'd get up and get on the bus early and be there just after opening, around 10:30.

That was before I slept in until 8:30. Cloudy skies make a big difference in waking times for everyone in our house, apparently. Then I realized we were almost out of milk and since Ryan was going to work from home we needed to have milk on hand. By the time we got all of us up and dressed and fed and got to the store, it was 11. Which made me nervous to go because, even if we drove to the museum, we'd be running into lunch time and nap time. But I feel badly that we haven't gotten out much this summer, so I forced myself to go.

It turned out better than I expected. Parking was easy (though you do have to pay - taking the bus is much cheaper and just as easy). I wasn't sure how well Malcolm would do, but he loved it. I wish I could've captured his smile as he looked at the various masks and crystals and fossils. He didn't look at any one thing for long, but he did want to look at everything.

Gareth actually took some time to read what was on some of the displays this time around. He may have done more of that, but Malcolm kept us moving rather quickly. Here he's reading about the difference between high-crown and low-crown teeth.

Malcolm thought this mastodon was very cool. He wanted me to pick him up to see it better and kept repeating, "So big!". He seemed a little more nervous about the dinosaur room, for some reason. There was someone rolling a cart somewhere and it was sounding quite loud and echoey in the dinosaur room, so I don't know if that made him nervous, or if he was actually nervous about the big dinosaurs. In any case, it meant we didn't hang out with the dinosaurs for very long.

Next we headed downstairs to see the Pacific cultures exhibit. Malcolm was starting to get a bit unruly by this point, so we really didn't do any of these displays justice. After several minutes trying to keep Malcolm from touching totem poles, we ducked into the cafe attached to the museum for a snack of apples and fig bars. It was just the break Malcolm needed (and I think Gareth appreciated it as well).

Gareth really wanted to see the mammoth tusk, so we headed back upstairs to the last exhibit to find that. It's still in plaster and will be for quite some time. They've got a bunch of other items from their collection out right now as well. Specimens that were collected to determine how things were reviving after Mt. St. Helens erupted in the 80s, a walrus tusk drinking cup, turtles, snake skins, etc. I thought the coiled snake skeleton was cool.

They also had a college student there working on separating krill from fish and other creatures. We talked to her for a bit about what she is doing. Basically, sounds like a bunch of plankton containing water is collected up in Alaska and then they sort out what is in it. It looks like the krill are the most common, but they've got a few types of fish and some squid as well. Doing this allows them to determine what species are breeding and how successfully. Some of those species eventually come down this way, so it's important for people in this area to know that information as well. Gareth listened attentively and asked about how she tells the difference between the krill and the fish. I was surprised Malcolm stayed interested (okay, interested here just means he wasn't wriggling out of my arms and running around - he was actually looking at her jars and equipment and "listening" - I'd say that counts as interested for a 2 year old), but he did and even gave an approving "Fish!" exclamation after Gareth and I finished talking with her.

A fun place to go for an hour or two. It was busy today, but not overly crowded. Gareth wanted to stick around longer, so I promised him another visit later in the summer.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Impromptu Utah Visit

Last weekend I got to go to Utah. My grandpa died and the funeral was held on Monday. My sister and her family were kind enough to host me, which was a ton of fun since I hadn't seen them for a few years and hadn't had a chance to meet my new niece yet.

I feel a little lucky that I've made it to 30 before losing someone close to me. I've had great-grandparents die, but I didn't live close enough to really know them, and my other grandpa died before I was born. I guess the closest I've come was a guy, Ryan, who was in wind symphony with me at BYU and traveled with the group to Scandinavia. He was in a car crash a few years ago with his wife and few month old baby and he died at the scene (his wife and baby survived). That was shocking, just because it was someone close to my age and it's unexpected. And it was very sad because obviously it would be hard on his surviving family. But we weren't super close, just people who played in a group together for a year.

Anyway, this is the first person I've been close to who has died. It's sad, but not entirely unexpected. My grandpa was 82 and had Parkinson's. So I was expecting a long, slow decline and that maybe he'd die in a couple years, not now, but I find myself glad for him that he got to skip the long, slow decline. It feels a bit weird to remember he's dead, because he's someone who has always been there.

I didn't take any pictures, but it was a very nice funeral. Several relatives spoke about memories of my Grandpa, and us grandkids did a couple of musical numbers. My little niece thought it was hilarious when I had my reed in my mouth getting ready for the piece we played. I had to set it aside after a bit because she was on the verge of getting quite disruptive laughing at me. After the funeral service we went to the cemetery where they had a short military service (my Grandpa served in the army for a couple years). Bagpipes, flag, and bugle. It was very nice, and in some ways even more moving than the funeral itself.

My grandmother has dementia and no memory of who I am, so that was a bit hard, but I knew to expect it. I did make the mistake of looking at her while the grandkids were singing and just about lost it (she and my grandpa have been pretty inseparable the past few years and it's hard to think of her on her own), but I made sure to look at the ceiling and back of the room after that! I gave her a hug before we left the luncheon, since I would be leaving Utah the next morning. She said, "You're really growing up, aren't you?" in her usual chipper voice. It was so her, and knowing she had no idea who I was (and obviously judged me to be younger than I am) I just replied, "Yeah, I am" with a smile. And then broke into tears, realizing this would likely be the last time I saw her. Definitely the hardest part of the whole funeral for me.

I had a great time with my sister and her family, playing and watching baseball with my nephew and trying to get my niece to like me (I did finally achieve some smiles and giggles!). We checked out the Animal Inside Out exhibit after the funeral, bought some treats from Hatch Chocolates, and generally had a great time chatting and hanging out together. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take anyone else with me (would've loved to take Gareth to hang out with his cousins). But I guess it made for a good trial-run for my trip to Baton Rouge later this month. Ryan and the boys survived the extremely hot Seattle weekend (okay, 90 isn't all that bad, but when you don't have a/c it gets bad pretty quickly) and Malcolm didn't seem to notice I was gone for four days. Gareth was really sad I was leaving before I left, but once I was gone seemed to have a good time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cherries, Birthday, Berries

We did, in fact, do all those things we thought we'd do last week. We went and helped pit cherries. It was rather chilly that day and Malcolm wasn't too happy with me wanting to pit and apparently 13 year olds are more interested in chatting than pitting, so it took longer than it should have. But it was fun and our friends gave us a jar of cherries since we came and helped.

Then we had the 4th. We didn't do much, mostly hung around the house. Gareth helped me make a cherry pie from last year's jar of cherries. Then we watched the Brazil game. After that Gareth and I head across the street to meet our neighbors' new baby. He's very cute and looks a lot like his older siblings. After getting home we had some pork tenderloin and salad for dinner.

My birthday was very enjoyable. I had a clarinet lesson in the morning, Ryan had a drum lesson after that. I rode the bike with the boys to the store to get ingredients for dinner/dessert. I spent most of the rest of the day in the kitchen working on pie and dinner, but Gareth helped me out and it was fun. We made a triple berry cream pie. Didn't get a picture of it, but it pretty much looked like the picture on the recipe. And it was really easy and yummy. We had our friends, the Redpaths, over for dinner. Or 3/5 of them. Dad was gone picking up one kid from the airport, but the rest of us enjoyed a delicious dinner, conversation, and pie. I wasn't sure how it'd all go. Ryan and I are quite introverted typically and almost never invite people over, so this was way out of our comfort zone. But everything went smoothly and we all enjoyed one another's company. They brought me a 1983 port - Ryan was struggling with the idea of ever drinking it when it's older than I am. Seems sacrilegious or something I guess. We've put it away for now (apparently it's meant for cold weather - I have no idea why). After they left we got Malcolm to bed and let Gareth stay up for presents. Cards Against Humanity from my sister and brother-in-law. What are supposed to be the best ever tea infusers from Ryan, as well as a Kindle. Gareth is super-jealous that Ryan and I both have Kindles now and he doesn't. He requested one be added to his wish list in hopes of getting it for Christmas.

Then on Sunday we headed north about an hour to pick berries with one of Ryan's coworkers. We weren't expecting to get any strawberries, but we got there and found out they had a few left. It was difficult to find good ones, but we ended up with a good haul anyway. Picking the raspberries was much easier (no bending over and perfect time of year so they're plentiful). We got two boxes of raspberries and one of strawberries.

Malcolm whined and cried quite frequently, but did occasionally enjoy munching on berries and loved seeing the tractor go by carrying more people out to the strawberries.

Sad because I tried to take a picture of him

Ryan wishes we had a front yard full of raspberries, just like this

When we got home we got the kids cleaned up and ate and then I ran out to the store in search of pint and half-pint jars. Turns out that lots of people buy canning stuff this time of year. The first store had just a few cases of pint jars left and at the second store the pint jars were plentiful, but I got lucky and got the very last case of half-pints. Jelly jars were completely gone. The guy I talked to there said he'd told them to order more but the managers had scoffed at him and didn't think they'd need so many this time of year.

Anyway, I headed home and then we got to work making strawberry bounce. Really easy and will be ready around Christmas/New Years. I felt a bit bad using all the strawberries for adult beverage (though Gareth really didn't pick all that many strawberries), so I made sure the kids got some to snack on while we were working. Fresh-picked strawberries are so yummy; it's been way too long since I've had some fresh like that. After dinner we moved on to raspberry bounce. We filled our pint jars and our 3/4 liter jars that his coworker had given us and still had tons of raspberries left. I had known this would happen, so had also purchased the half-pints and pectin in order to make freezer jam. Gareth and I made that on Monday and got 10 half-pints. Could've made two batches of that with how many raspberries we had, but we were doubtful about our ability to store so many jars, so we just did the one batch. We all snacked on raspberries through the rest of Monday and I used the rest to make some raspberry smoothies yesterday.

Exhausting, but very fun week/weekend. This weekend I get to make an unexpected trip to Utah for my Grandpa's funeral. A little surprising, but we knew such events were going to start happening sometime in the near future. It'll be a very brief visit, but I'm excited to see some family and especially my cute nephew and niece!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2 Year/7 Year Check Ups (Exciting Rash Bonus!)

I'm squeezing in every doctor/dentist visit possible this summer, so this morning was dentist for me, followed by doctor for the boys. Gareth is always awesome at the doctor and Malcolm did much better this time around than he usually does, so that was pleasant. Overall, both boys are doing great.

Malcolm: 80% for height, 25% for weight
Gareth: 70% for height, 50% for weight
Both tall and skinny - no surprise there. Gareth actually missed some letters on the smallest print when they checked his eyes today. His left eye did better than his right. They didn't seem too worried about it (didn't tell me we needed to get it checked out or anything), so hopefully eyesight will continue to be a non-issue.

Gareth has been doing this throat-clearing thing for about a year and a half and it's starting to bug even him. The doctor said it's likely just a tic (he also has a tendency to blink his eyes more than usual, though I don't notice this that much) and he'll probably grow out of it. She suggested offering sips of warm water or a little honey if it's bothering him and otherwise to not make a big deal of it because making a big deal can make it stick around longer.

We had the distinction of Malcolm having an interesting enough rash that she brought in another doctor to look at it. I think she wanted to bring in all the doctors, but I guess only one was available at the moment. The other doctor's comment on it? "Oh! How cool!" They were seriously giddy and geeking out over it. Apparently it's a lichen striatus and is somewhat uncommon. It's also apparently more common in girls than boys, making Malcolm extra special. Our doctor was actually wishing she had a camera to take a picture because it's so textbook. Looks a lot like shingles, but since he has had it for so long (early May) and not been bothered by it and wasn't crying in pain when she touched it, she was positive it was the lichen thing. They don't know what causes it and it will usually go away on its own after several months, though she gave us a prescription for a cream that can (maybe) help get rid of it. So, here's a pic of this apparently exciting rash:

I feel like Malcolm tends to have lots of skin issues. He's got really dry skin with lots of bumps on his arms/legs and he's had what feels like a ridiculous number of rashes in his two years. More than Gareth has had in seven at any rate. At least this one was something more interesting for the doctor than past ones!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


We've been taking things pretty easy so far this summer. I took my final the same day Gareth finished school (did I mention my final was comprehensive for the whole year of Chem, not just the quarter? Yeah, that was fun) and then had my final concert of the season that weekend. Naturally, I was ready for a break after the concert was over. So this last week I didn't attempt to clean the house or take the kids anywhere. We pretty much sat around, watched the World Cup, and played video games.

We did manage to get Gareth signed up for the summer reading program. And we got a bike trailer to borrow long-term from a friend. I decided that this week we should attempt to get a little more in, activity-wise. So we started the week off with a bike ride to the Locks. Gareth was excited that we saw a seal; I even caught a glimpse of it as it chased a salmon. This is the time of year to check out the fish ladder - tons of salmon right now. Our friends, the Redpaths, joined us and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch on the hill and throwing a frisbee around a bit.

Yesterday we had a couple other friends over while their mom had a meeting. It was in the 80s, so the boys all hung out outside in their swimsuits, playing in the sprinkler and with water guns. Malcolm was excited to see the water gun work with water in it (they play with them often without water). At one point he accidentally almost hit me with the water. Then he "accidentally" almost hit me again. After that he gave up any pretense of it being an accident and giggled gleefully while trying to hit me. Good thing I can easily get out of the way and his water supply didn't last too long!

He'd started running out of water by this point

The sprinkler had to be set low or he'd be terrified. Apparently filling and dumping the bottle from the water gun was really fun.

Gareth decided it was fun as well.

Hopefully there wasn't too much dirt, mold, etc. in there!

Today our friends reciprocated and had our boys over while I went downtown to meet up with Ryan for lunch. He's been wanting to show me his office and have me meet some of his coworkers that he always talks about. So we did some introductions and he showed me around their part of the building and then we headed out to lunch with one of his coworkers. The boys had a great time hanging out with their friends again.

Up next for the week - cherry pitting with the Redpaths tomorrow afternoon, Brazil game and meeting the new baby on the street on the fourth, then my birthday, then possibly going raspberry picking with Ryan's coworker on Sunday.