Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Yesterday the boys and I left mid-morning to head down to Tacoma and hang out at the zoo/aquarium with friends who were pet/house sitting for their grandma down there. We did this same outing a couple summers ago; it was a lot more relaxing with a 5 year old than with a 3 year old! No tantrums were thrown, just a lot of excitement, and a lot less worry about kids getting lost.

They had several sea animal sculptures in the park, all made out of trash that had washed ashore. Mal liked looking at them all, but particularly enjoyed the octopus.

We started off the trip with a carousel ride. Last time Mal was too scared to go on, but this time he eagerly climbed aboard the lion. However, he did insist that I stay standing next to him for the ride. The animals were quite active this trip, despite the hot weather. We got to see zookeepers feeding a tiger and holding a talk with people about tigers and endangered tiger habitats. This elephant was working hard to try and get some bamboo leaves to eat.

Mal really wanted to see the birds. At first I wasn't going to pay for a seed stick, but quickly realized that it was a fairly inexpensive way to make the kids' day, so we got one each. Gareth's bird even started walking up his arm after finishing off all the seeds! At the end of the day, Gareth said the birds were his favorite.

The walruses, sea lion, and otters were a big hit again. The red wolves were napping, so not too exciting to see. After lunch, we got the kids ice cream.

Mal didn't want to leave the zoo, but we'd been there for nearly 4 hours and had seen just about all there was to see. I think everyone except for Mal was exhausted.  As we drove to Grandma's house, Mal kept trying to tell us we had missed various animals, even though we hadn't. Once at the house, Mal had a love/hate relationship with the dog, who is very friendly but also as big as Mal. The dog was overly excited to have new people around and kept wanting to chase Mal, which was scary for him. But as soon as our friend put the dog outside, Mal insisted he wanted the dog to come back in. Gareth did a better job of keeping him calm around the dog. When we got home Malcolm was very excited to recount every detail of the day to Ryan. We cut him off at some point because he needed to get in bed. This morning, as soon as he was up, he was telling daddy the rest of the details.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jump Start/Eclipse

Mal had his first day of Jump Start yesterday. Jump Start is a program where the Kindergarteners spend a week at the school before school actually starts. They go for a half day and get to figure out some of the basics of how school works, meet the teachers, see the classrooms, etc. Mal was really excited to finally get to go to "Gareth's school". I was a bit worried he'd be upset at drop off, but he wasn't.

Mal had one of Gareth's teachers from last year. He was pretty calm through the whole thing, grabbing his teacher's hand when it was time to get into circle and quietly listening (zoning out?) while another teacher talked for a while.  

The kids all got to go out and look at the eclipse for a bit, which Mal was very excited about when we picked him up. It sounds like the day went really well since he came home happy and kept asking throughout the day if we were going back to school. He won't necessarily have the same teacher for the school year - we'll find out at the end of the week what room he's assigned to for the year.

While he was at school, the rest of us walked over to the local park, along with just about everyone else in the neighborhood, to watch the eclipse. We only had one pair of glasses between us, but taking turns worked out just fine. 

And here's a lame photo attempt. It didn't look anything like this when actually viewed through the glasses. We had about 93% totality here. It got noticeably dimmer and colder, to the point that Gareth and I were uncomfortably chilly.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Camp Quest 2017

We managed to secure Gareth a spot at Camp Quest again this year (it's filling up faster and faster each year, so there's a definite possibility that some year we won't be able to get him registered in time). This year they're doing an X-Files theme, changing "I want to believe" to "I want to follow the evidence". I tried watching X-Files once and I couldn't make it through one episode due to how disparaging they were of the people who were rightly skeptical and demanding evidence of the claims being made.

Anyway, Gareth was excited to head out. Mal was excited because he knew we'd see cows along the way.

Mal insisted on going to meet the gorilla after we got Gareth checked in. The gorilla's name is George, and he's the camp morale officer apparently.

We hung out on the beach for a bit before leaving, allowing Mal to find some shells to bring home. I almost thought he was going to make it all the way there and back without succumbing to sleep. This picture, we thought he'd fallen asleep, but then he roused for a bit and informed me he wanted me to take a picture of him resting. Just a few minutes later he was asleep for real.

Before we knew it, a week had passed and we were headed back to camp to pick Gareth up (and hoping he hadn't broken/lost his new retainers during the week). This time Gareth wanted a picture with George, and of course Mal had to get in there as well. We found out the mother of one of the counselors actually teaches at Gareth's school. And Gareth managed not to break/lose his retainers!

We stopped at a bakery that I've seen along the way every year and always been curious about. Got some apple cider donuts for the ride home and a cinnamon bun and apple turnover to share later in the day, starting a new end-of-camp tradition. Gareth told us about some of the camp activities this year, and that his cabin had stayed up late each night telling each other silly stories. He was clearly tired on the way home, though he said he was only resting:

They handed out solar eclipse glasses at checkout, which was good for us since I hadn't been on top of things enough to get any. They even let Mal take a pair, much to his delight. Another great year of camp in the books. Just three more years until Mal can go as well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Terracotta Warriors

The Friday after Gram left we had a friend of Gareth's come over and then all met up with some Ballard friends at the science center so we could go see the Terracotta Army exhibit. We assumed the kids wouldn't want the audio guide, so I just paid for them for the adults, guaranteeing that the kids all wanted one. 

Even without the audio guide the exhibit was impressive. The only thing that could have improved the experience was not going through with an impatient five-year-old.

That five-year-old did enjoy the couple of hands-on activities in the exhibit:

Afterward, we hung out for a while in the science center. The older kids had a good time in the health/wellness, space, and tide pool sections. Mal loves going to see the bugs and reptiles as well as checking out the tide pool. After hitting all those areas, we headed outside where we all got ice cream and even happened to catch the beginning of a concert at Seattle Center:

Then it was back to the bus for a crowded ride home. The kids were so well-behaved, a definite perk to them getting a bit older! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Community Rotation/Gram Visit

Just after finishing up my online summer class (that I put way more time into than I should have), my mom arrived in town. She came to visit and to help out with the kids while I'd be away at Camp Leo doing my community rotation. The kids had a great time with her while she was here. She'd brought several activities for them to work on together, took them to the park, made cookies with them, etc. Then when I got back, she continued to entertain them while I finished up my rotation assignments. We even managed to sneak in some time to accomplish some small projects that I'd been wanting to complete.

Camp Leo is down by Mt. Rainier National Park. Since my preceptor and I arrived early, we drove up past the camp and found a lookout spot:

A couple days after I got back we took Gareth to the orthodontist and had his braces removed. Then went back a week later and got retainers:

The boys had requested that Gram make marshmallows while she was here, so once I was back she obliged. Mal enjoyed getting to lick the bowl (and eating the marshmallows):

I still hadn't put away my sleeping bag from camp, so Mal found it and was pretending he was Santa Claus and the sleeping bag was his sleigh.

One of Gram's projects with the boys was to make boards that we can record their height on. Mal was supposed to be getting ready for bed, but he discovered that Gram and Gareth were out sanding the boards and didn't want to be left out, so I let him sand for a bit before telling him he'd done a great job and getting him off to bed. The next day the boys got to paint the boards before Gram added the ruler markings. 

We also managed to get to the hardware store and get our wall paint matched so that I could touch up the spots that had needed repairs since moving in. The boys' wall where Gareth had overloaded a hook and ripped off some plaster now looks good as new. As does the bathroom wall where a person working on our tuck pointing had ripped out some sheetrock when tripping in the bathroom. I'd also wanted to take off the towel bar and put in hooks instead and fix the towel ring by the sink, which meant a couple more patches to the sheetrock. I'm so excited that we'll all be able to hang our towels in the main bathroom now. We also found a basket to hold the bath toys, which helps a lot in keeping the bathroom more organized.

The boys and I were sad to see Gram go, but got to enjoy a bus/lightrail ride with her down to the airport. Luckily I managed to schedule some time with friends over the rest of the week to help distract them from their sorrow over her absence.