The day after our pumpkin excursion, my friend and I went on a bike ride. It was the route of an organized ride called the Skagit Color Classic, but we did it one week late. We were hoping to see some great fall colors, but sadly could count on one hand the number of colorful trees we saw. The organized ride a week earlier must've been particularly disappointing! But, the weather was beautiful and clear and we got to ride on the ferry. It was a great ride, with lots of rollies and a few larger hills, which made up for it only being 25 miles.
Took some photos on our ferry ride back:
Our trusty steed!
Mount Baker, I think? This definitely wasn't looking toward Rainier, so that's my best guess.
Toward the end of September, I looked at our October calendar and realized we didn't have many open weekend days during the month. Gareth's time has been frequently co-opted by sleepovers with a friend lately, which has made doing family things more difficult (we're going to have to cut back on the sleepovers in the coming months so we can do holiday stuff and just so he can maintain relationships with other friends as well). Ryan was going to be out of town for a whole weekend for the wedding of a high school friend, and I was going to spend two weekend days on concerts. I was working the weekend Ryan was going to be out of town, and we needed to go to a Halloween event at a friend's house after one of my concerts. We were left with two possible days to go to the pumpkin farm, but one of those was a sleepover day, so we chose the other one - the first weekend in October.
Turns out that's a pretty good time to go to the pumpkin farm as it's not super crowded yet. Mal was still very into the cutout photo ops.
Then he wanted to take a picture of the landscape:
After which it was right back to the cutouts:
Mal immediately wanted to go down these slides, but then was nervous about them and made me go down with him the first time around. Gareth tried to be non-chalant about it all, "Yeah, sure, why not?" when asked if he wanted to take a picture or go down the slides (but you could tell he loved it all; it's hard being a tween and trying to figure out if you can let yourself just like what you like or if you're supposed to be "too old" for stuff!):
Several parents got roped into going down the slides with kids, just like me. There's a bump at the bottom, so every single adult came out stating that that was a mistake, they should have medics there for the adults, walking their now aching bodies back to the benches gingerly, etc. Glad I wasn't alone in my pain! Thankfully, after one go with me, Mal was thrilled to go again and again and again on his own.
Mal checked out the big tractor while Gareth worked on the rope maze:
More photo ops:
Gareth finally joined in:
And then Ryan decided to join as well:
We took a break for some food. Cider and pumpkin donuts, roasted corn, hot cider. The deliciousness was dampened by the insane number of bees hanging around (maybe the one downside to going in early October?) Boys couldn't finish their cider, because there were constantly 4 or 5 bees also loving the smell of the cider. It was not fun for the boys (not helped by Ryan's fear of bees; I was the only one staying calm and they seemed to not like me quite as much as everyone else who was freaking out). Eventually we gave up on eating and headed to the hay ride to the pumpkin patch and corn maze.
Photo op at the maze halfway point (I love the face Mal is making here)!
After Gareth and Mal successfully led us through the maze, we searched for pumpkins. Gareth took a while to find the right pumpkin while Mal picked his immediately. We'd told them they had to be able to carry their pumpkins.
Folks were very impressed with Gareth hauling his pumpkin back onto the hay ride by himself. Also, white/grey shirt is not a great choice for pumpkin picking.
Back to the car! We recommended using a wheelbarrow for the hay ride to car walk. Would've taken forever otherwise.
Aside from the terror of the bees (which they kept calling wasps - it felt very melodramatic because of that), it was a beautiful day and a great outing! Now we just needed to find time to carve the pumpkins...
We picked Gareth up from Camp Quest today - final year he'll be headed there alone, as Mal will be old enough to go next year! (Yes, I am already thinking about what we should do during our kid-free week!) Gareth had a great time, as usual. To add a little extra fun to the drive up and back, I decided we should head to Samish Bay Cheese, which is only ~10 minutes away from camp.
You have to give yourself a self-guided tour, so we started off heading to the sheep.
Mal and Gareth both got a kick out of the sheep braying loudly at them. After a while, the sheep lost interest since the kids were just staring at them. We couldn't see any pigs, and there wasn't any noticeable activity in the production room (it is a Saturday after all, maybe not a bustling as other days?), so headed to the tasting room. The boys and I tried all the cheeses they had out (4 of them, plus a dip which only Ryan, Gareth, and myself tried). I was shocked Mal was willing to try anything - it helped that two of the cheeses were gouda (smoked gouda is the only cheese he likes). We ordered a cheese board and a couple slices of cheesecake to share and purchased some of the spicy cheese dip to bring home. I think this will become a new camp pick-up tradition. They make yogurts and lots of other things as well, so we have more we'd like to try.
One of the women working asked if we'd fed the sheep - we hadn't since I wasn't sure if that was okay or not. She said they like it when people feed them grass. The farmhand lives on site and we were told he spoils them, giving them all his leftovers. We headed back over to the sheep and sure enough, they were thrilled when the kids offered them grass to eat. We also found the pig and her piglets. They were resting in their shelter, piglets focused on drinking milk, so didn't come see us. There was also a little more activity in the production room at this point - they were straining something through large swaths of cheesecloth (clearly I don't know much at all about cheese making!)
Mal has been loosing teeth left and right the past couple weeks. He started with a couple lower teeth, then (after many tears and worry while trying to eat dinner as it kept hurting while he tried to eat, but he wasn't willing to let me attempt to pull it), an upper tooth fell out.
Then the other upper tooth was super loose. He kept getting scared because it was getting stuck sideways and backwards - I expected it to just fall out the first time I helped him fix it, but it hung in there until the next day. It came out the day after the other upper tooth. He's having to get a little creative with eating, since it's a little hard to bite into things with all those missing teeth!
I was scheduled for my first weekend shift on our anniversary; normally I would try to trade with someone, but it seemed a bit late in the year, I haven't really figured out the trading weekends thing yet, and we often celebrate our anniversary on alternative days anyway. In the end, it worked out well because I got this past Friday off in exchange for working the weekend, which meant we could drop the kids off at their respective day camps and then spend the whole day together.
When Ryan took a week off earlier in the summer, I had suggested he take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. He enjoyed his trip there enough that when we found out I'd have the Friday off, I suggested we have breakfast in Bainbridge and lunch at our favorite downtown restaurant, Lecosho. The weather was gorgeous, though a little chilly due to the wind on the way over to Bainbridge, but Mt. Rainier was out and the scenery was beautiful, as ever. We'd heard that Streamliner Diner was an excellent breakfast/brunch place, just off the ferry. However, it was packed both when Ryan made the trip a couple weeks ago and as we walked by on Friday. We were headed for a crepe shop instead. After our crepes, we sat for a bit, then wandered down the main street. We took some time to look at the art in an art gallery. We even found some pieces we both liked, though weren't willing to spend the $3000-4000 they cost. Maybe one day, when we've don't need to buy a couch or a new dining table or any other things like that. We walked a bit further, down to the water, then back to the main street. We were thinking we should head back for our lunch, then realized by the time the next ferry came and we ate lunch, we might be cutting it a bit close to get our bus back in time to pick up the kids. So we changed our plans and ate lunch on Bainbridge at a deli a friend had recommended before heading back. I took pictures on our way back.
It was so much fun to take a relaxing pace with the day and to get to spend a whole day with just the two of us. It's great to think that as the kids get older, days like this will be easier and easier to come by.
I worked this past Sunday and, while I've got down what time I need to leave to catch the bus to work on the weekend, I hadn't yet figured out the reverse trip. This meant when I left work I was looking at a 25 minute wait for a bus. Given it was already pretty late, I asked Ryan and the kids to make a trip and pick me up and had the following exchange with Malcolm in the car:
Malcolm: A kids' hospital?!
Me: Yup, this is where I work.
Malcolm: You work in a hospital?!
Malcolm: Do you get changed into nurse clothes?
Me: Nope, because I'm not a nurse. I'm a dietitian. I help the doctors and nurses know what to feed the kids.
Malcolm: Do kids go there when they're injured?
Me: Yeah, sometimes. Some of the kids who are there have injuries.
Malcolm: Have there ever been any kids there with an injury? Like from animals? Like a jaguar injury?
Apparently Mal hadn't known where I've been going for work for the past 6 months, which was surprising to us all to realize. And, for the record, I felt pretty confident stating that there had never been any jaguar injuries treated at the hospital.
This past weekend I worked all weekend (training so I'm ready to work future weekend days). Because I would be working the weekend, I got the 3rd and 4th off. Well, I would've got the 4th off regardless, but now I'll get to bank the holiday hours and use them whenever I want in the future. Anyway. I decided that I should spend some time with the kids on the 3rd, so kept them home from camp. We slept in, ran a couple quick errands, then got lunch at Dick's. We only do that once every few years, so it's a big treat for the kids. After that we headed down to South Seattle to Kubota Garden. Gareth and visited the garden our very first summer here; I've been meaning to come back ever since, but had never made it until now.
I was a little worried Mal would be bored, but within a few minutes he declared, "This is amazing!". The boys loved getting to choose what direction we wandered in our explorations, as well as all the animals and plants we saw.
Excited to see dragonflies:
And a bunny:
The first of many bridges:
Another bridge. Mal posed this way at 4 different points along the bridge.
I took a picture of this flower, and then they decided I needed to take a picture of every flower thereafter:
Hiking up a small hill:
We found a gazebo type thing:
Mal insisted he and Gareth rotate through all the smaller rocks. Gareth was feeling a bit silly by the final rock:
The kids were sad to leave. I promised them we'd be sure to come back again; hopefully it won't be another nine years before we make it again!
We had a rather relaxing Memorial Day weekend, assisted by track season being over and Little League being on break for the holiday. Spent a little time outside, had nice weather, played some video games together, etc. Mal requested steak (and by steak he meant filet mignon). I was thinking more along the lines of burgers. When I went to the store the day before, I grabbed the fixings for burgers, but also checked to see what else they had on sale and got a couple pork tenderloin for a good price. The next day, both kids opted for the tenderloin, so I butterflied it, whipped up a marinade, and let it sit for a few hours before grilling. Threw together some watermelon, honeydew (it was actually good - picking out honeydew is always so hard), and broccoli to go with it.
It was delicious - butterflying made the pork look a little funny, but everyone was a fan of how the flavor was spread through the meat, even with only a few hours to sit in the marinade. Despite all the side dishes, there was only 1/3 of one tenderloin left; it's going to be rough to do dishes like this as the kids keep growing!
Ryan and I had made baked apples a few days earlier (inspired by Zelda, of course). He had the kids help him make some for dessert.
In a burst of organizing energy, I moved the shoe rack (that previously sat under the clothes, so Ryan didn't use it, which meant all his giant shoes sat in front of it, making it more difficult for me to use it) out to a more accessible point. Realized we had a basket of bike stuff sitting there (not getting much use, but very easy to get to!) and we could just swap them. Shoes are much more likely to get put away now, so I'm pretty proud of myself for this simple change.
Mal's been asking for fresh-squeezed lemonade for ages. We don't usually have enough lemons around to do that, but when he asked a few days ago I realized that we actually had a bunch from our imperfect box. 4 lemons yielded a decent amount of lemonade (they were quite juicy, so that helped) once you added some sugar and water. Kids enjoyed it over the next few days and it was a simple way to make Mal's day.
Ryan celebrated a birthday recently; we didn't do much, just went out for dinner and had German chocolate cake. He bought his own birthday gift a couple weeks before the day - a private lesson with Dave Weckl. There was no way I was going to top that, so we decided it wasn't worth trying. And he recently played at an open mic night with some friends he's been practicing with for several months now - so rewarding for him to actually perform.
Because of Snowmageddon, the kids don't get out of school until the very end of June. I'm trying to look at it positively by noting that it saves us a week of summer camp fees. But I still think how they do snow days here is dumb and that the district is even dumber for not allowing up to make them up over mid-winter or spring break. Over the next few weeks we have a lot to keep us busy though - I had my final concerts of the season this past week, we've got a graduation party for a friend's oldest to go to, and Ryan and I have our last play of the season to attend. And at some point in there we need to go berry-picking. I'm hoping July and August will slow down a bit.