Thursday, June 22, 2017

A very Maui birthday

My flight got to Kahului just over an hour before Annette and Colette arrived on May 17, so I picked up our rental car and went to the cellphone lot to wait for them.  I sat there for about thirty seconds before I realized that I couldn't be more than three blocks from a beach, so I got to be the first one with my toes in the sand.  
After a long day flying, everyone was happy to stop on the beach before driving across the island to our condo in Kihei.  

 It was so sunny, warm, and beautiful, and our condo was just a few steps away from a long, quiet beach.
The next morning (my 30th birthday) we all woke up very early, which gave me and Annette time to go for a run on the beach before going kayaking.
 Annette and Colette shared a kayak, leaving me all alone to do twice the amount of work, or half the amount of work, depending on who you are sharing your kayak with.  
 It was a gorgeous morning, the ocean was calm, and there were turtles to be seen everywhere.  Our guide found a spot where there is usually a lot of wildlife, and we stopped to snorkel.  Snorkeling was so cool!  There were so many turtles that we had to work to stay out of their way.  Apparently it is against the law to touch a sea turtle in Hawaii.
 We look so cool.  This was awesome.  It was exactly what I wanted to do for my birthday.
 Jet lag struck after kayaking, so we went back to our condo to nap.  For some reason, the Hawaii humidity was killing the Arizonans and making them feel extra hot, so we went in search of some shave ice in Lahaina on our way around the island to search for the Nakalele blow hole.  Here we are enjoying our shave ice, a Hawaiian miracle.  I, personally, was just enjoying a chance to thaw out after the long, long winter in Seattle, but apparently it was too hot for some people.
 This was our view while we ate our shave ice.
 We found the blow hole, which is a lava tube that gets filled up with water by the pounding surf, and frequently explodes like a geyser when the pressure has built up.  It was pretty cool.  You can see it down in the bottom right of this picture.  We had to scramble over a lot of rocks to get a good view.
 We decided to continue around the end of the island to Kahului for dinner, instead of turning around and going back to Lahaina.  This was our introduction to island roads.  All of the way from the Nakalele blow hole to Kahului was a one lane road along cliffsides.  It was quite the nerve wracking experience driving it.  The views were spectacular, when I got the occasional chance to take my eyes off of the road for a split second.  
We had island fare for dinner at Da Kitchen in Kahului.  Apparently they are famous for their creative offerings.  Potato and macaroni salad was offered with everything.  It was interesting.  All in all it was a very satisfying birthday.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May showers bring?

Our exceptionally rainy year continues.  May came with some teasers for sunny weather. According to Western Washington law, we spent lots of time outside every time the sky cleared.  
 The temperatures reached the mid fifties, so shorts came out of storage.  Jared is trying to convince me that he should start band a year younger than the school district offers it.  After hearing his first few attempts at music, I'm not sure I will ever have the patience to allow him to take band.  My mom is a saint from heaven to let me live after I chose to play French Horn.
 Sammy is quite good at producing sound from my instrument.  I may never get another chance to play it myself, since all of the kids come running and insist on having a turn whenever it comes out.
 Our school curriculum brought us to the Elizabethan era, so we made crowns.  Jared still claims to be opposed to everything that could be called a craft, but he usually participates anyway, and sometimes he even enjoys himself (just don't point out that he is having fun).

 B and Sammy love to put diapers on their heads.  I'm seriously hoping that our diapering days are numbered, even if it means an end to our diaper hat days.
 We were at the park with friends when some thunderheads rolled in.  Accustomed to Seattle dreariness as our kids are, they didn't know what to make of thunderheads.  They were ready to jump on their bikes and rush home when the downpour started, but we waited it out under cover.  They were shocked that I had been right about the storm being short lived.  Yep.  Mom's a genius.
 We hung a hammock/ baby wrap carrier under our craft table.  Sammy is lucky to have so many older siblings who love to help him get into it.
 Sammy taught us a family home evening lesson about our bodies.  I was quizzing him on his body parts before he started, and I asked him what his belly button is.  He looked at it, thought for a second, and said, "Ummmmm. . . my finger fits!"  His vocabulary development has been huge over the past few months.
 We had another family home evening at the park next to Daddy's office.  We can't seem to get dressed properly for the weather.  When we wear shorts, we end up with winter coats over the top of them.
 When we wear fleece lined pants, we sweat all day.  That was Eloise at the Seattle Center on May 9.  We met some friends at the Pacific Science Center so that we could take the older kids to an IMAX movie, and the younger kids to the preschool planetarium show.  The Knight kids had really wanted to play on the Seattle Center playground outside of the Museum of Pop Culture.  B struggled at the playground because his friend James was confident and strong enough to climb to the top of the towering play structure, but B didn't have the skills to reach the top.  After about five tries and some tears, he decided that he would be okay playing with Sammy on the toddler playground.  My attempt to get a group picture on the swing was a bust.  B spent the whole time trying to get Sammy to look, until Sammy got annoyed and bailed out of the swing.
 I don't think these kids have ever been unhappy about being at a playground.
 B weighs 40 lbs. on earth, and 1092 lbs. on the sun.
 As always, Eloise's favorite part of the science center is the tidepools.
 May 10 was sunny, too, so we met the Christensens at Juanita Bay Park to look for turtles.
Things are always fun and exciting with the Christensens.  Sammy discovered the art of mom baiting.  He kept running away to see how far he could get me to chase him.
 When we reached Shakespeare in our history book, I checked out a tall stack of books of Shakespeare stories retold for children.  I settled on "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the story most likely to hold the attention of my group of kids.  I gave them each an outline of a human form and assigned them a character.
 After I read them a storybook version of the play, they wrote and performed their own version of the final scene with their puppets.  It was chaotic, but they all really enjoyed it.  It was a great way to pass a damp morning.
 For mother's day, Eloise made Grandma Jill a pop-up card.  It had a picture of Eloise and Grandma. In between them was a pile of presents that Eloise would give Grandma if she could.  I think it was just about the cutest thing ever.
My mother's day/birthday gift from my family was a trip to Hawaii with Annette and Colette!  If my birthday has to fall the same week as mother's day, I guess one mega gift is an acceptable alternative to two smaller gifts.  I was surprised and ecstatic to get such an awesome gift, and looking forward to warming up a little under the Hawaiian sun.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Eloise's primary talk about baptism

I’ve been learning more about Jesus by memorizing “The Living Christ.” It says, “Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He went about doing good.”  I like the story of Jesus’s baptism.  It’s my second favorite story of Jesus.  My favorite one is about Him being born because I like Christmas.  
Jesus showed us that being baptized is choosing the right.  
When I am baptized, Heavenly Father will be happy.  Matthew 3:17 says “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
In the Bible Dictionary, it says baptism is from a Greek word meaning to “dip” or “immerse.” Jesus got baptized in a river called the River Jordan.  He was baptized by John the Baptist.  
I really liked Dorothy’s baptism, and all of the other baptisms I’ve gone to.  I like baptisms because it gives me a happy feeling when I go to baptisms.  I like choosing the right every day.  After we get baptized, we get the gift of the Holy Ghost.  

I know that Jesus got baptized to show an example.  I’m happy that I will get baptized in two years. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Wrapping up April

Annie, who teaches science to my kids on Monday mornings, checked out a water testing kit from a local wastewater treatment facility, and we took it to a couple of local beaches to test Lake Washington the day after Easter/Eloise's birthday.  The weather had been warming up, so we were woefully under dressed for the bitter wind coming off the water.  We did a bunch of testing at Juanita Beach, but the kids were too cold to get out of the car at O.O. Denny beach, so we just grabbed some samples and took them home to our house to test.  This was so cool.  We tested pH, Oxygen, turbidity, and looked at macro-invertebrates to determine pollution levels.  Different species can survive varying levels of pollution, so we identified bugs and larvae to determine the cleanliness of the water.  
 We remembered the Flat Stanley that Landon sent us, and had to cram in a last few activities with him before we returned him to Arizona by May 1.  We took him to the Pacific Science Center.  I took this picture because I know it won't be long before we won't be able to fit all four kids into one dinosaur footprint.  I know they look squished, but there was actually plenty of room for them, if they didn't always insist on parking themselves in exactly the same spot.
 We went outside for lunch, leftover birthday cupcakes, and a clear shot of the space needle.  We are big fans of Flat Stanley, as evidenced by Jared's blog.  Each of the kids made a Stanley cutout as a "support group" of flat kids.
 A lot of the Stanleys had to be in all of the pictures.  Here they are at International Fountain, dreaming of days warm enough to put on swimming suits and play in the water.
 Eloise's favorite place at the Pacific Science Center is the tidepool area.  We often end our visits here.
 B was jealous of the attention Sammy's facial injury was getting him, so he crashed his bike and got a handlebar-end-shaped cut on his face, along with a bloody lip and a small cut on his eyelid.  Okay, it was a total accident, but it's funny how they injure themselves back to back.  B was looking over his shoulder and failed to notice that he was about to bike into a stump.  I'm starting to notice a pattern to these injuries. . .
 Since Eloise turned six, she was old enough to go to the Junior Classics book group at the Redmond library.  Can you guess what we read?  Eloise was a big fan.  This blue whale shirt was a birthday present.  Eloise loves to tell us facts about animals.  Her other loves are comics (Smurfs, Calvin and Hobbes, and Garfield), drawing and crafts of all kinds, gardening, and reading.
 We took Stanley to the Seattle temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where we met friends so that the moms could take turns going inside the temple.  It was a lovely day.
 We brought a picnic, so we went to the park next to the temple (Robinswood Park) to eat and play.  This is the only park we went to last summer that has real seesaws.
 That afternoon we went home, worked frantically to get seeds in the ground for the garden, and left late to get to Seattle for a study/music class Jared and Eloise are participating in at the University of Washington.  I took the freeway, like a fool on a Friday afternoon.  We got stuck in traffic, B fell asleep, and we were half an hour late for the class.
 While the older kids were doing music, we took the little bikes down to the Lake Washington Ship Canal, which is at the back of the study building.  There is a gravel path along the water here, and we saw the famous UW sculling teams out practicing.
 B and Sammy got a kick out of getting boat drivers and passengers to wave at them.
 Sammy's creativity is endlessly entertaining.  I often hear him talking to his toys.  I heard him putting a toy dinosaur to bed.  "Go to bed, dinosaur.  Do you want me to sing you a song? Okay. Just one song.  Stay. In. Bed! Not get up, dinosaur!"  In the picture below, he announced, "I have a BIG suitcase!" and proceeded to pull the pitcher/suitcase around the kitchen.
 Here is a picture of the flat children's support group.  They would like to warn children everywhere not to sleep with improperly hung bulletin boards above their beds.
 Our last stop with Stanley was the locks and fish ladder.  We got there in time to grab lunch from our favorite fish wrap spot.
 We saw a couple of tiny fish in the fish ladder.  The locks were very quiet.  I think we saw only one boat the whole time.  All the extra rain this year meant that the water in the canal was high.  All of the spillways on the dam were wide open.  I don't think I've ever seen so much water coming through.  Usually only one spillway is letting water through.
Eloise's primary teacher (at church), Sister Mortenson, was expecting her first baby at the beginning of May, so Eloise made her a present.  Since Eloise loves animals and crafts, she painted some onesies with animal stencils.  She made a monkey, a flamingo, and a kangaroo.  
 They turned out so well that we have plans to make more of these for future baby showers.  I helped Eloise tape the stencils to the shirts and put cardboard inside them, but she did the rest.  Sammy got his hands on some fabric paint and ruined one of his own shirts, but that is to be expected from our number one mess maker.
This wraps up April, and, we hope, most of the days of darkness and rain.  We were busy and over scheduled for the end of April.  I am really trying to scale us back to one outing a day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Happy birthday, Eloise!

Seattle is famous for its raininess, but this year has been an extra special rain year.  In reality, Seattle doesn't get more rain than any other cities in the United States, but it averages 30 more days of cloud cover than the next cloudiest city.  Between October 2016 and April 2017 we had something like nine days with less than 30% cloud cover.  We spent the last six months in semi-darkness and perpetual drizzle.  We broke records for the amount of actual rainfall in that time, too.  Fortunately, these kids know how to enjoy a damp day.  I think we are actually going to have to retrain them for warm weather.  
Sammy finally got brave enough to touch a horse.  Of the two horses in our neighborhood, Sammy only likes the smaller one, Rainbow.  Here he is with his friend.   
 We went to a dress rehearsal of a children's production of "The Little Mermaid."  In the end, the audience got to vote on whether to make the mermaid keep her promise and stay human all alone and without her voice, or give her another chance to be with her family.  We have been talking about how important it is to keep promises, so B was really unsure about how to vote.  It had a happy ending, though, so he was happy.  Here they are swimming with the set behind them.  It was a cool set that opened from one scene to another like a book.  
 Sammy is such a goof.  He thinks he is capable of doing all of the things that everyone else can do, and he keeps up very well.  If he can't keep up, he changes the game for everyone.  He almost always cries when it is time to leave the park.
 I'm just throwing this in there because, seriously, could this possibly be cuter?
 Our friend Landon sent us a Flat Stanley from Arizona, and we had to send it back by the end of April, so we crammed in some visits to cool places before we returned it.  The Fremont Troll no longer scares any of my kids.
 Gas Works Park in Seattle, with its gorgeous views and perpetual wind, was super soggy from all of the rain.  It was hard to move without gushing water into our shoes.
 We got an Easter package from Grandma and Grandpa Knight.  Thanks for all of the new stuffed friends, Grandma and Grandpa!
 Our mother's helper/babysitter, Bailey, took a trip to Paris with her family.  She brought back souvenirs for all of the kids, but Eloise got some special ones, since it was her birthday, and she loves Paris.  She got a Paris bag, with a coin purse with some real French Euros inside.
 For her sixth birthday, Eloise asked to go out to eat for dinner.  We ended up having her birthday party in the afternoon, so we went out for lunch instead.  Chick-fil-A holds a strange appeal for my kids, even though they have never been to one with a play place.  Sammy fell asleep on the way to lunch, so Todd stayed in the car with him, and the rest of us went inside to eat.
 Eloise was absolutely delighted that her birthday fell on Easter this year.  She insisted on having an Easter themed birthday party.  We dyed eggs, did a foam egg decorating craft, and had an egg hunt.
 Everyone got to keep their basket and eggs as a party favor.
 The back yard decorated itself.  Our cherry trees were in full bloom.
 The Christensens and Carvers came over to celebrate with us.  Just our three families now total 16 kids.  I remember when having 12 or 15 people at a party seemed like a great feat.  Now it is inevitable.  It's a good thing we love chaos.
 Eloise had strawberry cupcakes because, she said, "Cupcakes taste better than cake."
Happy birthday, six year old!