Sunday, September 13, 2015

Washington State Fair

Until this week I had an illusion that the beginning of the school year would mean the pace of life would slow down to accommodate school work.  The reality is that we are fitting just as many activities in, but now we ave added school work into the daily mix, making life really crazy.

If I want to slow things down, I should stop listening to Jared.  He reads every piece of mail we receive, as well as signs posted at the library and in store windows, and then he apprises me of which community events we cannot miss.  Last Friday was children's day at the Juanita farmer's market.  I would have lived blissfully unaware of this important event, whatever it was supposed to be, but Jared insisted that we find out.  It turned out to be a lot of fun.  There were a lot of activities for kids, but not so many that we felt like we had to stay for a long time.  The turnout was small due to the overcast weather, so we didn't have to compete for a place in the activity booths.
The day after the farmer's market, Eloise and I had a date.  We went to the store to get Todd some new jeans, and we had a picnic together in the park.
When we got home, B announced that it was time for the boy date, so Jared, Sammy, and B went with me to walk the dog.

On Labor Day our ward had a picnic in the park, complete with a game of all-ages baseball.  Eloise didn't think it would be fun at all, so she stayed on the playground until the game was almost over, and then she decided to give it a try.  I think she regretted putting off playing for so long.
B still hasn't stopped asking to go to the zoo every time we get in the car, and our zoo membership expires at the end of the month, so we made a zoo trip on Wednesday.
When I try to remember the definitive events of this zoo trip, I recall that every single person had to go to the bathroom when we were halfway between home and the zoo, so we had to stop in the middle of a 25 minute drive.  The other thing that stands out is that Eloise has been really struggling with things this week.  Every little thing that happens seems to be catastrophically devastating to her.  The existence of Benjamin in her life means that a lot of little things happen, so she spends a lot of time catastrophically devastated.  This zoo trip was on the short side.

Eloise loves taking pictures, and, you will notice, she is starting to get people's heads in her pictures.
While Eloise struggles mightily with things like seeing the orangutans before the penguins, she doesn't ever seem troubled by physical injury.  She was walking around with a scraped knee bleeding through her pants for ten minutes before I noticed the bloody spot on her pants and investigated the knee.
B wore Eloise's pink sparkly zebra shirt because it is one of his favorites.  This picture is pretty typical of these kids.  Eloise has called B's attention to the flamingos, and Jared is checking to see if there is any way to tip the sign over.
B's favorite thing all day was driving the tractor.  Can you tell?

On Friday morning, we drove an hour and a half to the state fair in Puyallup.  I would love to hear all of you trying to pronounce that name.  Admission was free from 9-12 on Friday, so we went to see what we could see.  It was more crowded than I expected for a weekday morning.  Right after we got there, I sat the kids down for their fair portrait.  All I could get out of them were these "Can we have lunch now?" faces.  This is seriously the best shot I got.
There was plenty to see and do at the fair.  There were lots of cows in the barns for competitions, and a barn full of animals from around the world, including a zedonk (half zebra, half donkey), a miniature yak, several kinds of miniature cattle, fainting goats, parrots, and other odd animals from around the world that are raised in Washington.  We wandered around looking at all of the vendors until we got too hot, and then we went into this building hoping that there would be fans inside.  There weren't, but there was a free fishing experience for kids.
I wish I had captured B's look when he realized that he had caught a fish.  His eyebrows shot up into his hairline, and his smile was about a mile wide.  "It's my fish! It's a real fish?  My fish!"  After giving the kids a chance to touch the fish, the volunteer threw it back.
The day before we went to the fair, Jared wrote a letter to his great uncle in Idaho that went like this: "Dear Boyd,
Pleas take me fishing.
Love, Jared Knight"
Jared was happy that he caught a fish, but he did NOT want to touch it.  We will have to get him over this squeamishness before we go to Idaho.
Sammy had a nap in the stroller, and woke up right after fishing.
The same building had a table set up for animal print stencils.  Eloise made two an B made one.
Jared doesn't care for drawing, but he was excited to try archery one booth over.  He hit a target on his third try.
How much do they love the fair?  This much:
Happy enough for a successful fair portrait.
Eloise captured this picture of Sammy pushing the stroller when he was ready for another nap and we were on our way to the car.
Jared was disappointed that we weren't all tall enough to ride the ferris wheel, but he loved the hobby displays.  He was delighted to learn that there are competitions for lego building, and he loved getting a free crystal from the Washington gem and mineral club.  
We got back to our car hot, tired, dirty (I'm not sure what Jared was doing to get manure all over his pants) and happy from all of the excitement.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Back to School

And just like that, summer is over.  There is a chill and a smell of dampness in the air that won't go away until next summer's sun burns it away.  B is snuggling his favorite animals to keep warm.  Trusty old Owl, Frog, and 'Potty dog are his best 'nuggling friends.
 We went to a park opening next to Google.  Eloise will not be persuaded that it is no longer summer, so she ended up in Daddy's coat.  She looked like a big, black marshmallow.

We started back to school this week, but don't tell Jared.  He really didn't want to start school until after Labor Day.  So far we have done a lot of postcard writing, started a book of jokes to practice handwriting, taken a math placement assessment, trained for a triathlon, practiced subtracting with fruit loops ("This is easier than using a number line!"-Jared, with his mouth full of subtracted fruit loops), watched a French video, gone to the library, learned about how plants spread their seeds, collected a few specimens, and had a field trip.
 Eloise is getting good at adding and subtracting with manipulatives.  B is good at eating fruit loops.

For our field trip, we went to the Nordic Heritage Museum, which has a free day on the first Thursday of the month, complete with a story time and a craft.
 My little Valkyries.

 B is afraid of mannequins, especially when they have painted faces.  NHM has a lot of mannequins showing native dress.  This picture was posed right after B told me that he was also 'cared of a painted horse.
 We took a break for lunch on the playground.  NHM is currently located in a 1907 school building that is still owned by Seattle Public Schools.
 We enjoyed the fact that the museum had a playground.

 After lunch we went back inside to learn about our Scandinavian heritage, the origin of our beloved Legos, and stories of trolls before we went home.  I especially liked how many of the rooms had trivia/scavenger hunt cards for families as we entered.
 I think we might need to adopt Iceland's traditional Christmas cat, which mauls naughty children.  Sometimes the threat of coal in stockings is not enough, I guess.  I wouldn't know.  These little angels never give me a moment's grief (is anyone not picking up on the sarcasm?  I know it doesn't always translate into print).

As we drove away from the museum, I noticed that we were only a few blocks from Golden Gardens Park, so I decided to stop.  It was probably close to 70 degrees out, and the wind made it feel like a cool 60, but we could not resist the siren call of the sea.  B wanted me to take off all of his clothes.

 They could have played for hours in the sand and the surf.
 My judgment said that they should not stay so cold for too long.  B got very wet.

 I'm so glad that we stopped.  It was a beautiful day.
This school year is going to be so much fun.  

Birthday Party

A week and a day after Jared turned six, we celebrated with a party.  The extra week gave us some time to prepare.  We also had to get in one more swimming trip. . . 
 . . . and some pretend sleep in a box.
Jared was in charge of party planning.  He turns out to be a minimalist like his mama.  This turned out to be a very good thing, since he wanted to invite everyone in the world who he knows.  We made a game, 
 some party favor bags,
 a cake,
 and some dog biscuit sugar cookies to wrap individually and put in the party favor bags.
 It was a wildly good party.  I think the total tally of children was 20 including babies, and I never counted the adults.  A wind storm left us without power starting about four hours before the party.  The power outage lasted until Sunday evening at 8.  A lot of the kids had a good time playing hide and seek in the dark rooms of our basement with flashlights.
 Some of the dads helped clear tree branches from our grass so that we could play "I had a little doggie."
It was just the kind of chaos that Knight kids love, and just the right way to celebrate Jared.

Birthday Campout

For Jared's birthday, he wanted to go camping at Tolt-MacDonald Park, just like last year.  We went up the afternoon before his birthday to camp for one night.  
 After the tent was set up, we had to go exploring.
 The goal was to go wading, but the river water is much colder than the lake water we usually swim in, and it was a cool and cloudy day.
 Did that stop us?  It did not!  Well, it stopped Todd and Sammy.  The rest of us had fun freezing.
 Jared wanted tinfoil dinners for supper.  I think everyone liked the idea of tinfoil dinners more than reality.  Todd says that this is because they were made with little sausages instead of hamburger.  I believe it is actually because the children were also eating marshmallows.

 Jared got his first bee sting while playing in some tall grass.  I think he was stung once in front of his ear and once behind, but we only noticed the sting in front of his ear right away.  Behind his ear got very swollen, and when the swelling went down we discovered a stinger still in his skin.
It can be hard to fall asleep in a tent, so, at B's request, we watched The Lion King.   None of the kids liked it very much.  Eloise tells me that it is too scary.  
B slept as badly as last year, but this year he didn't scream all night, so that was better.  He still ended up in the car with Daddy for most of the night.  Sammy slept okay.  We never got the predicted rain.  
 Jared asked for a portrait at age 5 (Aug. 20),
 and another at age 6 (Aug. 21).  Did he change much?
 Jared asked for breakfast burritos on his birthday.  The kids ate breakfast in their pajamas.
 Thistles were growing everywhere, so shoes had to stay on.
 After we took down our tent, we had a little bit more exploring to do along the river.
 Scaling this sandy embankment was an absolutely essential order of business, as was eating blackberries and throwing rocks in the river.
We came home tired, but we still managed to have our friends, the Hunts, over for pizza and movie night, and some delicious made-by-Jordanne cupcakes.  Jordanne takes her cake making seriously, so her cakes are seriously delicious.  Happy birthday, Jared!