Sunday, May 29, 2016

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

For our last day of preschool, we went to the zoo.  One of the moms had a membership at the Point Defiance Zoo, so we ended up getting the whole group in for a grand total of $6.50.  That was pretty cool.  It was warm and sunny, so when we picked up Chloee and she was wearing her rain boots, I suggested that she change shoes before we go.  I felt pretty foolish when we were caught in a downpour at the farthest point from our cars, and all of the kids had soaking wet feet by the time we got back to the car.  
 The aquarium was by far the best part of the zoo/aquarium.

 B is very interested in skeletons.
 Sharks!
 We had a picnic lunch, and then we watched a tiger getting fed a pan of horse meat.
 These walruses were great.
B had been telling me for three weeks that the animals at the zoo were sad because he hadn't been there to visit them.  The only way that they could be happy is with a visit from B.  The zoo animals can be happy now.

Our garden

Our garden last year was a sad little thing that I got into the ground before I had Sammy, but then the bunnies devoured the whole thing as soon as it popped out of the ground, and I was too busy with a tiny baby to do anything about it.  This year my goal was to get the thing fenced before we planted it.  
 We got it to this point, and then Todd told me that the posts had to go in deeper, so we started over with post hole digging.  Then we got it most of the way fenced before we ran out of fencing.  Then we went to Georgia, and Grandma and Grandpa came, so we have been pretty late getting the garden in this year, but we finally did it this week.
 Eloise and Jared are actually old enough to mow the lawn with this push mower.
 Jared also really pulls weeds as a chore sometimes, although this picture is totally staged.
 Woohoo! Putting them to work!
 Here we are raking and hoeing to prepare to plant.  I kept Sammy on the outside of the fence.  He didn't seem to mind.  He had easier access to the stairs to go up and eat the dog food that way.  Sammy loves dog food.  Every time I catch him eating it (nearly every day) he says, "Mmmum!" (yum).  He also loves to dump out the dog's water and say that he is "Yet!" (wet).

 We planted two blueberry plants, some peas, carrots, spinach, and herbs.  Then I discovered a seed package of lettuce that I didn't have any room for in the garden.  Oops.  Maybe we can put the lettuce in a planter somewhere else.
Sammy, who recently discovered the shower, was delighted when I turned on the sprinkler after we were done putting the seeds in the ground.  He went right up to the fence where he could get sprayed and yelled, "Baff!" (bath).  Then, while I was checking on the other boys, he crawled around to the muddy side and drenched himself in a mud puddle.  I had to put him in the shower before I took off his clothes, and then I had to wash the bathroom rug.
Now we wait and see what grows this year.  I hope we haven't put off planting too late.

Grandma and Grandpa's visit

In anticipation of Grandma and Grandpa's visit, we put the other bunk on B's bed so that Eloise could share his room.  The bed had a ladder, but climbing up the dresser was more fun.  
 We had nice weather for a couple of days while Grandma and Grandpa were here, so we went to the beach.
 It was warm for us, but it wasn't actually warm enough for our Arizona relatives to contemplate going into the water.
 Sammy was in heaven.  He didn't even seem to mind the waves splashing into his face.  He is a water baby.
 Jared, Eloise, and B stayed in the water until they were cold, and then they came out to eat snacks and warm up in the sun before heading right back into the water.
 Sammy grabbed my hand or Grandma's hand and tugged us down the beach to every dog he saw, and a few ducks.  "Shadow! Go Shadow!"  The boy loves his animals.
 Rebecca and her boys joined us at the beach after Grant got out of school.  Then they came over for pizza night.  We tried to warn the grandparents about the Knight Christensen phenomenon-- eight children making the noise of forty children, but I don't think that there are words to adequately prepare one for the energy level of our rampaging combined crew.
I tied my old baby wrap that I don't often use anymore around the table for use as a hammock by persons under 40 lbs.  Eloise lived under this table for the next few days.  
 Here she is just waiting for Sammy to get out so that she can chill again.  She cried that I wouldn't let her sleep in it at night.  The sun is very bright in the mornings in the sun room, and Eloise needs to sleep until seven to have any self control, or else I might have considered letting her sleep there.
 Sammy in this windbreaker looks like a tiny grown up.
 When Grandma and Grandpa Knight come, they like to hang around and play with the kids.  We didn't venture much farther than our woods while they were here.
 B called Grandpa "Grand-pop" and laughed like crazy when Grandpa called him "Ben-pop" in return.
Todd and I got to go out to a movie while they were here.  It was nice to have a date.  We definitely don't do that often enough.
 Grandma played silly games over and over.  Here she is doing a search and find in the Friend magazine with Jared while Eloise reads the other side of the page.
 Thanks for coming, Grandma and Grandpa!  We always have a great time while you are here.

Our First Mariners Game

If going on a cross country plane trip wasn't enough, I decided three days after we got home to take the kids to a Mariners baseball game.  By myself.  I was a little bit crazy.  We didn't have parking figured out in advance, and I refuse to pay $40 for a parking space when I could walk a few more blocks, so we parked in the international district and hiked to Safeco Field.  We had to stop at the Salvation Army store to use the bathroom (drive+parking+tiny bladders), but we made it to the game by the third inning.  
 I brought a picnic.  We ate in our seats before we went exploring.  Sammy was restless, but he loved all of the activity.
 They had a lot of stuff for kids to do.
 This whole area was set up with baseball activities for kids.

 B fell in love with the mascot, even when I told him that it was a moose, not a reindeer.  He was really sad when he finally worked up the nerve to run after the mascot to give him a hug, only to have the moose walk into an elevator just before he got there.  I guess we will have to go to another game to hug the moose.
 The kids each got a certificate for coming to their first game.  Jared loved that.  He was very careful with the certificates so that they wouldn't get lost or bent on the way home.
 Sammy loved the pitching area.  He might have been a tiny bit better than Jared, who must have gotten his athleticism from my side of the family.  Sorry, son.  I'm glad Jared likes to bike.
 The guy timing the kids running a base leg seemed really grouchy, but Eloise didn't seem to notice.  She loves to run.
 We made it back to our seats for the seventh inning stretch, and we stayed until the end of the ninth inning.  Wouldn't you know that the game would go into extra innings on a day when I had to pick up Grandma and Grandpa from the airport and couldn't stay?  The Mariners finally beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the 11th inning.
 Sammy like the excitement, but he was getting tired, and the steep bleachers were not a good place for him to run around and play, so he was grumpy with me for holding onto him.
We hiked back to the car (only one long bathroom stop and a couple of water breaks) and picked up Grandma and Grandpa from the airport for another week of excitement.

I Was a Stranger

Our church recently announced a new initiative to help refugees around the world called "I was a stranger."  Cheyenne really wanted to help, but her community is at least two hours away from the nearest area that would be suitable for refugee settlement, so there are no organizations nearby that we could help.  Instead, Cheyenne found an organization called Lifting Hands International that ships items purchased directly from their amazon.com wishlist to refugees in camps in Greece.  In order to involve the kids in service for refugees, Cheyenne had the idea to pay the kids for doing small chores around the house, or doing their regular jobs without having to be asked, or without complaining.  All week long we had pockets full of quarters which we would hand out for jobs.  That way the kids had a tangible reward to put in the refugee relief box.  It was really fun to see the children all getting into the spirit of helping others.  Here are some of the things that they did.  Jared watered the garden.  On a different day, Maren took the initiative to water the garden herself, without being asked, and without help.  We found out about it when she came in soaking wet, and we came out to find the vegetables swamped.  That is a lot of water carrying for a little girl!  
 Eloise helped chop cantaloupe for Cheyenne's favorite sorbet.
 Jared and Aaron helped to put plastic around the strawberry plants so that the bugs don't eat the strawberries.
 Eloise helped empty the dishwasher. 
 One of the favorite chores was gathering and washing eggs from the hen house at Cheyenne's in-laws' house.  Miss Gay and Mr. Terry weren't around, since they have two new grandbabies in Utah and Idaho, but they graciously allowed us to stay at their house.  They even sent help right away when a power surge or something fried a wire on the air conditioner and it got really hot in the house.

 Egg gathering was fun, but it was kind of an adventure.  A couple of the hens were trying to roost, and got a bit aggressive when their eggs were taken out from under them.
 I think between all of the kids, only two eggs got broken in the cleaning process.  That is a pretty good record.  All of those chickens still produce more eggs than we could all eat together in a week.
 B was really excited to be trusted with the fragile eggs.  He worked very carefully.
Quarters were given out for helping with toy cleanup, food preparation, and dishes.  They were given for getting shoes on and getting in the car quickly the first time they were asked.
At the end of the week, all nine of the children had collected nearly $50 to spend on supplies for refugees!  With some parent/aunt donation matching, they had over $100 to spend.  They were very excited to pick out deodorant, underwear, and a stroller to send to people in need.  This was an awesome way for our kids to be able to participate in refugee relief and service.  It was valuable as a conversation starter about conditions for refugees, and why people become refugees.  I'm so glad that Cheyenne had this fantastic idea, and that we got to contribute in a small way to refugee relief from a small town in Georgia.

Seth's back! We went to see him!

My brother, Seth, came home from his mission in Chile in March, so I was dying to see him.  We left for Georgia on April 30.  We already knew that this was going to be an epic trip.  
 B was the tiniest bit disappointed that we weren't going in a water plane, but he handled it well.  Traveling with kids and layovers makes for a very long day, especially when there is a two and a half hour drive after we finally get to our flying destination.  It was long, but we made it.
 The fun began right away.  Sammy loved the little car.  He likes to be able to get around like the other kids can.
 This was supposed to be a cool cousin picture.  I'm sure they will be horrified when they look back at it and see that Jared wouldn't let me take a picture without trying to kiss Aaron.  Oh, well.
 We had so many things planned.  The first order of business, after Sunday, was going to see an alligator.  The weather wasn't too bad for a trip to Dawcett Trails.  We started with a picnic lunch, even though our west coast stomachs still felt like it was first thing in the morning.
 There is the baby alligator.  We had to see an alligator because of a comment Eloise made indicating that she had them categorized with dinosaurs as extinct oddities.  Benjamin thinks that reindeer are mythical like unicorns, so that may be next on our agenda.
 This center had different kinds of snakes, and charts and directions on how to spot poisonous ones.
 There was a zoo of rescued animals that can no longer survive in the wild.

 Why yes, my sisters and I do all have the same baby carrier.  Thank you for noticing.
 Aaron caught a minnow with his bare hands.  He just reached into the pond and grabbed it.  How does he do that?  He didn't get those reflexes from our side of the family.
 Sammy didn't take a lot of interest in the zoo animals until he suddenly spotted this mountain lion.  At a distance he mistook it for a dog and started yelling, "Shadow! Shadow! Shadow!"  I put him down on the ground to look at it.
 This picture makes me a little sad.  Cheyenne had this cute tiny kitten named Goat Warnock, which Sammy and Eloise bonded with.  Sammy even stopped calling all mammals "Shadow" and started saying "cat." I've never met a kitten like this that didn't seem to be made of claws.  The cat met an untimely demise just a week after we came home.
 Sammy and Victoria played together.  Mostly I think Sammy just wanted a turn in the car.
 B and McKay hung out.  They have instant bonding.
 Aaron had to go to school for most of the week, so one day I took Jared and we had lunch with Aaron.
 Andrew had been doing army training in Germany for a couple of weeks before we came to visit.  The day before he was set to come home, and we were set to arrive, he had an accident jumping out of a plane and broke his back.  His injury is almost identical to how I broke my back when I was 16 (his broken vertebra is one lower than mine was), so I know that he is in for a long, slow recovery.  Rather than stay in Germany without his unit, he toughed out the long flight home.  He was supposed to be lying down for most of the week while we were there, since he was still waiting to get in for an MRI, but it was really hard for him to not be able to roughhouse with the boys or pick Victoria up, especially after he had been gone for so long.  Jared, who had planned on Uncle Andrew providing lots of corn dogs, decided to excuse him from corn dog duty for this trip, considering his injury.
 Sammy discovered sitting on little chairs in Georgia.  He also discovered steamed carrots.  He is a carrot addict.
 Cheyenne, Anni, Jared, and Maren went to Aaron's school to do a science demonstration with his kindergarten class.  I was left with these kids, and a couple of napping Warnocks.
 The other adults were very helpful supervisors, as you can see.  The kids watched a show and then we took the dog for a walk so that James would fall asleep.
 Poor little Goat Warnock.  Eloise was so darn cute with the kitten.  If she ever asks for a cat, I will want to get her one.  I must be strong.
 Little baby sitting on a tiny chair.  This could only be cuter if the baby was actually looking at the camera.
 Sammy started walking!  The pavement outside was hot, and he wanted to chase the other kids around, so, when he got tired of waiting for an adult to hold his hand, he started walking to keep up.  By the end of the week he was walking most of the time outside, and some of the time inside.  Maren was still happy to help.  "Don't worry, guys, Maren is here.  She will help you."  Maren is a girl made of 80% confidence, 15% attitude, and 5% silly laughs.  We miss having her around.
 It was great fun to sit at the picnic table in the roundabout between Cheyenne's house and her neighbor's house (Andrew's aunt and uncle) and watch all of the kids play.  Our nine kids plus the six neighbor kids made for quite a fun crowd.
 Every time we got in the car, which B called our "lentil" car, he wanted Aunt Fafe to sit by him.  They did lots of mad libs as we drove around middle Georgia.
 One thing that I had wanted to do was go to Warner Robins to the museum of flight.  It's a free museum that is ten times better than Seattle's famous Air and Space museum.  It is also completely uncrowded.  We only had the stamina to visit a couple of the buildings, but there was so much to see and learn!
 We were delighted to find this tiny reproduction of China's Great Wall, considering our recent history studies.

 Jared and Maren piloting a helicopter.
 Eloise in the cockpit of a fighter plane.
 After the museum, we went to Chick-fil-a, which my kids associate with cousins, since the only times we ever go there are with cousins.
Sammy watched bigger kids dribbling and shooting a basketball at a hoop with wide eyes and rapt attention.  As soon as he found an abandoned ball, he picked it up and attempted to dribble it.
 Cute tiny Tori girl.
 For the last day of our trip, we went to Macon to see the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds.  This was really cool.
 I know that the purpose of this trip was to see Seth, and I haven't talked about him at all, but we did have some good times playing games after the kids went to bed, and chatting while we drove around together.  If he goes through with his current plan to move to Argentina, we will definitely be coming to visit.  Soon.
 Temple mound selfie with my cute husband.
 B got tired on the way back to the car for a picnic.  We walked pretty far in search of a wild alligator that a ranger told us about.
 Cheyenne was awesome to host all of us on short notice.  I really wish we lived closer together.  It is hard being so far from my sisters/best friends.
The kids found this very long snakeskin at the Indian Mounds.  They took it to the museum, where they left it for science.  I'm just glad we didn't cross paths with the actual snake this size.  
Aaaaand Sammy eats sidewalk chalk.  I can't take my eyes off of this kid for one second.  
This week in Georgia was amazing.  The kids played and ran wild with cousins.  The grown ups bonded.  It was really hard to leave after only a week.