Sunday, September 11, 2016


On August 21, this guy turned SEVEN YEARS OLD!  Where did the time go?
For his birthday, Jared wanted to invite all of his friends, and all of their siblings to a park birthday party.  He is lucky to have a birthday during a time of year with reliably hot, sunny weather.  We had his birthday party on Monday, August 22, at O.O. Denny Park.  Have I mentioned that what was last year called "double-O Denny" is this year called "Ooooooooo Denny!"?
 Even though the weather wasn't at its hottest, the lake water has warmed up a lot, so it was comfortable to swim in.
 After an hour in the water, we assembled for chips, watermelon, cake, and ice cream.
Jared is working on exaggerating his gratitude when he thanks people for gifts.  The only problem is that he likes to point out how well he did at exaggerating his gratitude.  All of that exaggeration loses its impact when it is revealed.
Jared loves jokes and pranks.  He loves to play with friends, and especially with his siblings, but he also likes to be quiet and read.  He loves to ride his bike.  For his birthday he got a real mountain bike with five speeds.  We were riding around the neighborhood a few days later, and he struck up a conversation with some neighbors.  When we left them, he leaned over to me, and, in a conspiratorial whisper, asked, "Do you think they noticed I was riding in fourth gear?"
Shortly after Jared's birthday we started doing homeschool classes with Dorothy and Alice.  I'm teaching them history, and Jared and Eloise go to their house to do science.  After one lesson, where we learned about the introduction of Christianity in England, I took the children aside one at a time to dictate a story to me using some of the key words and information that they had learned in the lesson.  Eloise gave an explanation of what the dark ages were.  Dorothy and Alice each gave explanations of book making processes in medieval monasteries.  Jared based his narration on the aside in our lesson book that mentioned that the monks occasionally wrote personal messages into their illuminated texts.  He even dictated the punctuation.  Here it is in full:

Monks and Monasteries by Jared
     "Dear Person Reading This,
     I have to go to the bathroom.  Father Pigsty will hurt me if I whisper to you.
                                Brother Monk"
     That is a note a monk would write in his book. Books took a long time to make in medieval times.
    "What out! Brother Weed, there's a monster attacking! There's going to be a big disaster.  Father John won't let us talk about it.  How are your pupils doing?"

     Another monk wrote back:
     "The pupils are doing the worst I've ever seen them do.  I hope Father John doesn't see us passing this note.  That would be worse than a monster attacking!"
     THE END

I'm in love with his creativity. He comes up with things I would never have thought of.  He loves to have a head full of information, so he reads a lot of nonfiction.  Todd started a quiz about state capitols at dinner tonight, and Jared, not surprisingly, knew many more than we have ever taught him.
The weather warmed up again after Jared's birthday party.  We went to our annual Caspar Babypants concert at Juanita Beach.  The picture of Eloise below is the only picture I got from the concert.  This is really sad, since this was possibly his best concert we have attended.  A favorite part for all of the kids was when he talked to his guitar, and then made the guitar talk back.  B also liked it when he stood on his stool and yelled instead of using the microphone.  As usual, Caspar Babypants had a thousand kids captivated for the duration of the concert.  My kids were riveted, but they were also mobile, and I spent a lot of time/energy trying to keep eyes on all of them.
Sammy's favorite word is popsicle.  "Pop-a-coe."  He asks for one every time the refrigerator or freezer door opens.  If he can't have popsicles, he asks for cereal, "eer-ee-o," which means froot loops.  The weather is starting to cool off, so it is going to be time to break his popsicle habit soon.
Sweaty girl after a walk around the Redmond Town Center Open Space.
The Friday after Jared's birthday, Todd surprised him with a backpacking trip to Barclay Lake in the Cascade Mountains.  Jared has wanted to go backpacking with Daddy forever.  Todd didn't tell him until the morning of the day that they were leaving because Jared has trouble sleeping when something exciting is going to happen.
Jared carried the food.  He said that the 2.5 mile hike up to the campsite on a hot day was hard with the heavy backpack, but it was really fun.  Cambell and Grant went with them.
Here are the adventurers, off to see the world.
Since they went off with our car, and it was a hot day, we had some sprinkler fun in the back yard.  Of course we also had to eat some of our abundant carrots.  We have finally had some vegetable garden success this year.
The real produce eater in our family is Jared.  He loves fresh vegetables.  I'm not sure he has ever met a vegetable that he didn't like, or at least tolerate.  I can't believe that Jared is seven years old.  I love watching him become more capable and independent.  He has been my running buddy this summer, riding his bike along with me on any run shorter than six miles, and sometimes on short legs of longer runs. On his new bike he is waiting for me at the top of every hill.  Because he is getting older, he has finally graduated from his 7:00 bedtime to 7:30.  We use the half hour after the other kids go to sleep to play games or read Harry Potter books together.  Jared recently had his first paying job, watering our neighbors' garden while they were on vacation. He earned $1 per day, and he is saving his money so that he can have is own bank account.  
This seven year old kid is my best helper.  He is always looking for ways to engage and help Sammy.  Happy birthday, Jare-bip, Jardy, Jared!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Family Pictures

When I take family pictures, I never expect to get everyone looking.  This is sort of what I expect all of the pictures to turn out like: 
 But Taylor at Eden & Me Photography is a miracle worker.  Our family pictures are so, so gorgeous.
When I was setting a date for family pictures, I asked Todd if he had any preferences, and he said, "Wait three years?"  Even he was happy with how everything turned out, though.
 It helps that we have really cute kids.
Eloise, age 5:

 Yep.  Ten years married, and we still can't look at each other without laughing.  Actually, I think this has gotten worse as we share more inside jokes.
 Jared, on the eve of his 7th birthday:

 Sammy, 15 months:
 Look at those eyes!

 Benjamin, age 3.5:

 We are all so serious here.  I wonder how that happened.

 A shot of the kids.  Sammy actually loves being manhandled by Jared.

 The boys:
 The girls:
 One last picture of our family.
 Jared asked for another picture by himself.
 This turned into a hug attack by B.
 Which led to a wrestling match, and my favorite picture from the whole bunch:
You can compare these to our pictures two years ago here. I can't believe how quickly everyone is growing up before my eyes.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hot summer days

Sammy loves shoes.  He calls them "oos." This particular style is called "fee pops."  
 This is Brackett's Landing Park in Edmonds, next to the ferry terminal.  The north side of the beach had too much seaweed for Eloise.  She is like Todd.  He also can't stand swimming with slimy plants lapping around his ankles.
 We got ice cream cones as our family home evening treat.  It's better to have all of the sugar earlier in the day so that it doesn't affect bedtime.  Somebody had a fit about their ice cream cone being too small here.  It's possible that these kids are getting horribly spoiled.  I blame the gorgeous weather.
 Sammy was not feeling well, and he napped poorly.  He was teething and picked up some kind of a bug.  I put him on the sand to play, and he stretched himself on the sand to rest.  All of the other children saw this as an opportunity to bring home as much sand as possible.  Since the signs on this beach indicated that it is a marine sanctuary, we were forbidden from bringing home a big pile of shells and rocks.  Whoever had this brilliant idea has my thanks.  I feel like I have carried home a hundred pounds of beach detritus for "collections" this summer.  The south beach at Brackett's Landing was much less seaweedy.
 Why is it that when someone's shirt meets with a fatal accident, the only spare shirt I have is always completely unsuitable?  I couldn't just have a pink shirt as my backup shirt.  I have to have a pink, glittery zebra shirt.  I think Sammy pulls it off.  This is McAuliffe Park in Kirkland.
 On Wednesday we had a beach park picnic date with the Christensens at Waverly Beach.
 This was another chance to bring home tons of sand inside our clothes.
 Eloise spent most of her time in the water, since a breeze made it chilly on shore after she was wet, but the lake water had warmed up to a comfortable temperature.
 Thursday was good for blackberry picking  in Big Finn Hill Park.

 After Sammy's nap we went to Home Depot to pick out some paint colors for a couple of unpainted walls in our house, stain for our back fence, and a new bathroom sink for the kids' bathroom with the oversized vanity.  I had suggested that we go from the store to a park with a splash pad, but we ran out of time, and ended up sweating at Stipek Park in Bothell, which was just a couple of blocks out of the way of our drive home.
 These little park professionals were good sports about the change, especially since I had brought adequate snacks.
 We made up for the lack of water play on Thursday with a trip to Saltwater State Park in Des Moines, Washington on Friday.  Instead of having tide pools, Saltwater State Park has a sort of tide plain.  All of the rocks are covered in barnacles.  B ignored my warnings and insisted on learning the hard way about barnacles on skin.  Twice.  He walked out on the barnacles twice without his shoes.  I think he figured it out after that.
 Jared read a sign that said that there are high bacteria levels in the water here, and refused to be comforted.  After he had shouted all of his anxieties to the sky, I managed to persuade him that we were not at risk from these bacteria, as long as we didn't get the water in our mouths, and as long as we washed our hands after we left the water and before we ate.  Jared made me promise to keep Sammy's hands out of the water, since babies don't understand about bacteria.  This was fine, since Sammy couldn't really walk on the barnacles.
 It was a lovely day to be at the beach.  It was 95 degrees in Kirkland, but the breeze off of the water here kept it cool enough to be comfortable.  This was the trip where I put sunscreen on Jared and then ran out before I could put it on the other kids.  B and Eloise got a little bit burned on their necks.
 The Native American Flute festival that was going on in the park almost had me persuaded that I didn't like this beach.  Two hours of tuneless flute music played at enhanced volumes is enough to drive anyone crazy.   On the other hand, this is another beach where taking shells home is prohibited. That is reason enough for me to return.  Of course this meant that we had to document all of our most interesting shell finds.
 The shell and rock in the picture below are interesting because they are the only two items on the expansive tide plain that don't have barnacles on them.
 Other interesting finds included a live anemone, some pieces of a large bone, and most of a conch shell.  The ground was too rough to make this surf very good for playing in, but the treasure hunting was great.
 We stopped at the playground before returning to the car.
 Rather than turn our oven on to 500 degrees in our kitchen that was probably already 100 degrees, we stopped to pick up our Friday night pizza on the way home.  Jared couldn't believe that I would buy pizza just to keep our house from getting hotter.  We don't have a lot of days in the year that get this hot.  This was probably one of the three hottest days. I think it is worth an occasional splurge.
 B was having trouble sleeping in the hot, stuffy upstairs, so Eloise made a little bed in Jared's closet, and B slept in her bed.  His sleep improved marvelously.  We tried putting Sammy downstairs to sleep, but the unfamiliar room was a dealbreaker for him.  He couldn't sleep at all.  We ended up keeping him up a little bit later, until the sun set, and then opening his window and putting a fan in his room.  It's hard to tell whether or not his sleep improved, since all four of his canine teeth broke through in August.  He had some tough teething making him uncomfortable.

On Saturday we went to a baptism.  Todd had had a poor night's sleep, so we left him home to nap.  I packed a picnic, and we were planning to go to the park after the baptism.  Instead, we ended up being guests at a primary party being put on by the Spanish Ward that meets in our church building.  I made the mistake of commenting on how good the enchiladas smelled (Enchilada is one of Sammy's favorite words).  The hermana who made the enchiladas chased us down on our way to our car to beg us, in her broken English, to come and try some.  The balloons and music enticed the children to stay, and so we had some delicious enchiladas, and then the children were invited by other children to play party games.  Sammy admired one of the balloon decorations, so a nice lady pulled it down for him to play with.  In the end, enchiladas turned into enchiladas, watermelon, cantaloupe, lemonade, three balloons, a vial of bubbles, two gigantic cookies, and a lot of lovely new friends.   Our neighbors from the south are experts at hospitality.  They made us feel like they wouldn't know what to do if they weren't waiting on us and making us welcome.
 When we came home, Todd was rested and ready to play with water in the back yard.  Spray bottles make the best water guns.
Summer is so fleeting here.  We feel the hot summer days slipping away as quickly as they arrive.