Sunday, August 25, 2019

Warming up for Wild Waves!

And, just like that, spring arrived in the Pacific Northwest.  Salmon berries (the earliest berries of the season) were ripe, so summer foraging began.  
 I would not say that the weather was exactly warm, but the sun was out, and that was good enough for the little swimmers. 

 I needed another month before venturing into these frigid waters. 
 On June 3 I took the LSAT, the Law School Admissions Test.  It was the last thing I needed for my application to the University of Arizona Law School.  I didn't really expect that I would get in, but Sammy has another year before he starts school, so I could refine my application skills and apply to a few more schools before their deadlines in March 2020.  The test was the culmination of several months of studying, though, so it was kind of a big deal to me.  B and Sammy spent the morning with the Christensens. 

B lost another tooth.  How do you think he felt about that?
 B's friend Noah was the star student in their class.  Even though B wasn't going to school anymore, Noah wanted B to be his lunch guest.  We got permission from the principal for B to stay for recess, too.  This was the highlight of the week for both of them (even though they played together after school at least twice a week for most of the year). 
 We may have overstayed Noah's recess for a few minutes so that B and Sammy could play with Eloise and Ari. 
 We suddenly had a warm day, and it rained, so we got this cool instant evaporation effect with steaming roads and trees.  This is on the way home from meeting Jared after school. 
 On Friday, June 7, we got a special homeschool rate to Wild Waves, so we invited a bunch of friends (Carvers, Christensens, and Blackwelders), and all of the dads took the day off work so we could spend the day at Wild Waves.  I don't remember the last time we had so much fun. 
 The rides had to be closed for a few minutes while there was a looming lightning storm, but it soon passed.  There was no thought of going into the water on this chilly day, but the coolness of the day meant that the crowds were thin, so we could ride our favorite rides over and over and over. 
 So we did. 
 The great thing about having so many friends there was that there was always someone to take the big kids on a scary ride or stay back with someone who didn't want to try something.  The hard part was keeping track of all of the kids, since there is always a danger of losing someone when there are so many eyes watching them. 
 I'm pretty sure we didn't leave anyone behind. 

 Riding amusement park rides with Todd is the ultimate in fun for the kids.  He always hams it up and acts like each ride is the scariest thing he has ever done to make them laugh. 
 And that includes the carousel. 
 The ferris wheel probably is the scariest thing we did. 
 This was totally awesome, and worth making an annual tradition, if you ask me. 
This was such a blast.  We seriously have to do this again. 

The way things were in May

May was a fun month. I got to chaperone these goofballs on a field trip to the Pacific Science Center.  Kaylee and Eloise were seated by each other at the beginning of the school year, and they hit it off. Eloise was delighted that Kaylee only lives a few blocks from us, so they saw each other on the bus in the mornings, and it was an easy walk over to Kaylee's to play.  
 It was nonstop fun and energy at the science center. 
 I had to take a picture of these two tiny girls in the dinosaur footprint so we can look back someday and be surprised that they both fit. 
 Our ward does a service project every year at Ensign Ranch.  Anyone who comes to help clean up the area for summer camps is allowed to camp out.  Todd has come before with Jared and Eloise, but the little guys were too little, or someone was sick in previous years, so we hadn't ever all come for the campout.  This year we were all up for it.  So, on May 10, we loaded up the car and headed up into the Cascades.  The Blackwelders, Christensens, and Ashmans (a new family in our stake who we got to know) came, too.  It was a pretty wild party with all of those kids running around.  We got there before the others, and I took some pictures.  It's a good thing I did because after friends arrived I never saw all of the kids in one place again until we were in the car leaving.  Even then we barely managed to find everyone. 
 I wouldn't say it was exactly warm yet, so I don't think anyone was particularly tempted to wade out into this snow melt water. 

 Fire=fun, right?
 Todd is the pied piper with his card games.  I may be wrong, but this looks like Fuji Flush, or, as Sammy calls it, "Flooji." 
 We did actually have to help with the service project.  And by "help," of course I mean "ride around in the back of Brother Bruner's pickup truck while the adults do all of the heavy lifting."  Clearly this was the best thing ever. 
 I got to go on a field trip with Jared's class.  Jared was in a combined 4th/5th grade gifted class, and they had just finished a unit on the Native American tribes of Washington.  Since they are a gifted class, they can't just learn the names of the tribes, like I did in fourth grade.  Jared had completed an extensive research project on tribal sovereignty.  Bringing a well educated group of curious kids to a tribal cultural center and museum turned out to be amazing. I learned a lot.  The tour guide was really impressed with the level of questions the kids were asking.  I believe I caught the picture below while Jared was reading about the woolly dogs that were kept by the original inhabitants of the Salish Sea coast, and shaved to make blankets and clothing. 
 Pricey came with us to pick Jared up from school one day.  He insisted on carrying Jared's backpack home for him.  This was no small feat, since Price (almost six) is approximately the same size as Sammy (just turned 4), but Price is the third brother in his family, so he is pretty tough. 
 Lucas and Landon spent a night with us while their parents went on an anniversary trip.  B and Sammy are happy kids, but they are wildly social.  Whenever they aren't with their friends, they are asking when they will be with their friends. 
 B lost his first tooth!!!  He is much less squeamish about teeth removal than Eloise is.  This one may have been pulled out a little early, as there was a lot of blood, but he was delighted. 
 Eloise conquered the monkey bars.  Our family was using our Friday movie nights to watch the obstacle course competition show "Ultimate Beastmaster," so trips to the playground turned into obstacle course challenges.  Eloise practiced until her arms were shaking and her palms were calloused, but she prevailed.  She's a monkey bar professional now. 
 B isn't quite there.  He hasn't quite figured out the coordination to swing himself to the next bar, but he's very strong. 
 I don't know why, but B has suddenly entered a phase where he prefers to walk on wood chips in his socks.  He crazy.  Those wood chips are usually not even dry. Oh, well.  Kids are kids. 
And with that, May was over, and our lives were about to start changing really, really quickly. 

Eloise's Baptism

Eloise chose to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Grandma and Grandpa Knight came from Arizona to celebrate her baptism with us.  She was baptized on May 4, 2019. 
 Grandpa Michael drove over the mountains to show his support, too. 
 Some brothers were not very excited to participate in picture taking, but I promise they were happy that Eloise got baptized. 
 Baptism is a very important event. It signals a commitment to follow Jesus Christ and model your life after his teachings.  It is also the first step to becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 
 Eloise was baptized by her dad.  She invited lots of friends and neighbors, teachers, and even her school bus drivers.  One of her bus drivers even came, and brought a gift, which was a nice surprise. We are proud of Eloise for taking this important step. 
 After the baptism, we were excited to have a few more days with Grandma and Grandpa Knight. 
 I think Grandma dressed to match our Rhododendron bush. 
 Sammy and Eloise got some quality hammock time with Grandma. 

 B stayed home for a special day with Grandma and Grandpa while Sammy and I went volunteering on Monday.  On Tuesday we took Grandma and Grandpa to Seattle to see Puget Sound and go on a Seattle Underground Tour. 

 The underground tour was really interesting.  Seattle started as a mucky muddy lowland tidal plain with houses on it, with streets designed more for dragging lumber to the docks than for traversing.  When the city burned down, a massive engineering project was started to elevate the lowest parts of the city.  Since businesses needed to operate anyway, Seattle's downtown buildings had to be built at least three stories high, with an entrance at the street level, and another entrance at the future street level.  The original sidewalk level ended up as a trench, which was eventually covered by the current sidewalks.  In the picture below, B, Sammy, and Grandma are looking up at a skylight in the underground sidewalk.  For a long time, business was conducted at the upper and lower levels of the city, so the sidewalks have windows in them to let light down to the lower level.  All of the lower spaces have been closed to the public, since many are structurally unsafe, but the history that is visible down there was pretty cool. 
We are so happy that Grandma and Grandpa could come visit us in Washington and be with us for Eloise's baptism.  

April Part 2: Happy Birthday Eloise!

On April 12, Jared and Eloise had their first piano recital.  It was really cool. Each child performed a piece they had learned and a piece they had composed.  They did great. B started lessons the week after the recital.
I made a halfhearted attempt at a garden this year.  I pulled a million weeds, and then all I had energy left for was trimming the oregano and parsley way back, and throwing a few seeds in the ground with low expectations.  The bunnies have been terrible, and my rabbit proof fence does nothing to deter them, so I think I'm going to have to give in and do raised beds next time. 
 Eloise turned eight!  Because she and Sammy have birthdays so close together, I asked her to have her party a little bit later in the month so that I would have enough time to prepare.  She was okay with that, but she did want to have Chinese food for her birthday.  I won't mention where we went because we were not terribly impressed.  She was excited to get her very own camera for her birthday.  She has wanted one for a long time. 
 We had a very cool activity days activity at Hopelink (the food bank) in Bellevue preparing and planting in their garden boxes.  We invited a few friends to bolster our numbers, and it was very cool. 
 Jared presented his project at his school's science fair.  Since science bread wasn't very delicious, we made a couple of loaves of ordinary bread to cut into small pieces and have available with his exhibit.  The bread disappeared, so I assume his exhibit was popular. 
 These boys had a lot of fun at home.  Silly boys experienced some unexpected foot growth.
 Easter came very late this year.  We dyed eggs.  The holidays are changing a bit around here.  Todd told B the truth about Santa and Christmas because B is a worrier, and Santa is a stranger who never got any less strange and frightening with the passing years, so the kids are catching on about the Easter bunny, which I have always found strange and distracting from what Easter is really about.  It's okay.  We still have fun.
 Sammy advanced to B's old bike since B advanced to a bigger bike.  It took Sammy a couple of rides to feel comfortable on the bigger bike.  Sammy definitely has a wilder style of riding, since he seems to knock the chain off of the bigger bike constantly (he likes to jerk on the brakes to try and make the bike skid).  But he's a fearless, adrenaline addicted little biker. 
 While B did school at home, Sammy did his own school work.  Sammy got really good at these addition puzzles with very little help. 
 We went to Take Your Child to Work Day at Daddy's office.  It was fun, and we always like seeing the Christensens and the Blackwelders at all of these events. 
 Eloise's birthday party finally arrived.  She helped me decorate the fish cake for her fish party. 
 The guests decorated fish bowls, then went fishing for fish favors.  We did fish trivia, and bookmarks with fish facts were awarded for correct answers. 
 Eloise made two really good friends at school: Kaylee and Ari.  Ari wasn't even in her class, but she lives across the street from us, so after connecting at school they were able to get pretty close.  Sammy was delighted that Ari came with a four year old brother, Asher.  The party was a great success. 
 Sammy was helping me prune bushes in the back yard when he lost his balance and dove face first onto the corner of a paving stone.  My first reaction was to be relieved, because he was holding pruning shears when he fell, and I thought he had landed on them, but the paving stone left quite a dent in his face. 
 I wonder if Sammy is naturally vain, or if he learned it from B.  I'm pretty sure that him combing his own hair is the cutest thing ever. 
 I'm glad I got to spend so much time with these two guys.  They are endless fun.