Nerdly Holidays

So there are a few days in March that are worth celebrating for celebration’s sake:

St. Patrick’s Day, where we all wear green and eat corned beef for supper.

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Then there is March 14, aka Pi Day (because 3.14) where we eat pie for supper and dessert (chicken and s’mores, respectively) and watch Donald in Mathmagic Land afterwards.

Katie chose the flavor of the dessert pie, can you tell? What toddler could possibly resist something covered with marshmallows and Teddy Grahams? I wanted to take a snapshot of the s’mores pie but the kids kept snatching marshmallows off of the pie.  Cute, right?

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Lastly, we celebrated the first day of spring with fresh blintzes. This is inspired by a picture book we love called How Mama Brought the Spring, where a family in Minsk cook blintzes together. Jeff was really involved in making the blintzes this year and helped roll quite a few of them up. They are, I think, the best batch of blintzes we’ve made so far.

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Petal Peepers

One of the many things the University of Washington is famous for is its beautiful collection of Japanese cherry trees on the big campus quad. The trees are over 80 years old, and a rare variety in the U.S.  When they bloom in the spring, the UW is bombarded by visitors wanting to see the blossoms.

Last year I foolishly went to see them on a warm Saturday. The crowds were like Disneyland and I was panicked the whole time, worried that my kids would get lost.

This year I was able to see the flowers on a  weekday when the kids had no school. There were still plenty of petal-peepers there, but it wasn’t nearly the same levels of crazy as before.

I love the peaceful sense of communion there.  Everyone on the quad seemed happy and energetic, like we knew we were appreciating something fleeting and wondrous.

Hence my zillion billion photographs. Enjoy.

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I tried to get individual portraits of each child as well as some group shots. The results were . . . mixed. It’s really difficult to get Jeff to smile naturally for the camera. The picture below isn’t all that bad.

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I LOVE this picture of Katie alone with a tree. Patiently waiting for other pedestrians to pass out of the camera’s frame, while hoping the child will stay in the same spot — good luck. Getting good pictures of children is 90% luck.

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Yes, two pictures in a row of Katie running away from the camera. Nice. I love the shape of the branches in the photo below:

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“Jeffrey! Look at the camera!  Look over here for just a minute, buddy — look over — look — oh, forget it.”

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This one I absolutely love. William had been playing peek-a-boo with Katie to get her to smile. As a result, they were all smiling together.

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I promised them that they could take a “silly” picture if they held still for a nice picture. Notice how Jeff looks basically the same.

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And this is a picture of one of the beautiful buildings on campus. Eleanor decided to leap in the air, and I managed to click the camera shutter just in time. I really like it in black & white, it shows off the funky shape of her legs.

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Katie’s Guide to Pronunciation

Back in fall, Katie looked up at our first cloudy gray sky of the season and gasped. “Where did the blue sky go?” she wailed.

You can imagine how pleased she is that the sunshine of springtime is back.

“The clouds have opened up the blue sky,” she told me. “I am making the sunshine with my eyes!”

Making sunshine with her eyes? I asked her to demonstrate, and she made this face:

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Pretty awesome, and one of my favorite Katie-isms. Here are a few more:

“person” = purse

“pillow” = a pill (specifically, a vitamin)

“traintrack” = soundtrack, as in “Can we listen to the Frozen traintrack?” We all call it the “traintrack” now.


Snapshot Time Part II

There really isn’t much going on in my life, apparently.  But I am having fun taking pictures that are more interesting and attentive than my usual point-and-hope-for-the-best-shoot.

Once again, a restaurant has excellent lighting for portraits! There’s got to be some kind of restaurant/photography business model in the making there . . .

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These next two are from a knitting store I love called the Weaving Works. Katie has a little purple skein on her thumb that she called her “plum,” from the Little Jack Horner nursery rhyme. I was charmed that she make the connection, but less so when she threw a fit because I wouldn’t buy the “plum” for her to take home.

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These next two are from knitting projects. The first is a hat that I made for my sister that turned out waaaaay too big. (Serves me right for not making a gauge swatch first.) The second is a mitten made by — Eleanor! It’s her first knitting project, too. Hopefully I can get her to finish the second one before winter returns.


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And this is a van I saw in my neighborhood. I have a soft spot for funky van art, and this one’s a beaut.

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Snapshot Time

This spring I, along with three of my best friends, organized a women’s spiritual retreat on the Kitsap peninsula. One of the highlights of the retreat was a photography workshop taught by my friend, Mendy. It’s turned me into quite the shutterbug — although part of my enthusiasm was brought on by a visit from my mother-in-law, Kathryn. It’s so fun to take pictures of her and Katie together!

Here is Katie trying on jewelry at Old Navy:

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One of my favorite restaurants, The Cheesemonger’s Table, has excellent light for portraits:

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So did the gelato shop up the street — I love the chalkboard wall as a backdrop!

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Katie had chocolate gelato, in case you couldn’t guess.

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This is a selection of bento boxes we found at a Japanese dollar store.  It took all my will power not to buy one.


And this is a rare shot of all four children smiling at the same time.  Nothing fancy, just a small miracle.






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Drummin’ and Pianoin’

Jeffrey had his very first band concert this week. I’m so proud of him! My eardrums have taken a lot of abuse with our early-morning practice sessions, but it’s been worth it.

The band’s big number was “Let’s Go Band,” a song which the music teacher described as “something they will play every year in band for the next eight years.” True that — even I recognized the melody to this song from high school pep rallies. Apparently, Jeff was the only 5th grader this year who wanted to play percussion, so the music teacher joined him to help out with the bass drum and cymbal.  I love how Jeff danced along with the song. Points for originality, Jeffrey-do!

Meanwhile, Eleanor once again prepared two songs for the Washington state piano adjudications program. It’s been difficult to motivate Eleanor to practice well, so her performance was kind of shaky. In the video below, she’s doing a practice performance at her piano teacher’s house, and the performance is very shaky. She did much better at home, trust me.

Her first piece is “Allegretto,” which was very difficult to learn, since it requires more independent hand movement than anything she’s played before. The second piece is “The Fly’s Adventure,” which she loves playing, fast. It look a lot to rein her in.

I wasn’t able to attend the piano adjudications in person, but Brian told me she did very well. So well, that she got an honorable mention for the Honors performance. Yay!

Cookie Time

Hey, look at my garage . . . it looks like Willy Wonka paid a visit, doesn’t it?

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For the second year in a row, I am serving as the Cookie Parent for Eleanor’s Girl Scout troop. Once again, it’s been a wild ride. Brian and Eleanor trolled the neighborhood, selling boxes here and there.

I collected all the girls’ orders and sent them into the council. Then the fateful day arrived when I had 40 cases of cookies in my garage and patiently waited for families to come and pick them up.

Meanwhile, Brian and Eleanor tramped around the neighborhood again, making deliveries (Brian is my hero) while I organized the booth sales for the troop.  This is where we schedule girls and adults to sell cookies at a table in front of a grocery store. I had to wake up at the crack of dawn to put in our grocery store location request before they were all gone, then organize parents and kids to staff the tables.  This was tricker than it seems, since families kept changing their minds, and we had specific “safety-wise” parent/kid ratios to keep.

But it all went well, and we sold all our cookies! Eleanor even got to wear the Thin Mint cookie costume, which I thought was adorable.

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That said, I am sad to say that we are going to be dropping out of the troop next year. It’s especially difficult for me, since I had agreed to be the troop leader. But when I accepted the job, I didn’t know that all the other leaders would be dropping out . . . and I didn’t know that Brian would be called to be YM president at church. Since I’ve been unable to get any other parents to step forward to co-lead the troop with me, it’s seems like a doomed enterprise. Besides, Eleanor’s extracurricular schedule is starting to wear me down.  Right now, she’s doing creative dance, Seattle Children’s Chorus, swimming lessons, Girl Scouts, Activity Days, sewing lessons, and piano lessons. That’s a lot of carpooling.

Sad, but it’s time to cut back.  She can still be an independent scout and we can go to mother/daughter camp together and work on badges. It’s probably the only one of her activities we can go solo with, to tell the truth. It was a wonderful thing to have the troop experience, but it’s time for a change.