Call Me Haldur

Yesterday we went to Viking Days at the Nordic Heritage Museum. It’s a celebration of all things Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Icelandic. Plus, Vikings!

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We spent time gazing at the LEGO Valhalla inside the museum for a moment, and ate hot fresh Aebleskivers (aka “pancake balls”) outside (Brian observed the cooks carefully to see how they managed to make them so fluffy, so we can try it at home).

But the real stars of the show were the historical SCA people and their Viking encampment. There were so many handicrafts to try!

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Weaving
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Blacksmithing
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Wooden peg-making. There was also flax-crushing, but I didn’t get a photo of that one.

So much armor to try on!

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He’s wearing 35 lbs. of chain mail behind that shield. The sword is the one we bought for him at the Shakespeare festival last year. He got a lot of compliments on it! 

So many glorious, glorious victories to be won on the battlefield!

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Posing like this was Jeff’s idea.

We haven’t been to Viking Days since the summer we moved here (2012). I’ve wanted to go again since, but the memory of attending the first time was associated in my mind with the disorientation and loneliness that accompanies a relocation, so I hadn’t made a big effort to make it happen. I’m glad I made it a priority this year.

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Jeff did his darnedest to smile instead of giving me History Face.

Jeffrey is now begging me to make him a Viking costume for Halloween. I’m already gleefully reading many internet articles about tunic construction, huzzah!

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Think I can copy these tunic ideas? Hmmm.

The Denny Creek Waterslide

This past Friday I ventured out to a place I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I learned about it a year ago. It’s a place in Snoqualmie Pass known as the Denny Creek Waterslide.

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An overlook; you can see the waterslide below.

It’s about a mile from the trailhead, where the trail crosses Denny Creek before continuing up to the mountain peak. At this particular spot, the water flows over a large area of slickrock, making a natural “waterslide.”

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Doing the cha-cha

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They had fun floating things down the creek.

Friends have told me that usually the water levels are much higher, and you can slide for quite a bit. But with little Katie coming along, I was just fine with the low levels.

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What maybe wasn’t so great was the overcast sky and low temperatures. According to my phone, it was 57 degrees. Brrr.

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And yet. My children still wanted to splash around in swimsuits. I think they are crazy. Another friend simply said, “they are Northwest kids now.”

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Eventually the cold got to them, and they decided to huddle together and “keep warm the way penguins do in Antarctica.”

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It was a long hike back down the hill to the car. Katie dunked a shoe in the stream just as we were leaving, and had to hike in her flip flops. She was exhausted and needed to let us know. Often. Usually while engaging in the activity known as Not Hiking.

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The terrible traffic on the way home wasn’t that thrilling, either. It turned an hour-long drive into over 90 minutes.

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BUT — after a quick pizza dinner, we were able to go to the member’s preview night for “Titanoboa,” the new exhibit at the Burke Museum about a prehistoric 2500 lb. snake.

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Katie’s face carries the correct expression.

So, maybe I should type is as “TITANOBOA!”

Playground Tourism, Continued

With all the good weather this week, we decided to continue our All-Star Playground Tour this week.

Tuesday was spent making a return trip to the Beacon Hill Playground, with its amazing built-into-the-hill slides, super-long zip lines, and splash pad.

It was so much fun that I completely forgot to take any pictures. Alas, such is life.

On Wednesday we found the only playground left in the city that still has its original 1970s playground equipment.

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It took her a bit to get used to the super-high swings

Awwww, yissssss, this was a great place to play. I thought the kids would like the 20 ft. high swings the best (tallest swings in the city!) but it was this that really caught the kids’ eye:

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A big, super-fast old-school merry-go-round. With the bumpy metal and everything!

I pushed the kids around a few too many times. Not only did Jeff get motion sick and have to sit face-down for the rest of the trip, but I twisted my back a bit and had to resort to an ice pack when we got home. (Not to mention feeling nauseous myself just watching them go round and round. Ergh.)

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There was also a metal slide. Burn the skin off your thighs, children!!

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Katie on the left, Ella on the right

On the way home, we stopped to visit the smallest swings in the city:

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Yummm, Scout Mint is their favorite flavor.

It’s in a tiny “parklet” outside of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream. Don’t be fooled — Katie still managed to tip herself backwards on the tiny swings. She lost her ice cream (sad!) but the good fellows at Molly Moon’s gave her another one, free of charge. Nice!

Speaking of sadness, we faced quite a bit of it on Thursday. We made one last trip to the adventure playground to check on our fort. The last time we saw it, it looked like this:

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But when we arrived, all we saw was this:

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Booooooo!

Every last scrap of the fort had been torn down and dragged away. This is specifically against park rules; you are told whenever you visit that you aren’t allowed to tear down other kids’ forts. It’s really weird that everything was gone, even the stuff that we had nailed into trees. Eleanor got pretty upset by it all.

But we rebuilt the lookout ladder, and it made her feel a little better.

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We spent the remainder of our time playing in all the other forts. Since it’s late in the summer, there were some fairly complex forts around. Jeff immediately began collaborating with a group of other boys and helped build a bridge and . . . possibly some sort of slide? It was difficult to tell.

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We’ll have to use these pictures as inspiration for next year!

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The whole forest looked like this.

We also spent a little time at the end exploring the beloved “dragon slide” nearby:

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Bubbles & Bunnies

Brian and Jeff returned from Boy Scout camp yesterday afternoon. Once they had a chance to shower up, we wanted something mellow and low-effort to do, so we decided to check out the “Celebrate Shoreline” festival.

This is our town’s annual festival celebrating . . . the existence of the town? I guess?

There was a guy blowing these enormous bubbles. You can see Eleanor and William ready to pounce at the bottom of the photo. Katie wasn’t quite fast or tall enough to pop the bubbles before the other kids, and got a little upset. All of them ended up with little bubble bits in their hair.

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I cannot fully express how freakin’ much I love giant bubbles.

There was a “reptile show,” and later a juggling show, where William got to be a volunteer. It was cooler than it appears in this photo.

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I took a video and accidentally deleted it. Sorry!

I think everyone’s favorite was the petting zoo. If you were able to get into one of the chairs in the back, you were allowed to cuddle with a bunny. Or bunnies, the staff workers weren’t in any hurry to get you out. “Would you like to try the black bunny now?” they’d ask, like a bunny concierge.

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If I’m ever a billionaire, a bunny concierge will definitely be something I’ll look into.

The Season of Little Kids

This Saturday I overheard Katie say this in her bedtime prayers:

“I am so thankful that my family is getting back together. Please bless us that we will not split up again.”

Fear not, this is what she was really talking about:

She got to sleep in the same covered-wagon cabins that her troop used two years ago.
She got to sleep in the same covered-wagon cabins that her troop used two years ago! But Ella says she has no memory of doing that. Sigh.

Eleanor and Jeffrey went to Scout camps this week.

Jeff’s Boy Scout camp was a full week at Camp Pigott with his troop. He came home all finished with the Rowing merit badge, and nearly finished with Swimming and First Aid. Nice work, Jeff! He also got to try out rifle shooting, and returned home with a stack of paper targets he had shot.

Eleanor spent a half-week at Girl Scout camp. She was especially excited, because this camp included horseback riding. I was a little concerned about Eleanor’s first sleepaway camp (unlike Jeff, she didn’t know anybody there), but she did wonderfully well, making buddies and trying out kayaking and lake swimming for the first time. (Oh yes, and riding a horse called Knobby every day, including a trail ride!) Eleanor loved it so much that when we came to pick her up, she ran and hid under a bunk in one of the wagons. She was so sad it was ending, she didn’t want to go home!

(I will admit my motherly pride was miffed that I didn’t get a hug right away.)

Meanwhile, with both big kids away at camp, the others got to enjoy what William called “the season of little kids.” We finally got to fulfill Katie’s often-repeated request to go to the zoo.

But we actually got there 45 minutes too early, so we shared pastries in a nearby coffee shop (Fresh Flours, the blueberry lemon-custard danish was incredible) and then played on some old-style super-high swings in a nearby playground.

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Finally, the zoo! Katie’s favorite place in the whole world is the zoo carousel. She named her horse “Crystal” and William named his “Diamond.” When the ride was over, Katie took time to give them hugs and kisses goodbye.

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We also visited the bird house, where I made a new buddy:

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Checking each other out

Katie and William made some new friends as well.

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That evening Brian and I took them out to eat (another failed attempt to find good Mexican food in Seattle, alas) and then watched the sunset at Richmond Beach. It was so fun to lavish attention on these little ones, especially William. He’s so quiet-tempered that I think he gets overlooked too often.

“The season of little kids is ending,” he said, and we went home.

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Summer Dance

One of the great coincidental perks my mom got to enjoy while she was here was attending the final days of Eleanor’s summer dance classes.

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On Tuesday we both went to observe the ballet class. Eleanor was participating, but she wasn’t that into it. When it was “free dance” time, she just jumped around in a circle and giggled; the opposite of the usual serious, expressive dances she does. Eleanor’s heart just isn’t in ballet.

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Leaping. I got really lucky with this shot!

Then, on Thursday, we observed the modern/lyrical class she’s taking just for the summer. Whoa — what a difference! Eleanor was focused, excited, and taking the lead on the work the class was doing as a group.

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I nearly started sobbing — this is the reason why I’ve stuck with dance classes for Eleanor for so long. She was so happy!

At the end of class, she begged her teacher to stay a little longer and teach her a few more moves, and her instructor was kind enough to oblige.

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Ella with her teacher. She also taught the ballet course.

The only downside to the modern/lyrical class is that the students were required to know how to do a cartwheel, which Eleanor really, really can’t figure out how to do. I’m not all that thrilled with the cartwheel requirement, but Eleanor so fully enjoyed every other aspect of this class that I overlooked it. It’s just thrilling when you find something your kid genuinely cares about and enjoys.

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Wheee!

Grandma Week!

My mom was able to visit us for a whole week!

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This is what they did the second they saw her.

Peach pie was made and consumed in celebration of the occasion.

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Amazing all-butter crust, with a “soupy” filling.

And also s’mores. On the same day. Don’t ask questions, just relish this wonderfully melty photo my mom took of William’s “most perfect s’more.”

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The three big kids were spending the week doing “Summer in the Woods,” an all-day nature camp run by the Quiet Heart Wilderness School. They loved this camp, so they didn’t mind that they didn’t get to go on outings with Grandma and Katie. Eleanor fussed when I pulled out my camera at pick-up time, so the only photo evidence of nature camp I have is my snapshots of the daily itinerary.

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Eleanor is intentionally trying to block my photo in this last picture. (“None of the other parents are doing this, and you are embarassing meeeeee!”)

While the big kids were off at camp, Katie and Grandma and I had a series of Grand Outings (well . . . grand if you discount the massive school supply/grocery shopping trip we took on Monday).

On Tuesday we explored Alki Beach, one of the city’s true sandy beaches. Mom collected seashells to make necklaces for all the children.

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Katie insisted we watch her as she huffed, puffed, and then dashed downhill towards the waves — only to stop short at the waterline. She would then dip in a toe, shriek from the cold, and hurry away. (This was repeated at least 20 times.)

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All of this beachy goodness was followed by a divine lunch on the patio at Marination Ma Kai (I love having guests, because it gives me an excuse to take them to Marination Ma Kai.)

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In the evening, Eleanor had a “grandma date” as three of us went shopping for back-to-school clothes at the mall.

I had made prior arrangements on for Katie to play at a friend’s house for Wednesday morning. Relishing our kid-free time, we decided to have tea at the Queen Mary tearoom.

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They had a “little free library” shaped like a British phone booth

Just how kid-free is this place? Take a look at the shop display:

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Who makes a GARLAND out of teacups??

Yikes, right? I was afraid to sneeze in there. The decor was indeed a little over the top, but the food was luscious:

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Three tiers of splendiferousness.

It was William’s turn for a grandma date that evening, which was spent picking out a birthday present at Toys R Us. (Me: “The store is closing, William. We don’t have time to look at every toy.” William: “But we can try.”)

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Thursday morning was spent running errands that seemed mundane, but were made fun with my mom along to chat with. Jeff was the one to get a grandma date that night. We took him to Full Tilt Ice Cream and played their vintage pinball and video arcade games.

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Jeff and mom beat the first level of their “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” game, no mean feat for my non-gamer mom!

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Friday was our last “outing” day. We headed for the Ballard locks first thing in the morning. My mom has a track record for seeing wildlife whenever she comes to Seattle, so it didn’t surprise us in the least when salmon were jumping out of the water, and a harbor seal was frolicking nearby (and probably feasting, too).

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See? See that splash? That’s a salmon!! (Not pictured: many photos of serene, smooth water from when I didn’t click the camera on time.)

After applauding the yacht parade, we drove across town to the international district to have beebimbap at Uwajimaya. (Mom ate that meal with me the first time she came to visit me here, and she’s craved it ever since.)

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We got Katie a hot dog bun at the Hong Kong-style bakery. This is the pose she did when I held up my camera.

Friday evening was Adult Time with a meal at Hamburger Harry’s followed by a walk on the Edmonds marina beach.

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I’d like to say that we did something fun on Saturday, but I tend to collapse on Saturdays. (It wasn’t just you, Mom, it happens every Saturday.) We had a big, lazy, leisurely breakfast, using up the last of our farm-picked blueberries in a pile of fluffy buttermilk pancakes.

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Then we cruised Deseret Industries for thrifty treasures before driving mom to the airport.

Whew! It was so fun having her here, such a fun treat for both of us!

The Wimmy is Eight!

We officially celebrated William’s eighth birthday a week after his birthday. It’s a good thing, too, because if we had celebrated on the day proper, it would have been in the middle of a shivery rainstorm. Since our plans for his party involved lots of outside water play, this was a great thing.

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Eleanor spent half of her own allowance money to buy him this Minecraft lego set.

Eleanor was put in charge of the games. She found an article in American Girl magazine with a list of different water games to play, and was excited to gather all the materials and be in charge of all the activities. Many, many water balloons were exploded in the service of this cause.

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In this game, the kids pass a water balloon down the line with their feet.

Jeffrey was put in charge of setting the table. For fun, he took the extra cups and built decorative pyramids with them.

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My job was to make the cake. Since the internets are all twitterpated with the reissue of “rainbow chip” Betty Crocker frosting (trust me, this is a thing), I decided to buy a bag of rainbow chips and make my own. I then mixed rainbow sprinkles into cake batter for a homemade “funfetti” cake.

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See the sprinkles?

It was . . . sweet. Very sweet. So sweet, in fact, that I gave the leftovers away. The kids loved it, though.

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William had a blast at his eighth birthday party. He is such a loving kid, “sweet to the core,” as a friend of mine described him once. I’m so lucky to be his mom!

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The gang’s all here

Tour de Terrace

Eleanor is a lucky kid — she managed to land herself in a Girl Scout troop that actually does stuff. (My troops somehow never did anything interesting.)

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This year all the troops in her service unit were able to march together in the Tour de Terrace parade. This is part of a days-long celebration of town pride held by Mountlake Terrace, which is just northeast of where we live.

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Brian and the other children were able to go watch her march (I had a baby shower to attend). Being in a parade is something everyone should have a chance to do.

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Brian took this picture during the parade. The others were taken by her troop leaders.

Best of all, the Seafair Pirates were there!  Arrrr!

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Prelude to Eight

William woke up yesterday saying, “today is the last day that I will be seven!” He’s the biggest schedule-keeping, bean-counting type of person in the family, so it’s no surprise that he’s been keenly aware of just how many days (hours, minutes) were left until his birthday.

This pretty much required a trip out of the house. Once a summer, I like to take a walk-on trip on the Edmonds ferry and get ice cream in Kingston.

What I hadn’t anticipated is that Saturday turned out to be the first rainy day we’d had in six weeks. So, our pleasant boat ride looked like this:

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A friend commented on how “dewy” we look in this picture.

Note the small hoodie Jeffrey is wearing as a hat. Laugh all you want, but keep in mind that wearing that hoodie in the rain was my idea and he stole it right off my head. (In my defense, it wasn’t raining when we left home.)

But the weather cleared up when we reached Kingston. The town of Kingston is about the size of a peanut, but it manages to have three ice cream places plus a French crepe place. Our favorite place for ice cream is called Mora. My friend Liz (whose husband is from Uruguay) recently correctly identified Mora as a South American-style ice cream place, hence all the dulce de leche and chocolate shavings.

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SOOO YUMMY

Brian and I both dozed off and on during the boat ride home. You wouldn’t think eating ice cream would require so much energy, but such was not the case.

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I loved this little red boat I saw at the Kingston marina.

That evening William was almost too excited to sleep. Jeff and I were staying up late to watch a movie, so Wim crept down to Eleanor’s room so he could have someone to sleep with “on his last night being seven.”

In the morning, Eleanor helped make him a special pancake in the shape of an “8.”

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She also experimented with using cookie cutters to make different animal-shaped pancakes.

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It’s a wolf! Eleanor considered it “too beautiful to eat,” so it currently resides in the freezer.

After church I made him a chocolate fudge cake. Katie blew his candles out twice before he got chance to do so. So, the “Happy Birthday” song was sung with a reprimanded Katie wailing in the next room.

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We will be holding his official birthday party next weekend, but it was nice to observe the official age today. With a bean-counter in the family, there’s no other way to operate!