Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Harbor Cruise in Seattle

Today was the final day my City Pass was good. We had an Argosy cruise left to take, so today we left our house in a torrential downpour, picked up daddy from work and drove to the waterfront where it was sunny for an hour cruise around Elliot Bay. I've lived here in Seattle area my whole life and never have been on an Argosy cruise. I have been on Elliot Bay plenty of times on a ferry, but never a "cruise boat". The tour is guided and it was interesting to hear all the facts about piers and buildings I've always seen but not known the stories about.
We brought a lunch of croissant sandwiches and sparkling lemonade to enjoy while we cruised.
Lovely face as I enjoy my food.
Fun fact: the average depth in the port of Seattle is 600', but it goes as deep as 1000', naturally. Also, the sound is 47-52 degrees year round. Yep, and I grew up swimming in it in Gig Harbor. Yikes! Sometimes even at night (just kidding, mom).
Lots of fun photo ops and we cruised around the Bay. Do you know the difference between a bay and a sound? A bay has only one entrance while a sound has more than one. In the case of Puget Sound it's the entrance/exit of the Straight of Juan De Fuca and the Straight of Georgia.
The kids had fun going outside on the deck with daddy. The weather was really quite mild for being out on the bow of a big boat--we are used to the extreme wind at the front of a ferry.
Look at these giant cranes in the shipping end of the Port of Seattle. They were purchased (and now I can't remember where from????) and shipped completely assembled.
Today also just happened to be my birthday (thanks mom for all your hard work 28 years ago). So after an afternoon nap to recover from the boating fun, Tadd came home and took us out for Thai food and then the kids and he treated me to a brownie cake. Thank you all friends and family for the texted, emailed, facebooked, mailed and phoned in birthday wishes : )
Here is a picture of some of the darling gifts I received. Look at that cowgirl towel from Jake and Emmy. That and the "farm girl" cook book are supposed to help transition me to country living! The flowers are from our realtor. And photo shop--ahh, I thought about not telling my blog readers I got that from Tadd. I make no promises about magical photos forthcoming! But I am sooooooo excited to play with it and see what happens.
Aren't these flip flops fun? They are quite comfy as well. Can't wait to have the right weather to use them!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Friday my Mommy Group pals came alllll the way up to my house! Yeah! I was so excited and happy to have them come over. Most of them live in/around/close to Gig Harbor. So, in the summer they meet at a park and in the dead of winter they take turns inside each others houses. I'm always going to their homes, eating their goodies, letting my kids mess up their toys : ) So, I couldn't wait to have it be my turn to play hostess. Unfortunately, two of the gals had to cancel that very morning because their children started vomiting (yucky for them). We were quite sad to be missing them, but still managed to have fun. Our meetings are called "Mommy Group" and not "play group" which means it's more for the moms than the kids : ) We plan a brunch type snack for the moms and make the kids go play in another room. It's amazing that with 26 kids total--and sometimes all 26 are present at the same time--we've never had to call 911 for life threatening injuries. The kids are pretty good at working out problems on their own. Occasionally we have to pry ourselves away from the food and gabbing and go help them out.

Here's the table. All of the moms were non-coffee drinker prior to children--now they are all respectable addicts. Some of us still use tea instead. We enjoyed orange-blueberry scones, double dutch chocolate scones, strawberries with cream, coffee and tea for our morning graze-session.
Here are the kids having a kitchen floor picnic lunch of pb&j, cheese sticks and fruit cups with chocolate pudding for dessert. The moms went straight from enjoying our snack to eating a blackberry-pork salad with rosemary-apple bread (THANK YOU HEATHER!) lunch. We had mocha truffles for lunch. Yes, we are all foodies.

Cousins eyeing each others plates.
Poor little H had to be stuck in the high chair. It was for his own safety. Caroline, who is hardly any younger than him, decided to be his mom that day. She terrorized him with hugs and kisses and kept bringing him things. At one point she shoved him into an infant carrier car seat (not his), covered him with a blanket (not his) and said "nigh, night baby!".
We had so much fun with Mommy Group, that one unnamed member decided to lock her keys in her car while her vehicle blocked the driveway where the other vehicle was parked and prolong the good times : ) Eventually the other driver was convinced to back out over the grass and curb and get the 8 kids already strapped into car seats howling their lungs out back to their own homes. The locked-out mama was stuck waiting at my house until the police arrived to free her keys. I sure enjoyed a little extra chat with her!
I thank and praise the Lord often for my Mommy Group. A lovely bunch of women who love the Lord and want to raise their children to His honor and glory. It's so fun to share our experiences and get advice from one another. The common bonds of sisterhood and motherhood keep us close. I so wanted to get more pictures, but I was too busy with other things.
Now, on to the rest of the weekend. Saturday was a restful day and Sunday our favorite J family (just kidding other J's--we love you all equally) agreed to come over for Sunday dinner and the afternoon.
Mr. J has always been rejected by Caroline in the past, but after much coaxing he totally won her over Sunday afternoon. She was taking him by the finger and leading him around.
The kid table. The older two J kids sat at their own table--the "in-betweeners" and us adults got the big table to ourselves since Caroline napped all through lunch--ahhhh.

Caroline and the only "Miss J" (JMJ3) had fun playing outside with the boys. We had snow in the morning, but the sun came out for the afternoon and set the mountains glittering like crystal. It warmed up all the way to 50 also, making it truly a beautiful day. The kids knew how to make the most of it!

Look at that follow through : ) His sports teacher in his toddler class is always patiently reminding them to have an "ice cream scoop" follow through when they make a shot.

JMJ 1 was tall enough and then some to dunk.

JMJ 4 makes a shot while JMJ 3 shows off some dribble and pass skills in the background
The kids all did some water color painting real quick before we hopped back into the cars and made the trek into Kirkland for gospel meeting.

Look at the concentration!

JMJ 1 offers some advice from the wisdom of his advanced years.
We sure enjoyed our weekend. Now it's into another week--Mondays are hard after all the weekend fun, so both kids are happily napping.
Also, thanks Mrs. J for sharing some of your photos.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More on Charts

A picture less post. Wow. What a concept!
Yesterday I posted about Ezra's success with his potty training chart. This is a follow up on that post. This is not to say that I am in any way an expert mom who knows anything about anything : ) However, I have used many a chart in my day; both as a teacher and a mom. I'm big on charts, you could say. I thought I'd just share a few words about what has worked for me in the past for those of you who might be thinking of using this method.
There are lots of different ways to chart. In my classroom I had different levels of behavior charts. Some were for the whole class and used on a daily basis. Others were specialty charts for real special students who needed some extra behavior accountability. They are more involved and take an older kid to understand them (by older, I'm talking, like 6 and up).
I've only used reward charts with Ezra. And we started small. I knew that I wanted to use charts, but wanted to start easy to see how he handled it and let him succeed quickly the first time. So, I picked "happy diaper changing". He was not quite two at the time and in that twist away and scream phase of having his diaper changed. So, every time he lay still for me on the changing table he added a sticker to a small chart that I posted right next to the changing table. The results of good behavior were visible and immediate for him. Good behavior=sticker right now. Bad behavior results were immediate too, walking away without adding a sticker and a grumpy mommy to boot : ) After a set number of stickers he got an easy prize (I'm not sure what it was). The chart worked like a charm for him.
My main goal at that point in his life was getting him to sleep alone and through the night. I wanted to work up to a chart for that. I knew I had to wait until he had a higher level of comprehension, so we waited until he was 2 1/4 and had practiced on easier tasks already. Then I moved in the big dogs. A 30-day "go to sleep by yourself and stay in your own bed" sticker reward chart. I use 30 days, because that is how long it takes to form a habit. The theory is: daily success when the sticker is placed and then long-term success when the ultimate prize is earned. Then, the habit should be formed and the behavior should continue. It worked in the sleeping case. It was one of the happiest successes of my life. Caroline was about 8 months at the time and I was soooo happy to be up with only one baby at night instead of running back and forth between two rooms. The prize was a bike, by the way. Because the stakes were so high, the prize needed to be huge.
Anyhow--that's my chart advice. In a nutshell:
~Start small--quick success
~Make sure they comprehend that behavior=reward
~The higher the stakes, the bigger the prize
~30 days to form a habit (only 2 or 3 to break one, by the way)
~Have fun!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Into Potty Training : )

Happy Spring! Even if we did wake up to snow and even if the pass did get 2 + feet overnight and close this afternoon for avalanche control and even if it is 35 degrees outside--spring did come, at least that's what the calendar says! ( I know, I know, for those of you from up North 35 is steaming hot). I love daffodils, both because they are readily available around here and because they are so sunny and cheerful. They seem to greet me every time I walk by them in the living room.
Last night Ezra put the final sticker on his potty training chart. One sticker for each day that he went without any accidents in his underpants. The 30 days didn't have to be in a row. Can you imagine? This poor little three year old goes 29 days and then has an accident the last day and has to start all over again. Haha. What terrible torture that would be! He did a great job. I think we started the chart 33 days ago, so there were only 3 days he didn't get stickers.

This was a proud moment. I never thought it would happen. By the time I was brave enough to start the "training" he already knew what to do and did it all on his own. Praise the Lord!
Little sister always has to get in on the action. The chart reads that if he can get 30 stickers he will earn a scooter (or "scooker" in Ezra). He's been wanting one for the past year, so we knew it would be a great motivator.

Thirty days seemed liked sooooo long back at the beginning. Every night he added a sticker, he would ask "Now do I get my scooker?" .
Daddy came home from his Ocean Shores presentation just in time to present Ezra with his scooter this afternoon.
Pretty excited.

Taking it outside for its maiden voyage. Shoes on the wrong feet and all : ) I think I saw daddy fixing that in the front yard. At least they are velcro and not ties so they won't get all tangled in the wheels!
Last I saw the trio, Caroline was in the back of the bike trailer, Daddy was on the bike and Ezra was scooting along on their way to the park. Nothing like coming home from an overnight trip and spending time with your kids as a dad. I don't know who of the four of us enjoys it more (but I'm willing to bet a lot of money that it's me!).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bounce House

One of the kids' favorite places to go romp on a rainy day is the bounce house. If you've never been to one and you live in a rainy/cold wintry place be sure to google it and see if there is one near you. It's a great way to get energy out. What it is is a giant room filled with those "bounce house" contraptions. You know, the ones that are all filled with air. At the one that we go to I have to pay for Ezra, but not for Caroline since she's under 2. Also, all adults are free. Moms of older kids are lucky--their kids like to play by themselves. Those moms are the ones who get to sit on the benches or stand in the middle and gab while sipping lattes. The rest of us squeeze our adult size bodies through the obstacle course while holding toddlers and bounce ourselves into a headache in the basketball room. It's actually fun and great exercise. It's best on days when hardly anyone is there. Today was not such a day. It was crowded! Kids love chaos, though, and so they all thrive. It is quite hard to get pictures since I have to bounce with the kids, but I took a few desperation shots just so that I could finally blog about this place : ) By the way, we don't always go to so many places. When the weather is nice we prefer to play outside in the yard or ride bikes through the neighborhood--but with such a rainy and snowy month so far, we've taken advantage of all the close by opportunities.
This is the obstacle course I referred to--I usually come out all sweaty and staticky.
The above is one big room with several different bouncers. They also have a second room across the hall.
Hmmm, wrong direction--the ultimate attraction with a slide.

Perfect form.

Who should go first?


The theme at this bounce house is "Come let your kids bounce off our walls."
Hungry kiddos devour the rest of their lunch. They didn't want to eat too much before we got there so that they could bounce better :) I have found that bouncing doesn't make them as tired as I hope--but it does make them eat even more.

That's all folks!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Museum of Flight

In the words of a good friend "brace yourselves!" this is a looooooong one. I had way too much fun taking pictures of planes at the museum yesterday. You think I posted a lot--you should see how many are on the camera :) My brother Brett is home from the University of Idaho for spring break this week, so he and my mom met us at the Boeing Museum of Flight. As soon as we got close Ezra could see the planes taking off and landing at Boeing field and got excited. And then in the parking lot we stood next to the runway and watched a man taking helicopter flying lessons. Off to a good start. I'll let the pictures tell the stories with a few words as tour guides along the way...

"car-planes--one for every garage".

Ezra in the flight simulator for kids.

Looking up--planes hang at all different levels from the ceiling--it's an amazing view.

Trying to get the top to come down in the fighter jet.

He getting in, she getting out : )

His wing woman.

I loved this flying woman : )

Ezra and a moon-mobile.

Trying to land on the moon--he crashed twice and then the computer shut him out.

This is the Mars Rover shown in the diagram below.

Some freaky astronauts I found there.

Yep, they found a pacifier that is allowed in space!

Hang gliding Gramma and Ezra.
Look at those fly-boys (and girl).

Grandma making the air balloon fly in the kids-zone.
The second time Ezra took a turn in the simulator, Caroline decided to go with him. It was pretty cute, I have to say.

After lunch, we crossed the sky-bridge and went to the air park to tour the Concord and an old Air Force One. It was the 707 model that Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and others used.
Jackie K (not O) exits the plane with her family : ) After posing for the press.
The hair twins check out the first Boeing 737 to fly. My mom remembers that its first flight was to Moses Lake and then Walla Walla. Uncle Brett kept lifting Ezra up so he could touch the "belly" of the plane. So later, Caroline kept pointing at other planes and requesting "tummy??" Hehe.

In the "Heroes of the Air" WWII exhibit--all the uniforms of the different divisions and countries involved in the war.
Some of the "nose art" was cool to look at. There were many examples. Thankfully, they kept the ones I didn't want Ezra to see hidden away in a little binder instead of displayed on planes.

And that's when I finally put the camera away and took two tired kids home. I thought that this museum would be a quick trip--but we were there for 4 hours and Ezra still wasn't ready to leave (he never is). Caroline knew how tired she was and kept asking for "home".

And this here is a little shot from the Palisades restaurant where Tadd and I ate dinner Tuesday night courtesy of an anniversary gift from my parents last year : ) Thanks mom and dad! This photo is taken directly from the seat I sat in for dinner--talk about an amazing view!