Monday, December 28, 2009

[day 365... dec 31]

Niall went to the Seattle Art Museum on a field trip with his class to see the Alexander Calder exhibit (they were learning about making art with wire so it was a nice tie-it to his work) and was really inspired about art afterwards. He asked if we could go back to SAM before January 31 so he could see the Michelangelo exhibit, since there wasn't time for his class to tour that as well. So today we dropped off Cory for a playdate with Grandma Shannon and drove downtown to SAM.

I hadn't been to SAM in many years (nearly 15, I think) so it was great to have an excuse to visit, and to have a special outing with just Niall. Of course, he tired pretty quickly of all the fine detail in the Michelangelo exhibit but we enjoyed looking around at other art as well. One of our favorites was the huge cape made from replicated soldier dog-tags - really striking. The cars with the firecracker lights coming out of them were very cool too.

[day 364... dec 30]

I'm so happy that Becky Higgins struck out on her own this year and that she created a new version of Project 365 (called "Project Life") that we can use to quickly and easily (and cutely, as she would say :-) scrapbook photos-of-the-day week by week. Last year there was an overwhelming demand for the Project 365 scrapbook kit that she designed and only a small percentage of people were able to get it. Very disappointing!

But it's worked out pretty well to keep up with daily photos on a blog, and now I have a kit to use to create a hardcopy version. Although now I'm starting to dabble in digital scrapbooking (finally have a copy of Photoshop Elements, after all these years of thinking about it), so I'm leaning toward creating digital layouts and either printing them and having them all bound into a book. Decisions, decisions. Nice to have options, though!

[day 363... dec 29]

Another item on our "go see it someday" list was the Bellevue Botanical Gardens holiday lights show, Garden d'Light. This year we finally made it!

It was very pretty, but something of a madhouse with people swarming everywhere, kids loudly singing rap songs or screaming at each other, plus a light drizzle coming down (thus I took just a few photos with my cell phone - didn't want my camera to get wet and my pocket camera is in California with Tynor!)

But I'm glad we went to see it, at last. Next year I want to go to the Point Defiance Zoolights display in Tacoma. Another one I've been meaning to go see for years and have never gotten to. Time to start a new list of "places to go" for 2010!

[day 362... dec 28]

We took our long-overdue trip to the Pacific Science Center today. Remember how we tried to visit last September and it was the one week of the year that they're closed all week? This time, though, it was all good. We roamed the exhibits for a bit, then saw an IMAX movie in 3D: "Santa vs. the Snowman." It was pretty intense, especially for Cory who has never been to an IMAX movie OR a 3D movie! But he did pretty well. Fortunately, the movies are just over a half hour long so that made it more manageable too.

After the movie, over to the Center Court for lunch (Subway and pizza). The Christmas model train setup was in full swing and we enjoyed watching the trains too. And there was also a dance performance of excerpts from the Nutcracker (among other dances). Cory recognized some of the music from a field trip his class took to see "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" so we watched the dancing for a bit to see what was similar and what was different. Mostly different! It was fun to give the boys a tidbit of Nutcracker, though - up close and personal, too! - without committing to a whole 2+ hour production of the ballet. (We may do that another year. :-)

Back at the Science Center, we spent some time with the butterflies, got flashed at the shadow wall (a big hit!), and lamented the lack of water toys outside. Well - they're there but not working. Most of the water is gone for the winter. The big black rotating ball was fun to play with, though. And to take pictures of. :-)

[day 361... dec 27]

Niall got adventurous with the Legos this afternoon and spelled "Lego." I challenged him to spell his own name in Legos too but he'd lost interest by then. Oh, well.

[day 360... dec 26]

We've been enjoying some lovely walks around the block in the beautiful sunny weather we've been having. Well - I walk and the two boys ride their bikes. Works out well, most of the time.

I couldn't resist this photo of Cory riding in his spunky outfit of shorts over pants. ;-)

We explored a new path (to us) the other day and found a family of goats and a sheep. It's just been nice to be out in the fresh air, striding along the paths and roads (or riding, depending of course).

Friday, December 25, 2009

[day 359... dec 25]

Kellen came over last night to spend the night and join us Christmas morning. Very nice to have him back for a visit. He spent the evening planning and taking pictures of Xmas tree lights with lots of bokeh. :-)

We opened presents Christmas morning after breakfast, as is our tradition. The little ones opened their stockings at the crack of dawn when they got up, then when I came down, I made scrambled eggs, bacon, and cinnamon rolls to get us fueled up for gift opening.

Kellen did the honors setting up our traditional Christmas tree family photo, and this was the best of about 20 shots. Me and all my boys - love it.

[day 358... dec 24]

Christmas Eve, and we finally got around to decorating our Christmas cookies that we made the other day. Tynor even joined in, which was a nice treat. He makes his very meticulously while the other boys and I just spread on a glob of frosting and add sprinkles and other decorations pretty haphazardly.

They turned out very pretty, and tasty too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

[day 357... dec 23]

Niall's 9th birthday today! Made him our traditional Chocolatey Chocolate Cake which is just from the Hershey's chocoa can but is *fabulous*. Also the Chocolatey Chocolate buttercream frosting that goes with it. And peppermint ice cream. Yum!

We had Grandma Shannon over to help celebrate, and it was low-key but fun.

Niall got a t-shirt that he'd asked for at Target that I nixed originally (the picture is a flaming skull football thing but - whatever), a book about "What you should have learned in school" (I thought I'd find that useful too, and Niall loves learning tidbits of substantial information), a battery science kit, and the movie "Indiana Jones." His favorite of all was a Magic 8 ball. Do you remember those? He gets such a kick out of it. Of course, what he asks are things like "Should I go get ready for bed now?" when I've just asked him to do something. Sigh...

[day 356... dec 22]

My craft room is for me, right? Well, sometimes the little people just can't stand to stay out. (There's a big surprise, hmm? :-)

Here's Niall quietly reading Right Next to Me while I finish up something on the computer, waiting to start our bedtime routine.

[day 355... dec 21]

This is the angel ornament that my Aunt Cathryn crocheted and sent to me several Christmases ago. Glad to have this reminder of her on our tree, and thinking of her this Christmas season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

[day 354... dec 20]

Niall loves the two little remote control helicopters he got for his birthday, but they are so finicky about working.

He finally got one of them working just the other day and it flew gloriously for 3-4 rounds. All the way up to the ceiling in the entryway - woot! And then it refused to work anymore. Batteries dead? Connection flakey? Flight damage? Who knows. It's very frustrating. :-(

[day 353... dec 19]

I worked like a dervish today, cleaning and sorting in the living room to find the carpet again and create some semblance of order. There are still lots of boxes around but at least it's all relatively neatly sorted and you can see the floor in multiple places! And sit on the couch! Amazing.

There's also room, finally, for our tiny Christmas tree so I set it up and plugged it in. Feels much less crazy in there now, though still lots to do.

Someone from work is interested in taking the china cabinet (yay!) so hopefully that will move to a new home sometime this week and I'll have a lot more space to work with. Fingers crossed...

Friday, December 18, 2009

[day 352... dec 18]

Cory had this sudden idea of making a "Little School book" over the weekend, so he wanted me to take pictures all around the school to include in his book. I thought we might do it after school today because it's just a half day (until 11:30, actually).

But on second thought, I realized that the boys would be all excited when I picked them up, hungry for lunch, loaded up with things to bring home over break - and that it would be an exceptionally bad time to traipse around campus taking photos of this and that.

So I walked around after dropping Cory off and took pictures of this and that, and we'll see if they're the places and things he had in mind. This was one of the photos: his classroom and the Meadows Extended Day room (on the left next door).

[day 351... dec 17]

Niall's class has been busy getting ready for their holiday class party which features a bunch of different traditions and activities. Today they made lanterns (as part of Chinese New Year, I think?) and Niall copied Chinese words onto his for authenticity. I think they say something like "Hope" and "Happy" but...can't quite remember.

I love how Alice and the kids talked about all the different ways their families celebrate this time of year, and then incorporated those many traditions and fun activities into the classroom. Plans for tomorrow's half day of school include making Christmas cookies, pulling "crackers" (a British tradition at Christmas), eating Chinese dumplings and other treats, lighting a Menorah, and a bunch of other things. Niall can't wait!

[day 350... dec 16]

I rarely go to malls these days - so unlike my early years back in Washington when I visited Alderwood all the time, and then Bellevue Square frequently when Tynor was young.

But it was fun to see Bell Square the other day, all decked out for Christmas, including reindeer "flying" across the center square. You can't see it in this photo, of course, but the reindeer move up and down a bit as they ostensibly pull Santa in his sleigh. Santa himself is off to the left out of view, chatting with children on his lap while they get their photos taken.

Very festive and Christmasy. Fun to visit...once in awhile. :-)

[day 349... dec 15]

Today was Open Mike at PSCS! I decided to take the day off from work so I could come to Open Mike and see Tynor's bands perform, and also run some errands and do a bit of Christmas shopping.

Several other student groups performed before the bands, including a violin solo and some "slam poetry," which was pretty striking.

Then the "other" band (not Tynor's :-) played, and finally Tynor's group was up.

This was Tynor's first time playing bass in performance so he was a little nervous (he's only been playing for something like a couple of weeks!), but he did great - even on the solos. After two songs, including one that the band had composed themselves, they switched around and Tynor played drums while Tristan moved to vocals. They played a German song that was actually pretty cool.

True confessions: I was a little afraid that I might wish I had earplugs for both band sets. But I actually enjoyed all but one song. Kind of amazing! Also enjoy watching Tynor play in any case.

[day 348... dec 14]

Melinda put together this collection of grad tags featuring each PSCS student who has graduated in recent years. It's fun to look through the tags and see each graduating class and remember all those fine kids.

The painting is a self-portrait by Megan Shore, '07.

I just like the combination of the grad tags and Megan's painting, and also what they symbolize about the school in a variety of ways.

[day 347... dec 13]

My Stacy Julian Christmas Advent mini-scrapbook *almost* finished. I was stapling the tabs in place, ran out of staples in my mini-stapler, tried to re-fill it just crumbled into pieces. Yikes - cheap, or what? :-(

But I'm so tickled with how the album is coming together. Just love all the festive Christmas papers and the variety of Xmas photos inside. I've only written one of the "memories" yet, but look forward to jotting down some more soon. Then it will be a fun keepsake that we can bring out with the other Christmas things each year and enjoy looking and reading through.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

[day 346... dec 12]

We took a quick trip up to Bellingham today, including giving Keturah a ride, so we had a full car on the way up! Met up with Grandpa Stan and he took us all out to lunch. Despite the tumult of two very busy young kiddos along, it was fun. I think Grandpa, Tynor, and Keturah even managed to chat a bit on the other side of the table at the restaurant. :D Grandpa and Cory played some rounds of tic-tac-toe, which helped keep him entertained (Cory, that is).

After lunch, we dropped off Keturah at home and then headed back to Grandpa's to play with the dogs a bit before driving back south. Niall and Cory loved playing with the agility gear in the backyard, jumping over poles and running through the weave poles. The dogs joined in sometimes too. :-)

As we were winding up our visit, Grandma Marian returned with Star. They'd been at an agility event in Marysville (so we drove past her on our way up). It was quite entertaining to see how thrilled Star was to see Tynor. She was just beside herself. What a great pair. :-)

[day 345... dec 11]

I thought I'd memorialize the cold temperature reading on the car thermometer, just as I captured the hottest day of the year. I hope this will be the coldest weather we have this year!

This also unfortunately captures the sad state of cleanliness in my car - or lack thereof. I was all set to take the car in for a detailing back in October or so, and then it completely fell off my radar. Hopefully soon! It's pretty darn dirty.

[day 344... dec 10]

I had my observation and conference for Cory today. I watched the class from the observation room with the window all the way open, straining to hear the children's voices over the music and commotion of "Ellen time" in the Center Room.

Cory seemed content and centered, following the expected routine and purposefully engaged in activities. The morning meeting went exceptionally long (45 minutes), but otherwise the kids were busy and mostly agreeable with each other.

After snack, Cory's classmates bundled up and headed to Spanish class while Cory happily gave me a tour of the classroom. He showed me the "deepas" they had made (for Divali, I think - they're covering a whole bunch of winter festivals right now), pleased with his choice of blue and orange paint for the decoration. He also pointed out his "Raven" puppet which he made after they saw the puppet show of "Raven and the Box of Daylight." Joyce wants to keep his puppet for the art show (which is in May!) but he said that "The day after that, we'll bring it home."

We also looked at the many choices of building materials - blocks, Legos, the colored sticks that we had even back when I was at Little School (I loved them, with their smooth sides and pretty colors - when I remember what they're called, I'll come back and add that). He is deeply into Lego building at home, and enjoys it at school too (along with K'Nex at Extended Day).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

[day 343... dec 9]

It has been SO COLD this week. Temperatures in the teens as we drive off to school in the morning, willing the car to warm up quickly so the heat will come on and we can relax a bit.

A sprinkler or some other release of water at work created some lovely icicle grass, and some less-lovely sheets of ice along the walkway near the cafeteria. The weather is otherwise so dry that there hasn't been any ice. A silver lining for these very chilly days.

[day 342... dec 8]

My two youngest engaged in a typical wrestling match, before things descend into the too-rough stage. So different than my older two...

Monday, December 7, 2009

[day 341... dec 7]

Loved the pattern of the clouds, with the contrast of a single blackbird and the silhouette of a bare tree. [Photo taken at Crossroads mall.]

Friday, December 4, 2009

[day 340... dec 6]

Niall won't be nine until 12/23, but this year I organized his "friends" birthday party early so we wouldn't get caught up in the holiday crazies and miss it (as we do nearly every year!).

He wanted a bowling party, so we went to Tech City Bowl in Kirkland for an hour of bowling with friends from school, and then pizza and cake. The kids had a grand time, especially Niall. And Cory, who came in 2nd or 3rd in bowling - go figure!

I usually make our traditional chocolate cake for birthdays (off the Hershey's cocoa box - FABULOUS). But I decided to do that for family to enjoy on Niall's real birthday, and we picked out a yummy two-layer fudge cake to share at his party. It was a big hit! Enough chocolate and sugar to last them all well into the evening, I'm sure. :P

[day 339... dec 5]

Our tree has been up for a week, but today we finally got out the ornaments to decorate it.

There's a preponderance of lovelies along the lower front, courtesy of my diminuative helpers (Niall and Cory), but I still think it turned out very pretty.

Now we just need Tynor to install the lighted star on top and it'll be all ready for the season.

[day 338... dec 4]

This lovely rug lives in the Little School library. In Steve's class one year, Tynor and friends drew the pictures for it and Susi sent it off to Tibet (I think?) to be woven into a rug. It's ten years old this year!

It was purchased by parents at the TLS auction that year, and then donated back to the school. Now Nancy gathers her eager readers on this beautiful rug every day for their library time.

[day 337... dec 3]

Tonight was the PSCS Dessert Potluck, on site at the school in downtown Seattle. I picked up the boys from school, got some Subway dinner, and we headed across I-90 to the International District.

Tynor and some friends were already there. Here he is hanging out with Tristan and Oliver, waiting for the desserts to arrive.

Cory loved the peppermint brownies (which Tynor made). My favorite was the berry pie - yum!

Eden has been waiting for this special doll for a very long time. She was dressing him (yes, him, though it looks like a her in these clothes/hair) when we arrived, and showed us how you can open the back of the head to change the eyes. She was so happy to have her new treasure. It was fun to watch her enjoying it so much.

Kellen and Josie came later with lots of cocoa in thermoses, plus fresh whip cream. Josie is about halfway through her recovery from jaw surgery so is still on a liquid diet. Hot cocoa is "dessert" for her right now!

Niall appreciated it too. He had LOTS of other treats as well, sugaraholic that he is. But still got to sleep at the usual time after got home. He seems to metabolize sweets efficiently. (Maybe it all goes into those fast-moving brain synapses or something.)

[day 336... dec 2]

We're having some chilly, frosty mornings now. The frost on the leaves, trees, and grass is beautiful.

I couldn't resist taking a few quick pictures at school after I dropped off the boys.

[day 335... dec 1]

Today was a birthday in Cory's classroom (his friend Theo turned 6), so out came the apparently-now-traditional "birthday teepee." The class decorates it with streamers and I think there are other special activities too.

It warms my heart because this teepee was a class project (an auction project, actually) when Kellen was a 4-year-old in Barbara's class. Fifteen years ago! His name is painted on one side, next to his contribution to the decorating. (It's a little hard to see here, but it's printed in orange on the righthand side.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

[day 334... nov 30]

Back at work today, after a week off for our big office move and the Thanksgiving holiday. My new office is very nice - spacious, lots of windows, nearby to most of my team members.

All of our contractors have moved into one (big) room a few doors down from my office. They used to be scattered around across several buildings so it's great to have them all in one place and so close by.

I had to laugh, though, at the movers' solution for the nameplate on their office door. It just needs a sign: "If you need help, just pick a name!"

[day 333... nov 29]

My uncle Mike (Mom's brother) came over today to sort out our shed's electrical situation. Turns out to be more complicated than we thought, but he got a great start on it. Did all the wiring for lights and switch and outlet inside the shed and worked on the wiring on the house side while Tynor dug a good portion of a ditch for burying the wire.

Next we'll pull the panel inside the garage and see if we can figure out why no electricity is actually running to the outside outlet/access. But that'll have to wait for another weekend. Everything takes longer than you think it will!

[day 332... nov 28]

Today I finally hung the beautiful molas on the wall in my craft room. My mom found these molas in Central America years ago, and sewed them into these gorgeous wall hangings. They were up on the wall at her house on Beardslee Place, but have been stashed away for more than 10 years. I'm so happy to have them up again! Just love them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

[day 331... nov 27]

My friend Sue gave me this picture frame when my youngest son, Cory, was born - one spot for each of my children. Sad to say, it has taken me this long (five years!) to get organized enough to fill the frame, but here it is at last.

One of the many joys of moving into my craft room has been finding all of these "meant to get to that" little projects that had been piled here and there and are now all finding a home in this new space of mine. I'm slowly getting the piles of printed photos organized too.

It's so fun to rediscover all these treasures! And to begin making progress. Very sweet, after so long.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

[day 330... nov 26]

A delicious Thanksgiving feast at Garland's this year, and lots of enjoyable visiting all around. The boys got down on the rug for their traditional arm-wrestling contest.

After Tynor and Kellen determined that yes, Kellen is still stronger (3.75 years is a big barrier to overcome still!), the little ones got into the action. Then Niall and Grandpa arm wrestled - what a hoot!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

[day 329... nov 25]

Cory and I visited Niall's class Tuesday morning before school, and found these photos up on the wall in that classroom show the progression of an outdoor project building a pit that became too deep to be safe for the kids any more.

Alice, Niall's teacher, described the situation in a note home last week: "Due to some heavy labor during outside time, the pit got considerably deeper and steeper. In addition to that they were severing the roots of some surrounding trees. When I looked at it yesterday afterschool there was no doubt in my mind that it was no longer safe to play in and around. I made the executive decision after school yesterday to close it and make it off limits until we could look closely at safety issues, and talk to the kids about next steps....Scientific investigation? Soil study? Sand box? Pond?

Apparently many of the kids were pretty indignant about the pit closure, and staged a protest march up and down the blacktop behind the Woods building, and wrote letters to Laurel, etc."

Niall and I had several chats about this on the day Alice felt she needed to close off the pit for safety, including on the drive home. Niall started off with huge excitement over the whole “save the pit” movement (“It’s amazingly easy to get people to join a group in protesting” was one choice comment – time to learn something about mob mentality pros and cons, perhaps? :P) and all the steps they had taken and their “rights” being trampled and “Maybe now they’ll listen to us” and more. Fascinating, and high level of excitement and need-to-share.

Then it came up again at bedtime, and although I didn’t want to get into it then (it was really late after the State of the School meeting), Niall really couldn’t let it go. Then it was anger, disappointment, sadness, frustration – “They never even *explained* why they closed the pit” and “They aren’t telling us anything even though they had a meeting about it.” We talked about safety and the need for grownups to sometimes make decisions that kids don’t like because grownups are responsible for the kids’ safety (based on their judgment, not always the same as the kids’ judgment) and the school has to be responsible about choices for legal and safety reasons.

But it really came down to that he thought there were ways the pit could be safe that weren’t being talked about and that in any case, kids just “need to be more careful.” Mostly a lot of disappointment because he and the other kids had worked so hard on it, I think.

Fortunately, Alice had a great discussion with the kids the next day and after airing their feelings and sharing frustrations, they brainstormed ideas about what to do with the pit now. Lots of creative ideas came up and they worked as a group to sort through them and strategize how to move forward.

A remarkable example of Little School thoughtfulness, a teacher's skill and caring, and emergent curriculum in action.

[day 328... nov 24]

This is the living room corner that has been overflowing with scrapbooking supplies and papers and photos to scrapbook for months (dare I say years?).

And this is the beginning of order and space in my new craft room (formerly Tynor's room). I've already worked on a scrapbook(a Christmases-past mini album project by Stacy Julian). Feels great!

[day 327... nov 23]

Wonderful day of relaxation, including a morning visit with my mom and a loooong (3 hour!) lunch and catching up with my friend Sue. Fabulous!

Sue and I were having such a great time that an elderly gentleman walked up on his way out and told Sue that he wanted some of whatever I was having. LOL!

(This photo is of Sue and her daughter, Amanda, at Amanda's 6th grade graduation last spring. I was too busy chatting to take any photos today!)