Saturday, September 12, 2009

[day 256... sep 13]

For several years I've wanted to visit the Olympic Sculpture Garden and the new Central Library in Seattle, and today I took the boys downtown for a quick tour of both sights. It was a beautiful day to be out and about, and I loved seeing these new landmarks at last.

This is Niall looking through the giant Typewriter Eraser sculpture. As we enjoyed checking it out, a voice came booming out from a loudspeaker: "Park patrons, please do not walk on the grass." Whooops. Of course, there were no signs saying that we should stay off the grass, and apparently in other parts of the park, it's fine to walk on the grass. Something you just learn by trial and error, I guess? Maybe that's part of the "park experience."

After a brief tour around the sculptures, we stopped at Subway for lunch and then drove over to the library. (I was lucky enough to find on-street parking both times, even free because it was Sunday - nice!) The library is very cool to see up close. The outside looks like what some people kiddingly call a "Giant Cheese Grater" but it's actually quite attractive in person. Here Niall and Cory are taking in the view of the water (peeking between several other buildings) and a rooftop garden/park.

The inside layout is also intriguing, with multiple sloped levels for books 000 - 999. There is artwork through, from the raised "type" on the wood floor at the ground level, to colorful, airy sculptures flying from the walls and ceilings in the Children's Center, to spooky talking bodiless heads with faces projected onto them in a jagged cutout along one escalator.

We enjoyed exploring the building top to bottom, and also got to meet librarian Erica, who is married to someone I knew in my childhood. We've been connecting online on Facebook for months now, so it was fun to finally meet her in person.

[day 255... sep 12]

Tynor is hugely into this online game which he not only plays himself but also periodically joins forces with others to play larger "wars" of some kind. It's a little spooky how obsessed he is with playing every minute that he can.

Mean Mom turns off the Internet for breaks because he seems unable to manage it completely on his own. But he's not the only one who gets sucked into near-constant use of electronics. Our (my) latest plan is to turn off the Internet and disallow TV/computer use from 10-4 on weekends. This gives us all a breather and we find other projects and activities to keep us busy besides the electronic enticers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

[day 254... sep 11]

Every year, organizations in the area have a Day of Caring where people from a workplace are matched with a nonprofit that needs help for a day. The work can vary from painting a room to teaching staff members how to use a computer program.

This year my group at Microsoft chose to work with a center in Bellevue that offers care and programs for elderly and disabled people. The task was to work with a professional organizer (who donated her time) to clear out, sort, and organize an attic full of crafts and supplies. I haven't volunteered for Day of Caring in many years, being so overscheduled in general anyway, but I finally felt ready to dive back in.

It was a marvelous experience. We pulled out boxes and piles and bags of stuff, sorted them into keep, throw away, and rummage sale, and neatly filled new tupperwares, labeled them, and stored them on shelves. For the rummage sale, I helped sort and price items (not my forte, but I just took my best shot at it).

It was inspiring to see order emerge from so much disorganized STUFF in such a short time. If only we could all have an army of volunteers descend on our disorderly garages to clean them up!

[day 253... sep 10]

It's a busy week. Yesterday, the first day of school, and today was the Microsoft Company Meeting at Safeco Field. It's an all-day event in Seattle that we bus to from campus and then back again. I missed connecting with my teammates for the bus ride, so decided to just board one of the busses and meet up with them at the other end. I sat in the front seat and watched the entire bus fill with men - it was quite funny. I don't usually notice how unbalanced our organization is, since I work with a mix of men and women. Finally at the very end, 2-3 other women came on board. I thought I was going to be the only one!

I sat next to a friendly woman who is originally from New Zealand, and we had a pleasant visit for the ride to Seattle talking about children and work and travel. She's quite sure I should just hop on a plane to NZ since I've wanted to go there for ages. Just do it! Fares are low, it's an "easy" overnight trip - why wait? Well, I have two young reasons why it isn't *quite* that simple. But I loved her can-do attitude.

[day 252... sep 9]

The first day of school is FINALLY here! Hooray! We made it out the door eventually, despite some struggles to get up early enough and then last-minute scurrying around to find backpacks and lunchboxes (which, yes, I should have laid out completely the night before didn't all happen). We got to school just a few minutes late, so I called it a good start to the year.

Niall dashed off to class when I dropped him off at the turnaround, and when I checked on him 15 minutes later, he was deeply involved in some kind of get-to-know-you scavenger hunt so I didn't barge in to say goodbye.

I walked Cory up to class and he was predictably clingy and wanted me to stay. But several of his friends from last year were already there, and he was soon busy making light sabers with Theo and able to let me slip away comfortably.

[day 251... sep 8]

Cory loves to dress up. He's at that age where trying on new "identities" is fun and life-work in equal measure. He's been a "tool guy" here, and trying very hard to present a serious expression for the camera, to show that he's a serious worker. Cracks me up, because he's laughing and vamping the rest of the time.

[day 250... sep 7]

My interim plan for the hens' living arrangements is finally underway. It's definitely a short-term solution to improve their housing, but at least it'll keep the rain off of them. I've stapled tarp pieces all around the sides on one end and across the top where their roost is (this picture shows the work in progress), so they can eat and sleep without getting wet. I'm also hoping that enclosing that end will encourage them to use the little wooden nesting box I gave them, because the corner will be darker and more "enclosed" feeling. Fingers crossed.

[day 249... sep 6]

Today is another first: my oldest son moved out. It's not like we've seen a lot of him this summer anyway, what with house-sitting, travel, and time in Seattle visiting Josie (his girlfriend) and doing Parkour. But it still feels pretty momentous. Another parental milestone for me.

Kellen is moving in with his dad in Seattle so he'll be closer to the activities he cares about, and plans to find a job there. Today is the official day of "moving" and he's taking the things he wants and needs the most. But he still has a fair amount of sorting and packing to do in his room before we can begin to repurpose it. Hopefully it won't be too long before he's back to finish the job, though admittedly, it's the much less fun part. Cherry-picking off the top is the easy part.