Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Neilsen's and The Seattle (a.k.a. I Had a Hot Date)

I have pondered off and on (on this blog even) the status of my adulthood. I am raising children. I pay taxes. (Through my husband.) I clean up puke. I do laundry EVERY. DAY. I have white hair. (Lots.) I think most of these things qualify me as an adult.

I like most of the things about being an adult. (Not so much the laundry. You would think cleaning up puke would come higher on that list, but usually the two are related. I'm not sure I have ever had a child full-out puke without hitting something that needed to go in the washing machine moments later.) I can tell you one thing I don't like: being responsible. (Well, I like that most of the time.) You know...you have kids, then you have to feed and clothe them. This usually means keeping a steady income and guys tend to move where they can get a good job. Sometimes this means that people you love move away--hundreds of miles away. That stinks.

Not that this didn't happen when I was a kid. I had friends move away. But I wasn't as close to them, and it wasn't their choice. (Their evil responsible parents made them move.) Now when people move, it hurts a bit more. Added to that is the knowledge that we won't be as close. Not just physically, that is obvious...but there is something about living nearby that connects you. You see the same people, you shop at similar stores. You hear the same things on the news. (Assuming you ever watch the news.) You see them at church. (I miss that.)

About a year and a half ago, the Neilsen's moved. Here is Camille in the middle with me.

They moved far away. Sad. But they moved to Washington where my family lives. Happy. If you can't see someone anymore, the next best thing is when they move somewhere you are bound to visit.

So, you'd better believe we went to see the Neilsen's while we were in Washington. Eric now works for a little company called Amazon.com. He lives right in the heart of Seattle. They were so nice to invite the whole family up to swim and have dinner. The girls had a blast.

We played 'chicken' once or twice. Camille snapped a photo while Robyn was still sitting on Tyler. (Many of these pictures were stolen from Camille.)

Check out this cute Neilsen family. I miss them all.

We chatted away, but eventually kids had to be in bed. So Tyler and I made plans to come back the next day, just the adults (oooh, there is an adult perk) and hang out again.

Thanks to my parents (and Miranda) for taking the kids for the afternoon/evening and letting two tired parents have a night out on the town. We went and bummed around Pike's Place.

The bustle of the crowds is unfamiliar now, but I still love the fresh flowers. That is always my favorite part. I wish they had something like that here in Utah.

Pretty incredible view as well.

After perusing the market, we went down to the pier. It was really a lovely day. (Seriously, sunny skies the whole week.) I stopped to chat with a squid.

If we had had more time we might have taken a voyage around the harbor. Instead, we just took a picture by the water.

We walked and talked. It is nice to still be in love with the man I married. Sometimes it doesn't matter where I am. It just matters that I am with him.

We eventually met up with the Neilsen's to have dinner. They took us to this great Indian restaurant. Delish!

Then the plan was to go sailing. I'm amazed with how easily Camille and Eric can navigate the city now. They seemed right at home. We jumped on a train and rode it to Lake Union.

Sadly, we got there right after they closed the boat rentals. They stop rentals at a certain time and then request boats to be back at the docks an hour later. We just missed it. And we could have gone on one of these.

That picture is not in Washington, to be clear. That is just what a paddle board looks like. Guaranteed I could fall off one of those easily. Eric was really going to take us true sailing. He has been taking classes. I stole this picture from Camille too.

Doesn't it look fun? We'll have to go next time we're in town. I'm already making my bucket list for my next WA trip.

So, with sailing out, we opted for dessert instead. It was Eric's birthday, but somehow we ordered the most chocolatey thing on the menu to share. (Eric doesn't like chocolate.) The company was sweet enough. I know it looks like we are in a bar, but it is a restaurant and we just happened to take the picture by the liquor wall.

Then it was time to say goodbye. It was hard, but made sweeter by the fact that I know next time we get together, it will be just like old times. (It is always easy to jump right back into a conversation with the Neilsen's.) Plus, they are coming our way in August...so I really don't have to wait that long.

We didn't get to stay as late as we liked, because we were leaving the next morning to head back to lovely Utah. (That meant another 4am departure time.)

Wow. Almost back to real life and the normal schedule. (As if anything is very normal around here.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Children's Museum (and the Glass Studio) and the PARKING (a.k.a. Tyler's Grumpy Day)

Tacoma has some fun stuff that I never found as a kid. With the internet it is easy to find all sorts of things to do. Blown glass is a big business in the area, and there is even a whole Museum of Glass. I wanted the kids to see people in action, so we found a glass studio nearby.

Things I learned after the fact:
* At the glass studio, people can come off the street and make their own pieces. Super COOL! (But only on the weekend.) Boo.
* Turns out the Museum of Glass also has live demonstrations. (But there is the admission cost.) But I think we will have to go there next time we are in town, for sure.

The Glass Studio does have an open shop and you can watch what they are doing. So, we sat and observed for a bit. Check out the blow torch.

The temperatures are off the charts of course. The first piece they finished was a cool purple bowl/vase thing. When they started another piece, I thought it would be red or orange, but I was fooled by the molten glass. It is that color simply from the intense heat. When it cooled, it was the same purple color.

We watched for a good while and explored the shop with many cool finished pieces. The lady there recommended we take the kids over to the Children's Museum of Tacoma. (Maybe she thought we had already seen the Museum of Glass.)

Her suggestion was a great one. The Children's Museum of Tacoma is a free place (donations welcome) for kids to explore and create to their hearts content. I was very impressed with the variety. Several of the kids went straight to the water area.

June found the 'woods' area and explored there for a moment.

Plenty of the kids spent a fair amount of time in 'Becka's Studio.' There were places to use paint and chalk. I think almost everyone painted.

In the chalk area, there were tables but also blocks you could decorate with chalk. Robyn did some of both.

June took a table.

And made a masterpiece.

I tried my own hand at the chalk table. (No lie, this place was fun for adults as well.)

This contraption was super fun. It had a constant flow of air suction. You could put scarves in and watch them swirl through the tubes and pop back out.

There were books about different subjects all over.

I found a random table with cardboard and connectors. I made this Godzilla monster who thought June was very tasty.

There was a huge section with boxes. The girls built an awesome fort. (Much better than anything I could have done.)

Tyler used the boxes for other purposes. He hid in them and would take off the top box and startle kids as they walked by. (When I said this place was fun for adults, I clearly meant the ones who are still kids at heart.)

It was really fun. Unfortunately, the day ended with a gray cloud. Parking around Tacoma is a little sketchy. We had parked (and paid) in the wrong area and had to move our car. Tyler parked somewhere else, but didn't see the sign saying he had to 'back in.' This is ironic and sad because Tyler is the king of backing in. He hardly ever pulls in forward. But there was so much traffic, he didn't want to be in the way. (Not all kind deeds are rewarded.) We got a fine. Stupid.

Let's look at it this way. We experienced the museum for free, but we donated $41.25 to the city. You are welcome Tacoma. I would say that I'm not coming back, but I still want to see the Museum of Glass. We'll just be more careful where we park next time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Zoo (a.k.a. Citizen Scientists Unite)

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a fun place to visit. They have added many things through the years. (Although I'm bummed that all the Beluga Whales are gone.) We took the kids there to explore one day. Yikes! Expensive. You are welcome zoo. We donated to the cause.

Here are all my monkeys.

We went over to the kids area first and let the kids play. The meerkats were so cute. And Tyler touched a Lemur. His foot was sticking through the fence, so Tyler just reached up and got him. (He disdainfully moved away after.) The kids enjoyed the animals, but also all the things to climb on and swing around in.

Tim and Miranda came with us to the zoo. Miranda was really nice to come even though she wasn't feeling well, so I offered to wheel her around. This was a great idea, until you remember that Point Defiance Zoo is built on a large hill. Oddly, downhill was harder than uphill because I didn't want to lose control and have her go crashing to her doom. But we were careful and there were no casualties.

I love how many zoos (and Lagoon) have peacocks wandering around.

There were many animals at the zoo, but lucky you, I'm not putting all 98 pictures of them on here; just our favorites. We liked the Rays. The touch tank was new from when I last visited. June even got to touch a shark in there.

Speaking of Sharks, they are always a favorite.

We paused in the middle of the day to watch the animal show. I would call it a show with a VERY STRONG AGENDA, and some animals in it as well. The first twenty minutes were SOOOOOOO boring as they told this story and tried to brainwash all the kids into wanting to be citizen scientists. And even when they did the rest of the show, they kept throwing in comments about citizen scientists throughout. (We get it!) But there were some cool animals to see. I liked the Serval.

And the owl.

The show was about Indiana Bones, a dog, who specialized in Barchaeology. He was hunting for a hidden Geo-cache. (Also a lot of geo-cache promoting in the show. Sheesh. Do they think no one will want to do these things unless they tell them?) Dr. Bones was a good dog, but a little feisty. He ran off at one point in the show and a whole group of zoo employees were out looking for him. We got to hear quite a few extra owl facts while the people stalled to give more time to find Dr. Bones. Those tufts on the owls head are not his ears. His ears are lower on his head and uneven; one is higher than the other. (See, facts about animals. I think that is what an animal show should be about.)

Indiana Bones was found eventually and brought back for his spectacular finale in which he flies in and saves the day.

And the treasure was very fitting.

After the show, we headed back over to the aquarium, by way of the budgie cage. The budgies were cool and close up. But don't touch them unless you buy a seed stick. (Come on zoo. I already spent enough to get in here. I should not have to pay extra to feed the birds.)

The aquarium was fun. We found a red knobbed starfish that I have never seen before. This picture is off Wikepedia since I forgot to take one at the zoo.

They had a cool touch area where the kids could touch starfish, anemones, crabs, urchins, and other interesting sea creatures. (The water was freezing. You had to be tough just to get your hand in there, let along touch a pokey critter.)

Meanwhile, we put Tim in the Hurricane simulator. On the back wall you can see the wind got up to almost 80 miles an hour. I was hoping it would be stronger, but I'm sure Tim was glad it didn't go too high. (Oh, and yes...we had to pay for that.)

Group photo in the shark's mouth.

After the aquarium, we went down to Rocky Shores, where I found out the Beluga Whales were gone, and Pearl had a huge tantrum. Good times. At least the walrus was kind enough to come up close. I took several pictures of him, but I'm going to post one with his eyes closed. (His eyes were really bloodshot and scary.)

No Polar bear, no arctic fox, as we circled around the zoo. But amazingly the Red Wolves were out. We have NEVER seen them before. I used to joke that they had made this big pen and put nothing in it. But there were plenty that day.

They were almost extinct over in the southeast of the USA, but Point Defiance has tried to increase the Red Wolf  population and introduce them back into the wild. (A better goal than trying to get everyone to be a citizen scientist, in my opinion.)

The sun was dipping in the sky, and everyone was hungry, so we decided to go home. (Sorry elephants and tigers. We'll get to you next time.) I love this picture of June and Daisy. It looks like she is holding a big rag doll.

Tim wanted a ride in the wheelchair.

I love this picture of Pearl running. She looks so free and happy.

We saw one last special resident in the parking lot.

Miranda found a perfect peacock feather on the hillside. It was beautiful. I meant to take a picture, but forgot. But I laugh to myself. I bet peacock feathers cost at least $15 in the gift shop. (Bwah hah hah hah.) And we got one for free. (Good thing Miranda was being a 'citizen scientist' and observing the world around her.)

* To be clear. I don't think it is a bad thing to be a citizen scientist. I do think making everyone watch a boring twenty minute story about it before the animal show was a bit much. And I do think the zoo was overpriced. Although our zoo at home is about the same. I just have a big family and that gets expensive. Hence why we look for free activities during the summer. But sometimes you just gotta go to the zoo.