Monday, June 14, 2010

Whidbey Island

We're staying in the quaint town of Langley on Whidbey Island in a beach house right on the shore. All morning the tide moves out and we can walk super far out. The sand is littered with shells and Sand Dollars and we've learned to tell the difference between live Sand Dollars and dead ones. Unfortunately our first day we didn't know the difference and several ended up dying a slow death on the porch of our house. Hopefully it wasn't too painful. Now we're more careful.

Large crabs can also be found washed up. It sounds a little creepy, but actually it's just cool. Bald eagles fly over head and two were feeding at low tide on the shore next to the seagulls. Yesterday there was something big swimming in the ocean. It was too far out to see clearly but we did see it spout a couple of times. Whales do live here this time of year so we're just going to say that's what it was. This morning we rented bikes and we passed a deer on the way home.

This is a beautiful place! By 3:00 the tide has come in quite a bit and everyone has fun digging holes and trenches on the beach and watching the water come in and fill the holes.

The shore is littered with driftwood -- huge trees washed up on the shore and bleached from years of being here.

By 7:00 p.m. the water is up to the edge of the yard and we sit around eating popcorn, playing Hearts or watching Disney Channel. Because no one ever gets tired of Phineas and Ferb. We don't have cable at home but somehow all the kids, including Nicholas, have the theme song memorized. Also Sunny with a Chance had a very exciting episode where the cute main boy asked Sunny out, so of course we couldn't miss that.

Today was my first time riding a tandem ever!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We successfully fit in sightseeing in Seattle all in one day -- and had time leftover to swim in the hotel pool and watch a movie...well Mom and Dad watched a movie in their room and the kids opted to watch Disney Channel in their room.

The city is walkable and we didn't need our car at all for this day around town.

We started at Pike's Place Market Place, which has been described as a Farmer's Market, but that title doesn't really do this place justice. Fresh fish just off the boat, gorgeous peonies in a variety of pinks, a rainbow of fruit, handmade jewelry... The variety was incredible.

Next we walked up to the monorail and took it to Seattle Center--home to the Space Needle. We made reservations for brunch the next day and then explored the Experience Music Project. The Jimi Hendrix exhibit captured Dan's attention more than the rest of us, but soon the kids found the interactive music rooms. Each soundproof room had an instrument to play -- electric guitars, drums, synthesizer, mixer, vocals. We all had a blast playing each of the instruments.

We ate lunch at Blue C Sushi where the food comes by your table on a conveyor belt. You simply choose what you want to eat, take it off the line and stack your plates so your waitress can see what you need to pay. Food was great, too!

We tried the underground tour but while the history was interesting and the guides joke throughout the tour to make it entertaining, we were essentially trudging down to a damp, smelly basement. It wasn't much to see and we bailed after two of the three undergrounds.

We had dinner that night at The Crab Pot where there aren't plates. They just dump your fresh-caught crab right on the table, hand you a mallet and you go for it. Soooo delicious! Gelato at the shop near our hotel was the perfect dessert.

The next morning as we drove to the ferry we drove past the underground troll in Fremont.

Now we're on Whidbey Island -- a short 15 minute ferry ride 30 minutes north of Seattle. It's quiet and quaint. Peaceful and relaxing.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Family That Laughs Together...

The bad thing about visiting a volcano on a rainy day is that clouds accompany the rain. And at higher elevations those clouds can be quite thick. So that where you look out hoping to see a volcano, instead all you see is a white blanket of fog.

But we all laughed and joked about it and although we missed seeing Mount St. Helens, we still had fun being together as a family. And maybe the laughs we had together will be a more poignant memory even than seeing the volcano.

The best laugh was after the thrilling movie retelling the eruption of Mount St. Helens at the Johnston Overlook Visitors' Center. At the end of the show the curtains dramatically rise to reveal floor-to-ceiling windows showing nothing on this day but thick, white fog. The whole theater laughed instead of cried. Because what else can you do when you realize you're all suckers who made the trip hoping to see something on a rainy day.

But the homemade cobbler and fish 'n chips at the roadside cafe helped make the trip seem less in vain.

And as if to give us a break, two days later when we ate brunch at the top of the Seattle Space Needle, the sky was as clear as it ever is. We could even see Mt. Rainier in the distance, which our waitress says happens only 65 days a year! It was breathtaking! Seattle is a beautiful city!

Also very cool was the mirror in our hotel. Yes, that is a TV. It was absolutely integrated into the mirror. Technology!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Stop, A Volcano.

After a whirlwind last few weeks of school and then 2 very relaxing first days of summer, our family has traveled to Seattle on vacation. We arrived last night and immediately fell in love with the city--or perhaps were all so happy to be IN a big city--we all love walking outside our door and being in the middle of everything.

The air is clear, the weather refreshingly cool. Everything is green and tall trees line the highway reminding me why Utah is considered a desert. Although I was sad to leave Utah this week because winter finally left just last week and the air is filled with the most wonderful spring smells. I'm worried the blossoms will be gone when we get back and I'll have missed out. Hopefully not.

Last night it was still light when we arrived at our hotel. A big bowl of freshly popped popcorn and Cokes for the big kids and apple juice for the two littles greeted us in our room. Aaaaaaahhhh, customer service!

Today the weather is rainy but the next few days are predicted to be sunny. So we're taking a road trip to Mount St. Helens. The rental minivan feels extra special to the kids since they think our SUV is so boring and "why can't we have a minivan?" It even has an AUX plug so we stopped at Best Buy and bought a cord so we could plug in Courtney's iPod. So with good tunes and a minivan what more could we want for a road trip?

Courtney is making friendship bracelets and attempting to teach Nicholas how to make them too. Marty is reading a new summer book, "Ender's Game" and listening to his iPod, Chris and Nick are taking turns coloring and playing the DSi. Dan is alternately on the phone doing business and programming his new GPS to get us on the right road. Amazing that I can be updating my blog while driving in the car. Taking photos with my phone and e-mailing them to Dan's account so they are magically transported onto this laptop where I can upload them to my blog. We're on vacation!

Monday, June 07, 2010

My Sister's Poem

Click here to read my sister's "Ode to a Well-Worn Couch." You're going to love it!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Awarded To...

For the past 6 years I've printed up the Awards Certificates for my kids' elementary school. It started out as part of my PTA commission. But when I found out in past years some dedicated PTA volunteer had hand written the names--in calligraphy no less!--for over 200 certificates, I offered to take over the process permanently and enter us into the modern age.

Because let's be real -- while the elementary school certificates are special, I think I'm the only person on the planet who actually saved mine in a scrapbook. And I don't think the kids are running their fingers over the print to see if it's embossed or not.

And on top of that "PTA Volunteer" is a euphemism for "already very busy Mom who is willing to donate some of her time to the school -- squeezing that volunteer time into an already full life of raising children, keeping up a home, and often other service or church responsibilities. And let's face it, these over-achiever volunteer moms have also begat over-achiever children and therefore she's their primary transportation to all their additional activities -- music lessons, sports activities and church and service groups.

So no one has the time for calligraphy and therefore I incorporated the not-so-new yet often confusing technology of Mail Merge and agreed to be the awards certificate person for the rest of my future at the school. I've got it down to a science. This year I even branched out and created some certificates with a different look so that if you've got Excellent Attendance AND the Community of Caring recipient AND were in Service Club AND Safety Patrol, your certificates will look a little different for each. And will look lots better in your acid-free archival quality scrapbook.