Saturday, May 30, 2009

3/4 Family Day at the Fair

Today we enjoyed the "Free Kids Day" held at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

Initially the kids weren't interested in going. Spongebob was on TV.

I pulled the plug on that show (ha ha), roused the kids into action by assigning a few chores and promising them 'one eyed sandwiches' for breakfast.

After preparing the bread and the pan, it was discovered that we only had one egg.
Some days this would have meant big trouble was brewing, but somehow it turned into the Loaves & Fishes miracle and everyone managed to have a decent breakfast anyway.

Chores included cleaning the animal cages, vacuuming the playroom, sweeping the garage and straightening up their rooms. They weren't pleased about it, but after some initial squabbling, they teamed up and knocked those chores out pretty quickly.

Thanks kids. You're awesome!

Tanya was at her scrapbooking party for the day so the rest of us headed down to the Skagit County Fairgrounds for "Free Kids Day at the Skagit County Fairgrounds". Kind of a strange name for this event, but the kids were indeed free. So were the parents. So was parking.

The only thing missing was that no one was trying to give away any kids for free. That, and the Skagit County Fair isn't actually until August.

First off we stopped to watch the horses run through a course.

Then we proceeded to the first barn where I came across Don Smith from Cascadian Farm. Don is a spectacular artist, a former coworker and also a great hiking buddy. He is the guy responsible for getting the kids pictures on the Cascadian Farm frozen boxed vegetables about 9 years ago.

The kids got to plant some organic pumpkins at the Cascadian Farm stand and now they are on our window sill.

Next we watched some dogs practice on an agility course. They need a little more practice before the "Pay For Your Kids at the Skagit County Fairgrounds" starts in August.

Next we found a Boy Scout booth where Alexia made a wooden sail boat.

Mikayla ditched us to go find the animals. We ran into friends Venus and Aryanna. We found Mikayla in the Petting Zoo where they got to check out baby chicks, rabbits, turtles, frogs, pigs and kittens.
We also found a Llama that thought it was a poodle.

After that, Alexia made a bookmark, we watched some more dog agility training, bought some cotton candy and kettle corn before heading back home.

We give it a two thumbs up for good fun and a great change of pace.

On the way home we drove by the Skagit County Jail where our perp is still probably enjoying his unplanned Staycation. Here the kids demonstrate how that guy probably feels right now:

Our adventure at the fairgrounds was followed by having some friends over to swim, a relaxing dinner and some evening bike riding.

Some of us are heading back to the Woodland Park Zoo on Sunday. I'm not sure if anyone has issued a International Tourist Warning yet or not.

Surely nothing exciting will happen on THAT outing.



Monday, May 25, 2009

WWU Art Tour -- 2009 Family Version

Our family decided to spend part of our sunny day traveling down memory lane by visiting Western Washington University (WWU). For those that may not know, WWU is where Tanya and I first met.

Things are a little different now than they were back then.

First of all, back then we didn't have two kids.
Or nine pets.

There are a lot of new buildings on campus... really nice looking buildings. We couldn't explore them because we have dogs.

We saw people in Medieval garments walking around. They were heading toward Fairhaven College, so that wasn't abnormal at all.

It's still windy on campus... and it's still beautiful, despite the wind.

We toured around, showing the kids the various places where we used to live on campus. The kids tried to act interested but really just wanted to get out of the car and ride their new bicycles.

After a brief argument with the 'Pay Here' parking machine we set off to start our adventure. The adventure starts with a picnic lunch in the windy sunshine where Arntzen Field used to be. Nowadays that field is underneath three new buildings and a crazy staircase that goes up, down, up higher and then back down to the ground. It's good for climbing on, picnicking on, blocking the wind and writing messages in chalk about upcoming parties.

Finally, we were ready for the Dog Walk / Bike Ride event.
Before marriage, kids and dogs this would have been called "The Art Tour" and it would have been held late at night and may have involved beverages to keep you warm (if you catch my drift, grown ups). This time I drank Diet Coke and there was no need to designate a driver.

The kids rode their new bikes (both moved up to the next size), Tanya walked both dogs and I got to carry the backpack with the 10 Dog Essentials in it. If there was an emergency the dogs were all set. The rest of us, however, would be screwed.

First stop on the tour was the landscaped area between Parks Hall, Environmental Studies and the Ross Engineering/Tech building. There are two new buildings but I don't know their names (Chemistry & Biology stuff). This is where Alexia likes to help this little Lilo-like character hold up her rock.

From there we proceeded to the "Recycle Me" art piece: a bunch of iron or steel slabs erected in a triangle shape... with an extra wall.

Next stop was the "Hieroglyphics Pool" where the dogs could drink some water and the kids could rest their sore feet. This turned out to be a good place to let the dogs off their leash for a few minutes as it had minimal escape routes for them to use. It was also a nice place for some pictures.

From there we went to Red Square, Fisher Fountain, the Sky Viewing Machine and some blob of rusty metal before following the path in front of Old Main to find the Time Capsule locations for our graduating years.

After that we cut over toward Nash Hall and Mathes Halls where we found some more photo-worthy picture opportunities provided by this seemingly dull background. With a little creativity you can make anyone look like they are standing at a 45 degree angle.
It's really not all that interesting to look at if you don't want to put some effort into it.

We stuck our heads in the Viking Commons to show the kids where the college kids get to eat, then stopped by Handel's Swing art piece before proceeding back toward the vehicle.

We were thrilled that we didn't have a parking ticket. I guess that means I won the argument with the Pay Here machine. Woo Hoo!

All in all, it was a memorable Memorial Day.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, May 15, 2009

The Mother Who Saved Mother's Day

You probably already know that we went to the zoo for Mother's Day.

What I haven't detailed for you, yet, is how we watched a Mother almost create an international incident while simultaneously saving Mother's Day from a ruinous turn of events.

Here is that story.

Once upon a time (about last Sunday) in a city far, far away (about 68 miles) there was a family who was trying to spend a pleasant, sunny day at the zoo. Actually, there was about 23,000 families trying to spend a pleasant, sunny day at the zoo.

Some of those families traveled 68 miles to go to the zoo. Let's refer to them as TEAM.

Other families (well, at least one family) decided that instead of visiting their own zoo, in their own country (and probably really close to where they actually live), it would be a good idea to visit a zoo that was further away... in a country just to the south of their country. Let's refer to them as BC.

These families, on a mission to have a good time, probably both made pretty good time traveling on the interstate for many, many miles. Average speed was probably well over 62 mph (100 km/hr if you happen to be the out-of-country family). Then... they entered The City.

Traffic virtually stopped. The final 10 miles (16.1 kilometers) took more than 1 hour (1 hour). Attitudes began a downward spiral. Discussions were held about the infamous "Plan B", the much debated "Plan C" and even the dreaded "Plan D".

Finally, TEAM entered the main zoo parking lot. After a few minutes of circling the parking lot with 2,547 other cars it was decided that parking somewhere else might be a wise choice. This is also known as "Plan B".

TEAM drove to the opposite end of the zoo to the lessor known north side parking lot where they circled the lot with only 936 other vehicles. Unbeknownst to TEAM, BC arrived shortly thereafter... or a little while before... no one really knows, nor does it matter.

Discussions about "Plan C" (park on street) and "Plan D" (skip the zoo, let's go to Pike Place Market... surely it won't be busy there) were being held when TEAM pulled into an aisle that was completely empty of families cruising for a parking spot. This happened at the same time a happy family was walking to their parked car, having had all the fun they could muster at the zoo and ready to go home.

TEAM watched with anticipation and hope, praying that this happy family happened to be parked in this empty aisle of cars. Prayers were answered!

Immediately, TEAM put on their blinker to forever mark their reservation on the future open parking spot. Simultaneously, TEAM began rolling forward toward the "Departing Family" to get a little closer... just in case the blinker wasn't enough of a signal to indicate their plan to occupy the future space.

Moments later, BC arrived on the scene, their vehicle pointing directly at TEAM.

Then, BC rolls to a stop.
And puts on their blinker.

TEAM is shocked.

TEAM driver (let's call that person "E") motions with his hand for BC to come forward. It's OK Mr. BC... we'll take this spot that we've been waiting for. You can go ahead and take the next one you find.

BC motions back... pointing his finger at the family loading their car, getting ready to depart. Clearly indicating his intention.

TEAM emotions erupt in disbelief.

Maybe BC is actually confused, being from a different country and all that.

E shakes his head back and forth in a 'No Way, Bozo!' fashion to indicate that is not the right response.

It's a standoff.

Just like a Seinfeld episode.

Then, without any warning or hesitation, the Mother (let's call her "T") gets out of the TEAM vehicle and marches right on over to that BC vehicle to have a friendly chat about why TEAM was going to be parking in the soon-to-be-vacated parking spot.

You may not be surprised to hear that BC had a differing opinion.

While T is arguing with BC, the Departing Family begins reversing out of their spot, blocking the view between TEAM and BC.

Being the kind hearted folks they are, "Departing Family" overhears the argument and pulls up alongside BC to 1) join the discussion in support of the TEAM arguments and 2) completely block BC from being able to slide into the parking spot.

Once TEAM fully monopolized the valuable real estate, T returns (safe and sound) while BC slowly rolls away (probably praying for the ground to open up and swallow the whole TEAM).

After BC disappeared from view, TEAM went on to enjoy a day at the zoo and T was rewarded with her own Strawberry Smoothie.

That, my friends, is the story of The Mother Who Saved Mother's Day.

Thanks T. None of us wanted to go with Plan C or Plan D. You saved the day... again.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day 2009 (Scrapbook Version)

I'm pleased to report that Mother's Day went much smoother this year than it did last year (for the most part).

The day started off with Tanya having breakfast in bed.

Unfortunately, it was breakfast that she made herself because everyone else was still sleeping.

A short while later I found out that it is possible to get in trouble even while you sleep.

Things got better from there.

Went to Sunday School where our one student showed up for the lesson. So, we consolidated classes with the higher age group and I went to try and find someone to be an usher for me so I could go to the zoo an hour earlier. I felt a little bad about doing that but Tanya helped to put a good spin on the situation: I'm enabling my substitute usher to serve God by serving others (which just happens to be our church mission).

We went to the zoo. The drive wasn't bad until Northgate where it took us an hour to get from I-5 to the zoo, less than 10 miles away. Parking was ... well... tense. Tanya helped us into a spot by... lets call it "directing traffic". Those details will be posted in a few days. Be sure to check back.

We wandered around the zoo looking at the usual sights doing the usual things, taking the usual pictures.

The new penguin exhibit is pretty neat. Well, it's pretty neat if you are at least 5' 10" tall. Otherwise it's hard to see anything that is above the water line. Today we only saw 1 penguin in the water. All the others were enjoying the sunshine.

A few pics:
The Happy Family:

Mikayla using her new camera that she bought herself (it has more megapixels than mine!!):

My Animal pics:

I'm not sure if this guy is really happy or really sick:

This guy is definitely proud:

On the way home we met up with Kari & Troy and the boys for dinner at the The Old Spaghetti Factory (TOSF). Daniel had been sick the day before, but he seemed fine today... so Kari reported.

During dinner they had to make two false alarm runs to the bathroom before deciding maybe they should just pack up their food and eat at home. I think they are all doing alright now.

For those that don't know, we always have an adventure at TOSF. One year Tanya got really sick and ended up having her gall bladder removed (no, not AT the restaurant, but shortly thereafter). Another time we watched out the window of the dining room as one of the kitchen staff was taken away in handcuffs.

My guess is that it's just part of the dinner entertainment.

The rest of the ride home was pretty uneventful, although Alexia insisted on singing out loud while she wore her ipod headphones. She probably sounds fantastic with headphones on.

That's it. Really.

Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Police Chase That Ends In Our Yard

All was going well... I was getting ready to go to bed, turning off lights, double checking the doors, etc... when off in the distance I hear police sirens. I have no idea what time is... sometime between midnight and 1:00am.

Not too unusual for a Friday evening.

What was unusual was that very soon thereafter I also hear squealing tires and the sirens are closer. Hmmmm... maybe there is a chase that might go down our street. I head toward the stairway to go upstairs when I notice out the window that there is a tree trying to hide underneath a black car sitting in my driveway, all cockeyed.

I don't own a black car.
I do own a tree, but it's not usually in my driveway, and it's most certainly not usually underneath a black car ... especially a black car that I don't own.

I rush upstairs (wishing I had a camera... and a phone) into the kids playroom where I am savagly attacked by the kids pink tent. I wrestle the tent to the ground and look out the window in time to see two people run through my front yard, around the side of the house and out of my view.

Since both my neighbors have fences the only place these people are going is my backyard. Hopefully they don't decide to pay a visit to the back door... just keep running to the meadow please. Lots of friendly rabbit (holes) for them to enjoy and maybe a few coyotes just for kicks.

A third person darted across the street toward the neighbors house.

Already two police cars have arrived. One follows the vigilantes into our yard while the other officer goes across the street.

Moments later, just as I'm calling 911, there is a loud BAM!
No. Whew!

The sound of a police officer body slamming a criminal against my garage door: Priceless.

Tanya called the neighbors to warn them about the commotion and to make sure they lock their doors.

More officers arrive.

The K-9 unit arrives and we go from window to window watching as they head out into the meadow.

The 911 operator suggests that we stay in the house. She also suggested that we might want to make sure the doors are locked. After that I gave the phone to Tanya so she could provide the operator with some useful information while I herd the kids and animals into the back bedroom, away from the street. Just in case. Besides, that room has a TV.

Eventually, all three perps were aprehended, with the K-9 unit locating one at the south end of the meadow. I'm pretty sure it's never pleasant to be located by a K-9 unit, but THIS K-9 unit was so big it had to be at least a K-11 or K-12. That guy's going to need some aspirin.

The fire department shows up.
The medics show up.

With everyone in custody I grabbed the camera and tripod and started snapping pics.
This photo shows the proximity to my car:

This photo shows the skid marks on the right side of the screen where the vehicle came up the hill, left the road and tackled our tree:

Perp #1:

Questioning Perp #2:

Perp #2 waiting for an adult to show up:

Off to the Crime Lab (or more likely just the impound lot):

Tree still fits in the hole... but will it survive?

What happened that led to the chase and excitement?

Near as we can speculate is that the black car occupants failed to properly yeild, resulting in attracting the attention of the officers. Instead of pulling over, the chase ensued. Alcohol may have been a contributing factor and it also sounded like one or more of them have been in trouble with the law before. There's a shocker... NOT!

We are all glad the ordeal is over and it appears that I'm pretty lucky that my own car avoided harm.

Here is a daylight shot of the aftermath:

Upon awaking this morning, Alexia doesn't have any recollection of these events bit that's ok because I took plenty of pictures, much to Tanya's embarrassment.

We found out that at any point in time you can find out who has been booked into the county jail within the last 26 hours (no, I don't know why it's 26 hours). (Linky)

The driver is currently enjoying life in Pod E, with the following pending charges:
Reckless Endangerment (2 counts)
Attempting To Elude
Furnishing Liquor To A Minor
Hit & Run
Driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Sounds like a nice fellow.

Some of the other perps were minors and were released to their displeased parents.


Friday, May 1, 2009

A different perspective

Last Friday I dropped Alexia off at the gymnastics place so she could spend an hour at 'open gym'. It's a pretty good place for her to expend some energy on a Friday night... while I went to get a haircut.

An hour later I returned to pick her up. She ran right over, collected her stuff and off to the car we went. During the 8 minute drive home, we had a conversation that was something like this:

Alexia (calmly): "You have to take me to the hospital."
Surprised father: "Oh. Really?"
A: "Yes."
E: "Why?"
A: "I broke my foot."
E: "Really?"
A (serious): "Yes. I need to get a cast."
E: "What happened?"
A: "I hurt it on the side of the trampoline. It's broken and I need a cast."
E: "Well, it didn't seem to be hurting when I picked you up... how long ago did this happen?"
A: "About five minutes before you got there."
E: "But you were able to keep playing?"
A: "No! I had to sit and wait for you to show up."
E: "Did you ask anyone for help? You just sat there?"
A: "No, I was swinging on the rope over the foam pit while I waited".
E: "Oh. Well, I think maybe we should go home and show it to your mother before we go to the hospital".

It all turned out well at home, no broken bones. But we had crutches just her size on hand in case she decided she really needed them (thanks again to Poppy for that).

It was right about this time that I finally got around to taking off my coat and Alexia spied my shirt... and freaked out!

E: "Ummmm... yeah."
E: " " (a temporary loss for words)
E: "What?"

The next day we went to a Walk-A-Thon at Alexia's school. Afterwards she saw the same shirt in my room and accused me of wearing it to the Walk-a-Thon and embarrassing her. I explained that I didn't wear it to the Walk-a-Thon because I just wore it the other day and didn't want to be an outfit-repeater.

The dull story behind the shirt, if you don't already know, is that our CFO gave one to everyone in the finance department last year. The front has the company name and 'Accounting', of course.