Happy 7th Birthday!


This guy turns 7 today and has requested a green fire truck cake (chocolate) and to go see the Captain Underpants movie.

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Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

The boys had spring break last week and although my spring break had already occurred a few weeks before, we decided to do a quick one-night-away Olympic peninsula road trip.  Evan was gone on a work trip the day we left, so he didn’t get to come along for this particular adventure.

There are a lot of things on the northern side of the peninsula I’d like to take more time to see but for now a quick drive through worked well.  This time of year is still pretty wintry up in the higher elevations and many of the Olympic National Park facilities are still closed for the season.

We started out taking the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston, which is half fun and half timesaver so I don’t have to sit in traffic around Tacoma to drive up the eastern side of the peninsula. It’s about a 20-30 min ride.

I didn’t take any pictures once we got to the Kingston side but near there is an adorable tiny town called Port Gamble that looks like it would be super fun to hang out in during the summer.  Below is Dungeness Landing beach park in Sequim.  The lavender fields in Sequim are lovely but not blooming now, and I believe all those farms are closed to the public in the off season.  There is also some sort of wild animal park somewhere near here but we didn’t really have time to check that out.

This is at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center.  If you keep going past it up the mountain, there is a beautiful view area called Hurricane Ridge.  It’s covered in snow right now, so we skipped it. I’d like to go back eventually. This Elk is on display at the center.  Elliott says it is super glued to the floor.
At the visitors center.  There are hiking trails all over.  We didn’t go far.

This is Lake Crescent. There isn’t enough nitrogen in it to support algae growth so the water is exceptionally clear.

See all the logs at the bottom?!?  So cool

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No Vampires spotted here.  This is the where the Twilight books/movies are set.  In actuality the films were made in Oregon because it’s better there.  True story.

Cape Flattery. This is furthest point northwest in the contiguous United States. It’s on the Makah Indian Reservation and is very secluded.  This view was pretty much the whole point of going on the trip.  What we didn’t realize is that it’s about a 20 min hike from the parking lot to the view point and we got to the parking lot at 7pm and sunset was ~7:55PM. In this place you’re literally alone in a dark forest with zero cell phone reception and if you are me you have two children and a small dog too.  The rain had stopped and the evening was looking somewhat lovely, though darkness was coming fast. We made the decision to hike fast, got SUPER MUDDY and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

We got “home” to our cabin in time to catch the sunset on the beach. 

The next day we headed home the long way, around the western side of the peninsula.  This side is a bit more boring and there is really nowhere to stay overnight this time of year unless you are camping. I’m not that tough. We took a potty break here at Ruby Beach and the sun shined on us and it felt glorious.  You also have to hike down to get to the water and Patrick is mad at me that we didn’t do it because we were just passing through.  This is a real place!  So pretty.

Here is our day one:

and day two: See all those icons from Tacoma to home?  TRAFFIC all day every day.

We had fun.  The boys found tons of sand dollars, a sea urchin, a “mermaid’s purse” and of course excellent sticks. We saw bunnies, elk (real ones), and bald eagles. We had junk food and freezer pizza when there was no restaurant open on the rez. Next time I’d like to take several days during a warmer season to check out stuff in more detail.  More time in Sequim, Hurricane Ridge, walking to Cape Flattery with a flashlight mayhaps, and checking out the beaches on the western coast more.

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A Boy and His Cello

I think year 2 is where it finally comes together.  Year 1 is full of not knowing anything, lots of squeaky bowing and so many twinkles (twinkle twinkle little star).  Year 2 is when they start learning to read music and figuring out songs by ear and it begins to be a bit more fun.  We used to have such a hard time getting him to practice, but now he will do it voluntarily.  !!

Last year we rented a cello, but this year we decided that we could buy a beat up one for less than the cost as renting for a year.  He went up a size (this is a 1/2) and he should be able to play this for several years because the end pin is all the way in right now.  At first it was very awkward for him because the left hand positioning was a bit wider, but he got used to it fairly quickly. I have no idea what the brand is, I just know it was a former rental cello that had to be retired due to cosmetic damage.  It has a nice quality of sound.  Sometimes the real cheapie string instruments sound meh, but this instrument seems pretty good to my ears.

We finally have a bow holder and an arm for Patrick (which is a whole other post in and of itself, to come soon) so we’ll have to see if he follows in his brothers footsteps.

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New Old Sideboard

We have a spot in our dining room for a sideboard or some sort of china cabinet.  I had been looking for one on craigslist for quite a while.  Every once in a while I’d see one I liked but the price was not ideal. Then shortly before Thanksgiving I saw this beauty posted on Craigslist.  I emailed them, and never heard back.  I figured someone else beat me to it.  Then I saw it reposted again after Thanksgiving.  I pounced!


I almost walked away when I saw it in person.  The pictures online didn’t show some damage it had on the top veneer and where one of the back legs was crudely repaired after a break.  I really liked the style and hardware on it, and knowing that I had never seen any other ones like this posted for sale,  I talked the guy down some $ and took it home. Sidenote: this was an Evan-approved purchase 🙂

I actually had no idea furniture this old used veneer, but I suppose it makes sense.  Anyhow, I found this awesome Youtube channel and got to work.  I cleaned off 100 years of gunk.  SO GROSS and yet so satisfying.  I fixed the back leg with some epoxy.  Whoever repaired it before me literally screwed a metal plate on it to connect the two pieces. I found a local antique place where I could get a “new” old wheel to replace one caster that was missing.  All the wheels are made out of wood – pretty cool.

The top was in rough shape. The veneer had water damage on one side and had lifted. Thanks to my Youtube dude, it was an easy fix.

Veneer is now flat, but it needed to be refinished to even it out.

Sanding and oxalic acid to lighten the water stains

You can still see the large water stain.  Sometimes there is nothing you can do about this.  I could technically get the top re-veneered but I can live with this as-is.

Staining the top.  Got lucky, found a cheapie minwax stain that pretty much matches the rest perfectly.

Here is a closeup of the hardware.  A lot of these craftsman-style sideboards are simpler, with wood drawer pulls.  I really like how these add some extra decoration to it.  It’s fancy without being FANCY, ya know?  The only thing it’s missing is a key to the drawers, but that’s OK.
 

The funny thing is – I usually hate oak furniture.  There is something special about tiger oak though…so pretty!  Next on the list would be to find a table that somewhat “matches” this.  Most of them I’ve seen are round/oval.  I prefer rectangular tables, so I’ll have to keep waiting.

PS: WordPress did some automatic update and wrecked this site hard.  I had to take down all my plugins so some things may look wonky until I fix it for realsies.

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9th Birthday

This kid is NINE!

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Whidbey Island

A few weeks ago we went on a little daytrip out to Whidbey Island.  We took a ferry there, drove from the south end all the way to the north, which connects to the mainland by bridge so you don’t have to turn around and go back the same way to get home.

This first picture isn’t mine but it shows the view from Fort Casey.  This area is open to the public to explore, which is pretty cool.  They built this Fort ~100 years ago in case we needed to defend the Puget Sound area.  No guns were ever fired in conflict here, but many of the big guns (or replicas) remain.
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In the lighthouse
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This is facing the Olympic peninsula/Olympic mountains.

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I know this is sideways.  I don’t know why.

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Then we continued on and went to Deception Pass State Park.  It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  The pictures just don’t do it justice.  I accidentally left my big camera at home but I don’t know that it would have made much of a difference!

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A photo posted by @pnwchristine on


There is a long, narrow strip of beach, a swimming hole area and campgrounds here.  It’d be tempting to go camping here but apparently the fighter jets from nearby Naval Air Station like to fly by when campers are trying to sleep.

If we were smarter we would have brought towels and changes of clothing and STUFF because we should know by now if you take little boys to a beach they will end up covered in seawater and sand no matter how cold it is.  Whoops.

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Surfacing

I almost forgot how to log in and make a post here.  Bad, I know.

Long story short: we moved in, found a flea problem and between that and my grad school classes it doesn’t look like much is being accomplished around the house.

Latest update: I haven’t seen any fleas in about a week.

And this:

 

Here is some food for thought/advice: it’s really hard to find a cello teacher.  It’s kind of a pain to transport a cello because it takes up a seat.  Cellos cost more money.  If you want easy logistics, play violin.  They teach violin lessons at the boys’ school, but only a beginners class.  PJ isn’t quite ready for that, plus he needs attachments.  ET is beyond that, cellowise.  So luckily the teacher who handles the year 2 class was willing to take on a cello.  This means that the violins in the class need to play in a different key to accommodate him, which is tolerable I suppose.  It’s a small class, there are 5 violins…and then Elliott.  Luckily he fits in ability-wise, though until last week he was the only boy.  The new boy had never seen a cello and was very impressed, so I think Elli is enjoying his “special” status.

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Finally, a house!

For us, the third time was the charm.  House #1 accepted our offer, and then the inspection revealed a LOT of expensive problems – an attic chock full of mold, a not terribly old but worthless roof, rotted decks, etc, etc.  House #2 supposedly accepted someone else’s offer, but the sellers have a messy divorce situation and I’m not entirely sure that they were being truthful.

House #3 almost wasn’t.  The pictures online were atrocious and we almost didn’t go see it.  The pictures were from a previous listing and weren’t sized right, so they were all pixelated.  It’s definitely not decorated anywhere near what we like, so it’s going to need a lot of paint before it feels like home.  It’s really similar in size and layout to our last house.

I had hoped to get some better pictures at our inspection…but the sellers were having a birthday party at that time, and so not only were they home, but so was all the birthday kid’s friends too.  Which meant I couldn’t measure stuff and photograph things without looking too jerky.

We did get to meet the sellers, who were very nice.  They are actually buying a house nearby that we also looked at (I swear we have seen EVERY house in this vicinity!).  Closing should be at the end of August if all goes well.  Here are some pics that I scrounged up from elsewhere.

backyard
One of the big selling points was the yard.  We looked at homes with 5 acres, and we looked at some with pretty much no yard at all.  This is a nice happy medium, about half an acre and a POOL, which I think is hilarious because it’s way too cold for this kind of nonsense.  It’s actually one of those above ground pools and if you walk around to the back side the yard slopes down and you can see the side of it.  The downside is there is an HOA, and i’m not sure if I can get away with chickens.  The rules do say you can have “caged birds” so I’m going to have to feel them out to see if that is something I can get away with.

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It’s a wee bit frilly in here right now.

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Not for the Squeamish

The weekend before last was a real doozy.  The super abbreviated version is that Elliott got hurt at a friend’s house and had to go to the ER but they fixed his problem and now he’s fine.

The long version includes a rusty nail and an ambulance ride.

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So…I learned it’s hard to pick the words you use when you tell your spouse you’re in the back of an ambulance with your firstborn who has a nail impaled into his face.  It’s also hard to play it cool with said child when you’re internally freaking out.

THE STORY

Both boys were down the street playing at a friend’s house.  That family also has two boys the same ages.  Apparently, there was a tent rain fly hanging in their backyard, it was nailed to a fence and to a tree on either end, and it made a fabulous fort for boys.  Somehow a hotwheels car ended up on top of it, and they were flipping up the edge of it trying to get the car down.  WELL, the ends of the rain fly had those elastic bungee cord type bits, and they kids somehow pulled enough on the fly to slingshot the nail right out of the fence and impale it into ET’s face.  The placement…impeccable.

The fire department showed up just before the ambulance got there, and they weren’t going to touch it with a ten foot pole.  The problem was, the dad found a nail that was about 4 inches long near where the boys were playing, but we had no idea how long the nail was that was in ET.  We also didn’t know how it happened…the paramedics kept asking the boys and they didn’t know either – which makes sense because they weren’t actually playing with any nails or sharp things.  For once.

So they had to transport us 30 miles away to a hospital with an appropriate trauma level and adjacent children’s hospital just in case of a worst-case scenario.  Evan was already in Portland for a soccer game, and I thought for sure he’d beat us to the hospital because he was so much closer.  Those ambulance drivers HAUL.  We got there crazy fast.  Elliott was a champ for the whole thing.  He was pretty freaked out, and he could definitely see the nail from his point of view, but he stayed calm.  Luckily the CT scan pictured above showed that the nail was much shorter than we thought, and it didn’t penetrate anything important or break any bones.  It was 4cm long in total, and it was about 2cm in, 2cm out.  I still have no idea how the heck they were able to launch it that hard into his skin.

The doctors were great, they knocked him out for a few minutes, pulled the nail out and gave him a tetanus shot.  No stitches needed, and he walked out with just a band-aid and a prescription for antibiotics.  He did have to have an IV put in for fluids and an initial dose of antibiotic, and he handled that like a champ.  I think the soreness from the tetanus shot was the worst part.

This picture was taken later in the same day.  No bigs.
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Lesson learned:

  1. Kids damage themselves even when they aren’t playing with dangerous things
  2. No more nose piercings allowed
  3. If you’re going to max out your medical deductible in one day make sure you get a good picture to take home to make it worthwhile.
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Rollercoaster

Oh my things have been CRAZY.

Summary: things are okay and our house is essentially sold.

Long Story: Two weeks ago we were getting ready for our house to be listed on the MLS.  That sunday we noticed a few odd bruises on Milo the dog.  Later that evening there was more broken blood vessels in his ears, on his gums, etc.  So first thing on monday I took him to his vet.

The vet took one look at him and then told me to go to an emergency hospital in Portland.  She didn’t even charge me to see him.  So instead of washing windows, Milo and I head to NW Portland and spend 4 hours there getting blood tests.  While I’m there waiting, Evan texts me to say that our house hit the MLS and the listing has gone live.  The vet called me back to a room and basically told me that Milo had no platelets, so no ability to clot blood – it was an autoimmune thing.  She gave him a very poor prognosis and suggested that I admit him to their hospital and begin some sort of chemo immediately.  The medicine was $1000 for a dose and she said she didn’t know if it would work.  I couldn’t believe it.  He was acting totally normal but if he injured himself he would basically hemorrhage.  He doesn’t even like having his nails clipped, and the kids had no idea that he was even “sick” so I declined treatment and took him home so they could say goodbye and prepare for the worst.  They gave me prednisone to give him.

So the next few days were teary and watching him like a hawk for any bad signs – meanwhile having to leave the house for showings every day or so.  Then I checked in with his vet again and she said that while this is serious, it isn’t always a death sentence and to keep him still/quiet and see if the prednisone helps.  I took him back several days later and his platelets had increased from basically 0 to 132.  200-500 is normal, so this was SUPER good news.  I took him back a few days ago and he is back into the normal range.
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On sunday we accepted an offer on our house from a very nice couple.  We close at the end of June-ish, so now we need to start looking for a new place for us.  We’re headed up to Washington the weekend of memorial day weekend to shop.  It sounds like their market is pretty hot, and we’ll have to be ready to pounce that day if we see something we really like.  So, like, not intimidating or stressful at all.

Next time I’ll have to post some before/after pics of the house.

 

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