Saturday, March 31, 2018

It Was a Much Better Day... and Weekend

If you're keeping better track of things than I am, let me reassure you that we had a lovely visit with Burke and Mary last weekend.  All the household systems functioned as intended, our simple dinner was properly cooked, no emergency repairs were needed, and everyone seemed to enjoy each other :D

Hallelujah and Amen.

I'm shamelessly pilfering Tate's facebook page for photos of the afternoon walk.

Tomorrow is Easter, and I have a houseful of family coming - Kerry's family last week, my family this week.  But we're minus Gunnar...

Beginning of the school year - he looks so much younger!

Gunnar owes me big for getting up at 2am (to make sure he was up) and driving him to the high school, to meet his orchestra group.  They all took off for SoCal this morning.  If they're following their itinerary, about now Gunnar is all suited up in his fancy-pants and they're heading out for an Italian dinner before hearing the L.A. Philharmonic later tonight.

100% swanky.

It's weird that he's gone over Easter, but we're glad for him to get this chance.  And he earned it.  When they proposed the trip (with a $1700+ price tag), they "offered" the students a monthly line-up of fund-raisers.  I get that they're trying to make the trip possible for ALL orchestra students (a good thing) but fund-raisers...  UGH.  I told Gunnar that we would NOT be doing them (with the exception of the chocolate bars, because everyone loves chocolate.  And they're only a buck.)  We would not be hawking overpriced miscellany to our friends and relatives, month after month, BUT any money he earned by working, we would match.  He did a lot of pet care, mowing, gutter-cleaning, etc. and he made it :D

Hope he enjoys every minute of it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

It Was Not My Best Day

In December, Kerry's dad and his wife came to visit.

It was not my best day.  (Not their fault!)

Our oven was being kind of fluky.  Sometimes it would take FOREVER to get hot.  Well, the morning of That Day the oven did get hot.  And when the oven gets hot, you bake.  We had various Christmas events coming, so I got busy...

I think I baked seventeen loaves of bread (small), a ginger "bread" for dessert, and then mixed up fifteen pounds of meatballs, figuring most would go into the freezer and the last batch that went in the oven would be for dinner.

Meanwhile, Burke and Mary arrived earlier than expected (I guess I didn't really need a shower), the plumbing backed up (emergency!), and about the time I slid the last tray of meatballs into the oven, it completely gave up the ghost.

So while the emergency plumber dropped by and sorted out the drains, I was dancing around him in the kitchen, preparing a curried bulgur side dish, and discovering that the meatballs were... raw.  Dinner was about an hour late (thank heaven meatballs can be cooked on the stove top!), Burke and Mary were gracious about the whole thing, and Kerry was just about dying of embarrassment.  Because, you know, Mr. Successful Architect's home is going to pieces around us.

It was not his best day. (Not his fault!)

These things happen.

In shocking news, I didn't get any photos of that visit.  You'll have to use your imagination.

Then, just to add to the fun, Burke and Mary went on to Kerry's brother and SIL's to stay and visit with them and his brother's sons. SIL apparently came down with something horrible that involved much vomiting in the night. Early the next morning they (and grandsons) scattered, like cockroaches when the light comes on.

It was not her best day.  (Not her fault!)

We're all giving it another try this weekend.  Burke and Mary arrive in a few hours for dinner, and we're all hoping things go just a bit more smoothly this time around.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

And On The Third Day of Spring...

We attended Gunnar's orchestra concert,
and emerged to find this...


It's snow.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The End of an Era

When we were homeschooling all three boys full time, that was
a lot of time with Mom.
As far as their education goes, it was basically
all mom, all the time.
And as awesome as I naturally am (HA!),
that was not a great long-term strategy with young men.
So I started looking for something - I wasn't even sure what.
Somewhere they'd be around other young men, with good role models.

The funny thing is, I'd heard of Civil Air Patrol before, but had gotten the (wrong) impression that it was something Air Force bases offered to Air Force kids. When I learned that it was open to civilians AND that we had a squadron right in our hometown, well... all the boys got interested. Gunnar was too young to join initially (have to be 12), so Wyatt and Tate had a head-start on him and he got to learn the ropes second hand.

When the boys played soccer one of the things I loved was that it was seasonal.  We'd have a really busy 8-10 weeks, and then it was done.  Not so with CAP.  Squadron meetings and activities go year-round.  With waaaay more opportunity than any one person can take advantage of, the boys had to pick and choose which activities to participate in.  Wyatt really loved the flying.  Besides the O-flights, he won a scholarship to Desert Eagle - a two week flight school, where he got to fly solo.  He and Tate both trained and participated in several SAR activities (including actual searches).  Tate and Gunnar both volunteered as "victims" for many CERT classes, and eventually took and passed CERT classes themselves.  And Gunnar competed for two (three?) years on the squadron's CyberPatriot team.

But with activities continuing in a perpetual cycle, there's no natural "endpoint" to CAP involvement, and we didn't want the boys to just fizzle out.  Gunnar's goal was to earn the Billy Mitchell Award.  This is A Big Deal in the CAP world.  I wish I could remember what percentage of cadets get this far, but it's relatively small.  And make no mistake, the cadets earn these promotions - they don't just get them for showing up week after week.  Though this award did not require a drill test, it did require a comprehensive leadership exam, a comprehensive aerospace exam, a PT test, completion of Basic Encampment, and a review board interview.

And here's Gunnar's big moment, at the annual squadron "Dining Out",
receiving his award from a high muckety-muck from "Wing".

And with that... I think we're done with CAP.
A great organization - lots of opportunities and generally a great bunch of people.
And now we're moving on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sometimes You Just Need To Get Away

The literal side of me is having trouble with saying "need" there,
but I'm going to roll with it.

Heading up into the mountains

Kerry and I have our anniversary in May, which is a great month to get married.
(I suppose any month is a good month to get married ;D)
But not such a good month for a getaway.

Fresh snow below the pass!

Here in the PNW, after months of rain and darkness, the weather is finally warming up, the days are getting long, and everything seems to be bursting into bloom and growing like it's on steroids. It's a pretty good time to be here!

Waterfall :D

But oh the long, dark winters...

A lot of that vivid red are wild blueberry bushes.

Bad weather usually sets in around October, and that's when I like to get away.
And now that the boys are as old as they are, we can just... go.
It's pretty amazing, really :D
So we did.

Near Leavenworth - aaahhhhh

Washington is basically rectangular, and divided by the Cascade Mountains.
We live on the wet side, near the ocean. Nice and green. LOTS of rain. 

I'm intrigued by the foot bridge...

But the other side is much drier and brighter.

... but I won't be crossing it!

Better fall colors, too.

I love love love this house and its location

Just what I tell myself I need, before the long dark season.

And we have a place we like to go in Winthrop.
Kind of rustic,

The River Run Inn

really quiet,

and what a view to welcome us!

Right on the Methow River,

and did I mention the aspens?
I love those trees :D

We brought books and projects,
and pretty much holed up at the Inn,

venturing out each day to do a bit of hiking

and exploring.

Tawlks Foster Suspension Bridge

The Methow Valley has a huge network of trails,

perfect for hiking,


mountain biking,

and x-country skiing in the winter.

Loup Loup Pass Ski Area

I always feel like I'm storing up the brightness

Larch trees!

and the vivid colors

to carry me through the winter ahead.

Happy late anniversary to us :D

I love the sound of the water :D 

The most direct route from our hometown to Winthrop crosses a pass

that closes for several months each winter.

We got through just in time -
it closed a few days after we crossed back to the rainy side.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Painting the House... Both Ways

I got a little distracted this summer. About the time school was starting, and we were getting a cat, and my dad had major heart surgery, we decided it was time to paint the house. I still love the periwinkle blue, but it was getting really, REALLY faded across the front.

So we spent a lot of time looking at colors, because there are so many. It's insane.  I mean, go to any paint store and ROYGBIV is meaningless.  Nobody has "green". Nooooo. There are 500 shades of green. Anyway, we pondered and hemmed and hawed, and I brought home samples, and we made a decision we're happy with. A deeper blue, and deeper green for the doors and the little triangles up in the eaves. I love it. And we spent all that time thinking about it only to be told...

... we painted a Seahawks house.

Why yes, apparently we did.

And if we'd only thought of it that way, it probably would've simplified the whole process ;D

After painting the actual house, Kerry gave me gift money to have the house painted by a friend of mine.  I know, have the house painted?  We just DID!  But my Ben Mann painting is a dream come true :D  I want to link to his website, but it seems to be down.  He's on fb though, here.

Isn't that a great addition to the living room?!  Look closer :D

I asked him to paint the house the "old" colors - it's really capturing a moment in time when the boys were younger... playing soccer, watching a robin... and Kerry is mowing, and I'm hanging quilts on the line :D

Every time I look at that painting it makes me happy!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Grasshopper Update, Of Sorts

* Tap tap tap * Anyone still here?

We are.  We're all still alive.  Just getting through winter here, in the PNW.

I'm not big on introspection, so this will be brief.  The boys are growing up. Not so many cute/funny stories, and less desire to be the subject of a blog post.  I get that.  Healthy and normal. So the blog seemed like it was getting to be a lot of me-ME-ME! And what's the fun of that? But I realize how much I use this as a point of reference for our LIVES. (When did Tate have his appendix out? Check the blog. Do I have any photos of so-and-so's baby quilt? Check the blog.  etc.) So I'm giving it another try...

How about a family update?  Nothing embarrassing for the boybarians...

Wyatt - graduated (AA) December 2016, worked for a while at a small hydro-electric plant near Mt. Baker, then when that job ended he was kind of at loose ends. You can guess how popular that situation was from a parental perspective. (Ahem.) Meanwhile, he likes working on cars and seems to have a knack for it...

so we suggested and he got interested in a one-year auto-tech program. While he was going through the steps to enroll, Kerry heard from a friend looking for a "shop boy who could grow with the (HVAC) company". It took a little convincing (because testosterone says that working on cars is cooler than working on furnaces) but he agreed to give it a try for a year. If it isn't a great fit, the tech school will still be there, and he'll have made some money. And he likes it. And he's doing well :D

Tate - the overachiever, still taking 19 or 20 credits a quarter and getting straight A's at the tech college.  Featured in the quarterly college magazine :D This quarter, on top of his program classes, he decided to take pre-calc... for fun.

He's got finals next week, then one more quarter until graduation.  Woo-hoo!

Gunnar - plugging away at his sophomore year at high school / home school, playing in the school orchestra and looking forward to tour in SoCal over spring break (Disneyland!), and planning to go to community college for Running Start this fall.

My. Baby. In. College.

Just letting that sink in for a minute.

And, by the way, sporting a new haircut AND braces.  Love that metal grill.

Kerry - staying very happily busy with work, and enjoying Niko, the office cat.

You may look at, but not touch, his little bear.

Me - this is the story of why I haven't been blogging...
     * October - my gall bladder tried to kill me

      * November - I got to have surgery

     * November/December - recover from surgery, host Thanksgiving, celebrate Christmas, and....

     * December/January/February - become the somewhat reluctant volunteer "care manager" for elderly neighbor/cousins dealing with health issues related to aging.  They are the sweetest couple, but he's getting frail and forgetful, and she's deaf and older than he is.  It's been a rodeo... EMTs, ambulance rides, hospital visits, "care center" stays (ie nursing home for rehab), lining up all kinds of in-home help and therapies, adapting the home environment, etc.  What an education.

     * January - oh!  And in the middle of all that... Jury Duty.  I could just about write a book about that.  Ugh.  The details of the stalking case were hard to dwell on, but the worst part of the whole thing... well, let me just say there should be an I.Q. test for jurors.  We had one... one that drove us all to the Cliffs of Insanity.

So there you have it.  There's more, but those are the Big Things.

No promises, but I hope to be back in this space more regularly :D

In the meantime, Niko is watching...

Doesn't he look completely malevolent?