The MLK Day Storm of 2012

23 01 2012

We just had our week of winter. While there wasn’t a storm on MLK day itself, the week of cold / snowy / slushy / icy mix has already started blurring together in everybody’s minds. We’ll remember this as the MLK Day Storm in a few years, so we might as well start calling it that now.

Everything started prettily enough. Saturday, we had enough snow to dust things white. Sunday, it came down hard but didn’t accumulate too much in our neck of the woods. We lit a fire, walked through the neighborhood, and in general had a good time.


Walking in the Snow

But what stands out about this storm is, aside from too few hours on Tuesday, Seattle parents were unexpectedly stuck with their kids for a week. Perhaps some parents spent the whole time reliving the magic of snow days through their kids eyes. In our house, that magic had all worn away by Thursday. Partly that’s because our kids don’t like going out in the cold that much. Sledding had lost its thrill. Thursday’s coating of ice made it hard to make snowballs or snowmen. Come the afternoons, it was hard for me to muster the willpower to put on all those layers and get the kids out of the house for what I knew would be just a short excursion. When we did get out of the house on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, it was hard to walk anywhere quickly because all Alex wanted to do was be a Mammy Wooleth (the way he still says Wooly Mammoth). He’d tromp around on all fours, breaking through the ice crust over the snow, like he was an Ice Age mastodon. But we were luckier than many. We kept our power through the whole experience, so we could use movies and iPads to entertain the kids when we ran out of other ideas.

As pretty as the first snowfall was on Saturday, the first snowmelt on Friday was even prettier!

Great trip to the zoo

10 01 2012

At this point in our lives, trips to the zoo are so commonplace that I don’t bother writing about them. However, the weekend before last, we had a particularly nice trip. We ran into old friends:

Alex and Annika

And the animals were unusually photogenic.

Meercat Tiger

What’s that? You’ve never seen a wolf picture from me before? Well… that’s right. In five years of bringing a camera to the zoo, I don’t have a single picture of a wolf. Most times we don’t get to that part of the zoo, or when we do, everybody’s napping. Not this time!


(And there are more where that came from!)

So all in all, a really nice trip and a really nice way to start 2012. Even if it made me think that at least one of us would be happier in a wolf pack.

Patrick and Wolf Cubs

Mind Like a Sponge for Lyrics

4 01 2012

Alex now has a favorite album: Peaceful, the World Lays me Down by Noah and the Whale. It’s full of catchy and upbeat tunes. He started absorbing the music by osmosis as I piped the music through our Sonos player. It’s one of my favorite albums.

But here’s the thing: When I listen to music, I hardly pay attention to lyrics at all. Not so with Alex. He’s now learning and singing the lyrics that I’ve been ignoring, like the opening verses of Jocasta:

When the baby’s born
Let’s turn it to the snow
So that ice will surely grow
Over weak and brittle bones

Let’s leave it to the wolves
So their teeth turn it to food.
Its flesh keeps them alive
As death helps life survive

The world can be kind in its own way…

It’s really an excellent song, on many levels… but it’s a little disturbing to hear a five year old sing it. (Alas, much of the album pairs catchy music with dark lyrics. Nothing’s safe.)


2 01 2012

New Year's Eve Snack

Sure, that redhead looks innocent enough. But see that scratch under Alex’s eye? It’s from Patrick, who without warning or provocation attacked his brother’s face. (Aside from a few minutes of crying, Alex was OK, and I now get to tease Alex that he looks like Scar from The Lion King. Alex then corrects me. “No, Dad, Scar’s scratch went through his eye, like this.” Then he draws an imaginary line from above his right eyebrow down to the top of his cheekbone. He’s very precise.)

As for Patrick: He actually shows signs of maturing. October was a rocky month. (Those who saw us during our trip to Virginia know that well enough!) But the last several weeks, Patrick’s been very even-tempered and upbeat. Our trip to Minnesota stands out in particular: Patrick was much, much better behaved than he was on either our summer vacation or our trip to Virginia. But every now and then he does something unexpected, like deliver this scratch.

I imagine this is what it must be like for one of those crazy animal people buy a tiger cub and bring him home. He may live in your house, eat your food, and act cuddly most of the time… but the day always comes when you remember he has claws and is a wild animal at heart.

Bye Bye, Barnes and Noble

1 01 2012

The Barnes and Noble at University Village was one of my top five favorite bookstores. (Rounding out the list: Powell’s in Portland, Elliott Bay Books, Third Place Books, and the University Bookstore.) They had an astounding selection of fiction, photo books, computer science books, and for a brief glorious period, they had a great classical music selection. When I first moved to Seattle fifteen years ago, before I knew a single soul in the city, I’d pass the hours browsing through that store. Both our kids loved the bookstore, too, which had a great children’s book section complete with a train table.

Yesterday, the store closed. I took the kids over for one last stroll through the store. (Plus, I had to use up some old gift cards that had been sitting in a desk drawer.) The store was oddly empty… they’ve been removing shelves and stock for a few weeks now. A few employees seemed to have a good time; they were taking photos of one another and I saw at least one piggy-back ride. The customers had a harder time. Over and over, I heard different people mutter, “This is sad!” (I said it once myself.) And I saw one woman walking through the children’s section, crying.

Oh well. Long live the ebook era, I guess!

Barnes and Noble Closing: Periodicals Barnes and Noble Closing: Newsstand Barnes and Noble Closing: Children's Section