Back to the Aquarium

15 10 2012

Alex didn’t have school this past Friday because of a teacher workday, so he and I got to hang out. Alas, Friday was also the day Augtober ended and we finally returned to cool, damp weather. We decided to head to the aquarium. We haven’t been in probably six months. It’s a different experience for Alex now. He doesn’t just gawk at the animals; he soaks up facts and enjoys asking questions. (His favorite facts from this trip: Over half the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean, and kelp can grow to 100 feet long.) I hope this inquisitive trend continues!

Alex and the Octopus



Pumpkin Time

7 10 2012

This is what I imagine it feels like to visit Australia at Christmas. All of the holiday trappings are there, but the weather is just wrong. That was our experience today. In spite of the full-on summer weather — cloudless, sunny, warm — the calendar says October so we headed to our favorite pumpkin patch: The Farm at Swan’s Trail.

Pumpkin Patch

Like last year, we went with Asher, T.J., and their family. With all the jumping the kids did, I estimate they spent 20% of the trip not touching the ground. The hay pit seemed especially popular. It was shaded, and the kids got to spice up their usual routine of “jumping” with “throwing hay.” (Although, in my role as Meanest Dad in the World, I told them to stop throwing hay whenever I saw it. That never seemed to stick for long.)

Big Jump

The Farm added a new attraction this year: A large, orange, inflated jumping “pillow.” Imagine one of those inflatable bouncy-house attractions from a street fair or Pump It Up, and just remove the side walls, and you’ve got the idea. This was as fun as the hay pit.

Bouncing Children

This is the first year I got to experience The Farm’s signature attraction: A 12-acre corn maze shaped like Washington State, complete with highways and over 200 cities marked inside. Last year, Patrick was too young for the maze, so he and I skipped. This year, we were maze buddies and we got through in record time. I can’t wait until the kids want to explore the maze and find all the things hidden inside, rather than just escape the maze.

An arial view of the corn maze.

Patrick’s going through an animal-obsessed phase right now. He and I spent a lot of father-son time away from the others, checking out the animals at the farm. Patrick had an odd obsession with the “Four Little Pigs” show. He remembered it from last year. From my adult perspective, it’s a lot of waiting in a small, crowed amphitheater for a five-minute interpretation of the Three Little Pigs. It must have made some impression on Patrick, though, because he would have happily waited in an empty amphitheater for hours, just waiting for the show to start. He didn’t want to miss those pigs! (It took all my powers of persuasion to convince Patrick that it was OK to leave the empty amphitheater, and we could make it back in plenty of time for the show to start.)

Patrick most enjoyed the hands-on animal exhibits: Petting rabbits and holding kittens. I must admit it melts my heart to see how thoroughly these little animals captivated our red-headed imp. He was gentle and sweet with them the whole time.

Patrick Holds a Kitten

Perhaps because of the weather, we stayed a few hours longer than we have in the past. Everyone was exhausted (and a little pink from the sun) by the time we headed home. A marvelous day.

I guess that would be smart

4 10 2012

(A dialog between myself and Alex on the way to school. I’ve removed the names of other kids.)

Alex: The President called E____’s dad.

Me: Really?

Alex: Yes. Because he knows E____’s dad is so smart!

Me: That’s great!

Alex: Yeah! Maybe he knows how to hug a porcupine!

Smiing Alex

It’s October 1st…

1 10 2012

…and I find myself expecting every day to be warm and drenched in sunshine.

Sun Star

This can only end badly. Winter is coming, but we’ve gotten soft here in the Northwest. When the months of perpetual gloom return, nobody will be ready. I predict dire shortages of full-spectrum lamps.

On the positive side: We’re enjoying our time outdoors. Sunday, we trekked over to the Ballard Locks. I don’t think I’ve taken the kids there in two years, and I’ve never taken them during salmon season. It was the tail end of the run. When we went down to the fish ladder observation room, I first thought it was going to be like every other trip I’ve had to the locks: A whole lot of nothing. Luckily, the kids lingered, climbing on the rails. After a few minutes, we saw the one, lone salmon trying to make the run up the ladder. She made about three attempts to make it up the final spillway, and each time the rushing water pushed her back into the gloom. We completely lost her at the end, so I hope she finally made it.

Patrick Sees a Salmon