The Last Smile

18 04 2013

I’m not too fond of this picture:

Last Smile

I think Alex looks a little possessed. This photo was destined to die on my computer, unshared and unloved.

But then this happened:


When those teeth grow back, they’re going to be big. Everything will look out of place until his face grows bigger to match it. I saw that gap in his mouth and realized he’s never going to look like that little first grade boy ever again. It happened so suddenly!

So I wondered: What’s the last picture I have of him smiling with his baby teeth? Yup… the first one you see, a picture of Alex on our last full day of vacation over Spring Break. Yes, he’s possessed, but it’s the last captured smile I’ve got.

But there are probably lots of toothless photos to come. I’ll leave you with this one. Believe it or not, Patrick took it. I think it turned out well.

Father and Son

The Real Magic of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

31 01 2013

Grandma Georgina and Grandpa George

Grandma Georgina and Grandpa George.

This past Thursday, Molly and I picked up Patrick early and headed to Villa to watch Alex in his stage début in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was both Grandpa George and an Oompa Loompa.

Let’s be honest. There were no Tony-winning performances last week. While the kids did surprisingly well with their cues and memorizing their lines, a 5-8-year-old can’t project to fill an auditorium. Anything that wasn’t said or sung into a microphone was lost. And speaking of singing: No, at that age, they do not sing in time with the music.

Ensemble Singing

The chorus sings.

But you know, none of that matters when you are the parent of one of the kids on stage. All I saw was the smile on Alex’s face when he saw us in the audience, and the smiles on the faces of all the other parents, grandparents, and siblings sitting around us. I heard the laughter and applause after each of the older children finished a solo. When the cast came out for their curtain call, I felt the buzz in the room.

This is the real magic. My kid was happy, my kid was practicing and doing new things, and I’m his parent. It was a great night.

Oompa Loompa

Alex as an Oompa Loompa.

Cast Party

The parent volunteers set up an excellent cast party after the show.

Cast Flower

Alex got a rose at his party. Patrick put it in the “vase” for him.

No-Stress Chess

26 11 2012

An unexpectedly fun purchase from our recent trip to Math ‘n’ Stuff was No Stress Chess. This set has a few tricks to make chess approachable for kids. First, the board diagrams where all of the pieces go at the beginning of the game, eliminating one piece of memorization. But most importantly, the set comes with a deck of “chess cards.” Each card describes how a single piece moves. When you start playing No Stress Chess, you draw a card and move that piece. For example, if you draw a pawn card, you move a pawn. If you draw a knight, you move a knight. This one simple trick tames the complexity of chess and makes it something a six-year-old can approach.

Once you get bored with draw-a-card, play-that-piece chess, you graduate to playing chess with a hand of three cards. It gives you a little more room to think about strategy, but is still far less complex than regular chess. This is the level Alex is on now. As you’d expect, I get a little fatherly thrill each time Alex asks me to play a game of chess, which he’s done obsessively since we got the set. This purchase has been as much fun for me as for him!

No Stress Chess

I’ll never know…

5 11 2012

…if they really missed me, or if they just wanted to get presents. But whatever the reason, they seem happy to have me around. It’s good to be back.


I must say, it’s gotten so colorful since I left for California!

Autumn by the Tracks

Though some of our weekend color was man-made…

Gum Wall Patrick

Here are my excuses for not writing more.

25 09 2012

Summer in Seattle is precious. It’s bright, and magnificent, and perfect in every way except longevity. Good habits and prudence are things for our grey, drizzly days. All Seattleites give way to hedonism with sunshine and warm weather. And this has been the best Seattle summer in at least a decade. It started slow, but dry and clear weather has lingered beyond any reasonable expectation. It’s really hard to sit in front of a computer and type when the outside beckons.

Because of the extended dry weather, we’ve been able to enjoy a lot of outdoor activities on the weekend: Soccer games, bike riding, you get the picture. This past Sunday, we had a particularly nice trip to the zoo. No crowds! Hungry birds! Loud siamangs! (First time in two years I’ve heard them…) 

Someday the rain will return. Someday my kids will no longer want to spend sunny Sundays at the zoo. But until then, I’ll be outside more and writing less…

Alex, Patrick, Cockatiel

Alex and Patrick feed a cockatiel at Willawong Station in the Woodland Park Zoo.

Happy goat.

Patrick and Alex have the petting area all to themselves. This goat obviously enjoyed the attention.

Hello, Autumn!

4 09 2012

Every single parent I know is happy school is starting. Somehow, when I was growing up, I completely missed out on this part of back-to-school… Thank God the little rugrats are out of the house!

First Day of School

Alex starts 1st grade, minus a tooth.

But before settling into the comfortable routines of a new school year, I want to remember what an epic summer it was. The kids visited three states, yet we had none of those meltdowns that make parents dread air travel. (Even during the Kafkaesque evening at Dulles airport, the kids remained in good spirits.) We had a fun and sunny weekend camping! And thanks to the hard work of one devoted grandmother, Alex learned to both tie his shoes and ride his bike.

Alex Rides

Add in some of the best Seattle summer weather in years, and there’s nothing to complain about at all! 

Here’s hoping that our autumn is as great as our summer….

Running Through the Spray

Wet at Magnuson

23 07 2012

We spent a lazy Saturday afternoon at Magnuson park. As you can tell, the boys didn’t enjoy it one bit.