Monday, August 31, 2009


Check out my 1st runner up entry in a local photo contest! The winner is a friend of mine - so a double yippee is in order!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Postcard Winners!

(of this contest)

Congratulations to Marsha and Sarah, who have each won a set of custom postcards from!

Ladies, send me your email addresses so I can get your coupon code to you!

Thanks to everyone who commented - I hope to have another contest soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Day 2009 - Photo Edition

They're finally posted! Photos from the first week of school! Thanks for being so patient - everyone in this house is worn out from such a full week. We will hit our stride soon - which is actually a requirement, since Mister J's much-requested soccer practice begins next week, and Miss M's dance lessons begin the following week.

You might remember that Mister J wanted me to set his alarm clock to help him get up in the mornings. While it didn't quite work the first day, he's gotten up without my help each day since. Here are a few snapshots of our first day.

The kids got to take the last links down from their "how long is summer?" paper chain. Mister J wants another one to show him how long school will last. I think we are going to start using a month-at-a-time calendar instead!

Getting ready to get in the mommy-van and drive to school! The arms around each other was their idea - so sweet! Those smiles lasted all day long! I was mostly smiling, but milestones like this always get to me a little...

Walking from the parking lot to the front door. I'm amazed that this 'action shot' turned out - many of my photos from the morning are blurry :(

After a brief pause at the door to get his bearings, Mister J headed straight to his class. Today, he didn't even look back! Clearly, he's comfortable in his surroundings and happy to be there each day.

Miss M was also excited to get to class (once we pointed her in the right direction!). I think with a few more tries she'll be able to find the way on her own. I'll try not to cry when that happens....
I think she looks so tiny in this picture! She's in a (pea- and tree) nut-free classroom, and I'm packing her lunch each day to be sure I know exactly what she's eating. The safety measures the school has in place are great, but I feel more comfortable packing a lunch. Mister J has expressed an interest in purchasing his lunch, which we will be discussing over the weekend.

Mrs. G shared this photo of Miss M and her friend, K. It sure is nice to have a peek into what the day is like, since M's not at the age where she tells me a whole lot. She and K seem to be fast friends - there are a few photos of them playing together. Miss M also knows another little girl in the class, H, whose family goes to our church.

I was behind the camera on the first day of school, but finally made it in front of the camera on Day 3 (many thanks to the mom who snapped this photo!). As you can see, our school is in a very metropolitan area - and I think we are going to love it!

Also yesterday, the Farmer's Market was open. It's in an area adjacent to the school, and open twice a week from late spring through early fall . A few students (upper grades) were walking through the market at the same time I was walking through.

One of my favorite things from this week - besides the art the kids brought home, which will have to be another post - is the lunch plan that Mister J has been helping me with (I found the planning diagram on the Laptop Lunch Box website). Each evening, I give the kids a few choices for what their lunch on the following day. They pick from a variety of fruit, vegetable & dip, and sandwich options. Jonah has been recording their choices, and then I pack the lunches after the kids are in bed.
I helped out a bit with spelling, but most of that writing is Mister J's. I am so proud of him for being such a great helper! I hope to continue this through the school year - I think it's a great way to teach them about choosing healthy foods and about making/sticking to a plan. The spelling and handwriting practice are just a bonus! By the way, we ignored the days of the week on this plan. The left column was used for J's lunches, the right for M's lunches, and each row was for one day. Maybe I'll match up actual photos to the diagram in another post over the weekend....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Thanks #21

What a busy week it has been! School started on Tuesday - kindergarten for Mister J, and a new preschool (at the same school as Mister J) for Miss M. Of course, with a busy, milestone week come lots of thanks!

Last week, we met with the kids' teachers, Mrs G and Mrs J in Pre K-3 and Mrs M in kindergarten. I don't think I could have left the conferences feeling much better than I did. Both Miss M and Mister J were sorely disappointed the following morning when it wasn't a school day. So, I'm thankful for our teachers and for enthusiastic children.

We pulled the last link off of our summer countdown paper chain on Tuesday morning, and everyone was excited! I have a good list of thankful things from Tuesday:
- my alarm clock worked
-Mister J got out of bed with a smile
- minimal tears on my part, and most of them when I was back in the parking lot after dropping the kids off
- a decent to-do list for the morning, to keep me occupied until preschool pick-up
- the kids both ate nearly all of their lunches, especially important since Miss M is a grazer (they have 30 minutes for lunch)
- food allergy safety plans that I am comfortable with (many in place from prior years)
- Miss M's excitement to see me at pick-up, and a good first day
- Mister J's excitement at pick-up, and a good first day

Each day has brought some new tidbit about school from Mister J - I'm recording them in my planner. I'm thankful for these little tidbits - they are like gold to me! I am also thankful for the opportunity to volunteer at school (it's actually a requirement at our school!). Even though I'm not in my kids' classrooms, it gives me a bit of insight about a typical day. I don't want to be a helicopter parent, but in some instances (like food allergies) it's very, very necessary. My first 'shift' was on the first day of school - the result of a last-minute schedule change that worked out perfectly!

Now for a change of topic... It's been a long time since I've been out to girls night on a regular basis, so it was a real treat to have some unexpected time to visit with friends on Saturday morning (a friend I hadn't spent time with in nearly a month) and on Wednesday morning (friends I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks). Truly, the last-minute plans have really worked out well this week!

I'm also very thankful that I'm (finally) catching up on sleep! We are putting the kids to bed a bit earlier, and I'm letting myself off the hook on a few things this week so I can go to bed earlier. I even took a nap this afternoon - lovely!

I got my first bloggy award yesterday - woohoo! I'll be sharing the details in another post very soon.

I'm thankful for the mom who offered to take a photo of me with the kids this morning. I'd forgotten to get one with me in it (typical!) on the first day of school, and I didn't even imagine how hard it would be to get myself and the kids in a photo that I was taking myself - you know, the hold-the-camera-out-and-pray-it-turns-out-ok method - until I actually tried it! I didn't even think to look at the photo until a couple of hours later, and it's cute! I hope to get the 'first day' photos up this weekend - I really am eager to share them.

Thanks for stopping by!

previous Thursday Thanks posts

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Not that all of my WFMW posts aren't really things that work for me, but this is a solution that I figured out last night. And tried out this morning. And it WORKED!

When Miss M got home from preschool yesterday, I noticed that her backpack was wet. After a little sleuthing, I figured out that the condensation on the cold pack in her lunch box had leaked out of the lunchbox and into the bottom of her backpack. (The lunchbox was packed into her backpack to come home.) It's the first time I've ever packed a lunch that had to stay cold for that many hours, so even though we've had these lunchboxes for years I was surprised by the leak.

I needed a quick and easy solution, because it was two days until Thursday packets - and I didn't want to pull a bunch of soggy papers out of her backpack - yuck!

After the kids were in bed and I had some "down time" to think it through, I decided to wrap a thin (baby) washcloth around the ice pack today. When I got home with Miss M, I was pleased to see that the cloth had absorbed the condensation. I'll be anxious to see how it worked with Mister J's lunch - he's in a full day of school now, so there's more time for his cold pack to warm up and "sweat."

I think this might also work with the tube part of a sock - it would stay on better and also fit a variety of sizes/shapes of ice packs. I'm going to refine it a bit, and I'll be sure to post photos/updates when I do!

Thanks for stopping by, and hop on over to We Are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday posts!

my previous WFMW posts

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day 2009 - Mom Edition

So far, I'm doing ok. "Lean on Me" came on the radio as I pulled out of the school parking lot.... I changed the station.
I have been waiting for the day I would have two free hands. Now I am trying to figure out how to fill them. I know we will find our rhythm soon enough, but for now I think it IS okay to miss my babies. At the same time, I will (try to) celebrate how well they did this morning!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

5:55am - Wake up before alarm clock. This - by itself - is a miracle.
6:00am - Alarm clock buzzes. Hit snooze, and say a few prayers until it buzzes again.
6:05am - Out of bed. It's still dark outside. Peek out of bathroom window and take note of other families up at this hour. Can't bring myself to turn on the (bright) bathroom lights - take shower in the dark
6:30am - Out of shower, dressed, and downstairs to finish packing lunches. Also getting goodies ready to take to staff workday at our former preschool.
6:45am - Mister J's alarm clock goes off (he asked me to set it last night). He doesn't budge until I call his name.
7:00am - I'm back downstairs finishing up the lunches. Mister J comes down for breakfast. He's dressed and, I'll find out later, his bed is neatly made. I serve his breakfast, then head upstairs to get Miss M out of bed.
By 7:30am, Miss M is dressed and has eaten breakfast, everyone has brushed their teeth and has shoes on, and we are nearly ready to go. I thought about breakfast, negotiated with the butterflies in my stomach, an managed to eat about 1/2 a portion.
By 8:00 am, we have taken First Day of School photos (only 3 tries to get a good one) and are loaded and ready to go. Miss M rides with M, and Mister J rides with Daddy.

After dropping Mister J in his class, Big J has to nudge me ("that's it, time to go") before we head over to Miss M's class. I realize that I'm the only parent there who is helping unpack Miss M's backpack (allergy meds, first-day paperwork). Neither of our kids seemed to want a big mommy-hug, and barely glanced our way as we said goodbye. I know that's a good sign, but man is it ever tough on a mommy's heart.

By 8:30, I was heading back out to the mommy-van and over to the preschool. By 9:15am, I was at Wal-Mart with my shopping list. I had one hour to shop before heading back to the kids' school for my volunteer time. I was done with my shopping in record time, even though I tried to take my time....

10:15 am - Blogging from school parking lot.
10:30 am - Head in early for volunteer hours - needed to get a lesson on how to log my hours, anyway....
10:45-11:45 - Served lunch in one of the K1 classrooms. When that was done, I checked email until it was time to pick up Miss M.
12 noon - Miss M was excited to see me at the end of her day :) Saw Mister J on our way out - he seemed to be having a great day!
12:30pm - Home it's rest time for Miss M, and time for me to get some work done. She mentions that she doesn't want to be at home (I guess since Mister J got to stay at school).
1:30pm - Miss M comes into my office. "Mom, I have something to tell you. I had a good nap." She never actually slept, and her 'nap' included a potty break - but I am hopeful that the room time will become a good part of her afternoon routine.
2:45pm - After making an octopus, mixing a lovely shade of orange from some bright pink and yellow, and cleaning up, we are on the way to pick up Big J
3:05pm - Waiting in standstill traffic to pick up my kindergartener. The line moves quickly once the kids start coming out of school.
3:15pm - A couple of blocks away from school - thankfully not any further - we realize that Mister J forgot his lunchbox. Back into the fray, but this time on foot. His teacher is just inside the door - she saw us coming.
3:30pm - On the way home from the first day of school!

Mister J finished his lunch leftovers (1/2 a bagel sandwich) when he got home. Then he and Miss M built a fort, listened to TJ Bearytales, and then we cuddled for a double-feature of WordGirl (opens with sound). Then, I started dinner while Mister J and Miss M picked out what I'll be packing for tomorrow's lunch. I ask the questions (would you like A, B, or C kind of sandwich? D, E, or F kind of vegetable? etc, etc.), they give the answers, and Mister J writes it on our lunch planner sheet (see p. 2 - it's a chart for the Laptop Lunch Boxes). I'll eventually scan the first sheet and share it here, along with some first day photos. For now, I'm wiped out - so I'm packing tomorrow's lunches and then going to bed. I know they were worn out, too - Miss M, our grazer, finished her dinner before Mister J. That never happens!

Oh, one more thing. I sent quarters for the kids to buy milk with their lunches today. I coached them about where the quarters were, and to give them to the teacher when she asked who was buying milk today. Since they had quarters, I did not pack a drink. Both of my kids drank water with lunch today. Why didn't they buy milk? I forgot to tell M's teacher, so I'm not surprised (I emailed her this afternoon to let her know that there are quarters in M's lunchbox) - but I still looked like the mom that forgot to pack a drink, at least for a few hours. Mister J's answer? "There wasn't any store." ((grins)) Tomorrow, I'll make sure his teacher knows he has quarters.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hiatus: A Contest

No, I'm not going away again - so what does a hiatus have to do with a contest? Let me explain....

A few years ago, I made a New Year's Resolution to begin sending birthday and anniversary cards to all of our friends and family members for whom I had date of birth and/or anniversary and an up-to-date address. With the exception of one month a couple of years ago when it all just fell apart, I kept it every month - until this past June, when it all fell apart again. After a month off, it was easy to let my unplanned hiatus continue right on through the (hot, busy, and fun) summer. Conservatively, I kept up that resolution for the better part of 5.5 years. I'm trying to get this practice back into my routine, though, because has become so important to me.

Looking through my book of days, writing a brief note and signing cards, addressing them and adding a stamp.... This quiet time allowed me the chance to think about the many people who have come into my life. To be thankful for them and to stay connected, in a way, to all the parts of my life that make me who I am today. This practice also helped me to remember those whose birthdays are listed, but who are no longer with us. It was a reminder to me to celebrate them, too - not with a card, a note, and a stamp, but with a prayer of thankfulness of the time we had with them.

I'm ready to start again, but I need to streamline part of the process. I can't streamline looking through my book of days - I am not willing to lose that quiet time to reflect and be thankful. I can't streamline the note-writing and addressing - even though I blog and email and facebook, I still adore sending and receiving mail. But I can streamline my shopping time by creating custom postcards or custom greeting cards. I've found that I barely spend time picking out the 'perfect' card anymore, so I'd rather create my own 'perfect' message instead. And, I'm having a little contest so you can do the same.

Thanks to the generous folks at, two contest winners will receive 200 custom postcards!
  • choose your size: 4x6, 4.25x6, or 5x7"); 14pt gloss or matte, 13pt uncoated
  • full color on both sides (4/4)
The fine print: Valid for US shipping only, winner pays shipping (your coupon code will be sent directly to you via email).

To enter, leave a comment below, letting me know what you would do with 200 custom postcards. Invitations? Save the Dates? Birth announcements? Christmas cards? Promote your business? I've got birthday cards on my mind, but I'd love to get some inspiration and ideas from you!

Invite your family and friends to leave their ideas - who couldn't use a little inspiration? Just tell them to do it soon! Contest ends next Saturday, August 29th, at 10:00PM Eastern Time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Thanks #20

I'm so happy to be sitting on the couch right now, laptop in my lap, starting this post. I am enjoying my quiet time to reflect on the past several days.

We've been busy, and I've been carrying around a lot of stress and anxiety about things that were somewhat beyond my control. My post-vacation, end-of-summer to-do list was very long, and I was worried that I would not be able to enjoy the last week of summer with my kids.

The things I was worried about have turned out just fine, and in retrospect I shouldn't have spent all of that time on worry. Our to-do list is steadily getting shorter. We've completed our school supply purchases and gotten Mister J's library card. We met the kids' teachers today, and are looking forward to the first day of school next week.

I've let all of these 'big' things crowd my mind, and finding time to be thankful was not at the top of my priority list. But I do have plenty of things for which to be thankful.

A dear friend who celebrated a birthday.
A minimum of silliness from the kids while we had portraits made for the church directory.
Running into friends at lunch on Saturday afternoon.
Kids that were well-behaved at lunch on Saturday afternoon.
Being welcomed back to Bible study after missing the last two meetings.
That Mister J didn't actually get sick, though his queasiness kept us home from the pool early in the week.
That we did make it to the pool the next day, and even had pizza delivered for dinner (a real treat!).
Enjoying the last summer kids' movie at a local theatre.
Running into friends at the movie theatre - the first unexpected surprise of the week.
Winning a prize from my friend's contest - the second unexpected surprise of the week.
My $5 subscription to Real Simple - the first issue arrived this week.
Comments on my recent blog posts and photos uploaded to facebook - always so encouraging!
Time to run errands with Mister J today - I enjoyed the one-on-one time that is so rare.

I'm also thankful for the lesson that I have learned this week.

Amidst the worry and to-dos, when I'm overtired and even cranky, I have so much for which to be thankful - and those things are just the small stuff.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Straight from the Travel Trenches

If you're visiting for WFMW - I know summer travel has pretty much ended, so I hope you will bookmark this for fall break or holiday travel!

Well, maybe not straight from the travel trenches, but I haven't been off the plane long!

We recently returned from vacation. For folks who normally drive just a few hours to any destination, the though of a non-stop flight across country was nerve-wracking. I need not have worried so much - everything turned out just fine. In the process, I learned a few tips to make our next flight even more enjoyable.

Lesson #1 - Only pack as much 'entertainment' as your child(ren) can carry. That includes my 3 year old (whose backpack ended up hitching a ride on the stroller handles, but that's not really the point). I packed enough stuff to keep the and entire plane full of folks entertained. It was more than we needed, and more than we needed to carry. My kids were both thrilled with the idea of playing Leapster nonstop for a few hours. A coloring book and crayons and a small magnetic game were the only other things they even bothered with. Add their blankets and loveys to the backpack (oh, and their 3-1-1 bags), and their backpacks would have been comfortably full without being too heavy.

Lesson #2 - Only pack as many clothes as will fit into a carry-on suitcase. Mister J could carry his (admittedly too heavy) backpack and pull his own small suitcase. He had more than enough clothes. We also had access to a washing machine and dryer. My need to wear a different shirt each day (so the scrapbook pictures would all look different) should not have outweighed the logic (and savings) of packing light. Our checked bag, paid in advance, cost us $15 each way. I wouldn't have minded having an extra $30 in my pocket, but we don't travel by air all that much - this was certainly a learning experience for me!

Lesson #3 - Bandanas make great handkerchiefs. I packed them because they are a great (lightweight) imaginative toy. They doubled as easy-to-locate hankies, since ours were brightly-colored. I tied the corner of one on the stroller seatbelt so Miss M could reach, but couldn't drop the one we gave her for her runny nose. It was easier than dealing with a travel pack of tissues, easier on her nose, and environmentally-friendly. (Remember, though, I had access to a washer and dryer).

Lesson #4 - I was so glad I made a point of saving some kid-sized plastic cups and lids from a local restaurant we visit regularly. I packed them, along with several straws, in my carry-on bag. They took up a good bit of space, but were much more kid-friendly than the open plastic cups that the airlines use for their beverage service. Just be sure to ask for the whole can of juice so you can share it between the kids!

Lesson #5 - If you are taking a long vacation or typically purchase a lot of gifts/souvenirs, plan time to drop by a pack and ship store before you head home. This felt a little excessive to me at first, but it is cheaper than checking an extra bag and is one less thing to haul/worry about. Our box just arrived yesterday, and the timing was perfect (we've had time to unpack, do laundry, and get back to our normal routine). Now we will unpack the couple of special things the kids picked out, I'll set aside the postcards and brochures I picked up along the way until it's time to put them in a scrapbook, and the box is ready to be recycled.

Lesson #6 - Be sure to keep a full change of clothes, wipes, and zipper bags handy in case of a potty accident, vomit, or any other incident that could leave clothes wet, smelly, or otherwise unwearable. Speaking from experience here - Miss M soaked everything but her socks when she ... Well, let me just say that in about 10 minutes, we had her clothes changed, soiled clothes bagged up, cleaned and packed her booster into its travel bag, and were on our way to check in for our flight. (Yes, I cleaned her up on the spot. Well, out of the way of the rental car drop-off line, in a relatively low-traffic area. Big J was mortified. I was praying that she wouldn't get sick again and that we could find something relatively mild among the meal options in the airport food court. And then I opened up one of the suitcases and found one more clean outfit to pack into her carry-on bag, just in case.)

I'm sure you have a few travel tips of your own - feel free to share them in the comments! And for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to

My previous WFMW posts

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mom, I'm Bored!

Is your well of go-to summer activities running dry? We've got another week before school begins, and while we are trying to head out to the pool as much as we can before it closes ... I can't be there all day every day. Plus, I've got work to do! My 'real' work and my 'mom' work and various other commitments. So what's a mom to do? Hop on over to SimpleMom for 20 great suggestions (and a few bonus ideas in the comments)!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Overheard #19

On the way to a home improvement store yesterday:

Mom to Mister J: Should we go to Lowe's or Home Depot?

Mister J: Home Depot.

Dad: Why did you pick Home Depot?

Mister J: Because I picked it.

Dad: But why did you pick it?

Mister J: Because....

Dad: But can you tell me why?

Mister J: Because. The end.

So, dear reader, do you think we (a) held it together like adults and explained to Mister J that his final answer was smart, and not in a good way? Or do you think we (b) laughed and laughed like it was just too funny, and then worked hard to pull ourselves together and not break into grins as we tried to explain to Mister that his final answer was smart, and not in a good way?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seattle Vacation - Photojournalism Style

So, you already know that we took a vacation. I posted a few photos, remember? Even though I didn't give away the details, you might already know that there's not a Cheesecake Factory in our hometown. I meant to post a better cruise photo, with something identifiable in the background, so that one wasn't any help - unless you gave some thought to the overcast skies. This one would have gotten you close, though, if you could identify the artist.

I don't think it's possible for me to tell you everything about our Seattle vacation. Instead, I'll show you a small portion. Then, I'll go burn my photos to CD - since I owe copies to everyone who vacationed with us! (Oh, and Folks We Vacationed With, please send copies of your photos. I'm missing Rachel the Pig, for starters...)

We got up very early to catch our flight to Seattle. We were on the road while it was still dark out, but that didn't stop the kids from waking up and watching the sun rise as we drove to the airport. They were very excited about the flight, and about seeing Grandma and Grandpa R, and staying with Uncle J and B! Oh, and playing Leapster for hours on end, including the two new games we bought for the flight. Big J sat with them for the first half of the flight, and I enjoyed some uninterrupted time to read (and nap a bit!).
We took a day to adjust a bit to the time change, then made cool, rocky Alki Beach our first stop. It was a great choice for our first day - something fun and relaxing with no waiting in line!

Mister J and Miss M enjoyed learning to skip rocks on the beach, which was covered in smooth rocks of all sizes. (They are much harder on the feet than you expect!) The water was cold - but that didn't stop the kids from getting wet! They had a great time playing with the sand, water, rocks, and driftwood.
(click to enlarge)

We spent the next day at the Seattle Center attractions, beginning with the Pacific Science Center. From outdoor water 'play' to the IMAX movie, we had a great time! (Have you ever taken a young child to an IMAX movie? Miss M kept trying to feed her popcorn to the fish in Under the Sea 3D.)
Fountain in the plaza outside of the museum.
That's me, in the purple, with the butterfly on my (white, pasty) arm. Mister J almost had one land on his bright blue shirt as we walked through the Butterfly House. We also got to watch as a volunteer released some new butterflies into the exhibit.

Mister J enjoyed this exhibit, which compares the relative sizes of the planets (& still includes Pluto). He was fascinated by many other exhibits, among them....
...a working cross-section of a toilet. This was a regular exhibit, and not a part of the Grossology exhibit (Animal Grossology was at PacSci while we were there). I have tons of other photos, some gross, some not, but I had to pick the highlights, y'all.

There were actually some much more fascinating water displays in the courtyard of PacSci - if you can call it a courtyard when it's basically a big pool with some platforms across the center. The outdoor exhibits were fun and fascinating for kids of all ages!

After PacSci, it was on to the Space Needle! The clouds had cleared a bit more than this photo (from earlier in the day) shows, and we had a nice view of the greater Seattle area.

Who's ready to go to the top of the Space Needle?
I am!!!

This is the top of a very cool building as viewed from the top of the Space Needle. The VCB (very cool building) is home to the EMP (Experience Music Project). We made a very quick stop here at the end of our day. No photos allowed, so we didn't get any snaps of the music history on display in the Guitar Gallery or of the kids rocking out on the keyboards, drums, and guitars in the sound lab. However, someone (not me) got a shot of this very groovy guitar sculpture, "IF VI WAS IX: Roots and Branches" (Trimpin).

In our hometown, sidewalk performers are not something we usually see unless there's a festival downtown, so they are a big deal for the kids. We let Mister J gave this performer a tip, and he got a special bit of music played especially to him.

After PacSci, the Space Needle, and the EMP, we returned to our car the same way we'd originally made our way to Seattle Center - on the monorail! This time, we got seats up front!

On day two of the downtown portion of our Sightseeing Adventure, Big J enjoyed driving into Seattle on the Viaduct, which dropped us right into downtown. He also drove through Pike Place Market. That was enough to whet my appetite - I could not wait to get out and start walking!
(This photo was not taken from the car - I was too wide-eyed during the drive through the market to even remember that I had a camera with me!)

Another street performer - a particularly interesting one, for obvious reasons.

The original Starbucks. No, we didn't get coffee there, but we did stop briefly to listen to the very talented performers out front. Yes, there were sidewalk performers everywhere. We also saw a bride, a groom, and their photographer walking down Pike Street. Ask me what we didn't see - the list would be shorter! We also had some fresh Ranier cherries while we were there- yum!

The Market is just like you expect from books and photos - crowded and colorful - but with the added bonus of the sounds and smells!
(click to enlarge)

Did I mention colorful?
After a visit to the Seattle Aquarium (photos of which I somehow forgot to upload), we had lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory (I recommend the pasta with Mizithra Cheese and Browned Butter). Then, because we hadn't worn out the grandparents or the hosts quite enough yet, we went on a harbor cruise. (We got them some coffee first, though!)
A view from Elliott Bay towards the Seattle PI building and the "Space Noodle" (as Miss M has taken to calling it).
Mister J getting a good view from the deck with Uncle J and B (above), and Uncle J and Grandpa R (below). It was cool and a little misty during our late afternoon cruise - a big change from the heat wave the week prior, but also unlike the weather during the majority of our visit.

On the day before Grandma and Grandpa R flew home, we drove down to Tacoma to visit the Museum of Glass. Our visit started with the Bridge of Glass (Dale Chihuly, Tacoma native).
Crystal Towers

Seaform Pavilion (click to enlarge)

Venetian Wall - that center photo really gives you a sense of the scale of these works!
(click to enlarge)

After experiencing the Bridge of Glass - yes, not just crossing, but experiencing - we headed down a couple hundred steps to the museum. The plazas on the way down were filled with more art, composed of metal, glass, and water.

Frolicking in the Water Forest (Howard Ben Tre') - and only getting a little bit wet!

The steps wrapped around this massive, shiny structure which we later learned was a working Hot Shop (follow the link for live web streaming 7 days a week - specific hours listed on the site).
See that viewing area with the two brave people standing on it? People who did not shy away from the intense heat emanating from the raging furnaces below? That's where we stood to watch the action. It kind of reminded us of the weather back home ((grin)).
We could have watched this for hours. It was amazing to see the artists shape the molten glass - bending and stretching and blowing with an assortment of tools (including wet newspaper!). However, even those of us used to the heat were getting a little, um, warm, so we moved on to the galleries.

Our last day of sightseeing took us on to another area of Seattle - Green Lake/Fremont/Ballard - I guess that's actually 'areas.' We had breakfast-for-lunch at Beth's Cafe, which has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (opens with sound).

Click the photo - it's a link! Be sure to check out the yummy menu!

The kids colored while we waited for our meals, and then got to post their creations for all to see. (That's Mister J hanging his up, in case you were wondering). When our food arrived, I wasn't able to finish my Southsider, Miss M devoured her huge pancake, Mister J ate most of his Mini Breakfast (pancake, bacon, and egg), and Big J put a big dent in his... um ... hey, Honey, what did you eat?

Next, we were off to see the Fremont Troll - a public art project. Yes, that's a VW Beetle in his hand. Yes, those are my kids. The troll is big.

Last stop of the day was something I'll do again the nest time we visit. We took a quick walk through the Carl S. English, Jr. Botanical Gardens on our way to see the Hiram Chittenden Locks also known as the Ballard Locks). I could've watched this all day long (haven't I said this once before?), but we had one more thing to do! We went to the Fish Ladder to watch the salmon swim upstream. Pretty cool, but my photos of the fish (and we saw many!) aren't near as cute as this one of Miss M pointing out the way....

We had a great visit, and we are already looking forward to our next opportunity to visit Seattle (and Uncle J and B!) On our list for next time? Gas Works Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, a Locks Cruise, taking a ferry to a location yet to be determined, maybe a long weekend in Portland or Vancouver....