Our Summer 2013 Bucket List: The Seattle Great Wheel

Image

I am happy to say that we knocked off our first big item on our family summer bucket list!  We made a trip to Seattle and took a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel ( http://seattlegreatwheel.com ).  Our son was a little unsure about being up so high and said he was afraid but once we were standing in line he was excited that we were going to be riding the ferris wheel!  I went ahead and bought our tickets online, had them printed, and once we arrived all we needed was our free pass for the baby.  Everything worked perfectly, we didn’t have to wait in line at the ticket booth and our wait to get in a gondola was also short.  It was a very fun experience and I am glad that my son enjoyed being up so high.  We had a beautiful view of the water front and Puget Sound even though it was overcast – as usual!

Image

I took the first picture while waiting in line.  Then I had to start dancing to keep our baby girl happy since I had her in the Ergo and she was fussy.  Thankfully, there was music playing through speakers while we waited to board a gondola!  Below was our view of the harbor – beautiful!

Image

After the ride we had lunch and decided to visit the Fremont Troll under the bridge in Fremont ( http://fremont.com ).  Even though this is not on our bucket list, we figured we would take advantage since we were already close to Fremont.  It took a few minutes for our son to warm up to the giant Troll under the bridge but once he did he was ready to climb!  This is a fun spot to stop with kids!

Image

Our Summer 2013 Bucket List

Our Summer 2013 Bucket List

This is our family bucket list – we have joined the happy family movement challenge thanks to a friend of mine! After seeing her bucket list and checking out the site I realized that we always say we want to do things and go places as a family but almost never get to everything we absolutely want to do! So, after careful planning, we created our own family bucket list for the summer. I am looking forward to the fun we will be having and the memories we will be creating as a family. Join the movement, take the challenge! More info: http://thehappyfamilymovement.com

Our Summer of Fun: Science Week

So, this summer I decided that I can really do all of the fun projects that I have been wanting to do with my son.  He is no longer a little kid – he’s a FOUR-YEAR-OLD.  Okay?  This means, we can do science experiments, make messes, build stuff, grow stuff, climb stuff, and who knows what else!  And really, really enjoy doing all of this together!  It is still fun to do things with your toddlers, but as your kids grow, it just becomes more exciting!  Here is what we have done so far.  Some of these ideas were borrowed from Pinterest (links included), some from his book of “101 Great Science Experiments” by Neil Ardley, and some of the ideas were mine.  All of the pictures are ours!  Enjoy!

Science Week:

For our Science Week, we learned about water tension, the reaction between baking soda and vinegar, spent a morning at the Children’s Hands on Museum in Olympia, WA ( http://www.hocm.org ), mixed various liquids, and experimented with balance using an egg, toilet paper roll, pie tin, and cup of water.  I grabbed one of my husband’s white button down shirts and a pair of goggles we happened to have and an old notebook that hadn’t been used.  This became a lab coat, protective eyewear – not that we did anything dangerous – and our lab notebook.  It’s just fun to look the part while you play!  Here we go!

Baking soda and vinegar; water, pepper, soap.

What you need:  Baking soda, vinegar, water, pepper, soap, and jars.

Above:  We started small.  First, we sprinkled pepper on water in multiple jars and then dropped a little bit of soap into the peppered water.  It may not seem like much but for a little guy it’s amazing watching the soap make the pepper “run away” to the edges of the bottle or fall to the bottom.  We did this multiple times and every time was a hit.  Since he’s a little bigger and learning to write, we brought out the “Science Notebook” and wrote down words that we used for the experiment and little descriptions.

For the baking soda and vinegar, we started with multiple small jars that had baking soda in them and added the vinegar.  Each one bubbled up – which was “awesome”!  We did the big jars a few times too.  After we had fun just making a mess of things we decided to fill more jars with baking soda and vinegar.  Only the last few times we also included descriptions in the science book about what was going on.  It “bubbled” and was “white” and also made a “fizz” sound as the baking soda and vinegar reacted.

What you need:  Nothing!  Get out of the house and have fun checking out the museum! (Above: air funnels and water pressure tubes.)

Above:  Fun at the Children’s Museum ( http://www.hocm.org ).  It’s always fun to go just to play and explore.  But THIS week we took our time and really read everything that we needed to do at various stations so that we could get the most out of our fun and learning.  It was especially fun watching the water build up pressure and then shoot the plastic balls out of the spout at the top.  We also experimented a little with the wind tunnels by first leaving the cones to see if they would float (they didn’t) and then adding slits and folding the paper back to expand the surface.  Learning can be so much fun!  Especially when you get to see it in action!

What you need:  RAW egg (I know!), toilet paper tube, pie tin, cup of water, and lots of faith.

Above:  Okay, so this one I found on Pinterest and HAD to try.  I’ll admit, I was a little nervous that I would end up with raw egg on the walkway but we tested it and had a lot of fun with it!  Here is the link provided by Pinterest: http://www.ordinarylifemagic.com/2010/01/newtons-first-with-raw-eggs.html

You need a raw egg, toilet paper roll, pie tin, and a cup of water.  Place the pie tin on top of the cup of water, stand the toilet paper roll in the pie tin, and then set the egg at the top of the toilet paper roll.  Check to make sure they are aligned with the cup of water and then SMACK AWAY!  Hit the pie tin to the side and the egg will fall straight down into the water!  Definitely fun, my kiddo set this up again and again!

What you need:  Water, oil, syrup, food coloring, rocks, sticks, leaves, and lots of jars!

Above:  “See How Liquids Float and Sink” and “Find Out if Liquids Mix” – both experiments out of the “101 Great Science Experiements” book by Neil Ardley.  Boy, what a lot of fun!  If you don’t have this book or one similar to it, you should!  We filled jars with water, then added oil, and added syrup.  It was fun to see where they all landed and how they worked with each other.  We filled a jar with water first and then oil, then we added drops of food coloring.  The pictures above show the food coloring staying as a little ball in the oil but then breaking into the water.  Very fun to watch!  We also added sticks and small rocks to our syrup, water, oil jars to see where everything stopped in the mix.  A very interesting lesson in water density for small people!

There you have it!  Just a first in a series of fun and learning that will be going on in this place!  Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated!  Almost everything here can truly be found around the house and will entertain little ones – for the bigger kids, just add a notebook and it can become a mad scientist’s experiment notes!

What’s In A Sitter?

I recently had a sitter over for what I like to consider a trial run.  I found her using a web site that I have used in the past with good results and her application and profile looked pretty good!  Our first hiccup, I should have known, was when I called her phone and was told it was a wrong number.  All I did was hit re-dial since I had previously spoken with her.  I still decided to have her over for a second chance and boy was I disappointed to find that I should have left it at “wrong number.”  I have decided to share reasons I did not hire her just to give a, my, parental opinion.

Dress Appropriately:

Although you will probably be spending the evening at my house and this is a fairly relaxed job, you should still take the time to dress appropriately!  Friday evening I discovered that the sitter was wearing a tiny shirt under a half-unbuttoned larger shirt and I was able to see her belly ring.  I understand everyone has their own personality and fashion sense but you are here to take care of young children.  Dress comfortably but keep the midriff covered!  The way you dress can change my mind on whether I will hire you or not.  I want someone who presents themselves well, not someone who looks set to go to a party after sitting for my kids.

Be Involved:

If you claim in your application or in a first interview that you are comfortable watching infants and toddlers, and that you have watched infants and toddlers in the past, I expect you to be confident with infants and toddlers.  I like to have a sitter show up and spend an evening with us at home so that I can have full confidence in her and know that my son will also enjoy being around her.  I also want to know that you are ready to step in, if the baby is crying and you are right next to her pick her up.  Grab a toy to entertain her.  But DO NOT sit there and stare as the baby gets louder.  I realize that I am at home with you for the trial, but I need to know that you are comfortable handling an infant.  If you are uncomfortable with a specific age group, say so.  When I go to hand you a 4 month-old you should not recoil nervously.  Jump in with enthusiasm.

Ask Questions … Please:

This is a two way street.  I dislike when I am the only one asking the questions.  You should be interested to know what my toddler likes to do, how many ounces does the baby take and when does she eat, what is our nighttime schedule like, will the kids be fed by the time you arrive, etc.  If you are not sure of appropriate questions, ask your friends, parents, friends who are parents, or take to google.  Yep, google.  But please, ask questions so that I know you are in some way truly interested in my kids and in working with our family!

Personal Information:

I know that teenagers sometimes have difficulty getting started as sitters.  So, when we are talking, please do not tell me that you sneak around behind your parents backs.  It makes me question how much trust I can put in you and will have me constantly wondering if you are completing tasks or caring for my children the way I would like you to.  Also, if I ever have to question whether you are using drugs, you have probably shared something that should have been kept to yourself.  You should, however, share if you are involved in sports or extracurricular activities at school, discuss what you plan on majoring in if you are going to college soon, or explain why you chose to work as a baby sitter instead of at another part time job.  As a parent, I want someone who is genuinely interested in kids.

Phone and Timeliness:

And of course, the two big ones, having your phone readily available and being on time.  You should always have your phone ready so that you can contact emergency services if an accident occurs, so you can call if you are running late, or so I can get a hold of you if I need to.  The last thing I want is to call for a check in and not be able to reach you, or know that if an emergency were to occur you would not be able to contact emergency services.  And always strive to be on time!

These are my personal opinions and some of the things I consider when looking for a potential sitter.  Remember, I am asking you to be in our home and am trusting you with the people who matter most in my life!

Are You Going To Miss It? Absolutely.

This is it!  For the last eight years of my short life I have been a Soldier in the United States Army.  I can’t exactly say I have had the most exciting time, but I can say that I am proud of the experience I have had and of the work I have been able to contribute to our ongoing mission in Iraq.  But, I hesitate to say this, in just six short months I will no longer be a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in America’s finest ranks.  By June of this year I will be just Christina.  My mornings will no longer consist of waking early to put on a physical training uniform.  I will no longer hustle my kids out to daycare so that I can get to formation by 0620.  My days will no longer be made up of ensuring my soldiers are properly trained and have what they need to maintain a good level of morale.  I will no longer be a part of the team and family I have grown to love – and hate at times.  It is a difficult decision but the time has come for me to move on.  I want to focus my attention on the home front, spend more time with my kids while they are little.  These years pass so quickly and I do not want to miss a moment if I don’t have to.

Am I going to miss it?  Absolutely.  I love spending the day around soldiers, listening to their war stories as they return from their most recent deployment or hearing their excitement and concerns as they get ready to head out to theater.  I will miss hearing “good morning Staff Sergeant” when I drive through the gate onto post, and the silly – sometimes intense – conversations with the people I have come to accept as my brothers and sisters.  I will miss the laughter that erupts from listening to one guy tell us about his evenings at home and then hearing another come back with “You clean your guns at night when everyone is sleeping?  Dude, that’s called insanity man.”  Unless you have been in uniform, there is no way to accurately describe what it is like to have these oddball relationships.  Some I see as siblings, others have become my own kids in a way.  It is painful knowing that I will not be here to work with these fine people.  Sometimes I even think about running over to the retention NCO so that I can hold my right hand up and swear to wear this uniform a little while longer.  I feel like there is still a lot to be done, more leadership that I can provide to the young Soldiers being indoctrinated to our team.

It is interesting that I have such strong feelings about the Army now.  Back when I enlisted, just in 2004, I had a heavy case of cold feet.  After graduating high school (I know.  Still a baby.), I spent some time in San Diego, enjoying my freedom.  By that time I had already been to the recruiter’s office and was enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).  At that point, I wasn’t officially in the Army and could still opt out of signing my service contract.  The time in California, paired with advice from a very close family friend, had me rethinking what I wanted out of my life.  I decided that I was going to run the other way, completely forget about the Army, enjoy some time at college while learning about myself!  But, obviously, that isn’t what I ended up choosing.  My recruiter ended up talking with me and I decided to take the jump.  I was off to basic two months later with my head full of fear and excitement, and my heart full of dedication.  I wanted to make a career out of this!

In my eight years, and some change, the Army has taken me from Arkansas to Missouri; to Texas, Maryland, Argentina, Iraq, and now Washington.  It is where I met my husband, had my children, found a large part of my own personality and character, and where I was able to meet many great friends.  The Army is my home away from home, the extended family that makes being far away from immediate family not so bad.  This is going to be one of the hardest decisions and transitions of my life.  But, it is my time to move on.

Am I going to miss it?  Absolutely.

I Suggest You Read This Book, Then Feel Free to Give Me A Summary

I have always enjoyed reading but, like every other parent cleaning in pajamas while waiting for the call to jump up and make that next peanut butter and jelly, I have learned that my time is limited.  Very limited.  Between working full time and coming home to my two kiddos and two pups, I am noticing my reading time has been chucked out the window.  Or rather, it has been dumped down the diaper pail.  My current challenge:  Make it to page 10 of “My Grandfather’s Blessings” by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. by the end of the month.  You read that right – page 10, end of month.  Also notice I said “challenge” and not “goal”.  My goal is to complete the book someday.  The challenge is actually making it to page 10.  Then 20.  And so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I also love my children and am absolutely enamored with my life.  But let’s get real.  When we chose to have kids I am pretty sure we all imagined we would be masters of order.  Completely in-control baby and toddler whisperers who would sit back for an hour of uninterrupted reading and relaxation time since the kids are on the same nap schedule and they actually nap.  At least, that is how it was going to work in my head.  The “ha-ha, joke is on you” set in a little later as my beloved book time became filled with important parenthood lessons like how-to-cook-with-one-arm, learn-about-every-super-hero-possibly-known-to-man, and always-have-the-clean-diaper-ready-to-go.  What did I do before these kiddos existed?  And did I really dedicate that much time to reading?  I have no idea.  Parenthood seems to have erased all memories of the time before kids for me.  I now use that extra space to worry and wonder.  Did I pack extra diapers?  Where are the snacks?  Should we pay the $45 to ship Tunnah-Punnah the teddybear home from the hotel now or pay for therapy later on?  And, do we still have books not related to fairy tales or dinosaurs going to school in this house?  The answer: YES!  And I have rediscovered them.  Now, I just need to rediscover what it is like to sit and read more than a few paragraphs at a time.

In the little time I have had to flip through and read a few pages of this book, I have gathered the grandfather was a very wise and loving man.  I am not asking to replace any of my kid’s time with reading.  I realize it is good to have my own time now and then, and when I get it I will fill it with the goodness of books.  If you happen to read this book before I do, please feel free to give me a summary.  It may be a while before I get to the end.  I just want to get to page 10 first.

(I am in no way affiliated with the book or author other than the book is sitting on my table waiting to be read.)