Month: August 2017

August Part I

August Part I

We had our company picnic. Clowns, petting zoo, and bouncy house were hired. Children were delighted. Colleagues brought their own kinetic sculptures for test drives and impressive Lego Mindstorm marble machines for demonstrations. Bunnies were disappointingly absent from the company picnic this year due to heat. We didn’t win anything, but other people did. It was a good time, like it usually is. Chilkat remembers it from two years ago, and has been asking about it.

We went to KrisDi’s online friend’s kid’s birthday party. I had an interesting conversation about it with Chilkat when we were leaving. “Did you remember to say thank you to the birthday boy’s mom?”

“Why? We only came because Mom came. We weren’t invited. We don’t know the birthday boy.” Or something to that effect.

“Well, did you get a gift bag? Did the balloon guy make you things? Did you get food, candy, and cake? Weren’t those all nice things that you enjoyed?”

“OK, fine.”

Our washing machine sprung a leak. Googling around, it seemed the door seal was the most likely culprit, and step one was to try cleaning it. In cleaning it, I found a hole big enough to stick my finger through. Putting duct tape on the hole did not slow the leak. I ordered a new seal, but it didn’t arrive until just before we left the country. Luckily, Les can’t help but work on things like that, so it was fixed by the time I got home.

We went camping at Seaquest State Park, out near Mount Saint Helens. For a bit, the kids were freaked out about the volcano, but they quickly forgot about it. This was our first two night camping trip (good idea — one night means 50% of your time is spent setting up or tearing down). The False Alarms also came camping with us.

We brought our telescope, because we specifically wanted to see the Perseid meteor shower. However it was cloudy as hell the whole time (we couldn’t even see the moon). It poured on us as we tried to pack up on Sunday (gee, 50+ day dry streak is broken when I’m trying to put away a tent).

KrisDi prepared much fancier food than the False Alarms did. Toasted ham and cheese croissants versus instant ramen. Breakfast burritos versus microwave egg and sausage breakfast substance boiled in a pot of water.

We hiked, drank, played, ate, burned things, and generally had a very good time. On the way back, we stopped at a couple breweries. No meteors, but a very nice long weekend. It seems like we’re getting better at camping. We still bring a ton of stuff, but the truck seemed less full for this two day trip than previous one day trips, and I don’t think we were missing anything at all.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

July 2017 Part III

July Part III

During Elder Brother’s visit, he tried to make coffee, but left out a key part of the coffee machine, resulting in 12 cups of coffee running down our counter and into the cabinet area where KrisDi keeps recipes, coupons, random stuff, and a lot of her favorite artsy things produced by the kids. We separated all of it and spread it out all over the garage floor and the dinner table to dry, and meticulously re-sorted it and put it back where it belonged. Of course, it’s damaged, but at least it’s still intact.

Mom came down to visit and see two sons and four grandchildren simultaneously. I think she had a good time, although all of us were pretty busy running around at the time.

We took them to the Space Needle. This was an expensive and rushed visit — we needed to leave at a particular time so we could get my brother’s car to the shipping company to get it to Guam. I think we spent 20 minutes on the needle, and 45 waiting in line, and another 45 or so climbing and playing on the park equipment outside.

Chilkoot also had his four year doctor appointment that day. He’s a healthy little boy.

That night, we drank and hung out. I didn’t drink as much, knowing I had to work the next morning. Actually, I didn’t end up working — I took the kids up to day care by work, and then came back down to help get my brother’s family to the airport, then drove back up to work and got a call a mile away from day care saying Chilkoot had a fever of 101 and was acting lethargic. So, I went into the office long enough to announce I was going home and reschedule some meetings, took Chilkoot back home, and spent the rest of the day there. Basically, he was fine, but couldn’t go to day care because of the fever. KrisDi had to stay home the next day. We think it was just a reaction to the vaccines the day before.

When KrisDi stayed home, she took the kids to Build a Bear, basically an unplanned Mommy Kids Day. Chilkoot stepped on the “stuffed animal filling machine”, teaching the operator that yes, he really should turn it completely off when he doesn’t have an empty stuffed animal attached to it.

KrisDi had her work picnic. Nothing particular to say — it was a little chilly, the kids had fun, played at a park, tossed eggs, were suitably adored by those in attendance.

Chilkat figured out how to climb trees. Well…one tree. One close to the facility where they take piano and tumbling lessons. It has a wide branch structure, close together and close to the ground. She really enjoys it, though, which I’m totally happy about.

The Popes’ younger daughter Sharkey was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with “polyarticular idiosynchratic arthritis”, which explained her stiff left leg when walking and lack of running. Poor girl. Hopefully she’ll grow out of it.

The False Alarms’ younger daughter B had her birthday party at Pump It Up — not a lot to say. Kids played and played and jumped and jumped. I had fun playing with the fancy camera’s low light high speed capabilities. I got decent (but not stellar) pictures. During the party, we got updates on the False Alarms’ plumbing issues: They had a friend volunteer to help replace the kitchen sink; they removed the kitchen sink, and then he disappeared. Meanwhile, False Alarms decided to also rip out a bunch of existing piping, resulting in zero water in the house.

After the birthday party, we went to the Family Fun Center, a high end Chuck E Cheese type of place. One of the things they have there is kind of like bumper cars, but boats with squirt guns. Chilkoot and I were in one both with Chilkat in another, so we got to putter around trying to soak each other. But, Chilkat’s tiny, and she can completely duck into the boat and leave nothing to hit. I, on the other hand, am like a tower. I’m hard to miss.

Of course, our help with the False Alarms’ plumbing was requested before we left the Family Fun Center. So, we went back to the house to grab a random selection of tools (not knowing what I might encounter or need, having no idea of the situation and no experience with plumbing), and heading all the way back down to Tacoma to help (would have been more effective to ask for our help at the birthday party, or better yet, beforehand…).

The situation we encountered: They had good reasons for ripping out piping. They have an old house, and the pipes were thoroughly rusted on the inside. The planning involved in it was nonexistent, however. The recommended replacement piping is Pex, but this requires a crimping tool that was not available at the hardware store two miles from their house. So, GFA decided to wing it and use PVC, which is apparently not generally used for house water piping (maybe for sprinklers or pools). No crimping required — but it’s a stiff, thick pipe and all the joints are hard and have to be epoxied together. Another friend, let’s call him Dan (a carpenter, also not a plumber, but closer than me) was along for the ride. He had a sneaking suspicion that PVC was the wrong technique. I just shrugged and played along, not knowing one way or the other.

We did not come to a resolution the first night, although we stayed pretty late.

Eventually, after 437 trips to the hardware store and with the help of a lot of beer and some green materials that are legal in this state, Dan got shitfaced and we got stuff put together to the point where we thought we could turn on the water. We did so, and we had minor leaks for about 30-45 seconds, at which point a cap blew off quite thunderously and yielded a lot of loud yelling that scared the kids and a moderate wet mess in the basement.

Then someone drove the extra 5 miles to another hardware store and bought the Pex crimping tool, I ripped out all the PVC, and by the afternoon of the second day, the False Alarms had water again — although hot and cold were swapped. I think Mrs. False Alarm enjoyed the heated toilet, though.

A few days later, another friend came along to help them switch the hot and the cold back to normal. As far as I know, they still don’t have a kitchen sink. But at least they can bath and flush.

KrisDi got another haircut. Her last haircut most would consider extreme; you might expect that she got a small trim, but instead she got another haircut that most would consider extremely.

In between the plumbing adventures, we went to see a musical production of the Little Mermaid. Both kids loved it.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 2 comments

2017 July Part II

July Part II

The town I work in held an informal photo contest: Take pictures at local parks, post them on our Facebook page, and whichever photo gets the most “likes” will win a prize (a night in some fancy local hotel or paddle boarding lessons or something). KrisDi of course was right on it, and anyone reading this was probably assaulted to go like our photos — we won, thanks!

My older brother and his family (Auntie J, Big Cousin J [16], and Little Cousin J [5]) were moving to Guam. You may not have heard of it, but it’s a smallish island in the South Pacific that may or may not capsize if everyone on the island moves to one side. But, they stopped out here for a while to ship their car before getting on a plane to Japan and then Guam. It was a great opportunity to spend time with them, and a great opportunity for them to visit Seattle area stuff.

First, they stayed with Mom for a little while. Then, they came down to us. The first night, we didn’t do much (besides drink and hang out).

BCJ was celebrating her 16th birthday while out here — I have to admit, I felt bad for her. Moving away from her hometown and all her friends, celebrating her 16th birthday with an aunt and uncle she barely knows and three kids 6 or younger…). KrisDi made BCJ a birthday cake. She requested “confetti cake with fondant”.

We took them downtown and saw the Seattle Aquarium (where our new camera performed awesomely in dim lighting), and visited Johnny Rockets (chain restaurant that BCJ really loves). Then the NW clan had to head up to piano lessons for our kids, and the Guam clan headed down to the Ferris Wheel. That night, we drank and hung out.

We took the kids to the Cheesecake Factory (BCJ’s request) and Enchanted Village. The smaller kids loved it, and BCJ tolerated it. That night, we drank and hung out.

While they were visiting, Chilkat finally lost her first tooth. We had reached an agreement with her: Each night, each parent can try one time. After several failed attempts, it finally came out for me — and Chilkat immediately said, dripping with cynicism, “It didn’t come out, did it.” Then I showed her the tooth and she nearly freaked out. She got $5 from the tooth fairy. We’ve named the new incoming tooth “Onesy”.

As an extension to Chilkoot’s birthday proceedings, we also took the large group of us to Snoqualmie for Thomas the Train, which was hot and crowded. Elder Brother seemed unsure whether he should be impressed at our fortitude or unimpressed with our inability to deny our children when he discovered that this wasn’t the first time we did it. That night, we drank and hung out. It’s notable that lunch that day at Snoqualmie Brewery was the only brewery we took them to.

Through most of the visit, the three little kids slept together in sleeping bags at the foot of our bed. They started out sleeping on our air mattress, until they destroyed it with jumping.

More in the next post…there were SO MANY pictures. 2600+ pictures, nearly 16 gigabytes. With our recent purchase of new camera, our two old DSLRs, and Elder Brother’s DSLR…that’s a lot of cameras. At one point, we had all three small children wandering around with a DSLR each, taking tons of photos. It seems excessive, but it was cute, and DSLRs take nice pictures, even for small children.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 3 comments

Birthday Parties!

Birthday Parties!

Both of Chilkoot’s birthday parties.

He had one at home (for people we want to invite to our house, like friends and relatives), and one at Pump It Up (which included classmates). His theme this year was camping.

So, KrisDi of course made three cakes. Because why not three cakes? What four year old doesn’t need three cakes? To be fair…they were delicious and astonishingly cute.

KrisDi says she enjoyed the theme. Everything turned out well, KrisDi had a near-infinite number of “little touches” that she liked, and it seemed like people really liked it.

Our friends from Oregon came up and stayed with us for the weekend (KrisDi’s parents went down to stay with her older brother in the meantime).

It was really cute when Chilkoot was opening up his presents, and he stumbled upon what he apparently considered to be the perfect line — for every present, no matter what it was, “I’ve wanted this my whole life! It’s my dream come true! Thank you very much!”

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

July, Part I

July, Part I

July was also very busy.

The kids were enrolled in both swimming and lessons and piano. At the time of this writing, the piano lessons are still going on, but the swimming lessons are long gone. Both the kids’ swimming lessons are sans parents at this point, which is good — and they seem to actually be making some progress in terms of being comfortable getting their faces wet. Piano is going fine as well (except the kids won’t practice).

Mom finally finished all of the bureaucratic nonsense necessary to allow a gas oven to be installed in place of her electric oven (and got a 120 outlet installed in the necessary location). That means that my brothers and I could buy her a new oven and install it. Northwood (and his wife) came up to help. KrisDi and I dragged Mom (and the kids) down to the Sears outlet and dealt with the world’s least helpful and/or enthusiastic sales rep to find the open box oven we wanted and load it into Paco, where it spent the night in my driveway before heading up to Bellingham for installation. Northwood cleverly disposed of the old one by wheeling it down to the major street and putting up a Craigslist ad for a free oven. Then we proceeded to perform a large variety of other chores and drink a bunch of beer.

Northwood stayed with Mom that night, and then stopped to hike on the way down to our place the next day. It was really nice to see them, but it was a super short visit — they came in on a Saturday and left on Monday.

We got a new camera — another Canon DSLR, this one the 6D. We bought it refurbished directly from Canon. This is our first full-frame camera, but our third DSLR. Our old good camera, the 50D, was a good mid-range camera like 8 years ago — the 6D is a good upper-mid-range camera from last year or so. I expected improved low light performance, and I got it. I really, really like this camera. It’s not as big of an improvement as going from a pocket camera to a DSLR, but it’s a very significant improvement.

The Popes bought a new house. They invited us over for dinner one night. It’s nice — a little bigger than their old one, a bigger yard and nicer surroundings, and closer to us. But, they’re still going to pour a bunch of money into it. It’ll be very nice when they’re done.

Speaking of money, we also a dumped a bunch of money into tires — a new set (and an alignment) for Paco, and a new set for my Car, both of which were direly needed. KrisDi’s car will be coming up in the near future, too.

I had my yearly trip to Phoenix, the 8th circle of Hell, to visit one of our major customers to talk about measurement problems and solutions. This was a different experience than usual — our former Chairman retired, leaving a gaping responsibility hole, which for some reason I needed to fill. I spent the better part of a month working 3ish hours from home each work night in preparations. The meeting went fine, but I’m tired.

Les came down to help with the kids while I was out of town, initiating the Neverending String of House Guests. Not that he was intrusive or problematic in any way (he was extremely helpful), but I think it marked the start of three almost uninterrupted weeks of having other people stay in our house.


Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment