Celebrate it All


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Gwen is celebrating it all today. It’s game day so she is wearing her BYU shirt. Fridays are a state holiday where everyone wears Seahawks gear. Grandma made Gwen a Seahawk necklace so she wouldn’t be left out of all the hype. Personally I love that she is supporting both a college and a professional team on the same day. But go Cougars!


Today is also Crazy Hair Day at her school. When I finished creating this colorful twisted mess, I told her I really hoped it was Crazy Hair Day today! Otherwise she would look very strange. Once again I am in awe of her confidence. She was so happy to have me do this to her hair! She walked out the door ready to take on the world in her spinny hairstyle.


The bathroom was total chaos. There was no time for Gwen to clean it up so I did it for her after she left for school.


I snagged this picture from the class website. Gwen is the partially covered face on the right. Savannah’s spider hair is covering Gwen’s face!

Gwen was one of four kids at the bus stop this morning with crazy hair. Doesn’t look like many more kids participated at school. Oh well. It’s fun. This is one spirit day dress up activity that our last school never did.

Running in the Forest


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The second Cross Country Meet was in King County. I felt guilty enough checking out Gwen and Parker early for the first meet. This meet was far enough away we definitely had to pick up kids early.


This time I felt guilty about pulling Parker early after he missed a day of school! I’m glad it was only a 24 hour stomach bug. He looked like he wanted to die Monday night while we were watching the Presidential debate for Gavin’s history assignment. The sad part was that Parker missed out on Dad’s homemade In & Out burgers. There’s another story there. Parker puked his guts up all night and stayed home on Tuesday puking his guts up. He missed out on Mod Pizza night for Gwen’s school.

His unsettled stomach messed up a lot of things. My plans for the day went out the window while I was on puke patrol. His perfect school attendance record for the year was shot so early on. Last year he was so excited that he hadn’t missed a day of school. Except he had. He missed four days when he stayed home from Outdoor Ed with me. All he wants is to have one school year with perfect attendance! It seems that if he isn’t ever sick we go to Disneyland. If we don’t go to Disneyland he gets sick. So unfair!

Forget perfect attendance, my house is no longer perfect! I guess I didn’t expect to do so much living in a brand new house so early on! By Tuesday night he was all better so I sent him to school on Wednesday. With a note saying he would be picked up 20 minutes early for his brother’s meet! *sigh*

We left straight from Gwen’s school for the meet. Parker was a chatterbox the whole way. He said he saw the coach driving behind the bus. When we passed the bus he said he saw Gavin sitting on the bus. I wonder if Gavin recognized us on the freeway.

Things were a bit confusing since the meet was not at the middle school as advertised. It was actually going to be at a nearby park. The park was beautiful with a forest as part of the trail run. I love all the trees here! One day Heath and I were walking around our new neighborhood. I said it smelled like Girls Camp. He just looked at me and said, “That’s what nature smells like. You need to get out more!” I’ve never lived in the forest before.


This was my favorite part of the race – seeing the kids run through the trees.


Gavin is not used to running hills. So far they aren’t his favorite. Unfortunately we live where there are more hills than flat areas.


He sprinted for the finish line. I clocked him at 12:43 which is the same time the winner of the girl’s race got. I wish I knew for sure how long the course was. The hills killed Gavin’s lead a little. He started out so strong and well near the front of the pack. He finished 35th.

After all this time, I still can’t believe this kid loves to run as much as he does. I love watching him run. Getting Café Rio for dinner afterwards didn’t hurt my feelings either!

Bloom Where You are Planted

School is good. The kids are enjoying it. Our house is awesome, especially after our new couch arrived on Friday. Life is good.

Several weeks ago I was called to be the assistant secretary in my church women’s organization. It is a position I have never heard of before but the Bishop assured me it’s in the handbook. The Relief Society president needed extra help and didn’t want to overwhelm her counselors and secretary with more work. So she asked for me as the assistant secretary.

It took some time for me to meet and coordinate with the president and secretary. I have some fun and interesting assignments. Most of them center around helping the women feel connected to one another. My top priority assignment is to start a blog.

I so briefly mentioned my love of writing when I spoke in Sacrament Meeting. I think I said something to the effect of having a penchant for writing and storytelling. I mentioned scrapbooking to the president and one of her counselors when they visited me soon after we moved in. I don’t really even scrapbook anymore. I blog. But I didn’t say that.

From that ever so brief mention I had someone tell me about a writer’s retreat. We talked for a minute and she emailed the invitation. While it would be quite lovely to attend a writer’s retreat near Deception Pass, I don’t want to. Not right now anyway. I don’t want to spend a couple nights with a bunch of strangers. Stephanie Black would have encouraged me to go and so would my mother in law. Which is why I haven’t told them about it! I don’t want to go this year.

So I found a writer friend from one sentence spoken from the pulpit. And now the blog assignment. I’m excited about the blog. I can do this. I can do this well. I have done it before! Last Thursday night we had a Relief Society activity where we introduced the idea of the blog. The president started by explaining that we will be having a General Conference talk book club. Then she said I would explain how by using my talents for blogging.

I guess I will start another blog! The hard part is designing how I want it to look. I’m actually spending (or wasting) quite a bit of time trying to figure out how I want it to look. I don’t remember how to do anything! And even though Heath is sitting right next to me he can’t really help me while he’s working. We’ll get it figured out soon enough. The book club isn’t the only thing I’m supposed to post about.

In other news, Heath is the president of our Home Owners Association! That happened last Wednesday night after Gavin’s first meet. He wanted to go to the meeting so he could get on the board. He wanted to be on the board so he could help make decisions and also so it would be easier to get approval for some of our backyard design choices. He never set out to be the president.

It’s just funny how we knew we were supposed to move here. Already we are very involved and being put into significant roles. It’s good. I’m excited. Now I need to design a blog …

First XC Meet of the Season


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One summer with no running at all and only nine practices to get in shape. Moving to a new state and joining a new team didn’t make the process any easier.


Sometimes life isn’t fair and you have to go through with it anyway. Win, lose, or draw, the race was happening.


The best part of Cross Country in the Northwest is the scenery. Garrett preferred Cross Country to Track because the scenery changed. Gavin is still trying to get used to the hills. He does love the cooler temperatures. He doesn’t miss practicing in 100+ degree temps. If I ever had to run (to save my life) I would love to run in a forest like this.


The race was 1.7 miles. I think that is the longest race he has ever had to run. Or at least one of the longest. Gavin still doesn’t check his time. I timed him on a cell phone and got 11:40 for a time. He may have been a couple seconds faster than my finger was to stop the clock. He was not in the front but certainly not in the back.


He admitted that he is usually nervous before meets. This time he wasn’t nervous and he wished he was. He said it wasn’t his best effort. I told him that he can only improve from here.

Sixth graders don’t compete here. They can practice with the team but they don’t compete. So the meets are short. One girl race with 7th and 8th grade girls. Then one boy race with 7th and 8th grade boys. May the best athlete win!

The meet didn’t start on time and it wasn’t close to home. I’m used to everything being a 10 minute drive away and five of those minutes are going up the Road to Nowhere. Anything across the freeway into the next city just adds an extra five minutes to the commute time.

It will take some time for me to get used to having to check out Gwen and Parker early on meet days. I got Parker out about 15 minutes early and Gwen closer to 30 minutes early. As I suspected, the team was not checked out early. They got on a bus right after school and arrived at the meet venue at the same time we did! At least we weren’t late.

So far the season is off to a great start. Gavin practices every afternoon for 90 minutes. Twice a week they run to nearby parks as part of their workout. On Fridays they run to a park and play Ultimate Frisbee. Gavin is obsessed with Ultimate Frisbee so he loves Fridays. Coach S says the kids probably get a better workout playing games on Fridays than they would if he just made them run.

I think Fridays are a little weird since the kids get out early. Like Late Start Wednesday only Early Fridays. So Gavin comes home on the bus with Parker, eats a snack and has to be taken back to school for practice.

I hated telling him to stop wearing his Huskies sweatshirt. He was allowed to wear it on weekends but not to school. I told him he is a Knight now and shouldn’t hold onto the past. We paid for a new school hoodie personalized with his name. We also ordered shirts for us. They came last Friday, two days after the first meet but so much sooner than I ever expected. So we can cheer with school pride for the next meet.

Gavin loves his new hoodie and wears it everywhere like he did with his Husky hoodie. I think it’s a sign that he runs and he loves it. I had to tell him not to wear his March Mile Madness shirts because they say his last school’s name on them. I moved in 9th grade and kept going to my old schools which made it hard to bond with the kids at church and in my neighborhood. I regret that decision.

There is part of me that wants him to do March Mile Madness on his own and ask for the Trilogy shirt. He is one of only a few students that would end up with all three shirts.

No matter what happens, it’s fun to watch Gavin run. I love watching anyone do what they are passionate about. It’s very inspiring.

Seattle Memories


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This last trip into the city was filled with memories. Steve had never been to Seattle before and was game for anything. We ended up doing many of the same things that Heath and I did on my first trip to Seattle. It was fun for the kids since they hadn’t done some of those activities before.

One thing we did for the first time in over 15 years was take the monorail from the Seattle Center to the Westgate Mall. I loved the monorail that first time. It was my first time on anything like that. The mall was smaller than I expected. Heath bought me a sparkly green lizard that we named Sammy the Seattle Salamander. He rests in a place of honor on a Seattle themed shelf.


Gwen was thrilled that we took the monorail. She worked her way to the very front of the train and had a wide eyed excited look on her face for the entire short ride. She knows monorails. She’s been to Disneyland! The real deal was just as special as the ride in the Best Place on Earth.

The mall was just as small as I remembered. We went into a sports store that of course specializes in Seahawks gear. Heath and I were in our BYU shirts ready to cheer on our team that evening. I was not expecting one of the clerks to razz me about my team. Normally if anyone feels a need to comment about BYU clothes, they talk to Heath. But no, this guy must have been saving his zinger for a while. My shirt is a couple years old.

He saw the “every day is game day” sentiment across my chest and said, “Not every day is game day … you guys don’t play on Sunday! I heard that you don’t play on Saturday either!” I was stunned by the zinger and rendered speechless. Duh, I had no comeback whatsoever.

Later Steve gave me a comeback. He said if something like that ever happens again I should say, “Oh yeah?” That’s it. That’s the entire comeback! I love it. Steve is a funny guy. While he and Heath were talking about the original Starbucks mermaid and how inappropriate the picture is, Steve told a funny.

Steve: Do you know why mermaids wear seashells?
Heath: Because they are better than algae bras?
Steve: No because D shells are too big!


Every time I go to the Seattle Center there is always something out in the street that catches tourists attention. This time it was Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper. It reminds me of the Lego Darth Vader picture op at LEGOLAND. The kids thought this was fun. It only cost me $5 to take this picture. I wanted to tip and didn’t have any smaller bills.

The last time we were in Seattle a couple years ago there was a caricature artist. Uncle Charlie paid for each of my kids to have their image immortalized in cartoon form. Parker kept asking if we could get caricatures. The only problem is you can’t guarantee it will be an option.

We did go to Pike Place Market. The kids had never been there and I truly believe my last time there was September 10, 2001 when Heath and I had our caricature’s drawn. Part of me wondered if there would be a caricature artist somewhere in Pike Place Market. We never saw one.

Pike Place Market is a mixture of a state fair and a farmer’s market. Toss in enough people that you literally cannot walk without touching another person and you have a sense of what Pike Place Market is like. The kids hated it! It was a little too crowded. They don’t even throw the fish anymore. They kind of do but it’s not a full show anymore. They probably realized people were only standing around watching the show and not buying any fish. I wonder what Steve thought of Pike Place Market. We went for his sake.


Obviously you can’t go to Seattle without seeing the Space Needle. We decided not to eat in the restaurant because they were serving brunch. As fun as it would be to pay $50 a plate for brunch … we decided not to! We did go up on the elevators later in the afternoon.


I hate this picture! You would think that if your entire job is to take other people’s pictures, you could at least make sure everyone’s eyes are open before waving on the next group. I think Gavin’s eyes were closed in the Chihuly picture. They were free and you get what you pay for!


It was cold and windy on top of the Space Needle. The views are always spectacular. I love going to the top of the Space Needle.

Our city passes are still good until Sunday. We thought about going to do more fun stuff like the aquarium or the Argosy Cruise. But tomorrow is the only day we can go and we won’t have much time to play before things close. It might not be worth the effort. We’ll have to go back to the city another time and make more family memories. Sometimes I just can’t believe we live here!

Chihuly Garden and Glass


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Dale Chihuly has taken the art of blown glass into new dimensions with glass sculptures.


We saw these amazing works of art on Saturday at the Seattle Science Center. This is my favorite picture.


This was the one exhibit my mom had to see.


The EMP was tolerated because it was close to the Chihuly exhibit.


Who could blame her?


It was incredible. These flowers were my favorite part.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Getting this free family phot op was a pleasant surprise.


My kids were less than impressed. They saw this. Dark, overly warm rooms full of people standing in the way with cell phones suspended in the air ready to snap pictures of every single sculpture. Gwen enjoyed finding the sculptures pictured in the brochure. She treated it like a scavenger hunt with lunch at the end of the maze.

Heath emailed himself our free picture and we headed off to find food. Parker was in full on meltdown mode. He had completely shut down and I couldn’t get him to talk at all. Heath stood in line for pizza with the G’s while I got in line for burgers with my mom and Steve. Parker held a table for us. Although he was scowling so hard I don’t think anyone would have even considered taking a seat!


Lunch restored humanity. The hangries went away and we all had a nice rest. On to the next adventure!

The Big Booger aka EMP


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It was nice having my mom and Steve come to visit. They arrived on Wednesday while Heath was in Minnesota meeting with his team. There wasn’t much time for my mom and Steve to visit. They needed to be in Anacortes by 1:30 to catch a ferry to Sydney and from there they would drive to Victoria. It was a rushed tour of the house but it was the cleanest the house would be all weekend!

They came back from Victoria on Friday. Friday was grandparent day. When the kids got home from school Grandma and Grandpa W were visiting with Grandma Holmes, who hadn’t yet seen the house. We were finishing up our baked potato bar when Grandma Sharon and Grandpa Steve stopped by.

Saturday was a full day of fun. We all got up bright and early on a dark and drizzly morning. It was the quintessential Seattle weather for a day in the city. As we got closer to our destination my mom saw a strange building outside her window.


Mom: What is that place? It looks so weird!
Me: That’s the Big Booger!
Heath: That’s where we’re going. That’s the EMP.
Me: Tyson calls it the Big Booger because it’s an ugly looking building.

EMP stands for Experience Music Project. Part of the museum is dedicated to music while the other part represents science fiction. We started out in the science fiction portion of the museum. The fantasy room was my favorite.


There were interactive displays. Parker took the personality quiz to learn which fantasy character he was most like. I think he was like the trickster. Sounds about right for him!


Many popular fantasy movie displays had actual costumes from the movies. I loved The Princess Bride displays. There were also Lord of the Rings displays and a full size dragon.


The best display was for the invisibility cloak. It was probably the easiest display for them to create.


And this cloche with a Mystic from the Dark Crystal was another favorite display. Who remembers that movie? I loved that movie as a kid.


My favorite fantasy movie ever is Labyrinth. The notebook pictured above is Jim Henson’s personal copy of the script for the Labyrinth with annotations. How amazing is that?


Gwen and Grandma had fun playing. There was a crawl through space that they kept going through over and over.


One reason why I loved the fantasy room the best was because of the costumes and décor. I need this lamp! I’m sure I would rock Princess Buttercup’s dress and I would have wall sconces like this lamp all over my castle.

Soon we had to leave the wonderful world of fantasy. There was a Maker’s Fair going on at the EMP. It was like a trade show of science and techy displays. We had a small wooden Aztec calendar laser cut and etched from basically a Cricut machine on steroids. That was so cool! Heath kept telling the presenters that he’s one step closer to buying on since I loved it so much. Parker and I loved smelling the wood. He told me I should find a gun powder flavored candle for my bathroom. I love that kid! That would be a great candle scent, I must say.


I’m not sure what the purpose of this display was. Six disposable cups stood on a Roomba that moved across the table in a random pattern. The girl gave each person three tries to toss a plastic ping pong ball into a cup. If you made it, you got a free t-shirt. If not, you got a small button that said, “Living Computer Museum.”

We all tried our hand at tossing balls into moving cups. I wasn’t going to do it. I’m not good at that stuff! Peer pressure from my mom and the girl running the display made me at least try. I was the last in our group to go. What could I lose, right? On my second try the ball landed in the cup and I got a free t-shirt that says in computery boxes, “I KNOW QUITE A BIT.” Bit, computers … get it?

Parker and Gavin also earned free t-shirts. Heath got the pin consolation prize and was a little surprised by my good luck. I was too! The best part was the t-shirt sizes. The girl randomly grabbed shirts for us. Two 2XLs and one 3 XL. It makes me laugh. The boys chose the smaller sizes while I took the largest size. We wear our “dresses” to bed.


Somewhere in the world, my brother’s head was exploding as we raced through the music part of the EMP. The kids weren’t very interested in guitar displays. I could have spent more time in there. Maybe actually finished reading the plaques. We didn’t spend much time though.

I think I lost brain cells in the Indie Game room. I don’t care for video games and barely tolerate having gaming systems in my home. Independent video games did not do it for me in the least. My kids liked it! Heath wisely escorted us all out after the kids had a couple minutes to sample some games.

My mom wanted to see the Wearable Art displays. I knew it would be weird but I don’t know that I was prepared for the avant-garde “fashions.” I think what people choose to do behind closed doors should probably stay there. I also think that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.


However, I will say I liked this dress. It’s made of wood. It’s pretty and I love the style. Like the rest of the outfits on display, it is completely impractical. I read on one sign that said wearable art needs to be wearable.

A person may be able to fit into a wooden dress but I don’t see them moving in it. I didn’t see how anyone could sit in any of those fashions, much less walk down the runway in them. What do I know? I wear jeans and a t-shirt every day.

The EMP is always an artistic experience. I think everyone found at least one thing they enjoyed there.

It takes an email to the CEO?



Leaves are changing from green to brilliant shades of red and yellow. There is a crispness to the air even when the sun shines. All signs point to fall. Summer is becoming a pleasant memory. New sneakers and sharpened pencils fill the shorter days. Families spend more time together indoors snuggled under fuzzy blankets.

Harvest style decorations were seen adorning a front porch. Soon ghosts, witches, and other celebrations of the dead will decorate the neighborhood. Halloween is the beginning of months of holiday décor and specialty foods. As the world settles into gluttony, peace, and goodwill toward men, I am still waiting on my Lovesac couch.

Ordering the sectional was one of the first things we did after moving here. Before finding doctors or learning we had to start over on our insurance deductible because we moved. Before getting lost on the way home from Jetty Island. Before making the decision that yes, we will get air conditioning before next summer hits. Before ordering the biggest screen TV we have ever had and are enjoying without the comfort of real furniture. And certainly before most of the boxes had been unpacked, we ordered a sectional from Lovesac.

The salesgirl promised us 4-6 weeks for delivery. We could have had it in 2 weeks but I picked a color from the special order swatches. I did choose from the lowest tier of specialty fabrics. I chose not to have any piping or any other specialty features. All I wanted was the color. She took our money, placed the order, and reminded us that in 4-6 weeks our lives would change forever. Well, maybe she didn’t say that last part.

Our lives did change. We eagerly anticipated shipping information around week 4. Nothing. We clenched our fists, scrunched our eyes, and hoped like a young child for Christmas to come early. Week 5 passed by with no word from Lovesac.

We contacted customer service to see what was up. That was a pain in and of itself. Whatever form of communication we chose they suggested we try the other way. Finally we were told that the inserts (actual couch) and the covers (special and supposedly time consuming color I chose) could be shipped separately. Would we like them to split the order so we could get whatever was ready first? Yes please!

Exactly 6 weeks after we had placed the order, the specialty covers arrived. Still no word on where in the world Carmen San Diego was, much less where our inserts were or when they could possibly be delivered. Which is weird because that was the part of the order that should have been sitting in a warehouse. The part that only took 2 weeks to be delivered to someone’s doorstep but we had to wait because I ordered a different color of covers.

My mom and her new husband came to visit. We hoped to have a comfortable place for them to sleep. The biggest reason why we chose the Lovesac sectional was because of its ability to reconfigure into a queen sized bed. Hello guest bed! They walked through the house for the first time. Neither one looked impressed with the bonus room.


No matter how cute the blanket couch is, it’s not a guest bed by any stretch of the imagination. When I tried to calm fears by saying we have an inflatable mattress, I was told my mom’s husband has a bad back. He has been making weekly trips to a chiropractor. It went without saying, the air mattress was a no go.

My first house guests were forced to pay for a hotel because all I had to offer by way of sleeping comfort was what I lovingly refer to as the beach ball. Heath and I slept on that air mattress when we stayed at his parents’ house waiting for our house to be ready. He is larger than I am and sunk into the mattress while I was bounced up, almost AFV style. It felt like I was sleeping on a beach ball. When I got sick of it we crammed the five of us into a small hotel room for a few days.

Heath initiated more customer service conversations and was told our sectional would ship in 10 days. True story. Not only were we originally promised a complete custom set in 4-6 weeks, we would not receive the standard-sitting-in-the-warehouse portion of our order for nearly 8 weeks! So unacceptable. Heath emailed the CEO of Lovesac. The guy who demonstrates how to reconfigure the sectionals on the video. Maybe he could rewrite a happier ending to our story.

Well. Shipping information finally came in today. The sectional will arrive on Friday. That’s still closer to 8 weeks than anything else originally promised. As an apology gift we were given the choice of a cup holder or a wooden desk that wraps around the pieces of the sectional. I chose the ash colored desk because I thought the grayish black tones matched our décor better than the brown wood tones. Apparently I strayed from popularity once again and we will have to wait a couple months to get our free gift! So not kidding! The lady did throw in the cup holder as well.

While I appreciate Lovesac’s efforts to fix the situation I am still very annoyed. There has been a huge breakdown somewhere in the company. This is not okay. I really am in no hurry to darken Lovesac’s door again for any more furniture needs.


We had hoped to have seating in our bonus room for the first BYU football game. Weeks later we were still watching games on the floor. Like BYU’s offense, Lovesac is in no hurry to score points.

Magic Still Exists


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I think the Backpack Fairy is getting tired. She enjoys visiting at the beginning of each year. It is getting harder to come up with goodies the kids need for school. Yet it’s still not time to fly away to a new family. There is still a need for children who believe in magic and have shiny eyes.

This year Gwen would not stop asking for a new lunch box. We had put in our order with the Backpack Fairy. Luckily there was a backup plan when Gwen told her friend Lexie, “We have a Backpack Fairy and I think she will bring me a new lunchbox!” Heath and I were grocery shopping when I told him what I had overheard. I said, “If she can figure that much out, can’t we just be done with this?” It was a lot more fun when the kids were younger.

Gwen and Lexie were still playing when we brought groceries in. I was able to smuggle the lunch box downstairs as if we picked it up from the store! She bought my fib easily as she twirled around with her beautiful new lunchbox. The next morning Gwen had a new raincoat in front of her backpack. Whew! It was easy to dismiss her earlier complaints when everyone got a new raincoat but her. She still had one, I told her!

Granted it’s not the best raincoat. It’s a hooded trench style jacket that’s not very weather proof. Gwen loves umbrellas and doesn’t mind getting wet anyway so a raincoat has never been very important. The boys need weather proof hooded jackets that will keep them dry and warm. Now that we live in a place known for its rain, Gwen needed something that could keep her dry and warm. We saved the raincoat for the Backpack Fairy to deliver.

Gavin is impossible for the Backpack Fairy to give anything to. She ended up getting him a Seahawks pillow pet. Maybe now Cosmo can stay with the other pets where he belongs. Gavin kidnapped him a lot. Not a very school themed gift but what do you get for the 8th grader who already has everything he needs?

Parker’s story ended up being quite sad for me. The Backpack Fairy picked the perfect Tardis alarm clock. The mailman was supposed to deliver it along with a couple other packages. Only the mailman must be related to our lazy mailman from California because he didn’t even bother showing up the day after Labor Day. No one got any mail and certainly no packages were delivered.

I was furious. So was Heath. The tracking info online claimed a delivery attempt was made. They claimed they attempted a delivery at 8:14 pm, the exact same time Heath was walking in the front door after a YM Presidency meeting. We also have a security camera in our front window. There was never a mail truck on the feed from that day. What now?

We pulled Parker aside just before bed and explained the terrible news. “If you haven’t already figured it out, Mom and Dad are the Backpack Fairy and your gift didn’t arrive in time.” He wasn’t surprised to learn there isn’t really a Backpack Fairy. He figured out Santa on his own.

Funny story, Gwen came home one day really upset. “Victoria says Santa Claus isn’t real! She says it’s really the parents that give the gifts!” Pout, stomp, angry confused face. On cue Heath and I both simultaneously asked, “What do you think?” She said she thought he was real. “Then there you go. If you don’t believe in him he will stop coming.” She took a cleansing breath. All was right with the world again and she dropped the issue.

The problem we were facing now was what to do about the missing gift. It wasn’t going to ruin Parker’s day. Gavin wouldn’t even notice. But Gwen would. Gwen would make a big deal out of it. Gwen would be confused. I may have crushed Gavin’s heart when I made Heath tell him the truth about Santa. I regret that decision every single day. In my defense, Gavin was older than Gwen is now. As hard as it is to keep up the charade, she can’t lose the magic yet. Her eyes have to stay shiny.

So the Backpack Fairy wrote a bit of a riddle.

Dear Parker,

I had the perfect gift for you this school year. Somehow it got lost along its way to your backpack. It’s a special gift with special abilities. I warned my friend, the doctor, that this gift would be useful now, in this period of time. He must have gone on one more adventure. Somewhere in the world a blue time machine reads the same numbers as the clocks in your kitchen. The doctor should deliver this unique machine tomorrow. Please accept my apologies in the delay of your gift.


The Backpack Fairy

Parker pretended to be stumped. Gwen saw he got a some apology note and went back to fondling her new raincoat. The mailman finally decided to do his job and delivered the package while the kids were at school. He also delivered the next door neighbor boy’s paintball gun. Bradley had peddled his car washing skills up and down the neighborhood to earn the money. And he had to wait an extra day for the mail service to take their own day off to recover from the government sanctioned vacation day.

For all Gwen knew, the Backpack Fairy visited again while she was at school. Disaster averted and her eyes still shine.

Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse


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Light sprinkles dotted the windshield as we left Deception Pass. Those sprinkles soon gave way to heavier mist increasing to full rain. There is something cozy about being in a car in a rainstorm. The drive was pleasant enough to gently rock us into a power nap. Luckily everyone but the driver! That would have been bad. I don’t know, but I think it does something for Heath to drive his sleepy family.


Fort Casey is a very interesting place. As you drive closer you can see mounds that jut out and in like knuckles on a fist. Under each mound is a fort. Then you turn off the main road and soon come upon the mother of all forts.

The backside of the fort slopes down to Puget Sound’s rocky beach edged with driftwood repurposed as natural forts and benches. Looking up at the hills of sticker bushes no one would ever know what lies on the other side.

Tour guides now loudly share history with groups of tourists. We didn’t join a tour. The fort was built around the time of the Civil War. It was definitely manned during the World Wars but it was never actually used. No cannons ever fired. It was mostly used as a training facility before becoming a tourist attraction.

As we pulled up Parker asked if there were drinking fountains.
Heath: It looks like they are right there by the restrooms.
Gwen: They have bathrooms and drinking fountains here?!? The soldiers don’t need that!
Me: Soldiers need to use the bathroom too and they need drinks.
Gwen: Why can’t they just hold it? That’s what they’re trained for!

The world according to Gwen!

For a little girl who was terrified to walk across the bridge over Deception Pass, Gwen had no problems with climbing all over the fort. We walked across the top and the kids would run toward edges that gave me heart failure. I did not enjoy climbing the ladders either. At least my phobias were entertaining.


The open meadow was like a dog park for kids. We let the kids run wild. Heath and the boys also threw the Frisbee around while Gwen explored the fort some more on her own.


I have noticed that much of the Seattle area is comprised of forest and grassy meadows. I love the trees. The sudden flat grassy areas just add variety to the landscape.


Across the large expanse of grass is the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. I love this place because I have always had a thing for lighthouses. They’re pretty cool.


It’s not very big and you can tour it on your own. As we were walking up to the building Heath took this picture that shows people in the top of the lighthouse. We wandered around reading plaques and looking at maps inside the building. Gwen wanted to go up the spiral staircase.

I have been up there before but for some reason it seemed steep and tight to me. I looked up the stairs with a little trepidation. Are you sure you want to do that? Heath and I almost didn’t go up. It was fun pre kids back in our thin days! Somehow we found ourselves twisting up the stairs.

Gwen was first and I think I was last. Near the top I could see the opening between the stairs and the top of the lighthouse. For some crazy reason I looked up and thought that opening was closed off. The same grayish white of the walls and the sky seemed to be a ceiling covering the opening. I told Gwen it looked like she couldn’t go up all the way. She looked at me like I had officially lost my marbles and reminded me that we already saw people up there. I turned the corner and gained perspective for what I was seeing! That was my duh moment of the day!


Gwen was thrilled to be up there. There is nothing to do but walk around the circle and look out at the beautiful view.


And actually let your dad capture a normal looking smile.


Before we had gone up to the top we bought a map from the gift shop. It’s a huge poster, even all rolled up. I was carrying the poster while Heath dealt with all his bulky, heavy camera equipment. The spiral staircase was steep enough we suggested that the kids go down backwards. I ended up going forwards. It was sure fun having an audience! I think the mom and her young daughter chose not to go all the way up after watching us.


Parker wanted his picture taken between these two men.

We went for a walk along the backside of Fort Casey. There were lots of animals.


A couple of bunnies that would pose for pictures then hop off into the bushes.


A tiny bird rested on the tops of the thistle.


Then this spectacular scene as we were heading down the stairs on the opposite side of the parking lot and grassy meadow. Three deer were happily munching away. They didn’t scare easily either. The family in front of us whispered back about the deer. We also whispered so as not to scare the deer.

A really obnoxious family was behind us. The kid kept yelling back loud enough he could probably be heard at the lighthouse, “DAD! THERE ARE DEER! COME LOOK!” The dad finally caught up but never encouraged quiet. The families started walking across the grass near the deer. The deer barely noticed. The kid tried to get close enough to touch them. The dad told him not to but never seemed sincere. My kids were losing their minds quietly telling me of their disapproval. Those are wild animals! Leave them alone! Be nice! At least they knew the rules.


We finally took a picture of the back of this car. We had seen it back in Deception Pass and thought it was funny. I wonder who drove it? We never did find out. Funny stickers and license plate frame though.

From Fort Casey we were going to drop by Grandma and Grandpa’s house to pick up Gwen’s embroidered backpack. It would have been easier to pick it up on our way out that morning but we didn’t make the decision quickly enough and missed the exit. Gina GPS suggested we get on the ferry as the fastest way to their house. I was glad because the kids have never been on this ferry before.

I have never had such a great place in line for that ferry either! We got right on and right off. It’s a short ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo but the kids really enjoyed the experience. We had Red Robin for dinner before heading off to Kirk and Dayleen’s house to get the backpack. Grandpa was helping Kirk put up new siding. We didn’t stay too long before heading home. It had been a long and fun day.