Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Preschool (Walter)

This just shows how far behind I am...Walter is halfway through Kindergarten now. But I couldn't let his year of preschool just blow past without recording some special memories.

To begin with, I do not know how we lucked out with our preschool group. For the two years before Walt started Kindergarten, we did a joy-school type co-op with a group of 5 other kids and their moms. It fluxuated a little bit (we swapped our good friend Charlee and her mom Katie for good friend Mili and her mom Emi), but this core group of kids stayed together through thick and thin and I am telling you - as long as I live I will love all of these moms. They have been my lifeline through so much. Lots of babies born, job changes, moving around the country, starting school, husbands finishing school, vacations, developmental milestones, and so much more. They are some of my best friends and the women who have helped parent my boy up to this point.
Walter and his friend Christian also cemented a friendship through the process that is invaluable to him. They are best friends and we even fought to get them in the same Kindergarten class. They rarely argue and will play for hours and hours (and hours and hours!) when they are able. Christian's mom, Alaina, is one of my all-time favorite people on the planet, and I can never thank her enough for pulling Christian out of a second year of paid preschool and sticking with the co-op. I know that was a lot more work and stress for her, but the impact it had on Walt's life was huge. He wouldn't be the same kid without Christian's friendship and I'm just eternally grateful.
Walt learned a ton in preschool, mostly about being a friend, listening to a teacher, and valuing himself and his unique talents. He entered Kindergarten with some challenges, but ahead in reading and math and light years ahead in imagination. We could not have provided a traditional preschool experience for him (financially out of reach for us), and this co-op experience was an answer to prayer for us in so many different ways.
I guess I just wanted to remember that through some tough times there was this amazing light for us among an incredible group of people who are more like family to us now than anything else. I hope we will all keep in touch over the years, and I can't wait to see where these kids go with all of that potential!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2 and 5

Having the kids' birthdays so close together is incredibly exhausting but it's also fun because neither one ever really feels left out. :)

This year we had a low-key family only hangout for our spunky 2-year-old. She loves Sofia the First so I made her a cake, we went swimming, opened gifts and had pizza. She was sweet about the whole thing and we had a lot of fun celebrating her!

It was Walt's year for a blowout friend party. And oh. MAN. It was definitely a blowout. Months before his birthday, I started asking him what kind of party he might like to have. He immediately said "Zelda," and I inwardly cringed. Not only would none of his friends have any idea what Zelda was, it would be so hard to plan because they don't exactly sell Link piƱatas at the Party Store. I tried so hard to talk him into a Star Wars party or Ninja Turtle party. He agreed to a Star Wars party but he just wasn't that excited about it. One of my friends wisely said to me - "Who cares if no one knows what it is? It's a party, they'll all have fun, and Walt will love it." I thought this over and told Walt later that day that if Zelda was what he really wanted, then that's what we would do. I scored major mom points that day.
PS: It's hard to fill the same room with balloons twice in 10 days!

And actually, this party was so much fun to plan and host. We created a "game" the kids went through where they had to find pieces of the tri-force at the different sanctuaries.
First, they made shields for their quest:
They used keys to open a treasure chest in the Lost Woods...
And water "bombs" to defeat a bokoblin (or "Gobo" as Walter calls them)...
Finally, they had to cross the hot lava of Ganon's Tower to defeat Ganon himself with their master swords!! Our amazing friend Mike actually volunteered for this job. He was great and the kids got a serious kick out of it.
I integrated some other things from the game into our snack and the party favors.
I'm so glad I went with what Walt wanted. Most of the kids actually loved the whole thing-- and now they know what Zelda is!
This crazy Nintendo loving boy is such a hoot. We're so glad he is ours.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bucket List #57 | Ballard Locks

At the end of preschool, Walt's little class took a field trip to the Ballard Locks, which ended up being so fun!

The locks are fun to watch -- it's an interesting process and it's always fun to see boats up close! It was very loud on that side, so we watch a couple of boats go through and then wandered off.
I didn't realize that the locks are actually within a park that has extensive gardens and a visitor's center!
We really enjoyed this experience and it's FREE! If you're in the downtown area go here!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Disneyland!

It feels like so long ago that we were at Disneyland...we had so much fun taking the kids and can't wait to return someday!

We convinced my entire family to join us and had an amazing time. I easily have a thousand photos so I'll just share some highlights. :)
Walt's favorite rides were the Buzz Lightyear ride in Disneyland and the Toy Story ride in California Adventure. Both have controls and allow you to interact with the ride like a video game. Coincidence? Yeah, not.
Zuzu loved all things princess (they were the only characters she wasn't afraid of) and came home obsessed with Cinderella.

To help the kids get hyped up for the trip, we told Walt all about the "Jedi Academy" and how he could be trained in the ways of the force. We even showed him a video online of other kids doing it. He was SO excited. Little did we know, this experience is only given to a limited number of kids each day. It is so popular that you must be at the very front of the line the SECOND the park opens, run to the Launch Bay, and cross your fingers that you get in. I think there are something like 300 spots open each day (out of tens of thousands of kids). You can only sign up the day you plan to participate - you can't do it ahead of time. Also, your child must be present when you sign up at the crack of dawn. Well, dumb us - we had already promised Walt he could do it. So on the third day of our vacation we found ourselves up so very early in the morning, standing at the gate to Tomorrowland with hundreds of other parents all wearing Star Wars shirts.
I told Landon he had to bolt for the sign up as soon as they dropped the rope. He laughed at me and said, I'm not actually going to run... But sure enough, the second the park opened, the crowd surged towards the Launch Bay. I was laughing so hard while we ran with a stroller, 3 kids and 2 babies (my nieces wanted to do it too). We happened to follow another family through a shortcut and were 5th in line to sign up. It was insane, hilarious, slightly embarrassing and seriously worth all of the craziness.
Walt had the time of his life and literally thinks he can use the Force now. He was a little scared of Kylo Ren but had no problem taking on Darth Vader.
So yeah, we did that. And I'm glad.

Walt surprised us with his willingness to try every single ride. Even though it was clear on the first day that he was not loving rollercoasters - he went on every ride he was tall enough for. He would go once, declare if he liked the ride or not, and then would not go again if he didn't want to.
Even when we knew he wouldn't like something and tried to talk him out of going, he would insist on trying it out. Including Tower of Terror. He definitely didn't like THAT one!! We were so so proud of him for going on everything though. What a brave kid!

We maximized our time from dawn till dusk daily for 5 whole days and were still so sad when it was time to go home. Luckily my family all loves Disney and our next trip is already being talked about. I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Portland!

Playing catchup again! Being an adult leaves little time for things like journaling/blogging, doesn't it? But I'll try to do a broad recap.

For Landon's Spring Break this year, we decided to head down to Portland, Oregon to visit his Grandpa Burgener.

I'm so glad we went! We have lived within a few hours of Grandpa and Betty for years and hadn't done a proper visit. They were very gracious and happy to see us.

While there, we figured we may as well do some epic exploring!! We've been to Portland twice before as a family (and I used to live near here as a young child), but we haven't had much chance to see the sites.
We decided to use our time to take a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram, visit Powell's, eat our weight in food at the Portland food trucks, and visit an ice cream hot spot called Salt & Straw. There's a lot of eating involved in visiting Portland. :)

The next day, we had a huge surprise for Walter. The OMSI Museum happened to have a traveling display the same time we were in town called Game Masters. It was about video game designers through the ages, and included actual game consoles, from 80s arcade games to the most recent Kinnect and Wii games. When I saw the advertisement, we discussed it at length. It was expensive. And we work pretty hard to stay OFF screens when we're together on vacation. But it just seemed like too great of a chance to pass up. Walt's favorite thing in the world on display in the town we were hanging out in? So in the end, we went. And literally this photo made it all worth it:
This was his face when we got close enough in the line for Walt to see the giant Mario/Zelda poster and realized what we were doing. He could NOT hold still. He tried out nearly every single game, we stayed for hours. He bounced from one thing to the next and told us all about the different Zeldas, Marios and Minecraft games. He asked lots of questions and we enjoyed chatting about game design and showing Walt some of the games from our childhood. He LOVED it. Sometimes, spoiling your kids is a perfect idea.

Meanwhile, Zuzu found some fun things to do, too.
They had a great children's play space and she spent about an hour exploring it while Walt continued gaming. :) Rumor has it there were several sections with science and art and some other stuff, but we never made it that far!

We had a great time. Each year, we've managed to scrape together enough money to do a little spring break trip, and I've loved all the memories we've made! We've seen some fun things around the PNW, and spent time with great family members. And of course, Walt's favorite thing in the world is staying in hotels. So there's that.
Peace out, Portland. Hopefully we'll see you again soon!