Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Grace has been looking forward to her first ballet class all week. She & Ava even 'practiced' yesterday. This morning she was excited to see her ballerina dress and put on her slippers for the first time. And yet, when it came time for class to start, Grace wasn't sure about this whole ballerina thing.

She didn't calm down until the class played Ring Around the Rosie. But after that, she had a great time. She didn't always do what the rest of the class was doing, but she enjoyed herself!

Her favorite part was twirling around with the ribons to 'make a rainbow'. The whole thing could not possibly be cuter.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seattle Adventure

After squabbling about whether or not to take the kiddos to Disneyland for Spring Break, we compromised by taking them to Seattle. Our theory was, if Grace truly decides to not sleep, we could always throw in the towel and drive home.

We researched the city online and asked friends who live there and who've visited and came up with a rough outline of our itenerary. Nothing is set in stone when traveling with a two-year-old. The dog got shipped off to Grandma's and we headed north.

Things started well, we managed to get the kids to Rainforest Cafe in time for lunch. They'd never been, so we knew it would be a treat. What we didn't know was that Babygirl would be skerred of the thunderstorms and animals, the very things that make the place special.

We spirited her out of there and caught the next tour of Ride the Ducks. All the kids were thrilled by the land and water ride in the WW2 replica amphibious vehicle. I think Grace was doubly happy since she didn't have to ride in a car seat!

The next day we headed down to the waterfront and explored Pike's Place Market. We didn't get to see anyone throw fish (they only do that when someone buys something) but we loved it just the same. After the market, we went to the Seattle Aquarium. I think the highlight was the seal feeding, but the boys would probably only recall the self-pleasuring otter.

After a crab boil lunch at The Crab Pot, we took a short harbor cruise. I took more pictures than anyone would ever care to see, while the kids enjoyed the wind and the rocking of the boat. I think they win.

With daylight still left, we headed up to the Fremont neighborhood to check out the Fremont Troll which lives under a bridge and explore Gasworks Park. The kids really liked the chance to climb and play freely. Bayley said it was the best part of the trip, and considering we saw Star Wars stuff the next day, that's saying something!

The next day we opted to go to the Seattle Center, starting our day with a trip up the Space Needle. Then it was on to the Star Wars exhibit and butterfly gardens at the Pacific Science Center. After lunch we decided to check out the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. This was our let down of the trip, since over half the place is closed due to construction. Don't bother with it until they reopen everyting in the summer.

Every evening we took the kids swimming and they all think of it is a highlight of the trip. Jeff got to see what a good swimmer Bayley has become and what a fish Grace has turned into. Excuse me, mermaid. She'll correct you. Which is funny considering all her swimming happens while someone else glides her through the water!

Our final day in Seattle we spent the morning at the zoo. Our zoo is faboo, so we have high expectations. Thankfully, Woodland Park is a great zoo with lots of ways for the kids to explore. Hayden says it was the highlight of his trip.

After lunch we headed south to the Museum of Flight. We were really impressed with the collection, as well as the kids exploration area. I think Bayley could have stood there and landed the lunar module all day. But, I do think Grace was a bit bothered that the planes she got to sit in didn't actually fly!

The Seattle trip was more of an adventure than a vacation. We learned the diva likes to be cuddled to sleep, but wants her own space once she is actually asleep. The second night was OK, but the last night she decided she wanted to sleep in my bed. Just not with me in it. Grrreat!

Even with her non-sleeping issues, we had a great time. Maybe we'll do a similar excursion to Boise or Vancouver.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Museum of Flight

On our way out of Seattle we went to the Museum of Flight. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. Like everything else in Seattle, they are only open until 5, so one of the guides quickly explained the route we should take so the kids would have time to spend at the most popular kid exhibits. And his advice? Perfect! 

We started with a walk-through of the Concord and Eisenhower's Air Force One. Jeff couldn't even stand up in the original Concord (doubly troubling since Grace was on his back). Air Force One was larger, but Jeff & I marvelled at how much like a commercial airliner this first presidential plane was.

The boys noticed something different. On board they had a map of where the presidents took Air Force One abroad for Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. (We guessed Ford got a new plane). They looked at the map and said "that's it?"

Their presidents travel overseas quite a bit more than they did in the 50s and 60s. It goes to show that those boys do notice a couple things. Once we looked at it, Jeff and I realized that President Obama isn't even done with his term and he's traveled more than those four presidents combined.

After our elementary realization, we explored the red barn, originally a shipyard where Boeing made his first aircraft. The boys blasted through that history bit in favor of sitting the cockpits of the Hornet and Blackbird.

Then it was off to the interactive kids section where even the adults were lining up to try and land the glider video game. There were smaller planes for the kids to sit in, so Grace was climbing in and out, trying to figure out how to make them fly. I think she was actually disappointed they didn't hover when she sat in them.

I had the boys board the airliner and told Bayley to sit in the seat and remember what it was like so he could compare it to our trip to New York. I think these were first class seats, with every other row missing. We'll see what he thinks!

And to continue the man junk theme of our Seattle adventure, Hayden found this in the space area and said "Look mom, you can see his privates, but they drew them wrong. He only has one ball."

Yeah, I was ready to go at that point!

Woodland Park Zoo

A trip to the zoo is never complete until you have milked a plastic cow, got caught in a spider web, stood on  a monkey's head, and teased a penguin. We love our zoo, so we have high expectations for zoos. Woodland Park was great, and had some features I wish our zoo had.

Their insect zoo has it's own building and lots of details about he bugs on display. Some of them creeped me out, the boys thought they were cool.

I liked that they still had their free-range peacocks. Our zoo had to get rid of them. The kids all crowded around him so he splayed his feathers, which was what they wanted, but sheesh! Poor bird!

Bayley's favorite part was the habitat area. It had no animals, just interactive displays about where they burrows, hollow trees and...spider webs!

Grace liked the Zoonasium, an indoor play area for the younger set. I think they use the building for science classes as well, guessing from the displays inside. There is a height limit, but no one called Bayley out, probably because he was there with younger siblings. if I lived in Seattle, I'd get a zoo membership just for the zoonasium!

I got chills watching the grizzly bears interact. They were play fighting, but you could really appreciate just how enormous they are when they stand up on their hind legs and bear their teeth!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


In the spirit of creating new experiences for the kids, we decided to take them to Benihana for dinner. The boys were very excited by the idea of having dinner made right at the table. Hayden was thrilled to get to order a 'fruity umbrella drink' and Bayley liked being able to see exactly what went into the food and decide whether he wanted it or not.

Grace was in heaven because we'd finally found a restaurant with fruit! After swiping the pineapple off my drink and Hayden's, they brought her a whole bowl. Fruit girl hadn't been so culinarily happy all trip!

NEXT TIME :: I wouldn't order the white noodles for the kids. They liked them, but by the time they were served, they were stuffed with other stuff!

Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum

Jeff had been really looking forward to this stop on our adventure. I was hoping there would be something to intrigue the small boys as well...and there wasn't much. More than half of the museum was closed due to construction!

The only things open were the Jimmy Hendricks section (not exactly kidtastic), the guitar collection, and the experience music room. But since it was one of the few rooms open, it was packed and the kids had to wait at every station and soon grew bored we only did two of the 20+ stations.

The top floor science fiction museum only had the Battlestar Gallactica exhibit (the rest was closed as they prepped for an Avatar exhibit this summer). Since we'd never seen the show, none of us were all that interested in the costume collection.

NEXT TIME :: I'd call ahead to make sure the museum is truly open, and not just showing a few things for the sake of staying open.

Pacific Science Center

When Bayley learned there was a Star Wars exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, he wanted it to be the first place we went. They're closed Tuesdays, or it would have been.

The Pacific Science Center made me really appreciate OMSI. We had to wait in line outside for 25 minutes as two people worked the ticket window with all the urgency of a teenager being told to get off the phone. Finally we got our tickets, included our timed entrance to Star Wars. Where we waited in line for another 20 minutes. You can imagine how much I loved OMSI at this moment. Grace too.

The Star Wars exhibit was the same one we'd seen at OMSI three years ago. The boys didn't remember going (great) so they really enjoyed it. Bayley thought there were too many costumes, and not enough facts. That kid cracks me up.

Once we were through with Star Wars, we got to explore the rest of the place. The boys did the Milenium Falcon Ride while Grace explored their toddler area...and soaked herself at their water table! I changed her into her spare outfit and then spirited her out of there because I didn't have a 3rd change for her!

My favorite thing was the Butterfly Garden. We used to have one at the zoo, but they've done away with it and I really miss it. I played with my camera until the kids were ready to move on to their favorite place.

The game room! Giant checkers with traffic cones, knee-high chess pieces...we got to watch the boys battle it out. They enjoyed playing with the giant peices so much I thought I'd get them some for the back yard...and then I saw the price. Yowza!

NEXT TIME :: Bring something for the kids to do while waiting in line.

Space Needle

Riding to the top of the Space Needle is the obligatory Seattle activity. I'd never done it, and it was similar to riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris in Las Vegas. Hey, it's what I know.

 I really thought the kids would be into it...but after having to wait for it to open (like everything else in Seattle it opens at 10, not the 9 printed on the CityPass) they were kinda over it as soon as they'd peered through a telescope.

NEXT TIME :: I'd make this the final thing we do. I was able to keep the boys entertained a bit by trying to find places we'd been, so if we'd been more places that would have lasted longer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pike's Place Brewery

With all we were doing for the kids, Jeff wanted to try some breweries while we were in town to make our adventure a little more vacation like for him. Pike's Place Brewery came highly reccomended. Since it's right inside Pike's Place, it's very easy to find (and quite close to some delish dessert spots!)

Jeff really liked the beer - He wound up buying a bunch to take home. And Bayley? Had a HUGE pizza, so he was in heaven. Seriously...that's on the kids menu! It could have fed all of my kids if B wasn't such a pizza fiend!

I was a big fan of the beer names - Naughty Nellie, Old Bawdy, Monks Uncle, XXX Stout, Kilt Lifter!

NEXT TIME :: Order the salmon (again) and make sure Jeff gets some Naughty Nellie along with his Kilt Lifter!

Gasworks Park

During our Ride the Ducks tour of Lake Union, we learned about Gasworks Park - an abandoned gas plant that the city took over (in order to rid it of environmentally hazardous waste). Once it was cleaned up, the city decided to make it a park...and it is one of the oddest parks I've ever been to!

There are huge gas structures still in place...they've been painted so now they seem to be art? I found it strange, but the kids loved climbing on them.

We hiked up the kite hill, and I really wished we had a kite with us. The wind was perfect. The boys ran ahead and we found them at the bottom of the hill...meditating!

There was a covered area filled with more structures for the kids to climb on, but part of it had been taken over by a homeless camp, so we got the heck out of there!

NEXT TIME :: I'd bring a kite!

Fremont Troll

One of the amazing things about Seattle is the abundance of public art. Our Ride the Ducks tour guide told us that for every construction project within the city limits, 1% has to be spent on public art. Sometimes it's murals to beautify a parking garage, sometimes it's fountains and statues...and sometimes it' some thing completely unexpected. Like the troll living under the bridge, clutching a Volkswagen as if he'd just snatched it off the street.

When you Google about Seattle with kids, the Fremont Troll often comes up as a must visit. The same Seattle friendly who had a hit with Ride the Ducks suggested it as well, so we decided to find it. The boys thought it was great and began climbing all over it. Bayley even says the troll was one of the highlights of the trip!

It's funny, you spend all this cashola on taking the kids to the attractions, and their favorite stuff is free.

Hayden claims there were lots of gum buggers up his nose!

NEXT TIME :: Can I put Grace in garden gloves? Her fingernails were atrocious!

Harbor Cruise

As another way to sneak some education into the unsuspecting minds of our children, we took them on a short cruise around the harbor from Argosy Cruises. They absolutely loved the boat. Even with the wind blowing, the boys wanted to be outside, and on the top deck!

Once everyone was settled, the tour guide began narrating what we were seeing and giving the history of the area. I loved that, but the kids (including Jeff) were more interested in watching the longshoreman move shipping containers and seeing the hull of the Coast Guard ice breaker being painted red (to make it easier to spot in the ice.

There is something magical about being on the water on a nice, sunny day. Bayley & Hayden stuck mostly to the open top deck, while Grace prefered to be inside running around the open lounge area, laughing each time she lost her sea legs.

NEXT TIME :: I'd bring a blanket and sit on the top deck with a cocktail...and probably not bother with taking pictures!

Hayden's Review :: Awesome! We got to see walking seals and sea lions resting on a buoy. I spent most of the time on the top deck with my brother. My mom gave me money to buy gummi bears.

Bayley's Review :: I especially liked when it was not moving because that's when it swayed the most.

The Crab Pot

The thing with traveling with kids have to feed them. Constantly. And all they want is chicken strips, french fries and pizza. Jeff & I kept trying to find opportunities for them to try things they never had at we took them for a crab boil at The Crab Pot.

This was as traditional as we get on the west coast - they laid down butcher paper, gave us wooden planks and mallets to whack open the shellfish, and passed out bibs.

No one wore the bibs. And Bayley ordered a hamburger...which he sent back, and then didn't eat anything. Hayden tried a few things, and Grace was willing to eat the crab.

At least they can say they've done it.

Hayden's Review :: Hilarious! They dump your food on the table! You whack your food with a hammer!

Bayley's Review :: Really bad. The cheeseburger patty had hard chunks in it. The fries were disgusting and they served it with a pickle.

NEXT TIME :: Order for the table and forget the kids meals. They'll be more apt to try it without a more comfortable option.