Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Easter and beyond

Home from Hawaii, and right into Easter!  Zane had been looking forward to this holiday, because he knew he would get more candy.

Zane's dip into philosophical questions continued from our trip.  Whenever a holiday like Easter comes up, I feel like it's a good opportunity to talk about why people celebrate it, and what Michael and I and most of our family believe (or don't).  On the way to a puppet show we had a long conversation in the car about symbols of spring, old celebrations, and Christian Easter beliefs.  Zane wanted another god story. I gave him a synopsis of Jesus' life and explained which parts I thought were true. Then I told him about the Christian beliefs of the son of god, dying for sins, rebirth, and Heaven. Zane was very upset at the death, and then decided he liked the religious explanation with coming back to life. Once again, he likes the god version of the story. Very interesting to me, but it also makes sense for his level of understanding how the world works.

I think the talk of heaven also got him thinking about what is outside space.  On the way home from the puppet show he asked, "What's outside space?" I said it was just more space, on and on, filled with stars and planets and galaxies. "But what's outside that?" Well, some astrophysicists say that our whole universe might be just one of many, some with all of the same things in it we have in our universe. "Oh! So there is another copy of the book If I Built a House in it!" Yes! There probably is!  OK. Teaching about parallel universes: done.

The Saturday before Easter we went to the zoo for their annual egg hunt.  Michael took Zane last year, so I was excited to go this year.  Actually, it was kind of a bummer.  There was nothing in the eggs, and then you turned them in!  At the exit to the zoo, they had candy to choose from, but it's not the same as discovering in eggs.  As much as I hate for Zane to get tons of candy, I think next year I'll look for a hunt with more reward.  We had fun on the carousel, though, and it was a beautiful day so the sides were all opened up.

The next day at home, we discovered the Easter Bunny had visited!  JoJo was very interested in the basket, which is what she usually sits in when she gets combed.  Also, the Easter Bunny had used JoJo's own hay in the basket, which made it smell extra yummy.  Zane was excited to find eggs all over the living room with candy in them!  His Easter basket also had a bug collecting kit and a nice ceramic tea set.  I would say he was pretty pleased with his haul.  At breakfast I let him have his very first Cadbury Creme Egg.  As I expected, it was too rich for him to really eat very much, but it was still a very special treat.

We've had a few adventures this spring so far.  Our cousin Leah and her fiance Matt came for a visit, and we had a rare sparkling clear day.  We all went up on the Seattle Great Wheel, which I've been wanting to do for awhile.  We had a fantastic view, and the ride was amazingly smooth.  After we were done Zane had a really great time in the arcade on the pier below.  I think my favorite game involved stomping on spiders.

Later in the week I took Zane to see Adventures with Spot at the Seattle Children's Theater.  I didn't think it was quite as fantastic as The Cat in the Hat or Dot and Ziggy, but Zane seemed to like it a lot.  Next I'll take him to Pippi Longstocking, which I'm really looking forward to!

A few days later we went back to Seattle Center for their annual spring break Whirligig.  They had about 10 different bouncy houses set up, and several of them were obstacle courses.  Zane loves obstacle courses.  I didn't take him last year as I was worried about him getting creamed by older kids.  I actually did see that happen this year, but Zane laughed and loved it.  He was always finding older kids to follow around and roughhouse with.  As I watched in great anxiety, I composed this haiku in my head to help calm myself down:
      Zane careens inside
      The obstacle course of doom
      I learn to let go

We had a chilly and drizzly trip to Kelsey Creek Farm for their annual sheep shearing event.  I was surprised how interested Zane was in the fiber arts room.  We spent quite a long time watching wool dyeing, carding, spinning, and knitting.  And then, by god if there weren't bouncy houses.  We finished up with that and headed home, full of kettle corn and hot dogs.

In May we have started to have some really excellent weather.  We had our first trip to the beach of the season, and I could have worn a sundress and been warm.  It was amazing.  Today we did our first family walk down the stairs and in the woods nearby Golden Gardens.  Zane's legs are much stronger for going up the stairs than last year.  He still go mighty tired out, though, and has gone to bed early.

I'm especially proud of our trip to a local fire station.  I organized this for Zane's entire preschool,  and I felt a bit nervous about being responsible for everyone having a good time.  I was most anxious about taking the bus there and back.  In the end it all went of really well, and I just needed to be a parent chaperon while letting the teachers be in charge.  The firefighters were awesome, and I was especially pleased that a woman firefighter led most of the tour.  At first they quizzed all the kids on their fire safety knowledge, and they let us know what to do if an alarm went off.

Then we got to see the truck, and handle some of the equipment!  Zane had been bored at the first part, but he was front and center for the rest!  He is hefting a nozzle in the photo above, and he claimed later that it wasn't heavy at all.  One firefighter showed off some sort of mechanical gripping claw, as well as an axe.  He asked if anyone wanted a finger chopped off, and one boy eagerly offered his hand.  All fingers stayed on.

A third firefighter then showed all of the equipment he had to wear and why.  I think the kids liked this most of all.  The firefighter kept saying, the more gear I get on, the less I look like me!  I look more like something scary, but I'm still just a firefighter.  Every time a new piece of equipment went on, Zane kept shouting gleefully, "I still know it's you!  I still know it's you!"  I thought this was a great way to help kids not be scared of a big, heavy breathing black monster coming at you in a fire.

Then  the alarm went off!  We all quickly stood to the side and filed out of the station.  The firefighters quickly suited up and the truck was off with lights flashing.  I was a bit disappointed that they didn't use their siren.  I'm not sure how much more they would have showed us, but I don't think we missed much.  Maybe they would have let some kids into the truck.  I thought it was really a great ending, though.  Later on they offered to have us come for another tour, but we were satisfied.

And speaking of heroes, a big part of our life lately has revolved around superheroes.  A number of kids at school talk about superheroes, and Zane was ecstatic when I found a Spider-Man t-shirt for him in a pile of hand-me-downs.  I looked around the library catalog and found a bunch of superhero stories just for little kids.  They don't have much physical violence, mostly just some witty repartee and getting wrapped up in webs.  Zane is enraptured by these books.  Some of the books are pretty bad, though.  One introduced about 15 different superheroes, and only one was female. All the male super heroes were outside doing super things, while the one girl was in the frickin kitchen! How many editors and artists and publishers saw this and thought it was a great thing to publish?! Aaaaaargh!  I've managed to bend the superheroes to my will, however.  We have had some problem with getting Zane to poop in the toilet, so some Spider-Man t-shirts and a sweatshirt have been dangled as rewards.  So far they've helped a lot!  Way to go Spider-Man!  My hero!

Now if only Spider-Man would eat vegetables in his books.  We really don't do well with this.  Zane eats raw and cooked peas, carrots, and corn, but not much else.  Michael and I are not great role models here, either.  We all eat tons of fruit, but veggies get short shrift.  I decided to try fruity smoothies with vegetables in them, and I got a cookbook from the library to help.  I got Zane involved in the prep, and he absolutely loved it.  He claimed he like the smoothies, too, but they did not actually enter his body in more than minute quantities.  Darn.  I should probably keep plugging away, but I feel defeated.

Physically Zane is getting great exercise for his body.  He comes home from school most day covered with cuts and bruises, and I consider that to be the signs of lots of good climbing attempts.  We're trying something new, though!  A few months ago Zane saw a bit of the ballet Swan Lake on Sesame Street, and a few days later he told me he'd like to try ballet.  I was surprised!  I know a few girls and a boy from school go, but he'd never expressed interest.  I was hesitant to sign up for expensive lessons, but I didn't want to quash his interest, either.  I asked at the local music and dance school if he could do a trial class, and they said sure!  We went on a Sunday and it was awesome!  The teacher was a male dancer/acrobat, and he had the kids running themselves ragged and then acting out a story with a princess, a fairy, and a dragon.  He spent quite a bit of of time flinging Zane in the air, too.  And through all that, Zane learned first and second position and plie.  Plus, the big bonus is that parents do not go into the dance room, so I can sit outside and read!  We were sold.  I can't wait to go back next Sunday.

OK, so that gets me all caught up with stories!  I hope I won't get so behind again for awhile ...

Friday, May 3, 2013


In March I had a series of nasty colds, but surely I would be better before our trip to Hawaii on the 19th!  Yes, I was finally getting better!  Then, the Sunday night before our Tuesday morning departure I felt that tell-tale tickle in my throat and ears and a bad headache.  I felt really, really cold.  I took a sick day on Monday and felt so tired and cold all day long, plus my throat/ears/head hurt and I had a deep yucky cough.  I really thought that resting would help, but of course I still needed to pack and do laundry and run errands.  Monday night during dinner and bath time my eye began to itch and ooze pus.  Oh joy.  I called the consulting nurse to say I thought I had pink-eye (which had been going around Zane's school).  I thought they would tell me not to get on the plane!  I was soooo tired and all I wanted to do was go to bed early, but instead I drove 30 minutes to the nearest Group Health urgent care clinic.  I could hardly see through the goop and painful eyelid.  Yup, I had pink eye and a fever.  They gave me stuff for my eye and a face mask to wear on the plane.  I ended up getting home in time for a pretty good night's sleep, and the next morning we were off!

The first morning in Hawaii I was sitting on our lanai looking at the ocean and thinking what a bummer it would be to be sick for the whole trip.  Ha ha!  That won't happen!  But it did.  Being on vacation is not very restful.  Also, Zane went to bed at Hawaii time (late) but still woke up at Seattle time (early) every day.  Both of us had horrible coughs that kept us up all night, so we were both exhausted and cranky a lot of the time.  I could never rest enough to get better.  Halfway through our trip Zane came down with a fever, too, but he seemed to bounce back pretty quickly.  Miraculously, Michael never got sick.  So that is the background noise for our trip.  It could have been better, but at least we were still in Hawaii!

This year we returned to our favorite condos at Napili Point Resort.  They are not in an overly built up area in terms of malls and stores.  There is a lovely crescent of beach that we can get to with just a short walk along the seashore.  Right in front of the condos is a cove filled with turtles and corals and fish.  In the mornings I could watch the turtles from our lanai, and one day I counted seven on the surface at once!  On our first day at the beach near our condo, two turtles came right into a tide-pool area and Zane and I could see them from only about three feet away!  Very cool.

On our first day Zane and I headed to the beach.  I had rented a huge bag of beach toys ahead of time, and they were waiting for us in our condo when we arrived.  It was a great mix of stuff.  We set out to the beach and got right down to digging!  After a while we went for a walk along the rocks to see what we could see in the tidepools.  We saw the turtles I mentioned before very close up, and lots of fish and arthropods and urchins.  When Michael came along he and Zane went out for another jaunt along the tidepools.  This spot on the beach was one we returned to just about every day.    One day Zane found a small hermit crab in one of the tidepools.  When we returned to Seattle Zane made a treasure map for our friend Mike, as he was going to be on the very same beach a few weeks later!  He sent us a picture from the beach with his map and some treasure he discovered.

I had rented some snorkel gear for myself and a life jacket and boogie board with a window in it for Zane.  Last year he had finally gone in the ocean water on the last day, so I was hopeful we'd get in this year, too.  That never did end up happening.  I'm not sure if maybe it was because we were both sick and tired.  One day I tried really hard to get him to float on the boogie board so he could see the coral reefs, but he was just too scared, and I didn't want to push him.  There's always next year!  We did have way more fun in the swimming pools this year for some reason.  So we had plenty of days where we at least got wet a bit, and then Zane would come back and have loooooooong hot showers.

Although we were sickies, we still managed to get out and have some adventures.  Last year we had a nice ride on the Sugar Cane Train, and we did that again this year.  This year we played a game where we tried to see how many fruit trees we could see.  Mangoes!  Bananas!  Papaya!  Fig!  We capped it off with the obligatory shave ice.

Last year I had wanted to go on a submarine ride, but after a disastrous day at the aquarium we decided to put it off.  This year we booked ourselves onto a ride, and it was fantastic!  The boat ride out and back was pretty exciting all by itself.  When we were heading back Zane said his favorite part was riding on the water.  We'll have to do a boat ride somewhere this summer, or at least next year in Hawaii.  After taking the boat out to the dive site, we got to see the submarine surface from the previous tour. 

When it was our turn to get on, we had to climb down a ladder into the sub, and Zane managed that pretty well.  Inside the sub we had a pretty small space to sit in but it was neat to see all of the controls in the cockpit up front.  The dive was neat, and then everything was bathed in blue light.  While we were chugging along to our first view we had a bit of trouble with Zane getting bored and goofing off, but then we finally got to see some fish out of the portholes.

The boat operators had promised a sunken ship, and Zane was very excited to see it.  He was convinced it was a pirate ship.  I was worried were going to have a very disappointed boy, but then our guide passed around some photos of the ship being purposefully sunk, and good golly if it didn't look like a pirate ship!  It had been a replica of a whaler (see it here), but eventually it needed to be scuttled, so the submarine company bought it and sank it for an underwater attraction.  Zane looooved the photos of the ship being sunk -- it was the thing he talked about most after the ride.  The ship itself was neat, too.  Zane has decided that real pirates were on the ship when it was sunk, but they swam away and were OK.

When the sub surfaced and we got back on the boat to take us to shore, there was one more treat in store for us.  A whale breached about 20 feet from the ship, stuck up its tail, and then poked its head out of the water.  Wowie zowie!  Michael and I were more impressed than Zane, I think because we knew how really special that was.  We saw many whales playing off shore this year, but this was our first close encounter ever.  Since Zane enjoyed the boat ride so much, I think next year we should go on a whale watching tour.  When we got back to land we had lunch in Lahaina and even visited a few stores.  I thought Zane was looking especially cute with his lemonade.

Our next adventure was our annual drive up Haleakala.  Last year Zane surprised us by loving the drive up.  We had forgotten our warm clothes so we froze a bit at the top, but it was a good trip.  This year I remembered our warm clothes!  Zane had woken earlier than usual that morning, so I expected him to sleep on the way up.  He did pass out, but as we drove up, up, up, it became clear that he was really getting sick.  He felt very hot and began breathing more rapidly as we got higher and higher.  When we got to the top the sky had cleared and the wind was low, and it was warm and beautiful.  Zane was hot and sick.  I got him out of the car for a pee and he said "Mama, I can't stand up!" and he cried.  I got a pee out of him, and then after a quick look around we headed right back down the mountain.  Zane's breathing calmed down as soon as we got down to about 8000 feet.  When we got back to civilization I stopped at a drug store to get children's fever meds and some Fever Bugs which give a good quick temperature.  He ended up liking those a lot.  His fever went away that evening and he was right as rain except for a cough.  I think he got my bug.  I hadn't been careful with contagion since I thought I got it from him in the first place, but I guess not!

Near the end of our visit we had some gray skies and I decided our last adventure would be a quick one to a nearby whaling museum.  Zane did pretty well in it, and I was surprised at how interested he was in a lot of the stuff.  For some reason he was in poopy mood, though, and wouldn't let us get a good picture of him with a whale skeleton.  The museum is in a big shopping mall with a very neat series of waterfalls, and that kept him pretty happy.  That and the ice cream and his very first small Lego projects we brought back to the condo.  We had fun putting them together, although they turned out to be still a bit too fiddly for his little fingers.

I've noticed in the past that when we go on vacations, something about the upheaval in routine kicks Zane's brain into action.  When he was smaller he would learn new skills.  On this trip he asked us a series of pretty interesting philosophical questions, just about one per night.

Tuesday:  "Mama, tell me about the God man."
Wednesday: "Who owns the Earth?"
Thursday: "Is there humans eating humans?"
Saturday: "Where does the earth start?"

I had a lot of fun talking about these and coming up with some answers.  He's keeping my on my toes!

Well, Hawaii was fun, but kind of low-key due to our health.  The day before we left I made a doctor's appointment for our return to make sure I didn't have any gruesome disease I would pass on to my co-workers.  I didn't, but I did get some meds to help clear me head.  My ears had actually been plugged up for about half the trip.  When I got back to work I found out that it was a feature of the particular bug going around, and several of my co-workers and friends were also shouting "What?" and coughing and hacking.  The meds seemed to have no effect, and it took about another two or three weeks to really get well.  I sure hope next year's trip to Hawaii goes better!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Finishing Winter

Wow, it's been two months since I posted!  I'll try to do a roundup.  I even discovered an old blog post I began and never posted.  Stay tuned for a series of three catch up posts to get us done with winter, to Hawaii, and beyond Easter.

Winter ennui has not been bad this winter, as we didn't have the weeks and weeks of pouring rain of the past two years.  There was rain, and it was cold, but there were also rays of sunshine.  In February we took our first visit to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma.  Since I didn't grow up here, I had never been there.  It was a bit of a drive, but that can be part of the adventure.  Zane enjoyed seeing new stuff, and the Tacoma Dome was pretty exciting to pass.  First we spent a bunch of time in the kids' play area, and then had some lunch.  This zoo has many water creatures not in the Seattle Zoo or Aquarium, so we set off to see those.  On the way we saw wolves, musk ox, reindeer, and arctic foxes.  Then we got saw the polar bears!  One was swimming with a toy right next to the viewing window and we got a great close-up view.  Those are big beasties!  Then we wound through the aquarium and got to see walruses!  They were so rubbery and blorpy in the water, and then when went topside to see them out of the water, they made the funniest, rudest sounds!  Zane actually didn't like the noises, but I thought they were funny.  At the end of our visit we saw South Pacific reef fish and sharks.  I thought the sharks would be a big hit, but I think Zane was getting pretty tired out.  I let him have a big disgusting lollipop thing on the way out, and then he passed out on the way home.  All in all a great adventure!

Zane's been having some great adventures with classmates, too.   Izzy had her birthday at Fox Hollow Farm, where he got to play in kid-sized two story play houses, a bouncy castle, had his first pony ride, a train ride, and best of all electric cars with a stick shift that Zane drove all by himself! His good friend Evelyn is in a soccer class next to Zane's section, and they often play after class.  We also went over to help Evelyn dismantle her new house and then had Evelyn over for awhile to give her parents some more time to work on the house.  We also had Ryder over one afternoon.  Zane has been having a little bit of trouble sharing his toys, but I hope he'll get over that.

His focus has really improved with art projects, which really makes me happy.  He's been asking to use the real needle and thread rather than his big yarn and holes sewing cards, so I set him up with a button and a piece of felt.  At first he had trouble wrapping the thread from one side to the next, but once I showed him how, he quietly sewed and sewed.  I was so proud of the result I saved it in his art box!

A favorite activity at school is the bead work.  Zane loves to do it at school, and is very pleased that he has had lessons on the big beads with string and also the little beads with plastic elastic for bracelets.  He's got a bit of a hoarding problem with the beads, but we decided if he puts them on a string, he can bring them home.  Now we have a big tea-can full of various strings of beads.  Sometimes he'll cut them all off the strings and make new necklaces.  We also have our own bead kit, so there is no shortage of supplies!  One day he combined the sewing cards with thread and beads and made some lovely beaded stars.

The parent-teacher conference was really interesting again this time.  It's so wonderful to get feedback from people who know your kids but are not family or friends. He's doing really well, and his only behavior problem seems to be an over concern with rules.  He will go up to other kids and try to intervene rather than get a teacher.  Now, where we he get such an anal trait from?  I wonder ...  I like that better than some kids who have more severe behavior problems!

At home we've been having behavior issues with some "deafness."  He just doesn't listen when I say no!  Very aggravating.  I find myself saying "I said NO!" quite a lot. He's also been working on getting just a bit sneaky, but he's really way too naive to pull it off.  One day after being genuinely sick, he said he was still too sick to go to the grocery store, but when kung fu time came he perked up and suddenly got well.  Hmmm.  We didn't go to kung fu.

This is the time of year for nasty colds, but so far we had avoided those.  For some reason, though, Zane had really regressed on his toilet skills.  Every day I was bringing home bags of wet clothes from school and doing laundry every night.  Poop never went in the toilet.  When we had our parent-teacher conference in March I asked about this, and they said it was normal, and they would try sitting him on the toilet after lunch to encourage a bowel movement.

Health-wise, I also began massaging Zane.  He knows I go to a massage once per month and wondered what happens.  It has really helped a lot with getting him sleepy for bed.  He kept asking to go for an official massage, so I took him in February.  He managed to hold still for a little while, but mostly he was interested in all of the cool stuff in the massage room.  Karen managed to teach me a few more techniques for him and Zane even tried some massage on me!

I had been having problems with my back and leg which were diagnosed as sciatica.  Many months of physical therapy had reduced the pain, but it just wouldn't go away.  Then one day Zane and I took advantage of some beautiful sunshine to go to a nearby playground.  While holding him and going up some stairs I tripped and fell.  I twisted to one side to not squish Zane, and my neck and head got smooshed against a wall.  I heard a series of crunches in my neck.  I rolled it out and kept playing, with the idea that I wanted to keep my muscles loose and warm.  The next day I was very surprised that I was only a bit sore in my neck -- the crunches must have been a positive adjustment!  However, my lower back soon began to ache, and in retrospect I can see I re-injured the disc in my back that is causing my sciatica.  The pain got worse, and I finally made another doctor appointment and was eventually referred for x-rays and an MRI.  I turns out I have a bulgy disc that doesn't need surgery, and may well take several years to heal.  Sigh.

Well, I leave you with a batch of chocolate chip cookies we whipped up for Rob at the Train Store, and the promise of another blog post to come about going to Hawaii!