Friday, October 09, 2015

Summer Camp on Lopez Island

Chris has three siblings and a few weeks ago we got together for the first-ever Team J Summer Camp.

In true Seattle fashion it rained. Blast! Such it life, right? It wasn’t too big a deal but I was so hopeful for one last gorgeous summer hurrah.

Chris’ brother and his wife were the true champs of the weekend as they flew down from Alaska to join the party. I think next year we owe it to them to all head north or find a place that’s out of town for all of us.

We spent our weekend on Lopez Island in the San Juans. Megan and Eric brought their boat and the highlight of the weekend was hauling crabs for a magnificent feast on Saturday night.

Here’s Megan stuffing fish heads into the bait trap.

We got Ben his own crab license and he was proud to contribute ‘his’ crabs to the party.

This was the last weekend of Dungeness crabbing for the season so we weren’t sure if we were going to be successful. There was a lot of trepidation pulling up that first pot.

Success! Sorry little buddy. 

All hands on deck. And watch your fingers! Chris and Alex learn the fine art of detangling crabs from Eric. Ben (true to form) is supervising. 

Nope, that’s a female. Throw her back into the water. Go free little lady and make lots of new tasty crab babies. 

What about this guy?

He’s a male so he’s fair game for harvesting.

Measuring the shell to see if he’s big enough:

Yep, we have a winner loser! Into the bucket you go.

Katherine was one of our resident crabbing experts. She got to sit back and laugh at our newbie attempts to not get pinched. I’m happy to report we’re still in possession of all our fingers. 

This kid. He doesn’t know it yet, but he won the lottery when it comes to aunties and uncles. 

 I like this one best. What do you think they’re talking about?

World peace? Donald Trump’s domestic policy? The state of the Chinese economy?

 And then: we ate! And ate, and ate, and ate. And then we took crab home and ate it for two more dinners. Thank you crabbies, for providing us with a feast.

Greg ate the rest of us under the table.  The sun has set, the diners are gone, the dishes are washed, and still Greg is going strong. King of crab.

One thing we’ve started doing for vacations is assigning cooks to specific meals. So Chris and I took lunch, Eric and Megan did dinner, and Alex picked Sunday breakfast. Each person is responsible for bringing food for the group, cooking it, and then doing dishes. Everyone else gets to sit back and relax (and eat!). 

Greg and Katherine, for their meal, introduced us to the horrible-sounding but shockingly delicious breakfast pasta. Think noodles, eggs, and bacon all rolled into one. 

Actually scratch that. Don’t even think about it because there is no way it’ll sound appetizing in your mind. Just know that it was fantastic. 

The one thing we definitively proved is that little Emma is a champion lounger. The girl can relax anywhere. 

We took a day trip into Friday Harbor (on San Juan Island). It’s a nice little town to hang out in, have dinner, and eat an ice cream cone. Chris and I went there a few years ago (our first trip after Ben was born) and especially enjoyed our hotel, 123 West

Ben made friends with the resident harbor seal. 

Photo bomb!

Ben gets a little biology lesson courtesy of his Uncle Eric. 

We also met a sea urchin. 

I am of two minds when it comes to sea urchins. I stepped on one once and having someone dig the spikes out of my foot is one of the most painful events I’ve ever experienced. That, and giving birth. :)

I suppose it wasn’t a fantastic day for the sea urchin, either.

All too soon it was time to pack up and hit the road. 

We were one of the very last cars on the ferry boat; if you’re traveling to the San Juans, be sure to carefully read up on the new reservation system. Some of the islands (like Lopez) don’t allow for pre-booking on the eastbound route. Lesson learned. 



[Many thanks to Eric and Alex for all the photos. xo]

Halloween. Part iii. (Decision time)

Uh oh. My little scuba diver has discovered that my shark hat fits him and that the accompanying shark shirt is size 3T, a distinctly non-adult size.

A few weeks ago I tried to sell Ben on being a shark for Halloween, thinking he’d jump at the chance. But he wanted nothing to do with it. Scuba diver was my backup idea and I was surprised he picked that over the monster fish.

But now, the idea of running down the street chomping people clearly holds great appeal.

The scuba diver outfit is essentially complete so we’ll see what his final decision is, come October 31. I’m hoping he’ll go diver because, darn it, I really wanted to wear my shark hat!



Thursday, October 08, 2015

Emma: Closing in on Two

October is shaping up to be a hectic, busy month. 

Chris has some upcoming business trips, Ben has the ubiquitous Fall cold/cough, and Emma is in a weird nap limbo, plus she is working on four new teeth. Yowza.

But!! I’d forgotten how much I love this age. Little Emma is 1.75 years old and she is stretching her wings. It’s a big world out there and wee Emma is meeting it head on. 

Socially, she’s a bit more shy than her brother was at this age so I’ve had to shift my parenting from reigning in (you don't need to talk to everyone, Ben) to gently encouraging social independence. This little one is a Mama’s girl (stuck like a limpet!) through and through. 

Physically, though, she is bold and brave. Big kid slides? Climbing wall? BRING IT, WORLD. 

Turn your back for an instant and she is gone; off seeking the next adventure just ‘round the corner. 

Yesterday we met with some friends at our local gymnastics academy and Emma discovered the thrill of the foam pit. The child was in heaven.

She looks rather devious, no? Mischievous is this girl’s middle name.

With Ben, I loved ages 10 months through  2.9 years. He was mobile, talkative, curious, and adventuresome. 

And then age 3 hit and I wished we could crawl under a rock and seek shelter. Gosh, three was absolutely miserable. 

But four for Ben has been magnificent: he can reason, he can joke, and he is calm(er). And he’s stopped jumping off cliffs. Four is lovely. 

For right now, we’re just enjoying 1.5 and this sweet little girl. I’m trying to slow down and revel in each stage as they arrive, knowing now that they’ll all pass sooner or later, despite my wishes.

Emma adores her brother above all (cries inconsolably as we drop him off at preschool), loves to snuggle with her Bailey dog, refuses to stop nursing (despite what her mama wishes), and screams with delight whenever Chris does his best scary monster growl.

We love this little gal.

Super hero mask?   Check.
Warm sweatshirt?   Check.


Who needs ‘em, anyway?!



Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sweden: Lake Malarian with Kids

Last post on Europe, I swear.

After Norway we headed back into Sweden and made one critical stop:

A visit an IKEA to buy swedish fish. Know you, When in Sweden...

We also marveled at the fact that Swedes are under the impression that they can pull anything behind their Saabs and Volvos.

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 2:

Trucks? SUVs? Pah! Not necessary!

Exhibit 3 (and the hands-down winner):

We also noticed that south central Sweden is quite flat and the roads straight, so I suppose a big V8 isn’t strictly necessary. But still! A huge trailer being pulled by a car! We couldn’t believe it. 

We’d rented a little cottage on Lake Malaren, which is about an hour outside of Stockholm. The cottage itself was on an island, so by this point we were getting pretty good at loading our gear into boats for the trip over to the house. 

A hammock? The kids are sold.

Ben was thrilled to be back in the boat. 

Still thrilled.


We had a group of eight ducks that visited us every morning. They were quite social and the kids looked forward to their arrival each day. For our part, Chris and I were worried that the ducks were going to go after the tiny pieces of bread we were using as bait on our fishing rods and we’d end up with a stuck duck.

We had a few heart-to-heart discussions with the quckers, gently using the business end of a stick, and they thereafter gave the fishing poles a wide berth.

We continued the 'smore tradition. Pretty sure I’ve eaten my weight in marshmallows and chocolate this summer. Not a bad thing, I suppose.

Ben also had tremendous fishing success. We kept a few but most of them went back into the lake. Lucky dudes.

Fishing is serious business. 

I kind of expected Ben to shy away from the actual killing of the fish, perhaps because I so strongly dislike it. Taking anything’s one, precious life is a miserable business in my opinion.  

Not the case for our little guy. KILL IT, DAD! Let’s have fish for dinner tonight! Yeah, bang its head on that rock! 

I’m slightly worried. 

Back in the water you go, you lucky little fish.

Another thing you have to do in Sweden? Jump into a cold lake after a sauna session. 

I should amend this: That is what you do if you’re Chris and Ben. I passed, like the wimp that I am!  

We also did a bit of touring around, including a visit to the silver mine in Sala. Speaking of wimps, I also passed on going down into the mine. 

318 meters down a black hole? God no. 

I will jump out of an airplane and swim through sunken ship wrecks but I will not go nearly a quarter mile into the earth. 

My great grandfather was a miner in Montana and it nearly killed him. By some accounts, the misery resulting from his occupation caused him to abandon his wife and six children in the middle of the great depression.  

But if you’re braver than I, you can even spend the night down there. Fun yes?

Part of me can’t help but wonder what the miners would have thought of the mine today: a bunch of tourists happily sticking their heads into a mockup of mine life and sending forth big grins for the camera. Hey look! Here’s Ben pretending to do child labor! It falls a bit flat, you know? How quickly we willingly forget the human toll and original purpose of the mine.

And here is Ben pretending to be ore. A much more entertaining pursuit in his opinion.

It was on this trip that Emma’s hair finally consented to lay flat, instead of sticking straight up. Milestones!

Once again, the boys raided the apples trees. We’ve got a little monkey on our hands. 

 We also visited the nearby town of Vasteras, which has a delightful old town area and farmer’s market.

Ok, I promise this is my last “When in Sweden” but when in Sweden, one must eat lingonberries!!

(On a related note, I ate so many peanut butter and lingonberry sandwiches that I’d be happy to not see another lingonberry for a very, very long time)

After that, it was time to pack our bags one final time and head home. We had a layover in Iceland, which wasn’t too bad, despite the airport being absolutely packed. We did appreciate the free strollers for the babes and a quick bypass security line for families. 

Now if only there was a way to avoid the 8 hr flight home...



Here are a few additional posts from our Scandinavian adventure with kids:

Sweden: Stockholm 
Sweden: The Lake House

Iceland: Southern Iceland (Part I)
Iceland: Hot pools and waterfalls (Part II)
Iceland: The Golden Circle (Part III)