Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Everything but the kitchen sink

This is a kitchen sink post and a long one at that. I'm throwing everything in this one, none of it connected and none of it relevant to the news of the day.  Thank God for that; nobody wants to further discuss the news of the day because wow, what a shitshow.  

So school's back in session. My kids are older and wiser, their fresh little smiley faces heading out the door for a great new school year.  A friend on Facebook circulated the following article to help us "prepare healthy lunches!" for the new school year.  Brimming with back-to-school energy and enthusiasm, I clicked on the link.  I found the article immensely helpful.  (It's hard to tell in writing but that last sentence was sarcasm at its most exaggerated.)

As I stand late at night in the kitchen packing the following day's lunches, I conjure the following phrases: "Hudson has always loved Asian flavors" and "Maca is a Peruvian superfood; look for it in powdered form at health food stores" and my personal favorite, "The slightly sweet addition of mirin, a small amount of sugar, and (optional) dashi broth, transforms eggs in the most comforting of ways."

I then send a couple quick faux apologies up to my kids asleep in their beds and toss a couple stale bagels, devoid of cream cheese because we're out again, into their lunchboxes.

Maybe I should try packing lunches like Goop suggests just one time. It wouldn't be for health reasons; it would be more for entertainment. I like to picture Lucien's face should he crack open his lunch to find a Japanese sweet omelet and some lemon tamari dipping sauce for his pickled vegetables.  I can hear the incredulous "WHAT THE HELL, MOM......what is this pretentious crap......well, at least the eggs are comforting with that sweet addition of mirin."

I'm not entirely immune. I will admit to getting sucked into a tiny bit of parental overkill.  Coco recently had a birthday and requested a circus party.  I booked a party at SANCA, our local School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (we got it all in Seattle, trust it) and vowed to "keep it simple."  I was not going to bake anything, cook anything.  I was going to buy a tray of cupcakes, a few bags of pretzels, maybe some juice boxes if I was feeling generous.  Have some fun, throw a few bags of popcorn at them, get it done, that was the plan.

Then Coco said quietly, "Oh. I was hoping for a real birthday cake" and something immediately switched inside me.  Of course she needed a real birthday cake!  Yes!  Baking and lots of it!  Now!

I'm weird like that, can be very all-or-nothing.  I'm either in front leading the parade or I'm hiding in the corner hissing at people.  Hanging out in the middle doesn't last long for me so I went from "I'm not baking a damn thing and they can deal with it" to "I'm gonna bake the best birthday cake that girl has ever seen, it's gonna blow her dang mind" in a matter of seconds.

The next events were as follows, in chronological order --

*Log on to Pinterest*
*Search for a circus cake*
*Regret logging on to Pinterest*
*Feel bad about myself*

Well way to go, Lucas, lucky you.
PS. The number on top tells me Lucas is turning 1.
He is never going to remember this cake
which tells me you are not baking this cake for Lucas at all.

What is a Hezry?
Do you think they just mis-spelled Henry, accidentally flipped the "N" on its side?
 I like to think they did -- less perfect.
(Hez(n)ry, by the way, is also turning 1, though this cake seems more reasonable)

what fresh hell is this.

Pinterest is full of overachievers. I quickly abandoned Pinterest and instead Googled "easy birthday cake recipes" where I stumbled across the rainbow cake idea.  Perfect.  I threw myself into its creation.  A rainbow cake is a six layer cake, each layer a different color of the rainbow.  It took a long time. There was fondant and sprinkles involved. I was sweating profusely by the end.

It ended up being the tallest cake in existence because I didn't shave down my layers sufficiently.  It tipped over halfway through the cutting and serving, no longer able to stand on its own.  It was a top heavy rainbow sonofabitch.

But Coco was happy.  And I do love to see my Coco girl happy.

Speaking of Coco, we're a little concerned.  Alex took Coco to a video arcade recently that had one of those claw machines -- the machines that are rigged to rarely, if ever, let you win anything.  Still, she tried.  And tried.

Coco had been given a set amount of money to use at the arcade and it was dwindling quickly.  Alex tried to reason with her, explained the claws are intentionally weak-springed so they don't hold onto toys very well and suggested maybe it was time to try another game. She stopped speaking to Alex after that, stopped making eye contact, just kept pumping quarters into the claw game.  I soon thereafter received a text that said, "Help. Coco is like a degenerate gambler."

She came home with a stuffed animal she won from the claw game and a smug smile on her face. Coco has an iron will -- which should bode well for her, except that sometimes she can also be unreasonable.    

Speaking of gambling, Alex and I went to Snoqualmie Casino awhile ago with a couple friends.  We are not casino people but thought it would be fun to try something different. Even better, we decided to take the casino bus from Seattle instead of driving.  We pictured the casino bus as being a fun time -- champagne flowing and upbeat music playing for festive bus riders and whatnot. The casino bus was a total party in our minds.

The casino bus is not a total party.  It is the opposite.  The casino bus is a silent, kind of depressing thing full of mostly elderly people, half of whom are asleep.

The casino itself was also not fun.  After our initial shocked gasps at all the smoking happening inside the casino (it's on a Native American reservation so they make their own smoking rules) we promptly bought a pack of cigarettes, giggling like teenagers giddy with rule breaking.  None of us have smoked a cigarette in years so we all immediately coughed up a lung and took turns saying, "Oh my god, this is so gross."  We tossed the pack but still -- rebels!

Alex very quickly lost a lot of money at the blackjack table so he retreated to the corner with us where we played nickle slots and drank alcohol until it was time to grab the bus back to Seattle.  If you think the casino bus is depressing on the way to the casino, just wait until the trip back home. That is one silent bummer of a loser bus.

Here are more happenings in the past few months I never wrote about.  It's a lengthy list, forgive me, but I feel compelled to document these things, even if just in a crappy iPhone photo way.

The kids and I met this guy walking his pet lizard on a leash in South Lake Union --

it was not a fast walk for man and lizard, more an aimless mosey

We went on our annual camping trip with our friends, no wind storm this time --

Then we went camping with our friends again --

North Cascades National Park, by the way, is stunning

We played euchre at night by a lantern covered in a beanie hat --

One evening, Bobo fell asleep like this as I was putting Lucien to bed. We laughed at him pretty hard; he was barely hanging onto that log, just look at his little legs --

By morning, he had fallen off but was still asleep.
Bearded dragons are the chillest of animals

I learned how to play mahjong with the ladies--

and now I am hooked

We still have a sweet and funny though frustrating dog --

Natani the Navajo dog is not allowed on the couch
but she likes being on the couch very much
and sneaks up onto it at every opportunity.

We had a back-to-school party at our house involving a ukulele band --

We ate tacos, sang along, later had a water balloon fight in the yard  
We called it the back to school taco-lele party
and it was glorious.

Our friend Seattle Dad wore this amazing hat that one time --

Yep, I'm still going.  I still have more.

I went up to the top of Smith Tower for the third time, for the last Tower Sessions concert. The Tower Sessions are private concerts, held once a month in the apartment at the top of historical Smith Tower --

I will miss this concert series.  
I will miss the music but will miss most of all climbing all those ladders
and spiral staircases and catwalks 
to get to the very top.  

Below is a picture of the gorgeous Smith Tower, completed in 1914.  It was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until the 1930's when something taller was built in Kansas, I think  --

The stunning private "lighthouse"apartment at Smith Tower is the pyramid shape at the top.  It's owned by a tiny dynamo of a woman named Petra and her children, and is where the concert series was held.  The glowing glass ball at the very very tippy top is where we were for these next couple pictures. It's a long way to climb and a small hole to squeeze through to get up into the glass globe but if you can make it, it's worth the effort --

My inlaws were recently here for a visit.  My mother-in-law had a birthday during their stay and we celebrated by inviting some friends for dinner, including a messy though delicious guest named Dungeness Crab, which we ripped apart like the disgusting animals we are.  I love the taste of crab but the process of eating it can be unsettling.

Alex and I took off for a few days while my in-laws took care of the kid wrangling.  We took the RV over to Port Townsend, a picturesque Victorian town on the Olympic Peninsula.

We stayed in a mini castle at nearby Fort Worden.  The "castle" was an odd place.  It was once a single family home with a single bedroom so we were the only ones in it for the night.  As soon as we entered, I said, "This place feels weird." Later, as we walked around the grounds outside the castle, I said, "It feels like someone's watching us, do you see anybody?"  Alex concurred, said he felt a little twitchy and tense himself.

On a whim, I looked up the castle on my phone --

You betcha it's haunted!  
Or so say some people. 
It was not a great night of sleep.

We spent one night in the castle then switched to the nearby Fort Worden campground on the beach where we promptly locked our keys inside the RV.  The tow truck driver our insurance company sent as part of our roadside assistance package couldn't jimmy the window enough to get the wedge thing and the metal thing in to pop the lock.

The tow truck driver scratched his head and mentioned he knew a guy who was "good with locks" in town.  It's not as shady as it sounded at first -- the lock guy is a retired police detective who now works part time as a locksmith.  He was also one of the most cheerful guys I've ever had the pleasure of coming across; he looked a bit like John Denver with that round shiny face and big smile.

Smiley John Denver Lock Guy got into our RV in less than ten seconds using a pair of tweezers and a tiny pick.  We did not give him our home address.  He seemed very nice but still, not taking any chances there.

Fort Worden as a whole is kind of an eerie place.  It's an old fort abandoned after WWII and turned into a state park, and is mostly empty now that we're headed into the off season. Although eerie, it's a cool place. You can stay in the old barracks and officers' homes at Fort Worden, and have a nice meal and a drink in the old jail.

If it looks vaguely familiar, Fort Worden is also where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed -- and now we're all thinking about a beautiful shirtless young Richard Gere.  At least I know I am.

OK, I think I'm done now.  That was a lot of catching up.  As for our Mexico City news, it's more complicated than not complicated.  As of right now, there are no openings in the international schools but there "may" be openings in the near future.  This makes it very difficult to plan.

Applications are filed with a handful of schools and now we wait.  If the schools come through, we're gone in the new year, perhaps with very little advance notice.  If they don't come through, sorry, Seattle suckers, you're stuck with us.  Or at least you're stuck with me and the kids and you'll see Alex every other weekend.  Ouch.

All righty, off to tackle those homemade sushi roll lunches,