Monday, August 25, 2008

Kitsap County Fair -- August 24. 2008

Some highlights from our day at the County Fair. You can easily tell which offering was Madeline's favorite.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lake Quinault Lodge: August 16, 2008

Madeline playing horseshoes with her father, uncle and grandpa on the share of Lake Quinault which is set in the far western portion of Washington state (west of Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula).

She also paddled a canoe (they had tiny paddles!), swam in the lake and sat around the campfire to roast marshies and listen to the native American storyteller.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Preschool Photo

Classes start soon -- she is very excited!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Farm Kitchen

The first Saturday of every month, a lovely farm outside Poulsbo transforms itself into a delightful brunch spot. Full of flower rows, herb gardens and unduly charming animals, the farm is so elegant in its beauty that the owners usually support themselves adequately by leasing the place out for weddings and such -- so these once-a-month events are quite a treat.

We went this morning. The event itself is called Farm Kitchen. I've never seen or heard it advertised -- we just found it by word of mouth. And yes, the food was also awesome -- fresh, creative and hardy. Here are a few photos of the morning. After that, mostly errands and other uneventful nonsense; but Madeline did talk us into taking her bowling for the first time. She had a blast. Needless to say, she is sleeping peacefully as I type.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, WA

Like vodka and watermelon, kids and waterparks are a perfect summer time match. Unfortunately, from a kid's perspective, where and how the best waterparks get built is somewhat unfair. For instance, if you already live in a balmy, sunny locale such southern California or central Texas, then waterpark proprietors will flock to your town -- eager to build facities that they can operate profitably from March through November. If you live, however, in a snowy, gray or rainy locale (where kids have the most pent-up desire for warm and splashy fun), then your options have been traditionally more limited.

But that is starting to change. The clever proprietors of the Great Wolf Lodge chain of resorts have developed a year-round indoor water park surrounded by a lodge that sports additional kid-friendly entertainment options around the clock, throughout the year. I thought the concept seemed ingenious, so we took our pool-adoring three-year-old Madeline to check it out.

We arrived mid-afternoon, about two-hours before check-in. The lodge has a decent arrangement for permitting guests to use the waterpark for several hours before check-in. Assuming that you are prepared for this with a day bag holding your swimsuits and a change of clothes, it's a terrific option. We splashed in the toddler spray basin from about 2 until nearly 5pm. When we were done, we were able to go straight up to our room, clean up and get ready for dinner. Check-in was easy. Each guest receives a wristband which serves as your room key, water park admission and room charge throughout your stay. This is very efficient way to avoid the hassle of needing to look after a key while you are running about playing in the pool.

The water park itself was a good mix of options for toddlers, kids and teens -- so no one in the family gets bored. There are also abundant life guards at every station and they enforce all safety rules fairly stubbornly, so that was reassuring. The toddler section had zero-entry and many living-room-sized areas where the water never got deeper than one or two feet. Sounds dull at first, but the toddlers seem to relish the ability to splash about in such a large space without need of a life jacket or any really swimming skills. There are even two swell kiddie slides in the toddler area that land in only a foot of water. So even a two-year-old could could climb up and ride down with out worry of getting water up the nose upon landing. Much of the rest of the toddler pool featured a variety of colorful toys to climb on and tools that one to can use to soak unsuspecting siblings and parents. Nearly all of these seemed to be a great hit.

After our pool time, we went to dinner and then checked out the "Cub Club" -- a section of the resort where critters age 2 to 10 can go to enjoy a preschool type atmosphere -- they can play with toys, pets, games and puzzles. The Club also sports lots of opportunities for arts and crafts projects supervised by the Club staff. Across from the Club is a fairly standard video arcade, which really needs no further explanation.

One fairly unique feature of the lodge is that it is littered with colorful magic storybook stations that light up and speak when a child (or bored teen or childlike adult) waves a "magic wand" in its general direction. These are part of the lodge's Magicquest game. The person on the "quest" uses his or her wand to learn information and gain points from the various stations (which are animals, treasure chests, magic jewels, fairies, hidden coves and other various intriguing little items)in order to help them complete their "quest." I gather the thing is a team sport and I will say that I saw properly entertained children running all throughout the lodge playing it. If done properly, I gather you have an opportunity to slay a dragon, save a princess, etc. Most players certainly seemed to be having a great time. (Extra charge for the wands, natch).

Finally, each night in the lobby, the staff (accompanied by teens in Disney-style Wolf and Bear costumes) read a story to tired out toddlers in their pajamas to wrap up the busy day. This was also a big hit, a great way to wind down and a fun way to meet other parents visiting with young children.

Overall, it's a fun getaway. We are hoping to go again next year.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wren Update

Since folks have been asking -- yes! They are thriving.

I apologize that I am not very good at photographing something so small -- but here is the best I could do:

1 day after birth:


It is amazing to see their little pinfeathers sprout up so fast and their eyes open. I realize that you can only ever see two beaks peaking up in these photos, but I assure you that there are three happy and healthy little critters in the nest -- I can see three hearts beating and sometimes see three beaks pop up - but it all happens so fast that I rarely manage to catch them all on film. Also, I rarely stick around long enough to get a good shot because my presence always upsets Mama Wren and, as a Mom myself, I try to be understanding by moving along quickly.

Anyway: I will try to remember to provide updates on them. I'm not sure how long baby wrens stay in the nest -- they can barely all fit in there now!