Lately Matthew's been saying he loves everything and everyone--from our PT Cruiser to flowers to food to his bed to our house.
When he woke up and came downstairs this morning, out of the blue he stated, "Mama, I love Japanese people!"
He said this so sweetly and with such an angelic expression that it really touched my heart. That's our bean!
Matthew, talking about our trip to the Woodland Park Zoo today: "We saw a big bridge that we walked across and then we saw orangutans. We saw a BIG orangutan, a big daddy one, just like YOU!!!" [pointing to Stephen and laughing].
We all looked over there and didn't see the blender, so I said that there was no green smoothie on the counter, just a bowl of peas.
Matthew replied, "A bowl of peas?!? That's WISGUSTING!" (Though he does eat them sometimes--I think he just really likes that word. Spelling error intended.)
Matthew: "Joel, where's your bucket truck?"
Joel: "Bucket truck's on 85th [Street]."
"Mama, VOLKSWAGEN VAN!!! Another Volkswagen van! A blue Volkswagen van! Mama, where's the Volkswagen van? Ooooh, oooh, look! A UPS truck! Oh, wow, a FedEx truck, Mama! A concrete mixer! Oh, Mama, a tanker truck! A double one! MAMA! Another Volkswagen van!!! A lellow one!!! Another UPS truck! A mail truck!!! Look, a Volkswagen Jetta! Look, Mama, a Volkswagen Golf! A red one! Volkswagen Passat! Bolbo! [Volvo.] School bus! School bus! School bus! Pickup truck! Motorhome! School bus! MAMA, VOLKSWAGEN VAN!!!"
(M and J are obsessed with Volkswagens of any flavor or color, but mostly the vans, and we definitely live in the right place for those. There's almost one on every street and if we drive down 6th Ave. near our house and the cream Volkswagen van is not parked there, everybody gets upset. That's another thing--everybody parks on the street here because in the city, the houses are pretty old and the driveways and garages are small. It's great for the beans because it means vehicles are always out in the open in plain view for them to drool over.)
So, the beans have been a bit under the weather this week but are bouncing back after trips to our GP.
They're still talking away:
Joel, holding a small bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle toy: "VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE!!! VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE!!! VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE!!!"
Stephen: "Joel, how many times are you going to say Volkswagen Beetle?"
Joel: "1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE!!!"
And Matthew and I had an interesting conversation in the backyard the other day. He had spotted a deceased fly on top of the recycling bin.
Matthew: "MAMA!!! The fly's not working anymore!"
Abigail: "Matthew, the fly is dead."
Matthew: "What? He can't fly anymore?"
Abigail: "No, he can't fly anymore. The poor fly is dead."
Matthew: "He's DEAD? He can't fly in the sky anymore? Aw, that's a shame!"
So what's new with us? Just busy getting the beans better this past week, Stephen took care of them yesterday all day while I took a Red Cross CPR/First Aid training class from 9:00-17:00 (I loved it, by the way), and today we have just taken it easy. I came home from the class not quite feeling 100% and so we didn't try to do anything big today--we hung out at the zoo this morning and I read in the food court area while Stephen meandered around a bit with the beans. Matthew came back talking about the snowy owl and I think Joel really enjoyed spending time with the brown bears. Stephen said they both laughed hilariously at the river otters!
I've been attacking a plot in the backyard getting it ready for planting some veggies (I know, I'm late but fortunately this area has a later growing season than I expected), so I hope to have some garden piccies for you soon (after I actually go out and buy my compost, dolomite lime or wood ash (for proper soil pH) and veggie plants). I'm getting a lot of good advice from a Pacific Northwest gardener online named Kathy Miller--she's great and has a lot of experience.
Watch this small (plot) space!
This is the "pocket park" just round the corner that we frequent, along with our neighbor friend, Christopher (he's there in the center). I don't know if you can see or not, but over to the left on that concrete area is a huge chess board built in, and in a bin (out of shot) there are big plastic black and white chess pieces the beans like to drag out sometimes. None of us knows how to play chess but it's all good fun anyway.
All those toys you see in the sandbox live there and it sure beats having to drag some from home.
There's also a little curvy pathway through some bushes and a nice grassy area for running around, plus some strategically placed boulders for doing some climbing. One of our friends who has lived in this area of Seattle almost all her life says this is her favorite park! And believe me, there are a lot to choose from (over 4oo in Seattle!).
Joel chose the frogs, while Matthew went for the hippo and water splash look...
Bumper cars at Greenlake Community Center...
Finding pirates' treasure at The Secret Garden bookshop...
PJ'ed and ready for snoozing...
Naptime in the playroom (former dining room)...
Last Saturday in Snohomish, a town north of here, we met up with some friends we hadn't seen since 2003 in Japan (the year they moved to the States).
And since then, we've all had some kiddos!
Benjamin, showing off his monkey-bar prowess...
I couldn't decide which of these photos I liked better...
Benjamin and his daddy, Eric...
Rosalie with her mommy, Nancy...
Conversation in the backseat of The Big Red Car (I overheard it as we were driving home from the Greenlake Community Center this morning where we had a fun playtime):
Joel: "Good grief!"
Matthew: "Joel, you CAN'T say 'good grief' in the car! You have to wait till we get home. You can only say 'good grief' at home. Or you can say 'good grief' in a restaurant. You can't say 'good grief' in the car."
Joel: "Good grief in car!!!"
Matthew: "NO! You can't say that in the car!"
Joel: "Good grief in car! Good grief in car! GOOD GRIEF!"
Well, here we are--living in the Emerald City and we don't even own an umbrella.
Apparently we will blend right in, however, as our friends told us--the native Seattleites don't carry them, either, and you can always tell who the newbies are because they actually tote brollies.
While I was showering this morning, the beans decided to create some showers of their own after seeing dust particles in a sun blob and realizing how they could contribute something even more exciting.
Stephen says this is why you should never let children blow out candles on cake.
Back to Carkeek Park (as Matthew says, "where the cars live") today because it was absolutely glorious weather.
Started with energy bars (for energy, of course)...
Seeing (but not hearing) the freight train go by (later saw an Amtrak Cascades passenger train as well)...
The Olympics were out in their full glory...
Did you know that women in Washington State were granted the right to vote a full ten years before women in the rest of the country? All helped along by a Susan and an Abigail.
I knew we moved to the right place.
And the spectacular view of Mt. Rainier today just added to my euphoria.
Matthew knows just how much I step in stuff at parks (my shoes are magnets), so when I asked M and J to sit next to me for a minute while I emptied my shoes of sand and little pebbles (we'd just been immersed in the sandbox for a while), I said, "I've got something in my shoes I need to dump out."
And Matthew replied, "It's poop."
Just now I asked Stephen to open a jar of applesauce for me, and after he'd done so, he flexed his muscles and made some roaring noises to show Matthew just how strong his daddy was.
Matthew, with a twinkle in his eye and a jokey attitude, shouted, "Daddy, you're a dandelion!"
*Phrase borrowed from Stephen (describing himself, but I'm there, too).
We chatted with two friends on Skype this weekend, one who spent 12 years in Bangladesh and when she returned to the UK, it took her 3 years to get over reverse culture shock and get back into the swing of things. The second friend spent years in Japan and 4 years after his return to the States, he's still grappling with re-acculturation.
This might sound depressing, but in a strange way, I'm feeling liberated after hearing their stories and knowing that after only 7 months back in the USA, my feelings are okay (as a dear college friend says).
Take the grocery store, for instance. Most of the time when I visit a local supermarket, I've got two beans in tow who take up most of my attention and I am so focused on them, I can't really think about my surroundings too much. I read my list, I run interference, I answer loads of questions, I pause as Matthew tells everyone he sees the story of how "we just moved to Seattle", and I'm grabbing groceries and going.
Friday evening, however, I made a Safeway run by myself and I'm honestly telling you that no fewer than THREE store employees looked at me with concerned faces and asked me if I needed help. Sure, I was tired after our Golden Week time, but also, I just felt so completely culturally out of it. Two employees at different times showed me where a few things were, I found a lot of stuff by myself, and as I looked over my list and down the aisles, I decided that some things just weren't that important anymore.
I plunked a few of my groceries down on a conveyor belt only to be told by the cashier that his row was only for 15 items or less, I picked them right back up again and went to a different row, and managed to slide my debit card the wrong way approximately 17 times.
And I don't know how many people I say "sorry" to on a daily basis--a carryover from the Japanese "sumimasen" (which you use about 1,000 times a day over there), only here, in America, people look at me like I'm from another planet. I feel like I am, actually.
Not to mention the fact that some crazy loon in a dairy company somewhere decided that while I spent 8 years in Japan, it was time to re-size the sticks of butter for some insane reason. (Which makes for an artery-swamping rhubarb crumble when you actually make it with twice the amount of butter it calls for.)
Anyway, we're all really adjusted (ha ha), even the boys, as evidenced by Matthew's term for my ear plugs (which you have to use when you have use a blender on a daily basis to make green smoothies in a kitchen that echoes). When I was about to press the liquefy button today, Matthew poked his head in the kitchen and asked me if I had put in my "ear plumbers" yet.
What I really need is a culture plumber--someone who can give me new clue-full pipes.
I have to admit that our Thursday of Golden Week was one of my favorites--we headed south of Seattle to the Museum of Flight and loved every minute of it. Having grown up going to air shows with my family, this museum was one that I know my dad would really deeply appreciate.
The boys got to "fly" an SR-71 Blackbird...
Boeing's first factory, The Red Barn, was a really interesting slice of history...
The Great Gallery was chock full of different kinds of flying machines...including a Blue Angel that drew the boys right away (after seeing a Blue Angel film in another wing of the museum)...
Another section of the museum had a whole floor of WWI and WWII planes from various countries...
I wish I had a Corsair...very compact and versatile...
We crossed a fun bridge with surround-sound spacey music to the other side of the highway where we went inside an Air Force One plane that carried a whole slew of presidents...
And we also got to explore the insides of this Concorde...
There was also a temporary Amelia Earhart exhibit that we walked through--I could've spent a lot more time in there.
I also really got into reading about the history of women and African-American aviators and can't wait to do some more research online.
Call me a crazy chick, but I want to fly me a plane!!!