For three days and nights last week we had snow — intermittent, it’s true, but thick and luxurious when it came. Two weeks earlier I’d seen daffodils unfurling, but at last winter seemed to wake up and realize it had missed its cue and showed up in force.

Not being the home parent anymore, I can’t report on much of what the kids did with the snow. I know they went to VFS one of those days, and played with their friends in the snow at the nearby park; and I know that at least one snowball fight happened here at home. I was able to drive in to work on all but one day, though, so I missed most of it.

On the morning I stayed home, though, I did tramp out with Nathan to the nearby grove of trees to enjoy the white. And the next morning, when the snow was thick on the ground but the roads were clear, I left a tiny snowman on the hood of Dave’s truck, to peer in through the window at them when they got in to go to school. (Dave told me it slid off as he approached the freeway, probably in fear of its life.)

And I had the great, rare pleasure of driving to work in the early morning with everything blanketed white, branches thick and soft, and street lights casting pools of warm light among the trees.


A New Space

Over Christmas break, VFS moved into a new location. Only about a mile north of their previous location, they are still close to downtown. The major advantage of this new spot is space.

It is difficult to describe what this means to the school. For as long as we’ve been going there, the entire ~60 kids and associated staff have been crammed into four rooms (plus office and supply closet). There were some very good things about their location, and they created systems to make things work, but there was no helping the fact that every nook and cranny was used, it was hard for classes to be insulated from noise, and at the end of every year they were required to pack the entire school into the supply closet for the summer.

The new space is more than twice as large. There is room for rough-and-tumble play, for projects to be left out overnight, for groups of people to gather in corners with a real sense of quiet and focus. It’s astonishing how the same group of people, who in the previous space were constantly tripping over one another, now can be absorbed almost effortlessly. And there will be no packing up for the summer, or trying to shoehorn a summer program into various parks around town; the building is available year-round.

I haven’t spent as much time there, of course, as I used to. But I frequently drop by on my lunch break to reconnect with my family and see how things are going. And it feels as though, just as they’ve gained a great deal more physical space, they’ve gained a similar increase in mental space.

Geoduck Shirt

Here is Mica in her Grandpa’s birthday gift to her. Ryan was unable to recognize a geoduck when he saw one, which means that we are long overdue for a digging session out on the mud flats.


We’ve just finished a week with Grandma. A week always seems like a long time, and then somehow isn’t. We managed to do fireworks, pick blueberries, hang out at the park, and go to OMSI together, but that was barely starting on our list of potential activities.

None of the children particularly wanted to be dragged into a photo session. Can you tell?

Fun With Chemistry

Recently all kinds of interesting things have been delivered to our door for Dave, resulting in all kinds of fun chemistry experiments. Mostly these involve fire. In this matter I feel that Dave has an excellent understanding of our children’s interests, but let’s be honest, here — this also reflects his interests.

The pictures below are from lighting off some experimental bits of rocket candy. This is a simple concoction, made with sugar, that burns with impressive heat and very little ash. If packed into a PVC pipe, it can also burn for quite a while.

There have also been experiments with thermite, made of two not-very-flammable components that, when combined, produce something that burns hot enough to melt metal. Dave did a couple of experiments with some tinfoil and springs from our (sadly defunct) trampoline. He wasn’t able to weld the springs together (or at least, they broke apart again easily), but he really toasted that tinfoil.

Just A Picture


Taken on a recent walk with kids in the snow. One of the apple trees in the nearby abandoned orchard apparently doesn’t like to shed its apples, and has become a natural winter bird feeder.

New Year’s Eve Family Meeting

We’ve pulled off our second annual New Year’s Eve family meeting. Honestly, I think I’m the only one who really cares about these — it feels so nice and like everything is wrapped up. But I served dessert at it, so everyone came.

And actually, everyone seemed to enjoy the part where we walked through the highlights of last year. I had prepared by opening up a bunch of tabs to blog posts describing fun things we’ve done, and did a little presentation to kick things off. I heard multiple variations of “Oh yeah, that was fun!” as we worked out way through.

Our list for this year is fairly short, and mostly consists of “we should do that again” items, with a few other things thrown in. (For example, we got a metal detector for Christmas, and I floated the question “where can we imagine using this?”) None of the kids are old enough to do much in the way of planning yet. At this stage, I consider us to be building the habit of the meeting more than anything.