Friday, August 31, 2012

The End and the Beginning

Tonight is the last practice of Band Camp.  It's not the last practice of the season, of course, but it is the last of the all-day all-evening practices. They're doing a run through of the show tonight for family and friends.  Full uniforms, in the stadium, the whole nine yards.

It won't be perfect, of course, and it's always amazing to see how much they improve and add as the season continues.  But I love this event, since it's a sneak peek of what's to come. I've heard JC practice, and I've heard a bit of the rehearsals, but I haven't heard the whole show yet.

And then on Wednesday, they start school.  I'll have two in the high school and William at the intermediate school. Hard to imagine, really.  Both that Rachel is old enough to be st the highs school and that JC was once that young. And that my baby is entering 5th grade.

But I'm not any older.  Right? Right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Band Camp For the Win!

Band Camp is kicking my butt this year, and I'm not even the one participating! We are on the 2nd week - all day rehearsals and back in the evening.  If it was football, they'd call them 3-a-days. It's challenging enough getting TWO kids out the door every morning with everything they need (and feeding them by 5:15 so they can go back), but William and I have been going to band camp, too. John's out of town this week, so William gets to be my shadow, poor thing.

See, the Band Parents Association helps with the management of the uniforms.  The Color Guard gets new uniforms every year, so that's not really an issue.  The Marching Band, however, purchases uniforms only once every 10 years or so, and they have to be cleaned and maintained, and most of all, fitted.

That's what we're doing right now.  We have about 140 uniforms and 128 kids this year. These uniforms (which are 9 years old) were sized for the set of kids they had 9 years ago.  We have to make the assorted sizes of this year's band fit the uniforms that we have, keeping in mind the director's guidelines that he wants them snug - no "potato sacks", as he put it. And when you have 12 kids that need a size 26 pant and only 4 pairs of 26's, well, you do the best you can.

So last week a group of parents got together and got everything sorted and labeled and prepped.  That took two and a half days. This week, the director is sending us small groups of students, who try on pants and jackets and shoes and it all gets packed into a garment bag and we keep records of who is wearing what and...

William and I have been there Monday from 12-3:00, and Monday night went back for a BPA meeting in the evening. We were there at 8:30 this morning, and left at 1 because the director had them over at the stadium and it was decided it would be easier to continue fittings during the evening session.  When I told William we had to go back tonight, he was NOT happy.  But I finally got smart and called a neighbor's daughter to come babysit. He's been a trooper, but even he has his limits.

Me? I'm being groomed to run this show next year because the current moms in charge both have seniors.  That means that next year, I get to be there for the ENTIRE process, kind of whether I want to or not.  It's the penalty of being a stay-at-home mom - there are jobs that have to be done during the day, so not having to take vacation time is a big deal.

Hmmm...  Maybe I should start looking for a job.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day Two - Boeing

Day Two in the Seattle area saw us heading north to Mukilteo, WA, location of one of the Boeing factory lines. The Everett facility is home to the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner production lines, and is open to the public for tours 7 days a week. 

It's EXCELLENT.  Buy your ticket online before you go, as walk-in tickets are limited.

It was extremely cool to see the gigantic (and I mean GIGANTIC) hangers where they manufacture the airplanes.  They are so big that it is hard to comprehend the scale - there were 4 or 5 completed or mostly completed 747s in one of the hangers and they looked small. It wasn't until later in the week when we had the opportunity to stand next to a 747 that I realized how big it was.

Unfortunately, there are no cameras or cell phones or purses or ANYTHING allowed on the tours, so I have no pictures from the production lines for you.  However, I do have pictures from the "Future of Flight" exhibit that is part of the visitor center.

 One real, live 727 cockpit that you can sit in and flip all the switches.  It even had a warning sign that the control yokes are connected so don't hurt your copilot when you go into a steep climb.

Rachel and John are examining the navigator's station.  I admit to feeling a little sad at this display - my Dad worked on the 727-stretch when I was born in Seattle, so things like this always make me miss him.  Although if he had been with us, he would certainly have gone into lecture mode about airplanes. 

In honor of John's Dad (who is not deceased, merely in Florida), we took a picture in front of the GE turbine engine.  He worked for GE for many years.  Not on engines, though.
We had a great time at Boeing, then headed back to the city to meet our friend Cara in the International District.  She took us to Kinokuniya Bookstore, and the Japanese grocery next to it, and a dollar store across the street, which were all great fun.  Her mother was along for the ride and we had a lovely time poking around and looking for the most kawaii things we could possibly find. Then they took us out to dinner at the Fisherman's Terminal.  We got there before her father, so while we were waiting, we wandered around the docks.

 Fisherman's Terminal is a (mostly) commercial dock, so it had a huge variety of fishing vessels, and some pleasure craft as well.  We saw a couple of crab boats, but unfortunately, F/V Northwestern, of Deadliest Catch fame, was out to sea while we were there.

This was, possibly, the oddest boat I've ever seen.  It appeared to have a flat bottom like a scow, but the sides were very high and appeared to be plywood. It had a hatch on the front, like you could drive a vehicle in and out. And it was called "Thor". William and Rachel thought it was hysterical. They're still talking about it.

Next up: Glass!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pacific Northwest Day One - Seattle

Okay, technically it wasn't Day One.  We flew out of Philadelphia late in the evening (even later because of delays) and got into Portland at 2:30 am.  Yes, it was every bit as ... wonderful as it sounds, especially since the car rental place had closed already. But the bus to the hotel was fine, and the room was actually lovely and we were all asleep by 3:30 or so. Except that I woke by 7 because it was, ya know, 10am by my body clock. 

After we all dragged ourselves out of bed and ate and showered and picked up the car, we met my sister and her family for lunch, which was actually wonderful, and then packed up and hit the road for Seattle. Our nominally 3 hour trip took an extra hour + because of traffic, but we checked in to our hotel and headed over to our dear friend J's house for dinner.  Dinner was tasty and fun and the kids were having so much fun (she has two boys, one William's age and one a couple years younger) that it was well after 9pm before we headed out of there - after only getting a couple of hours sleep the night before.  To say that we went back to our hotel and crashed would be an understatement.

We slept in the next morning, so we missed the hotel breakfast.  But our plan was to go to Pike Place Market, then the Seattle Center Chihuly Glass exhibit in the afternoon, so surely there must be something breakfast-like at Pike Place, right?

Our hotel was in Georgetown, just south of the actual city of Seattle.  It was really quite convenient, although driving past all the docks was scenic only in the "wow, that's a lot of cranes!" sense.

Breakfast was from Piroshky Piroshky and it was beyond delicious. Russian pastries - Rachel and William had apple, JC had sausage, I had cranberry and sweet cheese, and John had some marionberry thing that was beautiful. Walk by the shop and you'll be hungry just from the smell. Tastes as good as it smells.

This is the famous fish stand that throws fish.  We stood there for a while, along with a LOT of other people, waiting for them to throw something, but they only do that if somebody BUYS something.
After lunch, we decided to walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, en route to the Seattle Center.  We didn't quite realize just how far it was, but we were rewarded with this sculpture installation under an overpass.

Don't really know what it was or why, but it was interesting.  Except for the garbage.

The Olympic Sculpture Garden is lovely, has a nice view of the harbor, and the building is not open on Mondays.  Bummer.  But there is a bathroom downstairs in the parking deck, if you are in need.
Walk uphill/inland 2-3 blocks, and you end up at Seattle Center.  It's been renovated in the last year or so from a rather run-down bunch of kiddie rides to a very nice art and civic center.  The complex includes the Space Needle (obviously), several sculpture installations, and the Experience Music Project, which we didn't visit (ran out of time).

We actually stood under and around this sculpture for quite a while, because the helicopter was taking off from the TV station across the street.

It was cool.

Actually got all three kids to "pose", sort of.  I believe this was a Louise Nevelson.

We actually spent an hour or so at the new Chihuly Glass exhibit, but I will save that for a separate post.  As part of buying the tickets for that, you could get fairly cheap tickets for the Space Needle, so I did.  The line was long, although probably not as bad as some times.  It was worth the wait, though.

We got to see several sea planes taking off from Lake Union, which was really cool.

Looking back towards Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, etc.
Our only miscalculation of the day was the distance we walked away from our car.  By the time we were done at Seattle Center, the prospect of a mile+ walk back to Pike Place Market was really out of the question.  We were lucky enough to find a good restaurant across the street from the Space Needle (yay Sport! Convenient AND yummy!). But we realized we could take the monorail back to downtown, then just walk a few blocks downhill to Pike Place, and that worked out just fine. The interesting thing was that by then, about 8pm, it was clear that downtown was pretty much closed for the night.  There were bars and nightclubs open, but any shopping was over. Given our hangover from the strange sleep and time change, that was probably just as well, because we were pretty over as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where Did the Summer Go?

John pointed out last night that I hadn't posted anything since the Fourth of July (which, yes, I was aware of). And now it is halfway to August and we are anticipating Band Camp next week which means Summer is Over.


It's not that we haven't done anything blog-worthy (not that THAT'S ever been a consideration).  But we've been busy, or lazing around and "I'll get to it later" and suddenly, Fall is looming.

What have we done?
Camping (again, just after the Fourth and maybe I'll post some pictures)
Traveling (Seattle and Portland and again, pictures!)
Wisdom Teeth (poor Rachel!)
College visits (a few)
Hanging Out (this would actually be the major category).

So consider this the placeholder - I need to find my camera and get some pictures downloaded and maybe then I'll figure out something to say.