Birthdays & Stairways

My boy is 14!

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Mini cake courtesy of Trader Joe’s

I love this kid. Lately I’ve noticed that all the other adults who teach or work with Jeff are coming up to me and telling me how much they love him.

  • Our stake president stopped me after church to say what a great job Jeff did with helping clean our ward building.
  • One of the other parents from the Boy Scout troop told me how fun it was to hike with Jeff on the most recent backpacking trip
  • I e-mailed his social-studies teacher with a question, and her answer was prefaced with a paragraph about how kind and eager to learn Jeff is, and what a good example to the other kids
  • At Open House night at the middle school, Jeff’s cross country coach took me aside to say that he is so happy that Jeff has joined the XC team
  • I went visiting teaching and both my companion and teach-ee spent time telling me how sweet and kind Jeff is, how positive and optimistic

This is a 180-degree switch from what I used to endure as Jeff’s mom during his early childhood years. It’s almost as if the fading away of his hyperactivity has revealed to everyone else what I’ve always known: Jeff is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. Yes, he still has a long way to go with growing up, but I’m so glad to know that he is surrounded with a community of adults who care for him.

There was no school on Jeff’s birthday this year, so we had a Day of Fun just for him. In the morning, the kids and I went to Denny’s for breakfast, and in the afternoon (once chores and homework were completed) we went to the gaming pub for root beer and ice cream.

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We played Jenga and Sushi Go! Quite the sushi-themed birthay.

That same evening, Brian and I took Jeff out to the restaurant of his choice (Sushi! We spent time challenging Jeff to get ready to attend the next stake youth dance, when not being distracted by the weird Japanese game show being broadcast on a television in the restaurant) but still had an informal party the following Friday.

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For his party, Jeff requested that everyone make sushi together (the boys really enjoyed learning how to do this), and then all the kids played Betrayal at House on the Hill, a cooperative board game about a haunted house. The guests were all the boys who have been playing Edge of the Empire with Jeff all summer long. They are such a great group of kids!

Other notable events this week:


Eleanor, William and Katie all performed in an end-of-summer piano recital. It was Katie’s first performance — she played “Two Black Ants” and “Three Little Kittens.” Their teacher, Frances, likes to get the kids performing a lot so they don’t develop stage fright. Eleanor performed her original composition, “Flight of the Mosquito,” which she plans to enter into the PTA Reflections contest.

Speaking of piano, I had my first lesson with Jensina at Seattle Community College this week. Back to school for me, sort of! Already she’s been giving me great coaching on hand position, posture, technique, etc. Even with the few basic tips, I’ve noticed an improvement in my performance of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” and other pieces I’ve been working on this summer.

However, the only photo I took on campus was of this guy:

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In case you can’t tell, he’s walking around campus with a giant pretend boom box on his head. It even plays music. I ran into him in the hallway immediately after my lesson was done, and he trailed along behind me as I walked back to my car. Several people who passed us muttered, “Awww, man,” but as Boom Box Guy said to a friend, “I’m becoming a Seattle Icon.” You go, Boom Box Guy. You be you.

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Katie finally got to bring Super Bee home from Kindergarten. Super Bee is a puppet who goes home with well-behaved children, and Katie has been waiting — well, all summer, really — to have a turn taking Super Bee home. When she didn’t get a turn within the first few days of school, there were tears upon arriving home. (“I held in my cries until I came home, Mom.”) So it was a big deal when the Bee got a turn with Katie.

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Drawing time with the troop

Katie also had her first Daisy Girl Scout troop meeting, which I am co-leadering with another mom from Katie’s old preschool class. We have a darling group of little 5 and 6 year old girls, and Eleanor, who is a Cadette this year, has declared that she’d like to come along for some leadership experience. Nice!

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Our playroom always looks like this. Sigh.

Eleanor is also making a better effort at playing patiently with Katie. Here they are with our vintage Strawberry Shortcake game (which we all think is great, even the boys. It’s essentially like Candy Land, but with a couple extra twists to keep the game interesting). Instead of the usual game markers, the kids like to use my childhood collection of Strawberry Shortcake miniature figurines, which are just the right size to move around the board.

Also this week: I completed the second Seattle Stairway Walk, through the northeast part of Queen Anne. My friend Jenny came with me, along with her darling little boy in a backpack.

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Jenny and Zav

This neighborhood included a lot of gorgeous homes, beautiful views of Salmon Bay and Alki Point, and yes, many fun stairways tucked in odd places.

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The guidebook said that this stairway was constructed using old streetcar pavings. I’d say that this may be one of the nerdiest factoids I’ve ever read, except the book also included a detailed passage on how Seattle has been creating special street signs for stairways, and some are green and some are brown to indicate which city agency is caring for them and OH GEEZ STOP.
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Beautiful views all over Queen Anne

This pathway isn’t a staircase, but it’s a curiosity nonetheless. It looks like private property — the narrow space between two homes — but it’s still part of the public street, and the city put a sign on the fence to prove it!

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I totally felt like I was tresspassing.

We also passed a playground with this fun slide built into the hillside. I tried it out, but. . .

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I look so excited. Little Did I Know.
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There’s a reason I DON’T look blurry in this photo.

. . . it was incredibly slow. Something about my clothes or size prevented a quick slide to the bottom. Instead, it was a lazy slump to the end. How disappointing.

Jenny and I enjoyed the exercise so much that we’ve already agreed to meet again this coming week for another stairway walk. I can’t wait!

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Urban hikers extraordinaire!

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