Browsed by
Category: Fun Pile

Join us for a “Jesus Storybook Breakfast”

Join us for a “Jesus Storybook Breakfast”

Calling all y’all – Believers + Skeptics, Kids + Adults, Makers + those of us who flunked art class (I put that last one in there for myself).

Easter is coming and we thought it’d be fun to open up our home near the Pacific Science Center for breakfast and craft projects on Sunday mornings over the next few weeks.

We’ll start with breakfast, then read a story together, then spend some time re-interpreting the story through things like stop-motion video, comic strips, dioramas, felt boards, or anything else you can think of. We’ll have some basic art supplies available (colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks, etc), but plan to bring what you need for your project.

Please RSVP using the form below:

We love the Jesus Storybook Bible and recommend it to anyone wanting to understand what Jesus is all about. If you haven’t read it, here’s one of our favorite passages…

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne — everything — to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is — it’s true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

If you don’t have the book, check out your options below:

Summer Reading Rocks!

Summer Reading Rocks!

20120613-213902.jpg

Last week we stopped in to our local UW Bookstore and signed up for their Summer Reading Rocks! program.

Most reading programs ask kids to record the amount of time they spend reading, then after 500 minutes (or whatever) they get a prize.

My crew acts like that’s such a chore, and it makes me feel like a nag!

I like the Summer Reading Rocks! program because they count how many books the kids read, and right off the bat my kids we’re ALL OVER that challenge.

We go back for prizes after every five books they read, plus we got a coupon for 20% off any children’s book.

And the best part is they get these awesome lanyards to keep their reading logs in! Now maybe they’ll stop stealing mine.

Zugtastic Snowblast 2012

Zugtastic Snowblast 2012

Snowman

It snowed last week. I lived in Minnesota for 18 years – a place where your nostrils stick together if you breathe too deeply, and your eyeballs freeze if you’re outside too long – so I’m not one of the crazies who gets all excited about the snow.

But about once or twice a year it taunts me.

Abandoned Street

The depth of my selfishness revealed itself during the snow week. I couldn’t even muster enough excitement for the sake of the children.

“Come play in the snow, mom!”

“No.”

Fortunately, we have a neighborhood full of play mates, so my presence was not requested often. But still. Would it have killed me?

(I think it might have.)

But I more than made up for it as the Queen of Hot Cocoa and Indoor Entertainment. Name your game consol, we’ve got it.

Flake(s)

My big win for the week was that I didn’t lose my mind. I was in the middle of writing a script with a deadline on Friday, and it was not at all convenient to have the kids home from school.

Historically when Things don’t go According to Plan, I end up going Momageddon on the kids. But thankfully I’m 40 now because that behavior is sooooooo 39.

Checking Up On Snowman
Thomas wanted to say goodnight to the snowman he built in the park.

Zugtastic Pumpkin Carving Festivus 2011

Zugtastic Pumpkin Carving Festivus 2011

I love that Bryan balances out my Control Freakishness by having the kids design their own pumpkins. They had some awesome drawings that involved teeth and scars, and I kept hearing Bryan say, “I’ll see what I can do.”

He did great, of course.

Carving six pumpkins made for a bit of a crazy Saturday night, but so fun.

I just noticed I matched the wrong pumpkins to the wrong drawings in a couple pictures below, but you get the idea.

The Happiest Place on Earth

The Happiest Place on Earth

splash mountain

We went to Disneyland with my brother-in-law’s family our 2nd weekend in California, and I can’t imagine a more perfect experience.

First of all, after a week of temps over 100 degrees, it dropped down to the low 70’s that day. I’m so glad, because you did not want to read that blog post about my sweaty thighs.

The timing was also great since we were there after Halloween but before the Christmas season, so there was hardly any other people. No lines! Splash Mountain was so empty they let us ride it again without even getting out of the boat!

disneyland teacups

This was also a great age to enjoy Disneyland with the kids. They’re at the tail end of 5 and 7 – old enough to endure the day, and young enough to still believe it’s magical.

We had to leave the house at 6:30 to hit the park by 8am, and we stayed until 7pm. My feet were killing me after eleven hours, but for the first time since high school I rode roller coasters! WIN!

disneyland parade

I think the best outcome of the day, though, was turning Ruthie into a fellow roller coaster junkie. She loved them! We rode The Matterhorn first thing at 8:15 and she was hooked! We went on everything together except Space Mountain.

It was such a blast to have a “big kid” with us this time!

(check out her adorable face in the picture below).

splash mountain 2

I noticed something about myself while at Disneyland: I was having fun.

I know, right? Who wouldn’t have fun at Disneyland? But I clearly remember our trip three years ago, and I was anxious, self centered, and struggling to enjoy myself.

And here I was – three years later – completely enjoying myself, without agenda, and ready to go with the flow.

“You know what?” I said to Bryan after we got off Thunder Mountain, “It really helps to not be depressed at Disneyland.”

Indeed.

I know, I know, I know. POOR ME.

I know, I know, I know. POOR ME.

Pumpkins

In Seattle you don’t die of heat stroke at the pumpkin patch.

I mean, yes, it was 54 degrees and raining in Seattle yesterday so of course I love the sun and heat, but I was not mentally prepared for pumpkins.

No, due to the gorgeous weather I was mentally prepared for a beach chair and a margarita, which I did not find in the middle of the pumpkin patch but could have used after the wheelbarrow incident.

All American Boy

The unbearable heat also changed my strategy in the corn maze because I only wanted to stay on the shady paths.

However, Bryan strongly suggested that this strategy would not get us out of the corn maze in a timely manner, nor would it help us find posts marked 1, 2, 3 & 4 in the corn maze scavenger hunt, which would earn us the coveted prize of sparkly black and gold bead necklaces.

IMG_9147

I’m just thankful I made it out alive, which is more than I can say for the pumpkins I saw in the patch.

I Tried to Tell You

I Tried to Tell You

4th of July?

This was me waiting for fireworks on the 4th of July, though it looks more like I’m waiting at the finish line for the Iditarod.

As it goes in Seattle, it rained and it was cold. We tried to convince the kids we’d be better off snuggling under a blanket watching Where the Wild Things Are, but no – WE WANT FIREWORKS TAKE US TO THE FIREWORKS.

Given that 90% of my parenting style is born from a keen sense of laziness, it was difficult to muster up the motivation to take my kids out in this weather. But apparently THIS was the day I was to turn a new leaf, to lose myself in the adventure, and to do something “enjoyable” for my kids that required effort.

So off we went.

4th of July

We waited until 9:15 to head down to a Lake Washington pier near our house. Bryan had already parked the car down there for the drive back, so we walked the mile and a half or so, schlepping chairs and blankets. It was cold, but the weather seemed to be holding, and I thought maybe we’d be spared the rain.

Waiting for fireworks

Around 9:30 it started to rain.

It rained hard.

It rained and the wind blew.

The wind was cold.

My feet and legs were drenched and freezing inside five minutes.

At 9:35 Ruthie began to whine that she was cold and wet and wanted to go home to watch the movie.

We’re here because of you! I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. Well, I may have mentioned it. At any rate, Thomas threw a fit at the idea of going home, so Ruthie and Bryan waited in the car while Thomas and I braved the elements.

The only part of this adventure more harrowing than the rain and cold, was Thomas asking every 30 seconds when the fireworks were going to start – I wasn’t sure he was going to come out of the evening alive.

As I listened to the internet whine all month about the crappy whether in June, I tried to remind everyone that this is what Seattle DOES. And sure enough, the forecast beginning July 5th is amazing with sun.

Summer!

Because the Zugs could never just buy a Christmas Tree.

Because the Zugs could never just buy a Christmas Tree.

IMG_0738.jpg

Thanksgiving weekend we took a day trip into the mountains with some friends to chop down a Christmas tree. Mind you, this was no froo froo tree farm with hot cocoa and carolers… this was THE MOUNTAINS.

(As we’ve discovered before, when the Zugs do something we go all the way).

We bought a $10 permit from the forest service and wound our way up one of their treacherous, winding roads in our ’95 Honda Odyssey with two wheel drive and questionable tire traction, following along behind our two friends in their identical Subaru 4 wheel drives.

IMG_0751.JPG

I’m not going to lie to you – IZE TERRIFIED of that drive. Somewhere between now and my daring twenties I lost my chops and everything makes me nervous. Maybe the closer you get to 40 the more aware you are of your mortality, but let me just admit that I was NOT TRUSTING JESUS as we fishtailed around those hairpin turns with only a snow bank to keep us from employing the local search party operation.

IMG_0759.JPG

But alas. we soon met a stalled car on the road in front of us and couldn’t gain our traction again in the snow. We had to abandon ship and hop into one of the Subarus.

The kids and I waited in the back of our friend’s car a few dozen yards up the road while the men heaved and pushed our minivan to the side of the road. I felt much better there, not able to witness whether or not Bryan would end up at the bottom of a ravine.

I prefer my tragedies to surprise me.

IMG_0732.jpg

It was exhilarating to play in the snow. At one point Ruthie and I had to tromp off to find a bush *cough* and stepped into a snow drift up to my waist.

Wow. I mean, I’m the kid who used to JUMP off my roof into a pile of snow. Now I’m the middle aged mom who FALLS into a drift while trying to not pee her pants.

IMG_0729.jpg

Chopping down a tree from the side of the mountain challenges one’s perspective. I kept pointing out THAT ONE! WHAT ABOUT THAT ONE? IS THAT ONE GOOD? Because I was all, “Whassamattah? We have nine foot ceilings!”

But, yeah. Check out our itty bitty TEN FOOT TREE next to its ginormous counterpart:

IMG_0758.jpg

Our friends think they may have scared us away, but we’re totally going again next year. We had a great time, and this was the healthiest, cutest tree we’ve ever had.

Happy Birthday, SuperThomas

Happy Birthday, SuperThomas

Thomas

Thomas, today you are four years old. I can hardly believe we’re here already! You inspire me every day with your generosity. When you experience something amazing – a taste, a view, an object – your first reaction is to want to share it with someone.

“THIS IS SO GOOD, MOM, YOU HAVE TO TASTE IT!”

“WOOK AT THIS DWESS, MOM, WET’S GET IT FO’ WOOFIE!”

IMG_0348.JPGYou are slow to warm up to new situations – it took you three three months to say hello to Daniel at the bus stop, and four months to stop clinging to me at preschool drop off. You sit back and assess a situation or person, determining who will be one of your trusted peeps. But when you make a determination, it seems to be a set relationship.

This year you also claimed a “best friend.” You ask to see him on a daily basis, and tell me you wish he was part of our “famiwy.” Your sleepovers and park dates are filled with Light Sabor wars, kung foo fighting, and SuperHero rescues. Knowing your intimate, faithful, and dedicated personality, I imagine this friendship lasting many years despite attending different schools in the future.

Like most sibling relationships, you and Ruthie are love/hate, but mostly love. You adore her, and you protect her. That time we went to Santa Cruz beach and Ruthie ran in and out of the surf? You were so worried for her safety that you screamed at me and pushed me toward the water to stop her.

IMG_0082IMG_0083

You follow her everywhere and do what she does. This sometimes gets you into trouble because you don’t evaluate whether your choices are foolish or wise, only whether Woofie did it. My prayer is that your conscience will override the strong draw of your sister’s leadership, and you will one day speak into her life regarding some of the choices she makes.

thomas roars like a lion.jpgI think your challenge will be to believe in yourself and to trust your instinct. You are thoughtful in your determination, and quiet in your execution, but your ego bruises easily and you worry what people will think. I’m confident Jesus will lead you through all this, and I think you’re already working out what that looks like. When I make a decision that puts you in tears, your question to me often is, “Does Jesus agree with you?” And when I say, Yes, Jesus gives me wisdom to be a good parent, you are satisfied.

I love you, and I love being your mom. I’m continually aware that I walk a fine line between leading you and raising you to be a leader. I want to support you and nurture you in a way that bolsters you up as a man, but still cuddles and snuggles you like a boy.

And your dad? You are WAY INTO your dad. Every morning when you wake up you ask, “Where’s dad?” Every night when he comes home you skooch your chair around the dinner table to be right next to him. And on the weekends you LOVE to run errands and do GUY STUFF with your dad. Sometimes you even climb into his lap with your blankie and your thumb and chuckle just a little bit – you are so content in that space it brings an uncontrollable giggle up through you. I LOVE that – the happiness and contentment that expresses itself in a bubbling over of laughter.

In closing, know that I want to encourage your natural curiosity. You are filled with striking questions and keen observations. Here are a few of the things you’ve said to me over the last year:

Why does the sky change colors?

How did Scout get up to heaven when there’s nothing for him to stand on?

How do things melt?

Why does Jesus live in the sky?

Hey I know! We can send the [broken] spoon up to heaven for Jesus to fix, and then he can shoot it back down to us!

I wish I was Jesus or a Super Hero so I could save people.

Daddy I need to change my pants so I have somewhere to put my gun. (he needed a pocket).

Daddy, can we break our car so we have to buy a new one over there and I can play in the Spiderman house? (re the Spiderman jump house in the used car lot)

I wish there was a machine that could make it so the WHOLE WORLD could watch Clone Wars!

Because the Zugs could never just go hiking.

Because the Zugs could never just go hiking.

IMG_0667.JPGIMG_0672.JPGIMG_0671.JPG

I said, “Let’s go hiking tomorrow.”

He said with wild eyes, “I know, LET’S GO GEOCHACHING!”

I rolled my eyes to the heavens and sat back in my chair.

Deflated, offended, he was all, “What?”

“Why can’t we just be like normal people and go hiking?” I said bitterly.

“It IS hiking – but with a goal, a purpose. It’s like a treasure hunt!”

“So enjoying the great outdoors with your children isn’t purpose enough?”

I know. I can be such a bitch sometimes.

The stupid thing is, I knew it would be fun. Everything Bryan wants to do is fun.

Looking for the hidden treasure…

looking for a treasure...

More looking…

more looking...

Finding the treasure!

finding the treasure!

Checking out what’s inside…

geocache box of goodies

Recording that we found it…

IMG_0662.JPG

Putting it back for the next treasure hunter…

Hidden Treasure

All in all, not too shabby for our first time out on this high tech adventure. And? The kids made it hiking half a mile straight up the side of Cougar Mountain.

Go here for information on geocaching, because there’s probably a site within 300 yards of where you’re reading this (there’s tons in our own neighborhood).

Go here for the full flickr set.

Vacation in Satan’s Cesspool.

Vacation in Satan’s Cesspool.

It is June 5th, and I’m wearing jeans, socks, a sweater, and I turned my heat on for a couple hours today just to take the edge off. Yesterday the kids asked for hot chocolate, my seeds are not sprouting in the garden, and I’m sick of being cold.

So you know what? I’m giving Seattle the finger. Buh-bye.

mariah wilderness expeditions.jpg

Bryan and I are headed down to somewhere outside of Sacramento for a family reunion done Zug style, which is to say I’ll be hurling my body down a treacherous, rock infested river through rapids they lovingly call Satan’s Cesspool, with only a blow-up raft between myself and certain death. I’m not sure what frightens me more – the potential for hitting my head on a rock, or the fact I won’t be taking my laptop.

I wasn’t originally planning to raft. I was going to sit quietly next to the river with my book and my sunscreen, waiting to collect on the life insurance. But after several people convinced me I might actually have fun and not die, and when I remembered the whole point of going was to spend time with Bryan’s family, I thought I would suck it up and get on board.

Besides, how can I fear certain death if this is what my last day will look like?

California Weekend Forecast

That, my friends, is a far cry from what Seattle will look like this weekend. So have yourself a merry little weekend wherever you are. A special edition of Sex and the City Link Love will post in the morning, because I know how much you’ll miss me when I’m gone.

Sometimes I think I’m just a little bit insane.

Sometimes I think I’m just a little bit insane.

IMG_9482.JPGIMG_9481.JPG
IMG_9485.JPGIMG_9484.JPG

No, this is not a birthday party. Nor do I run a daycare (which a police officer once asked me when he saw three kids of varying shades of skin playing in the yard with my blondies). This is just the sort of thing I do to myself on a regular basis: a pool party with six kids under the age of five. Or wait – is that one six already? I think so. Six under the age of SIX, then. But still.

Ever since I was a kid I wanted a big family. Maybe as a practically-only child I fantasized about large families, but even as an adult married woman, I still thought I would birth a baseball team of boys. Then I actually HAD kids, and then I had postpartum depression, and now I nearly have the youngest out of diapers.

I can’t imagine doing that all over again.

IMG_9487.JPGIMG_9489.JPG

Yet, I find myself with a house full of kids – or at least one extra – at least twice a week, sometimes more often. I’ve always imagined being the house on my block where all my kids’ friends come to play, my refrigerator and pantry filled with snacks to share, plenty of games on the Wii and other interesting things to make it so my kids and their friends like to be here.

Maybe six kids under six for dinner and a pool party on a record-breaking hot day is practice for ten teenagers who choose to come here after school rather than the mall? I admit I’m a romantic. My friends with teenagers can tell me how it really is, but I guess I’m learning I like a little bit of high level chaos as long as they all go home at some point and let me recuperate before the next wave of chaos.

But I get to keep these two forever. Which is nice, because they’re both just a little bit crazy like me.

IMG_9491.JPGIMG_9492.JPG

Take me out to the ball game…

Take me out to the ball game…

front row seats, third deckrunner caught on the baselinelong way down
IMG_9275.JPGIMG_9272.JPG
the view from our seatsseventh inning stretch

It really is true that the early bird gets the worm.

One of Bryan’s co-workers was selling a pair of tickets to last night’s Mariner’s game, and sent out an email early that morning. Bryan, being the early bird that he is, snatched them up before many had even come into the office. There were many long faces in the office that day, because not only were these seats behind home plate, but yesterday was GORGEOUS – perfect for an open-roof game.

We already had a sitter for the kids, this being our weekend out in our babysitting swap, but we didn’t have solid plans for what we were going to do. Bryan IM’d me in the morning with instructions to meet him at the office and dress warm. All day I had no idea what we were doing, and the bastard never told me.

We even had a quick dinner, and he still didn’t tell me.

Then? He takes me to a bus stop. A bus stop? I drove all the way down town, and now we’re getting on a bus? And it finally dawns on me at that point… Wait a second, I say. Are the Mariners in town? And he smiles, and says, I don’t know – are they?

I love baseball. And I love surprises. And I love spontaneity. And last night, Bryan gave me all three. Thanks, babe.

Lake Wilderness Adventure

Lake Wilderness Adventure

IMG_9207.JPGIMG_9197.JPG
IMG_9204.JPGIMG_9193.JPGIMG_9205.JPG
IMG_9194.JPGIMG_9191.JPG

We come to Lake Wilderness often for our hiking adventures, but I liked the late spring morning sun as it filtered through the trees on this day. I love the tall pines here, and the lush forest floor with its cozy trails to hug you as you approach unseen bends. When I was a kid walking through the “deep deep woods” on my grandpa’s 40 acres of land in Northern Minnesota, this is what it was like, and I think that’s mostly why I love bringing my kids here so much.

The park is not that big, and all the trails intertwine. It’s pretty impossible to get lost here so I let my kids lead the way, choosing which path to take at each intersection. Also? It’s dog friendly, so we get to bring Scout! We’ve never actually crossed paths with other people on these trails, which I don’t totally understand, but that just means I let Scout go off leash. She’s such a good dog, still always walking by my side or just in front of me.

At one point during this hike Ruthie gasped and grabbed my leg. “WHAT’S THAT SOUND?!” she asked, worried. I stopped to listen, and the only thing I heard was wind in the pines high above our heads. Have you ever heard such a sound? It’s more muffled than the sound of wind blowing through leaves – it’s not as crisp, so I could understand why Ruthie wouldn’t recognize it.

I never knew a tree could make a person cry, but I teared up a little at that sound, remembering my childhood in the pine grove next to our cabin in Northern Minnesota. I would sweep all the dried pine needles on the forest floor into a cushy pile and lay on my back, looking up at the sky through the trees and dozing off to the sound of the wind in the pines.

And as it just so happens, you can find anything on The Internet. So here, for your listening pleasure, is Wind in the Pines: