Saturday, November 28, 2009

Black Friday in Seattle

Amazingly enough, we woke up to blue skies and some sunshine peeking through white, fluffy clouds this morning. Remember, we are in Seattle, one of the rainiest cities on the planet. Tom & I walked around the neighborhood a bit this morning in search of a Starbuck's. One is NEVER far away from a Starbuck's when in Seattle, because this is the birthplace of the mega-chain of coffee stores. We found one about a block and a half away. While standing in line, I happened to look down at the floor and found a $10 bill. After asking the folks around us if it was theirs and all saying it wasn't, after placing our coffee order, I put it in the tip jar. The guy who took our order thought that was so cool, that he gave us our most expensive drink (Tom's Mocha Frappucino) free of charge. Tom and I have both noticed just how quickly a blessing given away comes back to revisit you in another blessing. It's the kind of cycle we both want to perpetuate.

Back to the rooms, gather the kids, then we were off to the monorail station (about 4-5 blocks away) for the ride to downtown....Westlake Center, to be exact. Not many people on the monorail, in fact, Tom and Tucker rode in the very front, next to the driver, but once downtown, there were hoards of people. There was a big parade going on which we caught bits and pieces of from the monorail and from the windows in the food court at the mall. Then into the fray to do a bit of shopping ourselves. We split up into two teams, Tom and Tucker going off to look at "guy" stuff, while Megan and I took off to check at the "girl" stuff. We popped into a store called "Bad Reputation" because they carry Ed Hardy clothing..........a line of clothing that Joe kind of likes. He has a few Ed Hardy t-shirts, but we found none here that looked like something that Joe would like. Megan was disappointed because there was no Aeropostale store in this mall so we headed outside to see what else we could find. We decided against going into Nordstrom because, while this is the Nordstrom flagship store here in Seattle, neither Megan or I really consider ourselves "Nordstrom girls".........just not our taste. We did take a quick look around in The Gap, then spied a Barnes and Noble sign. Now THIS is our kind of shopping. Books and lots of them! Megan has been seeking a book called Beautiful Creatures for a while now and our local Borders store does not have it in stock, so she wanted to look for it here and sure enough, they had it!!! So she got that and the second of a series of books that are written solely in instant message language, this one being titled TTFN (Ta Ta For Now). I fear that the next generation will not be able to spell and will speak in acronyms.

We received a call from Tom saying the Elizabet and her husband Ryan and their baby Alexander were meeting us at the pig statue at Pike's market at noon, so we headed that way so that we could spend some time with them and meet their baby for the first time. Very cute little guy and didn't fuss once!! We ate at a Mediterranean place where there seemed to be a bit of a communication break down when I placed my order. We finally got some food and visited for a bit then parted ways once again. Megan was cold (she didn't dress quite warm enough for outside walking) and wanted to head back to the room while Tom and Tucker wanted to return to the Nordstrom Rack, because their time there had been cut short due to the lunchtime meet with Elizabet and Ryan. Meg and I rode the monorail back to Seattle Center, made the short walk back to our room, where she watched some TV and I took about a two hour nap. I LOVE naps and very seldomly get or take the opportunity to take one, so this was quite a lovely treat!

Megan woke me around 5'ish so that we could all head downtown again to go to Gameworks. This is a GIANT arcade with tons of video games, old and new (I'm talking Frogger and Ms. Pacman to all the shoot up the zombie type games here). We had some old GameWorks cards that we had bought and loaded up with credits the last time we had been here (probably 5 years ago) that Megan had recently found at home somewhere so we presented these to the guy you buy credits from to see what was on them so we could decide how many more credits to buy and (here comes that blessing thing returned again), each card had about $75 worth of credits (there was a card for EACH of us, mind you) so we played games for about 2 hours and never spent an actual penny in the place!!!

We all got hungry and, rather than trying to find a restaurant, we all decided that we would be perfectly content to head back to the Metropolitan Market in our little neighborhood and grab something there to have in our rooms. Megan and I both got this yummy cold noodle with carrots, cashews, green onions and some kind of Asian type dressing, while the boys decided on a chips and salsa and guacamole feed. We settled into our respective rooms for the night, the guys watching ball games, Megan watching some Disney channel and doing some reading and I watched a couple of episodes of Numb3rs on-line. Then lights out. Another good day. Thank you, God.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Inn at Queen Anne

I promised to get back to "our quaint hotel", so here it is. When I booked this trip on line, Tom and I had discussed staying in downtown Seattle rather than staying at his brother's house so that we could be in the midst of the downtown action. Well, to stay in the "heart" of downtown Seattle was a bit more expensive than I was willing to go, so I booked us into what appeared on-line to be a charming, older place in one of the neighborhoods close to the Space Needle. While this area IS still considered downtown Seattle, it is NOT just a few blocks away from Pike's Market.....more like 15 blocks away and a 15 block walk in notorious, rainy Seattle weather doesn't really sound like a very attractive way to get around. So, Tom was kind of grumpy when he realized that we were a bit further out from downtown's heart that he had envisioned. And, initially, I was a bit wary of my choice as well. While quite charming looking from the outside, (there is a cute little courtyard right by the entrance), there definitely is a very "vintage" feel (and smell) when one walks inside. Check in time is not until 3pm and we arrived at 1, so we were first told that we may have to wait a while for our rooms. It being Thanksgiving Day and us being on foot, this didn't sound so great to us. Apparently the desk staff saw this on our faces and told us that if we didn't mind being on the third floor, we could go ahead and get into rooms then and there. Why would we mind being on the third floor, you might ask?? Well, because this being the quaint, charming, vintage building that it is, there are no elevators. Since we were only packed for two days, our luggage was not that heavy so we decided we were OK with climbing up a couple of flights of stairs to the rooms. We were then handed our room keys and directed to the stairs. Yes, we were handed our room KEYS, not key cards. When was the last time you stayed in a place that still uses KEYS to unlock the doors??? Upon opening our doors we found nice-sized rooms with small kitchens, a large walk-in closet, radiators for heat, a musty odor and an open window, with no screen, to help air out the room. I actually really and truly do find these kind of places quite charming as long as they are clean and provide free wi-fi internet and this place fills the bill. I would bet that these were, once upon a time, studio apartments.

Because we had been up with the sunrise and had eaten very little, we decided that we would like to find something to snack on before Thanksgiving dinner. I called down to the front desk and was told that there was a market about a block away that was open until 2 where we would be sure to find something to tide us over. So we all headed out for the short walk to the Metropolitan Market and, much to our pleasant surprise, found that we are in the middle of a quite charming little neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants. Megan and I spotted two bookstores on the 1 block walk to the market, along with several very interesting looking ethnic restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, Indian) and two record stores. We also found out that the hotel provides a free shuttle service that runs to the downtown area throughout the day, so if the weather is unpleasant and we don't feel like walking, we can catch a ride. Now, even Tom has warmed up a bit to our accommodations, which will make our stay here more pleasant than having him grumpy. And that market we went to?? The Metropolitan? Very hip, with a soup and salad bar, an olive bar, a nice deli where they make sandwiches and just an overall cool vibe. I believe this little home away from home will serve us well for the couple of days that we are here!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Last night we had the privilege of participating in an event with our church where we served Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless people of Salem. We did this last year, too, and I have to say that it truly is a great experience to serve these folks a good, hot meal and see how much they appreciate it. I plan on our family participating in this event, and hopefully others like it, many times in the years to come.

This morning, we all got up WAYYYY early (Tom at 4:30 am, so he could go pick his Mom up from Dallas) and the rest of us at 5 am, so that we could all get ready to head to the train station for our train ride up to Seattle so that we could share Thanksgiving dinner with Tom's brother's family. We haven't ridden the train in several years, but every time we do, we always remember how much we like it. There is so much more room on the train than on a plane and it's much more relaxing than going in a car and having to worry about traffic and bathroom breaks. There is even a dining car where you can go get a snack if you are hungry! It takes longer by train than by car, because of all the stops the train makes along the way, but that's ok. The kids played games on their lap tops, Tom did some Sodoku puzzles and I read some and worked on my art journal some. Time went by fairly quickly and before we knew it we were in Seattle. Tom's Mom got off at the Tukwila stop where Norm picked her up, since she is staying with them rather than with us at our motel, and that stop is closer to Norm and Elaine's home. We caught a cab from the train station to our motel, the Inn at Queen Anne, and hung out there for a couple of hours since Thanksgiving dinner wasn't being served up until around 4 pm. Norm came and picked us up around 2:30 and Tom and the kids hung out with the cousins while I helped Elaine out in the kitchen. This woman is an amazing cook and hostess. There were like, 12 pies, 2 kinds of stuffing, a beautiful turkey, mashed potatoes, baked yams, green beans, cooked purple cabbage, mushroom gravy and homemade rolls. There were not only our family and their family there, but also Mika's Finnish teacher and her family, who have only been in the U.S. since August, a friend of the family's from their church and Anja's boyfriend (or recent ex-boyfriend....I'm not sure!) We ate ourselves full, then played a fun game with Scrabble tiles called "Take Two", before realizing that we were all VERY tired and about ready to fall over asleep, so one of the other guests gave us a ride back to our quaint hotel room (more about that later) so that we could rest up for tomorrow (lots of shopping opportunities available in downtown Seattle on Black Friday!!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sunrise in Oregon

Ok this photo is just too beautiful to not share. This is a panoramic shot of the sunrise I saw this morning out my bedroom window. WOW!!! God is truly a great artist!
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Megan's grades

Ok, I got to thinking about making a big deal of Tucker's grades and thought that maybe I should make mention of Megan's STRAIGHT A's!! Just because this has become a commonplace thing does not mean that it should go unmentioned or unnoticed. So a round of applause, please for Megan's straight A's.

Tucker's grades

Tucker's Turn!!!!! After a somewhat dismal academic year last year, Tucker started out this year with a "C" in Physics, but "A's" is everything else!!!! Way to go, I KNEW you could do it!!