The story of Halloween

Once upon a time there was a family who moved across the world to a strange new land with strange new holidays. It was fun and exciting. The best one was coming up, and it wasn’t even an actual holiday, just a day of dressing up and stuffing your face with lollies. Just thinking about it made the kids insane with anticipation.

Costumes were chosen. Pumpkins were carved. The day was fast approaching. The mother got a cold and a vaguely scary croaky Halloween-esque voice to go with it. And then – the night before Halloween – the little girl woke up with a fever and a bad cough. Sad faces all round.

Luckily, the parents were unstoppable and in one daring yet smoothly-executed swoop, they broke the bad news (No trick or treating. In the rain, hmm) and presented the alternative of dressing up and treasure hunting for lollies in the house. Yay! In amongst the candy and fever reducing medicine, we even had some friends drop by for candy exchange and mutual costume appreciation.

And Halloween was saved. And there are awesome pictures to prove it. 🙂


Puyallup State Fair

“If you see a guy who looks like a cowboy, he’s the real deal.”

This from our good friend, who invited us to the State Fair with her family, in the town of Puyallup, 45-60 mins drive south of Seattle.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, because we haven’t seen much of Washington yet, and Seattle itself doesn’t exactly give a strong cowboy vibe.

The Puyallup fair attracts more than 1 million people each year, and is the largest fair in Washington. From the sheer size of the fairground and the number of people there, we got the impression it is a huge deal for local business and agriculture. It attracts everyone – young and old, families, and cowboys who look and act the part as they make their way to compete in the rodeo. But more on that soon!

With five kids in tow, there was no way we could explore the whole fair, but we did manage some games, delightful scones with strawberry jam, and a ferris wheel ride.

Look at the view!

And the happy faces 🙂

We saw some cows, and I think we were rather more impressed with them than they were with us.

And there was a bit of camel riding. As you do.

We didn’t make it to see the crafts, but we did buy tickets to the rodeo. And Holy Awesome, it was awesome.

This is the arena.

The atmosphere was exciting – the loud music, the announcer (and his awesome accent), the rodeo clown. It is a true spectacle. And we haven’t even got down to the wranglin’ yet! Contestants (the cowboys, I’m talking about here) come from all over the country to compete.

Here’s the clown – silly, cheesy, and funny. (And brave!)

And here’s the breakdown of what we saw. It was all new to me.

1. Calf roping/wrangling: Cowboy on horse chases calf, jumps off horse, grabs calf, ties up its legs. In the blink of an eye. (And yes, I did feel sorry or the calf, but it seemed ok after, just scampering off after it had been untied)

2. Saddle/Bareback bronc: Cowboy holds onto horse and attempts to stay on as it bucks and tries to get him off its back.

3. Bull riding: The BIG event. A huge, ginormous, beastly big bull, with a crazy cowboy on its back, attempting to stay on. It was AMAZING. Scary but amazing.

4. Mutton busting: Ok, so this was insane, but also funny. A kid aged 4-7 (wearing a helmet and some padding, in case you’re worried) sits atop a sheep. The sheep runs, the kid holds on for dear life. The kid falls off (and is unharmed) the sheep keeps on running. The kid gets up and the crowd cheers like crazy. No way on earth would I ever let my kid do that. But I guess if your dad’s a cowboy, that’s just how it’s done.

In this pic, the kid is already off the sheep. It’s a fairly short ride.

And that was our visit to the state fair – exciting and slightly crazy, but so much fun!

Monday Morning

8:30 mon morning: I’m sitting in a cafe in Wallingford having just dropped Evan at preschool. It’s his first preschool experience, aside from Gymboree, and drop off went pretty well. I’d been prepping him forever for basically the whole Summmer holidays – from talking about it with him, to organising an extra class visit, finishing off certain, ahem, ‘training’ points, buying new ‘prechool’ clothes (hello, Old Navy elastic waist pants) and even getting Joy to roleplay drop off with us (Joy quite enjoyed playing the part of the teacher as you might imagine.)

It was a lot of preparation, and it seemed to be helpful. But I realize that it was as much for my benefit as it was for his (if not more). If I hadn’t prepared ‘Evan’ in that way, I myself wouldn’t have felt as confident walking him in there this morning, and then he probably wouldn’t have either. So – lucky I’m such a preparation freak then, yes?

So I find myself in Tully’s with a coffee, my iPod and a book (and the iPad of course.) I barely recognize myself! Of course I’m looking at my phone every ten seconds and there’s a Spiderman water bottle sticking out the top of my bag, but aside from that I paint a pretty relaxed figure! Preschool? Pshhaw, no probs.

I haven’t posted in weeks, so I’ll be doing a mini Summer recap soon, including our recent rodeo experience!

In the meantime, for a peek into my parents’ visit and an audio-visual feast, visit my Mum’s blog laroseedespetiteschoses. Not only does it have a fancy French name, but also videos Mum made of all the stuff we did with them. Trust me, it’s awesome.

It’s a Parade!

All week, while I was taking Joy to art school in Wallingford, I’d seen signs for a Family Festival and Children’s Parade this Saturday. I thought it might be fun to check out.

So late Saturday morning we hopped on the bus and joined the other families and ‘Wallyhood’ locals on N 45th St to await the parade. I didn’t really know what to expect, or what the purpose of the parade was, but once it started, it became clear. It was the perfect opportunity for the local businesses and services to promote themselves, and also a chance for the children and adults to perform (or just look cute and wave.) Lots of family and friends were cheering and clapping from the side. I loved it.

But first, we had to wait for something to happen. Here’s the street pre-parade:

To keep busy, Joy whipped out her notebook (which we now never leave the house without) and started drawing. Evan also thought this would be a good idea.

Joy doing some precision work

Evan’s was a man with a mustache!

After a short while, things were looking up. A brass band! It was awesome. They looked and sounded amazing! They were from the local high school.

Here are some of the other paraders. So many groups went by, but I just included a few here.

A children’s theatre school

And one of many amazing drum/dance troops

Not sure what these ladies were doing, but they looked lovely. And they were strolling so serenely.

This is was a children’s daycare group. They just scooted and biked along, with the occasional wave. The chillest parade ever!

This was the ‘Magic Bus’. We didn’t catch exactly what that was, but we felt for the Dads, pulling the kid-laden bus from the front. (Actually, it’s impossible to see from this photo, but there’s a boy in the bus with an Australian flag. Joy was the first to notice it. 🙂 )

Random horsehead dude. Again, looking totally chilled as he walks down the street. (It’s possible he wasn’t even in the parade, maybe that’s just how he does his Saturday mornings!)

This one I took from the cafe where we had lunch and watched the rest of the parade from the window. Clowns! Of course!

The parade went on for a lot longer as we sat and enjoyed lunch. People who happened to live on the street just stood on the front porches taking photos. And as it ended, we saw the ‘performers’ walk/scoot/pogo back the other way to meet up with their families for the rest of their Saturday.

It was a neighbourhood parade – not super big or crowded, but a casual, colourful, fun celebration of the community. Fantastic way to spend our Saturday morning. 🙂

Art Gallery

Joy did a week of day camp at an art school nearby. It seemed to go well, both for art-making and friend-making. She completed a variety of different projects using various mediums and tools, and each day they worked on something new. She also has a drawing book in which they practised their technique and made sketches before doing the final version

She brought home a big bag full of her projects today, and they look amazing.

Evan has also been experimenting with drawing and even a little writing at home, and I included some of his art too.


The newly installed wall of art

Acrylic paints

Eagle, pen and paint. I think this one is outstanding!

Flowers, crayon and collage

Neon paints, fireworks themed for the 4th July

Chalk and tape

Clay fish

Clay strawberry bowl


Spider under rainbow

The artist explains his vision

Train (and haircut!)


A feat of engineering. Evan’s own invention.

Happy 4th!

I’m ending my unexpected blogging hiatus with a Happy 4th of July!

We had been looking forward to our first one here in Seattle, since everyone has been telling us how busy and buzzing it is. Also, it’s the official ‘beginning’ of Summer in Seattle (which is, just quietly, another clue to the state of the weather here!)

It didn’t disappoint. On the evening of the 3rd, the giant (and we hoped firework-laden) barge pulled out into the centre of the lake, clearly ‘glimpsable’ from our living room. Cue insane excitement from the kids. (You can imagine how long it really seems for the fireworks to start, when you start waiting a full 24 hours before!)

And then the 4th dawned with blue skies and perfect sunshine. We walked up to beautiful Queen Anne where houses were decorated with flags, and the house-proud QA locals were out tending their beautiful and perfectly manicured gardens. We met some friends for a lovely, chilled play at a nearby park and took some photos.

After a late afternoon nap (mostly for Evan, although I may or may not have have fallen asleep on the couch. I admit nothing) we had dinner and then walked down to South Lake Union, where families were doing the usual picnic blanket/snacks/games/waiting around thing you do before watching fireworks. It was really nice to just be able to walk down and stroll around, just hanging out. At this point, we felt SO lucky and grateful to be living so close! There was a band, food, flags, and painted faces, and just a generally festive and very patriotic feeling. Much more so than you get on Australia Day – at least without a sense of irony or sarcasm.

The fireworks start at 10pm, which is so late, but necessary since it’s actually not dark until then! We decided to head home to throw the kids into a bath before the show, for a speedier be-awed-by-fireworks-and-then-shove-them-into-bed-as-quickly-as-possible process.

Our landlord knocked on the back door at this point and invited us to join the rest of his tenants on the rooftop of his apartment building (just behind our place.) YAY! We joined them for a bit of small talk and waiting.

And then it was all: “Wow! Look! Wow! A red one! A green one! A star! Wow!” and various other exclamations. Evan didn’t stop talking from the start of the show to the finish. “I’m not scared!” “This is fun!” and similar.

Once the show was over, it was all: yawn yawn yawn – but that was all of us. 🙂

Here are some pics from the day.

People arriving at Gas Works Park

The fireworks barge

Happy 4th, Space Needle!

People at South Lake Union

Ready to go!

Fun, fun, fun

For all the important ‘settling in’ we’ve been doing in the last few months,  I recently realised we also needed to make an effort to do more fun things, or we would get lost in our routine and forget to actually enjoy ourselves. (I know a fair bit about this, actually. ;))

For the first time since I joined Facebook,  it actually stepped in with a useful ad: Snow Patrol. Seattle. With Ed Sheeran. Sound of me squealing and then nothing but furious keyboard taps as I buy tickets faster than any human has ever paid for anything online ever.

The show was last Tuesday and – as you may know from my giddy FB rantings – it was AMAZING. I was enchanted, impressed, besotted. I wish I could find a time machine so I could go back and stay for a while. 🙂

It took a tiny bit of organising. First, the babysitter (thankfully she was available, since I had already bought the tickets. Hmm.) And I had to skip a Spanish class, since it was on a Tuesday night – cut to me attempting to write my teacher a coherent email in Spanish explaining why I couldn’t be there. Luckily she is very understanding. And it made good conversation for our next class!

We hopped on the bus and headed to the venue. The Paramount Theatre is in the city, so it’s easy to get to. It was built by Paramount Pictures and opened in the 1920s. The outside is nothing special, but the interior is ornate and beautiful. Every so often I would remember to look up at the ceiling and I’d be transfixed for a while. Look:

The whole night was so completely easy and stress-free, from finding out about it and buying the tickets to strolling up and going in, I felt like we’d been somehow blessed by some magical Night Out fairy!  Definitely working the magic there.

And I was so inspired by this complete triumph in live music watching, that I bought tickets for Bombay Bicycle Club in October!  I’ll be keeping you updated on that one!