Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rainbow ring

We see rainbow rings in Thailand from time to time.  Something about the latitude and the rainy season make them a rare, but not impossible-to-find, treat that we sometimes see on our luckiest days.

I never even knew they could happen in the US!

We stopped to stretch our legs and take pictures (always!) and Whim noticed it.

I humored him with a few pictures and he took the one that may end up being my favorite from the whole trip.  

It makes me feel like we're on a great adventure.  And we are!


The Grand Coulee Dam 2016

We wrapped up our time in Colville with a delicious Thai dinner (thanks Whim) and then said a teary goodbye and headed out for a quick trip to GCD.

For the record, as I kid I thought Grand Coulee was boring, ugly, and dry.  

I can't really deny that it is dry, but 'boring' places are quickly becoming my favorite, and the beauty is there if you know where to look.  (Hint: look up!)

We took the kids to view the Dam and check out the VAC.  I had never seen it since it was remodeled.  It's amazing!

The VAC is full of hands-on learning opportunities and interesting exhibits for kids. 

The jackhammer really vibrated! (With a fraction of the power).

Giant viewfinder binoculars give you a closer look at the dam itself.  (Sad that we can't walk across it anymore, like in the old days, but that's nothing new.)

An underwater work suit.

The whole place was bustling with machines generated on kid-power, real equipment that kids could touch and try, scale models, interactive games...

Compared to the handful of black and white photos it had back when we were kids, now it feels like a full-on children's museum.

The park was as beautiful as ever, with grass to run and play on and perfect trees to climb.

We didn't make it to the laser show, so that's all the more reason to be sure and head back soon for another quick trip.

Colville Beauty

I already posted most of these pictures on social media, but I couldn't resist compiling them all in once place.  Colville must be one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gilette Lake 2016

One of the highlights of our trip so far, (and not likely to lose that position for the rest of the trip) was our campout in beautiful Gilette Lake.

Everywhere you looked was beautiful open skies and lush forests. Before we had even reached the campsite, we were astounded by the natural beauty!

That's us!

And here's Whim getting a shot of our amazing hosts.

Within five minutes of reaching the site, we spotted a deer through the trees, and Whim was off to try to get some pictures!

Eventually we realized that the deer would be our constant companion.  But the first few sightings were so thrilling!

It was perfect.  A little cool, but that just made the fire all the more welcoming.  One drizzly day, but that just prompted us to take a drive.  The company was perfect, the view was divine, and the food was amazing!

Check out Corey cooking over the open flames!  We invented some pretty amazing breakfast potatoes, too.

No camp out would be complete without s'mores!  We made it work with what we could find.

I'm so glad the kids got the chance to connect with their cousins.  And the great outdoors just made it that much better.

Moving On

Documenting our travels is important to me, and I have hardly posted since we arrived in the US!

Our beautiful Lady of the Lake trip and L's birthday party and trip to Rocky Reach dam pictures were on our old phones.  
First world problems, I know, but I couldn't skip L's birthday on here, so I kept waiting to post about our newest adventures until I had gone back and done it. (And the old phone is dead as a doornail and in my bag... somewhere.)

But if I keep that up, I'll be weeks behind and never catch up.  Future L, I promise you had a special 6th birthday, and I'll post about it soon.

After a whirlwind week in Wenatchee (thanks mom!), we shifted gears and headed to my sister's home in Colville.  On the way, my old friend texted me that she was in town (the same town we were passing through and stopping at for lunch) so we had an unexpected but welcome meet up at Chipotle. 

It may be an odd place for a reunion, but they have delicious, Feingold-approved rice bowls!!

Nothing like some awkward fast food restaurant photos to memorialize a special moment.

About a hundred hours later, we finally reached Colville for our long-awaited sissy/cousin reunion.

I laughed the whole week.  My sister cracks me up like nobody else. A funny friend with the added bonus of a whole shared history, old inside jokes and memories of weird stories and people. It's a perfect storm of lols.

The kids were happy, wherever they were.  I wouldn't know, I was hanging out with my sister. They emerged from time to time for meals and bandaids... 

The night we left, L asked, "Cousins can get married, right?  When they grow up?"

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tuesday business

Tuesday we had big plans.  Department of Licensing to renew a (way) expired Washington State driver's license.  A new ATM card from the bank.  Then transferring the title for our new car (!). And, lastly, a shopping trip for L's birthday cake ingredients and long-promised,long-awaited sleeping bags for the boys. If we could find out a little about new phones somewhere along the way, all the better.

We knew it was an impossible dream: way too many fussy, long-lined errands to do in one day, but we were going to try.

We did it all!  I can't believe how helpful everyone was, from each business to the next. And shopping with the food guide is so easy. You may not have too many choices in any one store, but it's so comforting knowing that whatever you choose from the list is going to be ok.  It took all the guesswork out of getting familiar with the new "healthy" brands.

Big thanks to Nana for spending her anniversary keeping the boys in the car for us, making each stop that much easier.  We were back home in time for lunch and turned in early that night for our next great adventure: The Lady of the Lake tour on Lake Chelan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ohme gardens 2016

L's been asking to take a hike.  We tried a nice walking trail in town our first day, but he wasn't quite convinced.

Yesterday, Mom suggested Ohme gardens, and it was the perfect place.  Gorgeous sculpted lawns, winding paths through the forest, old trees, beautiful views, charming stone benches, "pristine turquoise waters", even a stump to drink from.

To us poor city dwellers, it was like a booster shot of natural beauty.  It helped us shake off the last of the city grit, take off the Bangkok blinders, breathe deeply,  and relax. I couldn't feel more peaceful and at home if I tried.

May those local feelings be with me as I apply to renew my local driver's license today!

Smallwood 2016

One of the first stops on our all-American outings tour was the local petting zoo and farm stand.

It had farm animals to feed, all kinds of cute photo ops, a big open area for picnicking and free activities, and some extras like gold panning and a kiddy train ride.

This was my favorite cut out.  M was a sport to pose for me.

L preferred the real thing.

M hoped there would be a healthy apple cider, and there was!  

Anyone could try the milk bottle toss; I got them all down!

After our picnic lunch, the boys performed The Fifty Nifty United States onstage (for an audience of 2) and we all went through the maze.

We left our mark on the pushpin map 

and made it home in time for dinner! Thank you Mom and Max for a perfect day.

Monday, June 13, 2016

We made it!

These two were amazing!  When we flew to Alaska two Christmases ago, I remember suspecting that maybe, at 4 and 6, the hard days of flying with young kids were over... Now there is no question.  Seasoned seven and almost-six-year-old fliers are a joy to travel with.

They were so reasonable, were able to roll with the punches and be flexible, and completely entertained themselves for 100% of both flights.  I watched 2 whole movies, ate my meals, and slept, just like I would have if I was flying alone! To be honest, it was probably easier than flying alone (because we got priority boarding) and definitely more fun.

We packed all their food in one carry-on, and then supplimented with the fruit that came with their airplane meals.  We even lucked out and got organic milk at the Incheon airpor. Knowing that we would have been ok without it took all the pressure off, though, and made it feel like a treat when we found it.

Who needs 18 dollar chocolate bars or 24 dollar packages of seaweed when you brought all your own treats!?

The 12-hour layover in Seoul definitely extended our travel time, but it made our trip easier in so many ways. It broke up the long flights, gave the boys a chance to run and play, allowed for space and time to sleep (not in a cramped, slightly reclined plane seat)... We even got hot showers and were able to change before our second flight!  

I had high hopes that it would reduce jetlag, and it seems like it has.  Definitely for Whim and the boys.  Ok, I did wake up at 1:30 yesterday (our second morning) but it's only fair to remember that I did that pretty regularly back in Bangkok, too.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

USA here we come.

We're off!  We flew out of BKK late last night and had an easy flight into Seoul.  We've killed 6 hours of our 12 hour layover and.... will I jinx myself if I say it's been easy?

The kids are being lovely, which is all I ever really worry about with flights anymore.  (I can't believe "boredom" was ever my complaint about flying!)

Incheon is supposed to be one of the most beautiful and interesting airports in the world.  So far we've seen the nap benches and the play room.  Can't complain!

New do!

Nothing like a new hairstyle to set the tone for a new adventure!  We leave tomorrow.  

Friday, June 3, 2016


Last week or so, the boys and I sat down to count up the coins in their piggy banks.  They don't get any allowance or anything, but they ask for coins they see lying around the house, and we'll pretty often let them have them the change when we buy something at 7-11.  They've each done an odd job or two for the occasional 20 or 50 baht, as well.

I figured they'd each have a few hundred baht rattling around in there, M maybe a little more since he's lost some teeth.

L had 900 baht (around 30 dollars) and M had 3,000 (100 USD)!   

Today we got it all exchanged for banknotes, and at the airport next Thursday we'll let them exchange it for USD.  

Hmm... Lunch on the boys when we get to the States??

L's K5 graduation

School's out for the summer!

The last day of school is the K5 graduation, and like last year, I had a special boy in the program.  This year the parents also got together to make memory books to give the k5 graduates.  

I didn't get any pictures during the program (on duty!) but I did snap this one of him looking through his gift afterward.

{Ungrateful side note: The parent putting together the covers made him the girl version (they made 2 different styles: blue astronaut/scientist and pink princess/flower.  No comment.)  I get that he has long hair, but come on! This parent has shared the story with MANY parents on many occasions of how shocked she was when she realized he was a boy earlier this year (despite him wearing the boy's uniform every day) so she cannot pretend she didn't realize.  Just had to take the opportunity to make fun of a five-year-old. Cool.  Luckily he didn't seem to notice or care, so I guess we got the last laugh.}

Anyway, the room was beautiful, the children were precious as they sang, and we ended the day feeling more excited than ever about our adventures beginning next week.

It was also a celebratory day because the balloon that M brought home from his graduation reached it's 1 year anniversary!  Naturally, we won't be taking it with us, so we can only hope it slumbers peacefully for the next 10 months and is waiting for us when we return to Bangkok next April!