Hello, all! Well, we've been back for almost two weeks from our amazing Pacific Northwest excursion and I think that we're only just now feeling settled back into the swing of things. I guess that two weeks away followed shortly with a visit by a set of grandparents will do that!
Anyway, our trip to Seattle and Portland was just amazing. My training was great and we had a fabulous time exploring the cities and hanging out together. We visited pretty much every attraction in the area - the Space Needle, three zoos, Pikes Place Market, the Pacific Ocean, Colombia Gorge, and lots of other cool places like children's museums and science centers and stuff like that. We were a little nervous that the kids would not do well with two weeks in a hotel, but Steve did a great job keeping them on a schedule and we had very few meltdowns or other unfortunate incidents like that. It was a really special time together.
Thinking back on the trip, our favorite experiences probably weren't the things you would have expected to have been the most memorable. Steve said that his favorite day was the day that he and the boys went to the Seattle Maritime Museum because they had tons of fun stuff for the kids to do and it wasn't super crowded, so they could hang around as long as they wanted without having to fight throngs of schoolchildren.
My favorite experience was the Freemont Troll in Seattle. It's this huge troll sculpture under the 35th Street Bridge that was just so striking and surprising and fun. It made quite the impact on Sam, too. The troll is holding a VW Bug and for days after visiting it, Sam was still talking about it. Actually, that brings us to a bit of a funny story. One afternoon we were all driving into Seattle when we saw some unwelcome flashing lights behind us. Obediently, Steve pulled over and was explaining to the officer that he was a little too excited by the experience of driving a vehicle that could actually accelerate when Sam interrupted with a very urgent "the troll has Herbie!" I don't know if it was Steve's explanation or Sam's cuteness, but the officer mercifully let us go. I'm betting that was the first time he pulled somebody over and had a three-year-old pleading for Herbie the Love Bug's safety.
As for Sam, I think that his favorite thing was petting the goats at the Tacoma and Portland zoos (apparently, goats are the cool thing to have in petting zoos). He got to pet them and feed them and he thought that was just the coolest thing ever. Ben had a blast watching them, too - he had the biggest little baby grin on that you've ever seen!
Ben really liked playing in the sand at Cannon Beach when we visited the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, he didn't eat much of it, but he loved to move the sand and rocks around and feel the sand running through his fingers. He also loved walking along the beach, feeling the damp sand under his feet and showing off his walking skills.
Oh, that brings us to a very important announcement: Ben is walking! He took his first unassisted steps on Sunday, May 16th while we were visiting the Japanese Garden in Portland at a mere 10 1/2 months of age. What an advanced child! He's now taking four or five steps at a time, and we're really looking forward to a few weeks from now when he'll start walking even better so that our backs get some relief from being hunched over and holding his hands so that he can buzz around.
So, we had a wonderful trip that we won't forget for a long, long time. As good as our journey was, though, it always feels good to get home and back to normal. Grammy and Buddy came out for a week, so we had lots of welcome help in getting our home back into shape from our time away. We also got the veggie garden tilled and planted, so in a few weeks we'll have broccoli and tomatoes and peppers and string beans and zucchini and cucumbers! We also planted 75 new strawberry plants to revitalize our strawberry patch and we planted a new peach tree that will hopefully produce delicious fruit in a few years. It feels great to get back into the gardens again.
Besides helping out around the house, the Reinharts also got to take part in a new and very exciting experience - we met Thomas the Tank Engine! That's right, Thomas came to the Heber Valley Railroad over Memorial Day weekend and we got to ride on him, or rather on the coaches he pulled. Mr. Conductor punched our tickets and we met Sir Topham Hatt in person (Sam was understandably awed)! It was a really fun afternoon, and we have lots of great memories and fun photos to show for it. If anybody's wondering how Thomas pulled our train, he did have a little help from another engine behind the coaches that may have pushed us along a bit.
After the Thomas experience, we all got to take turns being the Captain or the crew or Sir Topham Hatt, as per Sam's requests. If you were crew, you had to say "hi hi, Captain" and salute (no, not "aye aye" - if you said that you got corrected), although sometimes the captain would salute the crew, also. The we'd swim around the yard a bit or ride on Thomas in our imaginations or do whatever else the Captain, crew, and Sir Topham would like to do. That kid has quite the imagination.
Sam and Buddy came up with a new game while they were in town - apparently a grandparent's job is to undo all positive steps towards kindness and maturity that the parents have worked towards. The game goes like this: first, Buddy would hold an imaginary kitty in his hand and pet it and love it. Next, Sam would ask to see the kitty, but instead would gobble it up and chew it mercilessly. Then it was Buddy's turn to cry for the kitty and beg Sam to spit it out, so Sam would then "puh puh" and spit the kitty out. This game repeats as many times as you, the adult, can put up with. Fun, fun, fun.
Our only other announcement is that Benjamin finally has teeth! His upper left front tooth surfaced on May 24th, followed by its neighbor on May 27th. We were a little worried that we were going to have to invest in kid-sized dentures, so we're very glad that he finally has teeth! I'm betting that Baby Ben is the only kid on the block who started walking before his first tooth came in.
I guess that's about it for now. Hope that you're enjoying the beginnings of summer!
Steve, Jamie, Sam, and Ben
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