Friday, December 31, 2010

Painted Pumpkins

Mae ended up in a first-grade class this year and so missed the traditional kindergarten pumpkin patch excursion. So, a couple of days before Halloween, we decided to venture out on our own for a surprisingly sunny day at the pumpkin patch.

In an effort to keep things low key, I picked Scholz Farm, where I had gone with the school during the boys' days in Kindergarten. I figured we'd save the more theme-park type farms for a year when Kevin could attend along with us.

Here is Grandma Loo (and attached Baby Joseph) looking out toward the actual pumpkin patch.
Grandma and baby again in front (kinda) of the giant hay pile (also the favorite play spot).
The boys comparing their height to several fat pumpkins.
And Mae doing the same
I should probably mention that Brooks was at Grandma's Halloween daycare party, in case anyone wonders why he was so rudely omitted from the pictures. We did have a friend along, though, as is somewhat evident in the pic below.
Cute, James.
Mae and Porter as two of the seven dwarfs; although I'm not well-versed enough on the subject to recognize which ones they are supposed to be.
Mae with the beautiful, albeit slightly large headed, Snow White (or is it Wendy???)
The kids pondering the meaning of the strange little pumpkin fish. This would probably be a good time to mention that Scholz Farm is known for its painted pumpkin displays. This display in particular is probably my favorite--I especially liked the "Do Not Swim" sign.
Just a grouchy old pumpkin man.
And the very short but also completely free maze that we attempted to get lost in.
Almost ready to pick our pumpkins and go.
Just as soon as we agree on a wheelbarrow.
What a fun day!

Orange and Black Day

I just had to quickly post a cute shot of my kids on orange-and-black day. Unlike when I was a kid, they are no longer allowed to have Halloween parties and wear Halloween costumes to school. So I guess this is the next best thing.

The fun part is that James actually dressed Brooks on this day, and made sure his little brother was also sporting black and orange.

City in the Clouds

Kevin was in a meeting a couple of months ago in the tallest building (Columbia Towers, I think) in downtown Seattle ... Incidentally it was a meeting on "cloud" computing. :-)
[The picture below shows Qwest Field and right behind it, Safeco Field.]

He was snapping some pictures of the city view ...

[The back-center of this next image shows the Seattle Space Needle (as labeled). The building to the left of the Space Needle (also labeled) you'll want to remember.] It was already a cloudy day (cloudy in Seattle? Shocking, I know), and within moments a thick blanket of clouds floated in and the entire city just disappeared ...

Except for this ..

There's no doubt that the most poignant beauty in this earth is usually the result of simple acts of nature. But how cool to be there at the moment it all happens.

This image in particular could lend itself to several inspiring analogies. I kind of like the idea that in the chaos of city life--or just life for that matter--there is peace to be found. We just have to set our sights a little higher and then let God do His work.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Birthday Girl

The big day this year for our school-going, scooter-riding, book-reading, and boy-surviving six-year-old was full of hearts (heart-shaped pizza, heart-shaped cake), creative thinking (see Porter's gift to her below), and lots of funny faces ... primarily from the birthday girl herself.

Mae is a such a little peach. She is sparkly and fun and often thinking of things she can do and make for others. So, it was fun to do something special for her ...

Heart-shaped cake. Heart-shaped pizza ... I really don't think the whole heart theme was intentional.What a cute little girl sandwich. Brooks certainly loves a good party. And he always seems to be hanging out near the gifts. Hmmm. We love our Grandma Loo!

Nice mouth, Porter ... courtesy of Aunt Peggy ... and awesome Skee Ball game, Mae. What a cool brother to make that for you! Funny face part 1. Funny face part 2.

Ahh. What a happy birthday girl.
Funny face part 3. And those are some seriously cute pink boots, if I do say so myself.
More funny faces ... apparently it runs in the family.
Oh, yeah. And I almost forgot about the Build-a-Bear birthday excursion with Mae, her cousin Gracie, myself and of course, Baby Joseph.

Sleeping away at the mall.
Cute cousins!
Nice fluffing, girls.
Very nice posing too!
Thanks for being you, Mae. You really do bring a lot of sparkly personality into the very male-dominated Dueck home! Love you.

Mt. Si Outing

Kevin and I both love to hike. There's just something great about the physical challenge of hefting your way up an unruly mountainside. The fun part, though, is watching our kids develop a love for it as well. Or who knows, maybe they're just tolerating our insanity. But, they do seem to enjoy it. The best part is that it gets them away from the TV, computer, and multiple gaming systems that are constantly trying to lure them in, and they are finally able to push their physical limits a little bit and see what these amazing bodies we've been given are actually capable of.

Recently Kevin took James and Porter up to Mt. Si, a very popular trail in this area that is around 8 miles round trip, with an elevation change of about 3700 feet. It was one of the more strenuous hikes the boys had been on and they certainly came home tired, but they had a great time spending the day sweating it out with Dad.

Here's a shot of the peak in the distance. And another shot showing the comparison between Little Si (which they had been on previously) and the actual Mt. Si.
Here they are at the trail head nice and fresh, already having found a cool walking stick--definitely one of the highlights of hiking for seven- and nine-year-old boys.
Just taking a little break.
Still looking energetic. Oh, and you've gotta love James' collared shirt .. looks like he's ready to head to school (even the top button is nicely secured;).
Maybe starting to wear out a little. Notice the flushed cheeks.
Oh, but it's all worth it when the end finally comes into sight, and a great view doesn't hurt either.
My incredible little men. Gets a little cold when you're up so high, especially once the heat of the hike wears off and the sweat sets in.
I don't know how it got up there, but apparently the end of this trail is also the resting place of a young hiker (or at least I would assume as much considering the location).
Kevin and I really are not photographers in any sense of the word, but I thought he caught a really beautiful picture with this one.
What a good dad!
Ready to head home, almost ....
Right after a quick stop, that is, at Mickey D's.
Great job, boys. I sure am proud of you both!

Kevin B-day 2010

Gray hairs, torn muscles, cracking knees. What do all these things have in common? They are all topics that my dear, sweet, husband frequently refers to now that he is a whopping 34 years old. Don't let him fool you, though, he is actually quite the spring chicken ... hiking up a storm on his favorite trails, running for miles at a local track, coaching the boys' energetic basketball team. I hear, after sitting out last season (admittedly with a torn hamstring), he may even be signing up for church ball this year. Who knows? We have yet to see. One thing's for sure, though, for this loyal husband and devoted father of five extremely adorable children (not that I'm biased), year 34 is going to be a great one. Happy 34th birthday!

Better hurry and open your presents, Kev, before Brooks beats you to them! Fly-tying kit. How cool is that!
Coolest dad in the world.
I think the five fingers represent how excited he already is for next year's 35th b-day.
You sure you can blow out ALL those candles alone, Hon? Ohhhh, So sweet. Did I happen to mention what an incredible father he is.
You really are amazing, sweetie. Hope this next year is the best one yet!