Monday, December 31, 2012

december continued

Other december fun included a visit to Santa

And decorating by far our biggest christmas tree. We have 15 foot ceilings in the living room, making 14'11" the ideal tree height according to the girls. John got a 10-11' gigantic tree which was a pretty imposing sight.

Not even John could reach the top of the tree from the ladder because the bottom of the tree was so wide. He needed some help to put on our fancy traditional tree topper (Winter Jack from Jack in the Box).

And before Christmas Kate and Erin had two dance performances: one at a Scottish Christmas concert in a large Scottish church nearby (I don't have any good photos from that), and below, the Christmas in the Park performance, on the main stage one evening. Erin is at center in royal blue and Kare is in the black vest and purple/white kilt at right in the first and last photos and at left in the middle one.

musical december

 December was a busy month. Having bigger kids with bigger activities meant more holiday-related commitments. At the beginning of the month on a particularly stormy, wet weekend, Erin's school band marched (or more precisely, loosely meandered) in a Christmas parade in a nearby town. As is typical, they needed to be there before the beginning of the parade even though they were positioned towards the end.

The twins and I found a warm and dry cafe to have breakfast in after we dropped Erin off and then waited and waited for her band to pass by. Despite the rain and the long wait, Kate enjoyed the parade. Allison, not so much.

 It was a fairly interesting Christmas parade, with a few high and middle bands, and even the Stanford band. Then there were the group of shirtless older men carrying unusually large zucchinis.

 Then finally Erin's group came, the only elementary school aged band in the parade. Because of the rain, the plan to have everyone wear jeans and a white shirt got scrapped and everyone could wear what they wanted in order to keep dry and warm, and they were given ponchos. Erin has the pink hood on, and her sax is under the poncho since woodwind instruments aren't supposed to get wet.

Mission accomplished. Remarkably, she had a great time.

About a week later Erin had another performance with her band at a local mall.

The group from above.

They played a variety of christmas songs and also some not so christmasy but still popular, like the Star Wars theme.


The first part of our big summer vacation was a morning flight to Seattle so we could spend the day sight-seeing and catch our cruise ship there the following morning. I don't know how much cousin Jacob knew about Seattle, but he knew about the Space Needle and definitely wanted to see it. We all bought some really over-priced tickets for the observation deck and waited in line to go up.

We had pretty typical Seattle weather for our day in town. It always looked like it could rain at any moment, but it never did.

Pretty views from up in the Needle, and free telescopes were fun for everyone. We looked into getting a dinner reservation in the revolving restaurant just one floor below the observation deck for that evening, but if the observation deck admission price was a little shocking, the restaurant prices were absolutely insane. We made arrangements to meet John's sister Sue and family downtown instead.
We spent quite a while up high, I mean, given the price of those tickets, we were going to stay. They did serve drinks and snacks up there and you could sit inside and get some shelter from the wind.

Back on the ground walked the surrounding plaza area and the kids posed in front of a colorful wall of a "rock music and movie" museum. We then walked inside the lobby to see what that was about, but it looked touristy and boring. We rode the monorail back downtown instead.

The last place we stopped before dinner was the Pike Street fish market. We wandered through the length of it and I told the kids there would be something cool to see there, but as we passed stall after stall of big smelly fish on ice, they doubted that more and more.

 Finally we reached the famous stall where the guys yell and throw the fish to each other, which I think they agreed was something different and it held their attention for a while but a few minutes after we arrived it was time for this stall and all of Pike's Market to close.

the last night

 One of the ways we spent time on board was in the many different games and games shows put on by the crew. Here Erin has to ask the audience yes/no questions to figure out which Disney character is written behind her.

On our last night and dinner on board we had numerous characters stop at our table, and then the waiter who had been with us every evening made creative hats out of our napkins. I bet Dora never got this treatment on her prvious cruises.


The ship was massive, did I mention that? John's mom is a veteran cruiser but had never been on a ship this big. There were 2000 guests, and 1000 crew members on board.

 In Skagway we had our first excursion, a railroad ride to take us high up into the mountains. It was a beautiful clear, sunny day which meant the views from up there were just great. Other weeks it rained and was foggy and people couldn't see beyond the trees next to the train, according to some of the staff.

 We briefly crossed into the Yukon of Canada.

In Juneau we took a helicopter to our very highly anticipated dog sledding excursion.
 My first time in a helicopter, such fun. That's the glacier we were headed to in the photo.
 We landed on Mendenhall Glacier and met the dog sledding camp leaders.
 About 100 dogs lived and trained here in summer. Some of these are Iditarod race sled dogs.
 The girls meeting some of our chosen crew. Those dogs were so excited. As the harnesses were fitted to them they jumped up and down and barked with excitement. They love pulling sleds.

 After they all got into place we were off.

 We'd sled for a while with a guide, and then stop to look around and pet the dogs before continuing.

 When we got back to the camp the kids got to meet some pups while we waited for our helicopter to return for us.

 All suited up for the copter ride back to Juneau.

Around town in Ketchikan

The Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC