Graduation, Father’s Day, and a Birthday!!!

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This was such an amazing weekend. I feel so lucky and happy to have such a great family, both of choice and of origin. The last time my sister visited, we still lived in Centralia, and she was pretty sick (and lethargic) with some infection she caught at our sister’s in the days before she came to our house. My dad visits about once a year, but it’s usually only for a few hours — not a few days, as a houseguest. So I wasn’t quite sure if we’d clash or have a great time, but it ended up being AWESOME. It started out great and just got better from there. Seriously, I love my family so much.

Thursday | Arrival

My kid sister, Bex, arrived on Thursday morning. John, Kidling, Bex, and I spent the day bopping around Seattle. We went to the Pike Place Market and shared a strawberries and creme crepe at Crepe de France.

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We spent some time wandering the waterfront and popped in at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop to gawk at the mummies and buy some knick-knacks. I bought a cool new wallet for me and a neat sculpture made out of recycled gears and metal for John’s Father’s Day gift. Oh, we also bought him some novelty candy. And I bought Kidling one of those extendable gripping hands, but this one is covered in fur and looks like a monkey hand.

Family fun in Seattle

Family fun in Seattle

We were waiting for dad before going to dinner, but his flight was super delayed. After the obligatory Space Needle pictures, we headed out for dinner at the Genghis Khan Mongolian Grill — one of our favorite restaurants, and one we try to take everyone who visits us to at least once. Dad’s flight arrived as we were finishing up our meal, and we all met up at the house to settle in the houseguests and play a quick game of Catan (Bex won). For the next few days/ nights, Bex and Kidling camped out in the living room while dad took Kidling’s bed.

Obligatory Space Needle picture.

Obligatory Space Needle picture.

Friday | Graduation

On Friday, we had two graduation ceremonies. From 9-10 a.m., Kidling’s 6th grade class had a cute little graduation thingy jigger, where they walked across this stage and received certificates of completion. I don’t remember them doing that when I was in 6th grade, but it was adorable.

6th grade graduation, 2014

6th grade graduation, 2014

That afternoon, I walked in the 2014 Evergreen Graduation Ceremony. Officially, I graduate in summer 2014 (when I get my last 3 credits), but summer graduates walk in the spring. It was … not what I expected, to be honest.

I’ve been to a few graduations. High school, one or two at BYU, and my Centralia College graduation. Usually they’re super formal and somewhat boring affairs. I don’t know that I would ever use the term “fun” to describe a graduation before last Friday, but it’s the best word I can think of for that particular ceremony.

People were wearing crazy hats and outfits. One woman walked across the stage in full medieval regalia. Another guy danced across in a Rocky-style boxing outfit. A bunch of people had basket-woven mortarboards. Our commencement speaker, Winona LaDuke, urged us to take care of the environment, start a non-profit, fight corporations, and that if we get arrested, to do so for a good cause. There was fun music playing during the processional and people dancing in their seats.

It was outdoors, so the audience was seated not only in the folding chairs set up on the redsquare, but on the grassy areas and on the steps of the clocktower and even perched in trees. People whistled and shouted in approval during the speeches and as graduates accepted their certificates. In general, there was an air of celebration and joy instead of pomp and circumstance. It was awesome.

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Plus, because it’s so informal, it’s apparently not uncommon for parents to walk across the stage with their kids. So Kidling walked with me in the processional and accompanied me across the stage. It was really cool. When we sat down, the Greener Grad to my right said, “Hey, little man. Are you graduating today?” — and Kidling beamed so bright it seemed like he lit up the entire square. It was great.

He joked in reply, “Yeah, I’ve been going here for 5 years! They thought I was too dumb, but I fooled them — I screwed I lightbulb into my head!” The guy laughed, which made Kidling even happier.

He fell asleep in my lap during the commencement speeches, but woke up in time for the awarding of the degrees. As we made our way to the stage, one of the professors asked, “Future Greener here?” and Kidling nodded excitedly and said, “I’m going into robotics!” He has it all planned out. The faculty probably didn’t realize he is in no way messing around with this — he’s already signed up for an intro to robotics course in 7th grade.

Kidling crossing the stage and waving his monkey arm.

Kidling crossing the stage and waving his monkey arm.

Afterward, we took some graduation pictures, then went out to sushi at my favorite restaurant. Then we headed back to the house to relax and veg for a bit before leaving for a potluck/ BBQ held by one of my professors.

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My friends Mishka and Ari joined us for that little shindig, so I had the happy opportunity to introduce my dad and sister not only to my favorite professors and some of my awesome classmates, but also to introduce them to some of my closest friends and their cute little baby girl. Unfortunately, this means that dad, Bex, Ari, and Mishka colluded in dire plots, and decided that I need to write a screenplay about our experience with the scammy employer that was sued by the AGO. I tried to explain that I don’t write screenplays, but was pooh-poohed.

Clearly, I’m tickled pink about this.

Saturday | Outdoor Day

On Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t get many pictures. I mean, I did, but they’re all on the waterproof camera … my phone was pretty dead, and I kept forgetting to charge it.

On Saturday, my dad took the ferry to Anderson Island to set up a “For Sale” sign on his land out there, and the rest of us went crabbing in the Puget Sound. Well, John and I went crabbing — Bex and Kidling paddled an inflatable boat around. We showed Bex anemones, sanddollars, and various types of crab as she paddled around in the Sound.

John and I wore full-chest waders and walked up and down the shore with nets, looking for crab. Dip-netting is an unusual method (we always used traps in the past), but we’ve found it to be more interesting and better exercise. Bex has apparently never had real crab before, so we were delighted with our good luck when we caught 8 rocks (4 each for John and I) and one dungeness — but what a dungie! I think John said it was a little over 8″ across and 3.5 lbs. Yum!

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After we caught the dungeness, we packed up our gear, hiked back up the trail and went home to boil up the crab. John was taught this method of killing the crab before boiling, which makes everything so much easier — the guts are scooped out prior to cooking (making picking it easier), the crab fits better in the pot (allowing more to cook at a time), and it makes cleanup a breeze. So we were able to boil everything up and put it in the fridge in fairly short order, and left within the hour to eat out.

Ronelle requested that I remove all images of my nephew spending time with his family.

Dinner with the family.

Dad even managed to finagle a supervised visit with the nephew of an estranged family member–a pleasant, if emotionally jarring, addition to the afternoon.

Ronelle requested all images of my nephew be removed from my blog.

Rare cousin time.

Kidling and his cousin used to be close, but due to circumstances outside of their control, an (unwanted, on my part) estrangement between their parents has affected the children, so they no longer have a relationship.

I actually prefer to avoid the rare interactions/ visits like this one. The boys enjoy them too much and immediately begin laying plans for more visits, unaware it’s not in the cards. I also find myself tongue-tied and stumbling when trying to speak to my nephew– not wanting to estrange his parents further by addressing their dishonesty about why he can’t visit, but not wanting to lie when he asks why I won’t let him visit.

So I awkwardly tell him the truth, or part of it: That he’s always welcome in my home, and I would love for him to come by anytime he likes, no matter what. No matter how old he is. I know when he goes home, he’ll be told– again– that we won’t allow him over, and that breaks my heart, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

edit/ Not my choice, for either estrangement–the adult one, or the unfortunate fallout on the children. I’m of the opinion its possible for adults to disagree without using children as pawns, and I also think kids can be friends without the parents needing to be besties.

Sunday | Father’s Day

At this point, our houseguests have been here for 3 days and 3 nights. I don’t care how much you love one another, that starts getting a little close for comfort. So I think everyone enjoyed the break brought on by 3 hours of church. Bex and Dad headed out to the home ward to meet and greet all those families we’d grown up with, while the rest of us stayed home. Kidling and I gave John his Fathers Day cards and gifts while Bex and Dad were at church.

It's a reclaimed metal sculpture of the xenomorph from Aliens, John's favorite movie series.

It’s a reclaimed metal sculpture of the xenomorph from Aliens, John’s favorite movie series.

Then we just kind of vegged and futzed about on the internet. Also, I vacuumed and baked some bread. When dad and Bex got home, I gave dad his Father’s Day gifts (a book of humorous legal poetry from me, and a tie from his wife), and then we played a game of Catan and ate fresh homemade bread from the oven. After I won the game, we all headed out to the Falls for a nice Sunday walk.

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We wrapped up the day with some froyo from LimeBerry, and turned in around midnight with plans for another busy day on Monday.

Monday | John’s Birthday

If I’m honest, I was a little concerned about the ability of our houseguests to keep to a schedule. Actually, this weekend was kind of enlightening in that regard — my dad has been consistently late for pretty much everything my entire life. Church, graduations, weddings, mom’s funeral … dad’s always late. I’ve actually developed something of a kneejerk aversion toward lateness, and I do everything in my power to arrive early or (at the very least) notify my hosts if I will be late.

Anyway, I never really thought about why my dad is late. If I considered it at all, I assumed that he was just disorganized, or maybe that he himself placed so little value on arriving on time that he assumed everyone else didn’t care about punctuality either. This weekend, I learned what it is:

My dad is really bad at judging how long it takes to get somewhere.

Yup. That’s it. He just really sucks at judging the time frame. I’m not just talking about the driving time (which he consistently underestimates by about 5 minutes), but all the other little things. For example, he doesn’t allow time for bad traffic, or stopping for gas/ food. When picking someone up, he doesn’t account for the time spent on social niceties like front-door chit-chat. It’s not that my dad is selfish or doesn’t care about being late (he actually became quite agitated when he thought he wouldn’t have enough time to get through airport security), it’s that he just doesn’t judge the time very well. I don’t know why.

Apparently I’m not the only one who has developed a bit of a neuroses about time as a result of dad’s endemic lateness, though. So with John, Bex, and I keeping track of time frames and schedules the entire weekend ran neatly within the time frames we plotted out, and allowed us plenty of free time in between entertainments for relaxation and conversation. We left on time every single morning, which just made the entire visit so smooth and stress-free.

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Monday was John’s birthday. Dad gave him a card and a gift (a multi-tool for his upcoming motorcycle trip), and the gift from Kidling and me is in the mail (to be delivered tomorrow). Bex has never been to the Tacoma Museum of Glass, so we went there first. They had some pretty cool exhibits, including a fun interactive one with light-up letters. I had fun spelling out Happy Bday for John.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

When we were done, we went to the Japanese Garden and Rose Gardens over by the zoo. We used to go there all the time when I was a kid. I remember on gloomy days, my mom used to strap us all in the car and say, “Let’s go look for the sun!” … we always seemed to end up there. I told John that story when we were dating, and ever since, he packs us into the car on bad days so we can search out the sun. We usually wander a bit further afield than Tacoma, though.

All in all, this was an awesome weekend with some of the most awesome people in my life. I’m so happy that my dad and sister came out for my graduation, and that my husband was able to take vacation and spend this whole weekend with us, and that my son was able to join me when I walked across the stage to accept my “degree.” I’m so glad I was able to spend father’s day with the two most important dads in my life — my husband (father of my child), and my dad.

I can’t even find the words to really explain how great this whole weekend was. It was absolutely perfect, and I feel like I need to do something big and amazing to show John and Kidling how much it meant to me. I mean, Kidling gave up his bed for our houseguests, John pretty much forfeited his birthday celebration, and we all tried to stop swearing for the weekend (with some amusing missteps). Plus, we’re a bunch of homebodies who rarely invite people over, and we had houseguests over for four nights. But everyone was patient and understanding and we all had a great time. I LOVE MY FAMILY!!!!

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