Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trying on Seattle

This weekend, I took The Boy with me on an extended Mama-Son date to Seattle. The purpose of the trip was to watch my brother, Uncle Chris, graduate from B-School at UW, but we also did some touristy things (Pike Place Market, the ferry to Bainbridge, the Museum of Flight, Seattle Center [where the space needle is located]), ate out, and shopped a bit. And, of course, visited with my sister-in-law, parents, and my friend Cranky. It was a good trip/visit.

Whenever I visit a new city, or re-visit one that is not one I call home, it always seems to be on-approval. I find myself evaluating the whole time: Could I live here? Would I want to? I've been there a handful of times and I'm still not sure about Seattle. Part of me thinks that I could live there, but then I don't want to leave Chicago. And that gets me every time. As far as visiting goes, however, it's a nice place.

Uncle Chris and Grandma and Grandpa Texas picked us up at the airport on Friday morning. We went straight to the Museum of Flight, where The Boy and I went straight to the cafe for lunch (early by Seattle time, but we were hungry!). We explored the museum for quite awhile -- I think Grandpa Texas, a current engineer and former Navy man, enjoyed it more than The Boy did -- until travel/jet lag hit me hard and my body demanded that I nap. Uncle Chris took The Boy to the playground in Fremont while I took a giant nap. After that, I felt much better.

When Aunt J. got home from work, Uncle Chris took us all out to dinner at a Thai place, Jai Thai, in Fremont. We got everything family-style, but the Swimming Ra dish (sliced chicken on sauteed spinach, with peanut sauce) was especially good. The Boy ate a plateful of rice vermicelli noodles -- he even tried them with soy sauce this time! -- and nearly passed out in my lap. He rallied for gelato at a nearby establishment, and even walked most of the way back up to my brother's place. We stopped to visit the troll under the bridge as well.

On Saturday, we visited the Pike Place Market. My favorite part of the market is the Daily Dozen mini-donut and coffee stand. The Boy and I split a dozen mini frosted donuts. (We went back again on Sunday and got 1/2 dozen, of which I ate two and we brought the rest home for the troops, and a short latte for me [good foam].) Then we headed to Ballard to meet everyone for brunch. As Aunt J. pulled into a parking spot near the restaurant, a Thrift Shop was in front of us, so of course I had to stop in! I let The Boy get a Batmobile, which he played with for the rest of the trip.

Brunch was at Volterra, a new-Italian restaurant that has won a bunch of awards. I had the avocado-tomato-cheese omelette with hash browns and toast. Really though, I was so full from the donuts that I managed to eat only the eggs. Afterward, we wandered around the main drag in Ballard looking for Knitters' Circle, which Cranky had recommended. Along the way, I managed to find a shoe store and bought myself a pair of J-41s, my one splurge of the weekend.

On Sunday, we all took the ferry to Bainbridge Island, but The Boy and I left my parents and Uncle Chris & Aunt J. behind there and returned on the ferry to meet my friend Cranky. Despite our attempts to amuse him, The Boy was by this time quite in need of interaction with other kids. As we disembarked from the ferry, The Boy asked if Seattle had any museums. I suggested asking the throngs of kids leaving the pier bound for the Mariners game, but The Boy declined. Instead, we asked Cranky, a native Washingtonian, longtime Seattle resident, and local PBS-affiliate employee, for suggestions. She knew where to go: the Children's Museum at Seattle Center. We walked a bit and then hopped a bus (a curious thing -- you pay only as you exit; there is a free-zone around downtown) to Seattle Center, stopping within the complex to let The Boy run through the foundation sculpture. He was soaked and shivering (but happy) at the end; there is no way you could have gotten me to run through a fountain in 70-degree temps, even with the sun.

The Boy really enjoyed the Children's Museum, and later running around with some little kids at the food court auto zone. I think he just needed some kid time. We spent most of our museum time playing with the balls in "Cog City," while Cranky and I caught up. Aunt J. picked us up afterward and took us to Bothell for a barbeque.

For the most part, The Boy behaved beautifully, despite a time difference, staying up way too late, and being stuck in the company of 5 (and sometimes 7) adults. He rocked Uncle Chris's graduation ceremony, sitting mostly still for the 8 speeches, awards, and presentation of the candidates that comprised the 2+ hour ceremony. At the start of the ceremony, they asked the audience to silence cell phones, pagers, and children (as if they have a power-off button!?!) and despite this preemptive admonishment, a fair number of graduates had young family members present (and loudly unhappy), so it became a running joke among the speakers of the evening. But they had no cause for complaint about The Boy.

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