Author Archives: kiesa

Carkeek Park Playground, Seattle, WA

A couple of weeks ago Jaeger and I took the kids to Carkeek Park. From a playground perspective, the highlight of the park is definitely the Salmon slide.
Julian sitting in the mouth of the Salmon slide.

Jaeger has been talking about the Salmon slide at Carkeek Park every since he saw it on a walk. However, the kids and I haven’t made it there till now. It’s in a wooded section so it’s nice and shaded on hot days. An interpretive sign says the the Salmon slide, and surrounding other features, “represents the the interconnectedness of the lowland forest watershed environment that is home to many creatures in the Puget Sound.” In addition to the Salmon slide, it also has a pretend tidepools
Pretend tide pool.
as well as caves.
Julian holding sticks coming out of a concrete cave.
Another concrete cave.

There is also traditional playground equipment. It’s not as unique as the Salmon Slide but the kids still enjoyed climbing around on it.
Traditional 5-12 year old playground equipment.

Both of our kids loved the large teeter-totter.
Calvin on the middle of a teeter-totter.

On the west side of the park there is a piano-inspired crosswalk that then leads to a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks. The bridge is a great spot to watch for trains.
piano_crossing_walk_sm

From there, families can walk down to the beach.
View of beach from pedestrian bridge.
After playing on the beach for a bit we ended the day by taking a walk on the paths to get to Piper’s Orchard.

While this park doesn’t have the largest playground equipment around, it has so many other things that it’s easy to spend the whole day entertaining the kids.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, large teeter-totter (seats 4), double slide, corkscrew climber, spiral slide, steering wheel, chain net ladder, spring rider, concrete tidepools, concrete caves, concrete Salmon slide, swings, wooded paths
Surface Material Wood chips (traditional playground), poured rubber and dirt (nature playground)
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade The nature themed playground is shaded from the trees. The traditional playground doesn’t have much shade.
Picnic area Yes, lots of picnic tables close to traditional playground structure.
Parking Several parking lots. However, I suspect parking can be hard to find on nice days.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Unique playground.
  • Lots of additional things nearby: grassy field, watching trains, beach, orchard, paths.
Cons
  • Really busy on nice days.


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Luuwit View Park, Portland, OR

For Memorial Weekend Jaeger went to run the Bolder Boulder in Colorado so I decided it was another good chance to visit Grandma in Portland. We went down Saturday and checked in to the hotel. When booking, I made sure to get one with a pool so after checking in I let the kids play in the pool for a bit. Then we went to Grandma’s house for supper. On Sunday, the kids had more pool time before we met Grandma and my Aunt for lunch. After lunch I looked around for a nearby park because I thought the kids needed outside time and it was a beautiful day. This led us to Luuwit View Park.

The park is pretty impressive. It’s wide open and spread out. On the west side of the park there is a sculpture mound that culminates in the “Bird” sculpture by Mauricio Robalino.

Bird sculpture by Mauricio Robalino.

In the middle there’s amphitheater seating facing a large shelter as well as a large field. When we were there the shelter had picnic tables in it but it also looked like it could be set up for performances.

Large shelter with amphitheater seating.

The east side of the park contains the play areas1. There are three main play area. The first is for smaller kids, probably preschool age. The equipment looks a little advanced for toddlers, though I did see toddlers wandering around gleefully grabbing on to the bottom parts of the equipment. In the middle was a medium sized net orb for kids to climb on.

Julian climbing on the medium-sized net orb.

To one side was a rubber lined hill that included a double slide.

Julian and Calvin slide down a double slide.

There’s also a mini-merry-go-round. It looks like it could comfortable fit two, maybe three, but while we were there at least five teenagers somehow managed to climb on at once.

Julian on the mini merry-go-round.

This area also had a little spinner.

Calvin spinning.

Along the path to the next play area there were several musical installments. One was a very large set of vertical chimes kids could bang on. There were also two other installments, one was like a xylophone and the other smaller chimes.

Calvin bangs on a set of vertical chimes.

The next play area had a larger net orb that was surrounded by a sloped rubber wall. I expected Calvin would love this, as he always navigates to net climbing. However, he didn’t spend as much time here as I expected. It could have been because he wanted to go back to the hotel for more swimming.

The larger climbing orb.

Julian did enjoy climbing up and down the surrounding wall.

Julian stands on top of a rubber hill.

I think the highlight of the play area was a sand pit that looks like it has a water feature in summer. Julian enjoyed the sand as is but I bet it’s glorious when the water is turned on.

Julian playing in the sand pit.

The sand pit was surrounded by a small shaded arbor tunnel. It looked the perfect size for preschoolers and toddlers to run through. However, it also provided a little shade to adults if they wanted to sit down in the path.

Julian exiting the arbor tunnel.

The park design also says there’s a water feature in the area. However, it probably wasn’t turned on while we were there and I completely missed it.

This park was fun to visit and does have lovely views. My only caveat is it’s hard to see multiple play areas at once so if you have multiple small kids it may be hard to keep track of them with only one parent.

Summary:

Features Double slide, medium-sized net climbing orb, toddler swings, larger net climbing orb, mini merry-go-round, spinner cup, rubber climbing hill, sand pit, water feature (in summer?), tall vertical chimes, outdoor xylophone, chimes, tunnel arbor.
Surface Material Rubber and fake grass.
Restrooms Yes, multiple family restrooms.
Water fountain Yes
Shade Not much shade. There are trees but they are very young. There is a shelter in the middle of the park.
Picnic area Yes.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Big spread out park.
  • Sand pit looks like it will be lots of fun in summer.
  • Sturdy looking musical chimes.
Cons
  • Hard to supervise multiple play areas at the same time.


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  1. It turns out there is also a north east section which I didn’t notice while there that contains (or will contain) a teen area, basketball courts, picnic area, and community garden.

Discovery Park Playground, Seattle, WA

A couple weeks ago the kids and I finally ventured over to Discovery Park. The playground at Discovery Park is pretty new. According to this ParentMap article it was installed at the end of 2017. It’s a really nice playground that has something for everyone.
View of large and small play structures
We parked in the Visitor Center East Parking Lot and then walked down the path on the east side of the visitor’s center to get to the playground. The playground is lovely and is surrounded by large trees. In fact, one of the critiques in the ParentMap article is that there’s so much shade that you may need extra layers in the cooler and wetter months as well as towels to dry off the slides.

In addition to nice, but fairly traditional, play structures the playground also had a lot of climbing options.
Rope bridge and stacked climbing disks.
Julian particularly loved climbing up the stacked climbing disks.
Julian on the climbing disc.
Though he also enjoyed the rope bridge.
Julian on net bridge.
Calvin’s favorite activity was definitely the zip line.
Calvin on the zip line
They had some interesting wooden half arch bridges that Julian enjoyed scrambling over.
Julian scrambling over half arch  wooden bridge.
The large play structure was very tall. At the top it has a window that kids can look through.
Julian looking down from the top level of play structure.
The structure also had a lot of different panels that the kids could play with.
Julian looking through gears panel.
Overall, it’s a great playground and definitely worth visiting again, particularly on a hot day when one wants shade.

Summary:

Features 2-5 playground equipment, 5-12 playground equipment, tall slide, infant swing (2), regular swing (1), swing with back (1), net bridge, double Bobble Rider (mini seesaw), bongo drum panel, small wooden ladder, curved rope climber, spinner, double slide, small curved slide, marble panel, gear panel, rain sound wheel panel, ring-a-bell panel, SwiggleKnots™ Bridge, small fake rocks to climb, Disc Net™ Climber, steering wheel panel, half moon arch
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes, but not close. There’s a porta potty halfway between the playground and the visitor’s center.
Water fountain No
Shade Lots of tall trees surrounding the playground. May still get sun when it’s directly overhead.
Picnic area Yes, several picnic tables close to playground structure.
Parking Parking at visitor’s center. Might be crowded on nice days and weekends.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Big playground with lots of things for every age.
  • A lot of climbing options.
Cons
  • Restrooms too far for kids in the middle of potty training.


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Westmoreland Park Nature Play, Portland, OR

A couple of weeks ago we decided to go down to Portland to visit my grandmother. We decided to stay at a hotel downtown near OMSI1. I was delight to discover that our Pacific Science Center membership included a reciprocal agreement with OMSI, along with other science center/museums, for free general admission. We all went our first day. However, on our second day Calvin wanted to go back but Julian wanted to go to a playground instead. Several years ago my mom sent me an article about a trend toward natural playgrounds in Portland. I had been wanting to visit one for years but the timing was never convenient. However, Julian’s wish to go to a playground seemed like a good time to try one out.
Natural Playground with slide, rock towers, and logs.
Julian and I hopped into the car and, trusting Google maps, successfully found the Westmoreland park. There didn’t seem to be a parking lot but street parking was adequate, at least for a drizzly day2. The first thing we saw was a grassy area with a bunch of picnic tables.
picnic tables
From the picnic area we crossed a bridge to get to the play area.
Bridge between picnic area and playground.

View from bridge

View from the bridge.


Julian immediately headed for a group of logs installed horizontal to the ground.
Julian crawling on logs.
He was so proud when he was able to stand up and walk on them.
Julian walking on the log.
These logs led to a tower of rocks for kids to climb.
Julian climbing rocks.
There were a variety of other wood climbing options but they were too big for Julian. I think Calvin would have enjoyed them if he had been there.
Wood climbing tower.
Another wood climbing option.
They also had some logs propped against a small hill. Julian seemed to enjoy climbing them but they didn’t keep his attention as much as the horizontal logs did.
Julian climbing up logs.

There was also a sand area which Julian enjoyed.
Sand pit with toys and stumps.
It looks like in summer there may be an option to play with water in the sand which would be fantastic.
Water Spouts.

Overall, it was a fun playground and a lovely park to visit. However, I’m not convinced the “natural” play area has any innate advantage over the more traditional playground.

Summary:

Features Many climbing opportunities on logs, stumps, and stone, small slide, sand area, water area (I think) in summer.
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Lovely mature trees that look like they might provide a nice amount of shade.
Picnic area Yes, though main picnic area isn’t within site of the play area.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee None.
Pros
  • Natural aesthetic makes for a nice change.
  • Large sand area
Cons
  • Not much for really small kids.


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  1. Still my favorite science museum.
  2. Contrary to what the pictures show, the park had a lot of people in it. I was just trying to avoid taking pictures of other people. This is one reason I haven’t done a post about Gas Works Playground yet. It’s always mobbed and impossible to avoid pictures of other children.

North Transfer Center Playground, Seattle, WA

One of the things I like about our current house is we live within walking distance of three playgrounds. The North Transfer Station playground recently re-opened1. It’s nature themed so Julian refers to it as the “tree playground”.
Main playground equipment
The main play structure looks like a tree fort. Complete with little critters hiding in the tree.
Raccoon peaking from tree trunk.
Julian enjoyed walking up and down the climbing logs.
Climbing logs up play equipment.
There were also fake tree stumps dividing the main play structure from the climbing net. The stumps were handy for the parents to sit on.
Tree stumps.
The logs were fun to balance on.
Logs to balance on.

Across the road, on the transfer station side, there’s a variety of equipment for stretching and some strength exercises. Technically, they’re not for kids but Julian enjoyed them anyway.
Pull up bar.

Balance Equipment
Sit up Equipment.

Overall, it’s a fun park and Julian has requested we visit several times since our initial visit.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, slide, log climber, ladder, Centipede Climber, talk tube, periscopes, net climber, logs to walk on
Exercise Equipment (on other side of the road) Springer, bench, stepper, pull-ups, sit-ups, stretch
Surface Material Mainly wood chips and some poured rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Not much.
Picnic area A couple of small picnic tables.
Parking Street parking.
Coffee About a block from The Essential Baking Company.
Pros
  • A nice basic playground.
Cons
  • No bathrooms.
  • Not much for really small kids.


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  1. It had been closed due to substandard initial work.

Webster Park, Seattle

Back in November Julian and I went to the Webster Park Playground which is near our rental house in Ballard. It’s right next door to the old Webster school1. I loved the bright colors of the playground equipment.
Brightly colored play structure.
This playground looks primarily designed for ages 5-122. There wasn’t a playground structure designed for 2-5 year-olds. However, they did have swings for both young and older kids. In addition, there was a sandbox with some community toys!
Sandbox with toys.
Julian particularly loved climbing on the net rope strung between two large climbing boulders.
Climbing net and rocks.
The playground is “interactive”. I didn’t try it, but there’s an app you can download from Biba to use with the playground.
Biba app sign with info on how to download the app to play with it in the playground.
The park also has a basketball court, grass lawn, and a sundial.
Sundial.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), telescope, drums, interactive Biba app, wheel panel, gears panel, rope ladder, tunnel, climber, double slide, curved slide, climbing rocks, rope net, number panel, sandbox, community sand toys
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms No
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. (Not sure if they would shade the play equipment in summer).
Picnic area No.
Parking Currently there’s a parking lot by the old school. That will disappear if the school opens with its current proposal.
Coffee No.
Pros
  • A variety of options for older kids.
  • Sandbox!
Cons
  • No bathrooms.


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  1. This use to house the Nordic Heritage Museum which recently moved to a new location.
  2. With the caveat that my kids start playing on the 5-12 equipment by 2 1/2 or before . . .

Update: Wallingford Playfield, Seattle

Update
I’m doomed. I just read on the Wallyhood blog that Wallingford Playfield’s playground is now closed. Given my past experience with construction projects I have no faith it will re-open before we move or my kids are too old to appreciate it1. That said, the proposed play structures do look very nice.

Original
Last 4th of July I was by myself because the kids were with Jaeger’s parents and Jaeger was still in San Francisco. I headed to Gas Works Park to view the festivities but it was a little crowded for my taste so I decided to wander around and see what houses were for sale. I like walking around neighborhoods because you see things that aren’t as obvious when driving. On my quest, I ended up walking through Wallingford Playfield and was delighted to see that it had a large wading pool.

We ended up buying a house within walking distance of Wallingford Playfield2 and, on one of our numerous visits to the house, the kids and I dropped by the playground.

plaground-structure2_small

Wallingford Playfield has a traditional-style playground. It has both a very nice structure for older kids as well as a smaller structure for younger kids.
Play structure for 2-5 year olds.

Julian enjoyed moving the rings back and forth on the smaller structure.
Three bars with rings that can be moved back and forth.

Calvin was excited to see that the playground has a traditional merry-go-round. It also has a traditional tire swing.
merry-go-round picture

Julian loved the digger. Unlike most playground diggers, this one isn’t in a sandbox. It’s just digging the surrounding dirt/mud. Julian also loved climbing the rocks that surrounded the play area.
Julian using the digger to dig mud.

The wading pool had been drained for the season but I’m looking forward to taking the kids there next summer.
wading-pool_small

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), tire swing, 2-5 year-old play structure, merry-go-round, digger, rocks, trees, large half-circle climbing structure, circular monkey bars, seasonal wading pool, climbing wall, curved slide, tunnel slide, ladder, fireman pole, tunnel, chain net, steering wheel panel, corkscrew climber, simplified abacus panel, small curved slide, bridge, double slide, tennis courts, soccer fields
Surface Material Mostly wood chips. Parts are surrounded by poured rubber
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. The larger structure has a roof on some sections and underneath is fairly shady.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Street Parking
Coffee No.
Pros
  • Nicely balanced play structures. Something for every age.
  • Has both merry-go-round and tire swing
Cons
  • No coffee.


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  1. Right before we moved to San Francisco the Balboa Park Pool closed for renovation and is still closed.
  2. Jaeger claims I think everything is within walking distance, which is somewhat true. However, this is also within walking distance for Julian.

Taking a Break

The beginning of last week was a bit much for me. I woke up exhausted Monday and the day didn’t get better. I stayed awake just long enough to shepherd Calvin to bed and then went to bed myself. Tuesday morning didn’t start much better. I emailed Jaeger and told him I wanted to go off by myself that weekend. Then, I realized I had scheduled Willow’s vet appointment for the weekend which initially derailed my plans until Jaeger offered to take both the kids and Willow to the vets office. I was ecstatic.

I didn’t have a plan when I emailed Jaeger, I just needed to be by myself. I would have preferred to stay home and have everyone else leave. My favorite vacation in recent memory was when Jaeger took Calvin to New York City. However, I didn’t feel like I could kick everyone else out on a whim.

After considering several scenarios, I settled on renting an Airbnb in Edmonds, which is about 30 minutes north of Seattle. The Thursday before I left I got groceries delivered. It topped up the basics for Jaeger and the kids. However, I also ordered prepackaged meals to take on my vacation so I wouldn’t have to leave the Airbnb if I didn’t want to. Friday, I came home, made supper, ate, and then put Julian to bed. Then, I was off on my adventure.

The adventure did not start auspiciously as I had to jump start the van in the dark. Jump starting the van is actually not very hard, we have a portable battery to do that. However, getting the van’s hood open is an art form. It involves jamming the handle of a screwdriver in at just the right angle to force the catch to release. Eventually, the hood did concede and I was able to start the van. I piled my stuff in, started my new audiobook, and drove off. About one block away I remembered I had forgotten to put the screwdriver back in the van. Not wishing to be stranded in Edmonds with a car I couldn’t start, I circled around and picked up the screwdriver. Then, I was really off on my vacation.

It was a lovely drive. I left late enough there wasn’t a significant amount of traffic to worry about. It was raining as I pulled into the driveway. The place I had rented was a loft attached to a main house. My Airbnb host met me and made sure I was able to get in ok and then left. It was so quiet. The loft was really cute. I puttered around and arranged my stuff. Then, I watched an episode of The Doctor Blake Mysteries before going to sleep.

I woke up around 7:30 on Saturday, reveled in not having to do anything, and went back to sleep for an hour. I eventually got up, made breakfast, and showered while contemplating my day. The Airbnb I picked was not close to downtown Edmonds. I was loathe to exert myself enough to drive anywhere so eventually decided I would take the bus into town. To be clear, the bus was not a remotely efficient way to get to downtown but since I was on vacation I decided I didn’t have to be efficient. I put on my raincoat, started up my audiobook, and took a 20 minute walk to the bus. The bus runs only once an hour so I got there about 20 minutes early. I spread my rain skirt on the grass, sat down, and continued enjoying my audiobook. It was very relaxing.

Eventually the bus showed up and, after a transfer, I successfully made it to the touristy downtown. I was amused to see that the downtown association had green communal umbrellas for shoppers. I wandered around and naturally ended up in a used bookstore. Among other things, I ended up with a physical copy of Home Comforts. It is one of my aspirational books I read when I want to pretend I have the time to perfectly organize my life.

The books were heavy and it was nearly lunchtime. I decided I had enough of people for the day so I took the bus back to the loft. The rest of the day I alternated between eating, reading, and watching movies. It was a glorious day.

Roxhill Park, Seattle

Ok . . . it’s been a while. So much stuff has happened and I didn’t have the time or energy to record most of it. However, I took my kids to Roxhill Park today1 and I got inspired to do another playground post. The last one was when Julian was a baby and we still lived in Boulder, CO.

We went to Roxhill Park on the recommendation of the Seattle Family Adventures book. It’s down in West Seattle so driving was the only practical way to get there for us. Google Maps took us to the southern side of the park. However, we did find both the playground and parking lot located near the northwest corner.

South side of playground with playground structures and swings.

Roxhill Park has two castle structures. One for ages 5-12 and one for 2-5. The smaller castle was cute and had a small double slide.

Small structure with double slide.

The structure for older kids was much bigger. Though, it also only had one slide.

5-12 Castle Playground Structure

While this playground does have things for smaller kids to do, it excels at climbing options for older kids. On the north side of the playground there is a large dome-like structure that has various types of climbing nets for kids to climb.

North side of playground. Shows the climbing options.

Then, there’s another structure that has plastic climbing holds to scramble up.
Structure with plastic climbing holds.

It also has more traditional playground equipment such as monkey bars and hanging rings. Julian particularly liked the balance poles.
Julian crossing the balance poles.

As I mentioned, the playground does have some things for smaller kids. In addition to the small play structure, there are also swings for all ages as well as a nice sand play area.

Summary:

Features 5-12 playground equipment, curved tunnel slide, corkscrew climber, money bars, bucket swings, regular swings, molded plastic seat swing (without straps), 2-5 year old play structure, small double slide, sand, small climbing wall with rope, rope climbing structures, other climbing structures, new-style merry-go-round (seats 4), balance poles, small bridges, fireman pole (attached to rope structure), rope ladder, skate park, ball fields
Surface Material Wood chips
Restrooms Yes
Water fountain Yes
Shade Leafy trees. Depending on the time of day, significant parts of the playground are in shade.
Picnic area Yes, multiple picnic tables.
Parking Parking lot.
Coffee2 Starbucks in nearby Target.
Pros
  • Really nice climbing options
  • Target (with embedded Starbucks) one street over. Convenient for emergency diaper pickups and coffee.
  • Sand play area.
Cons
  • Not as much stuff for little kids to do compared to other playgrounds.


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  1. Yes, we now live in a Seattle. Everyone is still a little surprised.
  2. This is a new category for Jaeger.

Reading in 2017

I have read more books this year than any past year in recent memory1. My long commute is a mixed blessing and the upside is definitely my evening reading time.

At my library we have two staff members who are known for reading voraciously. One of the adult librarians thought it would be fun to have a competition with the entire adult departmentment pitted against these two individuals2. To assure victory3, the librarian conscripted every librarian scheduled to sit on the reference desk for the adult team. I do one Sunday shift every 8 weeks and thus was considered eligible to join the adult librarian group. The competition started in April and goes till the end of the year. To count, a “book” must be at least 100 pages long.

I finished one last book today so it looks like I’m going to be at 66 books since April. It’ll be interesting to see what the final numbers for the two teams will be 4. Regardless, I’m happy with the number of books I managed.

I read a lot more novellas than usually which is one reason my numbers are so high. For some reason I’ve always had trouble getting into shorter fiction. The Hugo Awards contain many contegories and I always felt bad that I wasn’t well read enough to contribute to the shorter categories. I’m still lacking in the Best Novelette and Best Short Story categories. However, I’ve read 13 novella length stories5, published in 2017, which is significantly better than normal.

Here’s my favorite 2017 stories so far (in random order):

Novels

Novellas

For 2018 . . .
I stumbled across the website for the Sirens conference. It sounds really fun. I need to figure out logistics but am hoping I can make it there by myself, no kids attached. We’ll see. However, even if that doesn’t work out, I think I’m going to try their 2018 Reading Challege. In addition, I’ll be reading all the Hugo nominees for this coming year as well as trying to keep tabs on the 2018 interesting science fiction and fantasy. Hopefully 2018 will be another year full of good books6.

  1. Probably more than any year since I started working and certainly than any year since I had children.
  2. Contrary to certain stereotypes, not all librarians love to read. Librarianship is really more about information finding than reading skills.
  3. Because yes, there was definite doubt whether the entire department could read more than 2 people.
  4. For comparison, one of the librarians in the other team was at 264 books so victory is definitely not assured for the adult team.
  5. I think they’re novella length based on pages but I don’t know what the word count for each one is.
  6. And while we’re handing out wishes, let’s hope 2018 is a happier year for our country . . .