A month or so ago we received an invitation in the mail from Madeline’s Liver Transplant team. The event, celebrating their 1000th transplant. The venue, a Seattle Mariners game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. The best part of the invite, the tickets were completely free. Our time with Maddie at this game was absolutely incredible and we want to commend the staff led by Captain Ross for truly making this an outstanding experience.
Sunday April 28th Maddie, Chad, and I headed to the game. We were able to find parking in the Mariner’s garage just across the street from the ball field and although the parking was $40, it was worth it to have the security of knowing our vehicle would be safe. We have to admit, some of the pay to park lots with hand written signs and aggressive parking attendants make them not seem all that inviting. After parking and walking across the street we headed to the Ellis Pavilion just north of home plate for the pre-game reception Seattle Children’s was holding. Not only was this event where you got your tickets and could eat some yummy hot dogs and popcorn but doctors, nurses, other transplant staff, patients, and their families were all there. We ran into one of Maddie’s transplant doctors, Dr. Horselin and got an awesome photo of Him and Maddie. We love that in this photo, she is looking right at him. This doctor has been a real champion for Maddie in regard to her liver failure. After wandering the ball room for several minutes and having a glass of lemonade, we headed into the park.
Having a medically complex child we always know at big events or venues, arriving early and making sure your seats are going to work is very important. Our seats were originally in section 112 but our row, 27 was only accessible through stairs. At the top of our section, however, was a space for people with wheelchairs to be able to wheel up to as well as fold down chairs for anyone who may be with them. While being under a nice shaded area seemed ok, this day was particularly windy, and the gust was right on top of us. We quickly realized we probably wouldn’t get trough 2 innings as Maddie had already started letting us know that she was not happy. We spoke up to the man checking people’s tickets in our section named Nat and asked if it was possible to move over one section so there was a little less wind. With no questions asked he looked at us and said, “I’m going to go get my supervisor, we will find you somewhere she likes.”
This was our first interaction with Captain Ross. As we approached him, he was greeting other workers with hugs and words of empowerment for the evening. He introduced himself and told us to follow him. He led us to just behind home plate into a section that was much less gusty. He introduced us to the new section person and said, “We’re going to take very good care of this family.” That is exactly what they did. From the young man working at the Kids Club desk who gave Maddie a little Mariner Moose Bag and lanyard with her Kids Club badge, to the wonderful woman at the first game certificate stand, even the service professionals, all went above and beyond to ensure we were comfortable and able to enjoy the game.
What we thought would be two innings turned into nine. Maddie was content most of the game and even was interacting with the game. Mama got a new ball cap, her first in many years, and little Maddie got her first pink spring training jacket. Captain Ross came to check on us a couple of times during the game and we made a point to find him before leaving to thank him for everything he did for us that day.
After thanking him and telling him a little bit about Maddie, why we were there that day, and why what he had done was so special, he also told us his story. We were completely blown away by the full life this man had led. He also told us that he worked for the Mariners because it was like family, because the level of inclusion, acceptance, and sense of teamwork was at a level you don’t see in this world. He also told us the man who originally helped us, had a grandchild being treated at Seattle Children’s. Our experience was so great, we grabbed a schedule and hope to be able to take Olivia and Maddie to a game later in the season.
People like Captain Ross are people you don’t see every day. Employers like the Seattle Mariners are really doing things right. From the janitorial staff, to food service, to ticketing there were such a vast array in their employees’ personalities and abilities.
All in all, this day was a complete blast and despite being a little chilly we made memories that will last a lifetime.
On a sunny, brisk Saturday afternoon, Chad, the girls, and I all headed down to the Pacific Science Center in downtown Seattle. Pacific Science Center is conveniently located in Seattle Center. For those non-Washingtonians, Seattle Center is an awesome area to just walk around. Not only is it home to the famous Space Needle, but, Experience Music Project, The Armory Building with the Seattle Children’s Museum, an incredible outdoor play park that often hosts local markets and of course, the Science Center are all within walking distance of each other.
After spending several hours in the car, we decided to grab a bite to eat before beginning our day. The first floor of the Armory Building is a food court and a perfect place for all member’s of the family to get exactly what they want, or if you have picky eaters, it can save you from a melt-down because the pizza place didn’t have French fries. We decided on a cute little fish and chips place called Quincy’s. Olivia ordered her usual grilled cheese and French fries, Chad enjoyed a piping hot bowl of thick home-made clam chowder, and I had their famous panko breaded Alaskan cod and chips.
After finishing up our meal we strolled across the park to the science center where we were happy to see absolutely no line for entry and after deciding which laser show we wanted to go see, we decided on laser Queen, getting our dinosaur re-entry stamps we headed inside the first building.
Inside the first building we checked out the dinosaur exhibit first. This is a super cool exhibit complete with animatronic dinosaurs that move, puff smoke, and make sounds. The fun facts around the room are a great way to keep the kids engaged and moving through the exhibit. Our youngest looked a little scared when we first started walking up, so we were sure to explain they were robot toys and sure enough upon walking down the ramp into the next exhibit she waved and said, “bye dinosaurs, bye robots, bye toys, see you later!”
Next up was the space, particles, and growth exhibits. Chad was completed infatuated with the radiation exhibit and we were all rather disappointed in how sad the plants looked in the LED grow display. Our suggestion for the museum, is to possibly move this exhibit closer to where the Butterfly House is since there are other hands-on exhibits near there as well as having a staff member give the plants a little more TLC so they’re healthy.
Around this time, we walked through the creepy crawly bug exhibit and caught a giant African millipede eating his leafy lunch! Mommies favorite place in the entire science center, and a truly serene room, next was the butterfly house. Olivia was a little scared when the butterflies would get too close but also feeling a little over crowded as we quickly formed a small crowd around us since the butterflies seemed to enjoy my smell and kept landing on my head, shoulders, and back.
We then headed into the Well Body Academy and the kiddie zone. We skipped the kid zone this time since there is tons of water toys and we didn’t want a soaking wet toddler in the laser dome. However, this play area is great if you need a rest break or have a toddler who needs to burn off a ton of energy. They have complimentary waterproof smocks and there are lots of staff members around helping keep the kids directed. Olivia and I did take advantage of a craft project set-up nearby making your very own Sun, Earth, and Moon orbiting. This was a great way to get Olivia to take a moment, slow down, and truly enjoy the experience and made for an awesome souvenir to take home! We continued through the well-body exhibit and as a health-conscious family spent nearly an hour exploring all of the hands-on and interactive exhibits throughout this area. Chad was a pro at getting the bike soda calorie counter over 100 calories in just a few minutes!
Our last stop of the day was the laser dome to see a show with music from Queen. As a rock n roll loving family, this was a perfect end to our day. Not only was the man working the booth kind, and encouraged audience participation, but the show was absolutely breathtaking. I would say this was definitely Maddie’s favorite part of the day. The lights and music cranked way up made for the perfect sensory experience for her.
All in all, this was a great experience. We love how hands-on and educational the science center is, it’s places like this that will inspire and empower the next generation of scientists. For us, it’s like seeing a training ground for future leaders in research and science.
Technically, where we entered from would be considered the backside of the science center, however, starting at this end of the museum it seemed much less crowded and I’m sure that’s why we avoided a line.
We chose to go on a cloudy Friday afternoon, and I will say I was quite pleased with how perfect this mostly indoor aquarium was. It is rather small, and we did a tour of the entire facility in roughly an hour and a half, including potty breaks. However, despite its size, the exhibits did not disappoint.
Upon first entering you walk into a floor to ceiling aquarium, and that day at that time we just so happen to walk in on a diver feeding some fish as well as a nice educational program taking place. Olivia was immediately drawn to the fish in the tank and the diver provided a nice learning opportunity to explain to her that people can breathe underwater with the help of a special machine. Of course, she said like sissy? Not quite, but the reference that both an oxygen concentrator and a diving mask allow you to breathe better was clever. Next was our first potty stop, and I just want to say kudos to the aquarium for putting the bathrooms right next to the entry doors.
Next up was the touch pools! With flu season still lurking I didn’t get Maddie out to touch the fish, but Olivia was quite curious and after seeing mommy touch a starfish just wanted to splash in the water. I loved that they had a couple of employees around each tide pool not only offering education but encouraging kids to touch the animals. I know, at least for my children, they are not supposed to touch anything without asking, especially people and animals so it was nice to have a lovely woman letting her know it was ok.
On the other side of the room was a walk-through jellyfish ring. This was cool but I wish the lights had been a little brighter so Maddie could have seen them a little bit better. Around the corner they had some diver dress-up and a felt version of the Puget sound complete with play felt fish and wildlife. This area is not very inviting and could use a revamp. There weren’t any kids playing with it and Olivia blew right past it. Our suggestion: a brighter landscape and maybe an employee near by to help engage the kiddos, asking things like do you know what a diver wear? Or inviting them to play with the scene.
Down the hall a little bit further and we ran into the female octopus tank! She was very active while we were there and appeared to be following us around the tank. This was probably Olivia’s favorite thing and she was completely fascinated not only with the way the tentacles kept her moving across the glass but when she placed her hand on the glass the octopus spread out. I must give kudos to the aquarium for having a touch exhibit on the wall nearby. It shows kids not just the length of tentacles but allows for a tactile experience of what’s it’s like touching them. Since Maddie is deafblind, opportunities like this for us to truly explain and show her what we are talking about is priceless. Huge props to the aquarium for having such an inclusive exhibit.
The next room was full of small tanks set up in a labyrinth esque layout filled with various fish. My personal favorite was the seahorses. They are so graceful and watching their fins flutter like a hummingbird is extremely calming. Olivia thought the prawns were adorable and both Chad and Olivia really enjoyed the school of fish chilling on the ceiling in a glass topped roof.
Down into the under water dome we strolled to find a half outdoors exhibit complete with seals, otters, and our family favorite of the entire day, a larger than life domed fish tank. This was absolutely beautiful and serene. We spent about 20 minutes in here just sitting and enjoying watching all the fish, even little Maddie was enthralled by all the water and movement around her.
All in all, this is a great afternoon outing on those days when being outside is just not quite feasible. The tickets are a little pricey, but I would say absolutely worth it for the experience.
This trip was graciously provided by Make a Wish Alaska and Washington. We can't thank them enough for the donation of these tickets!