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Times, they are a-changing

22 Jan

So, I’ve accepted the supervisor ED SW position. My official start date is Jan 30th but I suspect there will be quite a bit of transition during that as I learn the job and my boss transitions out. I’d be lying to say I wasn’t nervous as all get out even though the team is super excited I took it and that one of our own will be in the role. What’s even better is that two of the other SW absorbed my current hours so we don’t need to hire someone new to take over what was really a not useful amount of hours for most people.

I’ve found a really awesome nanny who will watch Ben Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays. She’ll be here a few times a month since Andy is also off some of those days and it largely depends on him booking her to come in on Thursdays he’s off if he has projects he needs to get done. She will be bringing her 3 year old boy with her and Ben has met him twice and they have a lot of fun. The half day Wednesdays will also give me the opportunity to still take Ben to gymnastics and have coffee with my friends (we’ve gotten into a bit of a Wednesday coffee habit) before I have to go to work. The flexible hours, oh, I have missed them. I had them at my last job where you were on the honor system to work 40 within the week and having to clock in and out for the last 3.5 years has gotten a bit old. I appreciate the ability to set my schedule as I need it and know what I have to do and make accommodations.

It will be the first time since Eli was born that I will be full time (this might sound like complaining but seriously, how lucky am I?) and I’m a bit nervous about how to juggle all of it. The flexibility of my schedule eases that fear somewhat since I’ll still be able to schedule around school functions and volunteer there. I think it’s more of a bittersweet thing since I planned on going full time once Ben started kindergarten but you really can’t pass up this kind of opportunity. And I still get Wednesday mornings with him and he’ll only be in part time care and it’s at home. /firstworldproblems /tokenmomguilt

Eli took the advanced learning test and we are awaiting results for that. Once he was out, his first statements were “Some parts were hard but I feel pretty confident” and then his next statement was “I don’t care how I did, I don’t want to switch schools” which says to me he knows he did well. He will likely need to change if he passes. We’ll give him a year at the new school and if it all goes badly, move him back (which we are not telling him this is an option) but he needs to at least try it.

Ben’s scheduled for his final vaccinations and then after that, kindergarten registration! I can’t believe he is so old. He’s very excited about going to North Beach but we’ve got a lot of work to do with him regarding reading in the coming months. He’s really into math lately and is constantly working addition problems with us. “Mommy, 5 plus 5 is 10!” and all sorts of variations. He’s learned how to count on his fingers and can do addition up to 20 so far. It’s all his own motivation which is awesome to see.

We haven’t made it up to the snow yet but I’m planning a tubing/sledding trip for weekend after next. I am going snowshoeing with a bunch of work friends (including a ED RN and ED MD in case I die, I am so out of shape) next Wednesday so I am really looking forward to that.

Turns out (now I am writing this a week later) the snowshoeing might be a no go. I’ve had some foot issues since I fell down the stairs about 2.5 months ago while carrying laundry. Anyone who has been to our house knows we have the Death Stairs and although they’ve gotten me in minor ways a few times, I think they really got me this time. When I fell, I missed a step and my toes buckled underneath my foot and I slid down. I could still walk so I didn’t do anything about it although the top of my foot stayed swelled for about two or three weeks and I had a lot of bruising at the sole of my foot. BUT! I could walk without significant pain so why go anywhere! This is my argument. Well, now, 2.5 months in, I still get a lot of aches in the top of my foot and crouching down and bending my foot up on the ball is right out so I’m wondering if I didn’t hairline fracture something or at least tear some tendons right out. So I have an appt on Tues for an x-ray which I’m sure will show nothing and then it will be a guestimate of me in a boot, maybe (I hope not). I have a boot from the last time I fell down the stairs. This makes it sound like it happens a lot but it doesn’t, the last time I fell down was 2 years ago when I was taking too many boxes of Christmas decorations down at once and couldn’t see my feet, which I admit was not my brightest moment. I didn’t fracture it then but they gave me a boot which I wore for a week (I suspect it was largely for my ego) and then I was fine. The idea that this has been over two months and is still giving me trouble (and I tried running a few weeks ago which really aggravated it) makes me think I should stop just complaining to Andy and get it checked out.

I have a half at the start of March but I’ll probably end up run/walking it, depending.

I have a lot of things I’d sort of like to say about politics but that’s not what this blog is about. So I’m going to end it here. I hope you are all happy and well.

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The Jump of Tragedy!

14 Feb

That’s what Eli yelled right before doing what looked downright like a wrestling move (where you jump straight up and land in a ball on your opponent) on Andy tonight. I’m super glad the boys don’t consider me to be their personal punching ball like they do him. I think Andy rather enjoys it as he just lays there and takes it for the most part. They’re not quite big enough yet to actually hurt him so I think more often than not he takes the opportunity to play with the kids yet also not have to move for a bit. In any case, it works for everyone.

January has come and gone. We had a stomach bug travel through the house that worsened with each victim. Ben started it off with a good round of vomiting around 10 AM that lasted for 7 hours. He threw up probably 7-8 times during that period, never ran a fever, and then he was tired and didn’t eat much for a day or so. Then he was back to normal. This was a Saturday, I think? He went to school that Monday. Tuesday, Andy gets off his night shift and says he is feeling off. By noon, he is feeling nauseated and running 102. He never throws up, mostly just runs a fever for the next day. Then he is tired for another day, his appetite is off, then back to normal by Friday. Saturday morning, we are awakened at 4 AM by a screaming Eli who has thrown up on the floor in his room. He proceeds to throw up every 15 minutes for the next 5 or 6 hours, runs a temperature of 101+, and although his stomach settled down after about 8 hours, he runs a fever and generally feels miserable for the next two days. It’s like Ben and Andy’s illness got together and teamed up on him so he got the worst of it. At this point, everyone kept looking at me, waiting for me to get it.

I never got it.  Moms, you know. We don’t have time for that.

In other (non-gloating) news, I’ve signed up for a marathon. Clearly, I’ve lost my mind. It’s in June and needless to stay, I’ve started running again. I’m doing three runs a week (two short during the week and a long one on the weekend). I ran six on Friday and that is the longest I’ve run in probably a year. My friend Wendy recommended a creatine mix for my water bottle and it makes a HUGE difference in how my legs and joints feel after these runs. I’m also continuing to lift on the non-running days. I’m not nearly as fast as I would like (my long runs are coming in at about 10:45 miles and I’d prefer closer to 10) but I set a goal of finishing the full under 5 hours and I’ll get there. It’s all about the training.

Ben started big boy swim classes in January. He was really reluctant to do swim classes without Andy or me in the water with him and he fought it tooth and nail. However, I told him I’d buy him ice cream if he did the class without us and during the first class, he took to it like a fish to water. I think he really dug being able to do the “big kid” stuff he’s seen Eli do in his swim classes and frankly, he was getting pretty bored with all of the songs you do in the parent and tot classes (me too). I really love that I don’t have to get in with him! It’s like a wee 30 minute vacation on Thursday mornings now. His teacher said that he’s so comfortable in the water that he will probably be able to move up to the kindergarten classes soon even though he’s young for it.

Eli’s first chess tournament is in two weeks. We’ve gotten a ton of books from the library (“How to Beat Your Dad at Chess” is his favorite) and we spend a lot of time playing games with him. He’s super excited about it and I am as well. I hope he does well but he has said that he doesn’t care how he does because it’s just fun to play. Can you ask for anything more than that?

Videos!

Ben sledding (ignore the crying, he was fine 2 seconds later and went again)

Ben and Andy sledding

His first swim class

Christmas 2015 and videos

21 Dec

Oh, man. I’ve got problems. Either the hosting site for this blog (wordpress) or my iMac is having some serious issues. I’ve been downstairs for a good almost two hours now and I’ve managed to post less than five videos and anything I type is coming out very…slowly…

I feel like Andy and I must have gone on some buying spree 3-5 years ago because it seems like everything is breaking down/going slower lately. My iPad is seriously on it’s last legs. I’ve wiped it clean, rebooted it more times than I care to count, and done everything that the internet says I should do to make it work right and it still runs super slow, freezes all the time, and generally seems to be telling me that it’s Time for it. I feel like if it could give me a POLST for it, it would have by now, and the POLST would communicate LET ME GO. New iPads are about a million dollars so if mine bites it then, well, so long iPad.

Regardless, Christmas is FRIDAY! The boys and I are so excited. We are about full of our Christmas routines at this point–Christmas party at Owen’s (every year), lights are up (as much as they will be), last night we drove around Seattle and saw the lights at the Menashe house in West Seattle and did our obligatory drive through Olympic Manor. We haven’t gone to the Zoo Lights at the Zoo yet but I think we might actually skip that this year. I feel like that’s more interesting if you don’t do it every year since they don’t really change it up all that much.

Have I mentioned that Christmas with little kids is the BEST? Eli knows several Christmas carols but he has learned the 1st grade versions of them so he sings that pretty much nonstop. Which means Ben has no idea of the actual words of carols but sings the 1st grade versions non stop as well. We put real versions on our iPhones and have been playing those in the house and car as a (hopeful) means of letting poor Ben learn the actual words to them lest he grow up thinking Christmas is characterized by “Jingle Bells, Batman smells…” sorts of lyrics. Eli is particularly in love with the 12 Days of Christmas so that gets sung at top volume quite a lot around the house lately, much to Andy’s consternation. Poor audiophile he is, he really can’t tolerate a lot of Christmas music unless it’s to his very exacting standards (“This just isn’t a classic rendition of this song and it’s a poor imitation of a standard” “There’s too much reverb” “The intonation isn’t right” “This shouldn’t be sung by a childrens’ choir that can’t sing in sync” are things we’ve heard a lot lately) so the hunt for albums he can tolerate has been thorough. Glory be to iTunes, we’ve finally found a few that he really likes (Bing Crosby’s, a choir one of Andy’s whose name fails me, another compilation album with most of the standards sung by Gene Autry–not about to complain there) so it’s worked out.

I worked today and I’m off until next Monday. I was scheduled to work Christmas Day but unfortunately, Andy and I both were so I took it off. We were also both scheduled to work New Year’s Day so he’s taking that off so I can work. I really miss normal work schedules. He gets off at 6:30 PM Christmas Eve then he has to work overnight Christmas night so poor guy isn’t going to get a lot of sleep that day. I thought I would just order us a dinner and pick it up but then they had Prime Rib on sale at the store so Andy got all excited. We have Mike and Will coming over but that’s it. It’s going to be a lovely day of lazing about, eating way too much, and more lazing about. It’s also forecast to snow on Christmas Eve/Day which I haven’t mentioned to the boys in case it doesn’t pan out but it sure would be awesome if it snowed enough to do some sidewalk sledding–we only need a few inches for that.

I hope everyone has a great Christmas. I wish we could be home (or I wish YOU could be HERE) for the holiday and we surely miss you all. I am so looking forward to the time home with the kiddos and watching their excitement at Santa’s impending arrival. Merry Christmas!

 

 

Of Sniffles and fevers…

12 Dec

This post is mostly one of those “so I can remember it later” ones. Last night, Eli went on a sleepover to his friend Jaia’s house. It was the first sleepover for him that wasn’t at a close friend of ours and needless to say, he was pretty excited. Jaia’s mom met him and Jaia after school and walked them both home, very big boy stuff. They had a great time playing minecraft, watching the Christmas ships from Jaia’s back patio, and generally being 7 year olds.

Ben stayed home with Andy and me. Once Ben heard Eli was going on a sleep over, he was pretty bummed he couldn’t go. It occurred to me that if the situation was reversed, Eli would be pretty excited as he usually is when it’s just him and one of us–he always calls it “like the old times”. I don’t think this is any reflection on his love for Ben but rather Eli can still kind of recall when he was King of the Mountain and sometimes it’s nice to still feel like that. Andy and I tried to get Ben excited about it–“Whatever you want for dinner! Whatever you want to do!” but man, the kid just chose to watch a show (and he picked Eli’s favorite, not his) and he wanted to eat a dinner that was Eli’s favorite, again not his. We did manage to talk him out of that and he asked for cheese pizza (he likes it but if Eli’s around, Ben usually chooses pepperoni, Eli chooses cheese) and Ben chose a movie that he hadn’t seen yet. It was sad in that Eli can remember a time without Ben but for Ben, it basically boils down to feeling like something is missing if Eli isn’t here. His favorite person is gone and there’s not a lot you can do about that.

He went to bed a little later than normal but didn’t seem that comfortable. I chalked it up to Eli not being in the room and told Ben if he felt bad, he could come sleep with us. He went to sleep without a peep which surprised me. About 1 AM I woke up because I felt like I was on fire and lo and behold, Ben was sandwiched in bed between Andy and me. Andy’s a hot sleeper so I figured Ben was as well. I also thought he just didn’t like sleeping in a room alone so I didn’t wake him. About an hour later, Ben was very restless and still REALLY HOT and as I was shifting around to check on him, Andy woke up. Andy felt him and got the thermometer and poor kid was running 102.5. We gave him some Motrin and although Andy fell asleep pretty quickly after that, Ben was uncomfortable enough that he kept sitting up in bed although he insisted he felt fine. He eventually settled down on me (pretty much lying flat on me) and although I thought he’d settle back down on the mattress, kid fell asleep hard straight on top of me.

Parenting is always a mixture of feelings, right? I was both comforted that HE was comforted enough by me that he fell asleep so soundly on top of me but man, he was uncomfortable. Also about 45 minutes into it his fever broke and he was a SWEAT BOMB. At that point, he and I were both soaked but I didn’t want to wake him up but I was getting cold from being wet. He still felt hot although I could tell the fever broke. About 1.5 hours into it I finally managed to roll him off to my side which left me about 2 inches of bed space and on top of that, I was freezing from now being soaked and all of those wet clothes hitting the cold air. Fun times!  Every time I moved, he’d get restless again so I just pretty much made myself as comfortable as I could and decided to stick it out. At that point, it was almost 4 AM so I figured I didn’t have too much longer to go. I played on my phone until about 6:30 then managed to fall asleep until 8:15.

Today, he has again mostly felt fine. He had no fever this morning (likely the motrin still working) then after his nap it has been slowly creeping back up. He ate one cereal bar around noon and had two cups of apple juice but other than that, just water. He has a runny nose. He says he feels FINE, stop asking. At dinner time, he demanded only TWO tater tots. When I put 8 on his plate, he ate 5 then freaked out because he only said two, then insisted I take the spare tot off the plate. Then he tried to put his legs on Eli as Eli was sitting on the floor. Eli did not want this and said so and Ben lost his mind because he should get to just drape his legs over anyone. At that point, I took his temperature again because he was getting that puffy face look and he’s back up to 102.5. Normally, we are fans of letting them run fevers but since his sleep was so poor last night, I just gave him some Motrin in hopes that he will get some solid sleep tonight.

Really, the only signs he’s given of not feeling well seem to consist of no appetite and that he won’t let me out of his sight for a second. A few times I tried to escape to the bathroom and he insisted on sitting in there with me. He’s a cuddly kid but usually not overly so and as much as I hate him being sick (even if he feels fine as he says), it’s hard not to appreciate the extra attention.

Andy’s been hard at work on our lazy Christmas decorations (at this point, I think it would have been easier just to hang the dang outside lights but this method involves him getting to use his power tools so he’s more into it) and I’ll post pictures once he’s done. Tomorrow is another lazy day at the house before the next two weeks of Christmas madness, all school assemblies and Christmas parties and crazy work schedules, so I’m going to take Ben’s “I FEEL FINE” illness as a good excuse to settle down with a bunch of TV (tonight was Charlie Brown’s Christmas and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas) and snuggling with my totally not-sick kids.

 

 

Christmas bells, Batman smells…

6 Dec

Robin laid an egg!

That’s how most Christmas carols go around these parts. Things continue along well here. The fast update–I am now Mature and I have reader glasses although I have scheduled an eye appt since the readers I got seem very inconsistent–they work well for books, screens are hit or miss, sometimes far off things are still hard to focus on, and my eyes seem to get tired pretty easily these days. I haven’t been running or doing much of anything lately although I have committed to a marathon (!) at the start of June so starting this week I’ve put myself on a schedule. I plan to alternate the running with a lot of lifting since I find that works better for me in the physical sense–less sore, less achy joints, etc.

Eli is doing great. I had a parent-teacher conference and it went well. She has still had some behavioral issues with him but they are things we can work on. The issue with Eli is that he prefers to read over anything else and we (and she) have had problems with him hiding books that he then sneaks out when he’s bored.  “Eli, put that book down right now!” is not an uncommon thing heard around here. She (and we) have had to sweep his area when he needs to complete something to make sure he hasn’t hidden books places that he can then whip out for a good bit of distraction.

She would like to have him tested for Advanced Learning/Highly Capable as soon as we can. Since I missed the window on it this year, the earliest we could do it is at the start of next year then if he tests into it (and he decides he wants to do it), he would start at the beginning of 3rd grade. She said that she feels his behavioral stuff is just that–it’s behavioral and he’s doing what he would prefer to do, not that the work isn’t challenging–and that he is completely able to focus and behave when he chooses. That’s a relief. They have put him in the more advanced groups within his own classroom so he gets more challenging homework in reading and math than most of the kids. He both preens at this and also rebels against it–he gets that since he is better at it, he gets harder and more homework (but really, he finishes it in about 30 minutes when I make him do it all at once and it’s given with a week to complete it so it’s not like it’s a lot) but he also sometimes feels put upon since he has to do “SO MUCH MORE” than some of the other kids. It mostly seems like token whining and I don’t really feed into it and he doesn’t really complain all that much.

Ben is hitting the threes with gusto. The last two months have been all spectacular meltdowns and unbridled joy. The slightest thing can send him over the edge into full-on-stereotypical-toddler-lying-in-the-aisle face-down with his legs and arms spread out screaming mode. Since Eli had only a few bits of this and I’ve lived through Three before, it’s hard to get too ruffled by it but rather I can see how fueled Ben is by everything. He is quick to anger, quick to make up, and so energetic that he gets over most slights pretty quickly. There were several times today that he was throwing a fit about X when Eli would look at me with the most bewildered look and say “I think Ben’s having a really hard time right now, do you think he needs a hug?” at which point I felt like Mom of the Year but then Ben would scream “NO!” and stomp to the room and slam his door as hard as he could. After a short period, he’d let us come in and give us hugs (“But we really need hugs, Ben, do you think you could give us a hug?”) and everything would be okay. He’s a passionate kid. He’s not as moody as Eli was in general but every once in a while Ben really brings it. Overall, he’s a very even tempered child but today was just one of those days. Eli and I have had a lot of chats about how frustrating it must be to have all these really big feelings without the vocabulary/ability to communicate it, so we have to be extra patient right now.

Ben is learning by leaps and bounds–he’s solidly into letting us read to him and I wouldn’t go so far as to say he enjoys books yet but he is definitely into the whole reading thing. Quite often when he is sitting at the table “drawing” he’s working on making his letters. He’s already able to write several letters from the alphabet, much to our surprise. He’s really into a few phonics apps I had leftover on my phone from when Eli was this age and he’s quite good at making the sounds for letters. I don’t know that he will read as early as Eli since his desire for books isn’t what his was but it’s certainly not for lack of ability.

Well, it’s almost 9 and I have to go to bed soon. I also have to think of what to do with this darn Elf for the night. The good thing is that we’ve never really gotten the kids into this idea of “THE ELF IS WATCHING YOU” which I feel is creepy, really, and kind of missing the whole spirit of the thing. However, they do enjoy waking up and finding out where he’s gotten to over the night so I have to go find some place to put him.  Good night, all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The grown up kids

2 Nov

I’m starting to realize that although my boys are small, I’m parenting Big Kids as opposed to little ones. The potty training with Ben continued on as it did in my last post and now we are a few months in with only the very rare accident and when it does occur, it’s again a few drops as opposed to a flood. To say he was ready for it seems like an understatement at this point. I feel like I cheated something since it was so easy but I’ll take it!

Eli has done fantastically in 1st grade. The social problems we had in kindergarten don’t seem to have followed into 1st. He is more challenged with school work which causes him to focus and he feels more in line with his peers. His school splits classrooms up for reading and math according to skills and he is in the advanced math/english classes–I don’t know if he realizes he is in the advanced curriculum but it’s moving at a pace he enjoys–he’s already starting to learn multiplication tables and loves being quizzed about them. We are at a weird place with his reading in that he can read at about a 5th grade level but the content isn’t always that appropriate for him so finding things that hold his interest but also don’t scare him (he can read Harry Potter books, for example, but the story lines about his parents dying worried him terribly) is a challenge. Mostly these days I talk to him about mainly reading for fun, not a challenge, and he seems happy with that. I look up suggested reading lists for third graders and put those books on hold at the library and we go every week. The library workers know us now, they say hello to me and the boys, we are familiar to them. This sort of thing reminds me of my dad because we went to the library with him and I like that in a sense, I get to do this with the kids (although mine don’t have the huge downtown library to play hide and seek in).

Ben is starting to really get into reading. He doesn’t like reading books so much as he wants to know the structure. I put a few phonics apps on my phone and he is gobbling them up. I think for him it’s more of a “I can do what you can do!” versus he just loves reading. He now knows that reading is a skill you can learn and he doesn’t want to be left out. He’s frequently asking me to spell things, sound out letters, and asking to work on the phonics stuff. He is also starting to get into the stories more which is great. It’s so funny to see how the boys progress in different (yet similar) ways.

Ah, I wrote this two weeks ago and in addition to not finishing it, never published it! Right now it’s almost noon on Monday and I have a ton of admin Cub Scout work to do and I have to be at work at 3. Will try to update this week, Eli had a fantastic birthday!

And a great time was had by all

1 Sep

I remember this spring I was so excited about all of the trips I had planned! Two camping trips with multiple other families! Great Wolf Lodge! Glacier National Park! I thought it was going to be amazing and a really fun summer. It really was a fun summer but in retrospect, it was way too much! Although I did enjoy all of the trips, most of the summer I found myself feeling burnt out, frazzled, and in a constant state of packing/unpacking/planning. Add in to the things that weren’t originally scheduled–a weekend trip to Portland, Andy’s knee surgery, and the Bellingham trip and you have one tired mama. I learned a valuable lesson this year. Although I loved every single thing we did, toward the end I started dreading things a little–the packing, the driving, the “how are we going to entertain the kids because oh man there is another stinking fire ban so we can’t have campfires” sort of thing.

My thoughts now that it’s all done:  Great Wolf Lodge– TOTALLY WORTH IT. Granted, it’s a pricy weekend trip but if you pack your food (I was totally that mom carrying a crock pot and all our groceries into our room), it’s not terrible. The bang for your buck if you buy the Wolf Pass is totally worth it, even if little Ben didn’t understand any of the treasure hunt games, he understood and loved being able to wave his wand at random things in the hotel and causing an effect. The water park was super fun but not so big/packed that it was obnoxious and being a two minute walk from your hotel room at any time is pretty amazing. Also, the hotel room was pretty sweet. I was expecting a room that might be potentially run down, etc since it’s not the main attraction but it was as nice (if not nicer) than most we usually stay in. Add in to that reasonable food/drink prices in the place and a lot of stuff for the kids to do outside of the water park, it was worth every. single. cent. I am a total convert.

Deception Pass 4th of July camping trip–Totally worth it. We went with several other people–Ananda, another BP family (I used to work with the dad and they live down the street from us so Eli and Ben love their son), Emily & Jeremy & their son, Nicholas, Will, as well as Rachal and Matt. I had to reserve the campsite six months in advance because of its popularity but it was a great trip. The boys had other kids there so they were entertained. Although there was a fire ban having other kids took the edge off the boredom so it all worked out.

Berry Patch Wenatchee Confluence Park camping trip–again, totally worth it. Our friend managed to book the group camping site that fits up to 300 people so we had a HUGE field to camp in. It’s in the middle of the city which is odd but I guess since it’s right on the river they had no qualms about watering their lawns so we had the most lush, soft grass to set up camp. It was like having a pillow underneath your tent. I’d rate this high for no other reason than after this drought stricken summer, all of us kicked our shoes off and kept remarking about how soft the grass was. The kids brought their bikes and spent their days riding bikes, playing in the sprinklers we brought, and playing down at the beach by the river which was about 500 feet from the campsite. Also lovely to reconnect with the BP families and keep those ties solid. We all vowed to do this every year. Just a really lovely time.

Portland Trip–the kids and i did this one on our own. We went to see my friends June and Kristen (I used to work with June) in Vancouver, WA. We spent the weekend playing in their pool on their deck, going to the neighborhood playground, and we went to the Clark County fair at which the boys had a blast riding all of the rides. I had a fun time hanging out with my friends and felt really lucky to not have to pack a tent and food for everyone 🙂

Bellingham trip–we went to Ananda’s grandparents’ house for her 40th birthday party. We got to stay in one of her grandparents’ cabins on Lake Whatcom and it was beautiful. Once the sun went down, we put out blankets in the yard to watch the Perseid meteor shower. A short, overnight trip to celebrate someone who has become a member of the family. Again, totally worth it.

Glacier National Park — oh, the thrill is gone with this one. A long drive for not a lot of bang for our buck. The hotel the night before and after was fun but they are all with their continental breakfasts and swimming pools. There were 130+ wildfires in Montana as well as additional ones in Idaho and Washington with their smoke blowing west. There were three major fires in Glacier Nat’l Park which produced so much smoke that all of the scenery we traveled so far to see was almost completely obscured. We did do a few boat rides which were pretty but very hazy and the really WOW part of the trip–the Going to the Sun road with all of its associated hikes, etc. was basically nothing but a giant smoke bomb. I started following the Glacier FB page over a month before we went in anticipation of the fires but in retrospect I feel like they are intentionally minimizing how much the smoke is affecting the park. We had a lovely campsite pretty much on the shore of Lake McDonald and although it was fairly clear the day we arrived, by the day we left (we left a day early) it was so smoky that we were all getting congested and had sore throats.

The last day we were there, we rented a small motorboat to cruise around Lake McDonald. We did that for about 45 minutes then attended a ranger talk so the boys could earn their Junior Ranger badge for Glacier. I don’t know if it’s particular to Glacier but they had a pre-reader booklet for the Junior Ranger badge for Ben, something we haven’t seen before. If they have it at other parks and we just never thought to ask, I just think that’s such a cool idea. It’s all drawing pictures and draw a line to the baby animal that matches the mom animal, totally appropriate for the wee set. It allowed Ben to really work on his own badge instead of me doing it for him and he really got into it. During the ranger talk, he had the kids play musical chairs but instead of the usual game, the chair that was “out” was the invasive species and it showed the kids how the invasive species gradually ekes out the native fish.  The kids REALLY got into it and ended up asking all kinds of questions about how the fish are getting rid of the native ones, etc. The talk there was so much more kid-centric than the ones I’ve attended in the past and it was great to see the kids totally getting into it.

After that, we went to have lunch in Apgar Village, one of the few places with (spotty) cell reception. We heard the people at the table next to us mention “the storm coming” and Andy and I both checked out our phones. There was a HUGE thunderstorm coming in the next three hours. After some deliberation, we decided that was the end of our Glacier trip.  All of us were congested from the smoke and visibility was getting worse (you couldn’t even see across the lake from our campsite anymore by this point). It was the night before we were due to leave any way and neither of us liked the idea of having to pack up camp with everything wet. There was also a cold front due to move in right after the storm and so we were looking at a morning of trying to pack up camp while everything was wet, when everything would be cold, and we wouldn’t even be able to start a fire to entertain/warm the kids up.  How many signs do you need? That was it for us. We finished lunch and headed back to camp and we were out of there in about an hour and a half.

As we were driving out, the storm started. I have never been so relieved by a decision! The rain was going sideways, the wind whipping trees back and forth. Andy and I kept saying, “They don’t have tornadoes here, right?” because it was so bad. It lasted about two hours before it finally petered off into on/off drizzle but I was so happy we hightailed it out of there. Trying to cook dinner over a camp stove in that kind of weather with the boys so young would have been miserable.

So that’s summer in a nutshell!

Tomorrow, potty training for Ben begins in earnest. As in we are going cold turkey with him as we did with Eli. He’s gotten some warning about it and although he can pee on the potty like a champ, he tends to hold his poop for the diaper yet will come up to you and tell you he’s pooping in his diaper! I feel like at this point we just need to go all out so tomorrow morning he is in underwear, all the time, except for naps/overnight. We did the same with Eli. It’ll be a messy few days but it will work itself out and he’s ready for it. The boys and I went this weekend to Target and Ben got to pick out his new underwear (Paw Patrol and the Minions) and he’s really excited about wearing them. I’ll do the same as I did with Eli and stay close to home for the next several days with an alarm set for every 30 minutes so he can sit on the potty. It’ll be a messy (and I’m sure tantrum-my) four or five days but then we’ll be over the hump. It’ll also save us $75 in “diaper fees” at Small Faces (they don’t provide diapers but they do charge extra for the changing) starting in October so that will be nice as well. Ben is sort of excited-scared about it but he will do great.

Eli starts first grade (!) next week and he is so excited to go back as a big first grader. I’ve warned him that he will have homework this year so he knows what to expect. The lovely thing about North Beach is that starting in first grade they start evaluating the kids to see where they are in subjects and group them with kids who are on the same level so I’m hoping this year won’t be another round of “It’s boring” because frankly, he’s bored with a lot of the academic stuff.  He had a third grade reading buddy last year and read as well, if not better, than he did most of the time. I also plan to ask about having him evaluated for whatever their version of gifted and talented is because I think a lot of his “I hate school” feeling tends to stem from him being bored with the academic part of it (this is not me feeling like he is special but rather his own opinions on the subject as well as the teachers saying he’s way above the kids in his class). His teacher in kindergarten tended to want him to use his reading ability to help the other kids–i.e., helping the other kids with their reading, reading the announcements every morning, etc. and he really hated that. He is well aware he reads above his age level but he REALLY hates being singled out for it so putting him on display like that is a quick way to get him to shut down. I think if he were with other kids who could do what he does, he’d just step up to the plate and not feel embarrassed. His math and science skills are all well above grade level and six months ago he was reading at the higher end of third grade level.

That’s all for now. Andy is on nights this week so I’m flying solo. We’ve got swim class tomorrow evening for Eli and then swim class for Ben Thursday morning. Tomorrow night the boys and I are having a slumber party. On weeks Andy works nights, I let them sleep in my bed (I do not get a lot of sleep these nights for the record, let’s vote me Mom of the Year) and we get to watch a movie and eat popcorn in bed. Eli and I have had these slumber parties for the last year and now Ben is old enough to join in. Although I love having him there, these kids are bed hogs! About 50X a night I wake up with someone’s foot in my face because they are lying sideways) but the time that they’ll do this kind of thing with me is short, so I do my best to remind myself of that, reposition them so that they are lying next to me, and snuggle on them during these few short years they will allow it 🙂  Life is good!