Saturday, June 20, 2009

[day 171 ... june 20]

Finally got the tent trailer scrubbed and aired out today. It's a big job because it gets so mucky over the winter, outside in the weather and under the trees to boot. But it looks great once it's all clean!

Sure would be nice to keep it in the garage (along with the car!). But that's a pipe dream for now.

Here Tynor is trying out the power washer and discovering that when the spray is focused, it's strong enough to take off the Coleman label on the front of the trailer. Whoops. Cory is tempting fate, getting so close to the spray. He does love water, that one.

[day 170 ... june 19]

The long grass beside the house where the chicken tractor is drives my allergies right around the bend. Every time I go out to move the chickens, I pay for it dearly in sneezes and congestion. :-( I need to get a new weed whacker, and then Tynor can mow it down to a reasonable height so I'm not stirring up quite so much pollen. Hopefully that will help.

[day 169 ... june 18]

When Niall's class went on a field trip to the Pacific Science Center last week, he was impressed to find out how two people as closely related as mother and son (his friend Colin and his mom) could end up at nearly opposite ends of the "gene tree" simply because of a distinction like curly vs. straight hair.

One of the other differentiators was straight vs. hitchhiker thumb. I showed the kids how my thumb isn't even as long as a regular straight thumb, nevermind a hitchhiker thumb (I'll add a photo sometime). That got us started comparing thumbs among the kids and with me. None of us have hitchhiker thumbs, that much is for sure.

[day 168 ... june 17]

My name-suitable license plate: Snap, Crackle, Pop! A personalized plate is a mixed blessing. Easy to remember and gets a smile and a laugh. But also instantly recognizable as you toodle around through town. No blending in with the rest of the silver Honda Odysseys for us!

[day 167 ... june 16]

Niall and Cory are totally into wrestling these days, which is generally fun for them but strikes terror into my heart half the time and usually ends in tears for one or the other or both. Sigh. We're practicing doing "slow motion wrestling" (Carissa introduced us to the idea) so that it's more of dramatic play than wrestle harder and harder until somebody gets hurt. It's a long term project, though. Maybe by the time they're teenagers.

[day 166 ... june 15]

Candi is a very special person for our family. She's been a teacher at Extended Day at Little School for many years now (as well as TA'ing for different classes), and has helped cared for my kids since Niall was a baby. This summer she's coming to be with Niall and Cory various days and afternoons, in and around their sports camps and our camping trips. They love having her come visit, and she does lots of fun things with them (like melting crayons on rocks!).

[day 165 ... june 14]

We had our family party today to celebrate Kellen's graduation, over at the community room at Lazy Wheels (Grandma Shannon's mobile home community). Grandma and Tynor decorated it very festively and I brought food trays and cake to share. Frank put together a slideshow of pictures from Kellen's life that was quite entertaining, including a section about Kellen doing Parkour "over the years" that showed him climbing and jumping when he was little as well as his more recent, fancier moves. Kellen showed us his official diploma, too. He looks pretty pleased, no?

It was great to spend more time with Josie. She and Kellen are both so reserved, it's a little hard to get to know them. I was really glad she came to the party. We were happy to see Aunt Pat & Uncle Dan, Aunt Lynda & Uncle Mike, Seth & Keturah, and Saul and kids too. Really nice gathering.

[day 164 ... june 13]

Kellen graduated from PSCS today! What an amazing experience. After an early potluck dinner with friends, grandparents, family, all kinds of PSCS-connected people, we gathered in the Bathhouse theatre at Green Lake to hear the last batch of seniors present their credos and be honored with stories and sharing. Candi came to take Niall and Cory for a ride around the lake, so I was free to join in with the celebration without distraction. I was really happy that Grandma Shannon, Grandpa Stan & Grandma Marian were able to join us for the event too.

Kellen, Josie , and Andrew were the last three of seven seniors to graduate. I was glad we got to hear Josie's credo and sharing just before Kellen's. I learned more about her than I'd gleaned in a year of her dating my son! Kellen's credo was about Parkour (naturally :-) and his belief in simplicity. Then Nancy Palmer, librarian extraordinaire at Little School, introduced Kellen to the students gathered behind him and the staff, family and friends seated in the theatre. Next, we all shared stories and appreciations of Kellen for more than half an hour,
which was a wonderful window into the world of Kellen away from home. There were more than a few surprises, including hearing what a thoughtful mentor and teacher he has been to many, and how others thought he would make a wonderful father (but not anytime soon, of course :-).

After Andrew's credo, introduction, and sharing, we milled about outside for awhile, taking pictures and congratulating the new graduates. I'm so proud of Kellen for all he has done in his years at PSCS to get to this place. It's been a struggle and a process, and he has worked very hard to gain skills, complete his work, and grow as a leader in the community. Bravo, Kellen!

[day 163 ... june 12]

Niall posed with his friend Drake after the last half-day of school at TLS. He and Drake have been in class together for years, but Drake is likely going to a public school in the Fall. Niall was understandably sad to hear that. :-(

On the last day of school every year, there's a photo of all the school faculty and staff taken by the climber or in another spot on campus. It's fun to see these photos, going back over the years. I've taken my own versions when I happen to see them doing the official one - as shown here. Melissa, Cory's teacher, is on the right (in blue and white), Niall's teacher is on the left, sitting on the climbing wall, and our own Candi is in the middle in aqua. Donna and Diana are in there somewhere too!

[day 162 ... june 11]

The school year is wrapping up at Little School. Today was the traditional End of Year picnic, with the requisite sno-cones and chocolate fountain. Usually the Parent Association pays for dinner for everyone, but the economy being what it is, we all brought picnic dinners this year or bought food from the Thai truck (that the PA arranged to come by).

Tynor bused over from school and walked down to school to join us. It was great to have him at a school event! And many people he used to know at school - classmates, teachers, parents - were happy to see him. Here he's looking up at the signpost that he made with his class as an auction project his last year at the school (2005-6).

[day 161 ... june 10]

It's been so warm this month - actually going back into May as well. Something like three weeks with no rain! Here Cory's getting a refreshing drink from a water bottle (always keep a bunch of those in the car) before we head home from school.

[day 160 ... june 9]

Almost the end of the school year (last week!), and Joyce and I just finally managed to arrange a time for our parent-teacher conference for Niall. In the nick of time, but we did it. Niall took me on a tour of his classroom, including showing me how much money they'd collected for the program to prevent summer hunger. He was delighted that someone gave a $2 bill. He thinks those are so cool!

Joyce has a number line along the top of the walls around the classroom, marking how many days of school have passed and notable occasions on different days: kids' birthdays (with an actual Polaroid picture - I didn't know they still made film for those cameras!), tallies for food bank collections or bread tabs, special events, etc. Last year she had something on every single day but this year it looks like just the highlights are captured.

[day 159 ... june 8]

I arrived at school early for pickup today, and Niall and his class were on the Big Field with Ellen playing a kind of tag game called Spy and Assassin. Niall loves games that involve running and mystique, and this is his favorite right now.

[day 158 ... june 7]

Niall, Cory and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo today to check out the new penguin exihibit. It was fabulous! The penguins have a great pool and rocky area, and they're so energetic: diving and swimming and paddling about, and occasionally climbing out to waddle on the rocks. There's a big wave that bursts in periodically, that the penguins seem to really enjoy. At the same time, a small fountain that kids can get to and climb around erupts sporadically. Great fun! The boys also enjoyed the "bubble" observation spots where the penguins literally swim around you as the bubble windows push out into the water.

There's a lot more to the exhibit too, including desert plants, a big anchor, a boat to play it, penguin nests cut into rock walls that kids can climb into (they make baby penguin noises too) - lots of great fun, exploring the whole area.

Other spots we particularly enjoyed on this trip were the bird atrium, where cockatiels climb along your arm and over your head, and (with kids anyway) even peck at crumbs of food right off your face, if you let them! Niall thought it was hilarious, even when the bird pecked at his nose! Cory wanted a bird on his arm, but got a little freaked out as it climbed up toward his face. Fortunately they were quite amenable to going off to anothoer person (like Mom :-).

This kookaburra came right up to the glass to look the boys right in the face. So funny!

And finally, our very favorite spot at the zoo: the burrows in the habitats play area. Lots of running around as scary monsters (or prey) and saying "Boo!" Good times!

[day 157 ... june 6]

Niall and I played Monopoly Jr tonight for special playtime. He's a cutthroat competitor, this one. Working on the "losing gracefully" part of things. Though honestly, he usually wins at Monopoly when we play with no concessions from Mom!