Friday, September 4, 2009

[day 248 ... sep 5]

Today I finally tackled a project that has been on my (uber) list for ages: adding a shelf to the IKEA shelving in one of my closets so I could store more stuff in there more efficiently. I actually started tackling this in early August, but had to go to IKEA to get a shelf. Then I had my necessary week off, and then we went camping, and then... You know how it goes. So it felt wonderful to finally get back to this and complete the project!

As a bonus, I started on another long-standing organizational task - cleaning out and reorganizing my pantry, which has been so full that I can barely open the door anymore, nevermind find what I need. I didn't make quite as much progress on this one, but I did designate a shelf or two in the other closet for Costco bulk purchases and cleared out some of the many odds and ends clogging up the pantry. I really need to empty the whole thing out and judiciously add back what should be in there, in an organized way. But that will have to wait for the next burst of organizational energy another weekend.

[day 247 ... sep 4]

Niall reads for pleasure and interest most of the time that he isn't running around with his friends or engaged in some kind of "screen time" (computer, TV, etc.) But he still loves the idea of earning a prize for reading, so he signs up for the King County Library summer reading program. He diligently tracks his time (down to the minute) and can't wait to take in his completed sheet to be awarded his certificate and prize. This year it was an art set.

I guess I find it amusing that he's so interested in a program that is designed to inspire more reluctant readers to keep reading through the summer months when they don't have the required "20 minutes a day" their teachers assign them. But he's competitive that way, absolutely. Of course, he didn't keep track of how many books he completed, just the minutes, because he reads from so many different sources in a given day, there's no way he wanted to track all of them on a piece of paper! Fortunately the librarian who accepted his form didn't seem to care. :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

[day 246 ... sep 3]

My youngest has been entranced with Star Wars since he became best friends with another little boy at school who is totally into the saga. But now Cory has become practically obsessed! I'm sure it hasn't helped that I recently caved on letting him watch the first three movies (Episodes 4 through 6). Now that's all he wants to do! Oh, and talk about the movies, line by line (while he's watching them AND before and afterwards).

And if not allowed to watch (imagine limiting TV time for a 5YO - he thinks it's a crime, I think not), then he plays Star Wars with his Legos or creates light sabers from paper or looks at the many Star Wars books we have or begs to watch the prequel trilogy (definitely not yet).

Totally, totally into it. Hopefully we'll all survive this phase.

[day 245 ... sep 2]

It's been over a year since Michael Phelps completely wowed us in the Summer '08 Olympics in Beijing, but we still have the poster with all eight of his gold medal wins up on a wall downstairs. Makes me smile. We had such a good time following his races, rooting for him, waiting with bated breath to see if he could possibly, somehow pull it off. It was a great ride!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

[day 244 ... sep 1]

Today is Tynor's first day of the new school year - his first year at PSCS without older brother Kellen there. Hard to believe that in just three short years, Tynor will be graduating too.

But for today, it was good to see him up, packed, and ready to roll bright and early. The school is heading out to Mosswood Hollow for an overnight after spending the morning on site downtown, so Tynor had to bring clothes, sleeping bag, etc. Luckily Kellen came home last night, so I drove Tynor down to the Park-and-Ride and saved him hauling his gear down on his bike. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to do that - though walking would have been another option. One that would have meant getting up even earlier, though!

Hopefully the first day has gone well and the new group is coming together and jelling as a community. Well - at least starting to. I'm looking forward to hearing a full report when he gets home tomorrow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

[day 243 ... aug 31]

Today was teacher home visits day! Joyce, Cory's teacher for next year (and coincidentally, Niall's for the past two years), came first in the early afternoon. Then Alice arrived a bit belatedly after visiting another family out past Maltby. She thought Maltby and Woodinville were a little closer than they are. :-) But she and Niall had a wonderful visit, chatting about a whole range of things. It's looking like a wonderful year for the boys. Can't wait for them to start school!

[day 242 ... aug 30]

Last morning at camp, and I took the boys over to the playground for a chance to run around before we got into the car for the long drive. Turned out to be longer than we expected, unfortunately: stop and go traffic for hours through Olympia and Tacoma. Remind me not to return from a camping trip on a Sunday afternoon again!

Great to be home, but hard to gear up to unload the car, start laundry, etc. when we got back after 6:00. Tynor dove right in and got the tent trailer set up, carried a bunch of the food and gear in, and was a huge help. Only then did he plug back into the computer/Internet world that he'd been away from for eight days. What a trooper! Couldn't have done this trip without him.

[day 241 ... aug 29]

We took our traditional trek down to Tillamook today, another cool morning by the ocean. The cheese-wrapping operations at the Tillamook factory were as mesmerizing as ever.

Turns out they're celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, so that was fun - festive signs in various places, and two new commemorative pennies (which we had to get, of course) just for the occasion. We enjoyed lunch (good food, amazingly slow service - just as we remembered) and then, of course, chose ice cream cones from 38 different flavors. Yum!

We headed to the beach for a final outing after getting back to camp. Niall enjoyed throwing the ball for the dogs over and over.

Grandpa teased the pooches that he was going to throw the ball and then didn't - meanie! They didn't seem to mind at all though. Guess they're used to his mischievous ways. :-)

[day 240 ... aug 28]

The younger boys and I headed off on the bike trails around the Nehalem Bay campground today - a first for us, since we've never brought bikes camping before. Turns out that after about a 10 minute ride, you come out on the other side of the peninsula to a calm beach with tons of driftwood. Very cool! Unfortunately it started to drizzle as we rode, and by the time we got to the beach, it was a steady light rain. But we stayed for awhile to explore in and around the logs, and even piled small logs up to make a little (very little!) shelter that we huddled in for a bit. Then, as the rain continued to come down, we walked back to the bikes and completed the loop back to the campground.

Grandpa Stan and Grandma Marian arrived earlier than expected, just when we were beginning to tire of indoor activities in the tent trailer. The rain started to clear up just about then too - perfect timing. We all walked over to their campsite in the A-B-C set of campground loops and Grandpa worked on adjusting my bike a bit. A helpful guy with a big toolbox adjusted Niall's bike yesterday so the falling-off-chains have ceased to be a problem - just before Grandpa came, so he's off the hook for those anyway. :-)

The cool, rainy weather continued for the rest of the day but we enjoyed a nice birthday dinner (for me :-) sheltered by the motorhome canopy over at Grandma and Grandpa's. Then the weather settled enough for us to have a big campfire and S'mores back at our site - lovely wrapup to the day.

[day 239 ... aug 27]

We had a fabulous afternoon at the beach today. Some cool fog was blowing over the sand, and eventually that burned off and we got a bit of sunshine.

Tynor and I video'd the crashing ocean waves for a bit so we'd be able to take a "bit of the ocean" home with us. The trick was to capture just the sound of the waves and not people coming by!

Niall managed to dig a hole, by hand, all the way under a little "road" and then a back-hole so the tunnels met in the middle. Quite an accomplishment! He was justifiably proud.

This is Cory's new way of taking buckets to the beach: drag them along attached to your shovel. Not exactly efficient but he thought it was pretty fun.

[day 238 ... aug 26]

We went for a family bike ride this morning before finishing up packing. The darn chains kept coming off the kids' bikes so that was frustrating. But the trails were fabulous. I can't wait to come back and ride some more. It was great to be on a bike again! It's been so many years since I've ridden at all, let alone as much as today.

Then onward to Nehalem Bay, where almost first thing, a friendly family invited the boys to play Ultimate Frisbee with them in the playground at the center of the campsite loops. It's been great fun to get to know other families at camp this year. The younger boys, especially Cory, have made friends quickly just by being out there riding their bikes. And now Tynor has enjoyed getting to know the older kids in the Nguyen family too. I even got a few minutes to myself while all the boys were out playing this evening. Bliss!

[day 237 ... aug 25]

Our first trip to the ocean beach this year! Here Tynor, Niall and Cory are holding up part of the wreck of the Peter Iredale, which has been rusting in the sand for over 100 years.

Later Niall and I went back to the museum near the West Batteries so he could buy a little hurdy-gurdy and get a flattened penney momento (and so I could get a break from a very crabby 5-year-old). We stopped by the adjacent rose garden afterwards, and Niall ended up spending a half hour or more smelling the different roses (so he could find the very best scented ones) and chatting with the woman who was dead-heading roses and pulling weeds there. I rested on a bench after the first dozen roses or so and just enjoyed the nice afternoon and a little breather in my day.

[day 236 ... aug 24]

Today we enjoyed exploring the West Batteries at Ft. Stevens. They look a lot like the batteries at Ft. Flagger (not surprisingly, since they were mostly built at the same time by the same Army Corp of Engineers people) but with a different setting and somewhat different layouts, it was fun to roam around.

Back at camp, Cory learned to ride his two-wheeler with no training wheels! Whoo hoo! He was so pleased and proud. I only had to do one round of our campground loop jogging behind him holding the balancing bar, and then he was off and riding on his own. He picked up starting by himself very quickly too. He was really ready.

The girl he made friends with at the campsite across from us suddenly wanted to learn to ride on her own too, so we lent them the balancing bar (which you can see the older girl holding in the picture). Here the two kids are, happily babbling to the firewood deliverer about their new accomplishments.

[day 235 ... aug 23]

Off on our second camping trip of the summer! We headed off for Oregon today. We'll camp at Ft. Stevens for three nights, then Nehalem Bay for four. Hoping the weather stays nice and that we didn't forget anything major!

This photo was taken about halfway to the campground, as Tynor was setting up a movie for the boys. Our deal is that we drive for at least a few hours, and then they can watch something after our first rest stop break. Works out reasonably well, as they then also read/look at books, listen to music, draw, etc. instead of just vegging out to TV the entire trip.

[day 234 ... aug 22]

All four boys and I were at The Little School's 50th anniversary picnic celebration today. It was great fun. This photo cracked me up. Silly boys!

They had photo albums from various years (including pictures of my kids in some of them!), way back to the old days of the school. Also a dunk tank, an activity in which only those 12 and up were permitted to participate, Niall was disappointed to find out. Crushed might be a better word. He spent a lot of time telling teachers how unfair that was, how contrary to "the Little School way," and how it was actually safer for kids to be dunked than adults. And by the way, did they realize that by the next anniversary celebration (60 years), he'll be 18 and not at TLS anymore?! He thinks the school should design and build its own dunk tank for kids. We'll see if that plot and plan comes to fruition.

There was also a scavenger hunt which occupied most of the rest of Niall's time (Cory and I tried it too). But I mostly just enjoyed chatting with people from yesteryear who came by for the party, and catching up with other friends. It was a lovely day and a great event to help celebrate. Teacher Steve said that he and other staff members were trying to think of who was there that had been at the school the longest ago, and he thought I was probably it. Pretty cool. :-)