Saturday, August 6, 2022

Last Week For Fun

 School starts next Monday! I can't believe how quickly the summer has gone. July was a lot of camps - the kids started at Camp Ford while Tim and I went and saw Steve Martin and Martin Short at the Hollywood Bowl, with the LA Philharmonic, for the Fourth of July. 

We got a lot of good beach days in, along with some good splashes at the Resort and Spa. 

Ellie did two weeks of an acting camp - she initially was very cheesed with me for signing her up, but she'd had so much fun doing performances at the end of fifth grade. And the camp was less about "here we are, we are going to put on a play in two weeks" and more "this is a workshop to help you unlock your creativity and learn more about what goes on in the theater arts." They had a speaker every day, so she learned about costume design and play writing and improv, and then at the end of the two weeks they did a small demonstration for the parents and no surprise, she was a total hambone and a natural on stage. 

Meanwhile, Adam went back to the day camp that he's done for several years, for his last year before he graduates to the sleep away camp. He went with his buddies Judd and Matty, and the three amigos had an absolute blast.

It really is a great two weeks for him - they do two beach days, two days of horseback riding, and then every other day is an outdoor adventure. They have archery, a rock wall, slip and slide, skateboarding, and then just the regular goofy camp stuff. Adam said he loves the long drive to the beach because "we can sing camp songs the entire way on the bus!" All the parents traded off pick ups, and I tried to win best mom award by taking them out for an ice cream most afternoons. We'd get home, run Adam through the shower to get off all the sunscreen and sweat, and then he'd flop on the couch and try to stay awake until bedtime.

Then last week I signed up him for soccer camp with Judd. Please recall that during some of his baseball season snit fits, he would holler at me that he hated baseball and he'd never asked me to sign him up for it - he wanted to play soccer (his primary reason seemed to be because in soccer "you don't play positions." Sure bro, you didn't back in kindergarten ding dong soccer, but much like how your baseball coach won't let you play a good position if you're being a bad faith actor, same will be true in soccer for fourth graders!) So, I called his bluff, via a low stakes half day camp focusing on drills and skills. He lasted less than an hour the first day before the coach called us and told us to come get him, because he was sitting on the bench refusing to participate. Tim managed to talk him down, and he went and happily participated the other days, understanding that it was okay that he wasn't as good as the other kids, most of whom seemed to be on club teams. I mean, he was the only kid on the field wearing just a tee shirt and shorts, not a full on soccer kit (I mean, he does have cleats, but we borrowed shin guards for him.) The good news is, he had a fun week, he got to hang out with Judd most afternoons, and now I don't have to deal with him and AYSO this fall! 

Our big summer plan was Ellie heading back to sleep away camp. Last year I was nervous as to how she would do, but this year I was more concerned that she'd get COVID again and be unable to go (or that Lexi wouldn't be able to go.) We all had a deep breath of relief when she tested negative the day before, and got on the bus. I was like, once she's there, it's the camp's problem! At least I won't have to be the one to be there if the bad news breaks! But lo, she didn't get COVID at all and actually had an amazing time. Also, last year when we picked her up she announced that camp was "meh" and "okay" and "maybe" she'd go again but NOT ON THE BUS this year she was like "I cannot wait to go!" and when she got home all she talked about was how great it all was and how she can't wait to go back next year and also, taking the bus is awesome! (which is awesome in that it means none of the parent have to do the 15 hour round trip drive.)

As you can see, they do a lot of wonderful activities. And the camp photographer does a fantastic job of getting the parents visual evidence that their kids are alive and having fun. Though, always fun to look through the photos and wonder "whose shirt is that? Those aren't her shoes!"

I'm so happy she had such a lovely time - she had a great time with Lexi and the rest of her cabin, she got to go banana boating twice (which she loved) and she said during her free time she spent a lot of her time in the nature center and she was holding one of the baby mice when it opened its eyes for the first time (she did not feed it to the nature center snake, thankfully.) And next year, BOTH KIDS CAN GO! (can, and will!)

We're hoping to have our friends from the Bay Area down to visit this week (though they are getting over COVID) and I suppose at some point it'll be time to find their back to school supply lists and figure out what they're going to want packed in their lunches. This is my second and final year as PTA president, and while I'm a little worried about the state of the executive board for reasons various and sundries, I will still just do my best and ask for forgiveness (or hope they fire me! Either way!) 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Summer's Flying By!

 This past school year our district started earlier than ever, which meant we were out during the first week of June. It's sort of discombobulating, having the long weekend for Memorial Day, coming back for a few hectic days and then it being summer. Though I guess it helps because it gives me a warm up into the time where I usually don't know what day it is, and I certainly don't know the date.

In years past, we've left for Wisconsin the first weekend after school gets out, but now with school getting out earlier, we've had two weeks to laze around. My philosophy is the kids can do whatever lazy thing they want until after lunch. Watch TV, play video games, I don't care. I want to go to the Y and have my coffee in peace, and then I can start brow beating them into some sort of outdoor, fun time activity. 

As in years past, it's lots and lots of beach time. We've had a couple of friends come down to visit us, and almost every morning we hear knocking on the door from one of Adam's little neighborhood boyfriends. Last night we got home late after a long day, and I had the brilliant idea to tape a do not disturb sign on our front door, and everyone actually got to sleep in. Though the neighbor boys never seem to remember that they can't come over until 9:30, at least this morning they showed they could read and didn't bang on the door. 

And then on Father's Day, off to Door County! For another week of beach time, just a different beach.
We had another great year of digging deep into family traditions

And we got to do some new stuff, now that all the kids are getting bigger. One morning we went and did a kayak tour to the bluffs around Garrett Bay, which we all enjoyed (and survived - we may have floated over a shipwreck, but no one in our party wrecked.)

We also rented a boat and spent a day tubing, with Captain Grizz at the helm. We all had an absolute blast, hanging on for our lives. The only downside is the pontoon doesn't really get up to a top speed - we joked that next year Sara would be happy to rent us all a speedboat.

We got to see all of our cousins, and even got to stop by and see Grandpa Charlie on our way home, so a pretty perfect trip. 

Adam's playing flag football this summer, which is going better than baseball (probably because it's only an hour once a week, and he's playing with his two best friends. He spends more time doing his secret handshake with Matty than he does actually paying attention.) Ellie's still at gymnastics twice a week, and we're hanging out at the beach, and at any pool we can crash. Grizz's pool, friends' pools, the neighborhood community pool that we cannot join because we technically live on the wrong side of the tracks - so some mornings I email my friends who ARE members and ask what they're up to, and then invite me and my poor urchins along if they're swimming. Just the good summer stuff, and starting now we go into three solid weeks of camps - Adam is doing two weeks at day camp with his friends, and then a week of soccer camp (with the same friends.) Ellie is doing her second week of acting camp this coming week, and then off to sleep away camp for ten days! (and this year, we're making her and Lexi take the bus and saving ourselves a long long drive.) They're both thrilled by it all. To be fair, Ellie was initially very mad at me that I signed her up for acting camp, but like a true hambone, she's loving it now that she's there! And then I feel like I'll blink again and it'll be time for sixth and fourth grade!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Mid-Year Review

 Wow, am officially the worst blogger! Today is the last day of the school year, so might as well catch up Uncle Barry (hi Uncle Barry!) before the kids are around this house all day, bothering me with their needs and wants and video games. It feels like we don't have a ton of stuff planned this summer, and yet it'll probably feel full and wild and scheduled to the hilt and we'll be relieved to get back into the school routine come fall (or rather, late summer - they go back in August.)

They've both had a good year, and running the PTA has proven to be mostly rewarding for me. I started the year with the attitude of "we'll do what we can, and not stress about the things we can't do." We started the year without being able to have volunteers on the campus AT ALL, and as the COVID restrictions changed, we were able to welcome all the families back to campus for a taco truck on Open House night, and last Monday we were able to host the family picnic, where parents and loved ones can come and share lunch with their kids. The PTA provided popsicles for everyone, and we had our outdoor book fair set up. I ran the register and sold about $1600 worth of books! It was so great to see everyone, and as a jerk, I enjoy yelling at the kids I know "oh, sorry! We don't allow popsicles for people named [insert kid's name.]" Adam's baseball teammates were especially confused to get hollered at by me, out of context. 

This was my sentiment last week, after being on campus volunteering, and coming to speak at a school assembly, where all the kids were sitting on the black top patiently listening to the speakers and performers, their little faces just rays of light (and sometimes, boredom.)

I spent most of the past week volunteering on my kids' school campus. The ending this year feels so bittersweet and fragile. To have started the year sending them back with new masks, along with new backpacks. To end the year with thankfulness that they've survived COVID, that our school has stayed open, and also that they haven't been slaughtered at their desks, made martyrs to the Second Amendment. It breaks my heart on so many levels and makes me want to cup each of their little faces in my hands and bestow whatever blessing I can upon them. Some of them are wonderful. Some of them are weird. Some of them are sweet little nuggets and some of them are rude little menaces. But they all deserve to feel safe and learn and grow and LIVE within the bounds of the school (and the grocery store, and church, and the movie theater, and and and and and...)

I want us to do better for all those sweet babies, and for every person who deserves to be able to navigate the world safely.

So, what else has been happening this year? We went to the UK over our spring break to reunite with our Quaranteam, who moved there in the fall for new jobs and the ex-pat life. It was so good to be with them again, it was like no time had ever passed. They can try to put an ocean between us, but they're my family for life!

Me with all three of my babies.

The kids were remarkably good international travelers - our main difficulties surrounded trying to get them to eat non-boring food, and look at exciting, one of a kind things (they said they didn't have to learn anything because they were on spring break, so I nearly had to do a murder when they refused to take even a second to appreciate the Rosetta Stone.) I am hoping that as years go on, we can meet up with our friends in various cities worldwide, and hopefully, if they come back to California, I will have pre-built a basement bunker to lock them in forever. I mean...

A funny thing about tourist Adam - he will point out something fun or pretty or scenic and say "you should take a picture of this!" and then he insists on being in the photo and posing, so you know what you're supposed to be looking at.

Tourist Ellie loves doing a cartwheel in historic places

The biggest spring activity for Adam has been Little League. He was fortunate to be on a good team with fantastic coaches. He hits well, and he's in training as a pitcher, but overall the season was a lesson in helping him become a better teammate, and less of a rage-quitter. Highlights from "Jesus Take the Wheel" parenting moments include him striking out and then, when I wouldn't let him immediately quit the team, having him sticking his head out of the dugout to yell at me in front of everyone "YOU DON'T EVEN LOVE ME." He was on a team with some kids who were younger than him, and would throw fits about how "I shouldn't be on a team with these babies!" but had no response when I pointed out that no one else was acting like a baby and throwing a tantrum on the field. Thankfully, all the coaches and other parents supported us through it - and the kicker is, when he was having a good time, he was having a GREAT time! He just can't let himself give in to loving it.

Here he is, warming up on the mound, 2.5 hours into what would turn out to be a 3 hour play off game (his team ultimately got third place.) It's obvious how unhappy he is as a player, right? You can clearly see from this that I DON'T EVEN LOVE HIM. 

The end of fifth grade has been busy busy busy for Ellie. They've spent the year learning about the American Revolution, and finished up with a Colonial Day presentation for families. Ellie asked me about buying her a colonial costume and I said hang on, let me show you one thing I have in my closet that might work before we buy something.

And lo, Ellie turned the bridesmaid's dress from Gigi and Grizz's wedding into a halter neck colonial gown. 

They might burn her at the stake for her bare shoulders, but she looked great and performed well. It's so great to see her having a good year and blossoming so much at school. She's so fearless in her style and confident in who she is - I absolutely love her.

The last adventure for this spring has been their first piano recital back in quite some time. Videos below! And hopefully more to come (further updates even!) as we get into our summer fun.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Well Then...

 Man, I don't really know what to say - sorry for abandoning you, my little baby blog. And what to say? We had a good holiday season - lots of thankfulness to be able to be with Mimi and Poppy and Jake and Halyn for Thanksgiving dinner. And at Christmas, happy to have our usual slate of activities including Poppy's birthday party and visit with Santa, Christmas Eve present opening and appetizer eating with Gigi and Grizz and Sara, and then Christmas morning brunch here with everyone, moving into Christmas afternoon with Mimi's giant family.

We also had another little Central Coast getaway with Amelia, Bobby and Caitlin (and their parents) which was great. We stayed at a house with a beautiful view, and just lazed around. The kids kept asking if we were going to go do something, any activities planned, and we were like "nope, go play video games together. You're always dying to do exactly that, come bother us when you're hungry."

The kids are fully vaccinated, and Tim and I are boosted. I am so thankful for modern medicine and the ability to help ensure their safety, and the community's safety. We unfortunately are back in a lock down this week after a close contact, but in much less of a panic than we would have been even a few months ago. There's no New Year, New Me when it comes to Adam doing his school work, so he and I are just struggling to get the work done. Our teachers are the true heroes, my goodness. 

It's also wild to me to think that we're coming on two years since the initial lock down. I think about being feeling at the end of my tether in March when they first came home - who would have thought it would be an entire year before they re-entered their school building? Or back in February 2020, when Adam said something about the coronavirus, I asked him who had mentioned it. When he said Tim I told Tim privately "hey, let's not talk about it around the kids, it's not a thing they need to be worried about." And yet, it's consumed a huge chunk of their childhood years. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

October Catch Up.

I know! I can't believe I'm so behind the times. Remember 11 years ago when I'd updated every day on Ellie even though she didn't do anything except hang out on the couch with me? 

And now she's a real pre-teen, not just in attitude, but in age! She's such a funny person. This year has been a lot of changes and challenges, and I'm really proud of who she's becoming. She's back to making a lot of little art projects, in addition to her continued Minecraft work. She's great on her swim team, and got to move up a level in gymnastics. (which is also where she got exposed to COVID, only two weeks before being able to get vaccinated. Thankfully all her tests came back negative, but their upcoming vaccine appointment cannot come soon enough!)

We also had a great Halloween. Ellie was an elf (wood elf, not Christmas elf) and Adam was Hanzo from Overwatch. All of his other little dude friends were Overwatch heroes as well, which makes me laugh. They got one million pounds of candy and had a wonderful time with their friends.

Their school was able to hold the jogathon fundraiser last week (guess who organized it) and I think all the kids had a good time. We certainly raised a ton of money for the school, which was the goal. And now I'm in prize packing gulag, getting all of the crummy dollar store prizes bagged for the students. The company we work with for the fun run "provides" the prizes, as in, yesterday a FedEx truck tried to drop off 37 giant boxes at my house, and I begged them to follow me to the school instead. We cannot be on campus at the same time as the students, for COVID rules, so I guess I will live at the school for the next few afternoons.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Room Where It Happens!

 In a week, we'll have an eleven year old, which seems unbelievable, but then not, because she's definitely trying to be eleven going on seventeen.

The eye make up was for a Halloween event - she does not generally look this full goth, but when she does start an angry rock band, this will be the album cover.

More like it, on picture day. The Doc Martens were her birthday present from Gigi and Grizz, which is the second time Gigi has bought Docs for a surly young lady to stomp around in.

Last year for her birthday, we went to the Grand Canyon with Lexi and Judd. This year, a more local experience - we bought tickets for the whole family to go see Hamilton up in LA, and to get there on a Friday night, we chartered a sprinter bus limo! We refused to tell the kids ahead of time what the plan was (despite having to take them all to get COVID tests, since they're too young to be vaccinated) until the very last minute on Friday night. Judd and Lexi had complained on the way over "why do we have to dress up if we're just going to the Fords!" But then they all screamed with joy, and were especially jazzed on the limo-van (the best part was that it had four captains chairs facing each other, and then a bench in the back, so the adults could be separate from their children. Sadly, not separate enough, could have used another partition.) 

Like true Southern Californians, we stopped and got In N Out for dinner, and then Kristen had brought along cupcakes for us to celebrate with. 

And then, what time was it? SHOWTIME! Like I said... showtime showtime WHAT!

It was FANTASTIC. This was the third time for both Tim and I to see it, second for Kristen, Jeff and Ellie, and first for the boys and Lexi. I thought the cast was really great - we saw the understudy in the Hamilton role, but I thought he did amazing and had such a beautiful voice. We had good seats in the balcony, including an aisle seat for Tim and his long legs. I drew the short stick and sat next to Adam, but he did mostly okay with fidgeting and wondering how much time was left (kid, you know how much time is left, you know every word to this show!) Then during the very last bars about who lives, who dies, who tells your story, he got so overwhelmed and burst into tears! My sensitive little theater patron. The girls had been completely thrilled with every minute of it - Tim reported that he had to remind them that it was not a singalong production. And then on the way home, the boys, who had been tired during the show, were absolutely amped in the car. The rest of us (other than Tim) were dozing on and off, and so thankful to not have to drive or pay attention. It was such a fun event, and such a fun celebration of these two besties.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Diamonds Are Forever!


Here he comes, Noodle Arms back at the bat! I am so happy for our little friend, to be returning to activities outside our house, Gigi's pool and the beach. I'm also glad we got back in at Fall Ball, which is a little more easy going, and a shorter schedule than spring little league. They let him play down for fall, so he's with kids younger than him, but I wanted to make sure he had a good season, got his legs back under him, and wasn't getting flattened by baseball players whose parents felt comfortable having them play last year. When the other parents exclaim over how tall he is, I do make sure to point out he's 8. Sure, he's tall for 8, but if he were 6 or 7, he'd be a mutant at his present height. He had a good first game, hit every time he was at bat and actually fielded a few plays. And in a miraculous turn of events, out in the field, he was actually baseball ready, with his glove on and his knees bent, ready to grab a ground ball. 

Ellie also got suited up to try a season of baseball. I thought it would be easier, having both kids in the same co-ed league, but she had one practice and came off the field crying, saying she hated it. I offered to find a softball league but she wasn't interested, and said she'd rather go back to gymnastics and basketball. Thankfully, her old gymnastics had a spot for her at the level she'd been at before the pandemic, so we'll see how it goes. I might also sign her up for swim team in October back at the Y, if the pool hasn't been shut down for kid lessons. (It's been in the 90s for the past week, so don't fear that it'll be a polar plunge.) 

It's nice to be getting back to some semblance of normalcy, back to having folding chairs and baseball bags in the trunk of my car, back to the kids getting to see more of their friends. Last night we got invited to a casual evening BBQ at the swim club in the neighborhood (we live on the wrong side of the tracks, can only go as guests) and I was so happy to see Ellie frolicking with her other fifth grade friends. I also got in and played sea serpent - I managed to swim all the up behind her in the deep end and grabbed her ankle and from underwater, could hear her squeal.