Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summer continued

The summer seems to be flying by .. we have no problem filling our time. We've gone to birthday parties, visited grandparents, made many trips to the pool, and spent lots of time with our next door neighbors who are also schedule-free. The weather has been amazing. Last week, we visited Portland for the second time this summer. Ryan did the STP. He had a great time and so did we. We went with a family from our preschool whose dad was also doing the ride. We visited the Portland Children's museum, spent a few hours at a park where we had a picnic, and visited the local uwajimaya -- always fascinating for kids (American kids that is)

Something has changed recently though. Two weeks ago, we spent the week with the children of a friend. I watched 4 kids for 4 days (long story about how this happened). My friend has lovely kids who are the same age as mine but the combination wasn't great for my kids. Jack was really unhappy with the arrangement but instead of articulating that he became aggressive and channeled that anger toward Sonia. I spent a great deal of time managing their unhappiness and mine. It seems that week wore me down as I felt really cranky this week.  Jack, especially, seems to pick up my moods. So now my unhappiness is his. I didn't figure it all out until yesterday when I commented to Ryan that I couldn't understand why the kids were so grumpy. His look said it all. Grumpy mom = grumpy children.

Next week, the kids will attend camp. We all need some space.

Portland Children's Museum entrance

We visited friends who moved to Portland. They have 3 kids in their family and this amazing cargo bike. I want one.

Ryan at STP finish

Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island

Bloedel Reserve. This is how they feel about posing for pictures

Visit to Oxbow farm to pick raspberries


I've wanted to ride the Great Wheel since it was installed. It's worth the ride. I took at least 10 pictures during the ride and chose this one because of Sonia's face. My kids will regret their attitude about pictures once they see this blog.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


For the last year or so, the kids (esp Jack) have been very into audiobooks. We started with 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' read by Erik Idle. He's a great narrator and the story is so rich and enjoyable in the way of all great children's literature. After listening to that at least 10 times, I needed a change so we moved onto all of the Ramona Quimby books. Stockard Channing narrates those and she is also amazing. There are 6 books in that series and after listening to all of those at least 10 times, I had to move on. We listen mostly in the car but sometimes at home and I am always listening too because the stereo is in our living space.

I tried a lot of different audiobooks but the bar is very high for what interests Jack. We tried the Henry Huggins series (we did not make it through one book), the Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss stories (we made it through a couple of those),  and Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing (10 minutes).

We started The Boxcar Children. He was interested but when he learned I'd procured the Harry Potter series, he wanted nothing else. Ryan has been reading the series to him. He has now heard each of the first three books several times. The audiobooks are narrated by Stephen Fry who is as good as Erik Idle or Stockard Channing.

Jack listens to audiobooks with the same rapt attention that he stares at a monitor. If you talk to him, he won't hear you. He also really listens because we talk a lot about the characters in the books. Do we think they are good or bad, nice or mean, etc? He learned a lot about manners from the Ramona books, and he learned about sarcasm from Willy Wonka (although he doesn't know what sarcasm means he understands when Wonka uses it).  I think he liked the Boxcar children because there are no adults around and the kids have adventures independently. Harry Potter's allure is obvious.

It's lots of fun. My challenge is finding really, really good children's books.

Saturday, July 06, 2013


Last Saturday, we drove out of town for our first family vacation. In the past, we have always visited people we knew (usually my family in Arizona) but this time the majority of our trip was taken alone. We had a long drive since our ultimate destination was Sandpoint, ID.  We took our time .. wandering east and saw some cool sites.

We stopped in Ellensburg:

Jack enjoyed the skatepark

Interesting yard art

Crazy summer storm
 For the first couple of days, we visited friends in Pullman, WA. We'd never visited Pullman and we loved it. Our friends have a 7 year old son and they are super outdoors people. They own every piece of outdoor gear imaginable -- kayaks, sail boat, bicycles. They have a beautiful home with a view of the little city ... a fire pit in the back yard and even a hot tub.  The kids had a blast.

Palouse Falls State Park

Coolest outdoor pool ever

Sailing on the Snake River

Jack and Ryan kayaking on the Snake River

We arrived in Sandpoint on Monday and stayed through the 4th of July.  At first, I was unhappy. We stayed at a lodge on the Pend Oreille River but our cabin was so dark, it felt like a cave. It was old and too small. I'd planned to be able to cook there but it would not have been comfortable with the kids. I also felt that the location was not kid-friendly. Then I figured out what kid-friendly really means: a kid-friendly place is one where kids can play relatively unsupervised so adults can relax. This was not that place. At first, our kids seemed to need our constant entertainment and I didn't feel up to it.

We considered leaving. Then we decided to make the best of it and everything shifted. People go on vacation to escape chores and have the opportunity to have nothing to do but play. We never cooked or cleaned or ran errands. We went to the beach at the river every day. We played with the kids, ate ice cream, went out to dinner. Everyone had fun. Jack and I rode our bikes 3 miles into town every day. We watched the 4th of July parade and the fireworks. We decided to go on vacation every year at this time.

Ryan's parents joined us for a few of the evenings we were in Sandpoint. They hung out with us at the lodge. Ryan's dad took some fun photos.
Ryan and kids standing in front of boat that fascinated Jack. The boat had 2 1200 horse power engines. Ryan's dad estimated its cost around 300K. Fancy.

the lodge -- we watched the fireworks from this dock

Ryan rode his bike the first 60 miles of the way home. He is training for the Seattle-to-Portland ride. The kids and I stopped at Albeni Dam. We took a tour but were allowed no pictures (they are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers). I snapped this one before the tour.

Our last stop was Cle Elum. We met friends for dinner at their parents' vacation home. The kids ran freely. Jack rode his bike on the dirt roads, and they played. We've been listening to Harry Potter while driving so the kids look forward to that part of the trip too. They finally fell asleep around 10 as they are now on summer time.