Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ten on Tuesday

1. If you know me, you know how I love/tend to overbook us in all ways possible because everything sounds like so much fun, right? Well, Saturday was booked full from about 11am onward.  On Thursday or Friday, Brent's back had started hurting and got worse by the day.  To the point where I was helping him up from sitting positions, consistently, etc... We took this as a message to scale back the rest of the weekend.  We did all the Saturday things -- hair apt. and yoga for me, birthday part for E's friend, riding lessons for M, and then bailed on the Girl Scout party and hung out at the neighborhood pool instead.  After that, we pretty much dialed back to not much so he could rest and we could all mentally rest after chaos behind and looking ahead of us.  We went to the pool every evening as part of our good byes as it has been such a constant to us this summer. We tossed E high in the air I got to swim actual laps (20 one day!). We did other little house projects like replacing some window screens.  We rested.  With a new chair, meds, and rest, Brent's back is MUCH better and I think so are all of us.

2. Sunday's one activity (other than the pool) was breakfast out as we were out of coffee and the kids were feeling like fall hot chocolate.  It was fun and delicious!
3.  M is now in group riding lessons with three other girls including her buddy Ashtyn.  She seems to have conquered her nerves, is feeling the rhythm with the horse and following all the instructions well.  She has beautiful posture on the horse and got lots of compliments from her instructor (rare!).  She got the new riding stance on the first try and took the horse over small landscapte timber obstacles as part of the riding circut.  Having an hour class is MUCH better!

 4.  Did I mention we had a hard time letting go of the pool? Here is M on the last day hugging the furniture!  B is having less difficulty as he knows he'll be swimming four days a week, but it will be less leisurely than our family swims, I suspect and indoors.

5.  In a stunning turn of events I started actually scrapbooking again.  In the course of the weekend I finished 12 pages. (Four of those I started last week, but hadn't done the journaling).  In fairness, 7 total of those were pretty formulaic - 4 pages of vacation photos on the same model, 3 pages of kid interviews on a different model.  The remaining 4 though were all unique and it took me a bit to relearn how to do that.  It is weird, as I've scrapbooked 100s of pages overtime, but it takes awhile to remember what works and figure out the style/layout components.  The above is probably my favorite of the lot.  It is about getting snowcones with the Wainrights and our adventures with them.  The other three pages are about - celebrating July 4th at the lake, going to the Zoo with cousins to start and end the summer, and E's summer gymnastics lessons.  Yes, I scrapbook kind of randomly whatever strikes my fancy!  All this was inspired by stopping at an actual scrapbook store on Friday afternoon and buying 20 pages of paper with the challenge to myself that I had to complete 10 layouts by the end of Monday--- and I did it! Hooray!

 6.  We had big rains last week!  Just a torential downpoor so all the occasional "water feature" in our yard were in full effect.  My favorite of them is when the little "creekbed" in the front pours down the steps creating little waterfalls.  (Most of the rest are less cute and more in need of fixing).  E dancing in the rain in his backwards swimming suit is always cute too!

7.  We've been so lucky to have Grandma stay with us several days a week of late.  Thursday (you can tell it is Thursday by E's mass-day uniform, lol), she bought each kids some books and little fun presents. They loved listening to her read books most of all.  E is especially cuddly of late after long days at school.

8.  FunRun! The school fundraiser at Cross Timbers is named Fun Run.  They raise money for technology, teacher grants, Scholastic news, school events, and other supplies for the school.  If you'd like to donate click on  (M) or (B) and donate either a flat amount or an amount per lap.  The fundraiser ends Thursday! Thanks to those of you who have already donate!

9.  Yes, we did wake up to the big 5.6 earthquake on Saturday morning.  It was the longest one I think I've experienced so far. We're all fine here, but there is damage closer to the epicenter. I do worry about what happens with the next bigger one when this one was a record.  We're starting to do a bit more teaching of our kids about earthquake safety and I'm looking at my emergency supplies in a new light.  Apparently September is national emergency preparedness month (apparently?) -- -anyway, I picked up a couple more items for our kit today. I add a few things now and then in an attempt to get it closer to the 72 hour kit ideal, but no so big that Brent loses patience with it..... hmmm Today's additions were these emergency whistles with compasses and a few other cool features and a small sleeping bag - this is only the second sleeping bag in the kit, but there are those mylar blankets in there.  In concept we should have time to grab actual sleeping bags but like to have some as back up.  In DC we had whistles like this for building collapses so that might have been inspired by the earthquake...

10.  We planted fall garden! I forget pretty much every year, but we made some small attempts this year.  I'm not super optimistic about all these things actually maturing before cold weather, but who knows!  Our sprinklers broke right after the big rainstorm so M is now in charge of watering the garden lightly 2x a day.  So far, so good!

Friday, September 2, 2016

News from our new routine: Right Now

3 happy kids as summer wound down and headed in to school year adventures. 

I like lists and have been missing Ten on Tuesdays so here is a look at where we are "Right Now."

1. Back to school is kind of hard on my.  I go from a house full of people all day to usually just me. I am a people person and it still is a little confusing that I telecommute given that, but it is so good in so many other ways.  Luckily, my mom has been around a few days a week of late dropping in here and there, but still definitely lonely. This, inevitably, lead to an emotional discussion with Brent on wholly unrelated topics that we both knew was really about my difficultly with transitions and the intense logistics of back to school when all of us, one way or another, have our daytime driving by school calendars. (Brent and I work for two different schools, our 3 kids go to 2 different schools... uh huh).  We LOVE education. Anyway, a lot is changing and going on so I wanted to hit some high and not so highlights here.

2. THE most exciting things this back to school revolve around B, which is cool. B is, like his daddy, not the world's "most" enthusiastic/emotive person on a daily basis.  Last year was hard with transitioning schools, a more demanding teacher, and adapting to all the newness.  This year is off to an amazing start.  He has the only male teacher in the school and LOVES it.  Loves his teachers, the class, looks forward to it, and seems to be thriving.  He has maybe found a new best buddy or two as well, which rocks.  He is willingly doing the very minimal homework he has and reveling in knowing he is really good at some of these things like reading and math.  He is excited about and enjoying 2 hours a week of enrichment (gifted and talented program).  He just seems baseline happier, more cooperative, more chatty, every day.  Such a relief.

3. There is MORE big news for B.  Remember his love of swim team this summer? Well, yesterday he finally started swimming with the King Marlin Swim Club (KMSC). I could probably write a whole post on our kids' activities they have tried and done, but not been passionate about.  We have had the opportunity to expose them to a lot of things and they have taken us up on it.  So far, B has tried - soccer (1.5 years), baseball (1.5 years), basketball (2 weeks?), archery (3 months), Tennis (4 months), Spanish (1.5 years)--- some he liked more than others, but rarely was he really all in.  He is SO all in to swimming.  He has been looking forward to it, practicing his strokes when we visit the neighborhood pool, helping gather supplies for the new team, and being very accepting of the new schedule that means swim team practice 4x a week for 45 minutes. We have never committed this level of time or resources to an activity, but also it never felt like there was an interest. I missed taking him to the first day of KMSC practice because the other 2 kids had teacher/parent meetings. We prepped him with information from our neighborhood coach whose kids swim for this club as well.  She is amazing.  Grandma took him and there were no problems, just 100 or more kids swimming hard. From school/neighborhood teams he knows maybe a dozen including one of those new buddies from school!  He came back super pumped and super starving.  He wants to compete asap.  He says they swam more laps yesterday than in all of the summer combined and yet he loved it.  We are so completely thrilled that he has found something he loves to do that is good for his body, good for the practice of routine exercise, good for his psychology and just plain fun.  Hooray for swimming and GO Marlins!

4.  M is maybe more of a mixed bag.  Lucky for us our kids seem to take turns with the highs and lows.  M is fine.  Her teacher is super enthusiastic and different from last year.  M says they spend a lot of time in circle time and her back hurts.  She is making new friends as some of her best friends are in other classes.  She is having nagging stomach issues, but maybe improving with the acid reflux.  Most of her issues, I think, are at home.  There is a lot of whiny and way too much lying about whether or not she has done what we told her too.  We are tightening up her supervision and basically watching everything she does to verify it is happening.  I doubt it is fun for her and it isn't for us, but we really have to help her build habits of cleanliness, honesty, and good health.  She is leaving chores half done by, for example, putting clothes that go in her drawers in the video game baskets.... So, there's that.

5.  The better news for M is her love of horses and english riding.  She doesn't even need to get on the horses.  She would love to just hang around in the stables and smell them...yes, you read that right.  We arrive at riding lessons 15-30 minutes early most week so she has time to wander the stables.  This week she is being promoted to group riding lessons which are the same price as the semi-private (2 rider) lessons of last month, but now last an entire hour.  She is psyched.  She is reading non-fiction and fiction books about horses. Sometimes a large number if imaginary horses live in our backyard.  She practices posting at the bus stop and everywhere else.  She has a whole area of her room which is a stable area for her toy horses.  It is definitely obsession level.  I don't see, yet, the need to compete that B has with swimming. She just enjoys doing it and being with the animals and I'm just as happy to invest the money in lessons v. competitions and all the gear that goes with it.  Saturday riding lessons are the best part of her week and she is so antsy to go before hand that she can barely handle it. (As a reminder prior to this she has tried dance lessons - 3 different years), Gymnastics 2.25 years, soccer - 1 season, swim team - summer, french - 2 years, girl scouts - ongoing) she tends to alternate between dance and gymnastics and prefers dance of the two, but with nothing like the fervor of the horse riding.  M loves to perform so weeks and weeks of lessons for one performance doesn't really match that although I know as she got older there would be more performance opportunities.  For now, we're fully embracing the love of horses and riding.  She says she wants to be a riding instructor when she grows up.

6. My poor, sweet E is exhausted.  Pre-K for him is actually more time in school than our bigger kids spend.  He, I'm told, does not nap at school.  When he is tired, he goes super fast --- think running all over, which is confusing.  He stops listening and starts hitting people or throwing things.  You can imagine how well evenings are going right now. I think he will adapt, but it is taking some time.  We had his parent/teacher group meeting yesterday and while the comments from his teacher were directed at all the parents I feel sure E is doing all of these things - taking off all his clothes to go potty, not always wiping well, not washing his hands with all the steps (water, soap, rub hands, rinse, dry), being distracted at lunch/not eating, not staying in his chair at lunch/snacktime, not keeping hands to themselves, forgetting to say please and thank  you, wearing a belt, forgetting to go to the bathroom before going to school, should I continue? These are all really life skills not academic ones, but they are things 4 year olds struggle with and we're trying to do a better job of emphasizing them here too.  Scandalously, I accidentally sent him in black rather than navy pants on Thursday.  Who knew we even had black dress pants for him? There was a stern note.

 This week's pre-K color is "yellow" (They are reading all curious george books, obvi) and the theme is "letting your light shine." So we're trying to emphasize that at home too and making sure his light is shining before he goes to school.  This is basically a reminder to be kind to everyone, share, help, talk nicely, mind your teachers, not throw fits, etc..  We talk about ways he is shining his light and try to keep him focused on that.... we shall see how that goes.  It is really hard to have all the tired struggles as I know he remains my sweet, snuggly, adoring boy under all that, but right now he is struggling through transition too and we're trying to help, but do have to also do a lot of parenting to keep him on the path. We, amazingly, did remember to bring his show and share item today - yellow, as requested.  He chose "sunshine bear," which seems perfectly on theme.  I"m excited for a more relaxed weekend with him, reading his new favorite ninja turtles in space book Grandma brought him yesterday.

7. Brent is actually the happiest and least stressed in the fall as he is mostly just teaching classes not doing quite as many of the administrative/camp things.  He is taking E to school two days a week and maybe coming home to cover swimming lessons some days too.  The thing about all school and these activities for our kids is they require a lot of logistics from us and getting everyone to the right place with the right stuff. For example, there can be 15 lunches to be made, 15 folders to review, 10 snacks to pack, etc...  We're working on being a true team on this front so we each really know what is needed and work through the prep together so neither of us goes crazy.  We're also working on the kids doing more of the prep themselves - especially things like lunch and snacks.  (Hooray!).  Otherwise, Brent is getting ready for football season with his dad, playing games with Gavin and Eric, doing lots of LEGOs with the kids, brainstorming fixes for the camps for next year,  and preparing for some of my upcoming trips away.

Yes, you read that right, I'm going to leave the chaos for a ridiculously brief trip in Sept. and then again in October. I should note that I was, in fact, for possibly the only month so far this year actually in Oklahoma every single day of August.

So that's pretty much where we are now.  Trying to adapt on lots of fronts and so, so excited for a three day weekend. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

M @ 7

1. How old are you? 7*
2. Who is your best friend? Isabella*
3. What is your favorite thing to do? Go horse riding*
4. What is your favorite color? Blue
5. What is your favorite food? Sausage*
6. What do you like to do with your family? Play LEGOs*
7. What is your favorite toy? Purple baby*
8. What do you want to be when you grow up? Horse riding instructor*
9.    What makes you happy? blankie*
10.   What makes you sad? When my tummy hurts*
11.   What is your favorite show to watch? My Little Ponies*
12.   What is your favorite book? Ladybug Girl*
13.   What do you love to learn about: Horses*
14.   What was the best part of your birthday? Everything!* The opening of the Olympics!
15.   Where do you like to go?  The Stables*
16.   Who is your teacher? Ms. Wilburn*
17.  What is your favorite treat? Cherry Pie*
18.   What do you think about before you fall asleep? The next day*
19.   If you could meet someone famous who would it be? Lin-Manuel Miranda
20.   What was your favorite thing we did at your birthday party? Watch the opening of the Olympics (party 1) and decorating! (party 2)*

Bonus - Favorite Song - The Reynolds Pamphlet from Hamilton (she says she likes the sound of the music & all Hamilton songs); also likes Go For The Gold Song from week 1 of music

*Answers that have changed since 6 year old interview.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vacation 2016: Gloss Mountain State Park

 When planning our summer vacation, the kids wanted to see caves and swim. I wanted to see Great-Grandpa.  Thus, we built a couple of hours in Okeene in to our trip.  We stopped and at lunch, then brought him ice cream and listened to all his stories about the other places we were about to visit on our trip.  It was awesome.  Then we took the long way to Woodward through the Gloss Mountains State Park.
 I want to be super clear that Gloss Mountain State Park does not contain an actual mountain.  There are several large "plateaus" that are not nearly as tall as a mountain.  The largest has a path up the side and we dutifully climbed it in the blazing sun.
 A few parts of the path were climbing in the traditional sense, but most of the way up there is a perfectly nice stair case.  It was a bit too much for E though so Brent (bless him) carried him most of the way up and down.  Brent got a lot of exercise on vacation this year!
 First look from the top!
 So the "gloss" here is selenite --- yes, the same mineral that came up in our visit to Alabaster Caverns.  We have a large piece as a souvenir of this trip purchased from the caverns store as it was a recurring theme.

 We wandered around exploring the top of the plateau and very thankful for a bit of breeze.

 We were only maybe an hour from Roman Nose or less, but the landscape is totally different.  Much more like you would think of the southwest.  There were very few trees, lots of parched red dirt, and native grasses.
 Then, before we had a heat stroke, down we came.
Gloss Mountain State Park is a great short stop. I wouldn't plan a visit as a trip in and of itself, but I'm glad we stopped by and observed another aspect of Oklahoma's wild and varied landscape.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vacation 2016: Roman Nose State Park

The first state park we visited this summer was Roman Nose State Park located near Watonga, Oklahoma.  We stayed the night at a cabin in the park and I think Brent is pretty convinced we could have spend the entire vacation here in a much more relaxed fashion that park hopping. 

 This "photo rock" is right outside the main lodge, which looks nothing like I remember it as a child, but does have a small, surprisingly reasonably priced restaurant.  We ate there twice.  We could easily have brought our own food and cooked in our cabin, but due to my late arrival back from DC and general lack of planning that didn't happen this trip.
 The lodge features a lovely patio and great view of the surrounding park and lake. The first evening, we arrived fairly tired so we settled on a walk around the area near our cabin at dusk and trying to get some rest after the 7 hours we'd spent swimming at the water park in Clinton earlier in the day.
We did not quite succeed at our plan to get up early and hike before it got hot, but we did get some good rest and B finally filled himself up on lots of pancakes.
 I really enjoy the family hikes we take on vacation and somehow we managed to still have fairly cool weather even with the later start.  We chose an easy, fairly short trail that started near the lodge and settled off on an adventure.
 There were lots of interested tracks and plants to study.
 We happened up on this small waterfall.  The entire bottom of the waterway and that island M is standing on are maid of zillions of tiny clam shells.  It was amazing.
 B and I watched from the shore and were rewarded with not having muddy feet the rest of the day.
 There were occasional hills to climb that provided great views and lots of time to talk about the various rock formations and what they were made of.
 The trail ended near the "General Store." That area features mini golf, canoe, paddle boat, and horse rides, and basic supplies for camping and other adventures.

 There are also Teepees that you can rent to spend the night in... we did not, but did explore them.
Our last stop before we left was a paddle boat ride in this small muddy late.  The cool of the morning was definitely gone and five people was maybe too many for the paddle boat.  We were ready to pack up and head off to visit great grandpa.  That said, there were many more trails, a pool, horses, and lots of other fun we didn't get to try this visit.  Next time!


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