Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer is Flying By

I can't believe how quickly time is passing. As the summer drew nearer I was actually expecting that it would drag on forever and I'd struggle to keep myself and my children happily occupied. I realize that we are only halfway done while others are already in the throws of back-to-school, but the time has just flown by. I'm happy to report that the lack of blogging is due to an overabundance of loving the life we're living. In truth it's a normal the-days-are-long-but-the-weeks-are-short experience much like I imagine the rest of the world experiences, but we've done quite a few awesome things and have a bunch more in the works.

Each week the kids (whichever ones are around) get $5 to spend at the Farmer's Market. To these kids that may be as good as Christmas. Well, almost. The first week we did this both picked broccoli, Ellie chose tomatoes, and Aeryn chose strawberries. They were both quite good at sharing with each other but since Aeryn doesn't like tomatoes I think Ellie struck gold on that deal.

We headed out to the coast for a day. Instead of our normal spot we headed to Newport and visited the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. It was charming to see the tour guides in period dress and hear the stories about the old Lighthouse keepers and their responsibilities. There were seals all over the beach, hundreds of birds perched on the rocks, and we were there just after low tide so the tide pools were fairly well exposed. While exploring we found numerous sea anemones and sea stars, even a family of hermit crabs whose babies were very tiny. We tried very hard to get Ellie to touch a sea star but she was terrified. About 100 yards into our walk back to the car she declared that she was ready to try and asked when we'd be coming back. The tide was coming in so we'd missed the window of opportunity for that day.

One afternoon the girls and I read The Jewel Fairies: India the Moonstone Fairy and then I gave them poster board to paint something from the story. Aeryn chose to paint Emily the Emerald Fairy, and Ellie chose to mix all the paint colors together to see what would happen. I have to say the contrast was pretty funny to watch.

Morning cartoons have been a staple. Despite my efforts to limit media time, especially because it's so easy to go overboard with it during summer vacation, we tend to watch a couple cartoons every morning while waiting for breakfast. We've outlawed My Little Pony because of the snippy, moody, unkind nature of the ponies but the one thing that I miss is that Ellie always worried about whichever pony was being picked on and snuggled up to Aeryn like this. I keep telling myself that sisterly affection can exist without overly dramatic children's television.

Of course there have been more All Comers Meets... The girls have friends who also run them and it's been a regular part of each week. Tomorrow is the final meet this summer and I think they will be missed greatly. It's so fun to see the kids push themselves a little harder each time and see how happy they are when they improve or try something new. Ellie was especially happy when she came in 3rd in the 60 meter dash while running with the 6 year olds instead of the 5's.

With summer comes bidding farewell to some of our friends for good. That is the curse of having a lot of graduate student families and recent graduates that we are friends with (I'm a little grumpy about it right now actually). They tend to get jobs in the real world and leave. One of Aeryn's friends has moved so we made sure to get in a sleepover before her family had to leave. The first thing all the girls decided was that they were going to make breakfast themselves. They feasted on chocolate chip marshmallow pancakes and somehow survived the enormous sugar rush. I was so pleased with the older girls including Ellie in everything and making her feel like she was just as much a part of things as they were. As far as sleepovers go, it was easy peasy and unbelievably fun.

Then Aeryn up and headed to her dads for three weeks. We're halfway through at this point and it seems to be going well enough. After dropping her off at the airport we chose to camp for a night. The plan was to camp around Mt. Hood but there were no advance reservation sites available and we just had to show up and hope for the best. It didn't work out all that well and we spent hours driving around looking for openings. After getting onto the road to head home, we stumbled upon this last-ditch-effort campsite that turned out to be pretty fantastic. We waded in a nearby stream, played on the playground, and made s'mores - even though I'm the only one who truly loves them. Ellie and I stayed busy by trying to find as many different kinds of leaves as possible in our campsite. She was pretty excited about our collection, can't you tell?

Then one day, the most awesome thing in the mind of a 5 year old happened: she got a package from her mom. Despite the fact that her mom wanted her to wait and open it on facetime so she could see her open it, Ellie tried very hard to convince me that it was a suggestion rather than a request and she didn't really have to wait. The next thing I knew it was being ripped open on the couch. She was crazy excited about it and we've had fun reading her new books.

Then Jim decided to succumb to temptation and try something new at last week's All Comer's. He ran the steeplechase. I thought he was a little crazy before, and now that I've seen it I think he's even crazier than I previously thought. He was about dead by the end of it but man alive he did something incredible. He never fell on the water jump and kept going strong. I'm sure Ellie's loud, attention gathering "go daddy" shouts are helpful in keeping the motivation alive. I can't say he's anxious to do another one, but I'm pretty sure he's glad he did this one (now that the pain and agony has subsided).

So far, summer has been pretty good to us.

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