The kids recently got to know their new baby cousin, Jackson. Jackson seemed mildly interested in this; but my kids were utterly fascinated by him.
Mica is four. She is opinionated, increasingly independent, and articulate. She likes telling terrible knock-knock jokes, swimming, playing Minecraft, blowing bubbles, and pretending to punch people. (Sometimes she pretends too hard for comfort.)
Now aware of the concept of birthday parties, she was pretty adamant that she would have one. Fortunately there was a great opportunity for a playdate with some of her and the boys’ friends, and everyone was willing to call it a party in exchange for some homemade strawberry cupcakes. I missed it, since it took place during the week; but that weekend we celebrated by taking her to the park. Four is a great birthday to celebrate by playing in fountains.
Fortunately ten and eight are also, apparently, good ages for playing in fountains.
I am way, way behind on posting to the blog — it turns out to be less convenient when I spend so much time out of the house. But I have a backlog of photos from summer adventures, and will start putting some of them up. This batch is from a visit to a local peony garden with another family, who made the day amazing for the kids by bringing their new puppy.
School is over. I walked down at lunch on the last day to share in the traditional community potluck, and got to see everyone enjoying their last hurrah for the year.
A few weeks before, however, the kids had an All-School Sleepover. This doesn’t happen every year; the kids have to lobby for and organize it, and they have to do it with enough time to bring a vote to the community meeting (all schedule changes are voted on by the community) to make the day after the sleepover a non-school day. The staff flatly refuse to stay at school for 32 hours in a row, which seems entirely reasonable to every adult member of the community.
I signed up for the early shift on the day after the sleepover, which meant that I dropped the kids off the previous evening and then showed up around 5:30 to see how things had gone. I discovered that both of our boys had gone to sleep at a decent time (around midnight), unlike some of the other young kids who were still going strong. Only a small handful of the students made it all night, though; most had succumbed at some point, and lay huddled in clusters around the building. Usually they had managed some kind of blanket or sleeping bag; only occasionally were they sprawled in a chair.
The adults who’d been on duty had obviously not slept, and I found them talking quietly to each other, with long pauses, in the manner of thoroughly exhausted people everywhere. For almost two hours very little occurred, with the exception of an occasional die-hard child suddenly becoming still and quiet on the floor, as though a switch had been flicked. Then, as we approached breakfast-time, the building began to groan quietly to life. More volunteers arrived to begin cooking; students staggered into the Great Hall, bleary and disoriented.
By the time I left breakfast was in full swing. Both my boys were up, though they looked a bit the worse for wear, and other students had begun to gather their things and trickle home. Gathering reports afterwards, I understand that the sleepover was generally considered to be a fantastic success.
Recently Ryan started going to parkour classes. It’s something that both boys had been interested in trying for a long time, and when we finally did it, Ryan loved it. (Nathan found himself less interested.) We’ve been going back nearly every Saturday since then.
If you aren’t familiar with it, parkour is about moving around a series of obstacles in a skillful and efficient way — it’s like the obstacle courses you did in grade school, taken to a whole new level. In Ryan’s classes, the instructor generally introduces a couple of moves and has the kids practice them for a while. Then he sets up a course for them, where they need to vault, jump, balance, and roll their way around the various obstacles. Sometimes he’s trying to tag them at the same time. There are frequent breaks for water, where Ryan comes up to me, flushed and sweating, and tells me about how much fun he’s having before he heads back for more.
The persistence we’ve seen in Ryan (which, in some contexts, has felt infuriatingly like stubbornness) really shows in these classes. When he decides that he wants to do something, he keeps at it — if he needs to go back to the start of a tilted balance beam five times, he will do it, until he gets the result he wants.
When I started looking for work again, I put it on my list to get a good photo taken of myself. In theory I could use a recent casual snapshot, except that since I am the only member of the family who typically takes pictures, I am in very few of them. The few recent pictures I could find all involved me holding children, which wasn’t the professional image I was trying to create. So I planned to take something new, and I even talked to a friend of mine, who is currently going through cosmetology school, about helping to fix me up for it. And then things happened, and life was busy, and the scheme was shelved for a while.
But it did eventually happen, largely because Alana is extraordinarily generous. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the extent of her knowledge (and equipment) blew me away. In the end she spent three hours making me look like (as she put it) the best version of me, and it is a testament to her skill that I could hardly stop looking at myself afterwards. I will probably never look like that again, but it was fun while it lasted, and I have pictures.
Final bonus: when I got home, Dave said he needed to take me on a date looking like that.