The evening before Ryan’s birthday, I was cleaning up the kitchen after some epic cupcake-making while Nathan beat butter and sugar together for the frosting. Suddenly I heard a crash and whir, the unmistakable sounds of a beater mishap.

Nathan, ever enterprising, had decided to automate the beating by propping the hand-held mixer up on a jar. This would have worked brilliantly except that the beater unfortunately vibrates, and it took all of ten seconds to knock over the jar.

I experienced just a moment of automatic mess-frustration before the humor of it dominated. Dave and I both started to laugh. Let’s face it — if we’d never tried that exact trick, it’s certainly the sort of thing we would have done.


Ryan really, really wanted a birthday party this year, with all his friends from school. So I arranged for five of his closest friends to come down on the Sunday before his birthday, so we could all hang out at the park together.

This worked well except that, since we nearly always go to the park on weekdays (one of the benefits of homeschooling), I completely underestimated how many people would be there. Parties, too; six other parties were in progress by the time we arrived, so that tables were in short supply.

But that turned out not to matter much. The kids were happy to eat cake anywhere, and mainly what they wanted to do was play, long and hard.

(Since I failed to realize that someone had changed the settings on my camera, most of the pictures were washed out. Trust me, things were not as sedate as these two pictures imply.)

In fact Ryan’s only complaint after his birthday was over was that he hadn’t gotten a computer game. He’d convinced himself that it was routine for us to give computer games as gifts and had been banking on it, even going so far as to agonize over which one he wanted. The fact that he did receive money for his birthday and spent it on video games failed to appease him.

From our perspective, he gained valuable experience in dealing with disappointment.

Posted in Kids. 2 Comments »

Back To School Campout

My boys are so ready for school. We’ve made an effort to get them together with some of their school friends over the summer, but living as far away as we do, that just hasn’t happened often enough for their tastes. Playdates are great, but it isn’t the same as reliably, regularly seeing someone.

The very first hint of the new school year is the Back-To-School Campout, which this year was at Battleground Lake. The kids and I spent two nights in a little village of VFS tents. During this time the boys essentially disappeared. When they wanted to go to the lake I had to keep an eye on them, naturally, but in camp I essentially just let them run free, occasionally tracking them down long enough to shove a hot dog into their hands.

As soon as Mica is old enough to similarly manage herself, these campouts will be very enjoyable indeed.

The campground itself was wonderful: shaded and cool most of the day, and just a short over-the-hill walk from a sweet little dab of a lake (compared to Coeur d’Alene, I mean) surrounded on all sides by hills and trees. The swimming area had been spread with sand and was a long, shallow slope.

But best of all was the fact that friends were everywhere. With sticks and water and sand and rocks and friends, we had a really good couple of days.