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.

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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.

Swimming, Updated

Ever since getting back from the lake, Ryan has been pestering me to take them to the pool. There is simply not enough swimming in his life now, after the luxury of being next to a lake every day.

Yesterday we finally made it back into the water. Ryan was ecstatic, Mica bobbed and jumped all over the place, and even Nathan, who’d been somewhat reluctant initially, was having a great time. And then, while hanging out in the deep end so Ryan could practice treading water, Nathan swam solo for the first time.

I’m not even quite sure how it happened. He let go of the styrofoam noodle he’d been holding and just tried, and just like Ryan a couple weeks ago, found that he could dog paddle without assistance. “I can swim! I can swim!” he kept saying, and did short paddles again and again, trying out his newfound skill.

After that there was an explosion of swimming experimentation. They tried out some cautious jumps from the side of the pool (except that Mica, who was wearing a life jacket, wasn’t cautious at all; she would just plunge straight in). The boys began ducking their faces underwater to various depths, and trying some back floats. Just as we were leaving Ryan set a noodle in the water and swam underneath it.

On the way home Nathan talked about how excited his swim teacher was gong to be. Bear in mind that Nathan was the one who, during a full two terms of swim lessons (i.e., half a year), dragged his feet to every single lesson and refused to try at least half of what was suggested to him. I hadn’t even yet addressed the question of further swim lessons this year; I assumed there’d be a battle with Nathan. Apparently not.

Now Nathan has joined Ryan in pestering me to go back to the pool. We have scheduled it for our very next free day.

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I had honestly forgotten the sprinkler this summer. Probably it’s because I never use it for watering. But a couple weeks ago Nathan found it, and hooked it up, and the first I knew of it was when I looked out the window and saw a tell-tale fan of water drifting over my garden.

Also dripping children started appearing at the back door.


Mica is three. It was bound to happen sooner or later, and in some ways it has felt a long time coming, but in other ways not so much. In any case there doesn’t seem to be any way around it: she is three, and, as she will inform anyone who calls her a baby, she is not a baby but a “big girl.”

Not too big, though. She is still small enough that getting helium balloons is a major source of excitement. That and the park were her main treats of the day, as well as a gift from her grandpa and, of course, dessert. She has known for months what she wanted her birthday dessert to be: strawberry cupcakes. I could do nothing but comply. They were both tasty and pink, and I suspect that both qualities were highly appreciated.

Just A Picture

Grandma is here, with gifts, clothes (especially little girl clothes, which are the most fun to buy) and hair clips.