Awesomeness

Nathan has done it again. This time we skipped bleaching his hair and just applied the dye, a rich royal blue. The result is a lovely steel blue shade with hints of pure blue and teal at the edges.

He is very happy with it. Now he thinks I should dye my hair. I told him I’d consider it after I’m no longer interviewing.

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My Sister

A couple of months ago, Mica announced that she had a sister named Sunflower.

This surprised us, as the rest of the family thought we’d have heard of such an event. But Mica likes stories, and so at first we thought this was just another vignette. We didn’t realize that we were at the beginning of an ongoing Sunflower saga.

Sunflower, it turns out, lives far far away with her mother and father. (The implications of the relationships involved don’t seem to worry Mica.) She has been a variety of ages already: a baby, a girl, a big person (e.g., old enough to drive), and most recently I was told that Sunflower has a baby of her own. She also has a dog, whose name changes with time but is never recognizable.

In fact Sunflower’s defining characteristic, and the one which Mica mentions most often, is that she has everything. This often comes up just after I say that we don’t have something — cake, for example. “My sister has cake,” Mica will tell me. “My sister has everything she needs!”

Lately Sunflower has been mentioned less frequently, but she still comes up, and her role in Mica’s mind might be changing a little. For example, Mica got a flu shot recently — and two days later, she told me that the red, sore spot on her leg was there because her sister had kicked her. She didn’t seem particularly upset by this, but it was an interesting choice of stories.

But my favorite part about Sunflower is how she lives in all the other stories in Mica’s life. Right now we are working, together, through a long story about Mica and Jack (of beanstalk fame), who are currently in the Land of the Giants together. I tell — usually with ideas and prompting from Mica — a short piece of this each night, as a bribe/distraction so she’ll let me brush her teeth.

Rock Collection

We’ve been building an informal rock collection for a while now — it includes gifts, a few purchased stones, and lots of treasures found on beaches. After our last lake trip, with rock interest at a new high, I decided to order a box to store and organize the collection. It isn’t a fancy box, but it holds a lot of stones and gives them the great pleasure of arranging and rearranging and labeling their specimens.

Mica loves it too, which is problematic, since “organization” is not high on her list of life skills. She does love moving things around, though.

Frosting

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.

Eight

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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