Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The First Day

The first day of school has come and gone again. It amazes me how quickly they come and go, year passing on to year. I'm pretty sure that by the time I think I'm beginning to wrap my brain around it the kids will be all gone. It's hard to convince myself of that right now, though, while I'm in the thick of things and still have Edith home for another year before she even goes to preschool.

Pen and the boys started yesterday, Ginger today (they give the freaked out 7th graders a day to adjust before the 8th graders join in). 

It's crazy to think about, but Pen is an 11th grader. Yikes!

And Bud's a 4th Grader! He has the same teacher that Ginger had and he's super happy about it. 

When I saw Big's outfit that he'd picked for the day, his past comment of, "But blue and blue go so well together, Mom." came to mind. Yes, Big, yes they do. Especially on a cutie like you. His second grade teacher is an old neighbor that used to babysit Pen and Ginger when they were little. So fun, and he loves her already.

Ginger is so excited for 8th grade, especially now that she knows which friends are in her classes. I had to take her photo indoors this morning because it was raining like crazy. Sorry for the badly lit photo, Ginger, but you still look adorable!

It sure is quiet around here will all of the kids but Edith at school. I'm not gonna say it wasn't nice. Although, I do forget how much less I get done without other people here to play with Edith. Luckily she's pretty good at amusing herself, though. To make up for the fact that she doesn't get to go to school, we played a few consolation games of Memory. I just can't seem to win. The kid's a cutthroat.

We're super excited for a new school year and we can't wait to see what it brings! 

The Happy and the Sad

Wanting to make sure the kids felt great to start the new school year, I set up appointments for the kids (minus Big) to get their hair cut the day after we got back from the City of Parks. More-than-slightly-Wonder-Woman-obsessed Edith had been telling me that she wanted to get her hair cut like Wonder Woman, including dying it black, so when the stylist asked her how she wanted her hair I knew what her answer would be. Edith was super bummed when I told the stylist that we wouldn't be dying it black. Yup. I'm a dream crusher. 

Edith recovered pretty quickly from her disappointment, though, and seemed to really enjoy the experience.

Edith had a pretty good couple of days post-vacation. Not only did she get her hair cut like Wonder Woman (the cute blonde version), but she skunked me at Memory one morning…

…and got some fun rings from her Auntie Art. Lucky Duck.

A few days after we returned from our trip, we received the unfortunate news that Rophone's mom had passed away. The funeral was planned for over a week away, so we had a week to be at home, thinking about the trip ahead.

Edith colored this picture and when Big informed her that she colored Spiderman the wrong color she replied, "I know what color Spiderman is. This is SpiderWOMAN!" So awesome. I love that girl.

Although we were going on a trip for a sad reason, I wanted to make sure we had a little fun mixed in so they would have fond memories of the trip. We were excited to see family and to have one last adventure before school started. 

On the way, we stopped at a store to eat. I just had to snap this photo of Ginger and Pen (otherwise known as Larry and Darryl) as they ate, surrounded by alcoholic beverages. What can I say? All of the other seating was taken. 

The day after we arrived at Rophone's sister's house, he and his siblings spent most of the day going through stuff at his mom's house. I got to spend the day hanging out with the kids, and I took great pleasure in introducing the boys to one of my favorite games from growing up.

It looks like we have a purchase to make in the near future. They loved it. And, I'm pleased to report, I haven't lost my touch. Ha!

When Rophone returned from his mom's house, we headed over to my brother, Rib's, place for a barbecue and swimming. It was the perfect way to relax and decompress after our long day spent indoors. Plus, I think it was a nice break for Rophone after an emotionally draining day. My sister, Art, and her family had just moved down there that week, so they were there too. It was a lot of fun.

We were able to hang out with some good friends on Sunday, but forgot to take any pictures (bummer). It was another fun thing to make our trip more balanced. Next time, pictures for sure. Sunday evening we had a dinner with all of Rophone's family. Even though the reason for the gathering is a sad one, it was really so great to see everyone. 

The funeral for Rophone's mother was the next morning, and it was lovely.

The next day we made the long drive back home so we could prepare for the burial. Phew! At least we had perfect weather for the drive.

After the graveside service, we gathered with family for a picnic at a park. It was a super location, with a little creek for the kids to play in. Another great and fun memory to go along with the sad. Just what I was hoping for. It kept the kids occupied and allowed Rophone a chance to visit with his family. Perfect.

We spent the last few days before school started just hanging out, reading and doing relaxing things. Here, the boys are designing ocean liners while Edith colors. 

Big and I haven't made it out to video work trucks very often this summer since we're down to only one car, so I decided it was something we needed to do the day before school started. It ended up being the perfect end of the summer activity because of this:

Big was floored. What a great end to a great summer!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vacation to the City of Parks

Even though my mom is away, she wanted to make sure we used her timeshare for our annual trip to the City of Parks. It has become tradition, so I know the kids would have been bummed if we hadn't been able to go. We split the week up between our family and the families of my two sisters who were in town. We checked in for the first part of the week, overlapping for one night with my sister, Art, and her family. Then my sister Martha came and her family overlapped with Art for another night and then took up the rest of the week. It worked out perfectly.

We arrived a little before check-in, so we figured we'd just go to the park for a bit to pass the time. The kids really love this park, although Edith was a little bummed her shorts were so short. It made for a slow and sticky descent on the slides. Ouch. :)

After the park, we went and checked in at the hotel and went for a swim. It was lovely. That evening I played Bud in a few games of Rack-O. I love playing games with that kid.

We went on a swim the next morning before lunch (no pictures, I was swimming!). We were really glad we did because it got cooler and really rained in the afternoon. Perfect weather to go to the little bookstore we love. 

We spent a lot of time exploring, both in the rain and out, and had a great day. More game playing was in order that evening, of course. I love Ginger's photo bomb in the mirror.

The next morning we awoke to rainy and cool weather, so I figured rather than swim we would go for an after-breakfast hot chocolate treat. It was delicious. Edith looks a little sad, though, because she burned her mouth taking a big gulp. Next time we'll remember to warn her when it's too hot. Poor kid.

We were able to swim when the weather cleared up a little, and I actually managed to get a couple of pictures. Rophone and Bud were at the store, so they aren't pictured, but Bud did come and swim for a few minutes with us before dinner. I loved seeing how much more comfortable all of the kids were getting in the water.

There was a big enough break in the weather that they opened up the rides, so we jumped at the chance. We got the kids dried off and ate a quick dinner, fingers crossed that the rain wouldn't return. Rophone took Big and Edith up the chair lift to ride the Alpine slide, Pen rode the chair lift to do the zip line, Bud and I decided to try the Alpine coaster, and Ginger declined the opportunity to ride anything. It was perfect weather to do the activities-- not too hot and sunny, and the weather kept the crowds away. There were no lines! Instead of having to wait in line for an hour, we just walked up and got on the ride. Perfect.

The funny part is that Pen didn't know she needed to ride the chair lift, so instead of riding up with Rophone and the two youngest, she ended up all alone on the chair behind them. My sister, Art, saw them and thought that Pen was just being "teenager-y", trying not to be seen with her family. Edith was tremendously worried when she looked back at Pen and saw that she hadn't lowered the bar on her chair. She yelled at Pen, afraid she was going to fall and die, but Pen just thought she was saying "hello" and kept waving "Hi". Ha!

I really loved doing the coaster with Bud. Camera use isn't permitted on the way down the track, so Bud and I acted out an I'm-scared-on-the-coaster picture as we slowly made our way up to the top. My sister says we look like twins. I told Bud to let me know on the way down if I was going too fast, so he did: "A little too fast." "Slow down a little please." "Um, a little anxious here!" It was super cute. We had a ton of fun and have decided we'll do it again next time. 

We finished before the Alpine sliders, so we located Pen (also done zip-lining) and Ginger and waited at the bottom of the track. It was Big's first time riding alone, so we were all hoping it went well. The fact that the weather made for fewer riders lessened the fear that he would have tons of people stacked up behind him when he came into view. (That happened to Ginger a few years ago, so she hasn't been super enthusiastic about the rides ever since.)

Happily, it all went well and they had a blast. I absolutely love the look of joy on Rophone's face. Edith is definitely a daredevil-- she kept urging him to go faster! 

After the rides, we explored around a little bit with my sister, Art, and her family. The weather really was overcast and perfect. Just how I like it. 

Art took this picture of the family. Ginger's unimpressed expression in all of the photos from the trip makes me totally laugh. She really was having a great time, but was obviously not happy about the photo-taking. Ha!

My sister got her boys in bed and then played some games with us and did nails with Pen and Ginger. She's such a good aunt. They had a blast. That's what vacations are all about.

We woke up on our last day to more misty weather. It was a bit too cool to want to swim,  which made it perfect for a hike. I thought so, anyway. Hiking in that type of weather is one of my favorite things to do. It really made me think of the hikes I took growing up in Oregon. The hike was my favorite part of the trip, hands down. I just wish I could have gotten more people to do it with us. Rophone took the non-hikers on a walk to Starbucks while Pen, Big, and I went hiking with Art and her family. 

We spent the rest of our rainy last day exploring the resort, finding fun things to do. Big was obsessed with the Bimini Ring Game. That kid sure can stay focused on things when he's into them. 

I love the look on Edith's face here:

Rophone and Bud found the time to play two games of chess while we were there and they ended up winning one game apiece. I think a tie-breaker is in order soon. 

I managed to find the chance to walk with the kids to the park one last time, too. It's amazing how much you can fit into a day when you don't stop. :) The very last thing we did before we left was attend a magic show there at the resort. I didn't get any pictures, but it was a lot of fun. The magician's puns were groan-worthy, but the magic was pretty good and the kids were entertained. A fun end to our trip. 

I think this was one of the most enjoyable vacations I've spent at the City of Parks. We managed to do a little of everything, just like I wanted. Can't get much better than that. Thanks, Mom, for making it possible!