Sunday, October 8, 2017

Late September

It's been a busy month! I started rehearsals for both of my music groups, the kids got settled in school, and I started classes at the end of the month.

With the help of my mom, Ryan and I had selected some shades to replace the paper ones covering the living room window. After she left we were working on getting measurements made to put the order in. Then when I went to go make the order we ran into some snafus with the size of the window and the particular brand we were wanting. So we went back to square one, contacted a local window treatment company that does in-home consultations, and they were able to get out to us pretty quickly. We felt like they knew what they were doing better than the Home Depot people, so we ordered through them instead. They didn't try to upsell us to the highest cost product and were able to show us better how the shades would look with our type of window. The shades were ready to install before I was expecting them to be, with an installer who was done in no time, where I would have fussed and stressed for hours if I'd tried doing it myself.



They look so nice, and I love not having to deal with clipping the paper blinds up and down anymore, as well as being able to lower them from the top if I want. Now I'm really excited for when we can get around to (afford) to do the rest of the windows. The company already has the other measurements, so when we're ready we'll give them a call and just have to make style decisions.

The other big news of the month is that Gareth selected violin as his instrument to start in school.


They only get 20 minutes per week, but it'll be a decent enough introduction I hope. He's been enjoying pulling it out and seeing what he can figure out. We'll see how long the excitement lasts. I give it about a week before he's not practicing at home anymore.

Malcolm has been upset with us all pretty regularly since the violin entered the house. On the way to the store when it finally sunk in that we wouldn't be getting anything for him. On the way home from the store because we didn't get anything for him and therefore he has and is nothing. After arriving home, because the violin was too loud while he was trying to watch a show. And because we won't let him open up the case and play with it whenever he wants. Don't we know that he has rehearsal and it's a long rehearsal and he needs to play the violin??

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Early September

The first couple weeks of September were filled with attempting to prep for the next year. I've made several dinner dishes that I've stowed away in the freezer, to be used at some point this quarter, including a delicious beef stew.


I got a few breakfast foods done as well, but not enough so will have to make more periodically throughout the quarter.

And I finally got the blackberries cleared from one of the front gardens, at least as much as possible. Then I trimmed the bushes so that I could get a ladder in between them and clean out the gutters.



Turns out, not cleaning out your gutters for a couple years is a great way to make compost. There was some lovely, rich-looking soil I pulled out of those gutters. My favorite thing, though, is that I'll no longer have to listen to rain pouring over the gutter corner by the front porch. There are still some sections of gutter to clear, even in areas we did clear last year (all our trees are horrifically messy), but I need Ryan's help with moving the ladder to do that. Mal had fun climbing up on the ladder though, and even helped clear out some of the gutters!

It turned chilly one weekend, so I took the boys (separately) to get some winter clothes. With Mal, I was exhausted after 5 minutes. All the shirts were "too dark" and he only had eyes for hats and slippers. I finally convinced him to choose some things to try on. Of course, the thing he really needs - pants - we only found one pair that fits, even when you account for adjustable waists. Most that fit around the waist are too short, while anything that's long enough drowns him in the waist. But I wasn't about to go to another store with him in the same day. So I took him home and picked up Gareth for his turn. Took this picture while waiting for Gareth to illustrate to Ryan how much easier shopping is with a 10 year old than a 5 year old:


Still, I was exhausted when we got home and took a good nap.

The first week of school was a honeymoon period with Mal and school. The next week we entered the "I want to murder Mal every morning" phase. One morning it was because he wanted the pirate shirt and then, never mind, he wants the dinosaur shirt. But then! The letters on the dinosaur shirt come too close to his neck and scare him! And the sleeves on both sizes of rain jacket available to him make him "not perfect" and he wants a sweater instead of a jacket (but you'd better send the jacket for when he inevitably freaks out about the rain getting on his head). And there was something poky in his shoe, despite my taking the shoe and sock off twice and thoroughly checking for all things poky. As he waved mournfully until he could no longer see me while walking into the building with his class, I could only be grateful that his teacher gets to deal with him all day and not me.

Monday, September 11, 2017

First Day(s) of School 2017

Our schools do a staggered start, having most kids start just after Labor Day but the Kindergarteners wait to start until the Monday after that. This allows K teachers to meet with students and parents individually and address any concerns. Mal was a little disappointed that he didn't get to start the same day as Gareth, but took it in stride once he realized he'd get to watch movies most of the day so I could transcribe interviews.

Gareth always likes to take his first day picture by the tree.


Mal needed a picture with himself in it as well, being some kind of monster, of course.


And waving goodbye as his teacher leads them in.



Gareth is lacking the nerves that accompanied the start of school last year. He knows all of his teachers - one from last year and two from his 3rd grade year. He's a little disappointed that most of his friends are in other homerooms, but at least this year they'll get all of their recesses and field trips together. Waking up early was, as expected, difficult. Mal refused to eat anything until after we'd dropped Gareth off, so I began anticipating an especially pleasant morning the following week on Mal's first day.

Mal's meeting with his teacher was..well, let's just say that she got a good picture of what he's like. He had zero interest in participating in the assessment. When he did participate he refused to count above 10 (even though he demonstrated when we got home that he can count at least to 30 before getting bored), refused to identify any shapes besides a circle and triangle, refused to draw a picture of himself, decided to draw a gorilla instead and got exceedingly frustrated when it didn't turn out perfectly, etc. As a parent, it filled me with all sorts of horror, but like I said, at least she knows better what she's in for now. And hopefully she'll know how to get through to him, because I haven't made much headway there during the past 5 years.

As expected, getting Mal to eat this morning was difficult. At least he tried, once I explained that he absolutely needed to eat what he'd asked for because we didn't have time to go through multiple choices and if he didn't eat he wouldn't have any food until lunch and he'd start feeling tired and grumpy. He was happy enough as we headed out to school, though we barely made it in time for the bell - Gareth had to run back and grab an ice pack for his lunch.

Mal wanted his first day picture by the tree as well. Every picture lately he poses like this.


I asked him to put his arms down and ended up with this:


I finally managed to snag one with him not posing while waiting in line. As soon as he realized I was taking a picture, he started to raise his arms.


Settled into the classroom. I was worried he wouldn't remember where his cubby or desk were because he seemed supremely disinterested in finding those things the various times we'd been in the room previously. But he was one of the first kids to finish putting his stuff in his cubby and found his desk no problem, though I did have to encourage him to actually sit down. 


No tears when I needed to leave, though it's possible tomorrow will be a different story. When I left he was working on a drawing and seemed pretty chill. Hopefully it'll be a great year for both kids!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Yesterday the boys and I left mid-morning to head down to Tacoma and hang out at the zoo/aquarium with friends who were pet/house sitting for their grandma down there. We did this same outing a couple summers ago; it was a lot more relaxing with a 5 year old than with a 3 year old! No tantrums were thrown, just a lot of excitement, and a lot less worry about kids getting lost.

They had several sea animal sculptures in the park, all made out of trash that had washed ashore. Mal liked looking at them all, but particularly enjoyed the octopus.



We started off the trip with a carousel ride. Last time Mal was too scared to go on, but this time he eagerly climbed aboard the lion. However, he did insist that I stay standing next to him for the ride. The animals were quite active this trip, despite the hot weather. We got to see zookeepers feeding a tiger and holding a talk with people about tigers and endangered tiger habitats. This elephant was working hard to try and get some bamboo leaves to eat.


Mal really wanted to see the birds. At first I wasn't going to pay for a seed stick, but quickly realized that it was a fairly inexpensive way to make the kids' day, so we got one each. Gareth's bird even started walking up his arm after finishing off all the seeds! At the end of the day, Gareth said the birds were his favorite.


The walruses, sea lion, and otters were a big hit again. The red wolves were napping, so not too exciting to see. After lunch, we got the kids ice cream.


Mal didn't want to leave the zoo, but we'd been there for nearly 4 hours and had seen just about all there was to see. I think everyone except for Mal was exhausted.  As we drove to Grandma's house, Mal kept trying to tell us we had missed various animals, even though we hadn't. Once at the house, Mal had a love/hate relationship with the dog, who is very friendly but also as big as Mal. The dog was overly excited to have new people around and kept wanting to chase Mal, which was scary for him. But as soon as our friend put the dog outside, Mal insisted he wanted the dog to come back in. Gareth did a better job of keeping him calm around the dog. When we got home Malcolm was very excited to recount every detail of the day to Ryan. We cut him off at some point because he needed to get in bed. This morning, as soon as he was up, he was telling daddy the rest of the details.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jump Start/Eclipse

Mal had his first day of Jump Start yesterday. Jump Start is a program where the Kindergarteners spend a week at the school before school actually starts. They go for a half day and get to figure out some of the basics of how school works, meet the teachers, see the classrooms, etc. Mal was really excited to finally get to go to "Gareth's school". I was a bit worried he'd be upset at drop off, but he wasn't.


Mal had one of Gareth's teachers from last year. He was pretty calm through the whole thing, grabbing his teacher's hand when it was time to get into circle and quietly listening (zoning out?) while another teacher talked for a while.  


The kids all got to go out and look at the eclipse for a bit, which Mal was very excited about when we picked him up. It sounds like the day went really well since he came home happy and kept asking throughout the day if we were going back to school. He won't necessarily have the same teacher for the school year - we'll find out at the end of the week what room he's assigned to for the year.

While he was at school, the rest of us walked over to the local park, along with just about everyone else in the neighborhood, to watch the eclipse. We only had one pair of glasses between us, but taking turns worked out just fine. 


And here's a lame photo attempt. It didn't look anything like this when actually viewed through the glasses. We had about 93% totality here. It got noticeably dimmer and colder, to the point that Gareth and I were uncomfortably chilly.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Camp Quest 2017

We managed to secure Gareth a spot at Camp Quest again this year (it's filling up faster and faster each year, so there's a definite possibility that some year we won't be able to get him registered in time). This year they're doing an X-Files theme, changing "I want to believe" to "I want to follow the evidence". I tried watching X-Files once and I couldn't make it through one episode due to how disparaging they were of the people who were rightly skeptical and demanding evidence of the claims being made.

Anyway, Gareth was excited to head out. Mal was excited because he knew we'd see cows along the way.


Mal insisted on going to meet the gorilla after we got Gareth checked in. The gorilla's name is George, and he's the camp morale officer apparently.


We hung out on the beach for a bit before leaving, allowing Mal to find some shells to bring home. I almost thought he was going to make it all the way there and back without succumbing to sleep. This picture, we thought he'd fallen asleep, but then he roused for a bit and informed me he wanted me to take a picture of him resting. Just a few minutes later he was asleep for real.


Before we knew it, a week had passed and we were headed back to camp to pick Gareth up (and hoping he hadn't broken/lost his new retainers during the week). This time Gareth wanted a picture with George, and of course Mal had to get in there as well. We found out the mother of one of the counselors actually teaches at Gareth's school. And Gareth managed not to break/lose his retainers!


We stopped at a bakery that I've seen along the way every year and always been curious about. Got some apple cider donuts for the ride home and a cinnamon bun and apple turnover to share later in the day, starting a new end-of-camp tradition. Gareth told us about some of the camp activities this year, and that his cabin had stayed up late each night telling each other silly stories. He was clearly tired on the way home, though he said he was only resting:


They handed out solar eclipse glasses at checkout, which was good for us since I hadn't been on top of things enough to get any. They even let Mal take a pair, much to his delight. Another great year of camp in the books. Just three more years until Mal can go as well!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Terracotta Warriors

The Friday after Gram left we had a friend of Gareth's come over and then all met up with some Ballard friends at the science center so we could go see the Terracotta Army exhibit. We assumed the kids wouldn't want the audio guide, so I just paid for them for the adults, guaranteeing that the kids all wanted one. 



Even without the audio guide the exhibit was impressive. The only thing that could have improved the experience was not going through with an impatient five-year-old.

That five-year-old did enjoy the couple of hands-on activities in the exhibit:


Afterward, we hung out for a while in the science center. The older kids had a good time in the health/wellness, space, and tide pool sections. Mal loves going to see the bugs and reptiles as well as checking out the tide pool. After hitting all those areas, we headed outside where we all got ice cream and even happened to catch the beginning of a concert at Seattle Center:


Then it was back to the bus for a crowded ride home. The kids were so well-behaved, a definite perk to them getting a bit older!