Monday, September 29, 2014

Swim Lessons

We realized early in the summer that if Gareth wants to go to Camp Quest next summer we should make sure he knows how to swim, since it's on a body of water and all. We'd started swim lessons a couple summers ago at the local pool and they hadn't gone well. Ryan, at a family swim and in a matter of minutes, had succeeded in getting Gareth to put his head in the water. The group lessons proceeded to undo any small progress we had made with Gareth on our own until we finally got tired of paying money for him to sit at the edge of the pool and occasionally be taken on a tour of the pool by a teacher and pulled him out of the lessons. We decided at that point that we'd wait until he was a bit older and we'd pay the money for private lessons.

There are a couple places that I know of around here where you can do the private lesson thing. They both have a lot of outstanding reviews from other parents and the one we went with in particular had a lot of reviews about how their kids went from scared to swimming in a matter of weeks. I was a little doubtful it could only take a few weeks, but we figured even if it took a little longer we'd still end up spending less in the long-run going the private lessons route.

So Gareth started at the beginning of August, two half-hour lessons per week. I loved his instructor - she was the perfect combination of firm and nice. She wasn't going to let him waste too much time being nervous, chatting away in order to delay things. But she wasn't mean about it either. And she would give him explanations for things: You need to hold onto the edge of the pool with just one hand because if you're trying to lift half your body out of the water that will be more tiring than letting most of your body stay in the water. Or, if you look down while swimming then you won't have a problem with water going up your nose. Or, you need to be able to open your eyes in the water so that if you fall in water at some point you'll be able to find your way to the boat/shore/safety. She was firm when need be - if he was trying to cling to her instead of flipping over to his back float as instructed she would simply state, "No!" and flip him over to his back. But she was also very encouraging and would praise him when he did well. Really the perfect combination for Gareth.

I was a little doubtful after week two that he'd really be able to swim by the end of four weeks as he was so nervous about putting his face in the water and going to the deep end, but still figured he was making more progress than in a group lesson. Then in the next couple of lessons he made huge progress, and by the end of his four weeks he was jumping in and swimming the length of the pool! Not beautiful swimming by any means, but definitely swimming. Then we were off for a week or so while school started, but just one lesson later we were told he was ready for his clothes test. I'm still shocked that in just 9 lessons he went from terrified of putting his face in the water to swimming. So much better than paying for group lessons for a couple years!

He was really excited for the clothes test - he thought jumping in with all his clothes was such a crazy thing to do. As he said, "It's like I'm on a boat and a sea monster knocks me in the water and I need to swim to land!" He did great and I like feeling like he's less likely to drown if he goes to camp next summer (I'm sure they have lifeguards, but still). We've still got a couple more lessons that we've paid for, so now it seems they're just working to improve his skills. He's so much more confident in the pool now - and he loves it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sibling Education

Ryan occasionally watches Star Trek with Gareth. Usually, after the episode is over, he'll turn to Gareth and say, "That was a show called Star Trek" which elicits an irritated, "I know!" shouted from Gareth.

Yesterday Ryan decided to show Gareth an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and was telling Gareth that it was TNG, not the old Star Trek, before the show started. Malcolm turned to him and shouted, "I know!"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Grandma and Grandpa's Visit

Grandma and Grandpa flew in on the first day of school for a visit. This was Malcolm's first chance to meet Grandpa in person, so it was kind of a big deal. Gareth was very excited to know that they would be there when he got home from school.

We sent Gareth to school the day after they came because he didn't want to miss his friend's birthday. While he was at school, Ryan took his parents downtown. He showed them where he works and tok them to lunch at Lowells, Ryan's favorite place for fish and chips. They also spent some time at Pikes Place, which you may as well do if you're already there. They arrived home in time for Grandma to go help pick up Gareth. He needed to run inside for a minute when he got out and when he came back out he came with the principal. Gareth had been telling everyone who would listen that his grandparents were in town and the principal said Gareth had better come introduce him to Grandma.

We took Gareth out of school for the duration of their visit so that he could get some quality time with them. Friday the weather was supposed to be warm, so we headed down to Golden Gardens and Shilshole Marina to check out the sailboats. Grandpa would've loved to walk down on the docks, but we would've needed to have someone who lives there with us as access to the docks is restricted. But we were able to stand above them and look down at the boats. Next time they come we'll have to be sure to arrange a sailboat ride somewhere. We hung out on the beach for a few hours, letting the kids play. Ryan, after much urging from the rest of us, submerged himself in the chilly water.Gareth kept going in the water, but not usually very far because the water was just too cold to stand for very long. We came home and enjoyed a late lunch at our favorite Greek restaurant, Takis.

Saturday we hung around the house most of the morning. After Ryan got back from his lesson I took Ryan's parents and Gareth to Elliot Bay Book Company since Grandpa was wanting to check it out. I was slightly terrified to drive there since it's in the Capitol Hill neighborhood which I'm not at all familiar with and I was certain that parking would be a nightmare. I'm glad I had my phone giving me directions, and we got very lucky with parking - found a spot right in front of the store!  We enjoyed browsing there for a couple hours and then headed home.

Sunday afternoon we checked out the farmer's market (I wanted to get some nectarines). We dragged Gareth along with us, but I think he ended up being glad he went once he got to try samples of fudge, toffee, soda, straight cranberry juice, and fruit. Plus we got donuts, so he really had no complaints in the end.

Monday we borrowed Redpath's station wagon so that we could all go to Snoqualmie Falls. I've been meaning to go for a while but we hadn't got around to it, so I figured it'd be a good trip to take with the grandparents. The waterfall is very pretty and the short hike down to the river/lower viewing point was perfect for the kids. Apparently after rainier/snowier seasons the fall will actually extend across the entire ridge, but since we're coming off summer (the dry season in Seattle), it wasn't doing so.

The waterfall

Mal playing in some old piece of equipment from the power plant

Gareth had fun playing by the river

Just seconds earlier Mal was holding both Grandma and Grandpa's hands, and it was very cute, but he let go of Grandma's just before the picture.

Attempted pic of boys at the top but Gareth's blocking the waterfall. Oh, well.

Gareth was very sad to say goodbye the next day. Malcolm has missed them as well, asking about "Grandma and Grandma" (couldn't quite get that pa sound down while they were here!) and generally being extremely cranky since they've gone.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


When I went to upload the first day of school pictures to the computer I was surprised to see these photos. I'd totally forgotten that I'd let Gareth have the camera a few days ago:

First Day of School 2014

School started today. Last year I was eagerly anticipating this day, but this year I feel I could actually use a couple more weeks of summer break (which I get, but Gareth doesn't). Anyway, obligatory first day pictures:

2nd Grade! He says wearing his new shoes makes him feel like a college student. We have no idea where that came from, but apparently it's something he feels good about, so we'll go with it.

And he wanted to be sure to document how full his backpack was with all his school supplies in it.

Malcolm wasn't thrilled about the picture-taking.

Gareth's most excited about being in a "bungalow" (portable) this year. All the parents are less excited about this experience, but the kids think it's the coolest thing ever. He's got tons of friends in his class this year - in the picture he's talking to one sitting kitty-corner to him. Yeah, that seating arrangement might have to change. Lots of kids from his class last year, from his K class and several co-op kids. We even got our sitter's daughter in the same class again, so he'll have a very easy time at drop-off. Gareth's teacher seems really nice. We heard a lot about her being strict/old-school/mean at the end of the year, but over the last month or so we've only heard great things from friends who've had her - including from a 7th grader whose eyes lit up with excitement when he heard Gareth would have this teacher.