Tuesday, July 31, 2018

WIC Activities

My three weeks at WIC are done, which means I'm no longer getting up super early to commute to the east side. However, I've traded that for food service, where I'm going to spend two days this week getting myself to Children's by 6 a.m. to shadow order receiving and that side of things and to conduct a sanitation/safety inspection. It's all good though; it's fun to experience different sides of nutrition services within the hospital.

One fun thing (aside from holding/interacting with lots of adorable babies and little kids) about WIC was getting to go to the North Bend Farmers' Market. Every year, if your state sets aside funds for WIC participants to use at farmers' markets produce stands, the federal government will match the amount the state gives. Total funds do not provide enough for all participants to receive farmers' market checks, and it's not a massive amount per family but it's a great way for families to get a few more fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, in WA state, if they qualify for SNAP, they also get Fresh Bucks, which are awesome, double their SNAP money, and increase fruit/vegetable consumption. Anyway, this year, we were handing out WIC farmers' market checks at the market rather than at the clinic, hoping this would boost redemption rates (if people get them then don't use them, funding is likely to get decreased the next year. Like many busy families, it's easy to have good intentions, but never manage to act on it; if they come get the checks at the market, they're more likely to use them while they're already there).

This farmers' market was quite small, but so much fun, and in a beautiful setting, with Mount Si right there, and a big open green space for people to sit and play on. We also had fruit and vegetable memory cards that kids could color and then break apart to play memory with, some fruit and vegetable bilingual books to give out, and the coolest stickers - like the stickers you get at the doctor, except that you get two squares, one which is an empty garden, and the other which are fruit/vegetable stickers that you can put on the other sticker to make your garden.

When things were slow at our table, I wandered around to all the vendors. I snagged a lovely bouquet of flowers right at the beginning of the market:

Ryan and I were planning to go back with the boys the next week, but then he had an on-call day and it turned out to be way too hot, so we'll do that later in the summer (see what good intentions we have!). We have plenty of nearby farmers' markets, but need to take the car on more long trips anyway to recharge its battery, plus this one will be less crowded, is open later than our nearest market, and will make for a fun evening trip with the kids.

I also had to create a bulletin board for the clinic while I was there; they wanted a board for World Breastfeeding Week (starts tomorrow!) that highlighted the breastfeeding support resources available at the clinic:

I always thought my elementary school teachers were so impressive with how quickly/masterfully they stapled things onto the bulletin boards and put together such awesome boards when I was a kid. This simple board probably took me way longer than it would've taken any of my teachers, but it was fun to put together.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Things the Adults are Excited About

Our yard has been embarrassingly overgrown for the past couple years, though I have tried to at least weed a flowerbed or two each summer or trim some bushes here and there. The side of our fence near the road was becoming a jungle of blackberries and ferns that was taller than the fence and was making backing out of our driveway dangerous due to limited visibility. I'd realized last summer that I could spend hours trying to hand clear some of it and it wouldn't look like I'd done anything. So this year I contacted a landscaping place and paid them to come out and do a yard cleanup. Gareth was disappointed that his source of staffs was removed (bamboo) and Mal kept yelling at us for "destroying all the nature".

This first picture shows where the bamboo used to be (along the fence around that tree). Don't ever be stupid enough to put in bamboo. It cost almost $400 to have a tiny patch of two clumps cleared (am I ever glad we didn't buy the house where the bamboo had spread through the whole yard!). We're going to get the tree removed as well as it's too close to the house/too big for the space, but we're waiting on a city permit for another tree removal before the arborists come take care of that.

The lawn is patchy and almost dead from lack of rain, but they cleared up all the weeds around the edges, mowed, and edged the lawn nicely.

This is where the jungle was. You can see some jungle remnant by the telephone pole (they didn't clear that as it is on our neighbor's property - our neighbors have since cut that bit back a little). We just had them ground clear it, so it will come back. But we're going to get it sprayed as well to help slow regrowth. One day we'll figure out what we want to do with this space, but until then I'm just hoping to keep on top of the regrowth.

They also mowed and edged the front yard and trimmed all the bushes - it actually looks like someone lives in our house now rather than looking abandoned! The tree we're waiting on the permit to remove is a birch that's in the front yard. It's being killed by birch beetle, so needs to come down. It was once a lovely tree, so I'm sad it has to go, but it lost a really large branch this fall in a storm, and I'm not wanting to wait until a big enough chunk falls off and damages the house to get it taken care of. We'll work on figuring out an alternative shade tree to plant in its place eventually.

I'm spending a few weeks commuting over to the east side. This is a time drain and is helping me realize that such a commute would not be tenable for me long-term. But it's only for 3 weeks. At least there are some nice views along the way as the bus crosses over Lake Washington and sometimes you can see Mt. Rainier (hidden by the bus window glare here).

I discovered that a friend who used to play in clarinet choir with me works at the clinic I'm at right now. She had told me what clinic she was at (she's a pediatrician) before, but I'd forgotten, so it was a pleasant surprise to run into her the other day! She went to Purdue for her undergrad and played in the same community band I played in while we lived out there. I'm about the same age as her daughter, so she calls me her second daughter; I really miss having her in clarinet choir, so I appreciate anytime I get to see her.

After this rotation is over, just three weeks of food service (back at Children's again!) and then graduation! It's been an intense couple years, but so worthwhile and I've loved my time in this program. It's always a little rough to be staring down the black hole of the unknown after graduation. I'm just hoping there are some clinical jobs with a decent commute available when I've passed the RD exam and start looking!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Camps and Berries

I'd been worried that this summer would be lacking in fun for the kids, since I'm finishing up school and thus they have to be at summer day camp through the summer. Not that that won't be the case going forward, but hopefully when I have a job we'll at least have evenings and weekends to spend together, where right now I spend those doing homework.

Summer camp has been proving quite fun for the kids. They get to go to the pool or splash park weekly, water balloons weekly, and have had a field trip to the zoo and will have big field trips like that weekly. Gareth got to go kayaking. We arranged with a friend to have them pick up Gareth early one day so that he and his friend could attend an open library session at the middle school and then walk home on their own - an exciting moment for the kids in and of itself.

We had a friend of Gareth's over this past weekend to play in the sprinkler and hang out. Gareth has also had a sleepover with another friend for a birthday, and both boys got to hang out with yet other friends. So I think we're doing pretty well at having fun this summer.

One weekend a friend we don't see often enough posted about raspberries being ready for U-pick. We jumped on the reminder and chance to get together with them again, meeting up at the farm. The kids were surprisingly less interested in picking berries this time around than when we did strawberries, perhaps due to their being other kids there to play with this time. Good thing we brought Ryan's brother along, so we still ended up with 11 lbs of berries (only $3/lb!). We ate many of them fresh, froze a bunch, sent a bunch home with Uncle Daniel, and made liqueur with a bunch.

Since we didn't have time to make jam, we just put the whole, fresh berries on our biscuits that night for dinner. Super tasty way to use them.

Gareth has another sleepover planned soon. Then some good friends have invited him along on a camping trip to Mount St. Helens area. He's been invited on similar trips before, but we've had other plans or declined previously, feeling he wasn't old enough. Ryan and I are realizing he's getting old enough and responsible enough to start loosening the apron strings a bit. Gareth also has Camp Quest to look forward to this summer. I'm hoping to arrange some playtime with kindergarten friends for Mal to align with some of Gareth's adventures so he won't feel quite so left out. And he gets to have Gram and Grandma and Grandpa all to himself for a couple days before Gareth gets home from Camp Quest, plus gets to go to a pig roast the night of my graduation, lucky kid!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Community Shindig

Every year, our neighborhood has a summer event at the local park. Every year, I've completely forgotten about it by the time it comes around. I almost forgot this year as well, but a parent reminded me about it when I picked up the kids from camp, so the kids and I went and checked it out after dinner.

Lots of local businesses/preschools/schools with booths, treats, and various goodies. The local Ace Hardware supplies free ice cream bars for everyone. Mal opted for the rainbow popsicle, while Gareth and I got Haagen Dazs ice cream bars. Then Gareth was off to play. A perk to him being older now is that I can let him go off on his own and trust that he will not wander off with strangers or run into the road, but will stay on the playground and circle back to let me know where he is once in a while. This frees me up to spend all my energy not losing Mal. However, this means all my pictures of the event are of Mal.

Popsicle and balloon light saber in hand, listening to the band play

The toy store set up some tracks and handed out free train cars to kids. Mal was happily entertained here for a bit while I chatted with his former preschool teachers - it was so fun to catch up!

After playing for a bit, Mal got in line for face paint with his friend from Kindergarten/aftercare/camp. Apparently he wins the prize for the wiggliest face paint customer of the day, but it still turned out pretty cool looking.
Mal also got a water bottle from the local Catholic school, which he dubbed "the nun school" as we passed it while walking to the event (I think they have a stained glass of Mary on the church portion, which he thought was a nun?). We watched Sound of Music recently and he was fascinated by the nuns, so after walking past the school/church he kept asking me where the nuns were because he wanted to stare at them. No nuns at this Catholic school though, so he's out of luck.

Gareth wandered around to all the tables eventually, grabbing goodies from what was left - cookies, snow cone, a free book (he chose The Hunger Games), balloon sword, etc. We got caught on our way out by the little league table as a dad recognized us from the school. When asked, Mal claimed that he wanted to play baseball in the spring, so I signed up to get a reminder about registration. We'll see if he actually wants to participate by the time spring rolls around again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

New Do's

We started off the summer with lice. Mal was one of at least 3 kids in his Kindergarten class to have them. We promptly took the whole family to a local business, The Lice Clinic, for checks and a one-time treatment if you have them that is guaranteed for five weeks. Mal was very excited by all this, and proudly announced to his summer camp the next day that he'd had bugs in his hair and that the bugs had laid eggs! Sadly, between that and his persistent complaints whenever we comb his hair, we decided to suggest cutting his hair short. I will definitely miss his long hair, as it's beautiful when it's been combed, but it's getting frustrating to care for since he won't care for it himself.

(Side note: I find it really annoying that every site on lice I found recommends short hair for boys and ponytails for girls - seriously? If you're going to recommend short hair to avoid lice, it should be short hair for everyone, regardless of gender. If Mal were a girl, we'd still be getting a short haircut right now.)

Mal was more eager to cut his hair than I expected, given his persistent dislike for hair cuts historically and frequently saying he likes long hair best. He also wanted to go to the other extreme of "bald", which I'm not sure I could handle. I have never liked the buzzed super short look that so many people do for boys, so while I typically love to let my kids do whatever they like with their hair (as long as they can care for it themselves), I'm not wanting to let him go that far just yet. Give me some time to adjust, and in a year or so if he still wants it super short like that, fine. I may not like it, but it's just hair, and it will grow.

Gareth desperately needed a cut as well, so I scheduled them at the same time. Ryan has been complaining that Gareth's hair wasn't getting cut short enough at previous visits, so I made sure to get a picture only halfway through which I sent to Ryan, telling him Gareth was all done.

Halfway through, getting ready to wash his hair:

Almost done!

Our stylist was shocked that Mal wanted to cut his hair off. He was ready to go too - jumped up on the seat by the sink as soon as Gareth was done. When I brought him here for the first time a couple years ago, he was terrified of the sink (water is scary!) and getting his hair cut. Even the last time I brought him in, he held his fingers about a centimeter apart when telling her how much he wanted cut off. But he did awesome this time; he's made huge progress this past year with so many things he'd always been anxious about before!

Before pictures:

The one on the right is the beginning of the school year - his hair grew so much this year!

(Mal's been on this Christmas in July kind of kick - making Ryan read a Christmas book at bedtime, listening to Nightmare before Christmas, wearing his Christmas sweater, and then he was in tears one night because I was "giving up" by saying I would pull out his nutcracker for him in the morning and not that night. He carried his nutcracker with us on the bus to the salon.)

We had to take the bus to the salon because the car battery died for some unknown reason and Ryan was stuck waiting for roadside assistance for a couple hours. I caught this picture while walking to the bus stop. His hair was looking so nice, because I'd been finding time to comb it every couple days and braiding it to help prevent tangling.

During/after pictures:

He even let her use the clippers around his ears and neck. I thought that might be pushing it and that she'd have to do her best with scissors, but he did okay with it after she showed him that they wouldn't hurt. It was rough seeing all his hair on the floor (we could've donated it, but that was a bit more work than I have time for at the moment), and of course it's weird to have this strange-looking child in the house that has all the same mannerisms as Mal. But we'll adjust eventually, just as we did with Gareth.