Wednesday, July 5, 2023

School's Out!

School is finally out for the year - and just like that we're done with elementary school. It feels strange to be through when I swear we were just sending M to Kindergarten not that long ago. They had a graduation, but when the day came he asked me how long it was going to last and if there would be treats after (a little over an hour and yes) - to which he replied that even treats weren't enough enticement for such a long graduation, time he would much rather spend playing Tears of the Kingdom. So we gratefully skipped 5th grade graduation.

M's thoughts on being done with elementary are "well, it wasn't always the greatest experience for me", which is accurate. I'm not remotely confident that middle school will be any better, but it has a few things going for it - starting later, after school clubs that M is actually interested in, and he's looking forward to science and history classes. I'm nervous about those because they start to include more and more of the things he doesn't enjoy - writing and math. And they switched the middle school we're zoned for so now he has to bus to the school and I have no idea how that works for after school activities.

The middle school is forcing all the kids to do music and he's opted for trombone. I'm glad that they get to be the "bad guy" since our previous attempts at encouraging music were met with indignation that we were forcing him to do anything (we weren't, as evidenced by the fact that he neither plays an instrument currently nor knows how to read music - something I never expected would be the case for children of mine by this age). We were surprised by the trombone because he's been firmly in "if I have to it will be cello" land for years, but has now declared "I don't think I'm a cello guy". I think he's mainly picking trombone because he's decided the lack of keys/valves means it will be easier, lol. And I'm slightly worried that because they're making everyone do music it means he'll have a bunch of obnoxious kids in his beginning band class which will make him hate it. 

G's year was difficult in a myriad of ways, ranging from the shooting to a disorganized and ineffective Spanish class. But he'll be swapping out Spanish for computer science next year, so is looking forward to that. He considered doing running start (taking classes at the community college) on and off, but in the end decided to stick with classes at the high school. And he did enjoy his LGBTQ world history class and his language arts class this year - where he didn't even break a sweat over an assignment to write 25 poems in various styles that all work to tell a single story. Such an assignment probably would've killed me in high school considering the level of stress I felt about having to write just one poem.

Of course, track was a huge positive as well this year. The track season ended in mid-May, but he's continued to have practice a couple times a week since. He just missed making districts, so hopefully will make it next season. He did earn a varsity letter for track this year and it feels slightly shocking to have a child of ours get a legit athletic varsity letter and not a "oh, you did band/choir for a few years, here you go" letter. One of the local running clubs puts on a series of all-comers meets through the summer, so he's gone to a couple of those. He'll go to a 3-day pole vault camp in mid-July. And, whether we're all ready or not, we're going to start small discussions around college selection and admission prep this summer.

We kicked off summer the weekend before school got out with a camping trip. Our last camping trip, M was still in diapers. Reservable camping sites fill up quickly, so we just picked one at random that looked like it would fit our tent. Ended up at Schafer State Park a little southeast of Olympia. It's a small state park along the Satsop River. If you fish, that's an option there as is swimming in the river. And there's a 1 mile loop trail in the park. It was a nice way to spend a couple nights, but not where I'd go for a longer camping trip since we don't fish and there aren't other things to do nearby - even getting up to Olympic National Park would be a few hours drive.

It was much easier to fit all our stuff in this car than our old car, but we decided we'd still benefit from a cartop carrier.

Ryan taught M how to build a fire, so he was in charge of all our fires this trip and did an excellent job.

Hot dogs roasted over the fire is the best way to have them it turns out, but M decided he just doesn't like hot dogs at all anymore.

Next time we go camping I'll take off work the day we plan to leave. I think I figured the kids would be in school all day anyway and I'd be able to prep in the evenings before. But then the Symphony was playing Mahler 2 and so of course I had to go to that Thursday night, and all the previous nights had been packed with a variety of other things. Work was busier than anticipated that week, so we ended up rushing around in the late afternoon to get last minute prep done and didn't leave Seattle until after 6, which wasn't ideal. Still, it was good to get out camping again. M was very disappointed we weren't going for longer, but G had finals the next week still so we had to keep it short. We won't have time for another camping trip this summer, but plan on another one next year.

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