Tag Archives: book club

Broken finger, birthdays, art and travel

Here’s a summary of the past week:

  • Emma broke her little finger
  • Grandma Yayoe came over for a fun art afternoon
  • Duncan and Berry finished up summer camp
  • We celebrated birthdays
  • I got Duncan and Berry packed and ready for their trip to New York

You can’t say we haven’t been busy.

Afternoon art with Grandma Yayoe.

The broken pinky and afternoon art

Sweet Emma broke the pinky finger on her right hand (she’s right-handed) on Thursday morning at her mom’s house. At first, we thought it was just sprained, so when she came over in the afternoon, I manufactured a homemade splint and she got down to some serious artwork with Grandma Yayoe.

The boys couldn’t be persuaded to leave their computers, even though they are talented artists as well.

Yayoe brought over a mysterious substance from days long ago called carbon paper. I have vague recollections of the secretary at my dad’s office using carbon paper in the typewriter and of messing around with it myself. But I haven’t seen any in years. Neither had Yayoe — she found it at Goodwill.

End of summer camp

The end of summer camp week inevitably came, much to Berry’s sorrow. The kids went on a field trip to the Enchanted Forest in their tie-dye camp t-shirts and cemented their bonds with their camp counselors.

Meanwhile, I took Emma to the doctor to have her finger looked at. The swelling and pattern of bruising around her knuckle worried me. Something just didn’t feel right.

We got an appointment that morning, so I took kids to school, then Emma to the doctor. She got xrays. The pediatrician thought it was just a sprain so she got an impressive-looking professional splint (none of my Popsicle stick and gauze nonsense).

A radiologist read the xrays and called Adam later in the day. The verdict: a fracture near her knuckle in the growth plate. After a visit to an orthopedist a few days later, she ended up with a fiberglass cast for 3 weeks.

Birthday celebrations

Family dinner on the patio.

We celebrated a cluster of birthdays over the weekend – Adam’s on Saturday, Duncan’s on Sunday, Grandma Susie’s on Wednesday.

Saturday evening we hosted family dinner, enjoying BBQ chicken and various salads on the patio in the 92-degree evening. I didn’t get any good present opening pictures and the cake, while delicious, wasn’t truly impressive looking (Chocolate Mocha Torte aka Chocolate Potato Cake).

But presents were opened to the gift-receivers’ delight and Adam got the socks and underwear he’s always wanted.

Child-eating donut
A giant donut with teeth has eaten Duncan.

Sunday morning, I surprised Duncan with a trip to Voodoo Donuts for some healthy birthday breakfast. He got to choose two for him and one each for everyone else. Alas, no gluten-free donuts were to be found, but sugar makes me grumpy anyway.

Duncan opened his gifts, quite happy with his loot, almost all Minecraft- or Pokemon-related. He also asked for a Sorry! boardgame, so we had a round of that at some point, after putting together all the Minecraft papercraft boxes he also received.

Getting ready to leave

And then it was time to get the little kids ready to go to Rochester to see their for 5 weeks.

I got a bit maudlin and wrote about it on my other blog, Irrepressible Spirit.

Duncan crammed in as much time with his friends as possible — one sleepover, a birthday afternoon Minecraft spree, a trampolining play date, and a morning at another friend’s house. Berry and I hung out together, squeezing in one birthday party where she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. We were going to get in one more bike ride, but it strangely rained (unusual for summer in Eugene). And we’re not that hardcore.

I washed all the kids’ dirty clothes in order to pack them — plus a couple of stuffed animals that had become a bit stinky. And I took lots of pictures of them while they were asleep. So cute that way.

On Wednesday, we succeeded in using the kids’ coupons for a free crepe at 16 Tons, surprising Grandma Susie fortuitously with birthday cards and a present. Emma and Sam were at her house being put to work, so everyone came along.

Somehow, Duncan and Berry had never tasted Nutella before. Clearly I have failed as a mother. I made up for it with a hot chocolate to go with it. I ate salad and drank jasmine tea. Then we zipped over to the airport to surprise their Dad as he arrived.

We made final trip preparations, getting their case packed to its full 50lb weight limit with Pokemon cards and stuffed animals. And then it was time for dinner, bath and bed, our normal routine. We finished Duncan’s last Looniverse book, and crept through a little more Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, sadly leaving Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing unfinished. I popped it into his carry-on bag. We’ll see if he manages to read it by the time he returns.

early morning wakeup3:30 a.m. Thursday morning arrived and I woke up the kids, sleepily getting them dressed and fed and packed into their Dad’s car at 4 a.m. Off they went, as I waved through the living room window, the car’s taillights disappearing into the morning’s dark.


What will the remainder of the summer bring for Camp Mummy?

Well, with a cast on her right hand, bike riding and swimming are out for Emma. So I’ll have to come up with something more creative for the days she’s home with me. Hiking? Reading? Board games? Stay tuned.

The R’s of summer

Two weeks of summer are under our belt (well, they were when I started this post on Tuesday). How are we stacking up against my original plans? Eh, generally OK. But I’m not sure how we could possibly fit more into our days.

Learning to ride bikes

We’re working hard on on this one, with two bike riding sessions so far. I was hoping for another yesterday (but we ran out of time) or today (but Duncan isn’t feeling well).

This happened on the way back to the minivan. For a long time.

We went down the paved trail by Amazon Park the first time (this also counted as visiting a playground) with one kid on the bike with the training wheels and one on the smaller bike I turned into a balance bike by taking off the pedals. I hear this is all the rage for helping kids to learn balance. Apparently not for my kids.

There was a lot of whining about who had to ride the balance bike, ending with a brilliant episode of stubbornness. Getting back to the minivan felt like it took hours.

Our second biking excursion generally went better, with one bike with training wheels and one without. I tried convincing the kids that the person on the bike without the training wheels got more attention the the kid on the bike with training wheels, but they didn’t really buy it. We switched up the bikes every 5 minutes or so, which meant adjusting both seats, but it was OK.

After a while, my poor back had enough of running behind a bike while keeping it upright and my ability to consistently spew encouraging words also wore out, so we headed to the playground across the street (see below).

Visiting every playground in Eugene

The kids insisted I give them commands to do things. This one was: Berry, lie down on the bench and sleep until Duncan wakes you up. Duncan, go down the slide 2 times, then go over to Berry and give her a kiss to wake her up.

We haven’t been anywhere new, but have been to our favorites. I mean, we have to visit them first, anyway, right? And, I think until I start hearing complaints that the old favorites have become boring, we’ll stick with them. It was more an idea to keep us interested in going outside and staying active.

Because that’s what a lot of these goals are really about — keeping minds and bodies active and not lounging around in our underwear watching Pokemon all day (confession: that is exactly what’s happening now, at 1:15 p.m.).

Reading our way through the OBOB book list

Duncan and Berry both finished Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman and I think I’ve resparked Emma’s interest in her book. She was on Chapter 17 on Monday. I have to catch up with her again.

Duncan and Berry are now onto The Trouble With Chickens which I they should probably be reading right now instead of watching TV. Did I mention Duncan is feeling under the weather today?

I’ve certainly been reading a lot, finishing the latest Outlander book, then My Mistake by Daniel Menaker. Now I’m onto The Goldfinch, which is due at the library in three days. My kindle and I are inseparable.

So, even if we haven’t been doing a fantastic job of some of the other stated Camp Mummy goals: trying a new recipe every week, doing science experiments, crafting cool things, etc., we have been having a bang up time with those three Rs of summer: reading, riding bikes and roaming about.

The days are just packed

Relaxing with the kids is exhausting!

Grocery store helpers

Camp Mummy feels like it’s been packed with activities the past two days, starting with grocery shopping on Monday morning. Surprisingly, we all piled into the minivan without incident or much nagging. I think Emma is often a calming influence on the younger two.

The kids were even helpful in the store, loading milk into the bottom of the cart (as pictured here), putting groceries on the conveyer belt, and carrying the milk inside the house.When it came time to choosing only two flavors of ice cream (only 2! but there are 3 of them!) they came to a mutual agreement rapidly and peacefully.

The produce area went as expected, with repeated weighing of fruits and vegetables and frequent admonitions from me not to bruise it and handle it carefully. “These apples are $2 a pound. Be gentle with them!”

We discovered, to our horror, that the 5-lb bag of organic carrots weighed in at only 4lbs 11oz. But I was beyond the point of getting them to calculate the cost of each of our selections. They did notice, at least, that we bought 9lbs of apples. We eat a lot of apples.

They were rewarded with a treat, which was actually deserved as there was little whining and misbehaving. Well, if you don’t count Berry poking at every package of hamburger buns in the bread aisle before I noticed what she was doing. And it doubled as lunch for Emma (bagel with cream cheese) and Berry (giant chocolate chocolate chip muffin – yes, I let her eat a chocolate muffin and called it lunch).

After Emma and Sam’s mom picked them up after lunch, Duncan, Berry and I had some club time, as we sat outside and read a few chapters of “The Tornado Book.”

Duncan and Berry finally got into the exciting adventures of whatever the main characters’ names are (I need to do better than this to quiz them for OBOB competitions). Emma seems to have given up on The Ruins of Gorlan, but I’ll work on her again this weekend.



Today felt really busy.

We started off slowly, finally leaving the house after 10 o’clock for a fun trip to the bank. Perhaps I was tense about our impending banking (which involved several transactions, all involving weird paperwork) but getting small bodies through the process of dressing and putting on shoes and out the door took more patience than I possessed. By the time they were in the minivan, I’d revoked the potential treat of stopping at Yogurt Extreme afterward.

The kids were great at the bank itself, glued to their books. Then their elementary school to say hello to the secretary and principal who are still hard at work through the end of this week. Berry had promised she would on the last day of school and the kids made drawings to wish them a great summer.

Then there was playing on the playground and tending to the school garden. Duncan enjoyed eating kale — he’ll eat it growing out of the ground, but not on his dinner plate. Whatever. Eat the kale, kid. Berry weeded while I watered.

On the way home, we stopped by Cheese park to check out the summer free lunch program. Alas, we arrived too late and found only two chocolate milks and one whole wheat bun left. The kids drank milk and split the bun as we headed home to forage for food. Apparently the bun was delicious.

I have slight guilt about taking advantage of a free food program as we technically don’t need it. But people have encouraged me to use it, with the argument that if the food isn’t eaten it goes to waste, and if not enough people use it, then the city won’t keep funding it. I’m not entirely sure where I stand on that, but I also like the idea of not having to come with lunch every day. So perhaps we’ll try again tomorrow.

After a mild feeding frenzy at home, we trotted back to the park to enjoy the play n spray for a while. Walking behind the two of them, their pale little sunscreen-covered bodies gleaming in the sun, tushies wiggling down the road, I began to relax into summer.

I found a shady spot to sit and knit and eavesdrop on a couple of mom friends with their kids nearby. They ran around and played together. At times they drive each other crazy. And then others they play together so well.

At one point, Duncan bonked his head and they both came running over to me, his face red with pain, hers frowning in concern. We comforted him together, and then they were off again.

After a while, we walked a mile or so to the downtown library for a Magic Science Show. I’m not sure where the science was, but it was fun and the kids really enjoyed it.

Somehow, watching an adult make a fool of himself through misunderstanding and misdirection is really funny. Maybe kids are just giant goofbutts and like it when we are, too.

We finally made it home a bit before 5 p.m. and I put on the sprinklers for our poor lawn, letting Berry run through them with an umbrella. Then I sent the kids to the basement to watch TV so I could get some work done. I don’t have much ambition for this summer — I have one client whose social media and website needs attention that I’m committed to. And then there’s my book to finish writing.

But these moments – even the tough getting-out-of-the-house stop-giving-me-your-attitude-and-just-put-on-some-clothes ones – these are precious, exhausting days.


Row, row, row your raft

My arms are really tired. So are my legs, for that matter.

20140620_144433Duncan and I were the only kids who hadn’t been in the raft this year (or ever), so Adam decided today was the day to send us down the stream. We drove to some spot in Alton Baker Park, hiked down a road for a while and tossed the raft into the Patterson Slough.

Duncan and I donned our life jackets and tentatively climbed aboard. I only squealed once as the raft shifted under my weight.

Boat selfie. Goodbye, world!

And then we were off, gliding peacefully across the little lake and down the river.

It was quite lovely on the smooth water.

Duncan and I sang rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat Raft and he even paddled a bit. While we were going with the current and didn’t really need to paddle, Adam, Sam and Berry hiked alongside, taunting us to keep up with them.

We passed under a couple of bridges and avoided being spat on by any related teenagers, met a spider (or some kind of insect in the boat) the distraction of which caused us to float into a low-hanging tree and generally had a good time.

Eventually we came to a little sluice, one side of which was open, so we pulled over so Sam could hop in and enjoy the brief rapids. Then we plonked Berry in with him (once he was on the other side – we only have 3 spare children after all) and Duncan and I wandered down the trail while Sam rowed and Adam ran back to get the minivan.

We all reconvened downstream, happy and well-exercised. Berry mouse (note the tail from her 1st grade play costume) gamely helped carry the raft back to the car.

We came home to hot chocolate and tea and some rest. I’m not sure how many exercise points I earned (10 minutes = 1 point, 50 points = 1 pedicure) but I think we achieved our Outside Time quota for the day. And I suppose it counts as visiting a park. No book reading for the kids, though. Perhaps I need to bribe them with something – or offer a less likable alternative, like cleaning their rooms…

Dinner tonight (because I seem to be obsessed with chronicling our meals) was take out pizza for the kids and gluten-free calzones with peppers and mushrooms for me and Adam. Last night was beef/tofu stir fry with rice noodles.

And here’s the video from our adventures today.

Summer reading list

One of my presumably brilliant ideas for the summer is to get the kids reading some of the OBOB books for the next school year. I have no idea how many we’ll get through in one summer, but it’s worth a go.

Berry, who’ll be in 2nd grade, sadly won’t be able to do OBOB. But Duncan will be in 4th and his team came in 2nd in the school this last year so I hope he’ll want to do it again next year. Emma did OBOB a couple of years ago, but not in 5th grade, so my secret (no longer) hope is that if she reads a few OBOB titles over the summer she’ll be more inclined to form a team with her friends as she’ll already have some of them under her belt.

Somewhat surprisingly, the kids thought this was a great idea when I proposed it to them. So I diligently looked up the OBOB book list for 2014-15 next year for the grades 3-5 and 6-8 categories.

Last Saturday at the library, I picked up three copies of Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman and two copies of The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan with the idea that I’d read along with the kids. Then we’d have lovely discussions about the books and compare our thoughts and impressions.

Today I realized something amiss in my plan — although it didn’t happen until Emma got to Chapter 7 in her book. If the kids get into reading, I have to read a ton to keep up with them! And I just started the long awaited Written In My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon.

But, devoted reader mother that I am, I tore myself away after reading only a few chapters (today) and dug into the kids’ books. Which are actually really good. I’m on Chapter 10 of The Ruins of Gorlan and haven’t quite caught up with Emma, who enjoyed teasing me at the dinner table that someone dies. I think someone dies in the other book, too. Good times!

The kids have blogged about what else happened today: Duncan Looses a Tooth!!! and Berry Sewing a Cute Cuddly Thing, so I won’t elaborate further on those, except to say that, in between all that reading, I did manage to help Berry make some fuzzy Star Wars creature with four eyes without burning anyone with the hot glue gun, supervise lunch making, clean up lunch, haul everyone to the park for a while and cook dinner while showing kids how to blog. (Dinner was chicken curry/tofu curry with broccoli, rice and naan bread. I didn’t make the naan bread.)

And in case you’re interested — and so that I can refer to it easily when I want to check out more OBOB books, here’s the 3-5 and 6-8 grade books for next year:

Grades 3-5 Division

  • The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O’Connor
  • Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
  • Kizzy Ann Stamps by Jeri Watts
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  • A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
  • Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • Sasquatch by Roland Smith
  • Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
  • Swindle by Gordon Korman
  • Tales from the Odyssey, Part One by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
  • The Trouble with Chickens by Doreen Cronin
  • The World According to Humphrey by Betty Birney
  • The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

Grades 6-8 Division

  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
  • The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  • Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
  • Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Poison by Bridget Zinn
  • The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
  • Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
  • True Legend by Mike Lupica
  • Ungifted by Gordon Korman
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio