Last night i was puking everywhere! it was not very fun. Now I’m homesick from school! I was watching Netflix and now I’m writing this post.
Yesterday i went and played with Flynn. He had another play date and he was going to go to his house. His friend was going to pick him up. When Flynn’s mom, Victoria said that he was going to come soon, Flynn said: “Can’t Berry stay until he comes?” I thought that was very sweet, and so did Victoria. But Victoria said that wasn’t the proper way to greet people. Then Flynn asked if after their play date that he could have another play date with me. Victoria said that would be fine if my parents would let me. Sure enough, they did.
After his play date, he came over to my house. Then he told me about how that at their play date the gerbils got loose because they by accident they left the top of the cage off and then the rest of the play date they were chasing the gerbils around trying to catch them.
Emma, my sister, also had a play date. Her play mate’s name was Ella. She was funny.
Then, me and Flynn played in the basement. Duncan came and played ‘White floor’s lava’ and Duncan claimed the hard part of the basement. I claimed the moving island (the treadmill) and I could choose whatever speed i want and could do up to 3 mph to keep unwanted people off.
We love finding ways to get the kids outside and having fun in the summer (well, all of the time). Summer is easier in Oregon, though, because it’s not raining.
And summer = swimming. Hot temperatures, sunny days, minimal air conditioning in our lovely old house make it the perfect recipe for cooling off in the pool.
The only problem is we don’t have a swimming pool in our relatively small back yard and dragging kids to the local, really really crowded pool happens just every so often. About three years ago, at the end of summer, Adam found a 9-ft circular pool on sale at Rite Aid for 50% off. He decided it was a good deal (around $25), brought it home and set it up. It was great. The kids loved it. It was small, but they were smaller then too.
They made up games: whirlpool — where everyone swims around the outside of the pool as quickly as possible, leaving someone stranded in the middle of the water vortex; swinging into the pool — where someone sits on the swing and pumps until they’re high enough over the pool and everyone else moves out of the way as the sploosh in.
Last year we dragged it out again the beginning of summer. It had holes in the inflatable ring at the top which is the key component to keeping the pool filled and stable. Adam painstakingly fixed them and we enjoyed the pool for the summer.
This year, I got out the pool and set it up. And again, the bloody holes in the damn inflatable ring. I fixed them. And fixed them. And then gave up and bought a frame pool online. I measured our garden and got the biggest one that would physically fit.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t ready to pick up from the store until after Duncan and Berry had left for their Dad’s. And by that point, Emma had fractured her little finger and had her right hand in a cast. *sigh* So much for summer outdoor fun.
But, the cast eventually came off and I’m leaving tomorrow to return with the kids in a week, so, last weekend, I decided it was time to set up the new pool. Enthusiasm from children was low, but with some perseverance (and the wise decision to wait until the sun was going down) I got the thing up!
And then I dropped the little wrench they included to install the filter inside the pool — before I had assembled the stairs. It was dark by the time I was finished, reading instructions in the gathering gloom.
Then we filled it — for the entire next day. It’s only 14-ft across and holds 3,300 gallons, but it still took a while. Adding pool chemicals so the water doesn’t turn green and kill us all was another adventure, but I pretended it was fun science. (I do love the little color-changing test strips.) Our pool is now nicely balanced and chlorinated, with appropriate levels of ph, alkalinity and free chlorine atoms.
Finally, it was time for the fun part: Getting in the thing. Emma was extremely keen, even though the water was freezing cold. Suddenly all the really hot days seemed to have vanished, leaving us with temperate summer weather that was great for enjoying on dry land but not awesome for heating up the pool. But it didn’t stop her.
Among her many qualities, Emma is cute and convincing and soon Adam was in the pool with her. Here’s the video proof.
(Please note: I realize getting into a 68F pool isn’t the same as dumping a bucket of ice water over your head and Adam didn’t nominate anyone else for the ALS challenge because he had no idea why I was telling him to say he was doing this for ALS. While ALS is a serious and devastating disease — I recently learned that two of my childhood friends lost their fathers at young ages due to ALS — we were just having a bit of fun. And harmless fun is good.)
I also entered the icy waters, which really weren’t that bad after the initial screaming plunge, and enjoyed several games of Piggy in the Middle (the less PC English version of the American game, Monkey in the Middle) with Adam and Emma.
The nice lady at the pool supply store told us most folks around here keep their pools up until mid-October, so here’s hoping we get a few more weeks of fun out of it. I’ve considered getting some kind of heating system for it (solar cover or solar heat coil thingies) but for now we’ll just tell the kids that cold water builds character and it’ll feel warmer as soon as they move around.
So Camp Mummy hasn’t exactly been full of providing children exciting and educational summer activities lately.
Book reading enthusiasm has waned. Emma still hasn’t finished The Ruins of Gorlan (how can she live not knowing how it ends?) and I just can’t seem to get into the Warriors book about bands of fighting cats.
Plus, I don’t have Emma and Sam all that much during the week, and not for any full days, reducing our chances of getting up to much fun. But we’re not completely and totally lame as long as you count the weekends.
So here’s what we have done:
Japanese Obon Festival
We stopped at the supermarket for sushi to go and then onto Alton Baker Park, where we fortuitously found Yayoe, Adam’s ex-step-mom who we still call Grandma Yayoe.
We enjoyed watching traditional Japanese dances — including the awesome Pokemon Dance — while being relentlessly pursued by a wasp. I think it liked my gluten-free soy sauce.
I failed in my half-hearted attempts to get anyone go join the circle and dance with me (nor did I go on my own), although Yayoe and I shuffled in place. My arm flapping did double duty, serving to also shoo away the wasp (as well as provide entertainment for anyone watching — group dances are not my forte).
Sam thankfully trapped the wasp at ground level and stomped it into oblivion. Much indebted, I enjoyed a couple more dances and then we headed home.
Hiking to the Raptor Center
In preparation for Adam and kids’ upcoming camping trip, we went for a hike up Ridgeline Trail. Starting out near Duncan and Berry’s school, we wandered the woods, taking the trails I remembered from Berry’s class field trip to the Raptor Center.
Taking photos of people hiking is a bit tricky, as you have to get ahead of the group and then they each walk behind the person in front. Adam and the kids stopped, however, to listen to the sound of two trees rubbing together in the wind. I told them it was a cougar (we’d seen signs about cougar and bear sightings), loving mother than I am.
I was the only person to think to bring water and was resultingly quite popular. We eventually reached Fox Hollow road, which gave Emma a burst of energy — or at least enough to climb the hill to the Raptor Center, where we donated a whole lot for our entry free. Fortunately they had plentiful fresh, cold water, which everyone enjoyed.
After sharing my granola bar (also the only snack that made the journey with us), I offered to bravely face the trail back to the minivan alone while the rest of the gang enjoyed the educational owl-eating-meaty-bits show and wandered around to look at all the birds, including Raavi, a bird of some kind that Emma adopted a couple of years ago. They’re cool and all, those birds, and the Raptor Center does good work, but apparently birds aren’t really my thing. So I strode off downhill, taking my chances with cougars, bears and my knees.
I returned with the minivan 30 minutes later.
Camping and Exchange Students
The following weekend, Adam took Sam and Emma backpack camping on the coast while I attended a psychic fair in Yachats with my friend, JD, a spirit artist from Ohio. If you want to read about that, read Adam’s post Camping. I don’t know where the tales of my adventure go, but probably not here. Suffice to say it was an interesting and slightly profitable experience and it was great to see JD and Regina, both old friends from Rochester, NY (Regina now lives in Ashland and drove up for a couple of days while JD was still here).
During the week, I helped our local academic coordinator for an exchange student program find families to host French students over the rest of the summer. And decided it would be super awesome if we hosted an exchange student from Japan for the school year. Fortunately, Adam and then Emma and Sam also thought it would be a great idea, so we moved forward with the process. Honoka will arrive in late August and stay in our little guest cottage in the back garden.
Adam is very excited to have someone use the incredibly fancy shed he built and finished (with insulation, electricity, drywall and hardwood floors).
And that’s the news from Camp Mummy for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully we’ll manage something interesting, educational and/or active this weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3:30 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.
It’s been a quiet week at Camp Mummy, as Duncan and Berry are at a French camp at their elementary school this week. It’s our only week of official summer camp and the summer has, essentially, been structured around it.
Last Saturday we began our summer birthday celebrations with Duncan’s birthday party. He chose a party at Splash! — a local swimming wave pool with a waterslide — partly because he thought it would be fun and partly because he wanted to invite as many friends as possible. I didn’t concede to his entire 3rd grade class of 26 or so students plus a few from the other 3rd grade class, plus a couple of other friends, but the invites did total over 20. Fortunately, I suppose, people’s schedules are as busy in the summer as the rest of the year, so not everyone could attend. We ended up with 16 or so kids, including siblings.
I confess, I’d been slightly dreading it. Splash! is noisy, often crowded and chlorinated. None of these, alone, make a place appealing to me and combined… Well, there’s a lot I’ll do for love.
Feeling incredibly unprepared, I managed to get the cake ready right before we had to leave, barely, remembering on the way there that I forgot to bring a knife to cut it with.
“We’ll improvise,” said Adam, calm as ever. “It may not be sterile, but we’ll figure it out. We could use a credit card, if we needed to. Or we could borrow a knife.”
Maybe I’ll just use a plastic knife, I thought, slowly rotating the cake on my lap so that the heat of the sun was spread out on the melting icing.
After we arrived and checked in, I realized I should have brought two table cloths to be able to actually cover the entire length of the tables. And beverages. Yeah, I forgot those.
But we arrived before any guests did, which was a minor miracle in itself and, as Duncan’s friends showed up, I began to relax a bit. Eventually there was a critical mass of 8- and 9-year-olds and I shooed them all into the pool to play.
I chatted with other parents, keeping a general eye on kids, then waded out into the waters myself. Berry was playing with our neighbor across the street. Duncan’s friends gathered into little groups of twos and threes and fours, splashing and playing, bobbing in the waves. Everyone was accounted for and all the lifeguards looked attentive. Phew!
I’m a person who enjoys finding adventure even in the mundane. Life can be boring and annoying, or amusing — however you choose to make it. Too often, even for me, my funny bone remains untickled, as if I have something I can hold over life if I’m grumpy about it. Generally, though, I prefer to be amused. Swimming around the pool, searching for Duncan and his friends to inform them it was 15 minutes until cake time amused me. It was an odd mix of bizarre and fun — a bit like laughing at myself for my balloon paranoia.
That done, it was time to fix the missing drink fiasco by purchasing several 32-oz cups of soda from the concession stand. They were kind enough to give me free water cups along with my $7.50 in soda. In retrospect, should have tipped them more.
And then another lap of the pool, this time swimming one-handed in order to keep my change dry. Giving it to another adult to hold, or just tucking it into my swimsuit top, would have made too much sense.
Then it was time for the birthday song (which no one could hear over the noise) and cake! Cake with really melted ice cream (I remembered the ice cream scoop). Cake cut with a thin, plastic knife from the dollar store.
None of the kids minded. They didn’t care I didn’t get the Pokeball the proper shade of red, either. It was cake. And ice cream. And soda.
Then it was present-opening time. So many Pokemon cards. So, so many. Followed by more splashing in the pool until finally, the last kid was picked up and dragged home, the car was packed and we straggled out ourselves.
We drove home, contented and worn out. It was a super birthday celebration, which is just what’s called for with a really great kid.