Friday, July 31, 2015

Nonnie and Papa Camp

Our summer of camps and activities continues!  It's going fast -- in part because there are so many different things going on every week.  August is now approaching and in just a month, Kai will be starting second grade and we'll be settling into the fall.

But, before that happens, we still have a few more weeks of summer fun -- and, of course, I have to report on the going-ons of the last few weeks.

Three weeks ago, Nonnie and Papa drove from Oregon to our house with Kailey to start the week of Nonnie and Papa camp - Sacramento style.  This was following the week of Nonnie and Papa camp - Vancouver style (where Kai stayed with them for a week).  It was really weird having Kai gone for that week.  Felt like I was missing a limb the whole time.  Alden missed her terribly, too.  He would point at her room every morning and yell, "AI"  "AI"  "AI".  And then he'd go into her room, climb up the ladder to her bed, and peer around asking for her. 

But, Kai had an amazing time with my parents and didn't seem to get homesick at all.  They said she behaved beautifully and had a blast.  She's already looking forward to going back next summer.  And, it was really nice to get to follow up the week of one-on-one time with her grandparents with another week with them at her own house.  Alden was SO excited that Kai came home and brought Nonnie and Papa with her.  He really loves being carried around by Papa -- and my dad indulges him, pointing out all the different things in the world. 

Alden took off with his walking skills while they were visiting -- he practiced and practiced, walking the loop of our downstairs over and over.  And then, when he had that down, he took it to the next level by walking the loop carrying an object.  And finally, he took on the really big stuff -- dragging the beanbag chair around behind him. 

By the time we got to DC the next week, Alden was a skilled walker.  He walked everywhere in DC, and was quite upset when confined to a stroller.  Of course, he rarely walks where we want him to walk, so it often meant just chasing him around a museum or the hotel -- as he screeched and tried to run away.  Cute, but exhausting.

My parents, Kai, Alden and I spent one day at the state fair.  We discovered the state fair for the first time last year, and had a blast.  This year didn't disappoint.  The kids rode the ponies, met a bunch of animals, explored a bunch of great exhibits, watched performances, ate fair food (including the amazing corn dogs), drank fresh squeezed lemonade, saw a science show, played with giant bubbles, and spent about 45 minutes playing with the giant light board (Kai was intent on grouping all the colors together.  Alden was intent on taking out any peg he could get his hands on.  Kai rolled with it, increasing her speed to try to get the pegs in before he could get them out, but not minding that he was disrupting her work... such a good sister).  In short, we had a blast.  We were there for about 8 hours and didn't even make it to half of the exhibits.  It's such a fun fair -- can't wait to go again next year!

Kai also got really into fake injuries and she and Eric had a blast using water colors to paint nasty bruises on each other.  Kai accompanied Eric to work one morning to show off her handiwork.  Make-up artist in the making!

We also spent time harvesting the lettuce in our garden.  I have to say, our first forays into gardening have not been entirely successful.  But the tomatoes and lettuce have been great -- so, it isn't all for naught.  Next year, we will do even better!

Next up... Washington DC!  Hopefully I'll get to that post before returning to work on Monday. Otherwise, it could be awhile before I get back to the blog... sigh!


Alden is a very social baby and likes to wave and say "hi" to almost everyone we meet. I would say about 50% of people say hi back, a response rate that he seems to find perfectly acceptable.  When he really wants someone to respond, he cocks his head to one side in order to get his face directly under the other person's face and makes intense eye contact.  He is not easily ignored when he really has something to convey. Absent that need, he's content to just wave and say hello and, if the other person responds - great!  If not, no biggie.  He tries the next person.

It turns out, he's the same way with animals.  He LOVES animals and waves and says hello to every animal we meet.  And recently, on our trip to the zoo, he was waving madly and shouting hit to every animal.  Of course, the response rate was down quite a bit.  As in, none of the animals responded.  But, he was not deterred. 

And then we got to the parrot.  The parrot that says HELLO.  I didn't get the first response on camera but the look on Alden's face was completely priceless.  He did a triple take and his eyes bugged out of his head.  The parrot talks.  It was all he needed to try the trick on every other animal the rest of the day. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Camps

This is our second summer of having Kailey at an age where we have to come up with things for her to do for the summer.  Last summer, because of the move and everything going on, I took the easy way out and just signed her up for Courtyard Camp (the camp her school runs) for the whole summer, minus a couple of weeks that I stayed home with her (since I was, ostensibly, on maternity leave).  It was a win-win because it gave her a chance to get to know the teachers, the school and some of the kids before 1st grade started.

But, this year, I knew she needed to have a change in routine.  Just being at Courtyard Camp all summer would be a bit too much like being at school all summer.  They do mix it up -- but, it's the same teachers and the same kids, and it was really clear to me at the end of the school year that Kai was ready for a break.  

So, months ago, I got out the calendar and started plotting out the things that I knew we had going on this summer (trip to DC for work, camping with Julie and Malachi, my parents coming to visit) and started trying to figure out how to make it all happen and how to piece the weeks together.  It was not the easiest thing to do and I'm not looking forward to the day when I have to do it for both kids.  But, the result seems to be working really well and Kai is really getting a summer break.

Her schedule is different practically every week this summer -- which is funny, since the rest of us are mostly just doing what we do during the school year (ie our jobs and, in Alden's case, hanging with Will and the nannies).  But, for Kai, the summer consists of:

Week 1 - Art Beast Camp:  She finished this week already. She LOVES art, so this was a great fit for her.  They got to write a play and design the sets and make the costumes. Kai was the star of the show, as she played the unicorn that saves the sick sea turtle.  It was very cute.  Here's the backdrop the kids created for the show:

Week 2 - Zoo Camp:  This was a lucky break. I tried to sign Kai up for zoo camp the first week that registration was open to the public, but since the zoo members got first crack the week before, all the slots were filled.  So, Kai was supposed to be at Courtyard Camp this week but then we got a call that a slot at Zoo Camp had opened up, so Kai got to go.  It was really a fun camp for her.  They did art projects every day, got to tour the zoo a bunch and play games, got to meet a lot of the animals.  And, three kids from Courtyard and one of her friends from Art Beast Camp were at Zoo Camp with her.  It was a great week!

Week 3 -  Linda Ann Camp:  For the third week of summer break, we let Kai just hang at home with our nanny, Linda Ann.  Kai was bored some of the week, which was good for her.  It was a really hot week -- often over 105 degrees.  We bought a blow up pool so the kids could splash around in the backyard, which they loved doing.  Kai also did a bunch of reading -- she's doing the Summer Reading Program that the public library puts on, which means she collects points and prizes for the books she reads.  I think she has about 1,600 points so far (100 points a book).  So, not bad.  And, she always has fun with Alden and Will -- so, it was a good week for her.  And, one day, I took her with me to the Capitol because I was testifying about a bill, so it was a mommy-daughter work day that ended with us at a pub watching the Women's World Cup game against Germany.  

Week 4 - Nonnie and Papa Camp in Washington:  At the end of week 3, that Thursday, we packed up the car and headed up to Oregon for the holiday weekend (July 4th).  The drive up wasn't bad at all -- we stopped for dinner early on and then Alden slept while Kai watched movies.  We got to the hotel at about 1 AM and the kids partied for an hour and then went back to sleep.  In the morning, we only had about 2 hours left of driving.  We also showed Kai the houses where we grew up, which was fun.  We spent a day with Eric's mom, a day with Amy and Dave and the kids, and a day with my parents.  We watched the final Women's World Cup Game (go USA!) and Kai had a blast making homemade pasta and pink waffles with the twins.  On Monday morning, Eric, Alden and I packed up the car and headed back to Sacramento while Kai stayed behind for a week of Nonnie and Papa camp. She has gotten to swim every day, do sewing projects, make jam, have a sleepover with her cousin, Mary, and all sorts of other things.  We've missed her -- the house is so quiet without her.  Today, they start the drive back and tomorrow they'll get here and then stay another week to watch the kids while we work.

That's what's happened so far -- and here's what's coming up!

Week 5 - Nonnie and Papa Camp in Sacramento: So, this is in the future -- but next week my parents will be here watching the kids while we work.  And, we're all planning on heading to the state fair for a day!  That will be fun.

Week 6 and 7 - Washington DC

Week 8 - B Street Theater Camp

Week 9 - Courtyard Camp

Week 10 - Camping Trip with Julie and Malachi's Family

Week 11 - Monterey Bay and the Aquarium

Week 12 - Courtyard Camp

And that will be her summer.  I think it's a pretty good mix.  I'll write about the things coming up as they happen -- especially our trip to DC and camping, which will be fun family adventures for all of us.

Our Neighborhood Pool

I cannot believe it's already July.  Where did June go?  It certainly feels like summer as we have had numerous days over 100 degrees.  Luckily, we've joined the pool in our neighborhood, which is wonderful.  It's not heated -- which is so refreshing.  Everyone warned us that it was quite cold, but we love it.  It's almost like swimming in a river.

Our pool is walking distance from our house and has a big toddler pool, a regular pool (with a diving board) for the big kids, a grassy area, bbqs, a fire pit, ping pong, horseshoes.  There's also plenty of shade, so we don't even have to worry to much about sunburns.  And there are covered cabanas right near the toddler pool.

We often go there after work/camp and make cheeseburgers or order pizza (the local pizza place delivers!)  And, we've had lots of folks join us.  I threw a little impromptu birthday party for Eric at the pool and we had a bunch of friends and kids join us for burgers and swimming.  We've had playdates at the pool with our neighbors and their kids.  It's a great place to hang out and play.  And, the way it works is we just have a key and so can go anytime of the day (or night -- one of these days we're going to go night swimming).  The pool is technically open year round -- which, in Sacramento, is almost a thing.  Last fall, we saw neighbors heading to the pool even in late October.

The highlight so far has been watching Kai learning to go off the diving board.  She was so scared.  But, also REALLY wanted to conquer her fear and do it.  Her friend Nora could do it and Kai knew, deep down, that she would like it.  But, she'd walk out to the edge of the board and look down and be overtaken by fear.  She'd stand there, edging her toes over the side.  And after several minutes, she'd finally walk back, letting another kid go.  This went on over many days. 

Then, the weekend before July 4th, Sarah, Penny and Max came to spend the night.  Penny was nervous about the diving board too, but the girls made a pact to conquer it together.  Penny said, "Kai, if I do it -- you can do it too!"  I actually am not certain Penny had any trepidation -- she's a wise girl and knows how to motivate Kailey.  Penny did it and Kai followed to the edge of the board, staring into the water, edging her toes forward.  Finally, after many (many!) minutes, she stepped off.  And that was it, she was hooked!!  Kai is a diving board fiend now.  She loves it so. It was such a cool moment to see.  Here she is a few jumps in -- no fear left:

And Alden also loves the pool.  He is a maniac in the water.  The toddler pool only goes to 2 feet deep, so he can walk around in it.  Of course, he's not a strong walker -- but, we found if you put a swim donut on him, he goes wild.  He bounces around in it, letting his feet trail behind him.  But then, of course, he spins because his feet aren't on the bottom and that results in him getting a face-full of water. He really doesn't seem to mind, but it freaks me out.  We really have to stay close, because he has no fear and is way over-confident in the water.

I think this pool is going to be our go-to summer fun for years to come.