We thought it might be better to have both kids go to preschool/camp for that first week so we could just detox a bit and prepare for a closer-to-home camping trip to the Redwoods at a more leisurely pace. It would be nice if blogs included sound effects. The sound effect at this point would be dun-dun-DUH. Because, really, staying home for us means working. Neither Eric or I is particularly good at down time even in the most forced circumstances (meaning, wilderness, no cell reception, no ability to carry fragile electronics, leaving us no other option but to enjoy something other than the company of our texts, emails and calendar reminders). Being home for the extra week meant that I organized (as in putting together the bulk of the content, coordinating speakers, etc) a last minute webinar. And traveled to San Francisco for an all day meeting. In addition, Alden woke up on the second day of our week “off” with a fever. Making the webinar that I was now coordinating and the meeting I needed to get to logistically more difficult. It was like one of my more annoying weeks from hell. Hardly the stuff of vacation .
Perhaps the sound track to this story should be that of a silver lining (what does that sound like), because by Friday, Alden was still battling fever and, as is his habit, worsening cough. He got sent home from school early (oh, did I mention we mostly shipped him off to school during the week? He stayed home on Tuesday – but, the other days he was in high spirits despite the fever and so we just gave him Tylenol and shipped him off to school. Bad, Mom. I know). By Saturday, when we were supposed to be packing, he was really hacking. So, instead of leaving Sunday morning, we took Alden to urgent care where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. AGAIN. He has had pneumonia 3 or 4 times since turning 1. It’s alarming. And, he HATES medicine. So, beyond alarming, it’s a huge struggle. The only antibiotics we’ve ever found that Alden is willing to tolerate is the pink stuff that tastes like bubble gum. Given our luck so far in the week, it shouldn’t have surprised me that Kaiser has discontinued that particular brand of antibiotics. Meaning we left Urgent Care and took a tour of Sacramento pharmacies looking for someone who still carried the pink bubble gum version of antibiotics The upside being that pharmacy # 3 HAD the pink goop AND Alden did tolerate the medicine. Good, Mom.
So, our first week of “vacation” was more testing our patience and basically begging the question, “how bad to you need a few days off?” Loaded with antibiotics and the blessing of the doctor to take Alden into the woods after 24 hours on the stuff, we headed out a day later than planned to the Redwoods. Kai, of course, had spent the summer gallivanting from one awesome summer camp to another, so I think she was not as stoked about heading off for a 5 hour car ride to the woods when she would have been perfectly content to stay at home. But, as the previous paragraphs demonstrate, getting away was critical to our sanity. And, we got to our destination with minimal whining and complaining.
We had a great time camping. We mostly had the campground to ourselves, there were fabulous (short and kid-friendly) hiking trails through old growth forest, the campground had a paved loop that was perfect for bike riding (or bouncing on the green donkey that we brought along), there was a river with a nice swimming hole just a short walk from our campsite. It was a very toddler friendly place with enough fun and excitement for 8 year olds, too. Not the easiest balance to strike. We taught Kai how to play Rummy 500, made good meals, roasted many a marsh-a-mennow (as Alden pronounces it), and enjoyed being together without the distractions of work. A few videos and pictures (we didn’t take many – because there was no place to charge our phones and we were mostly not using them – go us!)
We got back late Saturday afternoon, giving ourselves just enough time to unpack the car and head to the last movie night of the season at our neighborhood pool. All the families gather and watch a movie (in this case one of the Star Wars) on an outdoor screen, bringing along blankets and sleeping bags as well as treats to share. It was really fun – although, the kids got cold and Alden got scared (“I’m scared!” he said, turning to us with a look of alarm on his face), so we didn’t stay for the whole thing. We then had Sunday and Monday to clean, do a few home projects, go back to the pool every day, bbq, grocery shop, and get into the idea of the Fall schedule.
It was a nice, slow last week of summer.
And now we are in the craziness of September. September is a wild month. I think, from a work perspective, people seem to think that you have to tease up all Fall projects in September because you don’t want to run into the holidays. There are so many conferences, meetings, trainings and webinars this month. Not to mention travel to Orange County, Los Angeles (3 times), and Albany, NY. Ugh. We aren’t really settling into a routine yet – although, the kids schedules are more routinized (which is great). At this point, I feel like we are muddling through and looking towards November.
But, despite the craziness, the kids are doing great. Kai seems to be liking her new 3rd grade teacher. She is happy to be back at school with her buddies. She’s excited about math, reading, journaling. She’s having a great time with her soccer team. She’s excelling at piano. She’s reading up a storm – working her way through the 6th Harry Potter while reading another series at the same time. I was nagging her earlier this week (about table setting and dinner prep) and she was struggling with the transition to home duties, so she went into her art room and wrote me a note on her white board explaining that she had a hard day and needed me to be more gentle with her. I used to write so many letters to my mom to try to explain my feelings and point of view. It’s incredible to have a daughter doing that to me now. Not in a bad way – just in a remarkable way. The way life comes full circle and now I’m watching this vibrant, articulate, thoughtful, sensitive and hard-working daughter of mine try to sort through and communicate complicated feelings to me.
Alden is also doing great. He LOVES his preschool and they love him. He is so happy and comfortable there. His language explosion is shocking, no matter how expected it is. I KNOW kids learn to talk, but when he turns to us at dinner and says, “this is spicy!” (referring to a bbq sauce) “I want that one” (pointing to the ranch) “that one is not spicy”, I just look at him in awe marveling at the adjectives and nouns he has just strung together. Now, when I walk through the house because he has disappeared for a moment saying, “where’s Alden?” to Kailey or Eric, Alden is usually the one to reply, “I’m right here!” When we’re talking about him, in front of him, he reminds us that he is sitting right in front of us and can understand everything we are saying. He cracks jokes, running around like ET with his hands waving above his head shouting, “ET phone home!” He is a total crack up.
Onwards to Fall (and Halloween!!)