Sunday, July 5, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

July arrived with monsoons!  These might not be true monsoons, but they are a nice warm up for the real thing.  We enjoyed some overcast skies and high winds. 
 When we took our game outside to enjoy the cooler weather while the sun was blocked by clouds, a few raindrops fell. 
 It was a huge relief to be able to be outside for a little while without being afflicted by the oppressive heat.  Until the mosquitoes arrived. We aren't accustomed to the humidity, either, so it feels alarmingly clammy when our sweat doesn't evaporate instantly.  Thank heavens for central air conditioning. 
 Jared thought this view of the night sky and neighborhood lights out our front window was amazing. 
 The fourth of July is one of our favorite holidays.  For the most of the past eight years we have gone to our ward's pancake breakfast on the 4th.  That isn't happening this year, but we managed to get a significant amount of partying in with our isolation group.  We started on the evening of the 3rd with a cousin sleepover.  The girls were at the Campbells', and the boys were at our house. All of the kids slept in sleeping bags on the floor (it's waaaay too hot for a real campout).  Eloise and McKenzie somehow switched places in their sleep, which was weird.  They stayed up late and woke up early, so we anticipated this being an emotional and short Independence Day. 
We were at Grandma's house before 7 a.m. getting set up for our own small pancake breakfast. 
 We had sausage, bacon, watermelon, cherries, orange juice, and chocolate chip pancakes.  The fourth of July is a holiday, but it is also Megan's birthday, so we needed to make it special.  This shirt, while festive, was not a good choice for July in Tucson.  I was sweltering. 
 Eloise lives for her girl nights.  I think Ryan feels similarly about the boy nights. 
 Happy birthday, Megs!  Already six years old!
 B demolished a plate of cherries and wore cherry blood around for the rest of the morning. 
 Pretty soon the day was warm enough that the only way to be outside was with water.  Todd ordered a canopy that fits over the pool this week because the kids had been complaining about the water being too warm.  I don't know that this will help that much, since it's still over 100 degrees for the better part of every day, and low temperatures are hovering around 80. Ugh. I miss Washington. 
 Because this pool is rather small for ten kids to play in at once, pool games are usually elaborate dramas.  For the 4th of July, appropriately, the kids founded a country called Swimarea.  They didn't have a president, they had a grand lifeguard.  Their new society was complete with a national anthem and traditional Swimarean games, like Marco Polo.  My favorite moment was when Rachel said, "And now, a traditional Swimarean greeting!" And all of the kids dove under water so they could wave with their feet.  Ryan and B founded Trampolinia when the pool started to feel too crowded. 
 After a while we went inside and fulfilled Megan's birthday wish of having "candy games." Much candy was enjoyed by all.  Since everyone was still around after a few hours, we went ahead and had our barbecue for lunch.  The heat was miserable, but the food was delicious. 
 After all of the candy and birthday cupcakes, no one touched the icebox cake Eloise and I made.  We even experimented with adding a strawberry jello layer to the middle.  Todd was skeptical about this, thinking that the jello would clash with the graham crackers, but it turned out great.  The jello did destabilize the cake a little bit, so it had to be propped up with graham crackers on the side, but the end result was delicious. 
 After lunch the kids all went to the Campbells' to watch a movie, and Todd, Colette, and I watched Hamilton.  The Broadway musical was just released as a film of the stage version by Disney.  Tickets have been impossible to get since the musical was released, so it was really cool to get to see what the hype was about.  And eat icebox cake, since we hadn't been chowing down on candy with the kids. 
We decided that we would do our small number of fireworks before it got too late, since everyone was tired after a long day in the heat.  Colette brought smoke bombs, and we set off poppers and sparklers and a few fireworks before 7 p.m. 
 Somehow the sparkler has disappeared from this picture, and B just has fire on his forehead. 
 Ryan was standing really close to this "grand finale" firework.  It started with a little flame, and Ryan inched closer.  All of a sudden it started snapping and popping really loud, and he leapt backward with his hands over his ears. 
We had the earliest fireworks in the neighborhood, and we were okay with that.  Happy exhausting Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Astro Camp in a Box

Since we can't go to summer camp this year, and it would be irresponsible to travel, we got our summer astro camp experience mailed to us in a series of boxes.  We get to do the activities in the boxes at our leisure, so we haven't been getting through them very quickly, with so much swimming to be done every day, but we have loved the things we have done.  
 Sammy had the idea of making his ping pong ball and motion machine look like a magic trick. 
 So then B had to hide the motion machine and suspend his ping pong ball in midair. 
 T-shirts came in the week 2 boxes.  It's the same shirt design that we got at junior astronaut camp, if it looks familiar. 
 One of our favorite activities so far has been rocket making.  We followed the instructions carefully, forming our paper tubes around a piece of PVC pipe.  The nose cones are definitely the hardest part.  Eloise named hers "The Greased Lightning." B's was "X-B 13," and Sammy's was "The Hawk."  Jared abstained from making one, since he doesn't care for finicky work with scissors and tape.  I named mine, "Hold On Tight!"  Eloise thought of naming hers "Of Course I Still Love You," after the SpaceX drone ship, but then we were afraid it might think it should be a ship instead of a rocket, and we wanted it to fly. 
 The instructions said to fit a piece of bicycle tire tubing over the end of the PVC pipe, and then put the other end of the tire tubing over the top of a two liter bottle.  We couldn't find a two liter bottle anywhere, but the idea was the same as our stomp rocket setup, so we fitted the PVC pipe and bike tube onto it, and had a great time launching.  We used Grandma and Grandpa's back yard, since they have more space than we have.  I would have gone to the park, but it was over 100 degrees already, and I wanted a quick retreat to air conditioning.  Grandma took pity on a group of poor, sweltering scientists, and brought out cups of frozen slush, her special summer drink.  It tastes like heaven. 
 Since the rockets were made out of paper, I wasn't sure they would make it through more than one launch, but they flew great!  We got to launch them over and over and over, until two of them were stuck on the roof and we were all too hot to continue. 
 This has been our favorite of our astro camp box activities so far, but we have two boxes we haven't even opened yet, so the fun will continue. 
While this isn't quite as great as doing astro camp in person, but it's a lot of fun!

A very extra super long summer!

Tucson has gotten hotter and hotter through the month of June. Swimming is an everyday essential activity for us.  My kids aren't sure swimming is fun without cousins.  Fortunately they rarely have to experience swimming with just each other.  Sammy watches his cousins closely so that he can imitate them.  Sammy hasn't quite mastered freestyle in swim lessons yet, but he busted out a pretty good approximation of butterfly at one lesson, much to the astonishment of his teacher.  
 Peyton had a birthday, and kitties are her one great love.  We went swimming at Manny's, and then we went next door for cake at Colette's. 
 The party had to be pretty quick, since we had it on a swim team day, and all of the kids except for the three youngest are on the swim team. 
 Eloise has a book of ideas for adventurous girls.  She used it to make a fan fort. 
 The sheet is inflated by fans at both ends.  It's breezy, but effective.
 Sammy got some hand me down dress-ups from Ryan.  He came downstairs after making a sword and shield for himself and announced, "I'm a fully Knight!" 
 Ryan got baptized on June 20!  He turned 8 years old in March, but churches were shuttered right around the time of his birthday as the world combats coronavirus, and we didn't have permission to use the church for baptisms until June. The group attending was limited to 20 people, which was just enough for both sets of his grandparents and all of the local relatives (except Marie, who had to work). 
Two days later, the Campbells left for a family reunion, and we were left to fend for ourselves for entertainment.  It was a long week without them.  We broke up the week with a day trip to Patagonia Lake with Grandma and Grandpa.  It was a very hot day, so the lake felt just right.  Todd even took the afternoon off to come with us. 
 I packed lunch, but Grandma brought cookies, so she is the kids' favorite.  Eloise stepped on a bee next to the water.  She was fine.  There were a lot of bees, though, which kept us on edge since Grandpa Knight is allergic. 
 Grandma brought an inflatable raft which we had tons of fun with. 
 It was a great day at the beach.  The one drawback was that it was fairly crowded.  We had to be conscientious about maintaining social distance from other beach-goers.  We were thinking of going again the next week, but with Arizona becoming the worst state in the nation for coronavirus, we decided to wait until after the 4th of July week in the hopes that the beach would be less crowded. 
Transformation time!  B and Sammy were ready for a new look.
 Sammy chose his hair length based on the color of the clippers, so he ended up quite short.  I think this haircut is just right for summer. 
B was not in such a hurry to give up all of his hair, so he didn't go quite so short.
 He is still a handsome little dude. 
 Sammy and Eloise had a little Sunday morning fun with snowballs.  Snow angel! 
 Sammy made crowns for his animals.  We love having so much time to be creative. 
We just learned that we are going to have a few extra weeks of creative free time.  The Vail School District board voted to delay the start of school for three weeks, since they were scheduled to begin classes on July 20, and, with the state of public health, it's impossible to know how to safely reopen so soon.  The new start date was announced for August 10.  Two days later, Arizona's Governor Ducey partially shut the state down again, and mandated that in-person instruction can't start at K-12 schools until August 17, which is the same day I start my semester.  I'm not sure how or when everything is going to start, but we are glad to have a little bit of extra summer to make up for last summer.  Last summer the kids got out of school in Washington at the end of June, and started school two weeks into the school year in Arizona at the beginning of August. 
Enjoy the rest of this very extra summer!

Monday, June 29, 2020

June in quarantine

June didn't start quite like I had expected.  Arizona was starting to open up, but public pools were still closed.  Fortunately, Colette's neighbor, Manny, who had his pool resurfaced last year, wants to make sure he gets his money's worth out of the pool restoration, so he gave Colette permission to bring the kids over to swim anytime on weekdays, since his family only uses the pool on Fridays and weekends.  Manny has a really nice pool.  Yards are small on Colette's street, but Manny's pool takes up the whole yard, so the kids are not too squished.  
 All of the kids are getting stronger and braver in the water.  Sammy's confidence still exceeds his skills, so he has to be watched, but he doesn't have to be rescued very often. 
 From Manny's poolside I can access Colette's wifi, so I can get some work done while the kids swim, if it isn't too hot.  When it's 104 degrees it's too miserable to sit by the pool, so I jump in.  Ryan is teaching me how to do flips off the side of the pool. 
 Another neighbor, Miss Sue, has also given us permission to use her pool.  She only uses hers in the early morning before the sun is high, so we are free to use it the rest of the day, as long as we call ahead.  Her pool is a little smaller, so the kids don't prefer it to Manny's, but it's bigger and deeper than Grandma's.  We are set for swimming every day this summer, thanks to Grandma and our generous neighbors. 
Eloise started gymnastics in June.  She has wanted to do it for a long time, so I finally got around to calling when the gymnastics center opened up again.  Annie's class was full, which is just as well since it runs during swim team, but Eloise is loving it.  Eloise has to have her temperature taken at the door, and then she has to wash her hands before going into the gym, and use hand sanitizer once or twice while they play.  Masks are required in the lobby.  Gymnastics is a very intense hour, and we often go straight from swimming to gymnastics, so Eloise is starting to see the value in having her hair done.  Our deal is that she will let me do her hair if I let her do mine.  That seems fair. 
 Sammy and Eloise got creative.  Eloise made her sign, and Sammy wanted the one that was hanging in our old house up with Eloise's. 
 The kids' school librarian is a close friend of Grandma Knight's.  She invited Grandma over to relax in her newly resurfaced pool, and Grandma dropped hints that her grandchildren would like to come swim.  Mrs. Spear even has a diving board, so this is probably the favorite pool in the neighborhood. 
 Eloise is into things with unnaturally large eyes.  She even made some for herself.  Cute?
 Todd likes to go biking with our big boys.  Eloise doesn't love biking as much as she likes running, swimming, and being incredibly strong in gymnastics, and Sammy gets tired trying to keep up on his little bike, but B and Jared can bike for a long time.  This photo was taken in the middle of a 13.5 mile bike ride.  They don't seem to mind the heat.  The following Saturday, Todd, Jared, and B biked to the Hoefferles' house (12ish miles) and jumped in the pool.  I drove over with the other kids to swim and drive them home. 
 B and Sammy are still loving their hatchimals, and all toys, really.  Everything in the house becomes part of their elaborate games. 
 Although school is out, we still go to Colette's twice a week for Spanish class. 
 One day Sammy got on his bike to go to Spanish and wiped out badly at the end of our driveway because he hadn't noticed that one of his tires was flat. He did NOT want to walk the quarter mile to Colette's, so he got on his skates.  Walking might have been faster, since he's a little out of practice, but he was happy. 
 The mountains north of Tucson started on fire in a lightning strike.  This fire is called the bighorn fire, and we have been able to see smoke and flame in Tucson since the fire started on June 5.  Some parts of Tucson have had to be evacuated at different points in the life of the fire.  As of now, the fire is around 40% contained.  This picture is of back burn about two miles from the temple.  Although the picture looks very dramatic, the temple was never even in the evacuation area. 
 This summer I'm giving out an ice cream for every book report the kids bring me, up to two per week.  The cousins have been appearing at our door dutifully twice a week to deliver book reports.  I'm accepting them in all sorts of creative formats.  Here is an arena Sammy built out of blocks after he read "The Smurf Olympics." 
 This is Jared's lego book report of his favorite scene in "Land of Stories."  The library was closed at the beginning of summer, so we didn't have a summer reading program to sign up for.  This book report system has been amazing.  I love seeing what the kids are reading. 
The library has opened, but it's open for picking up holds only (no browsing).  We put our books on hold, and, when they are available, we go to the library in masks, slide our library card under a plastic sheet, and they slide the books out to us.  We have been going so often that the librarians recognize us and pull out all of our books while we are waiting in line. 
I must say, if this is how we are going to have to spend the foreseeable future, we have a pretty good setup for isolation.