Sunday, January 20, 2019

Independence Week

At the beginning of summer, when we were planning camps and activities for the rest of the summer, Eloise requested a camp of her own.  As she was perusing the parks and rec catalog, she came upon a rhythmic gymnastics camp that was for girls only, and immediately decided that that is what she wanted.  It started July 2.  I was not super impressed. As a camp, it seemed pretty austere and strict.  The gymnasts who run it are former Olympians who are very serious about their craft.  I didn't see any smiling from any of the camp leaders, but Eloise was happy to be trying something new. 
 This meant that we had to go to the beach without her, but she was delighted to get a little break from her brothers, so she really didn't mind.  We met the Christensens at a Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton, which we hadn't visited before.  It was lovely and muddy, but the day was NOT warm enough for swimming.  I was happy to stay on the beach and hold baby Z.
 Since there was no scouts on Tuesday night, I picked up Kelly and Grant, and Jared and I taught them how to play Killer Bunnies while Kelly's mom, Nina went to her addiction recovery class to help her quit smoking.  Kelly didn't think he would like it, but after we had gone around the table taking turns twice he was hooked.
 Wednesday was the fourth of July. Grandpa Michael came to visit, and our ward held their annual pancake breakfast at O.O. Denny Park.  While we were there, we met a new family, the Blackwelders, who had moved into temporary housing in our ward while they looked for a place of their own.  They had just come from Florida, and their father, Ethan, was starting work at Google.  They have four kids whose ages match pretty closely with ours, so we invited them over to a cookout at our house that evening with the Christensens, followed by Shaun the Sheep. 
 We did poppers on our driveway.  Eloise and Isabella hit it off right away.  The shared bond of being the only girl in a family of brothers was enough to make them fast friends.  We were sad when they found a home outside of our ward area shortly after this, but they moved onto the same block as the Christensens, so we still see a lot of the Blackwelders.
 After a day of excitement, the kids were pretty tired, but Todd and Jared at least toughed it out to watch fireworks over Lake Washington near the Kenmore Air Harbor.
 Thursday was hedge pruning day.  The foliage was taking over our driveway.  The hedge trimmer fizzled out before I was very satisfied with the job, but I got a few of the branches that were grabbing at the car trimmed back, at least.
 Friday was Eloise's last day of gymnastics camp.  It was also the day we had scheduled to go to Whidbey Island to do a tour of Ebey's Landing National Park and earn an Underwater Junior Ranger badge.  I took the boys.
 We parked up at the top of the reserve and hiked down.  I got a blister.
 The day was absolutely beautiful.
 We couldn't keep our feet out of the always frigid water of Puget Sound.

 The Carvers were wiser than we were (and later), and drove down to the beach.  Annie rescued me with a band-aid for my blister, and the ranger presentation was engaging and really excellent.  Then she led a walk down the beach and asked the kids to bring her items of interest so that we could learn their names.  Eloise would have loved this, since she carries a field guide everywhere she goes.  The kids ate it up.  They were fascinated to learn about kelp forests and find all kinds of smelly treasures on the beach to identify.  Bless Annie for stuffing us all in her car to shuttle us back up the ridge to our car.  My blister, plus beach sand, plus salt water in my rubbed off blister, plus hot sun away from the beach, and small boys who were going to want to be carried, were going to make for a very long hike back up the hill.
 Eloise had a performance for her last day at gymnastics camp.  Since we were far away on Whidbey Island with the car, Todd borrowed a car and drove over to watch it.
 After the performance he took Eloise back to Google to return the car and eat pizza together. The two of them then took the bus home.
 We relaxed at home for the weekend, until Sunday night, when our long term summer visitor, Kelly, came to sleep at our house.  He would be with us for most of July while his mom was away.
Monday, July 9, we met our friends, the Moffitts at Juanita Beach. I didn't get any pictures of Kelly there because he walked out into the lake and did not come back to land again for THREE HOURS.  The kid has endurance, and a little bit of body fat that my kids don't have to handle the cold.
 I think the cold water gave Sammy a runny nose, and then he rubbed it with his sandy hands.  That's my best guess for how he achieved this look, anyway.
B met a little boy about his age in the park.  When the kids got hungry and ran out of other snacks, I found a package of candy bars that an elderly friend had given me for my kids.  I was passing around candy bars and B offered one to his new friend.  The little boy, who was Russian, asked me if they were "Ghee M. O." Apparently in his family they do not eat anything that is GMO.  It made me laugh that a five year old would be so fastidious about not eating bioengineered candy.  Ultimately he turned down the candy, which was an ordinary crunch bar, and the kids continued playing until they decided that they needed real sustenance.
Summer is the best.  Why doesn't it last longer?

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