Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vacation ... and reality

My wonderful husband let me have a week back in Texas to visit my friends!  One of my best friends had her first baby in May, so I got to see her and the baby.  And I got to visit our old church home and the boys' school.  I ate out more than I have in a long time!  And I got to sleep in a few times.  Okay, I was still on west coast time so I stayed up late and slept in a lot.  It was such a nice break!

My first night back in Dallas, my beautiful friend and her family took me to Freebird's.  Freebird's and I go way back.  I remember when there was only one in College Station.  My boys love Freebird's too, and I was a little sad they couldn't be there.  But I wasn't so sad that I couldn't enjoy it.  I especially had fun teaching my little friend the proper technique for eating a Freebird.

The next day I went to my other beautiful friend's house to spend time with her and her new little man (and her husband, too).  He is such a beautiful, sweet, and talkative 4-month-old!  We had so much fun!  We got in some meals too - Chick-fil-a and Freebird's again.  I have probably missed those specific restaurants the most.

After a few days it was back to the first friend's house.  I had a lot of fun with her and her girls, too.  It was nice to just hang out with friends (both houses), and do normal things with them.  The girls and I read together.  They would color pictures for me.  My friend would do laundry.  I got to brush their hair some.  I got to watch their cheer practice.  I picked them up from school.  The dog would put its wet nose on my leg and I would squirm and tell it to go away.  ;)

I got to visit my old church on Sunday morning.  It was so nice to be back.  I saw a lot of people and saw the changes they had made to the building.  It's sad when life keeps going on without you.  ;) 

I had a real Mexican food lunch at Cristina's after church on Sunday with a bunch of church friends.  The next day I had a New Orleans-themed lunch at McAlister's with friends from the boys' old school.  The food was great, but the people I shared the time with made it even better!  I also had a dinner with another friend who couldn't make the group lunch and another lunch with 2 more friends who couldn't make the group lunch.  I am so thankful for these friends making the time to get together with me!  Unfortunately, I missed a bunch of friends, too.  Maybe they can come up here to see me.  ;)

If you want to see pics of the people I saw, you can go here.  It was a lot to try to put into the blog.

When I got back into town I was so relaxed and happy to see my family.  Predictably, that did not last long.  The boys who had missed me so much while I was away, seemed to delight in pushing my buttons now that I was home.  We are settling back into a rhythm now, and getting along well.  Evan has started soccer and some after school activities.  Joel is hoping to get into gymnastics.  I am taking on more PTSA commitments.  Steve is finishing the last few repairs and updates to the house to get it all shored up for winter.  I will blog more about those later.  But now I need to get ready for an adventure day.  Stay tuned for another exciting episode to be told soon ...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back to School ...

so soon?!?  I guess so.  (We started back to school on Sept. 4, so we just finished our second week.  I am just still behind on blogging.)

We started by getting our school supplies ready.  I dumped all the school supplies into a pile and had them race to pull out what they thought was on their list.  Then I called out each list and they re-adjusted the piles before putting it all in their backpacks.

We had made back to school survival kits for their teachers before we left for the retreat.  We just needed to have each child add their name to the note for the teacher and those were ready to go.  We included some snacks, small hand sanitizer, Tide pen, and instant coffee packets since those first few days can be so hectic.  I told each teacher that they were getting a glimpse of my sick humor by the inclusion of the sour patch kids.  If they got frustrated during those first few days, they could deal with it by biting the head off of a sour patch kid.

The kids woke up Tuesday morning in great moods and eager to start the day.  Steve went with us to the school to see the kids to their new classes.  (This school didn't have a meet the teacher night before school started.)  The kids went into the gym and cafeteria to line up with their classes (as they would every day before school).

Both rooms (really one big room with a removable divider) were crowded with students, teachers, and parents waiting to walk with their kids to their new classes.  Before time for the first bell to ring, another familiar ring pierced the chaos - a fire alarm.  Yep, a parent had accidentally set off the fire alarm, but we all had to evacuate to the playground and stay out of the building for 30 minutes.  Everyone seemed to take it in stride, and it gave me a chance to meet Evan's teacher, too.
Chaos in the gym

Less chaos outside
When it was time, we walked with Joel to his 1st grade classroom and helped him get settled down.  He didn't really need us, but we were glad to be able to be there.  Of course, by then we had been at the school 20-30 minutes longer than we had planned and Steve still needed to get to work.  I didn't get to stay for coffee and pastries with the other parents, but that was okay.
You guys can leave now ...
After school, I took the boys to Baskin-Robbins to have the traditional first day of school ice cream.  We missed sharing the snack with our Texas friends, but we were able to meet another family for the quick treat before they had to be at soccer practice.

Looks like it was a rough first day

How does he eat it like that?
It's hard to believe that the boys are back in school already.  I miss having them at home, but I have been sick again, so at least I have been getting more rest.  They seem to be having a good time.  I have heard about new friends and fun times at lunch and recess.  I don't get too many more details, but I don't get complaints either.  Sounds like a good start to me!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Family Retreat

Joel had a lot of trouble with the concept of a "church family retreat".  He wanted to know what we were trying to get away from.  Steve and I were really looking forward to it.  I had heard of family camps, but never a family retreat.  And I had never been on either.  This was a welcome way to spend our Labor Day weekend, before the kids had to start back to school.

We went to a retreat center in Auburn - less than a hour away from our house.  It was a beautiful, rustic setting but it had plenty of modern conveniences.  We stayed in a building with our meeting room in the middle and individual rooms in wings off each side.  Each room had a queen bed and bunk beds as well as a private bath.  They arranged the rooms according to ages of kids, so people with babies were grouped at the end, then people with slightly older kids, etc.  It worked really well.  It wasn't noisy at sleep time but the kids had their friends nearby.  Of course, with all of the activities going on, we weren't in the rooms very much.

We had a speaker for the adults who discussed apologetics with us.  His name is Hank Hanegraaff and he is the host of The Bible Answer Man Show.  He had some topics that he presented like lectures, but there were several sessions of Q&A, too.  He was also available for questions during free time and meal times, too.  He also brought one of his 12 children with him.  His 8-year-old got along great with our kids, and they were almost always together.

The kids had their own program during the adult lecture times.  The people who ran the VBS the boys attended came to the retreat to lead the kids in lessons, crafts, and games.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and the boys came home with the cutest tie-dye shirts and picture frames.

There was also lots of free time built into the schedule and a family campfire night.  So, we got to have lots of fun together, too.  The guys enjoyed the swimming pool while I napped.  We all rode go-karts together.  The boys spent a lot of time on the playground.  There was even a few minutes of disc golf fun one day.  Most of my pics from the weekend are of our free time.  Some of them can be seen here.

This retreat weekend was a first for our family, but one that we are looking forward to repeating next year!
Monday, September 10, 2012

One final summer adventure day

Realizing that summer was quickly coming to an end, and that I had not made the most of it, the boys and I loaded up one Wednesday morning to set off for Tacoma.  That may not sound like the most obvious choice, but I had a plan - looking for tide pools animals and going to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

The zoo put on the tide pool exploration at Owens Beach, near the zoo.  The boys were skeptical at first, but got into it as we started finding more and more animals.  We found some cool (live) animals and then they played on the cold beach.  
Joel with a shore crab

We saw lots of sea stars, but this was the only we found by ourselves.
It wasn't my idea.  Don't give me that look, Buddy!
We had not been to Point Defiance Zoo before, and I found it to be a lot of fun.  We got to see lots of animals and learn from some of the zookeepers and volunteers.  It's also a beautiful setting, so even walking around the zoo was pleasant. 

We briefly visited a living history museum also in Point Defiance Park.  But, there was a charge to go into the fort (from the small museum/gift shop) so we just checked out the museum/gift shop.

After the zoo we were hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty.  Our first lunch attempt didn't pan out, but it was for the best.  I was able to use their free wi-fi to find a Sonic!  We hadn't been to a Sonic since we left Texas, so we were excited to find out there was one only a mile away from the pizza buffet that was closed.  And it was so late by the time we left the zoo that it was happy hour!  After slushes, burgers, and tots for the boys and a Route 44 Vanilla Dr. Pepper for me, we were re-charged and ready to drive home.  It was a great ending to our last summer adventure day!

Quick (?) summer recap

Apparently our summer was quite full!  At least, it was so full that I didn't blog about it.  ;)

We did have some fun adventure days.  We had a lot in one week when our friend, Holly, came to visit from Texas.  We took her to check out the salmon coming back to spawn.  We toured a chocolate factory with her.  We found the Fremont troll with her - all in one day!  Another day we took her to Snoqualmie Falls.  Afterwards we tried a restaurant that would qualify for an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (and that makes its own root beer and serves a mean dish of chili cheese fries).  She and I explored downtown Seattle by bus and foot and took in a Rangers v. Mariners game.  It was a jam-packed week!

The boys spent two weeks in a full-day VBS at the Chinese Baptist Church in Seattle.  They started out with one friend from our church attending with them, but they ended with lots of new friends.  In the mornings they did Hero Training Camp VBS.  In the afternoon, they took classes.  The first week they both took inventions and creations, which also included Lego building.  The second week Joel took a science class.  He made bouncy balls, bubbles that didn't break, slime, and a lava lamp.  Evan spent the second week in a rocketry class where he built and launched a rocket.  They both had a great time and have been talking about what they will take next year.  Here are a few pics from their final day program.

We got to visit the bast of Mt. Si for Amazon's company picnic.  We had so much fun walking around, eating free food, playing games, eating food, etc.  It was beautiful and warm weather and a great setting.  If you want to see some pics, you can look here.

Evan also spent a week at a baseball camp where he learned some of the fundamentals from a former professional player.  And we got together with friends a few times, too.

The most exciting part is that we survived our first summer here!  It was a particularly dry summer, so the boys got to spend a lot of time outside playing.  It got up to 90 a few times, which was a nice break from the triple digits of previous years in Texas (and MS for me).  It got a little warm a few times with no A/C in the house, but Steve worked hard to keep the fans going in the optimum way to make the house as  cool as possible.

We had hoped to go camping, but since it was our first year here, we let the summer slip away from us.  Maybe during some cold, rainy days I can plan for some trips for next summer!
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