Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We're alive. We got back from vacation, had three house guests, hired two babysitters, and managed a large pile of work crises. And Cook went on a camping trip. But things have since calmed down. A little. We're still working all the time, trying not to let the squalor rise above tolerable levels, and attempting to feed everyone food that isn't terrible for us.

In the last week, the kids have gone to an amusement park and gone berry-picking with a babysitter. And swum in the Willamette and many times at the pool. Their lives have been pretty great all summer - lots of swimming and adventures and snacks and reading and not doing anything they don't like to do. Duchess is very excited for school - she's in a combined 4th/5th-grade classroom, with a teacher she thinks she'll like, and I think she thinks it'll be more sophisticated with all those 5th-graders involved. (Hee.) Skipper, predictably, is freaking out at the prospect of kindergarten. She starts full-time next Friday, three days after Duchess (and none of the babysitters we hired can cover those days, so we're jury-rigging a complicated system of using our vacation hours and taking her to work with us for some hours, which makes things even more hectic). I am keeping my fingers crossed that the transition won't be maximally miserable.

Here's some of what we did this summer:
- In swimming, Duchess learned how to do a good flip turn
- In swimming, Skipper moved from reluctantly dipping her face in the water (when required) to enthusiastically plunging underwater and pretending to be a dolphin.
- Duchess decided she really likes gymnastics
- Duchess decided she really likes ballet.
- Duchess decided she really likes learning Mandarin.
- Duchess decided she really likes electronics.
- Duchess decided she really likes swimming.
- Duchess decided she loves the Wildwood trilogy.
- Skipper decided she does not like popsicles or blueberries.
- Skipper decided she loves the work of Roald Dahl and Robert McCloskey.
- Skipper decided she likes grocery shopping. But not leaving the house.
- We got new, bad neighbors who sit outside all the time smoking and having stupid conversations.
- We went on two camping trips (plus Cook's trip with friends)
- We went on a TWO-WEEK vacation!
- I stopped trying to learn to play guitar, but I am going to pick it back up again.
- I learned that I'm good at providing customer service to angry people. And that I am not completely unemployable.
- Cook learned that if you thread your pedal onto your bike pedal arm wrong, the threads will eventually be stripped away, and your pedal will fall off while you're riding home from work.
- We grew a lot of tomatoes and killed a bunch of other plants.
- We hired four babysitters.

And that's all I can think of off the top of my head. I can't believe summer's ending!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Since we're all just heaps of duft, we might as well enjoy our vacations.

We rounded out our vacation in Boston. In retrospect, spending two days together (based out of a single hotel room) at the end of a two-week vacation might not have been the greatest choice, as we all got pretty cranky, but we had a really nice visit regardless. The kids were excited to see the places they had read about, and Cook and I were excited to return to Boston, where we lived for a couple of years when we were young and foolish. I think we were all pretty satisfied. I was pleased to find that the subway system still smells the same. Duchess was pleased to see History. Skipper was pleased to see the ducks and know we were almost home. Cook was pleased to see the transportation improvements in the city.

We wandered around brick streets in Beacon Hill. Duchess was navigating.
We visited the ducklings at the Public Garden, in honor of Skipper's favorite author.
We took a picture of Duchess with a statue of George Washington.
This is the State House. I don't know who any of those other people are. 

We went to the Children's Museum for a brief break, deploying a free reciprocal membership with a local Portland museum. They have a very cool climby thing. And now Boston has connected itself to its waterfront, thanks to the Big Dig, and the waterfront is also cool. We did not go on the Tea Party ship, to Duchess's eternal disappointment.
We went to Faneuil Hall and took a picture of Duchess and Skipper with a statue of Sam Adams. 
We went to the Old North Church, and took a picture of Duchess with a statue of Paul Revere.

We met Mr. Otis at the Old State House. Duchess was enthralled. She wants to be a historical interpreter.*

And now we're home! I leave you with this heart-warming sentiment, courtesy of the Copp's Hill Burying Ground.  :

*"Not as a career, Mom. As a job when I'm not ready for a career yet."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yeah, we're still on vacation.


Ferry to Deer Island.


Roosevelt Cottage. (Cottage!)

Raccoon Beach


Tea With Eleanor. Skipper fell asleep.

The cabin where we stayed, at Wilson's Beach.

East Quoddy Head Light (not visible, due to fog, and also host to many mosquitoes, which is why Duchess looks extra grumpy - turns out she reacts like crazy to mosquito bites).

Canadian construction signs are funny.

West Quoddy Head Light, visible.

West Quoddy Head, still, featuring a tree with buttocks, hilarious to all except probably Cook.

Cook watching Duchess's unorthodox and completely ineffectual approach to rock-skipping.

Moose Cove.
Attempting to re-engineer the Big Cooks' yard at midnight to prevent basement flooding. The pale blue lump is me.