Thanks to generous friends giving Sam an incredible night and day today, we were able to sneak away with Ben for a hike. I usually get to roust the family for a Mother’s Day hike but I think roller hockey games were scheduled for that day…so Dave suggested hitting the hills today. Good call – but it was HOT!
Here’s a run-down of Sam’s incredible 24 hours first, though: dinner with friends last night; sleepover with other friends; blueberry pancakes, hang-out time, hockey game, hat trick; pool time, and Hammy’s burgers! OMG!!!! All day I was feeling a bit badly for pawning him off, and thinking of him sweating it out with a 1pm game at the rink. I was texting another mom to make him drink water (I swear – I’m not a helicopter parent! ha!) and now I know he had plenty of breaks, drank 10 gallons of water, and enjoyed himself immensely luxuriating at the pool… what a day. Who would want to come home to boring parents after that? I can’t wait for school tmo. He is not enamored anyway…and after a Sunday like this? So help me.
As for Ben, Dave and me – we got a bit of a late start due to Hood Canal bridge closures, two in a row, so we did Mt. Walker for a warm-up hike. The rhodies were in peak form, though, so it was a great climb for a hot day. Fairly short but steep enough to feel a burn. We hit ice cream afterwards. I have never indulged before, but lemon meringue? On an 88 degree day? I could NOT resist. Here are a couple pictures of the day.
Regarding move prep, things are progressing pretty well. We hope to hear about medical clearance this week. I dropped off all the records last week after visiting dental with the boys for a quick peek in the mouth. They checked out ok, as did I. Then they were spoiled with a BROWNIE at the dental clinic staff’s special lunch event…imagine their luck? A brownie at the dentist? From there we went to the Naval Hospital for medical records, and a Japanese encephalitis vaccine. I was keeping that bit on the down-low because (as you may recall, Richard) they tend to not so much enjoy shots. I went to get mine and the boys started asking the nurse what I was doing. She explained the shot, and why we get it, and how serious it can be (I’m listening the whole time, my jaw dropping more and more as I can hear them engaged with her) and get this: they came around the divider and ASKED IF THEY COULD GET THE SHOT!!!!! I was so nearly moved to tears by this. It was quite the Navy medicine day. I filled out two compliment cards – one at dental and one at medical. Everyone was so friendly, efficient, thorough and helpful. You don’t have appointments to do this, you have to just walk in, records in hand, explain what it’s for, and hope they can drop everything and see you, which they did. Unreal. From there Subway for lunch (Mom – no ordering issues this time!) and then to PORTLAND for a roller hockey tournament over Memorial Day. This is why it’s been quiet here…no time to jot things down.
Work continues. Volunteering is wrapping up at the schools, and I’m trying hard to find people to fill my shoes for Math Coach (I think I found someone great!) and Coder Dojo. It’s a tremendous group of people who donate their time to the schools. I’m lucky to know them. And I’ll miss working with them, but I already know which leadership teams I hope to join in Yokosuka…we shall see. The middle school is 606 kids 6th-8th, elementary 1700 K-5th. The base is 579 acres, and the population is 24,500 – not sure if that’s how many live on base or includes residents and workers. I’ll find out soon enough, but it sounds cramped.
This week we need to nail down government passports and how much we should rent the house for. We also really need to start laying out piles of donate/trash/sell. Not Dave’s favorite thing. Nor am I permitted to do that myself…so…tiptoe into that shall I. 😉
Lastly, were you wondering about chick mania 2.0? Everyone is doing well. The teens are out with the big chickens but have a separate eating area that the big ones haven’t figured out how to penetrate (I have studied the mind of the chicken and am not sure I should be proud to say this, but I am one with the chicken brain. I know their ways.) I watch them while lifting weights sometimes to see how they operate. I’m watching them, they’re watching me (usually it’s “happy hour” and they’re calm, preening). Odd, perhaps, but if you’re going to enjoy being a naturalist, you might as well be a strong, fit one. Takes nothing to do lunges with weights while watching the birds as neighbors run by and yell out a “HEEEY ALLI!” The smallest babies, the two which I incubated, are also doing well, but they are not as brilliant. They are not figuring out roosting very quickly. I put sticks in the hutch instead of plastic poles. Maybe they want a more authentic experience. Ben took them out to watch a BBC program on dinosaurs on his kindle so they could get outside time, AND he could chillax after hiking. They were mesmerized, little dinosaurs that they are. Scary that birds can be sucked in, too. They didn’t much like the spooky music documentaries employ to amp up the drama, so they moved on in a minute or two. I’m very relieved all the extra chickens are doing well integrating. That could have been a VERY high-maintenance proposition precisely when it would have been not so helpful. The teens are probably, at this moment, nearly 9pm, finding their way into the big coop and squeezing into their Japanese sleeping room in a nesting box. I created a little sliding door so they can sleep and wake without being harassed. Actually…I need to go open that door. I closed it for the day…yikes!
Love to all! Family – we will call sometime soon. I promise. Your best bet is to come visit, though. Seriously. Do. We love you! Friends – come visit, too! Molly – are you in town this week???? On your way to a wedding??? Grand Forest calls you!
Today was a big day – First Communion for Ben and his 8th birthday! We decided to do both on the same day (WHAT!?) so that he could celebrate his actual birthday. Somewhat thankfully his roller hockey game got rained out this morning (game and church within an hour!). I was at the rink at 0800 to figure out if we were calling the games or not due to rain…then home…take care of chicks…dress and head to church.
Disjointed post alert…this is one of the reasons I fall behind in posting anything here because so much happens in 48 hours, not to mention a week or two. Can you handle the off-road style post bouncing all over the place such that the seatbelt locks in place, pinning you down? Here we go…
Chicks – have I posted yet all the chicks hatching out here? I don’t think so – I have chicks coming out of my ears! I timed eggs to hatch on Ben’s bday so the incubator has been “cooking” them for 21 days. It is so exciting to candle eggs and see a little beak or foot moving. Two days ago the first chicks started pipping! We could hear them peeping from within the egg. Now we have two little cuties from our flock to add to the 8 that I bought in my chick mania a few weeks ago. In the garage hutch I have a “loft” for the newest ones closer to the heat lamp, and the other 8 are wandering around underneath. It is crowded, but I have a plan to re-home some…because…you know, there’s just no good intro for this: we’re moving to JAPAN at the end of August. We just found out a week ago that Dave was selected to transfer. We’re excited for the adventure and often heartbroken to leave our friends. This past week has been very busy beginning the overseas transfer process, starting with medical screening, collecting medical records and filling out forms.
Back to the chicks, though…I got into a chick mania because Dave said no to goats, and now I have too many birds!
Here is a movie of the chick hatching fun… Gordon (our rooster) joined our flock 4 years ago on Ben’s birthday, so it just seemed time for a new batch of fun…
Ok – so chicks started hatching out on Thursday (one arrived a day early) and another yesterday. Today we had 8 boys over for Ben’s party. I set up a chick hockey rink so they could all see the chicks and learn how to pick them up, and the chicks could get a look at boys. I am not sure who was more excited! There was lots of flapping and shrieking all around, such that I had to really be emphatic with the boys about not scaring the chicks so much. They were flying straight up into the air – about 4 ft up! It was nuts! Everyone had fun learning how to catch the little buggers. Ben and I realized chicks just don’t tend to back up, so if you kind of block them from the front you can gently catch them.
Here are some pictures from the day. I also tried to make a hockey puck cake. And because it was cold, and because I have been despondent about not being able to split wood or have a real fire in Japan, I had a FIRE, too. Gordon and all the big chickens came out for the party as well, and ran amuck all over. Ben and his buddies ran around the woods with hockey sticks, whacking weeds (which was good) and also managed to whack a mole (isn’t that kids’ game?) or a mouse and knocked it senseless. Poor thing. Lots of excited boys here. Every time I turned around it was something new. Only one Nerf bullet to the eye, and that boy will be ok. No one got hurt on the slack line or the zipline. Parents had a good time around the fire, eating some nice appetizers that Dave brought home. It was a great mix of hockey parents and school friends.
Happy 8th birthday, sweet boy, full of life and energy. I am so thankful to be your mom, and share this wild life with you. If it weren’t for you, Dear Ben, who would run around the market with me playing bumper cars with sour cream in hand? Who would giggle over silly games? Who would go for jogs and bike rides? Who would beat me up a mountain? And who would help guard baby chicks who need some recess and outside time? And split wood? And we haven’t even talked about ice hockey and roller hockey…you are an animal on skates with a great wrister. You love working on your shot at home, scaring the little chicks with all that loud whacking on the shooting tiles.
You also love reading very much and your favorite books right now are the Warriors series about a cat family. Your friend J loaned a book to you and you couldn’t put it down. You’re also very excited to build StarWars Millennium Falcon and a Creator Corner Deli.
How is school going? your grandparents are probably wondering…well, your teacher has been working with me all year to help you manage exuberant outbursts, but this week you managed to have a “zero” week as I called it. I knew you could go FOUR DAYS with ZERO reminders, and you DID! You’re an ace student, too, who pays attention to detail, does his homework expeditiously, and has an excellent brain with fabulous recall for details. Stunning recall, actually. And I regret mentioning this, but you’re a debater with a razor-sharp retort that is always accurate because it hip-checked nuance right out of the way 😉
Most importantly, you’re a loving and kind boy who is usually the first to notice I could use a hug. How you bundle all this loud boy energy into a body that is also sensitive enough to notice how another person is feeling, I don’t know. I cherish you.
I love you, Ben.
I can’t believe how busy the past couple weeks have been. I’m sorry for being so lame sharing photos and stories of what the kids are up to. Both are enjoying ice hockey very much, and soccer as well. Last weekend Ben was in a half-day soccer tournament and came off the field after 6 games saying “Can we do this next weekend?” He would enjoy a different sport every day I think. Sam is adjusting really well to 6th grade and getting into a groove managing his organizational skills and homework load. It’s definitely a team effort but he’s taking the lead more than ever and remembering if he’s taking the bus home or catching up with me at school to drive down to ice hockey. The days certainly fly by at this pace!
I’ve been working on coordinating math coach programs at two schools, recruiting and screening volunteers as a good match for the teachers. It is going well but entails quite a bit of communication with all concerned. I’m also starting a Coder Dojo club for after school computer programming with mentors. It’s a cool model conceived by an Irish teenager to get kids into coding, so I’m working on recruiting high schoolers in need of credit or service work hours to be a part of the program. Also working…and the work load is heavy right now.
Here’s a quick video of Ben in his first ice hockey game. It was very cute to see these young kids playing! The 1’17” video ends on a high note – stay tuned to see Ben’s hat trick (third shot) of his first game go in!
Camp Last Hurrah was Thursday – last week. It was a very busy day, kicked off by a vigorous ride (on Emmy), hay-bale throwing, mucking, then camping. I didn’t stop moving – literally – for 24 hours. At 2:46 pm on Friday (after all the below adventures) I laid down for a rare (like once every 4 years) nap so I could be human when Dave got home. I turned the ringers off, put the boys in their bunks (they were exhausted as well) and was lights out for an hour. When I woke up at 4pm, I felt like I’d been run over by a train. Truly every muscle hurt and it was reminiscent of delivering Sam 10 years ago… But I wouldn’t have traded that 24 hours for anything in the world. Read on to find out why…Some of the stories are classified – you’ll have to ask me for the rest sometime 🙂
It’s your 7th birthday! I cannot believe how fast time has flown. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have two more years with you at home when we moved here in 2011 when you had just turned 3. Now 4 years have passed and you’ve done both kindergarten and are nearly done with first grade! You are so big, and you run faster than me already. Your feet hit the ground running when you were a baby, and we have had a joke for a long time that “Ben doesn’t know how to walk yet” because you only know how to run!
Here are some pictures you will enjoy.
So, Ben, Mommy would like you to know that you have been a happy, bouncy boy for 7 years. When you’re upset, you are really upset, but you bounce back quickly (unless you’re making a point). You still love to play the ukulele and are just now learning not to SHRED it. You’re an excellent dribbler, bouncing the basketball through your legs and around your back at high speed. You are also good on skates, keeping up with big kids and working on your wristers, slap shots (nearly knocking me out with one!) and enjoy hanging out with the D3 teenagers at the roller rink. You’re quite the conversationalist, and very independent. Sam likes to tease you about your girlfriends – everyone says “Hi Ben!” to you at school, and you have a friendly, warm attitude when “coaching” other kids in sports. One really nice mom commented on that specifically while watching you play with her son. She said “You are so good at saying positive things while sharing the rules, like ‘Well, you wouldn’t want to do that in the NBA because it’d be a foul and the other team would get a free shot, but it’s ok today!’ ” ‘.
Other Ben traits to note…you do the laundry for both of you boys. You load the wash, put in the soap, set the dial and start it. Then you listen for the bell and switch it to the dryer without being asked. You help fold carefully, just like Gramma showed you. You like to dress smartly, and are careful to always tie your shoes nice and tight, with a double bow. In fact, you are such a careful dresser, it’s hard to get you out of the house, whereas Sam is already out shooting hockey pucks with his hair all over the place and his pack still in the house! You don’t like to be messy, and don’t like the brunch for lunch option at school because the syrup is sticky. You never forget to wash your hands before eating, and always like to clean up afterwards. You and Sam could not be more different! Daddy thinks you’re a mini-Mommy. Well, I would take that as a huge compliment!
Ben, we love you so very much and hope you have a wonderful day today!!!
Oh – Sam liked to know how big he was each year. Here are your stats: 4 ft 4 inches. You still haven’t passed 60 pounds. I keep trying to sneak you food…
Mom and Dad
Today was the first inline hockey practice AND Gramma and Richard’s first day here! How do we not have a picture of them yet??? Geez! Must be because they scampered off to ACE Hardware – surprise surprise, right?
Here are some shots from the day – enjoy!
Ben said tonight, over nachos for dinner: “Mom, before two thousand and fourteen, I didn’t know how to make John (child in class) laugh. Now I do.”
Mom: “Oh, that’s interesting. And what does he laugh at?”
Ben: “Funny things.”
Mom: “Like what?”
Ben: (hands up to sides of face and moving slowly around like peering through a window) “Like M-O-T-I-O-N and funny voices.”
I was posting pictures of Sam’s party last night and heard the sound of Ben playing ukulele with his Daddy. I quickly spun around and filmed it. He has a nasty cold and is wiping his nose constantly, but is making happy music. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
We went to Big 5 for a pair of basketball shoes and came back with a stable of shoes for each boy! I am thankful that we have boys who wear out and grow out of shoes so quickly, it means they are active and healthy. But man…$220 and I was in the clearance section the whole time!
Ben is a funny guy. Both boys are very funny in different ways. Sam specializes in physical humor, Ben in verbal wit. His parent teacher conference yesterday is one example. His teacher writes down things he says from time to time (she does for all students) to communicate to parents. When he was asked to help read in a read-along book, he recognized “The” right away and read it. The next word was “cow.” He said “That’s not one of my sight words” and refused to try reading it. His teacher doesn’t know yet that he knows all the letter sounds and could totally sound that out because she also noted that during “zoophonics” time – where the kids act out and say letters, their associated character name and gesture – Ben sits there with his jaw slack, just watching. He doesn’t participate. So she doesn’t really have a good read on what he does or doesn’t know from time to time, even though I shared with her that he’d worked his way through the second level of Fry’s sight words (so about 200 words he can read, and he can sound out pretty well – the word “instinct” the other night, for example). Anyway – Dave and I laughed pretty good at that. It really sounds like Ben!
So tonight I thought I’d just casually find out what the zoophonics characters are from Ben (as a way to see if he knows them and just doesn’t want to engage with the activity for whatever reason). He knows all of them, their names, the letter sounds and the sign/gesture! I asked why Queenie Quail has the little hook sign and he said that is because male quails have that. (But it is a queen quail which is female!) I would be so confused :0
Anyway then I asked something else – like when two letters make a sound together, what is that? I couldn’t remember the term. I said like “ch ch – is that Charlie Choker?” and made a gagging sound. He loved it. I said – so what is that called when two letters make a sound together? Ben said “That’s a biophobatic.” “What? How do you spell that?” I said. (Pause) “B I O F O B A (pause) T I K” he said. Five syllables spelled phonetically. This guy is funny. I asked later – so where did you learn about biophobatics? “Mrs. Pratt. She taught us.” (Mrs. Pratt is the school counselor – there’s no way she said anything like that!)
Do you see what I’m dealing with? We have a big rule in our house about honesty and not lying on big or little things, but he knows the difference here. I really believe he’s just messing with me and he knows I know. I don’t know how his sweet teacher is going to deal with him this year except for keeping her sense of humor and not believe him if he professes to not know something. He enjoys it when I make things up. Like I asked what a quail was. I said I thought it was a huge balloon and he laughed hard, then corrected me. That is how I get the straight scoop sometimes.
Ben, Ben, Ben. You are so funny!
Two other funnies from a few months ago that I don’t want to forget. We were prompted to ask the boys “Why do zebras have stripes?” So we did over dinner.
Ben first. “Because they are mag-NI-fi-cent!”
Sam. “So that you can tell them apart from other animals. Like donkeys.”
This is an email I sent to Ben’s teacher the other day:
From: Alli Krug
Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 8:54 PM
To: Ben’s teacher
Subject: Ben’s tall tales
So I was asking Ben how school was going and a few things about his day. I think he spun some yarns. J Perhaps a T/F quiz would give you a laugh?
I saw her today and in passing she said: “Um, the answer is false to all of the above, but I wasn’t sure if you were for real or not at first!”
In other news, poor Sam has a nasty nasty cold and was home with me today. We had to go to a meeting so he was in a district administrator’s office doing some math games on her computer while I met. She had to disinfect afterwards. Isn’t she gracious? Same office that Ben always went to for meetings with me last year. You can draw right on her wall, and she gives out candy when you leave. She’s awesome. But anyway, say some prayers he feels better soon. Also say one or two for Dave who was up all night last night taking calls and then left at 5am this morning for work. A guy in his office already has the flu. Everyone is asleep right now so I am heading there, too. Mom must stay healthy!!!!
There are just so many of them, but this one shared over dinner the other night really made me laugh! This is an excerpt from an email to Mom so I don’t have to retype 🙂
I heard a very funny story from Sam the other day – apparently another boy and Ben went to the bathroom one morning while I was in with the small group kids doing math. Both boys are always interested in a “field trip” any chance they can get 🙂 Anyway, apparently they were “factoring” in the bathroom with paper towels so loudly that a teacher had to come in and tell them to quiet down! I am partly sorry, and partly very amused that they took the lesson to the bathroom with them. I literally laughed out loud at dinner when Sam told us the story in his low-key way. It took a lot of prompting to figure out what in the world he was talking about!
Ben has been really sick the last week – sinus infection on top of a week of sickness already. Poor guy was exceptionally stuffy with a fever >101 for three days. Such difficulty breathing at night, hard to understand his speech, and lots of sinus washes with saline spray (which I tried to explain was like boogie boarding in Hawai’i – lots of salt water up the nose!). He is doing much better now and I am so grateful. Mommy has had a bit of a stressful week with end-of-school commitments and a sick boy. I am thankful for all the opportunities to contribute to learning at the school and get to know the kids, though. Always glad that I am there and able to help. In any case, last night was the first day without a fever so we had a “Ben is Back” dance party in our living room – me and Ben – while Dave and Sam were out at guitar lesson. I cranked up some Credence and we danced with stuffed snakes on the “workbench” coffee table in the living room. I took movies for Dave as Sam eventually joined in when he got home. It was SO funny, but there were so many near-misses with snakes flying around like lassos that it was a bit nerve-wracking! I feared we would REALLY get in trouble this time! Kids were jumping from workbench to couch and back, and they’re both big now so collisions are much more interesting than they once were! All ended well and I didn’t get in too much trouble. I’ll post the video later…they are rather long!
Little Big Man has arrived at FIVE! I can’t believe it. He is such a man, not snuggly anymore unless you are giving him scratchies or reading to him. He can be very affectionate, but it’s a stealth tactic. Most of the time he is just such a little man, keeping up with big brother and even bigger daddy.
Enjoy these pictures of Ben’s birthday party. He had his neighbor friends over and a few days later created wonderful thank you cards for them, with a picture of the present he received and good lettering. He’s such a nice boy – such a big heart under all that bluster. He’s forgiving, sensitive and strong. No mom could wish for a better boy. I love you, Ben!