Thursday, August 16, 2018

First Day of School! (and back to our overly scheduled programming)

And within hours, we were slamming face first back to reality. All three kids started school today, 7th, 3rd, and Kindergarten (!), which I was totally cool with until we left without any kids this morning. Suddenly all my "Three's great! I'm so over babies! Look at me with no diaper bag!" was feeling pretty old and dumb and needing a squishy little baby strapped to her chest ASAP.

However, the morning full of anxious energy would have been a lot harder to manage with an infant thrown into the mix. So there's that...

Eli started middle school today and he spent the morning frantically trying to memorize his schedule and the school map. Averson handled her stress the same way she always does, which is to say that she had a screaming fight with me about who should do her damn ponytail. Syd on the other hand, her only issue was that she kept trying to covertly roll her shorts up to make them shorter and hopefully get dress-coded on the first day back. C wisely knew that his nerves weren't going to help, so he stayed hidden until I pulled rank and forced everyone outside for pictures.

In the first of what appears to be the theme of trying to get everyone everywhere simultaneously, we dropped Eli off a couple minutes early. He didn't want to be walked in (or maybe didn't want to say he wanted walked in?) so we dropped him off on the sidewalk. Oof. I was totally fine until I saw him walk away, and then I worried for him clear until we picked him up. Would he get lost? Would he lose his lunch money? What if no one talked to him? What if the wrong kids talked to him? It was all for naught and he was totally fine. He made a few new (girl)friends, loved the pizza lunch, and helped other kids find their rooms. Thank God.
OMG. So nervous. 

Then we screamed across town (not really, more like two miles) to drop the girls off. Syd was thrilled to be back to school and her only concern was that her teacher would be meaner than her second grade teacher, who I always compare to Ms. Honey from Matilda. Mary Poppins is meaner than she is. As soon as we got to the school, she was off with her friends telling them all about how she jumped into a volcano. Every time I tried to track her down for a picture she'd disappear again, so this is the best I got. 
Averson was thrilled to be in school and to find her desk and meet her new friends. When her teacher started ushering parents out I told her it was time to go and she looked terrified. Thinking I'd misread her bravado, I immediately went into crisis mode but then she said, "But I don't want to go yet!" She was super relieved when I clarified that I was leaving and she wasn't. Then it was "Peace Out Mom!" I was trying to be open-minded about her class and some of the kids and all the first time parents (because let's be honest, I can be a touch judgy sometimes), but then some mom dropped off a screaming kid who NEVER STOPPED SCREAMING. Literally, at least fifteen minutes went by. We stood outside the door for a while catching up with other parents and he was STILL SCREAMING. Not crying, not whimpering, full on screaming. Finally the principal took him to her office thirty minutes after the bell rang. I was so grateful that I talked to Averson about how some kids might be sad or cry on the first day, but even she had a hard time hiding her WTF? face. At pick-up I heard that it never really got better, though Averson told me that he said a bad word at recess so I'm assuming he stopped screaming at least momentarily. I felt so terrible for the poor teacher that I snuck a can of purse wine and a pack of caramel M&Ms in a gift bag onto her desk. 
Tiny person. GIANT BACKPACK. 

My heart. Also, so so grateful that they put "Averson" on all of her things. It's the little things. 

And now we're back to life. Four days a week we have multiple kids at multiple practices across three towns, with very little time in between. In two weeks, right about when we get the hang of it, I start a new  night class which will throw an awesome wrench into the mix. Ready? Set? Go! 

PS: Any good dinner ideas for crazy frantic nights where some or all of us may be eating at a field or in a parking lot would be super-appreciated! 

Best. Vacation. Ever.

I have been doing a lot of introspection lately and have come to the conclusion that I am a chronic over-scheduler. That's a topic for another post, but does provide context as to why I decided to schedule our only actual summer vacation to end 16 hours before the first day of school, and to go ahead and not cancel class the night we were coming home. Which is how I found myself driving five hours, flinging luggage out of the car into the driveway, speed-stripping out of my overalls, throwing on a random (and turns out too short) dress, and racing to my class to proctor the final exam. But you guys? It was SO WORTH IT. This vacation was amazing and I think I've discovered the secret to a successful Chiconky vacation. Very little agenda + outdoor activities + someplace with a kitchen and bedroom doors = AWESOMESAUCE

Right after my dad died, an amazing friend of ours offered to gift us his timeshare and let us pick the location. We looked at the locations and dates that worked for us, and when we saw that the Running Y Resort in Klamath Falls, OR was an option we snapped it up. The whole time we lived in Portland we tried to see Crater Lake National Park, and it never happened. This was our chance! We planned to leave a couple days early so we could meander north, stopping to fish (or in my case, watch my people fish while I tanned and read my book) along the way. Unfortunately, California went and caught fire EVERYWHERE so that plan wasn't quite so feasible, but we did take our time on the drive up and stopped at a couple of spots on the river. We spent one night in a hotel, cementing our resolve to never intentionally stay in a hotel again. Everyone is happier with a couch and a kitchen. The only restaurant open when we rolled in was Applebees and the kids were so excited that they asked to take a picture with the sign.

Bed jumping because, why not? 

The next day we went to Lava Beds National Monument. I'd never heard of it before, but when I was researching things to do around Klamath Falls it came up and it looked both close enough and kind of cool, so we added it to the agenda. It turned out to be amazing! I seriously think it was my favorite day of the whole trip. The entire area is known for it's volcanic evidence, and Lava Beds is a series of lava tubes that you can explore. I'd never thought about lava tubes before and now I'm obsessed. One was closed because NASA WAS TESTING A ROVER IN IT. That's how cool they are! The kids did the junior ranger program (we LOVE the Junior Ranger programs) and learned both about the geology and about bats, which was also really fascinating. Side bonus: It was super smoky from all of the wildfires and nearing 100 degrees, so getting to hike underground was really quite pleasant. Pro-tip if you're in the area: If you go to Lava Beds first, you can buy an annual pass for both Lava Beds and Crater Lake for $45. 
Lavacicles! (Also, bring a headlamp. WAY easier than the flashlights)

Lava Beds. Basically, picture any dystopian YA novel. It was surreal, and even more so with all the smoke. 

SUPER steep "stairs" down to the tubes. A few times I thought we may lose Averson in a terrible-parent story... But she made it! 

The next day was Crater Lake! The kids did the Junior Ranger Program again (much harder than others, BTW!) and attended a really cool Junior Ranger Activity that explained how the lake was created and earned them a patch in addition to their badges. Averson got to blow up the volcano and she's recreated it several times since. We had hoped to book the boat tour, but apparently because of the smoke they had canceled several so they were sold out by the time we got there. Instead, we took the (really, really steep) hike to the bottom so that we could swim in the lake. It's the only place where you can get in the water. It was definitely worth the hike and the freezing cold. Along the way we stopped at an overlook for a picnic. I felt like I was channeling my grandmother as I unpacked sandwiches from the cooler, moving fishing gear out of the way because we brought it "just in case." 

I always try to pose the kids in front of me to hide "the Belly" but C had already put them up on this rock and my fear of heights was so triggered that I couldn't turn around to take them off. So excuse the belly and the death grip I have on Averson's leg. 

We're swimming! In Crater Lake! 

C took the Bigs to watch people jumping off the cliffs, and apparently Syd pushed her way to the front and leaped off. By the time I got over there she'd done it five more times. I had to do it once just because she'd be insufferable if she was the only one in the family who'd been brave enough to do it. I am so, so proud of her for her willingness to go all out. 

Averson took this ranger program VERY seriously. She's explaining how she's going to be a rock star that sings about saving animals. 

So ridiculously beautiful. 

Wizard Island. By the time we left the smoke was so thick you couldn't see the water. 

Triumphant selfie after hiking back up the 1.5 miles from the bottom. Did I mention it was steep? Notice how everyone is smiling? Pro tip: Hide M&Ms in the cooler and don't tell anyone until you're on your way back to the car. It also doesn't hurt to have your coach-y husband barking encouragement the whole way up. He had quite the crew by the time we got to the top. 
 On our last day, we decided to try out the resort's mini-golf course. Spoiler alert: It was lame. It was a legit putting course, which is probably fun to hardcore golfers but was *less fun* for my crew. But we made it work with some creative rules and a loose adherence to typical golf etiquette. Then we decided to head back up to Lava Beds to try out a lake that they recommended.

My poor car after MILES AND MILES of washboard dirt roads
So worth it though! We were all alone for most of the day and it was amazing

The kids swam all day. Of course I didn't bring suits, so this is the most appropriate picture I can post. 

C caught a fish! 

This vacation was exactly what I'd hoped. I was able to pretty much unplug and just hang out with my people (who are hilarious, BTW). My legs are tired from all the hiking and all of our new sneakers are filthy. Each kid did something outside their comfort zone and everyone is headed back to reality refreshed. 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

True romance


AND he painted all the baseboards and textured the patches on the walls. You guys? 15 years in I'll take this over flowers and candy every day.