Callum's First Day of Pre-K

One thing the rona has taught me is I can feel all the feelings, even conflicting ones, and still make decisions. I'm nervous about the virus and I would consider us more cautious than many around us. I didn't want Connor and Isla going back to school because of so much exposure. But I felt comfortable with Callum going back to preschool. There were many reasons for this, mainly being they had to cut class sizes and the classes at preschool can't co-mingle. Him being exposed to 15 kids felt much different than Connor having 35 kids in his class...which is INSIDE a school building. Callum's class door is outside, so no walking through halls with other people. 

I was excited for Callum to go back to school. I think this whole pandemic has been hardest on him. He doesn't understand why he doesn't get to play with other kids. But, he wasn't excited about going back. He kept saying he wanted to go back to his 3 year old class and not a new class. I was nervous dropping him off on his first day, as he was very quiet and reserved which isn't like him. And recently, he acted like that when I took him to the dentist. He was so nervous that he ended up vomiting all over at the dentist. I was afraid of a replay of that happening at school. THANKFULLY, my fears were unfounded. And by day two, he ran into his class all excited for show and tell. 

Let's talk about what Callum wants to be when he grows up, haha! This kid is full of personality and obviously doesn't want to be put in a box and labeled with what he wants to be when he grows up. He has never once given me a serious answer to this. It will be interesting to see if that eventually changes over time. 

^^ This is a classic Callum pose. He doesn't like to pose serious/smiling and would much rather be silly. 

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Bucket Lists and Biking the Bay Bridge

Years ago I made a bucket list of things I would like to do and biking the bay bridge from Oakland to Treasure Island was on it. Alas, we had never done it. We found ourselves with a kid free day on Saturday and decided to do just that. We parked at the Cal Trans parking lot at 210 Burma Rd. From there it is just half a mile to the start of the bridge, so each way from our car to the end of the bridge was 3 miles. I was nervous about biking up the bridge. After all, the whole way is up and that looks like quite the incline. Well, I am happy to say that "slow and steady wins the race". I may have biked it as fast a a guy ran it, but I managed to do it without stopping and without wearing myself out. I was proud! If we do it again, which I would totally be up for, I think I would pack a picnic lunch and eat it at the end where you have a beautiful view of the bridge. Going down was where the true fun was. It felt fun to go fast and feel the wind. It also felt so freeing. So, so freeing. I loved that feeling. 

After doing this, I decided to look up the bucket list I made years ago. There are a couple things on the list we have done and a couple that made Ian and I chuckle. For instance, I put take the kids to Sea World. We have gone to San Diego twice and I didn't feel the need to go there. But apparently when I wrote this list I did. We are still talking about Australia. Ian says Willa has to be a bit older, as toddlers on a long plane ride are no fun. But we are planning for maybe in 2.5 years. I would love to take one of the kids to NYC, as a special trip and walk the High Line. As for snorkeling, I think Willa and Callum need to be a bit older to do a real snorkeling expedition. Now to just not be lazy and go watch a sunrise one of these days...I am not exactly a morning person. 

Walk/bike across the Bay Bridge
Go kaiking
Walk on the High Line in NYC
Ride in a helicopter
Visit Treasure Island
Go to North Carolina
Take the kids to Sea World
Go to Australia
Take the kids snorkeling
Watch a sunrise
Stay on a boat in Amsterdam
Take the kids on the Durango-Silverton Railroad
Visit New England in the fall

Let me tell you a funny story about the train in Durango, CO. We didn't end up riding it because it was a several hour journey and we didn't think the kids were up for it. But we parked along the track to take the kids to smash pennies...something I did with this very same train as a child many times. So, imagine this moment. I drag all of us to the train track to smash pennies. I have told the kids how cool it is. We lay the pennies out and step back. I get the kids set up to wave at the train. About when the train was even with the kids, it started honking its horn. The kids freaked. Isla ran and tripped over Connor. Both were on the ground, trying to get as far away as possible, as quick as possible. Ian said the train conductor was laughing. I am sure the passengers thought we were horrible parents. Thankfully, the kids quickly got over it and were excited to search for their smashed pennies. 

I wish this was my only parenting fail like this, alas it was not. Connor still talks about him and I digging up a crab on the beach in Hawaii and it jumping at us, sending him and I running away screaming. I digress. The good news is, I don't think taking your children on the bay bridge would cause any trauma! Well, maybe some complaining riding the slope up. Haha!

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Connor and his Polaroid camera

Recently Connor has taken an interest in vintage electronics. It started with old computers and has now moved on (or to include) to cameras. A couple weeks ago he got his hands on an old Polaroid camera and some film and was pretty darn stoked about it. He wanted to instantly put that film to use, so the first picture he took was of Willa and I on the front porch. He wasn't stoked about the quality, but then said "It makes it look like an old picture like others I have seen." So lack of quality equals old photo, haha! He took a couple more photos around the house before getting to take the camera to Yosemite with us. He was very excited about this. And honestly, it's cute how serious he is about the camera. He doesn't trust the neck strap, fearing it will break. He won't let others hold the camera. He took several photos at Yosemite, which are pictured below. Slowly he is learning about exposure, as that's about the only thing you can control on the camera and the photos constantly turn out overexposed. 

^^ Right after taking his first photo

Some things I want to remember about Connor and this camera are how he took a picture of our mailman, then made the mailman pay him for the photo. He also dressed up in a wig and everything and went to our neighbor's house claiming to be with the census and needing to take a photo. This kid is full of personality and imagination, I tell you! It's fun watching the kids get older and seeing their interest in various things grow. Watching them try things out for the first time and experiment with them. And Connor, well, he is just one of my favorites! 

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We went to Yosemite yesterday. Ian booked the reservation two months ago, as that is now how you have to go. I felt funny calling the school to tell them the kids would be absent from distance learning, but it was totally worth it. Because of the reservation system, and maybe because it was a weekday?, Yosemite was practically empty. Which was SO nice. I also think we have gotten better over the years about day trips and they have become much more enjoyable. We have gotten better about our expectations of what we can accomplish in a day. We have also gotten better about packing and expecting our needs ahead of time. 

We brought chairs, a mat, the kids swimming stuff and enough food to feed us all day. We set up shop at the rivers edge and I was so happy to watch the kids play and use their imaginations. That type of thing makes my heart soar. And Willa wasn't a fan of the cold water or rocks (we aren't sure which), so stayed out of the water. That made it so much easier on us. The three older ones played in the water for a couple hours, while Ian, Willa and I chilled. I couldn't have asked for a better or easier time. 

We then changed the kids, packed up and headed toward Yosemite Village in search of ice cream. Again, there was literally no one around. We got the kids some jr ranger booklets, got some ice cream and set up shop on a picnic table in the shade. The kids did the booklet activities while eating ice cream. Once done, we headed to the ranger station so they could officially become jr rangers and get their patches. 

Then we set off in search of a good view of half dome. We found one, parked and explored a bit. Even saw someone painting the view of half done. Then we drove around a bit before leaving. On our way out of the park, we got to see a bear that was maybe 30 yards off the road. All the cars were stopped just watching. It was a little guy and felt a bit surreal seeing it walk around. Of course, I also wondered where mama bear was and if she would be mad at the cars watching her baby! 

It was a great trip. One that left us wanting to go back. Though I told Ian that we are getting spoiled going to the national parks without crowds during covid. I don't think we would normally have the same enjoyable and serene experiences we have been having. 

^^ we've gotten pretty dang good at the self timer photos in the past month or so!

I also don't want to forget the new experience of doing back to school night from my phone while driving home! We lost service halfway through Isla's teacher's presentation, but I was able to watch all of Connor's. Such a funny experience it would have been from home, but it made it all the more so from the car.

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Willa {18 months}

Likes: her mom, "reading" (looking at) books, unrolling the toilet paper roll, grabbing at anything she knows she shouldn't have, her toy phone, water - be it in the bath, sink, hose, pool or water table
Dislikes: teething, people taking toys away from her

Toddlers are equal parts adorable and exhausting. Willa is learning and changing constantly these days. She is also into EVERYTHING. And the lack of impulse control keeps her pulling down every towel and hanging piece of clothing she sees. She loves climbing up on the table, which leaving nothing on it is key. She loves finding keys and pressing the remote buttons. She also loves any small toy left where she can swipe it - from shopkins to the lite brite pegs to game pieces. And she is quick to spot anything left out too. 

Willa now says several words on the daily. This includes - hide, this, ball, thank you, trash, dog, teeth, keys and shoes. She also says several people's names, including - dad, mom, Jess (she stands at the bottom of the stairs and yells my name!), Isla, Connor, Papa and Riley. I may be skipping some words, as she is picking up new ones daily. She likes to make sure we know she knows the word. For instance, she points at the keys and yells "keys" several times a day. And she picks up something that needs to be thrown away, says "trash" takes it to the trash can, throws it away and then says "thank you". I have started working with Willa on her body parts and she knows where her head, eyes, ears, teeth and fingers are. 

Willa currently has 12 teeth with more on the way. The 13th one is close to breaking through. She went to the dentist for the first time this summer. The dentist said her teeth look great. I don't know Willa's actual height and weight, but she is wearing 12-18 month clothing and size 4 diapers. Some 18-24 month works with room to grow, but some is still just too big to wear. 

The biggest change for Willa lately (or more for me!), is Willa now sleeps in her own bed. We took the side off her crib a couple weeks ago and it has been a game changer. It is so nice to have my room back and my evenings back. She doesn't even wake when I talk Isla in there to bed. Now to get her sleeping through the night! Depending on when Willa wakes for the day, she takes one to two naps a day. It is generally one and I prefer it to be one, as then it is one long one, rather than two shorter ones. Depending on what is going on in the house, she sleeps either in the carrier on my back or in her bed. I say depending, as it really depends on if I have the time to sit and nurse her to sleep or not. With the kids back in distance learning, sometimes having that time when Willa is tired can be a bit dicy. 

Willa has taken to carrying things around and I am here for it. Usually it is her baby doll or stuffed unicorn. It's so stinking cute. And with her doll, she has tried brushing the hair after I brush Isla's hair. And she squeezes both of them like she is hugging them. It is pretty much the cutest thing ever. Like it really is. 

Though it's hard to believe it has been 18 months since Willa arrived, her birth seems like such a long time ago. And that first year is already starting to feel foggy in my memory. Time and a child's growth is such a crazy thing. 

Just for fun, ConnorIsla and Callum at the same age. Callum and Willa had the same amount of teeth at this age, Connor and Willa had many more. 
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Willa's Big Girl Bed

It sounds a bit dramatic calling it a big girl bed when really it's just a crib with the side off! None-the-less, it's a change. A big one at that. One that I usually wait as loooong as possible to make. I've even put kids in sleep sacks to keep them from being able to crawl out of their cribs. But, as having more children has taught me, everything doesn't work the same for each child. 

Willa has been fully sleeping in our bed for months. I would like to say something like, "I don't know how that happened." Except that, well, I do. For the last long while, Willa has nursed to sleep at night. And she started waking and throwing a fit every time I would lower her into her crib. I'm not a fan of cry it out, so I started nursing her in our bed and laying her in the middle with pillows around her. And it worked. Except that she would sometimes wake when I would try to watch my iPad in there at night and she always woke when Ian came to bed. Something needed to change. So, we took the side off her crib. 

It has been magic. 

She has gone to bed in her bed every night since. Naps too. It's been a game changer. I still nurse her to sleep in the rocking chair in her room, then set her in her bed. She tends to sleep until around 1am before coming into our room. The first couple nights she woke and cried. Then she figured out she could get off her bed. The next couple nights, she cried as she walked to our room. Now, she just straight up gets out of bed without crying and comes to our room, my side of the bed, and if I don't hear her, yells so I can pull her up into our bed. 

It's nice to have our evenings back. It's nice to have our room back. This change that I have always dreaded with the other kids has been a game changer and one I am so glad we did early. 

^^ Her first nap in the new set up...which obviously had to be documented! 

^^ Riley, my parents dog, was visiting, so had to get in on the action.

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First Day of School

I was sort of dreading school starting. I have gotten so used to not setting an alarm and sort of doing whatever we want...around the house. I know a lot of people aren't pleased about distance learning, but I was happy when the school announced it. I felt nervous sending the kids back, especially with there not seeming to be any practices in place for keeping the kids healthy and quarantining if anyone got sick. Anyway, a few days before school started, the school district released a schedule that had me worried. They basically wanted the kids to sit at their computers from 8:30-2:30 everyday. That had me worried. But Ian told me to give it a month and see what happens. 

The first day of school got off to a rocky start. I couldn't get Connor logged on to the school program. It turns out it was overwhelmed by so many people trying to log on at the same time. Then, the first day of school video kept freezing. I gave up on that, bypassed the school's website and logged Connor in directly to the program and got him "into" class. Funnily enough, they later told us not to bypass the school website, but it worked, so I still consider it a win. 

I had logged Isla into class a half an hour early, so she didn't have any problems. After the rocky start to the day, things went pretty well. Both kids have break and lunch at the same time. They also finish for the day around the same time, 1pm, then start "independent work" which really is just a fancy name for homework, haha!

Besides Isla missing playing with her friends, I actually think distance learning is going well. It involves way less of me than it did in the spring. Now, my time is spent keeping Callum and Willa quiet and out of the way! 

At this point, it is anyone's guess as to when school will actually go back to in person. But I am happy with how things are going at home. It is going way better and smoother than I expected. 

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Bodie State Park

This is another one of those stops that was made because it's in the middle of nowhere and one wonders when they will find themselves in this particular part of nowhere again. Bodie State Park is a ghost town that was abandoned mostly intact. What remains is actually only 5% of what was originally there. It was a town created because of gold mining. It is 12 miles off the highway and the last 3 miles aren't paved. Not paved! The park worker said it is to get you in the spirit of 100+ years ago, haha! 

It was actually pretty neat to look around. The schoolhouse, which stopped operating in the 1940's, still remains pretty full inside. Most of the buildings were not. For instance, the post office had some cubbies and things inside, but was mostly empty. Connor was excited to show us the site of a murder...actually marked for people to visit. Callum picked up a stick off the ground and played with it for a while, before getting in trouble by a park worker for it being an "artifact". That one cracked me up. He got it off the middle of the road. Sometimes I wonder why workers at places have to be like that. It just makes kids not want to go when they can't even play with dang sticks on the ground. To each his own, I guess. It was still a neat place to visit and wander around. 

^^ Callum holding said stick...and in the picture below, he is playing with it in the dirt.

^^ The mine that cost more than the amount of gold that was found and what appears to be the reason the town was abandoned. 

^^ The site of a murder. I'm assuming only one ever happened in the town, given it was marked. 

We went here on our last day of driving home from vacation. So, that's the end of our road trip. In case you missed my other road trip posts - we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flatsstayed in Park City for a week and stopped at Zion National Park for two days. 
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