Fort Bragg

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Even before school let out, we had our summer booked up solid though July. First up was our week-long vacation to one of my favorite places in the world, Fort Bragg. Last time I was there was two years ago when I was pregnant with Miles. I took the three kids up there by myself and went camping there with them and my dad.

Our first day there we took a little walk/bike ride along the old logging road that is now a foot path. The bridge pictured below crosses Pudding Creek where Sara and I swam a lot as kids. The bridge was always old and falling apart, but it was just fixed up. This was my first time ever crossing it. Maybe only Sara will understand that it was a momentous occasion. After our walk, we stopped and ate our lunch and enjoyed the sun and scenery.

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Since our friends the Hodnetts are living in the Sacramento area now, I wanted to introduce them to Fort Bragg. It’s a bit of a drive for them, but if you live near Sacramento, you can only be in the “in crowd” if you’ve been to Fort Bragg. In fact, Mike was surprised to learn that most of his clients and co-workers had been to Fort Bragg or at least knew of it. So we camped with them for a couple of days. Funny Zana looked like she was making out with her marshmallow skewer, trying to get off every last bit.

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We explored some of Fort Bragg’s beaches with the Hodnetts. Although, I’m pretty sure I took them to the wrong place when we were in search of ocean glass. The Glass Beach is a famous Fort Bragg spot, but we didn’t see too much glass. We went once with Sara and Jonathan to a slightly different spot and found a lot more. The kids had fun at the beach though.

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The next day we explored some tide pools, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts. I think I knew it was the closest thing to abalone diving I was going to be doing that trip, so hunting for little creatures in the tide pools was exciting. I even found a couple of super sneaky, hiding star fish. Later we went to Noyo Harbor to look around at the fishing boats coming in and out of the ocean.

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Fort Bragg is never very warm, but we were lucky to have a couple of beautiful sunny days and only slight cloudiness. The Cromar kids only partially froze at the beach, while the Hodnett kids played in the water. We’re much more wimpy when it comes to being cold.

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After the Hodnetts left, we packed up our camp site and happily moved back into the little mobile home we had rented for the week. It was none too soon too, because the sunny days left with the Hodnetts and there was nothing but drizzly gloomy days for the rest of the trip. We did get in some “fishing” with my dad. The fishing was doomed from the beginning. Wrong spot, wrong kind of fish, no way to cast your hook out into the part of the lake where fish might be, etc., but we made a show of it for the kids. Next time, there will be red tail perch…you hear me, fish? I’m coming for you. Short beach, armed with mussel guts and sand crabs or nothing.

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Despite the gloom, we enjoyed playing board games and swimming at an indoor pool and Scott and the kids saw Monsters Inc. in 3D, while napping Miles and I stayed in the mobile home visiting with my dad.

Technically, this whole trip revolved around the revived tradition of the Annual Wunsch Family Fish and Abalone Fry. The only pictures I have of that part are what I got off facebook from my uncle. We used to have the fish fry every year and always in the same spot, so I got out of the habit of taking pictures there, since one year looked so similar to the previous. This was the first one in a long time though, so I should have taken my own pictures. Luckily Eric got a nice group shot (we Cromars are towards the bottom right).

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And some shots of my cute grandparents Richard and Marie Wunsch.

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 The food was more than amazing though, and maybe next year I can help catch the abalone. I didn’t think I should go abalone diving while pregnant. Just to be on the safe side…you hear that, abalone? You know I can take you with my bear hands. I’ve done it before, although ab irons do come in handy once you figure them out. You’re getting pried though, abs.

Elira’s Lesson on Planets

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Today, Ellie planned a lesson on planets for me. Holy cow, the girls know a lot about the planets, thanks to The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That and Magic School bus books. Don’t you love how she looks with her stick pointer?

 

Here’s her lesson:

See that one. Do you know what that is? Yes, the sun. And this green thing is Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. And this is the one with rings and lots of moons. See this one with only one moon? It’s one what’s kinda close to Saturn, but smaller…it’s mars. (Zana: No mars has two moons. Ellie: Yeah, but I just drawed it with one.) And see this little blue in the corner here. That’s tiny pluto, the farthest planet from the sun.

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Cleaning Update

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Well, our new Cromar Housekeeping plan has been in effect for a few weeks now. And I’d have to give it mostly positive reviews. Overall the house has been cleaner, and having a chore chart has helped motivate me, even on days when I’m feeling lazy or too busy to do chores, to at least complete one major chore. The kids have liked having some of their daily chores divided up. In fact, they do better with those chores (backyard/dining/kitchen and bath, hall/boys room/girls room) than with the living room, which they are supposed to do teamwork on. On the other hand, we have had some frustrating days when no one wants to do chores and I don’t handle it very well. I’ve divided the rest of this post into the good things, the bad things and the things to change about our chore system.

The good:

One positive thing they are learning is to appreciate the work they have done. It was music to my ears one day when Ellie said, “Andrew! I just swept that part of the patio and now you got more dirt on it.” Someday I hope that will translate into not putting dirt on the patio, because someone will have to clean it up and generally being considerate about work you are causing for others.

Another good thing is that they are experiencing real life teamwork…you know the part where one member of your team is being a slacker and everyone else is working hard. I keep getting two people whining about the third, but I keep telling them they just need to go talk to the slacker and work out a plan…they don’t like me when I do that, but I think it’s real life. Now that I think about it, maybe I should designate one person as the team leader for the week…I wonder how that would play out.

Finally, when we are on top of things, the cleanup time is minimal and everything stays pretty well picked up.

(In full disclosure, writing about the positives is therapeutic at the moment, because today has not been the most successful day of cleaning and I was feeling frustrated about it. Today, I have had to be meanie mom to get them to do any work, and I was only asking them to do the living room.)

The bad:

Now, for some of the hard things. Our chore system was working better before school, soccer, and music all started. This is my first year having a kid in school full time and doing this many extra activities, and several days a week I am running from one place to another all day long and it’s been hard to squeeze chore time in. The result is that we are not on top of things, so the mess gets more out of hand. We’ve had more days lately when it takes a good 40 minutes just to get the toys (and trash and clothes and shoes) off the floor.

Secondly, I don’t like being the mean mommy. I mean, I don’t like feeling angry. I’m good at being strict with them, and I don’t mind when they don’t like my decisions, but with cleaning it makes me mad. How do you avoid getting mad at the kids when they don’t do the work or when they whine about everything? For some reason in this area I have trouble doing the parenting with love and logic thing and letting them make the choice between two things. I haven’t been very good about coming up with the second choice, “You can choose to clean the living room, or…” lose a privilege? which one? all the kids or just the slacker? And really, by the time I get to trying to come up with choices I’m frustrated and I just want the house clean, and I don’t want to give in and start cleaning up their jobs for them, but I want the house clean, because my sanity depends on it, and usually I’m trying to cook dinner and I’m hungry, which makes me snappy.

A couple of days when we’ve been too busy to even start chores, I decided to serve the kids and do their chores in the evening for them. This gives us a fresh start for the next day. The ironic thing is that the actual act of organizing the toys into their designated drawers really makes my brain happy. I love organizing things. It’s like a massage for my brain and really calms me. I just don’t think I could do it by myself all the time, or it would lose it’s appeal and become a burden after a while, and I would never get to do anything else.

Tweaking the system:

Finally, there a couple of things about the system that might need changing. I am wondering if I should let Andrew off the hook for chores. The girls would not think that was fair, and he makes just as much mess as them even though he’s at school. However, he is working at school all day, and he is going to be getting more homework soon. He has so little time to just play, that I feel bad forcing him to clean in the afternoons.

Also, I am 90% convinced that and Ikea Expedit toy storage shelf and bins thing would solve all my problems. We have a dresser that stores all the toys that we have out at the moment, so I don’t really know what good a different shelf system would do. Maybe the magic Expedit could have bins that have picture labels of what toys go in what bin, and I could assign each kid a bin to fill, and they would not say, “but I don’t know what to clean.” I’ve been really trying to avoid an impulse buy here, but it is on sale for $20 off for the next 3 days, and Ikea is only 10 minutes from my house. And everybody uses them to make the cutest toy rooms for their kids…someone talk me out of buying one.

Okay that’s the end of this long post on chores.

P.S. I’ve been working on other posts…a pregnancy update and others, but those involve pictures which always seem to take me much longer (and more trips from one computer to the other) than these kind where I’m writing to clear my head and I don’t bother putting up a picture. Soon friends. Maybe tonight.

 

The sad, sad, little garden

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My friend Stephanie did a blog post about her luscious garden and all their awesome produce, and our garden has been such the opposite that I thought I’d share it. And man has it been a money pit! We’ve been wishing we just took the money, and spent it at a farmers market on whatever we wanted there. But I guess we’re learning, and maybe next year will be better.

Did you see that big bushy plant behind the kids in the last post? That was our watermelon plant…until one day the whole thing just up and died. The cucumber plant too. Here’s a shot of our little four-by-four foot garden towards the end of June.

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It was looking pretty good. There were tomatoes to the right; cucumber on the left; carrots, beets, green onions, arugula, bell pepper in the middle; and the watermelon on the far left that sprawled out of the garden area into the rest of the yard. And this is what we got out of it.

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Plus some mini-sized carrots, ten or so cucumber (half of which were bitter), a few more tomatoes, and a few dinners worth of green onions. Like I said, one day the watermelon and cucumber (which had taken over that whole side of the trellis) just died. I tried to save them, but it didn’t work. There were three watermelons, and the one above was the most ripe. It tasted like when you get a  flavorless, store-bought watermelon. The kids ate some of it, but we didn’t even finish it.

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The tomatoes were good, but we had to buy a net to keep the birds from getting them first. Anyway, the garden succumbed to birds, spider mites, powdery mildew, caterpillars, bad soil, and lack of sunlight (that was the sunniest spot, and it only got about 4-5 hours per day, and now that the sun’s angle is changing it is only getting around 3). So, so sad. I’m not sure if we’ll try again next year. We’ve made the initial investment in the garden gear, so it’ll just mean maybe buying some compost to help the soil, but the lack of sunlight thing is making it hard.

For fall I’ve got some lettuce and sugar snap peas that I just started, plus some more carrots, because those haven’t given us any trouble, they just turn out small. And the bell pepper are looking nice (all 4 of them…on three plants), but we’re still waiting for them to ripen up. Luckily, we don’t get much of a frost, so maybe they have some time still.

Mud mess

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A couple of days ago, the kids were playing out in the mud, while I was upstairs doing a few things. I knew whatever they were getting mud on couldn’t be as bad as the cloud dough fiasco we had a few months ago (that stuff still isn’t totally off the patio), so I wasn’t too concerned. As expected, I came downstairs to mud on the patio, some toys, and the side of the house (admittedly there was less mud on the kids than I was expecting).
Me: Guys, don’t put mud on the house. That’s hard to wash off.
Andrew: We didn’t know that.
Me: Just think about things a little before you do them.
Andrew and Ellie: Okay, we will.

Zana (wearing her pink flower sunglasses): We were just in a rush and we forgot to hink…well we hinked, but we just didn’t come up with anything.

Ellie (getting into the making up excuses game): Yeah, it’s just a messy party…and we really wanted to do a shower on the trampoline. We love that.
I cleaned up the mud mess, hosed off the kids in the trampoline and hosed off the whole patio since I was at it, so now it is squeaky clean outside…probably until tomorrow.