Field Trips Are Back… or, First Field Trip Ever

Cam went to the zoo yesterday with his school and I was chatting with him about it last night when I realized… 3rd year of school (TK, Kinder, and now 1st) and this is the very first field trip!

I remember field trip days being something to really look forward to and not just for the destination. It was exciting to break routine, have a different lunch, ride on a loud and crazy bus and just not be at school doing the typical things, so it made me sad he hasn’t had any of them.

If you ask Joe, he would say it wasn’t all that fun… but that’s because he was chaperone in charge of five 6-7 year olds. That’s not a job I would want either. He said one kid set the pace and just kept running to the next exhibit so he had to wrangle the 4 others and just keep jogging around the zoo.

However, to the 6-7 year olds, I can confirm, it was a great time. When I asked Cam to tell me about the zoo, he gave me every last detail so much so that I felt like I was there. He talked about the sculpture outside, the reptile exhibit to the left, the 6′ Komodo dragon he wishes he could have, the monkeys that were all hiding, the microscope that let them inspect hair and feathers and what not…

Here he is demonstrating the lion sculpture at the entrance of the zoo. He nailed it.

Some of my favorite moments with Cam are when is so impressed and interested in something that he feels compelled to tell me about it in hyper detail, so I was feeling grateful last night to have field trips back on the calendar for my little ones.

Earning the Mom Badge

I’ve been a mom for 7.3 years, but just recently I earned my mom badge, which is the badge you receive after surviving a truly awful parenting moment.

Let me lay the scene…

It was 6:30pm on a Monday, we were 10 days out from Christmas and 1 day out from a road trip to see great grandma. Joe volunteered to help set up a holiday activity at Cam’s school and so I was alone with the kids and my worries about being ready for Christmas–gifts for the kids, cards and gifts for my colleagues and bosses, teacher appreciation, etc. etc.! I was almost out of time.

That’s when I decided to beg the kids to be good and patient through a short trip to Target. I promised the better they behaved the quicker it would be. And mayyyybe they would get a small treat at the end.

They agreed begrudgingly and not 3 steps in the Target doors did they begin arguing, complaining and touching things.

I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m tired. I’m bored. I want to ride in the cart. I want to get out of the cart. Can I have one of these? *tosses something we aren’t buying into the cart. And on and on and on.

About 40 minutes later we were rounding the last turn. I genuinely had one last “frill” to purchase for the 3 people on my team at work. I was sniffing candles, Cam was in the cart acting like it was the worst day of his life. Then it began…

Demi was touching and pushing on a tall fuzzy rug on the opposite side of the aisle, it fell over, across the aisle and hit a shelf full of candles. I was SO lucky they only clinked and shifted. But that set Demi off crying and apologizing and hugging my leg while I was trying to finish the shopping trip from hell.

Then Cam said “I don’t feel good.” And I rolled my eyes, not believing anything was truly wrong, and told him we were a couple minutes away from being out of there.

I turned away from him to continue picking candles and Cam said, “Mama, I really don’t feel good.”

His cheeks were red and got up on his knees and said “I think I’m going to throw up.”

And the poor, sweet, sick kid just exploded with vomit. Mind you, we’re in Covid times, so Cam had a mask on and he also wears glasses. So the explosion went up and out the mask and glasses. He threw both down into the cart and proceeded to heave 3 or 4 more times through the bottom of the cart.

It was so sad, but I also didn’t know how to fix the situation. I looked in all directions for an employee in yelling distance. I totally would have yelled. But there weren’t any. And fellow shoppers were pretending they couldn’t see us (that’s the holiday spirit!). I then called the Target twice following the phone tree to customer service where it dropped my call. Eventually a woman with a cart swung by to tell me they let the cashier know to send help.

I cropped out the triggering part of this photo… and you may ask why I took this photo. Well, the situation was so horrible (and we waited so long for help), I didn’t think Joe would believe me. I wanted him to know just how bad it was.

A young cashier arrived to this horrifying scene, at which point he was probably questioning his life choices. But he still helped… brought paper towels and a hand basket so I could transfer the items I STILL needed to purchase even under the circumstances. We took off Cam’s sweatshirt and mopped up his face and glasses. Then the clean-up guy came with his mop and supplies.

I apologized upside down and backward that he had to deal with the mess. I then told Cam not to get near anyone or touch anything as I held the soiled stuff in my left hand and shopping basket in the right. We awkwardly checked out and Cam said, “At least I feel better.”

Yeah, buddy. At least that!

That was when I earned my mom badge.

From there, the stomach bug swept through our whole house. That’s the first time since having kids that we have had a full family sickness. Everyone threw up for 5-6 hours and then we each spent a day achey with low energy. And it took a couple days for our appetites to come back. And, ultimately, we lived to tell the tale.

The next day, recovering in bed, after we’d all been up all night.

CamO at SEVEN Years Old

We’re 2 short weeks away from Cam’s 7th Birthday so I searched high and low on the internet (one Google search and one click because I ain’t got time for much more than that!) for a set of questions that would help show who Camden is at 7 years old. While I wish there were fewer mentions of digital devices, I can’t pretend he doesn’t like them. This is my little buddy Cam in a nutshell.

  1. What do you know how to do that you can teach to others?
    How to build really well and how to play on an XBox.
  2. If you could be a sound, what would it be?
    “Ruff ruff!”
  3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
    When I fell like a starfish and I was about to cry, but then I farted and it made me laugh.
  4. What do you think your life will be like in the future?
    Good. And with a lot of treats and I’ll be really good at Minecraft. I’m going to have 4 pet dogs. I’m going to have 5 cats, 2 birds, 25 fish and a lot of computers, and make YouTube videos. I’m going to go to Disneyland a lot. I will work at YouTube and have a channel. I will have a bright green house or a bright blue house.
  5. What is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to you?
    My last birthday party camping in Inny and Poppy’s backyard.
  6. Who is your best friend and why?
    Morgan, because she was my first friend and she’s fun when she isn’t playing with Barbies.
  7. If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would it be, and why?
    Mila because that is the name of my very cute and happy puppy dog who is right next to me right now.
  8. What’s the coolest thing you saw someone do today?
    Today? Well, yesterday we went to 2 parties and one was at Heather, Travis and Easton’s house and they have a waterslide and I stacked all the floaties on the slide and I didn’t get all the way down because the floaties stopped me. It was funny and a lot of fun.
  9. How would you change the world if you could?
    I would change it so it would be exactly like Minecraft.

‘Rember and ‘Retend, K?

These are Demi’s favorite words lately!

She asks if we ‘rember when…’ and wants to talk about something that may have happened yesterday or may have happened a year ago. Or, she wants us to pretend and make believe with her by going through a long list of things we are going to pretend together like: ‘retend I was I going to school’ and ‘retend it was my birthday, k?’ and ‘retend it was naptime, k?’ and ‘retend I was reading one of my favorite books.’ She confirms that we’re understand her with “K”?

That last part I blame on myself because when I want to ensure Cam and Demi are listening I often say either “K?” or “Got it?” For better or worse, they use the same devices.

Here’s Demi “retending” it is indeed her birthday at preschool and because it is her birthday she is allowed to bring a book and share it with the class.

She loves her kitchen and we often play cafe. She has a couple menus and takes customer orders, sometimes telling her customers ‘I don’t have that, but I do have…’

Demi often talks about things that happened in the past, but she hasn’t yet sorted out timing of past events, so she may say ‘5 days ago’ for something that was a year ago or if you don’t “rember” what she was talking about, she might say “no, last year”. I usually need clues to get me exactly to what she was talking about.

Quite possibly Demi and Cam’s favorite things to ‘rember’ and bring up over and over again was the time we were on a walk and Cam went running ahead of us, tripped over a paver, fell hard and flat on the sidewalk in a starfish formation (arms and legs sprawled out in all directions), started to cry, but then tooted and immediately began laughing. She asks us if we ‘rember’ when… and then she acts it out.

One of Demi’s nighttime rituals is to go through a whole bunch of ‘rember when’s’. I love it because it truly is a mixed bag of things that I may not have known were significant moments, but because she’s bringing it up, I realize it has meaning for her or caused her to reflect.

‘Retending with Barbies

I love observing her busy little brain and, even when I’m tired, I find it hard to resist doing what she asks. If she asks me to ‘retend I’m a monster and I will eat her, then by golly, I’m a monster and I will try and eat her.

NYE Interviews with CamO and DemO

I saw this on Pinterest and thought it would be fun as a way to remember what’s top of mind for these little munchkins at the close of 2020. I hope to remember and do it again next year… even if there are some incriminating answers.

Name: Camden
Age: 6
Height: 3′ 11″

Actual photo of the gremlin right at this moment… jelly on his face and all.

What is your favorite breakfast? Toasted sourdough with peanut butter and jelly. Oh, I did that wrong. Cinnamon Rolls!

What is your favorite veggie? Bell peppers & cucumbers

Favorite drink? That thing at Mike and Amy’s last time we were there. I don’t know what it was but it had a gummy worm at the bottom.

Favorite toy? My arrow set.

Favorite TV show? Angry Birds

Favorite thing to do? Play Minecraft >>>insert mom sad face here<<<

Game: Battleship

Book: Walter the Farting Dog

Restaurant: McDonald’s

Place to go: Disneyland

If you could change your name what would you change it to? I don’t know.

What is something mommy says? “Cam, stop playing on your iPad”

What do you want to be when you grow up? Dad.

What are you going to do different this year than last: Not cry.

Who are your friends? Morgan, Charlee, Kaya, Miles, Benson, Olivia, Steely, Hazel, Maya, Owen & Travis… oh! And Demi!

One wish for the new year? For the Coronavirus to be over. And if I had another wish? For the entire world to be candy.

If I gave you $100, what would you do with it? Buy 4 million toys.

What are you afraid of? The dark.

_______

Name: Demi
Age: 3.5
Height: 3′
4″

Actual photo of gremlin #2 who did a good job with original answers even though Cam went first for each.

What is your favorite breakfast? Toasted sourdough with butter and jelly.

What is your favorite veggie? Carrot

Favorite drink? Lemonade

Favorite toy? Unicorn baby

Favorite TV show? Sophia the First

Favorite thing to do? Shopping

Game: Legos

Book: The Elf on the Shelf

Restaurant: Burritos

Place to go: Disneyland

If you could change your name what would you change it to: Yuna

What is something mommy says? “Demi, watch a learning game!”

What do you want to be when you grow up: Mama

What are you going to do different this year than last: Not get booboos.

Who are your friends? Camden picked all of our friends.

One wish for the new year? Riding a unicorn.

If I gave you $100, what would you do with it? Put it in my safe.

What are you afraid of? Zombies

COVID Kinder

We booked a long road trip at the end of August thinking it would be Cam’s 3rd week of virtual school. As such, we thought we would have the hang of it and could apply our virtual school learnings to the road.

Then, the school year was pushed back and his first day, a Thursday, fell on the 6th day of our trip.

So, as it went, Cam took his first official day of virtual Kindergarten from our Airbnb in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The first and second days were really just about meeting the teacher, learning rules and getting oriented, so they were easy to handle. But I will say it was a unique thing to be starting elementary school from a place other than our home.

Cam had a great attitude… you can even see he was cooperative for photos, which is not really his thing, so that means something too.

My mama heart bursts when I look at these photos.

Saaaaaavoooorrrrrr (Savor)!

For about a month now, one of our family mantras has been “savor”.

I was watching Cam wolf down a bowl of ice cream, large bites, scooping the next one before he had even swallowed the one in his mouth, and then when the bowl appeared empty, he stuck his face inside and licked the sides.

To say Cam and Demi like sweets is an understatement.

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So, one afternoon, I asked Cam if he knew what the word “savor” meant. And he did! But we discussed what it really meant if you applied it to meals or desserts. It means to enjoy the bite that is in your mouth without thinking about the next bite. It means taking your time through a meal or a dessert so you get the most out of it.

Shockingly, this worked.

Maybe a little too well.

Case in point: Cam now will fish chopsticks out of our utensil drawer for his dessert. He’ll poke the end of it into the dessert and lick the tip of the chopstick. He’ll ask everyone around him how much dessert they have left and flaunt that he still has the most. He’ll arguably make more of a mess while his dessert turns to mush and he drags it around the house or yard.

Other case in point: Demi and I went to the grocery store the other day and it was getting toward dinner time, so we were both in need of a snack. I opened the cheddar popcorn and handed her some on a napkin while I kept the bag. I am a big fan of cheddar popcorn, so apparently I was shoving fistfuls into my mouth while I drove. Lo and behold my 3-year-old called me out from the back seat. “Maaaaaa-maaaaa! You’re not savoring!!”

I guess these unintended consequences are still better than where we started. There is rarely a meal where we don’t talk about savoring and generally speaking I think that’s a really good thing!

Acai_Cam&amp;Demi

First Outing Since COVID: Joshua Tree 2020

It’s been a long time since we’ve ventured out of La Mesa and it’s been an eternity it seems since we have slept somewhere other than our own beds on little ol’ Samuel St.

We booked an Airbnb in Joshua Tree with the intent of just not being at home for a couple days, watching critters, going on adventure walks and treating ourselves to some delicious meals.

Cam and Demi were so excited that Cam had a 12 day countdown taped to his door that he marked off as it was getting closer. He tried to negotiate 10 nights away instead of 2. When that didn’t work, he tried to negotiate 5 nights. Demi asked daily if “today is the day we go to the vacation house?”

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The morning we left, the kids were so excited they fought over what to pack like I’ve never seen before. Cam was shoving things in brown boxes and taping them shut (his form of packing), and both of them were so emotional and out of control, they just wanted to be on the road. I was slightly unnerved by their intensity and fighting, but Joe knew they were just excited and was mostly cool and laughing about it.

Against all odds, we made it. Here’s a cutie little video of the adventure we had, which ended up being a LOT more adventurous than we’d even expected. We did the whole Joshua Tree loop, hit up the Giant Rock in Landers, hiked Coyote Hole, built stone towers, watercolored and smores’d our hearts out.

The official critter-spotting list includes:

  • Quail families
  • Regular rabbits, jackrabbits
  • Chuckwalla lizards, regular lizards
  • Praying mantis
  • Roadrunners
  • Mice and kangaroo rats
  • Bats
  • Coyote
  • Velvet ant and horned beetle
  • Hawks and birds of all varieties

Not featured in the video:

  • Their aggressive tug-of-war pre-vacay
  • Demi’s bloody nose and subsequent sneeze spraying the blood everywhere during a car ride
  • Demi’s fall into some tiny spiny cactus that spurred 30 minutes of screaming and just as many minutes of tweezing
  • The horrifying Lander’s Brew patio
  • The excessive whining at the end of our adventure drive “we wanna go to the house!”

All-in-all it was a memorable and wonderful family adventure and a delightful break from what has been too much time on the homestead.

CamO & DemO’s First Camping Trip

***Written weeks ago and now I’m pining over this little moment outside the Covid bubble. Basically, I’m extra grateful we did it and didn’t postpone. Life lesson? Maybe.***

We planned a camping trip for Grandma Monkey’s birthday (mid March). As the weeks whittled down, we watched the weather and it became apparent it wouldn’t be ideal. But, with all the energy spent preparing and hopefulness about the weather, we chose to forge ahead!

From the parents’ review, the trip was mostly successful with very bright spots, but holy smokes, it was a ton of work with a bit of struggle and cold fingers sprinkled in.

As for the many bright spots… we loved the togetherness of 4 families camping and spending time together. We loved letting the kids run free, pedal free, scoot free. We loved figuring out tasty meals made on the open flame, sharing stories and drinks, sitting around the campfire, chatting with neighbors, and leaving the digital world behind (ZERO cell service as Covid news was rapidly unfolding) in favor of idle time among the trees and other super chill campers.

As for the struggle, we packed a lot of clothing, used almost all of it, and we packed a lot of food, used almost all of it. The kids, of course, enjoyed the rain while they were running around wild, but then were suddenly cold, wet and muddy and in need of immediate warm and clean clothing, snacks or meals.

And sleep was brutal, no matter where we were situated. It was very cold outside, but sweltering inside the cabin. The brand new air mattresses were squeaky as they rubbed against the wood bed frames, and the confusion of soothing half-awake children numerous times throughout the restless night meant that both Regina and I were basically on-alert all night long. Night two was slightly better with an additional cabin and fatigue (and cocktails) knocking us out, but when people say they come home from camping feeling rejuvenated, I have no clue what they’re talking about. Perhaps just their spirit?

From the kids’ point of view, I’ve gotten mixed reviews (haha!). Cam saw the minimalist cabin when we arrived and said, “this isn’t what I was thinking. This isn’t as fun.” He heard ‘cabin’ and envisioned the full houses we’d rented before in Big Bear. But then, as we were leaving, both kids were very upset. Cam asked if we could do it again “in two weeks.” And Demi, who has become very close with Morgan, was sad the time with her was over. When we left the campground, Demi was in tears.

Both kids can agree, however, that riding in the cars from cabin to campsite without seat belts was a total thrill. Other things they enjoyed:

  • playing frisbee with neighboring dogs Romeo and Butón (French for button)
  • our Mila dog being able to run free and adventure with us; she was attached to Joe’s side
  • staying up late and having a big old slumber party with friends and family
  • jumping and running around the campsites, logs, rocks and roads
  • biking and scootering around the campground with little worry of traffic… Cam finally got the bug to start working on his bicycling skills, which he has carried home (yay!)
  • our Saturday night meal… Cam had three servings of steak and exclaimed that the sweet potatoes made him feel funny inside
  • collecting treasures like leaves, flowers, rocks, bones (lots of fish bones at the lake), seeds and other found objects
  • having way more sweets than usual including delicious s’mores
  • Monkey’s birthday breakfast in Aunt Emily and Gabriel’s trailer
  • petting a snake at the ranger station–her name was Lucy

One of my favorite moments was on Saturday after our big, delicious meal and s’mores when the fire was blazing and everyone on the trip was sitting around laughing, chatting, enjoying, and Demi fell hard asleep in my arms. She is starting to get past the days of sleeping in my arms and it was glorious. I sat with her warm and snuggly asleep in a blanket with noise and music in the background. Even when we drove back to the cabin and I situated her in bed, she didn’t flinch. She was worn out from the adventure of camping.

I learned SO MUCH from this trip and I feel far more equipped to tackle another adventure in the wilderness. I hope we can get a couple more together this summer (when it isn’t in the 40s/50s!!) and start to get our prep and planning simplified so it’s less labor-intensive and more quality-time intensive.

Demi Grey Turned Three!

On March 4th Demi turned three! It was the second of three very busy weeks for our family, so we opted to have her birthday on the 1st, before her actual birthday and, sadly, it was one of the last get togethers before the dreaded virus came to town.

Luckily, we had a great turnout. We feasted, we sang, we played in the rain, we talked like mer-cats and celebrated this sweet girl.

Here is an impromptu interview with Demi at three years old:

I think some of her answers are accurate and others are just tip of tongue, but it certainly shows a bit of her personality.

Here are a few photos from her birthday party. Once again, she (and we) is/are lucky to have such a supportive family and friend group. It’s a good problem to have when you don’t have enough chairs in your house.