That's how much time is left before Soren goes back to school. He starts two weeks from today! Where did the summer go?!
Well, since my blogging has dwindled dramatically of late (my "high water" mark for the past 9 months is 13 posts in the month of April), there's not been much of a record here as to where exactly the summer did go. So I'm going to do my best to recap.
Road trip! Technically this trip took place the week before summer break started, but it counts. We packed up the car and headed some 500 miles away to attend the wedding of some of our California friends. It was awesome to visit with some people we only see about once a year, others we haven't seen since we moved.
It was a long but fairly pretty drive through western Maryland, a bit of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. We broke the trip up into two days on the way there, stopping in Zanesville, OH for the night (about 3/4 of the way to our final destination, near Dayton). We listened to an audiobook (Shades of Grey), the kids had lots of iPod time and music and books. I'd bought them "restickable" alphabet stickers to put on the windows and (rather foolishly) also bought some "window crayons" which did, as promised, clean right off the windows themselves quite easily; it's just that they were rather tougher to clean off the upholstery, the plastic of the doors, the kids' clothes, and the kids themselves...but lesson learned! I didn't take any photos while we were driving, but there were a lot of trees, tons of rolling hills, some bigger mountains, and then a lot of flatland. Very green and summery all along the way. I bet the view would be gorgeous in the autumn with all the fall colors, but it was also quite pretty in the early summer.
As I mentioned, we were traveling to Ohio for a wedding. This required us to get the kiddos some new dress clothes. Shopping for them was actually pretty fun; the kids were really tickled by the whole "take stuff to the dressing room and try it on" concept. Of course, that excitement didn't last too long, and they were quickly bored with my looking through the clothing racks, but we did end up with some good stuff, I think.
Soren was a little bit between sizes when we were trying stuff on, so his new suit has some growing room. El's dress should also, hopefully, be useful for another year or so.
Soren was terribly jealous that Eleri got to wear a pretty dress and kept asking why he couldn't have one too. I don't have any particular problem with him wanting to wear a dress, but I wasn't about to take away from the couple's big day by being the person who brought her son to their wedding in a dress. So we compromised. I told him he had to wear a suit like Daddy to the wedding but that if I could find a kilt for him that wasn't outrageously expensive, he could wear that to the rehearsal dinner. Happily, I was able to find one, and he got many, many compliments on his awesome kilt at the dinner.
I did also let him try on her dress in the dressing room at the store, but I'm not going to embarrass his future self by putting that picture online. ;) He looked adorable though.
Anyway! It was a lovely trip, and a beautiful wedding, and the kids were pretty darned well behaved, all things considered. We made the drive home in one day; it took 10 hours, but it was nice to get back to our own beds. I'm looking forward to having some more fun traveling adventures as they get a bit older.
About 3 weeks after our Ohio trip, my mom came to visit. I blogged about it at the time, and (almost 2 months later) I still haven't uploaded all the photos I took while she was here! I'm terrible. But it was very nice to have her here.
We signed up for the library summer reading programs through both local library systems (Alexandria City and Fairfax County). Alexandria City lets you choose a reading goal; Soren declared he would read "one HUNDRED books!" this summer. (He's close to meeting that goal! Just about another 18 books to read in the next 10 days. I think we'll make it.) Fairfax County just said you had to read 15 books, and once we - quickly - hit that target, Soren was rewarded with a coupon book full of neat stuff. One of the coupons is for a free kids' ticket to a DC United game, so he & Tom are probably going to take advantage of that opportunity sometime in the next month or so.
As a result of this "100 books for the summer" reading goal, we've been going to the library at least once a week. For a while we were going twice a week, actually. Wednesday mornings in June and July they were offering music programs and, one week, a puppet show. So we went to several of those. And then on Thursdays they have the 3-5 year-old story time, which Soren got to attend by himself while El and I browsed for books or while I sat in the children's section and she played. The lad very much enjoyed story time, which always concluded with a song and some coloring. It's on hiatus for the last few weeks of summer, which is unfortunate, but when it starts up again we'll definitely be attending. And soon Eleri will be old enough to join in, and I will have a gloriously quiet half hour all to myself in the library! (I'm already wondering how many months early I can fib and say she's turned three...)
Anyway. Lots of library time for us. And lots, and lots, and LOTS of books. Soren has taken a huge shine to the Nate the Great series (which I believe I mentioned before), and I'm pretty sure he's read just about every single one of those. (Okay, looking at the website I see he's still got 9 to go, out of 26 total.) Lots of Nate the Great pretend play going on around here as a result, which is actually totally fine with me, since I can frequently coax him into using his detective skills to locate and put away toys and the like. ;) We've also made our way through some longer books together (Farmer Boy, Stuart Little, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and we're most of the way through Little House in the Big Woods), and he's just this evening we finished the last of the Lighthouse Family series.
Eleri, for her part, also enjoys her book time, though she does most of her reading with Tom in the evenings. She's still very much in the "fixate on one short book and ask to be read it over and over and over and over again" stage, so she will sometimes con me into ten minutes of repeated readings of Humpty Dumpty in the middle of the day, but she did actually sit through all of tonight's Lighthouse Family book with us tonight with very little fidgeting. And those are pretty long for a 2 year-old. I am continually grateful that both kids are so fond of books and reading. Seriously. It's awesome.
Soren had two weeks (well, not quite...Tues-Thurs, two weeks in a row) of day camp at the end of July and beginning of August. The camp was run through the Rec Center preschool, so though he was not in his old classroom with his old teachers, he was in a familiar place with familiar people. Not that I think he would have had much trouble otherwise, but the familiarity probably helped a little. Anyway, the weeks each had a theme - "Beat the Heat" for the first one (they made fans and ice cream, played with beach stuff indoors and went to the spray park), and "Mini Olympics" for the second (opening ceremonies, made torches, day of games, medals, closing ceremonies, and another trip to the spray park). His team "won" a medal for javelin throw (which they apparently did with a pool noodle). He had a good time, and it was nice to be back to the El-and-me time we got to have during the school year, though she did seem to miss him more and ask about him more frequently. The daily reunions when we picked him up from camp were over the top adorable, all huge hugs and big smiles from both of them.
Mall Walk Wednesdays, Coffee Shop Fridays
I had to beg a double stroller from a friend, but mall walk has continued. Soren has claimed to miss it terribly and has at least been very glad to see his buddy L on a weekly basis. They'll be in neighboring classrooms next year, so he's quite tickled that they'll have occasion to (probably) see each other at least briefly, every single day. I have also, for the most part, maintained my weekly "mom dates" for breakfast and coffee at Grounded, which has been much appreciated. It's been good to maintain a routine at least a couple of days a week throughout the summer. We've had lots of flexibility to explore, and also to just veg when we've wanted, but not having to come up with something novel every single day has also been nice.
The Rest of It
Pool, spray park (though not as often as I'd thought), playgrounds, picnics, playdates, Fireman Sam, Doc McStuffins, Zumba, intermittent horsing (Tom's been late getting home for a while now), and of course our balcony garden. I was all set to update with recent photos, but I didn't get around to uploading them, and I'd really like to just go ahead and finish this post so I can put it up before the title and first paragraph are no longer accurate. But I'll put together a separate post all about the garden and its hits and misses. Promise.
I think that's all I can dredge up from my brain at the moment. More soon, hopefully.