The First Day of Summer Camp

Which is what we are calling the “Summer Learning Academy” which is a 6 week long, 4 day a week (except the week of Independence Day πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) for Elementary aged kiddos with IEPs.

#1 Son is enrolled and it started today.

Last year he was put on the fast track side for education. This year they will be focusing on the social side of it.


He’s actually got a specific slot every Tuesday for it, which is great!


That wasn’t too successful, as he resented having to redo Kindergarten work. Now today when I picked him up?

Came running out with a big smile 😍

Now, admittedly it’s only Day 1, and we’ve just had a pretty decent family vacation, but I’m taking that as a positive sign.

Also, given he read an entire story to his sister first thing this morning, and did a reasonable amount of additional reading in class today, he’s thrilled to be told he doesn’t have to do more today πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

So, since it’s being held 8-12 at the most local school, which is next to our usual playground, I’ve decided to let them both spend an hour or so (depending on weather) in said playground to burn off some energy.


You never know, it might help with the whole “herd of elephants” issue πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

Apartment Life

Can suck. Suck utter balls.

We live on the first floor. The landlady lives above on the second floor.

Around December last year, after significant unpleasantness, new neighbours moved in downstairs on the ground floor.

I took down soup and apologised in advance as I have two children, one of whom is around full time.

Everything seemed fine.

While we were away, one of said neighbours complained to the landlady that:

The children run around so much it shakes the light fittings.

Now I admit, my children can be… boisterous… but no more so than any other 3 and 7 year old pair of siblings.

In fact, #1 Son, when left to his own devices, is perfectly happy snuggled in his room with his tablet.

So I was mortified. Since I thought we had dealt with this issue last year.


Apparently there were issues with doors slamming. We put large rubber bands over the relevant door handles and the problems went away


However, more information has just come to light. The landlady and her partner came to do some light maintenance (with about four hours notice this time πŸ™„) and the topic came up.


Side note: if you’ve never had kids do not try and discipline someone else’s thank you very much. Yes the landlady attempted to talk to TT and #1 Son about the excessive noise and, rather unsurprisingly, was ignored.


However, as it turns out, downstairs have set up a Meditation Room and have placed it under my kid’s bedrooms.

I’m more than willing to work with my neighbours, but that? That is taking the piss.

Fortunately, the landlady’s partner has grandchildren. He understands kids. She is child free, and kind of seems to view children as little aliens/a different species. Which is fair, but I am not hobbling my kids. They are entitled to live in their homes.

And though I would never put it like this – we were here first. They saw us all leaving the house en masse on the day they viewed the property. So they knowingly rented an apartment where they knew there were kids living upstairs.

So, there have been discussions of what can be done. The landlady and partner have suggested they will buy large Ikea rugs for the relevant rooms.


I’m not footing the bill for it. Rugs are a bastard to keep clean.


And I have suggested (and will follow through with) buying slippers for the kids. I have no problem with that.

But I have stated, on record, that while I will happily have “no running in the house” as a rule (indeed have been trying to institute that since we moved in) I am not stopping my kids from playing in the place where they live.

TT is in bed before 7pm, #1 Son before 8pm. That is not unreasonable. I am not putting their lives on hold for a Meditation Room.

I will not be shitty about it, we all need to live together, but I have my limits. I know my kids well, including their flaws, and they are not as bad as is being made out.

Mama Dinosaur mode has been engaged.

Great Wolf Lodge – Part the First

So, after a lot of stress from various home quarters we are here. It’s… impressive.

I’ve never been to Butlins or Centre Parcs, but honestly? I cannot see how it could be better.

Check in was at 4pm, but from 1pm you can have access to the water parks! Also, as everything is indoor, it’s warm and non weather-dependent.

Cue two ecstatic small children.

We basically splashed, slid, swam, and played for two hours whilst our room was gotten ready.

#1 Son went down massive water slides – a major improvement on last summer; and TT is, basically, a fish.

So far we have only explored half of the area, but even in the small swimming area there’s several flumes, slides and a current area for rubber rings (provided) and swimming.

#1 Son went round that by himself. Obviously the hus-creature stayed in the general vicinity, but he didn’t need us, which is fantastic.


Basically we split into two teams – one parent with one child, and TT is basically my shadow whenever she is unsure of her surroundings


And, amazingly, TT wanted a go. So around and around we went, occasionally switching children, because my god is it tiring even with TT in a floatie.

As for the room itself? We are in the classification known as Wolf Den which is standard for a family of 4.

The kids have a little enclosed nook with a bunk bed,


Yes there was a power struggle for the top bunk, no we didn’t allow TT to win it!


And their own little tv – which we have tuned in to Cartoon Network and have declared it done. But honestly? I don’t anticipate us using it much. There’s just so much to do here.

We’ve paid for two premium packages:

    Wolf Pass – for #1 Son. It’s impressive and he gets a significant amount of extras thrown in:
  1. Unlimited rock climbing
  2. One game of mini golf
  3. One game of bowling
  4. One Harry Potteresque game that he and I will do together – he gets a wand and there’s loads of interactive stations all around the resort (I’ve already seen teenagers playing it πŸ™€)
    Pup Pass for TT – her only “extra” that her brother doesn’t get is one Build A Bear stuffed toy.

So what did she choose? Out of all of the options available to her?

Yup, not any of the bears, nor even the rainbow sloth? Nope. A shark. A bloody shark πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

She even named it:

Yes, she’s a girl shark, called Misty. Yep, I have not one, but two PokΓ©mon obsessed children πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

Some of the things that they both have access to include:

  1. A free 12oz candy cup – which we paid an extra $2 each to upgrade to a 16oz – #1 Son appears not to like jelly beans though πŸ˜–πŸ™„
  2. A free scoop of ice cream, which we’ve yet to cash in on.
  3. 20 free “paw points” to spend in the arcade.
  4. A pair of GWL branded goggles each, which we will claim tomorrow.

And for anyone wondering why we upgraded the candy:

It’s been an amazing day, with 4 more to go!

Both kids are exhausted, and so are we to be honest πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


However, the room sharing has not gone as well as hoped, though no worse than feared, so the plan tomorrow is simply to wear them out as much as possible.


And I admit, both the hus-creature and myself are already in our pjs. For once we ate dinner at the same time as the kids, and we are settled in for the night. I will be astounded if we are both awake beyond 10pm.

We have paid to include food, breakfast is a separate deal, and booze is available.

Sadly our room is right next to the main play area – the rock climbing, mini golf etc so the noise level is high, but it’s closed by 22:30 and it does appear to be tailing off already.

And as a just because:

Summer Days Out

So over the summer we had so many plans to have outings with the kids.

But the weather laughed at us! We’ve had glorious weeks and the weekends have been utterly shocking!


Very British in fact πŸ€£πŸ˜‚


So we decided to say sod it and the hus-creature took the day off work on Thursday (almost two weeks ago now, yes I know I know!) and we went up to the beach.

Which is a specific beach about 30 more minutes away that is spelt almost the same as #1 Son’s given name.

Oh it was amazing. We played, we built sandcastles, we splashed, we swam. TT proved to be a complete and total water baby. Yes, she was more than a little apprehensive on the first couple of tries but then she was racing into the waves shouting “more ocean” and I have never seen her grin more.

Actually it backfired on us spectacularly though! First when it came time to go get lunch. Cue a massive meltdown and I had to bodily drag her to the restaurant – as a result we were all leaking sand and sea water on the way there sigh.

The second time was when it came time to go home. She did not want to leave. At all.

Anyway, pictures:

TT playing on the beach. Please bear in mind the last time she was on the beach she was only just crawling πŸ’— also note #1 Son’s new “rock collection” (yes I still have it – it’s out on the balcony!)

Daddy-offspring bonding:

Gittish seagulls were everywhere – honest to god they had no fear. None. Attacking belongings and tourists alike. Gits.

#1 Son made a friend – one with similar issues to himself. He was a little older and showed him how to build tide pools and how to catch small Crustacea for it πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

Sadly there were no photos with me, the mother, because I didn’t take my phone into the ocean and the hus-creature doesn’t think to take them. Ever.

But it was an amazing day out. The kids had a blast and we will go back.

Then this last Saturday we went to a theme park just across the state line in New Hampshire.

I didn’t take many photos this time because we were focussed on having fun, but we took these:

TT went on her first rides. The Ferris wheel – which she liked a lot:

WHEEL!

And then she went on her first proper roller coaster. She loved it. There was much crying of “more ride more ride” but her brother was not impressed.

So we took them across to the newly-built water park bit – it was so newly built that only about a third of it was actually operational. Again, TT adored the water slides and was devastated she couldn’t go on the bigger ones.

#1 Son? Nope. He still can’t deal with water being splashed in his face. But they both had a blast. Prying TT away from the water was as bad as at the beach. Needed to bribe her with the promise of an ice cream πŸ€­πŸ˜¬πŸ™„


It worked though!


But honestly? Comparing the free (mostly) trip to the beach, and the over $100 tickets for the park? Not worth it. They are both still too young and short.

There are a few other options, including an indoor, climate controlled, water park so we will look into that.

Daddy and I both needed a stiff drink or two by the end of those days!

And, oddly enough? I didn’t need to go for a walk either day!

The first week of Summer Camp(s)

So, here we at the end of the first official week of summer vacation.

I basically let TT and #1 Son run wild last week to let off steam. We went to the park pretty much daily, and, thanks to the wonderful H and her amazing son A (I ought to ask them if they actually want blog pseudonyms one of these days) the swing set is now built!!!

And oh wow has it made weekends easier.


I am actually attempting to go to the parks during the week to socialise the kids – and up to a point myself as well


So we spent a lot of time soaking up sunshine and warmth (cloudy days are still glorious here in proper summer)

TT spent a lot of time doing this

And given our swing set does not have the toddler versions, and the fact that my daughter has been absolutely desperate to be like her big brother and be on the big boy swings I took the plunge and let her go on them and this happened:

Far more balance than her mommy!

And not to be outdone:

#1 Son versus the rock climb

Which is good, as the swing set does have one of those!

But that is not the main thrust of this post. It is about Summer Camp.

The first is the previously chronicled reading camp which is every Saturday until the end of August, 5 weeks in total. We went to the first one last weekend (and the second one yesterday) and it was… interesting.

They had put him in the kindergarten and pre-K readers group. Which I didn’t blame them for, because when I signed him up, a couple of months ago, that this was the level he was reading at. However it became clear within the first 30 minutes that he is reading at a much higher level than the class was aimed at.

So, at the end of the lesson I went and chatted with the teacher who agreed with me (after a small independent reading assessment) that he should be put in the first grade readers class. Which was not without its problems unfortunately. As, rather unsurprisingly, the first grade classes (in fact all of the classes) were completely overbooked. So I played phone tennis with the supervisor (or at least one of the supervisors) of the courses for a couple of days (they are open until 10:30 PM most nights though) to get him squeezed into the first graders class. As it was a supervisor to supervisor agreement the transfer it took a little time. But they did manage it for which I am very grateful.

At least I was. Unfortunately he has missed the primary lesson of the first grade classes. So we not only did we have to do the weekly work that was required, but also catching up on the first lesson. Which he did not enjoy. At all. In addition, because the transfer was not approved and formalised until Wednesday, we had only three days to do all of it.

So it was perhaps unsurprising that come yesterday’s class he was completely disengaged in almost all of it.

Because TT had had another night terror on Friday night (poor wee bugger) we opted not to drag her as well and make her sit in the car for upwards of two hours while her brother had his camp. So she stayed home with me whilst daddy took him to his lesson.

Daddy was thinking about withdrawing him completely but as I pointed out we paid over $300 for this class and I don’t think will get a partial refund particularly after all the messing about we ended up having to do so will try again next week after we’ve done some more catching up and the prep work and see how we go. I’m not sure if it’s going to be me or daddy taking him but we shall see.

We did go to Friendly’s yesterday for lunch afterwards though, as that seemed too much of a penalty not to take them.

That and I wanted clam chowder darn it.

#1 Son got a “create your own” and TT got chocolate ice cream with sprinkles so they were both thrilled.

Daddy and I had the calories for a small scoop of decent ice cream! So it definitely wasn’t all bad.

Then came Summer Learning Academy. Now initially the lovely H was going to be taking my son along with her two boys as it was all at the same school but the poor woman has needed major dental surgery and was in so much pain this week that she just couldn’t take them. So daddy did the morning drop off, then after the morning session and I then walked (with TT in the stroller) to pick him up. Which actually turned out remarkably well because I got nearly 2 miles worth of exercise Monday to Thursday and was able to take the kids to the library and the park and all sorts of things without forcing poor old #1 Son into a ridiculously long walk.

The library here in Melrose is amazing. Honestly it is, and I’m actually really sad we didn’t find it sooner – but both the hus-creature and myself thought that it was much further away than it actually is. *

The Children’s Library takes up an entire floor. Though it does close at 20:00, when the main library closes at 21:00 which is an issue – since if I want to get new books for the kids I have to leave before #1 Son’s bedtime. But it also has boxes of toys and both kids are meeting other local children and playing nicely:

Also there is no limit to the number of items you can withdraw. And A/V items are free of charge (though with a 2 week rental limit rather than 4)

It’s just a shame that they are closed for weekends in the summer. Which I don’t really understand, as to me it makes more sense that they would close at weekends in the season where there was snow not sunshine, but everyone likes sunny weekends do they not?

H is thankfully feeling well enough to do the camp runs tomorrow and Tuesday, and there’s no more camp (it normally runs Monday-Thursday 08:00-12:00) for the remainder of the week due to Independence Day, so it is fine for now. The poor woman has her oral surgery on Thursday!

So, the overall verdict on camp? He’s loving it.


Insert huge sigh of relief here


Which is great, as it’s effectively school. He is doing reading, writing and probably math too. Also art. And he adores art. So he’s been practically skipping home, and it’s helped focus him for his Summer Math and Reading Calendars. Which are a thing.

He has to read 150 minutes a week. Fortunately an adult reading to him does count, so his nightly bedtime stories account for 70+ minutes a week. I’ve also been getting new stories from the library in both flavours (self reading to an adult and adult reading to him) which are helping keep everybody happy.


I am also recording every book he reads himself in the website where his sponsored Readathon information went – which is also helping, as you earn coins to upgrade an owl avatar so he’s actively engaged there too!


And the math stuff is even more complicated, As there is a daily task he needs to do but fortunately we don’t have to do the designated task on its designated day and can just mix and match. So yesterday we did some estimating and counting of sugar packets in Friendly’s and today we drew Odie the dog from Garfield (yes that Garfield) five times and counted his legs on a piece of paper. Which I will date and put in a folder I am putting together. Because apparently all you need to do is cross out the activity when you do them and provide no proof that you’ve actually done it which seems a tad pointless to me, and he actually works better when he can see what he’s been doing in one place.

Ho hum. So that’s been fun. But at least we can do it gradually, and sometimes do more than one activity a day. The hus-creature seems convinced that they don’t expect the kids to do all of the activities, but I’m not sure, so I will keep trying with him.

*Actually it now forms the end point of one of my evening walks – it’s about a mile away, and you can drop loaned items off in a big green bin outside whenever, day or night which makes it perfect.

It’s the 1st of July!

And summer is here! It’s so so hot. But the ever wonderful H, D and K assembled and filled two inflatable pools!!!

A big one (supposedly) for the three boys, and a little one for the two littler girls.


We are assisting simply by buying a new hose.

As H’s broke over the last summer and it’s replacement has mysteriously vanished – apparently there is no such thing as a cheap 100ft one left anywhere in Melrose! So we bought the premium luxury one from Job Lot. $37 well spent πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜ƒ


But, as you might expect, that did not happen. #1 Son got fed up of waiting, so once the hus-creature returned from the weekly shop, he retired upstairs with his daddy to play Minecraft together… no, daddy didn’t get much of a choice! πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

And the twins were significantly more interested in the new “baby” pool, than their “we had this one last summer” big pool god love them!

TT dived headfirst into the big pool (as it was the one that was filled first) but got scared by the “sharks” in it – the inside liner is decorated with fish, seaweed etc.

But she had so much fun playing in the little one:

Group play in the baby pool

Then because of the bigger boys playing in it a little roughly (just boys being boys, but they are, we think, a little bit too big for it) it needed reinflating…

Which is the background noise to this video

All in all, we stayed outside until over an hour past her bedtime. She didn’t eat any dinner – but she had had a big breakfast and lunch, plus her bedtime bottle so I’m not worried there.

All the kidlets (except #1 Son, but we will work on that) had an amazing time, and this is just the start of the summer…

Oh, this is the bath after I insisted my daughter bathe before bed:

Do not worry dear audience, I have cleaned it πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ‘πŸ»