That darn smoke

For 9 days in September, we had toxic air quality in Vancouver due to the wild fire smoke. Our home was not in an area that was under threat of evacuation and we were lucky for that. Adam put a new air filter in our whole house fan right before the air got bad and the ran the fan 24/7. We also read an advisory to strap an air filter to a box fan for living space. I wasn’t sure either was doing much, but I was wrong!

So we basically spent 9 days inside. I decided it was the worse stretch of time since the pandemic started. I would take snow, freezing temperatures, or rain over hazardous air quality again. No being able to go outside was incredible hard with kids Sloane and Soren’s ages. On top of that, we were doing online school (this was before in person days) and we had moved Soren to a real bed. He was not getting tired out during the day, so we tried to skip nap. That lead to him just falling asleep a couple times at 4 pm.

So we let the kids do things like jump on the crib mattress in the living room floor in their bathing suits. Sloane pretended she was the trainer and Soren was a dolphin. And finding all my childhood dolls for Sloane (and Soren if she ever lets him) to play with. Hurdling over the hot pink Dolly the Dolphin tube. Looking at my baby photos. Also, Soren was obsessed with wearing Sloane’s Frozen 2 night gown.

We also watched Mary Poppins. I had to force the kids at first. I told them they had to give it 5 mins. 45 minutes later they had not made a peep. Since then we’ve been singing the songs and dancing around. Sloane even likes to do the accents!

Once the air quality dropped below 100, the kids and I took a walk around the block. They were crazy excited! It was also suddenly fall.

In person Kinder

Our school district was able to start in person kindergarten with small groups. We decided to have Sloane participate because the protocols seemed acceptable and it seemed like a good start for Sloane to ease into the demands of school, including wearing a mask for longer periods of time and being away from us.

On the first day, she was so VERY excited and kept saying ‘I am going to real live kindergarten’. Soren was a little jealous and kept saying to Sloane ‘You no going to kindergarten. I going to kindergarten. You a big kid and I am going to school.’ Soren insisted that he needed his backpack too and has worn it every day since. Soren and I walked Sloane to school on her first day. They have dots 6 feet apart to stand on while we wait for her teacher to come get them. Sloane’s group is 4 students including her. Mrs. Morrison came out, said hello, asked if they were ready, and away they marched. I had to ask Sloane if she wanted a hug- she was just ready to go!

Soren lost it after she left. He was missing Adam that day already and Sloane leaving was devastating. He kept saying he wanted Daddy. And then I had to carry him home. At just under a mile, it is too far to have to carry a three year old! About 3/4 of the way, he finally let me put him on my shoulders. It was very strange to just have one kid around! At first I kept looking for Sloane. But it is just a little over 2 hours of school on Mondays and Tuesdays so it flies by.

This is Sloane’s 4th week. We have really been enjoying it because it eliminates all live class time. She has a handful of assignments to do each week on her Chrome book and she can mostly do them without help. It is impressive how she has learned the icons and buttons to complete her assignments.

Soren is 3!

This little one is so adorable. He started to love playing pretend recently. He does an incredible gorilla, chest beating and walking on his knuckles. Here is a video where he pretends to be a flamingo.

Soren has a unique fashion sense. He loves his hand-me-down pink raincoat, sparkly red pants, pink helmet, Doc McStuffins sunglasses, and kitty shirt. Then he thinks outside the box like wearing a hat he found at Nini and Papa 2’s for dinners and naps; or a life jacket for playing on the porch.

We got a real bed with a trundle for Soren in early September. One night in his crib, he had asked me why his bed at a cage on it, so I started looking for a bed. At first he didn’t want it, but once we told him he could help us with the screwdriver to take the crib apart and with moving the pieces out, he was in. He has been sleeping in the bed since and had his first fall out of it after a month! The trundle rolls out and pops up so Sloane and Soren can have sleep overs in his room on weekends. It worked on the third attempt because Sloane rubbed his back and hummed to him.

For his birthday, we went to the zoo. They require reservations and masks. The experience with reservation was actually really nice because it meant less people and more consideration with moving to see the animals. The kids loved running around and see the animals. Nini and Papa 2 came along for the fun. We had a family dinner (because what else do you to celebrate during a pandemic on a rainy day with a 3 year old). Soren was most excited about his cupcakes. We asked if he wanted us to sing to him and he ask if he could sing too. Then we did the whole candle and singing with cupcakes again the next two nights! We gave him an umbrella, a magnifying glass, and a mirror- they were big hits!

He got a tee ball set from Nini and Papa2, an extension of his train set and velcro catch game from G and Pa, a cute stuffy from the Montana crew, and a bowling set from Cam, Jesse, and Lida. They are all big hits. He’s been loving the new physical games to play and he has been sleeping with his new stuffy.

Soren is crazy physically active. We finally decided we could play on play structures with extra hand sanitizing. He can climb to the top of the ladder that is higher than my head. I was spotting him and after he made it to the top, Sloane told me I did a good job, which was nice to hear.

In addition to running around like a crazy person and talking super loud, he is a cuddly sweetie. He insists on kissing us on both cheeks and being kissed on both his cheeks at bed time. Soren will throw in a nose kiss often too. He has a soft touch and will rub your shoulder if you seem sad or hurt. Then occasionally he bites his sister.

It was a year ago that he was diagnosed with TEC. He has been doing great since that resolved. He has been growing so much since then! He is now 37 inches and 34.25 lbs. And thriving even in the crazy mess of 2020.

Smoothie sharing

For the past few months, Soren has been helping me make my smoothies. About a year ago, he and Sloane would both help me and it was the opposite of help- spilling spinach all over the floor, arguing about who does what, basically taking a LONG time while I was hungry.

Now, just Soren helps me and he’s great at it. And he has added a final step- getting two straws out so he can share it with me. Like we are on a date at an old timey soda shop. I am going to soak it up before he won’t fit in my lap anymore.

Kindergarten for Sloane!

Sloane’s first day of kindergarten was Friday 9/4. Our school district is fully remote for the foreseeable future. We explained how school won’t be exactly how she expected and she was fine with it! We picked up her Chrome book from the school last week. And after some IT issues, we were logged in and ready to go.

Her teacher is Mrs. Morrison, who were able to meet in person on Wednesday this week. Mrs. Morrison met up at the front desk of the school (all in masks) and after saying hello, she said she was going to take Sloane back to the classroom for a bit. Sloane just marched on back to the classroom without looking back. I cried a little because I was so proud of her. She has been out of pre-K since mid March and we just weren’t sure how she was going to do. But she was a rock star! She wrote her name with only the S backwards, counted to 39, matched her numerical numbers with the correct number of objects, and cut well! She already loves Mrs. Morrison, who was very sweet, patient, and kind. Also, Mrs. Morrison has a 5 month old named Violet so Sloane thinks that is amazing.

Friday was the first day of school online from home. Soren went to Nini and Papa 2’s and I could focus on Sloane. She is actually very good at navigating around the screen but when the password won’t work for a program, I even found it frustrating. We powered through and she had two 30 minute classroom meetings, plus we accomplished two assignments. Sloane is such a bright, imaginative, and inquisitive little one. Our hope is that she’ll learn to love school and we don’t lose our minds working through this online schedule. I just keep picturing Soren running naked through the background on a video meeting with Sloane’s class. Probably not the worse thing in the world though!

Strawberry ice cream

The kids helped Adam make strawberry ice cream with fresh local strawberries that Nini and Papa gave us. I thought it would be good for Soren to have his first ice cream cone since it is the first summer he can eat dairy and gluten. Adam handed him the cone and Soren said “oh, fancy”. He sat in Adam’s lap and they both had cones. Then Soren took a bite that got a bit of cone and he says “I sorry” because he didn’t know he could eat the cone. He is quite a thoughtful little one.

Soren wants a story

Starting in the middle of this pandemic, Soren started asking for Adam or I to make up stories for him. Sloane asks for them constantly with a wide cast of characters- Lonnie the lion, Mallory the moose, the Octanuts, Cat in the Hat, and the list goes on and on. Soren got the bug and started asking as well. His turn of phrase for it is to ask for the character and then say ‘you talk about it’ that you can hear around 15 secs into the video below.

Soren has been loving the Berenstain Bears book. He knows the titles from the covers and Moving day and Mama’s New Job are his favorites. Adam thinks the way he says Berenstain Bears is great. We hope you agree.

Overall, he really loves books more every day. He will lay and flip through them, quite adorably and quietly. And it is nice to get a quiet moment these days.

Training wheels up!

At the end of May, Sloane surprised me by saying she was ready to try riding her bike without training wheels. Luckily, they just swing up and lock into place. The path at the bottom of our park is a nice flat stretch with grass on both sides. She has only taking one trip into the blackberry bushes! It took her hardly any time to figure out the balance portion. And when she got going, I had another surprise- I got choked up and started crying.

https://youtu.be/nc1QGIr95_o

This video is from today 7/12. She does better when I don’t watch her start.

Cherry picking

Toward the end of June, we went cherry picking. This was the biggest adventure we have had since mid March. We drove over an hour each way and were away from home for almost 5 hours as a family. The kids were in awe pointing things out on the drive. The gorge was beautiful and sunny on a rainy day at home. The cherry trees were old and set up on a hill with a gorgeous view. Luckily there were ladders and we have daredevil kiddos!

The kids might have taste tested a few cherries as well.

After picking, we grabbed pizza from a food cart and sat very far from all other people. Then watch kite surfers on the river before driving home. It is a nice sneak peek at future adventures as a family.

Singing

Adam and I will sing to the kids at the end of the bedtime routine. When I am putting Soren down, he will sing with me. Recently, he will sing Baby Mine from Dumbo and wait until you hear our harmony! I had to take the video on the sly because he will just goof around if he knows I am filming. It is also a little long because we have to pause between verses to open the doors of his toy firetruck. But the second verse is worth it when he says ‘pay no heap what they say’

We have watched Frozen 2 a couple of times. Both Sloane and Soren enjoy belting out the Northuldra harmony. I was working in the yard when they came home from a bike ride with Adam singing ‘nah-nah, hey ya’ at the top of their lungs. We were talking about it at dinner that night and Sloane did a freestyle remix.

Sloane and Soren were playing camp out in the sleeping bags. Sloane started to sing the lullaby from Frozen 2. Notice she is stroking down Soren’s nose, I had told her recently that I use to do that to get them to sleep as babies.