Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back from the West Coast

We're back from an 8-day trip to the West Coast. My husband and D went to my husband's family in British Columbia, and C and I saw family and friends in Washington State. We all flew in and out of Sea-Tac. Here are a few notes:
  • C and I saw Mt. St. Helens with my parents and some old friends the day after we arrived in Washington. This was my second visit and C's first. We stopped at almost every visitor center or pull-out and we did the thing very thoroughly, although we didn't get to see the Ape Cave lava tube (over two miles long!!!), which is on the other side of the mountain.
  • Late one evening at a hotel, C and I caught the second half of the HBO Temple Grandin biopic. I'm looking forward to seeing the first half. The Temple Grandin movie was a lucky find, because C and I were two hours off Pacific Time and there was nothing else child-appropriate on TV at that late hour. C said about Temple, "One virtue she's got is perseverance."
  • C, who is botanically-minded, had many opportunities to learn about new plants from knowledgeable adults on our trip. We saw lupine, Indian paint brush, Queen Anne's lace, self-heal, alders, big leaf maple, vine maple, spruce, huckleberry, salmon berries, lichen, blackberry bushes, thistles, sword ferns, maidenhair ferns and many varieties of moss.
  • We didn't put on a lot of miles, but we did short hikes on three different days, walked out on the gravel bar at the river, and had a big picnic with a fire and marshmallow roast.
  • C and I went out to help her grandpa cut alder firewood. I helped and C enjoyed botany. C also enjoyed kicking at a sandy patch on a bluff where years ago the river used to go. My dad told us that this activity is widely enjoyed, by elk and cattle of all ages. He's seen a bull (bovine) and the lead cow elk square off over the right to to stand there and kick sand from the face of the bluff. The activity is enjoyable in itself, plus there may be some bug-repellent value.
  • At my parents' house, C enjoyed meeting and playing with their calico cat and reading books from the family library. She read Matilda, Far Side, Peanuts, David and the Phoenix, and part of The Princess and Curdie. C also enjoyed "shopping" for her birthday gifts at my parents' store. She got a bunch of Northwest Indian temporary tattoos and some rubber stamps in the same style. I picked out matching t-shirts for the kids (a favorite choice of mine), black with glow-in-the-dark animal footprints.
  • C finished the 3rd grade Kumon Geometry & Measurement workbook and started the 4th grade workbook. The 4th grade workbook is hard!!! C has finished the "large number" section that covers working with numbers in the billions and trillions and is in the middle of the section on rounding.
  • We went to Mass in my home town on Sunday morning. There's a new priest, and he was exhorting us to remember to share our elk if we manage to shoot one.
  • While we were on our trip, a very pretty colonial in the older neighborhood I watch dropped from $280k to $270k.
  • We got home around midnight on Tuesday and since then it's been around 100 degrees and the kids have been doing Wii and watching a lot of videos. We're about 50% unpacked.
  • My husband and I did our August budget last night. School is up by $200 a month (since we are paying for 5 days a week of tuition for D now) but I'll be babysitting a bit this fall and my husband has cut our car insurance in half. Since our car is worth at most around $4k, we're dropping almost everything from our insurance coverage except liability. Last month, our house savings was an anemic $159. This month, it's a pitiful $2. That is not impressive, but summer is always expensive. This year's savings priorities will be 1) home purchase 2) lots of travel (including my long-awaited Russia trip) and 3) extracurriculars and camps for the kids. It's going to be very suspenseful to see how well we do on our home purchase next year. As I've written before, there's a house I like that is $160k and another that I like that is $175k, but the math is quite unforgiving--every dollar that has to go to housing expenses is a dollar that can't go to other activities.

No comments: