Monday, July 25, 2016

Ben the Book Worm

Ever since he was a tiny nugget, he's been a book lover. He's been bringing me books from the moment he could walk, without end. I actually have to deny him book reading just so I can get meals prepared and us out of the house for fresh air. He would honestly be perfectly content sitting at home reading books all day long.

I know I shouldn't, but I totally revoke book reading before bed as a consequence for being difficult during the bedtime routine. Almost always, he complies. Because seriously, somehow he loses all ability to dress himself and be cooperative as soon as we mention it's bedtime.

A promised trip down the street to the Little Free Library was enough to get Benjamin out of his near hour-long tantrum today and his mood immediately changed upon the procurement of another book (and trading in one of sister's to get it). We've even started a word wall of words he knows by sight. He's stubborn as can be, so hopefully his love for books will translate into easy reading in the next couple years.

We have 39 books checked out from the library right now with more on hold. It's kind of an obsession (and it helps we have no toys at our house while we transition our stuff to Reno... which will happen mid-August). The new library is on a county system, so it's totally awesome that books can be checked out from any of the libraries and magically appear, ready and waiting in the hold section at our convenience. I think about the book transfer people and how that has to be a full time job for someone in a county system, especially in a county with 11 libraries (not all created equal though).

We're partaking in the summer reading program and each kid gets to choose a free book every two weeks, just for participating. This week, Benjamin chose a book on sharks and I chose Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems for Claire. (She's not as book hungry, but brother is encouraging her interest.) It's one of the Elephant and Piggie books. Benjamin immediately wanted to read it in the middle of the kid's section at the library, then realizing it was written by the same author as his favorite, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

Families were all around the library, waiting for storytime (which was also awesome except the "surprise visitor" being Wolfie from the Nevada Wolf Pack who scared the daylights out of Claire). I started reading the book to Benjamin and we were literally both in tears, it was so funny. Maybe I'm easy to humor these days, but I was crying. People all around were staring and other kids were coming over, interested.

So I went ahead and put more of those Elephant and Piggie books on hold. The 50th read of the now deemed "funny book" isn't nearly as funny to Mama anymore, but Benjamin is still rolling.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Algae Pools + Tough Month Ahead

We were so spoiled in IL with the posh pool life. We paid a hefty tax bill for great schools and a killer water park just 3 miles from home, but dang, was it nice.

Our closest pool (outside of condominium complexes or gyms) is 12 miles away. That's a 24-mile round trip to let Benjamin work his mad skillz in the water! And... they don't have memberships. It's pay-per-use. I'm considering making very good friends with someone in that HOA facility I run by at night. Because I never see anyone in that pool and it's so stinking close to home.

We went to one public pool and Benjamin killed it with the double flume slides. The kid is a maniac. So much, that the second pool we went to, the lifeguard yelled at us (among other reasons), for Benjamin being "too wild" in the pool. She said he needed to be in the shallow end if he was going to act crazy. And then we got yelled at for like 3 other things at different times and I about asked for my money back.

So we went back to pool #1. The double flume. It's in a totally sketch area of Reno, attached to this questionable middle school and behind one of the county libraries that is the size of a modular classroom (low taxes affect everything, it turns out). The first time we pulled up, the school alarm was blaring because God knows why, and no one seemed to be alarmed (see what I did there? Hardy Har Har). It's only open from 1-4pm, so the kids were warned that we would be spending a lot of time there because we were paying and skipped Claire's nap for this.

We stayed an hour. The kids got their fill apparently, but I obliged because I noticed this slimy green algae lining the entire pool interior. And of course, Claire pooped in her swim diaper. Thank God for these reusables for the environment and my pocketbook, dude, but tossing those Little Swimmers is way the heck easier to clean when the kid has el accidente. I told her she could have a Starburst today if she just told me before she pooped so I didn't have to clean her butt today. She pooped three times. None of which earned her a Starburst. Don't sign us up for the potty training bus yet. I'll pass.
sludge pool. be warned.
As we exited, I brought the POOL SLUDGE to the manager's attention who explained to me that while they chlorinate everyday and "regularly" clean, the "dead algae" just returns because they never have a chance to drain the pool, even in winter. I threw up some big eyes right then, because all places that experience winter weather, drain their pools. The reason they don't? Vandalism. So I left, vowing that pool was forever off the list and made sure to scrub the kiddies down well with soap after that incident (and well, Claire needed it anyway, because, code brown). One lady I met there with her kids (who randomly approached me to show me a HUGE splinter under her nail) told me about some of the casino pools and how it's possible I can just walk in and that she's never had a problem. So that's how things are done in Reno! Hah. I guess people just keep their swimming to the Truckee River, which is spectacular in every way, honestly. And free.

Hello Truckee River. Fresh Tahoe water... ahhhh.
Switching gears, the house update. It's exhausting, honestly. We have an offer we've accepted and it's a good one. And we're happy for the most part. About as happy as two people can be who are paying basically two mortgages, two times utilities, a lawn service and still without any of their actual furniture in their empty rental (paying top dollar for) in Reno. We knew this was the option we'd choose in order to stay together, but moving and selling a house, in particular, is pricey. And so is the list of inspection not-so-related expensive garage doors they want us to provide. But that's neither here nor there. It's just, we're feeling stretched thin and also in the process of buying a new car because moving requires new tags and our almost 15 year old car is on its last leg and very well will fail their emissions test anyway. And that cursed premium gas is going to do us in with this 40+ mile commute and my 24-mile round trip adventures to find another, hopefully algae-free pool.

It's a car we're really excited about and one that is very popular in Northern Nevada (seriously, ever other car), Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Northern California, Maine and some of the upper Eastern states. Any guesses? But new cars also come with a heavy price tag and of course the costs are feeling extra heavy these days.

We'll get through it, but as super sensible people who really thrive on saving money, it pains us to see the money we're spending and will continue to spend until our house closes at the end of next month.

Tomorrow though, you'll find us back hiking trails and engaging in a nature program along with lunch out in the Galena Creek Regional Park, because if there is one thing Reno has that totally trumps anything our high-tax state of Illinois didn't, it's free and plentiful nature escapes in real woods with real trails and real elevation gain into the {real, not trash hill} mountains. Benjamin has placed his request for a hike with a stream. It's the real deal so, challenge accepted.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Double Difficult

Thank goodness we don't live in an apartment or condo with shared walls. I'm not sure how our wall-sharing neighbors would handle all. the. screaming. Whether it's from my kids (90%) or me at them (10%), there seems to be always someone yelling lately.

I totally regret the 10%, but sometimes it's just all I can handle and I blow my top. It's mostly to get the noise, their noise, to stop immediately. But ironically, raising my voice is the very thing that puts the icing on the headache cupcake.

Benjamin, as most of my readers know, has always been difficult. Since he was around two, he's been more than spirited. Explosive. I feel like I've written about this before. They have the book, The Spirited Child. And Love and Logic is great, for the more rational child. But what we needed was the extreme, The Explosive Child to really fully understand how he ticks. I need to go back and read that book again. Clearly I'm rusty. It's not pretty most of the time, but we have managed to (mostly) keep the insanity at bay if we can calm ourselves enough to remember the principles outlined in the book. But like today, I just had no patience for that.

Claire has learned all of her brother's nasty ways and immediately resorts to, "I will kick the wall. I will spit on you" when she isn't getting her way. But still, she appears to have some remorse eventually for her actions.

Benjamin asked me if I was drinking a beer with dinner tonight because of Claire's poor behavior (to his credit, her behavior was worse than his today). The answer was no, but it sort of morphed into yes as the night progressed.

Bedtime was early tonight, because Dad's out of town and moving is stressful and the kids have no toys (and those are really all just excuses).

Four and two. Phew. Some days I'm thrilled because they can be playmates, but just flip the coin and they can be absolute terrors to one another without either of them having a reasoning bone in their bodies. It takes a lot out of a mama.

I for sure threatened the babysitter card tonight.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wild Horses

I just had the most majestic run probably of my life. I honestly never thought sweating could be such a beautiful experience. It was 4 miles of blissful happiness.

I've ran in a lot of places in my life. I grew up at the beach. Running along with crashing waves was my life for many years. Chicago had some beautiful runs with the most recent being a deer spotting about a week before we moved West.

But tonight. You guys.

When we flew back to Chicago after finding a rental here in Reno, I sat next to this guy who grew up in Chicago but moved to Reno on a whim just because he wanted to be among the mountains. He and his wife went all up and down the west coast and settled here because of the proximity to the mountains. He told me about these wild horses that roam in our general area near the mountains in South Reno.

Never did I think I'd see them. But today, we did.

We had dinner and prepared some ice cream cones (Umpqua, Oregon based... #hearteyes) and headed on a walk to the local elementary school. It's just under a mile away and about .2 mile away from our house, we pass a little free library right in our neighborhood. There are trails that run behind houses just like in our Green Trails neighborhood in Illinois. As we approached the school (and park behind), I saw the wild horses! They were walking in the street near the school, all 11 of them. There are 10 grown and one baby horse. And they're beautiful. A local stopped to chat and explain the horse situation and how there used to be 5 groups of them, but this is the last remaining group.

We played at the park and then it was back home for bedtime. I strapped up my shoes and went for a run after the kids went down. I'm not a morning runner, but I love running at sunset. I ran the same route we walked with the kids earlier and then took a left for a run along the mountains. It's a road that dead-ends and the only ones driving it would be utility workers or homeowners up in the mountains. I passed no cars. I passed no people. I ran by the same group of horses in the fields as the sun was setting. The mountains were shadows of beauty and jackrabbits were scurrying along the road every 1/4 mile. Butterflies were crossing the path and I was perched high enough along the mountain ridge to see the city (and casino) lights and snow capped mountains in the distance.

It was downright gorgeous.

We've already taken our first day trip to California to see Donner Lake and the ski resort towns along part of Lake Tahoe. I had Thrifty ice cream and ate legit Mexican food and thrift shopped (scoring these cute Born brand shoes for Claire for $2!) and hiked and rode a canoe with my loves.

My mind has been in a million places this week as I sleep on the floor still in anticipation that our house sale is swift. There is some activity, but nothing we're willing to celebrate until the moving truck is being loaded with comforts of home and headed West. We bought a couch and some bar stools here, but that sums up the amount of furniture that's in our 1700 square foot rental at this time. Soon things will change and soon this will feel like home, too.

Tomorrow we're headed to Downtown Reno for Artown, which is a month-long festival of free art activities and festivals for all ages. Tomorrow morning's kid-friendly activity is a Discovering Acrobatics show. On Thursday, they are holding a free tap dance class for kids.

Summer is all kinds of fabulous.