July (7/28/2008)
July was supposed to be a nice relaxing month in which to get ready for the family trip to Poland. But of course Mommy could not help filling up the calendar with camps for Dante and activities for Izabela to make sure they wouldn’t be bored. Needless to say, Mommy overdid it a trifle, and spent considerable time driving the munchkins around from city to city.

On the agenda for Dante was a week of Superhero Camp at Studio East in Kirkland, one week of Mad Science Camp (Secret Agent Lab) in the morning and Kindermusik Camp in the afternoon, and one week of Dr. Seuss Camp at Studio East, followed by another week of Mad Science camp, which (thankfully) ended up getting cancelled. Dante thoroughly enjoyed himself in the Studio East camps. The leader was an incredibly enthusiastic man who was not afraid to sing, dance, wear strange hats, and act silly. At the same time, he did a great job of getting a bunch of unfamiliar kids to bond and work together to put on a “show” in which they did everything from designing their own costumes, picking their own parts, learning some choreography and several songs. There were even a few subtly hidden educational goodies thrown in, along the lines of: “every story has a beginning, middle and end”, “the middle is where stuff happens”, “the good guys almost always win”, etc. Mommy, Izabela and Baba Yaga attended both shows with great delight and amusement as Dante played the Black Spiderman the first week (completely clueless as to the reason behind his blackness; he just liked the costume better), and then debuted as basically himself in the guise of “Thing 1”. Since he is frequently referred to at home as Thing 1 (with Izabela being Thing 2), he took to the part naturally and required little coaching. Everyone found it ironic that Thing 2 in the show was a good head taller than Dante.

On the way to pick up Dante from Mad Science camp, Mommy left Baba Yaga’s garage floor covered in green fluid. Somewhere along the way, Mommy’s air conditioning conked out and the car began to smell strange. She managed to arrive at the parking lot with smoke gusting from the hood of her Jeep. After a stressful couple of hours playing phone tag with various people, the car was towed to the shop. When Mommy arrived with Daddy, the shop owner raised an eyebrow and said “You STILL have this car? Weren’t you going to get rid of it the LAST time you were here, like a year ago when your transmission was about to die?” The car was fixed once again, but Mommy was warned that it would probably not be wise to take a long trip in it.

In addition to all those camps, Mommy discovered a Tai Kwon Do school called Hwangs which gave kids an opportunity to receive a uniform and try four classes for an introductory rate of $30. She convinced Dante (who had been mildly interested in some form of martial art but had been uncertain about which type might be right for him) that this might be a good way to experiment. Fascinated by the thought of yet another skill requiring “leveling”, he studied his “home rules” and practiced his punches, kicks and yells. He passed his first test and received a white belt before the trial period ended. While somewhat awestruck by Jr Blackbelts that helped with some of the younger classes, and highly praised by the instructors, who appreciated his flexibility and strength, Dante nevertheless concluded he would prefer sticking to gymnastics, ballet, hip hop and Kindermusik the following year. He calmly explained that “I really like it, but I think I am still too young for this. Maybe after I have completed Kindermusik.” Mommy was dumbfounded but didn’t object.

Meanwhile, Izabela took whatever gymnastics classes managed to coincide with Dante’s at Northwest Aerials. Near the end of the month, Mommy experimentally allowed her to attend a couple of older classes in which Mommies were not allowed to participate. At first she cried along with all the other two and a half year olds being deposited alone for the first time, until she realized she was having fun and that Mommy was simply not going to “rescue” her. Although she was very shy to try new things with a new teacher, she followed directions well and ended up quite satisfied with herself. The teacher and Mommy thus decided that beginning in the fall, Izabela would be mature enough to graduate from being a “Wiggle Worm” to a “Super Wiggle Worm”.

Izabela also attended a one week Kindermusik camp and went to Gymboree Play and Gymboree Art classes several times a week. She enjoyed the art classes more and more, further bonding with Ms. Meghan, who was once Dante’s art teacher, and who was always amused by Dante’s minimalistic artistic tendencies. Ms. Meghan was pleasantly surprised to find Izabela considerably more focused and prolific when it came to the visual arts.

When not in camp or at some class or another, the Hays family also went to the circus together, to Remlinger Farms, to the Microsoft Family Picnic and celebrated Grandpa Chuck’s 60th birthday at Chuck E Cheese’s. Somewhere in the midst of all that, preparations were being made for the upcoming three week trip to Poland.