June, July and August (8/31/2009)
The completion of the school year seems like it should be the culmination of a year’s worth of chaos and activity and the beginning of a more relaxed lifestyle. This year, however, Dante requested that the summer be filled with camps, and I discovered so many different interesting camps that I found myself once again playing Tetris with time. This time things got complicated enough that I needed an Excel workbook to keep track of the entire summer. One page per week!

While Dante and Izabela both finished off their Kindermusik and Northwest Aerials sessions and Izabela continued going to Gymboree, Dante began attending gymnastics at Eastside Gymnastics as an actual member of the team. Thrilled to be surrounded by boys who shared his passion, he became more and more determined to improve with each class. He attended work outs at the gym and occasionally joined the boys in team-bonding strength training and games at Cottage Lake Park, where both he and Izabela would end up taking a dip in the lake at the end.

Dante could not resist Jedi Training Camp at Duvall Performing Arts again this year, and this time Izabela (aka Princess Leia) joined him, learning how to activate and deactivate her very own light saber, use the force for defense only, and showcase her fighting skills against the Dark Side. I especially enjoyed seeing her Ewok sock puppet. Dante, a second year Padawan, tried to help lead the smaller fry in their Jedi studies.

Despite getting his fill of Jedi training, Dante had not had enough of Ms. Rachel. I was worried that Dante would forget all his ballet training over the summer and as Ms. Yana’s advanced classes were all during gymnastics times, Ms. Rachel agreed to mentor Dante throughout the summer in almost weekly private ballet classes. Dante loved having Ms. Rachel to himself, and though he drove me crazy with his boyish exuberance, Ms. Rachel seemed unperturbed and somehow managed to get him to focus by continuously challenging him in different ways.

The last week of June, Izabela continued her studies with Ms. Rachel, this time learning the art of being a Princess. She drank tea, learned how to “sew”, learned how to walk like a princess, and even discovered that she could feel the pea under the mattress when lying down. In the meantime, Dante attended Studio East’s Enchanted Castles and Caves camp, in which he once again put on a show from the ground up, participating in all aspects of its creation. This year he played the part of the Black Dragon called Fire Eyes.

After all that acting, it was time for a week of art for Dante and science for Izabela. Yes, you read that correctly. Frustrated both by Dante’s lack of interest in creating visual art and by Izabela’s lack of knowledge and experience with any sort of science, I found age appropriate camps in these areas via Redmond Parks and Recreation. Due to the tricky drop-off and pick-up maneuvering between the two, Daddy helped with some of the driving. Skeptical as to whether or not all this fuss would be worth the trouble, I was more than pleased to discover that Dante not only learned various drawing and painting techniques, such as pen and ink drawing, oil pastel and turpentine drawing, multi-layer painting, and soft pastel drawing, he enjoyed them and produced quite respectable pieces of art to hang on the family art wall. And Izabela, not to be outdone, eagerly learned about water, wind, and animals at Farrel McWhirter farm.

The following week Izabela got a bit of a break, while Dante once again attended Blue Sky Camp’s Flying Things session. This year he absorbed the material a bit more in depth and came home with some pretty nifty flying machines and a giant glider. They also had playdates with Misia, Agnieszka, Mikolaj, and Ewa in their spare time when not at gymnastics or ballet.

And then it was time for the first Hays family camping expedition as a foursome. After confirming that the tent that we had received as a wedding shower gift from our friends so many years ago could not possibly sleep 4 people, two of which were going to be over-excited young’uns, it was obvious that we would need to purchase a new tent. The new one has a special divider which enables the munchkins to have their own subsection. Remembering how much Dante enjoyed Lake Wenatchee several years before, I once again made reservations there. The weather cooperated and we began our adventure with a game of miniature golf in Leavenworth.

The next several days were spent swimming, hiking, making s’mores, and reading in a hammock. We found a new beach area on the lake, which proved to be remarkably close to the island which Dante had always eyed longingly. Dante and Daddy soon discovered that it was possible to swim across to the Island, and as Izabela could contentedly float in the inflatable ring (usually referred to as “the pink thing”), we crossed over to what affectionately soon became known as “Chive Island”.

Yes, it was covered in chives, which Dante and I happily munched on and which Izabela and Daddy warily avoided. The island, unremarkable in all magnetic and smoke monster respects, was filled with interesting driftwood forts made by previous but now long gone occupants, as well as meandering paths which simply had to be thoroughly explored. And then Daddy decided to show Dante and Izabela how to “make sand out of rocks” and thus a new activity emerged. Daddy and I were drafted into finding “the right rocks” and Dante and Izabela crushed and crushed them until they realized that it would take far more rocks than they could crush to significantly add to the sand volume of the island beach. Everyone was sad to leave the lake and Dante began planning new Island Adventures for next summer even before the tent was put away.

Back at home, Izabela had a Gymboree-filled week, while Dante attended another science camp: Gizmos Robot Factory at Lake Washington Technical College. The camp was especially fun for him as he was able to share it with his friends, Bobby and Benjamin. It was a full day camp, however, so he missed some of his gymnastics workouts despite my frenzied attempts to get him there as quickly as possible.

The next week was my birthday week. It all began on Tuesday with a Mercer Island production of Annie, the musical. On Wednesday, I enjoyed a movie date with Dante, Izabela, Ms. Jean, Bobby and Mary. We went to see Ice Age 3 and then had lunch together. I had the dubious pleasure of having a restaurant sing Happy Birthday to me (Red Robin) for the first time in my life. Later that evening we went to Chuck E Cheese’s and won 337 tickets, enough to get a cool purple lizard for Dante and a cute heart necklace for Izabela.

On Thursday, I had my Music Therapy session with Ciocia Marzena (which marked the beginning of what would soon become more regular practice sessions), and the next day Dante surprised me by cleaning out his room, purging toys, passing things down to Izabela, and identifying which toys still remained to be opened from his birthday party (in January)!!!

On Saturday, everyone let me sleep until about noon, at which point I was awakened to the smell of chocolate chip pancakes. Anticipating that I wanted to go to Flowing Lake again, as the last time we had been there Dante had been quite tiny, Chris gifted me with an underwater camera (Canon Powershot D10)! I could not begin to describe my immense joy and my delight at being able to walk into the lake with my camera dangling haphazardly from my wrist and dipping into the water. By no means an expert at underwater photography, I did manage to capture some of Dante’s more amusing “diving under Izabela “attempts.

At the end of the day we celebrated with a Cold Stone Cake. We had been planning on going to Wild Waves on Sunday, but it was rather cold and threatening to rain, so we decided to stay home and have fun with video games, science kits, and even made a bonfire in our fire pit to make one last batch of s’mores before the end of the summer.

The rest of our August planned activities consisted of Lego Engineering Camp, Magic Mystery Math, Pirates of the Mathibean and more gymnastics while Izabela had more Gymboree Play and Gymboree Art classes. But we also found time for some unscheduled fun. Dante and Izabela had a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s for two nights, during which they played on the new pirate ship deck, went to the Family Fun Center and to lots of parks, and generally tired Grandma and Grandpa out completely. I got together with my Eastside Mom’s Club craft friends and participated in our annual Tie Dye event.

Dante lost his first tooth on August 16th. It was a painful and drawn out event, of which the Tooth Fairy must have been somehow aware, for she rewarded him with more money than I had ever seen for my entire mouthful. Apparently he received a cleverly wrapped pyramid of coins and bills consisting of 3 $1 bills, 1 $1 gold coin, 1 half dollar, one quarter, one dime, one nickel, and one penny for a grand total of $4.91!

Dziadzi came to visit for 4 days at the end of August. After a long day of hard work teaching a master class in Seattle, he was driven (crazy) to all of the kids’ activities. But we also found time to visit Remlinger Farms and subjected him to his first (and most likely last) roller coaster ride. He enjoyed playing the Star Wars theme for 4 hands on the piano with Dante, and could not get enough of Izabela’s rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

And the thus, the summer came to an end.