The Great Inhale

It takes about a million tiny tasks to launch a group of children into the new school year.

Registration fees to pay at three different schools; supplies to purchase and organize; back-to-school and meet-the-teacher and back-to-business and PTA barbecues; scheduling appointments with the pediatrician for athletics physicals; registering Chromebooks with the technology office; setting content filters for said Chromebooks; getting in fights with disgruntled teens who suddenly can’t watch YouTube at all hours of the day; making sure the bicycles are in working order; making sure everyone knows the combinations for bike locks and gym locks and garage door keypad combinations and bus numbers/stop locations/pickup and dropoff times; putting money in school lunch accounts; paying for yearbooks and school pictures and spirit gear (ha) and club memberships and ASB cards; figuring out tuition and carpooling for piano lessons and swimming lessons and choir rehearsals and cross country meets; practicing getting up at 5:30 a.m. for seminary; organizing Friday breakfasts and carpools for seminary.

Forms and forms and forms and forms and forms. (My hand hurts.)

And that doesn’t even include what happens when we put on our long pants at the end of summer and find that they are all mysteriously too short, or there are holes in the knees.

All of this, of course, comes at the end of a stint of being the Activities Director for the family “Employment Enjoyment Summerslam Grill Jam Fun-Splosion,” capped off with a Grandparent Party Week, where we went on a low tide walk and the county fair and the Museum of Flight and Leavenworth and the Boehm’s Candies factory tour.

And a night-before-school campfire cookout . . .

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. . . and massive school-supply free for all . . .

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. . . and the opening of schuletuten . . .

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Turns out that Boehm’s sells real German schuletute in their store — and they were marked 50% off the day before school started, so this year everyone got a big schuletute from me, and a bitty one from Boehm’s!

. . . all of which left me just a wee bit exhausted on top of the early-morning seminary jet lag.

But hey. Die kinder done got launched. Grades 11, 9, 7, 3.

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I took this snapshot outside of Katie’s classroom. How odd to only have one child at the elementary school this year.
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I decided to try out a new tradition, and we all went out for ice cream on the first day of school at Salt & Straw. Don’t know how I felt about it; we were all kind of exhausted but it was fun.

I intended to spent the following days having a knit-a-thon while watching the BBC miniseries adaptation of Middlemarch; but instead I ended up running a lot of errands instead (cause, y’know, we need food and stuff). In the afternoons when I had a spare moment to knit, I ended up collapsing into drowsiness, accomplishing little, and ending up tired and cranky when the children arrived home.

By Friday I decided to Hang It All and do my knit-a-thon — I watched almost the entirety of Middlemarch in one dang day — and by the end I felt awful for sitting still for so long (even if I did finish the second sleeve for Kristen’s sweater, hooray hooray).

Creeping anxiety began to take over; coupled with the familiar sensation that I’m somehow frittering away my life without accomplishing anything particularly tangible or meaningful.

Obviously, this means I need to get back on the writing/practicing wagon come Monday. But what does it say about me that I can’t even take three days for myself without feeling guilty?

Either way, I decided to fill our first school-year Saturday by trying out something new with the family: Mountain Fest at Camp Long.

This is a mountain-climbing festival for families sponsored by Seattle Parks & Recreation. Different climbing organizations come and let kids try out all the climbing apparatus for free!

Camp Long used to be a Boy Scout camp in the early 20th century, until it was decommissioned and turned into a city park. There’s a big lodge and little cabins, a fire amphitheatre, etc. all of which are available to anyone for renting out.

But what it’s famous for are the stone climbing/rappelling walls, among the first of their kind ever built as part of a WPA project in 1939. They’ve been preserved by the city, and the kids had a blast trying them out.

First they all tried bouldering (which was pretty easy for all of them):

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Next the kids moved on to rope-assisted climbing (I’m sure there’s a more accurate technical term for this, but I don’t know what it is).

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William couldn’t figure out the medium-difficulty wall, but didn’t give up. He took on the high-difficulty wall and made it to the top!

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Katie had fun climbing but got nervous about rappelling down. (I admit rappelling is counterintuitive.)

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There was also a rappelling course built into a hillside (I’d never seen anything like it before).

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But best of all was the high-ropes course, which Brian did along with the three older kids. Sadly, you had to be twelve years or older to go, which Katie was not happy about. She had a bit of a personality breakdown on the way home as a result.

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You can see Ella, Wim, Jeff & Brian in this picture if you look closely
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The course ended with a zipline. Super fun!

The city also had a bonfire with free hot dogs and s’mores for everyone to roast, along with informational booths from a variety of outdoors-adventure organizations. It was pretty much felt like Scout Camp in a Day.

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I’ve read about Mountain Fest in the past, and I can’t believe we haven’t ever been before. Rest assured, we will try not to make that mistake again! Thank you, Seattle Parks & Rec!

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