Amelie at 14 years, Mia at 12 years, Desmond at 9 years, Miles at 7 years
October 1, 2018


Mia turned 12, one more year and she's a teenager. We rented the clubhouse for her and the pool party was a lot of fun.



The weather was perfect for a pool party on Mia's 12th birthday.



Mia's friend Rachel (in the blue jacket) returned the favor and invited Mia to her birthday party, at the local ice skating rink. Also in the picture is Coco on the left and her brother Sky on the right.



Mia's been doing great, she got Student of the Month at Mathnasium. We've been using them as math tutors and it's been pretty cool, even Miles is shockingly good at math.



For Memorial Day, our neighbors turned us on to the YMCA camp at Horsethief Reservoir, and it was so nice there. They had so much stuff to do. We liked it so much, we went back for Labor Day weekend as well. Here, Desmond is doing archery.



At the welcome ceremony, they had a bunch of skits the camp counselors put on, and Miles was happy to help out. You can't recognize him, but he's wearing the hoodie on the left.



The kids got to shoot BB guns at playing card targets. They didn't seem to get into it as much as I had when I was a kid, though. I have no idea why, I mean, come on, it's BB guns!



There were art projects going on all the time. Here Mia is using plastic pieces to create a design that you melt with a hot iron. The little fish by Mia's left hand was one that I made.



Their facilities had everything: hockey, basketball, they even provide you with a bike since the camp is so big.



People who had been to the camp before warned us you need a bike to move around since it's so big. Here's Mia on her bike. We loaded up the kids bike on a bike carrier and brought them with us, but it turned out they will give you one if you don't bring them.



Miles is looking slick with his bike. He went through a cat phase where he would only wear cat clothes, so the kids at the camp knicknamed him "cat kid". Desmond was "minecraft kid" because he had a minecraft t-shirt on.

One crazy thing that happened was Miles was going down a slight hill when the chain came off on his bike, so he couldn't brake and had to use his feet to stop. We bought him a new bike when we got back home, since he was outgrowing this bike anyway.



The Horsethief Reservoir is right there, so there's all kinds of aquatics to do, too. The picture of Mia and her friend Emily is from Memorial Day, the picture of me and Miles is from Labor Day.



Here's a pano of the lake area, it was pretty nice.



Miles had the most fun at the lake. He made us stay there for hours while he played.



Miles was amazingly brave (I was very worried) when he took a kayak out onto the lake.



And then, once he was done with the kayak, he came back in for a kneel board and I was even more worried about him falling off it. He worked it like a pro, though we did swap his paddle for a kayak one since he wasn't standing up.



Here's a video of Miles out on the lake.



There was a ton of wildlife there as well. Here is a rare sighting of the spotted Amelie resting in a tree.

For Memorial Day, Amelie mostly stayed in the tent because of the mosquitos, but by Labor Day there weren't any and she hung out more.



Desmond and Miles spent a lot of time in the gaga ball pit. It's a great game where you can only push the ball with your hand, and if it touches somebody below the knee they're out.



Here's a video of them playing gaga ball. Notice Mia is cheating by using her feet and then not leaving after it hits her foot.



The only problem with gaga ball is that you get really dirty. There's a lot of dust and dirt from running around inside the gaga ball pit.



This was one of the games they set up. You had to wet a sponge and then run back to fill up the lid of a Home Depot bucket with water.



There was a giant swing that swung you out over the side of a mountain. It seemed terrifying to me, but both Mia and Desmond signed up for it. The wait was insane, though. It took forever just to get through one person because they had to move the ladder to hook and unhook the kid. I think they waited well over an hour for their turn.

The middle of the video has Naomi doing their high ropes challenge course. Also terrifying to me.

And then finally, the zip line was opened for a few hours on Sunday and you can see Mia and Desmond whipping by. That was one activity I could get behind, it was pure fun.



Mia right after she did the zip line.



Naomi was brave doing the ropes course, I'm not into heights.



Naomi was about thirty feet high, I think. Seems a lot higher from up there, though.



At the end of the day, there's always room for smores. It rained when we were there for Memorial Day, and we were in a tent, which sucked about as much as it sounds, but at least the tent stayed dry. So for Labor Day, we rented a cabin with electricity and even wifi, it was pure luxury.



Since we had brought our own gluten free/gelatin free smores ingredients, we lit a fire at our campground and made them again.



This is a giant jenga came they had in the main hall. By far the best thing about YMCA family camp is that they feed everybody. No more cooking and bringing buckets of food. Their chef was incredibly accomodating about allergies, he had gluten-free vegetarian options every meal, and they were pretty good, too.



Mia finished her first year at The Aaron Academy, a home-school co-op. They had a party at Quinn's Pond and we brought our kayaks. That's Mia's friend Rachel in the picture.

Unfortunately, the husband and wife that run the school were divorcing and they had to close the school, so the parents got together and started Garnet Prep, where the kids have been going this year.



The kids had a lot of fun pushing each other in the lake.



We had such a great time at the Boiling Springs hot springs last year, we booked a night (that was all we could get) for the middle of June.

It was awesome, just as fun as the first time. Plus, I accidentally left a stirring spoon there and when we showed up, it was still there!



Mia took some charcoal from the fire pit and wrote all over their bathroom. I had to clean it all off before we left, though, and that was a total pain.



The kids had a lot of fun working with the fire pit, cutting wood and keeping it going and roasting marshmellows.



Last year we realized how great it would be to have a kiddie pool that we could let the water cool off in, so this year we brought one. The water is just way too hot to sit in, so you either have to go down where it mixes with river water or bring a kiddie pool. In practice, though, it didn't work so well because the pool is on a slant.



Other summer things we did included a wedding reception in the park behind our house. A neighbor's daughter got married and they had these fancy cupcakes that were hard to resist.



On the pets front, Amelie got a bird, a green cheeked conure. She's wearing a Totoro hoodie from Hayao Miyazaki's beautiful film, My Neighbor Totoro



Here's a close-up of the bird. It was a nice bird, but it was too loud. Originally Amelie had the bird in her room, but it was driving her crazy, so she put it outside her room where it drove us crazy. In the end, we gave the bird to a bird rescue, where they already had one of these birds, and were happy to have a companion for the one they had.

Side note: when the bird rescue guy showed up, he had a blue/gold macaw on his shoulder, and I didn't know what loud was until that bird squawked. It was totally insane, how does anybody put up with pet birds?



We already have three bunnies, so what's one more? In truth, we did not buy this bunny.



We're down to five chickens now, after one died trying to dig under the fence. It got stuck and broke its neck trying to get out of it.



Unfortunately, we had to bring Teddy to the Boiling Springs cabin with us because she was about to give birth. In fact, she did give birth to four beautiful little toy poodle puppies. One of them wasn't breathing when it was born and Naomi gave it puppy CPR and brought it back to life! She had actually watched a youtube video on that and was totally prepared, I was really impressed.



The toy poodle puppies a little older. They are adorable. When they have spots like this they're called "party poodles".



Our toy poodle Luna had two puppies, but one unfortunately had trouble latching on and died shortly after birth. The other one we named "Moto" and grew to be huge since he was the only puppy in the litter. Moto means "a lot" in Japanese, and that was a lot of puppy.

Unfortunately, in a terrible accident Moto died when I dropped a couch on him (I had lifted a side of the couch looking for the mom and didn't see the puppy because he's black and it's pretty dark under the couch). I felt terrible about it, that was everybody's favorite puppy and it was just awful. I still feel terrible about it, it was pretty traumatic.



This is Miles playing around with Moto, and Amelie holding one of Teddy's puppies. (Note that Naomi is the one making barking noises in the video, not the puppy).



This is a silly video that Mia originally shot of the kids playing in a pile of leaves. But, what video couldn't use a few explosions, am I right? So I added some basic explosion effects to spice it up.



The Fourth of July was a lot of fun, we always spend a ton on fireworks and have a block party in the cul-de-sac.



At some point this summer Naomi bought a snow cone maker, so I decided to put together a cart for it with a battery and inverter in the bottom of it to power it so it was portable. We got the cart and flavor pump dispensers at the local restaurant supply store.

We bought a bunch of flavors off Amazon and I built a stair-stepped stand for the flavors. I printed out the flavor names and laminated them, put some magnets on the back and stuck them to some steel sheets that I painted lime green. It came out pretty nice. The metal sheets slot into the stand so they're removable because you end up with sticky syrup all over everything.

Mia put some balloons and flags on it and we were in business. There was even a bucket of ice cream to put in the bottom of the snow cone, it was a big hit and the kids really liked making their own snow cones and trying all the flavors.



Mia was fostering kittens, so we put them in an enclosure in the front yard for the neighbors to enjoy.



I had to fly back to Irvine for a work meeting and I flew into LAX to get a direct flight, and on my way down to Orange County I was stopped at a light with a Maserati, a BMW, and homeless person all lined up. I couldn't resist taking a picture. There are an incredible number of homeless on the streets of LA, I had no idea. They set up tents and camp out for the night, after courts ruled the city can't kick them out. Not to get on my soap box, but income inequality is a big problem in this country.



Our neigborhood celebrated National Night Out again this year, and the kids got their face painted.



National Night Out can be pretty crazy. Desmond looks like he's been through the ringer.



Mia's been doing gymnastics a couple of times a week, and enjoying it on a very amateur level, not actually trying to compete seriously or anything.



A new place called Urban Air opened in Boise, so Naomi took the kids to that. There seems to be a lot of these places around.



Mia doing the rock climbing wall at Urban Air.



The parkour place we take the kids to moved, so they had an open house and a local VR lounge brought their equipment. We ended up going there a few times and ultimately getting an Occulus Go. The VR stuff is actually kinda fun, when it's not making you throw up.



We hit the Western State Idaho Fair again this year, but the kids were just complaining a lot since it was pretty hot.



Amelie and I walked through the animal barn and they had some baby nigerian dwarf goats. These are the same kind that we had back in California.



Miles is letting his hair grow out, and it's getting really long, even long enough to braid. He's always mistaken for a girl, but he doesn't care.



Miles turned 7 and it's so much fun getting to see him grow up a bit. He's getting taller and it always surprising me with how capable he is.



Miles always insists on a two-fer for his birthday, Thai food and teppanyaki. Hard to argue with that.



Unfortunately, Mia made a tempting offer to buy Desmond and Miles' souls, and they sold out to her. I don't remember how much their souls cost, but it was something like five dollars. I like how she picked a custom font for the contract and highlighted words in red, it's pretty funny.



Naomi's sister Hannah had a baby in Oregon, so Naomi and Amelie went on a road-trip to visit her. The baby was a week late so unfortunately they got stuck hanging out for a week waiting for something to happen, must have been pretty boring. This is Hannah's fourth baby, so you figure it would pop right out, but in the end it was all okay.



Afterwards, Naomi headed up to Seattle where she visited with some home-school friends of ours that moved there. This is Grace-Ellen playing with Amelie.



My dad came out to visit us on the way to a CSI conference in Long Beach. Not a crime scene investigator conference, but Construction Specification Institute, which is a whole other level of boring.

We took him up to a hot springs and along the way stopped at a cafe that had a checkers board and a piano, it was pretty cool.



The hot springs were awesome, very relaxing and the water was nice and warm, like a giant bath tub.

If you look close, you can see Amelie wearing her mermaid fin under the water.



We went to CircusTrix with my dad and the kids, it was great. They have a pretty cool foam pit.



Miles is just chillin in their obstacle course hammock netting thing, whatever that is.



Mia and Desmond are getting pretty good at the trampoline. Every time we go to CircusTrix, that's where they spend most of their time.



Outside of CircusTrix we stopped to take a family portrait. My dad is 80 and he's doing great, nothing wrong with him so far, not taking any pills, it's amazing.



Amelie, Mia and Desmond started this fall at Garnet Prep. So far, they don't really like it, but we're sticking it out until the end of the year.



Amelie and Mia are taking a drama class at Garnet Prep, where they put on a play for Hansel and Gretel and The Creepy Woods.

Mia played Gretel and Amelie played the head dwarf.



This year we decided to go back to the California Home School Conference, and it was a lot of fun. It was in San Jose and man, that hotel was really expensive. Breakfast buffet for our family, for instance, would have cost $120. For breakfast!

The conference itself was great, and even though we hadn't been there in five years, there were a lot of people we recognized from past HSC conferences.

Here, Mia is taking a class on stage make up, and you can see her fake black eye looks pretty good.



Mia also needle-felted a cute pig.



Our friend Caroline and her kids were at the conference, so the kids played together a lot.



Unfortunately, somebody pulled the fire alarm in the hotel and we had to evacuate our floor. There was no fire and it was way too early in the morning.



Temple Grandin gave the keynote speech, and later had a book signing where we sat around chatting with her. She's really incredible, and really knows her stuff. We had a great time talking with her.



That was quite a long update, so that's for sticking with us. Until next time, try not to get eaten by any dinosaurs!



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