Guinea Pig: A Path to New Habits 

On Saturday, Ruby and I had some tense moments, which resulted in this declaration: “Tomorrow I’m taking the screens away forever.” Like many parents, Kristine and I struggle daily with the first world problem of how much screen time we allow at Fry Lodge. Are these devices hijacking our children’s minds? Are our kids being irreparably harmed by the amount of time they spend staring at screens?  Are they getting enough exercise and interactions with real people? These are among the questions that kept me up last night.

This morning, Ruby brought me coffee in bed and said she had a proposal in mind. It involved buying her a guinea pig. I saw an opportunity. After breakfast, the Fry Family Quartet took a walk. Ruby and I paired up to discuss her proposal. We decided that she will pull together a presentation outlining her case for a guinea pig. It will include: goals, strategies for achieving those goals, ways to measure whether she meets the goals, and a timeline. On the walk, we came up with some strategies to address in her plan: 1) respectful attitudes (e.g., volunteering for chores, no parroting her mom) , 2) clean house (e.g., making bed, cleaning guinea pig cage, etc.) and 3) healthy lifestyle (e.g., Sunday walks with dad, strict adherence to limits on screen time). 
As soon as we finished our walk, Ruby began her PowerPoint presentation. I caught a glimpse of her title slide:

GUINEA PIG: A Path to New Habits 

I’m looking forward to this presentation. 

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Estimating Henry 

“If you had to choose, would you rather underestimate or overestimate?” This is the type of question from Henry that formed the basis of our 3-hour conversation as we made our way to Lost Lake and back this sunny fall afternoon on Chuckanut Mountain. Henry had slightly underestimated how long the hike would take us, and I had overestimated my ability to keep up with this boy, who has benefitted from a soccer season of constant running. Neither of us minded the time nor the exhaustion, which were far outweighed by the scenery and conversation.

This fall, Henry has been enjoying regular outdoor adventures made possible by Wild Whatcom, Bellingham’s year-round outdoor program for youth. A few weeks ago, the program took him to Chuckanut Mountain; so today Henry acted as my tour guide along the trails he and his buddies had previously explored.

Along our path, we crawled inside “the cubby holes,” descended “the stairs,” and finally ate lunch while hanging our feet over a log jutting out into Lost Lake.

Throughout the day, it occurred to me that Henry has turned the corner to early adolescence. He easily shook off having accidentally submerged his boot into the lake, something that not too long ago would have ruined his day. When we became momentarily lost, it was Henry who proceeded with confidence to find the trail again. And, as we hiked 2 miles straight uphill, it was Henry who left me in the dust. Henry Fry, he’s not to be underestimated. 

Henry and Ruby hear from their Representative

Henry and Ruby received both received a letter from their Congressman, Representative Rick Larsen, this weekend. Back in June, their friend, Sam, who lives in Maine, sent the kids some postcards to send to Larsen – reminding him to keep fighting to help preserve our oceans. They were thrilled to get a response. Thanks to Sam, Henry and Ruby for reminding us how it’s supposed to work. Oh, and Patty and Maria, we’re sure your letters are in the mail. 

Comin’ down the mountain

Henry returned from Mountain School a bit more independent than when he left. As expected, he learned about how to identify different types of trees and facts about Diablo Dam, which held the title of World’s highest dam for one week. Henry also learned he’s fully capable of taking care of himself. While at Mountain School, he was expected to get himself up, make his own breakfast and lunch and bathe as he saw fit – all things that we as parents are in the habit of either doing for him or constantly nagging him to do. One of my favorite stories from Henry was about how he was the only one in his dorm room who knew how to put sheets on his bed. He also got up early one morning to shower before the day started (the only one to do so). I had to ask: “Who are you and what have you done with Henry?”

Very happy to have H-man back at Fry Lodge. Hoping some of these new habits stick.

Comin’ down the mountain

One of many children 

Mountain School 

Henry left for three days of Mountain School this morning. Every year, his elementary school takes the fifth grade class to the North Cascades Institute for a few days to learn about the ecosystems and cultural history of the mountains. On this day in particular, I’m glad he will be screen free. Can’t wait to hear his stories when he returns.