Ruby Wins

Every day, for more than two years, Ruby has been asking for a pug. And every day, I have steadfastly held to my no-pet position, citing everything from logistics to her daily chore track record as my rationale. It’s gone back and forth, with each side digging in deeper. It felt like the Cold War. Every night at the dinner table, Ruby would have another impassioned speech for me – à la ‘Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall! ‘ Ruby wore me down. She outspent me in the emotion department. She spread her propaganda around Fry Lodge with her cute pug sketches, pug posters and Doug the Pug Instagram shares. She turned Kristine and Henry into allies.

A few weeks ago, I woke up and decided I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of Fry Lodge history. For her 10th birthday, we would give Ruby a pug. We surprised her with it on our drive back from Grandma and Grandpa’s house after Thanksgiving. She was shocked. She was victorious.

As Ruby turned 10 this weekend, it became clear we had made the right decision. Ruby is starting her second decade a new person. Every morning and evening, she takes her new little buddy, Arlo, for a walk. She feeds him, cleans up the occasional mess, and prefers playing with her puppy over watching YouTube videos.

Ruby had a birthday slumber party on her actual birthday. Arlo was the star of the show. The girls chased him around the yard and then took 15-minute turns holding the puppy as they watched Christmas movie classic, Elf. Both Arlo and the girls were moving a little slowly this morning.

Detente is over. Ruby won. All is good at Fry Lodge. Happy birthday, Ruby. We love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for your tenacity.

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Puberty, Brought to You by Old Spice

Henry, as part of his 5th grade curriculum, received a lot of very helpful information this past week at school. Specifically: how and why boys and girls develop into adults and the precautions one needs to take along the way. For his participation in this important unit, Henry received some deodorant, provided by Old Spice. He’s been applying it liberally. And Fry Lodge smells awesome.

Puke and Rally

“What a perfect day” I said to myself as I drove our minivan up the winding road leading to Mt. Baker with the rest of the Fry Family Quartet this morning. Blue sky. Cool temperatures. No wind. A perfect day for skiing. And then, from the back seat, Ruby said, “I puked.”

I quickly pulled over to the shoulder, opening the windows as the car slowed to a stop and Kristine crawled into the back to inspect the situation. Yes, Ruby had become car sick. All over her shirt, snow pants and her brother’s hot cocoa travel mug. We then realized we had no towels and no change of clothes for Ruby. Note to self: give the kids Dramamine before driving up the mountain. We decided we’d buy a new shirt at the ski shop and power through.

Within a few minutes of continuing on our way, Ruby was in good spirits – making jokes about the hint of cinnamon in her vomit from the waffles she’d eaten for breakfast. Pretty soon, it was the rest of us who thought we’d be sick.

With our mini disaster out of the way for the day, we proceeded to the mountain for what turned out to be an amazing day of skiing. Henry, Ruby and I roamed around the mountain while Kristine caught up on her reading and people watching in the lodge.

Our second nauseating moment came later in the day when we witnessed a naked skier jump into the slalom racing course. Did I mention it was cold?

I’m proud of the entire Fry Family Quartet today. Way to puke and rally, Ruby.

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. 

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