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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I love Ruby because…

As we sat down for Ruby’s birthday dinner tonight, we went around the table sharing one thing we each love about our 7-year-old princess. Kristine said she loves Ruby’s always happy attitude. I said I love her sense of humor. When we got to Henry, well, there was a bit of an awkward silence.

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After some prodding, he said he appreciated that Ruby shared a piece of candy with him earlier in the day. Henry loves his little sister more than he lets on. Despite his momentary lapse over dinner, he made sure today was a special day for her. And it most certainly was – from breakfast in bed to the amazing chocolate cake that Kristine baked. Happy birthday, little girl. We love you more.

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Pre birthday party

Ruby turns 7 (!) this week, so we hosted a pre birthday party for her at Fry Lodge this weekend – complete with Christmas cookie decorating, dancing, blind folds and the chaos that typically accompanies 11 little girls high on sugar. One of my favorite conversations overheard from the kitchen was this: “Where does Santa leave presents if you don’t have a tree? Under the TV.”

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The Graduate

Ruby Fry graduated from Lopez Island Elementary Kindergarten on Thursday. As I watched her receive her diploma I imagined 12 years from now, when she’ll be graduating from high school. I know that moment will come before Kristine and I are ready for it. Or will it? Tonight at the dinner table Ruby and I discussed the morning’s graduation ceremony. I remarked about how one boy received an award for the best attendance record (only 7 days absent). Ruby responded, “Yeah, but I threw up at school less than anybody else.”

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The Biker and the Storyteller

I’ve always wanted to make a business trip where I could completely rely on my bike for transportation. But it’s always been too convenient to take a car – either my own or somebody else’s, whether that be hitching a ride with a friend, catching a cab, or taking a car service. Necessity is the mother of invention. Now that we’re a one-car lodge, taking the van on my business trips isn’t a popular option. Neither is the cost of a float plane ticket. So, I started taking the shuttle to Seattle this fall. But that left me with costly cab rides or inefficient bus routes to get around in the Emerald City. So, this week I decided to pack light and take my folding bike instead of a suitcase on my business trip. I combined the Washington State Ferry, Bellair Shuttle, Seattle Light Rail and my Brompton folding bike to make the 250-mile round trip. All it required was a little planning, some light packing (thank goodness for Seattle’s casual business attire) and not being afraid of a few rain sprinkles during my rides between meetings. There were so many positive aspects of this trip that outweighed the above, very minor inconveniences. For starters, it was probably the cheapest business trip I’ve ever taken. It also meant that I could build exercise into my schedule. No traffic to slow me down, getting from point A to point B was stress free and predictable from a timing perspective. And, walking into any place carrying a folding bike is a great conversation starter. If you’re into that kind of thing.

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I’m reporting this because it’s an exciting Fry Lodge development. Even more exciting, though, is the fact that Ruby TOTALLY nailed her Thanksgiving play narrator role at school today. I’d post the video, but it has others’ kids in it. Ruby read with authority, clarity and poise – like it was no big deal. We couldn’t be more proud of – and thankful for – our little storyteller.

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Ruby Gets Her First Phone Call

The phone rang tonight. Our phone never rings. It was a 468 number, so I answered. The girl on the other end of the line asked to speak with Ruby. It was her friend Thea from school. It took me a few seconds to process this information. You see, this just hasn’t happened before. I finally snapped out of it and handed the phone to Ruby. I think she was as shocked as I was. To-date, the only people Ruby has ever spoken to on the phone have been her grandparents, or me – when I’m calling in from an out-of-town work trip. I know, it was only a phone call – people have been doing such things for about 100 years. I still felt compelled to hover in the room, eavesdropping – What could they possibly be talking about? Kristine and I hung on every “yeah” and “ok,” making up our own stories of where this conversation could be going. A play date? Planning tomorrow’s outfits? At one point, it was obvious that Thea had asked Ruby what she was doing (Thea must be an old pro at this). Ruby’s response was, “I’m walking around the room.” Which she was. I know that there will be many more rites of passage for Ruby that I’ll witness over the next few years, yet the realization that our little girl is growing up just came crashing down on me.

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