Everyone has grown over the summer - the kitten who wasn't given away is all independent and leaping about and making himself comfortable on our laps.  The boys are wiser and huge and eat like horses. We have been digging up new potatoes from the garden every day and eating them with rich sour cream we get from our neighbour's farm.  The boys' hair hasn't been cut for 3 months.  Wild and woolly! Off to the hairdresser tomorrow so that they look a bit more respectable on September 1, when its back to school.  Miraculously, I've got news that Tiss' school, which is in the heart of Riga - right next to the old town - has actually been renovated over the summer, and he will be returning to there in the next few weeks.  This comes totally unexpectedly, because the school's Harry-Potter-like building is worth a small fortune.  This spring the school was moved out of the building, supposedly for renovations, and many of us believed that it was a cunning way for the local council to reclaim the building and sell it off.  But no!  O ye of little faith!  We are moving back into the school, from the outside the facade is looking amazing, and on the inside there's a whole lot of work being done.  Yipee!
After the insulting weeks of rain that assaulted us in early August we got a blast of balmy warmth and sun for the lead up to school. So we are in the countryside catching the last few days of freedom, and today we celebrated Tiss' 9th birthday. NINTH birthday! NINTH!  Holy Mary, mother of god.  I have a nine year old son.  Happy birthday, my big boy.





After a week and a half of cold and rain, we started to guess that summer was closing up shop early this year.  So on Monday evening, when the sun finally came out, we decided to make a mad dash for the beach, considering I hadn't been once this summer, and this would probably be my only chance until next summer (or until we take that trip to lie on a beach in Egypt in the middle of winter... mmmm, my annual unattainable dream...).  It was well worth it.  I had forgotten that all-sense encompassing thrill that is the seaside - and this beach in particular, a small town on the coast of the Baltic sea called Jurkalne.  Well known for its steep sandy cliffs, and general isolation from anywhere in particular. What I had ALSO forgotten, is the fact that any trip to the beach with my boys requires two full changes of clothes, and at least 3 towels per child.  I figure I could substitute the aforementioned with a "sensible mum" talk before we hit the beach, and a bit of forethought/taking off clothes before we touch sand.  Sadly, I am not that kind of mother.
Before I knew it, my two marauders had thrown themselves into the task of scaling the steep reddish sand embankment and rolling back down.  Climb it, roll down.  Climb it, roll down.  Climb it, dig yourself into the sand, chuck some at your brother, try to catch the footy that your dad has booted up to you, lose your balance, roll down.  (Ok Fiona and other responsible eco-nature-lovers, I did have a big moment of erosion angst, but who can stop a kid scaling a huge 20 metre high sand dune?  Ever tried? Huh?).  Meanwhile I wandered down and became lost in the drifts of pebbles - purple pebbles with green bits, rounded grey pebbles with little fossil plants, orange pebbles that look just like amber, and the Jurkalne specialty - rounded pebbles with holes in them, so that you can make necklaces), and by the time I got back, the boys were looking like this:



Lookin' pretty proud of themselves, aren't they.  And what do you do, when your legs and clothes are getting too sandy?  Throw yourself into the sea fully clothed, of course.  Ai, ai, ai. I should've pre-empted this.  It's definitely not the first time they've done it....
Anyhow, whatever.  No harm done except those clothes will never be the same again, and the sandy sludge in the pockets was nasty. I'll take a warm evening at the beach instead of clean clothes any day.





Its been about 3 years since my hairdresser Vlad told me he had spent the weekend geocaching - it has always sounded like an interesting thing to try, but we have never found the time. This weekend we finally decided to give it a go. Geocaching is like a treasure hunt you play with a combination of online clues and a GPS unit.  Participants hide caches in the landscape - in places where other people will not usually find them by accident - and post the GPS coordinates on a website.  Other players can look up these coordinates and drive out to find the caches at their leisure.  The caches, ususally a small plastic box, contain a notebook for logging that you have found the cache, and a couple of trade items. Some caches have been in their hiding places for years.  Others are found or destroyed:  the recent floods in Saldus seem to have destroyed a couple of caches on the nearby riverbanks. Now that we have tried finding a couple of caches around our local area, I see the intricacies and varied nature of this game. Apart from the obvious treasure-hunting nerve that  has been struck  (the boys were most excited by the trade items, usually little toys from kinder eggs, pencil sharpeners, magnets...), geocaching has made us explore and appreciate little hidden nooks and crannies in our own neighbourhood.  One of the searches took us into a small piece of scrubby forest, in which we discovered the headstone of the grave of the local Baron and Baroness from the 19th century (Heinrich and Hermine - such fabulous names); the second cache took us inside an old abandoned windmill; the third to the ruins of a water mill on the bend of a little creek, with apple trees and mossy big rocks all around.  Because we don't have our own GPS unit (after today - that's a purchase in the near future), we picked easy clues that we researched beforehand on the internet.  I imagine the game would be totally different if you were driving or walking along, guided by a GPS unit.  At any rate, we've caught the geocaching bug.  I spent the drive home trying to think of good places to hide a cache - got a few in mind - so see if we get time to go hunting/hiding next weekend...


 Cache #2 - in this old windmill ruin


Yep, the cache was up in that cubby hole, behind a rock....


Poring over the contents...


Re-hiding the cache at location #3 - you have to replace it where you found it.


Ooops, I get the feeling I've done the whole "fallen off the face of the earth because its summer" trick again.  Way too busy transporting my entire circus of a life from the country to the city and back again.  An oldy but goody book at our place is about the town mouse and the country mouse - some delightful illustrated edition by the BBC or some other English children's institution.  Tiss and Mik have always pondered this book, because the moral of the story, to quote our edition is "the town might be the best place for YOU, but the country is the best place for ME!" or something to that effect.  Trouble is, T and M can't decide if they're country mice or city mice.
They like both places. They live in both places, and see the relative merits of both.  Oh, the confusion. All my fault, of course.
So we are in the country again. Jem's working in Riga and I am here on my own with two boys who are HYPER.  Three months of summer holidays is great, in theory, but come week nr. 9 or 10 of no structured activity, and I'm not sure who is going more crazy, me or them.  My dad said today that the boys remind him of rambunctious puppies, all gangly with big paws, and way to much energy expended on causing trouble and gnawing on shoes.
The biggest form of entertainment lately, judging from all of the yelling and squealing at our place, is 1) sit on your brother; 2) annoy your parents by playing "copycat parrot"; 3) wheedle and plead until you can get yourself some junk food/computer games/tv;  4) pull dunas off beds and pull the covers off and crawl inside with your brother and roll around, pretending you are lost  5) pull all cushions off couches and roll around on them with dirty feet; 6) if your parents don't give you junk food (see point nr. 3) then make yourself a sandwich/drink leaving as much mess on the bench and floor as possible; and last but not least, the most entertaining game of all: 7) sit on your brother.  (did I mention that already??).
Obviously I have tried to structure activity. We have found an awesome playground in a nearby park that is appropriate for bigger kids.  We have been to the movies.  I have built my fair share of lego houses. I have even gone to the trouble of making remedial times tables revision and ABC catch up lessons in the mornings.  I've been suggesting good, wholesome child-led activities like drawing and reading and playing board (bored) games.  But 10 weeks is a long, long time of texta pens and monopoly. So as the days get shorter and the rain starts up again (Sob. Yes, the rains have started up again and I'm wearing a jumper as I type), I am not completely distraught at the thought of back-to-school textbook buying and searching for jeans with no holes in the knees.


Mind you, I do love those two guys. Even though they like to sit on each other on occasion. 

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