Thursday, September 17, 2015

Constitution Day made a big impression on Daniel. Second graders were encouraged to wear red, white, and blue today, and he burst in after school saying, "Mom! We did so many Constitution activities, and I learned a lot of facts about the Constitution."

This video is his encore performance, as the first one was so spontaneous I did not have the camera at hand.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First day of school 2015--Edward in 4th grade, Daniel in 2nd. Unusually cool for first week of school!

Posting the picture of Daniel in his new shoes reminded me that I never shared the story of their arrival/discovery.

I could not face a store with endless choices and Edward's decision paralysis, so I ordered each of them two pairs of new gym shoes, chosen based on their favorite colors, orange (D) and neon green/yellow (E), and left them in open boxes in their rooms before picking them up from camp.

That particular week of camp was Taproot, which is a very hands-on nature camp from which they come home exhilarated and completely filthy. Shoes are left on the porch, all clothes removed and taken to the washing machine immediately after stepping inside.

So naked Daniel ran upstairs to shower, but stopped off in his room and discovered the shoe boxes.

"MOMMY!" he screamed. "YOU GOT ME ORANGE SHOES!" Then he bolted to the top of the stairs, stark naked, screaming, "I LOVE YOU!!"

This is the point at which John walks in the front door, which you may know, has a straight-line view up the stairs. So his welcome home is his giddy, naked son, shrieking down the stairs where he proceeds to jump up and wrap me in a full body hug with arms and legs. Still filthy. But obviously quite pleased with his personal shopper.

Score one for Mom. And

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Last week of summer--our first visit to the outdoor pool. I guess it's been a busy summer! Daniel started out saying he flat out would NOT take the swim test to be allowed access to the deep end of the pool. Edward had his band from last summer but we couldn't find Daniel's. His refusal was in part nerves about swimming across the pool (which he can do easily, but can look intimidating) and it part indignance at having to retest. But after about half an hour splashing around he decided to go for it and there was no looking back. 

(I realize it's a little hard to tell them apart since they're both wearing blue shirts. Edward is in the colorful swim trunks.)

They both watched adults and kids on the high dive while waiting for turns on the low board and finally just walked right over and tackled it. You can see with the speed of these videos that there was little hesitation. I actually advised them to just walk to the end and jump without looking, as I think that can derail good intentions. By the time I dragged them out Daniel was twisting a 180 corkscrew (feet first) on his way down. Edward gave up on the flips as he couldn't seem to get enough rotation not to land on his back. I think he'll try again though. We will certainly be back before the pool closes on Labor Day!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

This week's camp was ice skating and the boys loved it! Daniel was a speed demon and Edward enjoyed a smooth glide. Here's a clip of the show they put on for the last day.
Ahh...vacation! What a wonderful week we had making a circuit around Lake Michigan.
We started with a quick drive to Gram and PopPop's where we took the opportunity to visit the western shore of Lake Michigan.

The next day we headed down around the lake through Indiana on our way to Frankfort, MI. Our hotel was just steps from the beach and the town offered a nice mix of restaurants and ice cream shops, all only about 20 min. away from our ultimate goal of visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes.

I loved the sunsets! Though I must admit my internal compass was a bit out of whack since growing up in Chicago means the lake is EAST!


The boys enjoyed digging on the beach and splashing in the (cold!) water. 

Walked out to the lighthouse in previous pic along breakwater wall

They were also excited to visit their first lighthouse at Point Betsie, though sadly their dream of being lighthouse keepers has dissipated. (For about two years they said they would be lighthouse keepers on the same shore and take boats between them to visit each other. This was all without ever having seen a shore or a lighthouse!)
Lighthouse keeper costumes
Top of the lighthouse
The Dunes climb was a bit more than we all bargained for. There was great enthusiasm for the first ascent
the two blue shirts are Daniel and Edward

But when we reached the "top" we discovered there was much more to climb. We kept going for two more until we could see Lake Michigan, but heeded a sign warning that it was an additional 1.3 "hilly miles" to the lakeshore and not to proceed without proper water and fitness.
We had to admit we had neither, so we climbed back down and drove to a non-dune beach a few minutes up the road. There we also had a chance to see a demonstration of how lighthouse crews rescued stranded sailors making their way through the Manitou Passage. Our kids opted not to volunteer as keepers-in-training, but just to watch. The dream truly is dead.

The next day we continued north to the Ferry to Mackinac Island. 
Daniel on the Star Line Ferry
Another Star Line with Mackinac Bridge in background
We spent three nights on the island, which has no motorized vehicles, so we earned our nightly ice cream with daily step counts of 18,000+!
 We stayed at the Mission Point Resort, which was about a 10 minute walk from the heart of the commercial district. This turned out to be a VERY good thing. I don't know why I didn't anticipate the crowds, but it was quite overwhelming when we first got off the ferry about 1:30 p.m.

Bikes are the main mode of transportation, but we didn't really have a good way to take ours with us, so we brought the boys' fold-up Razor scooters figuring they could zip around. We were told almost immediately that scooters are not allowed in the downtown area. They were able to use them away from the chaos though and quickly learned to dodge the road apples (horse/carriage is the other primary transport on the island.)

Some fun activities included
glow-in-the-dark mini golf

 Fort Mackinac
And even some monkey bars

In addition to ice cream, we enjoyed a few other vacation treats  

rock candy and caramel corn!
Shirley Temples!

We rented bikes one morning and rode all the way around the island--about 8 miles--on M185, the only state highway in the country with no motorized vehicles. We took some breaks along the way to wade and throw rocks in Lake Huron.


A cave! (I sent my scouts to check for bats before I ventured in.)
Starting as we did from Mission Point, we came to this natural rock formation within the first half mile, so we decided to come back to it later. Also, it is 207 steps up from the highway. Hence the "we're in no mood for photos" photo.


I just could not get enough of the beautiful lake views!  

The night before we were to leave, as we were walking back from ice cream (I was not kidding about the daily treat!) Daniel started getting a little emotional and said, "I know we can't stay here forever, but I'm just so sad about leaving. I have a lump in my throat!" We stopped on a bench for a bit of a cry and a discussion of the word bittersweet. We also said it's a good sign if you don't want to leave vacation because it means you had a really good time.

The return ferry trip was much windier and I was the only one with a sweatshirt. 

Daniel in my sweatshirt, Edward using one sleeve
We drove over Michigan's Upper Peninsula along the lakeshore and down through Wisconsin in order to meet up with my family at Aunt Peggy's BVM lake house in Salem, WI. We were able to stop for a milkshake dinner with my sister and her family in the Milwaukee area as they were missing the party to head off on their own week of vacation.


I somehow managed not to take a single picture in Salem, but you can tell we had a good time as this is Daniel about 15 minutes into the drive home. One highlight of the day was a walk up the road to the private beach on the small lake, which had a pier to jump from and a raft to swim to. Daniel got freaked out by some type of insect he was convinced was a wasp flying over the raft. I was not in swimming attire so I couldn't join him to prove that there was no possibility of this being true. Again, see photo below to understand how little gas was left in the tank after a week of staying up until 10 p.m.!

He only slept for about an hour of the 4 hours home. And when we stopped for gas just after crossing into Iowa, he needed to run off some energy up and down the drainage ditch with the Mighty Mississippi in the background. 

And one final gorgeous sunset as we drove back through Iowa.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Superheroes in the house
Am I supposed to feel safer?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Well, it appears Edward's tween transition is good for at least one thing--a return to blogging. This story/photo is definitely one we'll want to remember.

Lately Edward has been asserting his independence by vehemently rejecting (for no reason) any plans I suggest. Last night I suggested we visit the new grocery store with a huge prepared food section to pick up items for a picnic dinner to take to the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. We could eat, the boys could ride their scooters and John and I could stroll around the lake on a pleasant July evening.

Edward's reaction to the idea: "NO!"

Why? "NO!"

OK, you can stay home by yourself. We'll be back in about an hour and a half.

This is mostly a bluff on my part because I know he is too scared to stay home alone. However, I think he could stay alone for a short time and would follow through if he actually called my bluff. I wouldn't put it out there otherwise.

So I'm telling Daniel to put his shoes on so we can go and calling upstairs to Edward that we'll be home by 7:30.

"NO!!! I don't want to stay home alone!!"

OK, then come get your shoes on and get in the car.

**Stomps downstairs and proceeds to put on two different shoes**

I think he was attempting to extend the argument and hoping that I would force him to wear matching shoes. Sorry kid, not gonna engage on that level. He's apparently just as stubborn as I am and went ahead with his sartorial statement.
He actually wasn't still mad by the time we got there, but made a face about me taking a photo and then insisted that I not share it because "Then people will see I have two different shoes." I didn't share with the wider Facebook audience, but it's now recorded in the family history that is this blog.

It ended up being a beautiful night, and we did have a nice time together. Truly, once we left home, Edward abandoned the attitude, eating dinner and happily propelling his scooter around the lake. We tried to find some rocks to skip, but mostly just ended up throwing to see how far they would go.

 I hope this level of family harmony can be sustained on our week-long vacation to northern Michigan a week from now!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Dinner conversation 

Daniel: When I'm a teenager I'm gonna be "swag."
John: What the heck does that mean?
Daniel: It's when you wear your pants low so your underwear shows. Teenagers do that. 
John: Since when is that called "swag?"
Edward: Get updated, Man!

Oh…these next few years will be interesting. 

And since I missed posting anything from baseball season, here are a few shots. You'll have to forgive the delay, for as both of my readers know, the baseball season pretty much took over our lives from April to June. The boys loved it (Daniel much more when he mastered the pitching machine and started getting hits) but I am not sad that it is over.

I was proud of Edward being named "best teammate" at the end of season pizza party. His coach was great and really took note of Edward's easy-going attitude.  Several teammates did not handle losses very well. Good thing they weren't on Daniel's team, which only won two games all season!

Grandma and Grandpa were superfans--coming out to the park for many, many games, including the end of season tournament while John was away in Germany. The boys are so lucky to have them close!

My parents also made it to two games the week John and I were in Japan. And the late May weather was masquerading as March so bonus points for them!
Daniel's shoes did not quite last the whole season. This was discovered while we were already at the park so the remedy was to make Edward, who had already completed his game, take his shoes off and hand them over.