Thursday, July 5, 2018

Digging the Diving Queen

The nice part of summer is the opportunity to sign the kids up for whatever activity floats their boat. Some of it, like camp, is as much for my benefit as theirs, obviously, but some of it is just for fun, since they don't have school. Gigi found a little ad for a diving class at the Y closest to her in a local rag, and Ellie said she'd be interested.

And she's killing it. From being completely unable to dive, she's going in both front and backwards, and she's bravely gone and tossed herself off the 5 meter platform any chance she's gotten. The classes are offered by a local diving club that does do competitions, but the vibe at her lessons is very laid back and very positive. The instructors praise each kid for each dive while also giving them a pointer for further improvement.

Please to enjoy all of these videos I took!

Camp Ford.

Before summer started, Mimi and Poppy offered to take the kids for a long weekend, and began planning their first session of Camp Ford. It worked out well, because Tim and I had a long weekend where we had two pieces of live theater to see in LA, one on Saturday night, one on Sunday, so if our kids were already having fun with their grandparents, we could spend our money on a hotel room instead of babysitters and gas money.

Ellie designed shirts, and Aunt Debbie made her vision come to life.

Then they wore them all weekend while doing things like:

Duffy boat rides!

Bicycle rides!

Swimming followed by Harry Potter dinner parties!

Book club and water fights with assistant counselor Jacob!

Running way to join a bunch of pirate scallywags at the Pirate Dinner Theater!

And not pictured, also a day at the water park.

Meanwhile, we hung out at the place where we first met, and slept in a bunch. Everyone camper had a good time!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wisconsin By the Numbers

-Spent time with both of the kids' great-grandparents
-Played with all of their five lovely cousins
-Ate ice cream almost every day
-Drank beer and ate cheese every day
-Made about a dozen daisy crowns
-Loved on two dozen baby goats at our tour of the goat farm
-Watched mom and dad be surprised by the arrival of Dad's college roommates on Monday and Tuesday
-Received one million mosquito bites (actual number, we counted)
-And Adam got three stitches across the back of his noggin after a fall on the play ground (he's fine, stopped crying as soon as it was all over.)

It's hard to believe we packed so many people and places and fun into a single week - the pictures are really the only way to prove it.

The start of pal time

Father's Day with Grandpa Charlie at John's lake house

Dad with his college roommates and Juan. And Ellie, who is probably learning something not age appropriate.

Tim helping Adam spot a frog at the Ridges

Sunset at the end of highway 42

"Mom, if there's a sea monster, I'm going to run away." (this is the morning after his stitches - you can't even see!)

Goat farm tour has something for everyone!

Grizz's Friday morning golf foursome

Freezing in Sister Bay

Hailee and Ellie reading to Clara and Leah

Flower crown action

Coach Tim played a lot of yard baseball with the kids

Breakfast of Champions

Sara and the great-grands with Grandma Rosie

Matching girls

The combined ages of these children are just barely more than the age of this hammock

One of many fantastic dance parties on the deck

Summer Equinox at Ellison Bay

Couldn't ask for better travelers than these two

Friday, June 8, 2018

One Eyed, One Horned

What's wore, the wonky line from where I trimmed her hair recently, or the blurry mess of the line where I applied the dye? She wanted me to do the whole underside of her hair and then also the ends. So, I basically mashed dye into half of it, it a haphazard way. And while I applied it all over Adam's head, it only really took on the top part, which is fine. Meanwhile, I look like I murdered Barney with my bare hands, despite the fact that I stopped by a janky nail salon and asked if I could have some of their rubber gloves, since I didn't have any at home, and decided to freshen up Ellie's hair on a bit of a whim (I told her I'd do it tomorrow, but we're going to have a busier day than I anticipated, so we came home after gymnastics and turned into unicorns before Friday fun-day with Gigi and Grizz.)

She also learned how to do front walk overs today.

Adam had his last day of preschool today, which was bitter sweet. I'm ready for him to be at them same school with his sister, I'm ready for him to be in school five days a week, but it was sad to leave the preschool that has treated him so kindly and loved him so much for the past two years. His teacher this year has been SUCH a doll - she clearly has such a heart for preschoolers and is so sweet. The assistant teacher is great, the director is very kind and the front office staff is incredibly nice as well. What more could you want? They sent home a scrapbook of his work during the year, which is darling, and makes me feel less bad about throwing away all of the other work he did this school year.

You know what we'll never throw away though? This pencil holder he made for Tim for Father's Day, which apparently features his mug shot.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Everything's Up to Date in Kansas City!

This weekend we completed a whirlwind tour of Lawrence, Kansas to watch Tim's younger cousin Daniel get married. This means we are very old, because when Tim and I got married, Daniel was only a little bit older than my children are now, and his six year old sister was our flower girl.

They asked for no pictures during the ceremony (which is a trend I personally love - no one wants to invite people to share in their big day and then look back to just see a bunch of iPhones held up over the faces of their loved ones... plus the pictures are always 100 times worse than the shot the professional photographer just took) so here is a picture of the space beforehand, with some of the 1,000 cranes that were folded, hot glued onto fishing line and strung throughout the venue. It was such a simple, but gorgeous ceremony.

It was so sweet and sincere and hopeful, watching these two beautiful kids stand in the late afternoon sunlight and pledge to be each other's favorite person forever. Having been a child bride myself, I am partial to people who get married before they're old enough to rent a car. And it felt doubly nice thinking about Gigi and Grizz celebrating their 40th anniversary on Sunday (talk about children getting married!) and watching Mimi and Pa take down all of the other dancers during the anniversary dance, as they are weeks away from celebrating 45 years together.

Also I made Tim and Jake wear matching outfits, and explained to Don and Evan the phenomenon of how great an exposed forearm looks on a man in a dress shirt.

I found Lawrence to be a charming little college town, and all of the green made me wish it was time for summer vacation in Wisconsin. We had a lot of good meals, and plenty of good cocktails. Amanda (the bride) recommended a bar called John Brown Underground, and described it as a "grad student bar." I think she may have meant hipster, because there was a lot of craft cocktailing, including jars and vats of infused liquors at work. I especially enjoyed that all of the labels including quotes around the words - that's how you know it's a quality product, and not just grain alcohol with rotting pine needles inside.

Here you can vaguely see that Jake is drinking something out of a Coke bottle, in a tub of ice.

Most of the group did an escape room on Saturday before the wedding, but my personal version of an escape room is closing the latch on an air conditioned hotel room and becoming a zombie in hotel sheets. I also did some poking around the little downtown shops, doing some retail therapy. On Friday when we got in I made Tim go to the antique mall with me - didn't buy anything, but he enjoyed visiting some old friends.

And Gigi and Grizz, like the saints they are, took the kids from dinner time on Thursday (the even brought them on their hot date!) until we arrived at about 5pm on Sunday, their 40th wedding anniversary. Just in time to send them off to their anniversary dinner, and Grizz's regularly scheduled 8:30pm bedtime.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Surround Sound.

Now that it's getting nice and summery out, we've been spending more time in our backyard. We discovered the other week that the little solar powered twinkle lights we'd bought last year have already died. I mean, they were cheapies, but they were cute and I liked them. Tim looked into getting a more sophisticated lighting system, and told me that with what he found on Amazon, using the plug in timer we already had, it would be about $500. I of course, balked at the price, because we do already have lighting on the patio cover and I feel like for $500, I could get an electrician out and get things hard wired, not plugged into a socket and hanging along the side of the house.

Then instead, I doubled down and said, if we're going to spend $500 on a home remodel, I'd like to get surround sound through the house and back yard, and a system that would allow me to stream music or play my iTunes from where ever I was, because we had almost 20 year old surround sound speakers haphazardly throughout the living room, including a center speaker off center because otherwise it would block the IR for the TV remote, and then a boombox in our bedroom and a Bose player in the pretty room. So, for slightly more than $500, we now have speakers in the walls and ceilings for the living room, and the ceiling of the pretty room and our bedroom, a new TV, a Roku for streaming, and a separate hard drive that has all of our media, and speakers across the back yard. It's the best outdoor living space ever now - enjoying the fake grass and the blasting music while I lay in my hammock, which is big enough for two adults plus the occasional child. The project was finished up on Friday afternoon, and Kristen and the kids came to hang out after gymnastics, and she and I immediately flopped in the hammock with Moscow mules while the girls had a gymnastics dance to Hamilton. Summer time and the living is easy.

Overall, very pleased with how it's all turning out.

The rest of the weekend continued to be busy. We had Mimi and Poppy and Jake over for brunch on Sunday, which we turned into a little mini party for Mimi's upcoming birthday. Tim showed everyone how to do the floss dance, and I laughed until I near about died.

We continued the fun at Judd and Matty's birthday party that afternoon, which was at an indoor kids gym, not at our house. Ellie went straight ninja warrior for most of it - I enjoy that she paired a pearl necklace with her workout shorts and tank top.

Both kids had a blast, and then because Kristen and Jeff are generous and saints, we spent the rest of the night at their house too - pulled into our own garage at 10pm, with both kids asleep in the back seat. Needless to say, we spent yesterday doing a whole lot of nothing, other than mooching dinner from Gigi and Grizz and making patriotic crafts.

I've been listening to a lot more music and watching a lot less TV now that the system is up and running. We also found our old camcorder and got all of the videos off of it, including a tour I made of our apartment before we moved, and a tour of our house after we first moved in that I made for Grandpa Thiel. Man, things certainly have changed! Makes me feel even more house proud about this cute little house. In a weird twist of fate, the Bose player crapped out a week or two ago, perhaps knowing that it was about to be replaced, but the ancient boom box and my elderly iPod is creaking along. I moved it into Ellie's room, and she is SO excited to be able to listen to whatever she wants in her room. Like her mother and grandmother before her, she's ready to listen to the Beatles.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Arts and Culture.

Thursday night Adam's school had their annual art show, which is a fundraiser for a scholarship fund at the school. It's a cute evening - each kid has three pieces of art around the play ground area, and each class makes a canvas of art that they put in a silent auction. Plus there were sno-cones. We met Tim for dinner out beforehand and made a little date of it.

His commentary is about the best part of his art, the little nut.

Friday night after gymnastics we went to the Feista fundraiser at Lexi and Juddy's school - all the carny rides in the church/school parking lot with our friends, what more could you want?

Hard to tell, but the middle swing is Ellie and Olivia, the third is Laura and Lexi - the other three girls totally peer-pressured her into it.

All of the other parents and kids were scared of the Zipper ride, but I've never been one to back down from dying needlessly in a carnival accident, just not how I was raised. So after dinner, Ellie asked if we could ride it and I said sure. We got in line behind this big group of teenagers, who kept inviting their friends to line jump with them. Ellie noticed them cutting, and I said "that's fine, we can sneak ahead" and so we did, and then later, when a couple of teens tried to cut in front of them, I told them to stand back, she was a little kid and I'd seen them inviting a half dozen friends already. It was frustrating to be standing there, watching the line move nowhere despite the ride emptying on a regular basis, with a little kid who didn't have a phone to look into or friends to gossip with - she just wanted to ride the dang ride. Directly in front of us were a younger brother and sister pair, who were also getting bored waiting. I got the ride operator's attention and pointed at all three littles and put my hands up in frustration, and he told us to come around to the front. I told the other two kids to follow me, and when they looked confused, I said "I'm a mom, I can do whatever I want, come with me." And lo, we got to ride right away. I showed Ellie how fun it is to make a rickety cage flip a solid half dozen times. No one barfed, no one cried, I got to yell at some teenagers, so everyone wins!

And yesterday, the best of arts and culture, taking Ellie to see Hamilton at the Segerstrom Center.

Moments from Hamilton with a 7 year old
Ellie: wait, all the actors have brown skin? 
Me: Yes. Because even though people think America was built and owned by people with white skin, America was built by and belongs to everyone.

Ellie: This doesn't sound like the real Hamilton. This isn't the CD. 
Me: They're singing live, that's part of the fun.

Anytime she caught someone saying a swear (most noticeably shit) Ellie: That's RUDE!

When Alexander and Eliza are cradling their son as he dies, Ellie: Mom, stop crying, he's not really dead. 
During Quiet Uptown, Ellie: stop crying. 
During the finale, Ellie: Mom, are you crying? Stop crying.

Overall, she did great. She hung in through the three hour show with less fidgeting than some of the adults near us. She clapped with genuine glee at the end of the big numbers, she laughed uproariously at King George, she danced a little in her seat from time to time. It was a totally self indulgent thing for me to take her, mostly for my own benefit, but I guess there's worse passions to try to share with your kids.