Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bits and Pieces: September and October

These have been a whirlwind two months. I have fallen off the monthly posting, but still want to try to post an update every two months, at least. I like being able to go back and look at old posts. I have been feeling especially nostalgic with Christopher starting Kindergarten, and I think I will appreciate having these posts.

I try to keep these mostly positive, but right after school started Ben was given a scary health diagnosis. He has had treatment, but we are still waiting to hear if it was successful. The prognosis is good, but this is a chronic condition that he will have to deal with for the rest of his life. Luckily, he is expected to have a normal life span. It has been extremely stressful.  Ben feels fine, though, and is taking it all in his usual laid-back fashion.  I am the one who has been a wreck.

Other than that, we have kept ourselves busy with our usual fall things, including, oh, let's see - the first day of school? Is it possible I am just now writing about that? So yes, we had the first day of school. The year is off to a good start for both kiddos. We have conferences next week, so we'll see what the teachers have to say. I don't expect any surprises.

We went camping with our usual camping crew at William O'Brien State Park. What a nice place! If you want to camp close to the Cities, I highly recommend it. And not having to drive 2-plus hours on Sunday afternoon was an added bonus. (Also: nearby shopping in the super cute Marine-on-St. Croix.) We had a fun time, and were only yelled at once by the park ranger. (According to Ben, this was my fault. I was allegedly laughing too loudly. Imagine that.)

We celebrated Christopher's 6th birthday in early October, complete with a Ghost in the Graveyard-themed birthday party. He had a ball. We also made the trip to the Snuffy's in Bloomington for his birthday dinner. (They still love that place, even though it is no longer right down the street.) His local grandparents came over for cake on the Sunday following his birthday. It was a good celebration.

No fall would be complete without a visit to the apple orchard, which we did in mid-October. It rained a bit, but that didn't stop us. (I complained about it the most, if I am being honest.) 

Clare finished her first soccer season. Her team only won one game, but she enjoyed it. As long as she is having fun, I am happy to let her keep playing. She didn't seem to care all that much if they won or lost. She may not have much competitive fire. All well.

Christopher started playing basketball at the Y. He loves it, but oh boy. He is not good. Maybe his skills will develop as he practices more. Again, he is having fun, which is all that matters.

I was busy with the school's annual fundraiser. It was another successful year for the PTO! I also chaperoned a class field trip to the apple orchard with Clare's class. I always enjoying seeing her class and meeting her friends.

And of course, Halloween. We had lots of Halloween fun, including trick or treating at nearby businesses, my friend Heather's annual Halloween party, trick or treating in our neighborhood, and trick or treating at the amazing Sargent Avenue block party. Clare went as a butterfly and Christopher was Batman for the party and a Storm Trooper on Halloween.

Last thing: why can't we wait for a few weeks after Halloween to start thinking about Christmas? Seeing all of the stuff in the stores makes me start planning for that holiday, and I am just not ready! If I start thinking about it now, I will be so sick of it by the actual day. I am going to resist society and not think about it for at least two more weeks! End of speech.

First day of third grade! (With an almost-Kindergartner photo bomb.)


Go Blackhawks! Clare is in the green headband.

Celebrating this guy's 6th birthday.


At Crosby Farms Park over MEA weekend. You really forget you are in the middle of a city at this place.

Apple orchard fun! 

Ice cream with Meema after a play at Stepping Stone Theatre. I love living in the city!

Green hair. Perfect look for when he joins a boy band. (I say this because he frequently sings in a voice that reminds me n'Sync.)

Christopher and his friend Shepherd at the school fun run.
Clare and her best friend Natalie on the apple orchard field trip.

Halloween fun!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This is 40

Now that I am 40, I thought I should look back and assess how my life is going so far. Just kidding! I am not opening that door.

It seems like I should be more anxious about turning 40, but I feel calm. Between Christopher starting kindergarten and this milestone birthday, a new chapter is about to begin. That is exciting.

Instead of having a party, Ben and I took a trip together to celebrate both of our 40th birthdays. We spent five days in Michigan. Just us, no kids. We really needed that time together. (And even though Ben would tell you that I was really boring with my conversation topics, we had a nice time. Conversations topics included: how the less than stellar weather didn't affect our activities, and how busy each restaurant we walked by was.)

We first went to Traverse City. We climbed dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Man, I am out of shape. It is beautiful, though. We took a wine tour on Old Mission Peninsula. You don't have to be in shape to do that. The wine was good and the scenery (bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan) was incredible.

We traveled to Mackinac Island, which is just lovely. Situated on Lake Heron, no cars are allowed on the island. I felt like I had traveled back in time. We spent time hiking, exploring the old fort, shopping, hot-tubbing, and eating and drinking delicious food.

It was lovely.

A few years ago I created a 40 x 40 list of things I wanted to try to do before I turned 40. Well, I only did about half of those. Some of the things are probably never going to happen (knit a hat), while some things might happen before I turn 50? Either way, it doesn't matter. It was fun, but I am not going to get too worked up about it.

I celebrated with my best friends on Monday with a trip to an Escape Room and beer at Lake Monster, which was a super fun way to start the week. Today, I celebrated with a pedicure with my friend Krista, lunch out with my mother-in-law, and dinner out with Ben and the kids.  It was a nice day, and a great way to start my forties.

At Sleeping Bear Dunes. 

Lake Michigan.

Wineries on Old Mission.

Getting our history on at Fort Mackinac.

Ben likes reading signs.

Famous limestone arch on Mackinac Island.

That's not apple juice.

Our hotel on Mackinac: the historic Island House Hotel. We had a view of Lake Huron.

Friday, October 4, 2019


Christopher is six!

This kid. He is just so funny. The other day Clare was telling my mom about her list of the funniest people in our family. She informed her that it was Uncle Robby, Baba Ralph and Daddy, but recently Christopher has moved "way to the top of the list." (Of course, the next day he was being silly and she decided he still "needs some work.") Regardless, he is always trying to entertain someone, and generally succeeding. (He still enjoys potty humor, which may be a lifelong thing?)

Christopher is such a kind person. This summer, we were hiking with my in-laws. My father-in-law had a scary fall, and Christopher spent the rest of the hike clearing all of the sticks and rocks he could off the path so his grandfather wouldn't trip on them. If I get hurt, he is immediately there to make sure I am okay. (This goes for anyone - if he sees a child fall on the playground he will make sure they are okay.)

He gives the best hugs. Even at six, he loves to cuddle. I'll hang on to that as long as possible.

He is easygoing, with the occasional fit or tantrum.

Christopher started Kindergarten this fall, and things are going well so far. He loves eating lunch at school. It is his favorite thing about school. (That and recess and gym.) He has also been enthusiastic about his homework so far. He has friends he enjoys at school, including Shepherd, Jacobi and Teddy. They are kind of wild together, but Christopher seems to know when to quit. (His other best friends outside of school are Simon and Finn. And his cousin Josie. Those two are peas in a pod. I hope they are always close.)

He has started reading! He has always enjoyed looking at books, but can now pick out words and read short, simple sentences. He is pretty excited about this development. His current favorite book was a gift from Meema Jo that is right up his alley: "Creepy Pair of Underwear." He thinks it is hilarious.

Christopher is playing soccer this fall, but he is ready to move on to other sports. He is going to start basketball later this month and wants to try Taekwondo. I don't care what he does, I just want him to be active.

Some other favorites at six: transformers, still; board games, playing at the park, camping (especially playing Ghost in the Graveyard), Minecraft (which he is surprisingly good at, considering he can't read), the library, the Bell Museum (especially the touch lab - he loves guessing which animal the bones and pelts came from), the Children's Museum (especially the lasers and the slide), building with his Legoes, baking, and drawing pictures.

Some dislikes: Broccoli, cleaning up toys, hiking, and scary parts of My Little Pony. (I don't know.)

He says he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. He is very interested in space and dinosaurs and the aforementioned animal pelts the Bell Museum, so science makes sense for him.

We are celebrating his birthday this weekend with his requested party. He invited friends over to play ghost in the graveyard with him. It works out well for me, because the friends he wanted are our camping buddies (and one other family who is part of the group but doesn't camp), so basically I am having my friends over, too. It should be fun.

Happy birthday to our funny, sweet, little guy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Summer 2019

This summer had its ups and downs, but one thing I really appreciated was the current stage my children are in. I take them to the splash pad at Como Town. They play, I read my book. I take them to the park. They play, I read my book. They swim in the lake while on vacation. I read my book. You can see the pattern. Also, travelling with them is so much more relaxing. Everything is just easier, at least in terms of child maintenance duties.

That being said, school needed to start, like, four weeks ago. Especially for one Miss Clare, who is bored out of her skull and throwing tantrums to entertain herself. (I tried to keep her busy, but for the last few weeks even that hasn't been enough. I think next year I may stack all of their camps at the end of summer.)

And so, at the end of summer I am going back to the beginning, and posting an excessive number of photos. Here is Summer 2019!

Clare turns eight, with a melting Oreo blizzard cake.

Annual pic with the peony.

Relaxing...I love it that they both enjoy reading. Note: Christopher is not actually reading yet, but he likes to look at the pages.

Early summer days at Wabun.

Bell Museum. Christopher absolutely loves this place. He especially loves the touch lab, where he can feel animal pelts and see their bones.

Our local Snuffy's closed this summer, sadly. 

Summer cuts and colorful hair.

We take a trip to Como Town each summer. They both love rides. Maybe they will be ready for Valley Fair next summer?

One of their favorite things this summer: Ninja camp! Clare worked very hard to make it up the warped wall. They both did great on the obstacles and had fun.

We tried to go to Saints game, but got rained out.
Part of my parents' backyard. We spent Ben's 40th birthday and the Fourth of July in Wisconsin. Ben and I are taking a trip to celebrate both of us turning 40 in a few weeks. (I am not yet 40, just to be clear.)

Ice cream at the pool. What could be better?

Runners with sun in their eyes. They both did great. Clare came in third for her age group for the mile. I think Ben might have placed, too, but I can't remember. That was two whole months ago!

Tractors. Quintessential Wisconsin parade.

Annual flag cake preparation.


We went on our annual friends' camping trip. This year, we camped at Jay Cooke State Park. It was really fun, as always. Lots of hiking, laughing, and S'mores.

Okay, I am having technical issues with the captioning. Anyway, above picture is from our last meal at Snuffy's. Sniff.

Clare went to a sleep-away Girl Scout camp! She had a blast. She barely said goodbye to me when I left, which is good, I guess. I may have cried. Then, when we got home Ben looked at his phone and saw that tornado had touched down about a mile from the camp. Yikes! Luckily, there was no damage at the camp. Clare wants to go to an even longer camp next year. She is a brave girl.

Now the captions are working again? Anyway, while Clare was having fun at camp, I took Christopher to a program at the planetarium at the Bell Museum. This was right up his alley. He even asked a question. I was in suspense about what he would say: "How did the asteroid belt form?" Good question, kiddo!

The kids both did theater camp. Unsurprisingly, Christopher was into it. Clare, not so much.

More swimming.

One of many perfect summer days: a movie (Secret Life of Pets 2), then the park, complete with a visit from the ice cream truck. All with friends. What could be better?

We had a reunion with old neighbors from Wisconsin. It was so fun - I've known them most of my life. We played lots of outdoor games and then ended the night at Surly.

We went to  a Saints Game. It rained. Again. But they played this time.
My parents and I took these cousinz to see my Grandmother. She turned 96 last month! It was so nice to visit her.

State Fair time!

Scouting obstacle course. They are happy here, but Christopher cried when he got on top. He didn't realize how open it was.

Ben and Clare had their annual day on their own, too. I took Christopher to Como Town.

End of summer date night. We saw Mavis Staples and Brandi Carlisle. Both were awesome. Also awesome? The garlic fries.
We closed out summer with our annual Labor Day BBQ with friends. And now school has started. It is always kind of bittersweet, especially since I have an almost kindergartner.