Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventure Monday!

Today was the second-to-last Monday of summer, and it was the first Monday we've been around and not busy in, like, a month. AND we had all of the reward things from the Summer Reading Program at the library. So today we had an awesome Adventure Monday!

We started the day at SkyZone, a trampoline park. The free passes were only for half an hour, and yesterday Juanito was all, "Don't you want to go for longer, though?" On the way there, Zane randomly got a spectacular nosebleed, and then in the middle of the jumping, it started bleeding again. He ran and took care of it and came back with his shirt and face smeared with blood. The kids jumped and flipped and flung themselves into the foam pit and jumped and flipped some more, and by the time the half hour was finished, they were all good with leaving. If we'd had longer, Houston and Katrina would have kept jumping, but Zane was complaining that his stomach hurt and that he might throw up. I sent him to the bathroom, just in case, but really, i think it was mostly just his muscles that hurt. He is convinced that it was because he had "lost all of his blood!" from the nosebleeds.

We went to Pizza Hut next, for the free Personal Pan pizzas. I didn't get one of the free ones, so i ordered a medium thin crust, knowing that Houston would finish his and still be hungry. Except that they accidentally made and brought out a regular crust pizza instead. The waitress was all, "Oh no! Here. You just start on this one, and i'll go have them make the right one!" Houston finished his pizza and started on the accidental pizza and managed to eat a little over half of it. (He finished off the rest before we got home. Crazy growing teenager.)

And then i had to kill time, so we went to Barnes and Noble (books!) and then to Payless, where Houston and Zane both got new school shoes.

And then! To the cheap movie theater to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2! Juanito woke up and met us there, and all of us totally liked it. We laughed a lot.

And then, Frostys! The kids had coupons for free Frostys from Wendy's, but they're having a "50 cents for a small Frosty" deal, so we all got Frostys, and i'm just saving the coupons for when they're more expensive.

And that was that. A fun day was had by all. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Political-ish. Sorry.

In all of the flurry of vacationing, i forgot to mention that my kids built a castle and a dragon for the library. Our library had an end-of-summer celebration, and Houston and Katrina came to work with me to take part. It was kind of a lame celebration - just cookies and juice and a table filled with cardboard, tin foil, and duct tape. One of the girls i work with was all, "You should build a castle!" and my kids were like, "Challenge accepted!" And then they spent the rest of my shift building a fairly awesome castle.

*    *    *    *    *

This is not a political blog, and i almost never post anything about politics or news, both because this is mostly a blog about my family and what we're up to, and because what i have to say is never as smart as what other people are saying. But it feels like the world - and America, especially - is just kind of falling apart right now, and that affects my family. So.

I am horrified by what is going on in this country. My whole life, i've learned about Nazi Germany and how terrible all of those Nazis were, and it was always implied that that could never happen again, especially here. And yet, here we are, with white supremacists marching around with torches, doing Nazi salutes and spewing Nazi-esque language, and they're getting away with it. Large crowds and huge numbers of Americans think they have the right idea.

And it feels like America is just broken enough that i can't even imagine how anything will ever be okay again. How can this much hate just ... get fixed? People aren't going to just suddenly stop hating, right? And i know that the answer is that love just has to be bigger than the hate, and that ultimately love wins, and i am trying to love people with all of my might, but it just feels a little bit hopeless right now. And that's where i am.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


That's our book club group! This is the second month in a row that we've all been there! Yay!

Today was, per Katrina, a "lazy day." She stayed in pajamas all day and just bummed around the house. She made cupcakes, read, drew, played with Zane....

The boys all took Juanito's drone and went to the park to play with other men who also have drones. "Drone races," apparently, although Juanito says that they only raced some of the time.

And that was today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Registrations and School Pictures and Vets

Today was a day of much running around. Houston had registration and school pictures this morning, but it was at 9:00 and i had to work at 10:00, so i sent him with Juanito. He got his schedule and his school ID and all of that stuff that needs to be gotten at the beginning of the year. Before he left, he was all, "I really hope i'm in at least SOME classes with Chauncey this year!" When i got home, i asked him if they had any classes together, and he was all, "Oh. I forgot to check with him...."

Work was crazy, because for 3 of the 4 days i was off, they didn't have a "me" filling in, and yesterday, when they had run out of places to put books, they had someone from the main library come out to help, but, according to my coworker, he was "really kind of slow." (I totally want to ask her if it's this one guy that i trained with.) So there were carts full of books, and i totally shelved the last ones 10 minutes before my shift ended.

This afternoon, Katrina and Zane had school registration and school pictures, so as soon as i got home, i grabbed them and we went out to get them signed up for school. I think we went at the perfect time, because we flew through everything faster than we've ever done before.

And then we had a vet appointment for Emma, to get all of her shots and to get her nails clipped and all of that. (Diagnosis: She's a sweetheart and maybe a teeny bit chubby but very healthy.)

And THEN i sent Katrina and Juanito to go pick up Katrina's guinea pigs from the friend who'd been taking care of them.

Katrina has declared tomorrow a "rest day." We shall see.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Up North

This past week, we went up north.

We've taken vacations all over the place in the past - to New York and North Carolina and Iowa and Colorado and South Dakota and Kentucky and Pittsburgh - but we hadn't ever taken them around our own state. The kids have been saying for a couple of years that they really want to go see Mackinac Island, and neither Juanito or i had ever been there either. And so!

We first headed up to the Sleeping Bear Dunes/Traverse City area, because it's beautiful, and while both Juanito and i have been there separately, we've never been there together, and the kids hadn't yet been there.

This summer has been really dry. Everyone keeps commenting on how little rain we've gotten. And so, of course, it rained and rained and rained for the first two days that we were camping. The weather was nice enough to hold off raining while we started putting up the tent, but then halfway through, Juanito was all, "Oh. We don't have any tent pegs...." and so he ran off to Menard's to get some giant nails to use as tent pegs while the kids and i finished setting up what we could and then going down to the lake to see the view. (We were literally just a staircase away from the lake. It was awesome.) Before Juanito got back, though, it totally started raining, so the kids and i all sheltered in the tent and played Uno and Skip-Bo. When Juanito got back, it was pouring, so he finished setting up the tent in the pouring rain, getting absolutely drenched. (He's so nice.) We basically just huddled in the tent for the rest of the day and eventually decided that we'd just go ahead and go to Burger King, because at least it was dry.

The next morning dawned drizzly, but it cleared up and gave us sunshine for a couple of hours. We tried to take full advantage of the sun, and drove up Mission Point peninsula to the lighthouse and beach. The lake's level is really high this year, so all of the beaches are really small, which was disappointing. But it was still beautiful. And then we drove over to the Leelanau Peninsula and up to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. That beach was nearly non-existent, and so at this point i started totally doubting my memory, and asked one of the ladies working there if we were at the right place. She seemed confused, but an old man standing nearby was all, "Oh! You want Peterson Beach! Just turn by the purple trees!" And Peterson Beach was totally cool, and the kids loved looking all over it for rocks, but it's not the beach i was thinking of. Weird. We all looked and looked for Petosky stones or really any pretty rocks, but none of us had any luck with actual Petosky stones. (Juanito did later realize that he had totally found one, not recognized it as a Petosky stone, and threw it away. Bummer.)

While we were at Peterson Beach, it totally started raining again, so we stopped at a couple of places (the 45th parallel, the world's biggest cherry pie pan, a place where a guy has giant bare metal statues), and then headed back to the campsite. Juanito managed, with a lot of effort and even more lighter fluid, to start a fire with all of the wet wood, and so we ate hot dogs in the rain and eventually all ended up in the warm, dry car and decided that we just needed to find someplace dry to sit for a while. So we went to Bud's for ice cream.

By the next day, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining, and lo, it was So! Much! Nicer! We drove over to the coast, stopping first at the Cherry Bowl Drive-in theater, where they have a whole ton of crazy statues and whatnot outside, and then to a gravity hill, where things roll up hill (not really, but they seem to) (and i'm not sure we actually found it, but it was still fun trying), and then we asked the GPS to take us to Gwen Frostic's, and instead it took us to a muddy little two track that went off into the woods. Juanito was all, "Um. We're totally going to get stuck. This CAN'T be it." We got out and walked up the track, and it really was just more woods leading to a field with a whole bunch of beehives and beyond. We did eventually find the place, and it had a real parking lot and everything.

And then! Pierce Stocking Drive! For anyone who hasn't been to Sleeping Bear Dunes, this is the scenic drive that you kind of have to take, because it leads to spectacular views and ridiculously giant dunes that nobody sane would ever go down (there are literally signs saying, "Don't do it. It'll take you 2 hours to get back up, and if you can't make it, then you have to pay to get rescued."). There were also smaller dunes that could be climbed, and those we did climb. The boys had fun running full-tilt down the dunes. Katrina ran down in a more controlled fashion. I usually had my camera and was perfectly content to walk down.

Everyone climbed "The Dune," a huge-but-not-as-insane dune just up the road from Pierce Stocking drive. At the top, the kids dug a giant hole while Juanito carved a heart into the sand. I originally thought that they were going to go up and then come right back down, so i was all, "Go ahead! I'll stay here," but then they never came back, so i ended up going up after all, just in time to take pictures and catch my breath and then head back down. We walked out over the dunes at Sleeping Bear Point to the beach, and the kids played in the lake for a little while. We'd originally planned to walk out to the ghost forest, but Houston and Katrina were both pretty finished by that point, so we called it a day.

On Sunday (the next day), we packed up camp and drove up to Mackinaw, stopping at random places along the way. The first, unplanned, stop came when we drove past a store with a giant bear, and all of us were like, "Oh my gosh!!! That is the creepiest bear EVER! We need to go back!" So Juanito turned around and we took pictures, and then the kids all found sweatshirts for $15-$17 that they wanted to buy, and so they did, and they wore those sweatshirts every single day for the rest of the trip. (OH! Also! On day 2, i realized that Zane had brought exactly zero (0) shirts with him and would have to wear the same shirt every day. Awesome.)

We then stopped at a giant trout fountain, a random unicorn on the side of the road, Deadman's hill overlook, and Petosky on our way to our campground in Mackinaw City. Our campground was right on Lake Huron and had an awesome view of the Mackinac Bridge. The kids loved it, because there was a beach and a playground and horseshoes and basketball and volleyball. And they actually played all of those things.

Monday morning we woke up and went to Mackinac Island. The ferry out there is a slow ferry, and it takes you right under the Mackinac Bridge. It was really cool. Houston even made up a song about it, and it might have been the most annoying song that has ever been sung - at least, it was after the first 10 minutes.

The first thing we did when we landed was to go and rent bikes, which we then mostly walked up to the top of the hill where the big fort was. Once up there, we rode down the middle of the island, which was mostly downhill (awesome!), until we got to the highway that runs around the perimeter of the island, and then we took that back to town. Along the way, we stopped a few times at beautiful views, at the Devil's Kitchen, and at trees growing straight out of giant cliffs. We then returned the bikes and sat in the park to eat some lunch. (Me, while riding bikes: "Don't let me forget to take pictures of us with the bikes!" And...i totally forgot. Sad me!)

From there, we hiked out to Anne's Tablet, Arch Rock, Sugar Loaf Rock, Fort Holmes, a buggy museum, and the Grand Hotel (we came down the street from the back, and so we totally got to see the Grand Hotel for free. If we'd come the other way, we would have had to pay and totally wouldn't have gone in.). It was a lot of walking, and a lot of it was up and down hills and stairs, and usually none of that would have been a problem. As i was planning the trip, i was all, "Our family is great at walking all over for long distances!" What i didn't know was that Zane's left foot has been hurting him when he walks long distances (you have to tell me these things, child!!!) and so he was miserable for a lot of the walking. Poor kid. He kept asking, "Are we almost back to town? Can we go taste the fudge now?"

We did eventually get to town and walk around and taste lots of fudge, and all three of my kids were disappointed to realize that...they don't like fudge. (So then they were all like, "I just won't get any more samples," to which i was like, "What?! No! Get them and give them to me!") We walked through some of the stores, until they all seemed to be kind of the same thing, and then we collectively decided to be finished. It was already after 7:00, anyhow. We took the fast boat back - on the top, front seats, and it was really cool and also really windy.

The next morning we packed up camp, went into town to buy some fudge for ourselves and my parents, and then headed up to the Upper Peninsula. We wanted to both go over the Mackinac Bridge and also let the kids be able to say that they've been to the UP. We stopped at the "Patriotic Moose" and a fairly stupid store that has a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, but they're surrounded by a chain link fence and are also kind of dumb. We stopped and got pasties for lunch, because when you're in the UP, you have to eat pasties. And then we went back across the bridge and headed home. Along the way, we stopped at a store that claims to have "a man-eating clam," which was...fine, but it also had a whole lot of other incredible-ness - a giant bear, a hammerhead shark you could pretend was eating you, creepy-ish fisherman mannequins and pirate mannequins and all manner of bizarre merchandise.

And then we stopped at the world's largest crucifix and nun doll museum. I had no idea what to expect, but it was honestly pretty interesting. There were a few definitely creepy dolls, and it was kind of weird that there were some that were Barbie dolls and some that were regular dolls and some that were human-sized, but it was really interesting to see how many different kinds of habits there are.

And then a giant beer bottle and Robinson's Scenic Garden, which is a yard filled with a whole bunch of weird or cute or creepy statues. The creepiest, by far, was the clown head with giant horns like a bull. I don't even know what to do with that.

And then HOME! Real beds! A good shower! A roof and a stove and a refrigerator! Yay!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Zane is eleven!

It's Zane's birthday today! This boy - this absolutely adorable and silly and awesome kid - is now eleven years old and ready to enter middle school. How is that possible?!

In a lot of ways, it gets harder and harder to write birthday posts for my kids, because they don't change as much from year to year. When they were turning 2 or 3, there were huge, obvious changes in development and skills, but when they're turning eleven or 15.... Not so much.

So i don't think that Zane's personality has done a whole lot of changing in the past year. He's still the same incredibly energetic, wiggly, hilarious, sweet, happy boy that he has been for years. He loves people and is at his happiest when he is with family or friends - and people who he meets tend to become friends pretty quickly if they allow it.

He loves listening to stories, whether they're read by me or an audio book, and he will spend hours listening to books while he's playing with Legos or other random toys in his room. His favorites are currently Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. (When i'm reading them, he tends to listen while hanging upside down on the, right way, upside, with his feet on the wall....)

When he is actually reading the books himself, however, he always prefers non-fiction. Books about the deadliest bugs or the biggest earthquakes or why bats are mammals fascinate him. And, unlike me, he actually remembers many of the facts that he reads. He will happily tell you all kinds of random factoids if you get him on the subject.

He, like most kids his age, loves playing video games. His favorite is Minecraft, and his favorite way to play it is as a team with Houston or Katrina or one of his friends. He regularly has friends call him, and then he puts the phone on speaker, sets it next to him on the desk, and plays a game with that friend so that they can talk to each other while playing together.

He'll actually talk on the phone with friends for ages even if they aren't playing computer together. Out of all of my kids, he's the only one who regularly calls friends and just ... talks to them. And i suppose that's not entirely surprising, because Zane just loves to talk. There are times when he will just sit down by you and start talking, and he will just talk and talk and talk.

When Zane isn't bouncing around, he's surprisingly thoughtful. He makes sweet signs for his siblings' doors. He'll sit next to me, grab my foot, and give me a spontaneous foot rub. He'll stand in the kitchen and chat with me while i'm cooking. He'll offer to sit in the back of the van because none of the kids wants to. He tells me a hundred times a day, "I love you!"

Zane loves bike rides, especially with his dad. He loves candy. He loves Harry Potter and Percy Jackson and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." He loves science. He loves exploring. He loves climbing around in the "forest" by our house with Katrina. He loves PopTarts. And he thinks that he, himself, is pretty awesome.

He is just so happy and loving. He reminds me a bit of Emma sometimes: everybody is just a friend that he maybe hasn't met yet. I hope that he can forever keep his level of curiosity and optimism. I just adore this kid. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Zane's pre-birthday party

Tomorrow is Zane's birthday. Weeks ago, i realized that i would be working on his birthday, and i hatched a brilliant plan to have him have friends sleep over the night before his birthday so that they'd be around in the morning and early afternoon, and then he wouldn't even NOTICE that i wasn't here. And so he invited his three best friends...and two of them were going to be out of town. So he invited another friend. And all was planned, and lo, it was a good plan.

And then one of the friends' mom let me know that they were going to have to pick up their son at 9:45 in the morning, because he had choir practice. And then when the other friend was dropped off today, his mom was all, "Oh, i have to pick him up at 10:00 for a dentist appointment tomorrow." And so there went all of my brilliant plan, right out the window. Dang it.

Nevertheless, Zane DID have two friends over today, and they had great fun running around and having Nerf gun wars and playing games and ... doing whatever it is that 10-year-old boys do. Zane was gleefully happy. And then one of his friends started feeling sick, so we had to call his mom to come and get him. But he still has one friend over! So...yay?!

I didn't want to have a whole cake for Zane two days in a row, and by awesome coincidence, today is Harry Potter's birthday, so instead Katrina and i made cupcakes and i put some frosting and a whole bunch of sprinkles on the table, and everyone decorated their own cupcakes Harry Potter-y or just with a giant mess of frosting, depending on the person in question.