Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Katrina's friend and her little sister were here all day today, so Katrina and Zane were pretty much entertained with them. The kids were outside most of the day, riding their scooters, playing in the sprinkler or with the hose, and exploring the "forest."

Houston had asked his friend if she could maybe watch Emma, and she called back this morning to say, "My parents say no." He was about to just end the conversation there, but i whispered, "Talk to her!" So he was all, "So... how... are you?" all awkwardly. It was awesome. Once she answered and the conversation was begun, it was much, much less awkward and kind of hilarious and adorable to listen to. They talked for about half an hour. At one point he described, in detail, what every member of our family had been doing this summer, and then asked what her family was up to, to which she seemed to reply, "Um...i don't know?" which completely gobsmacked him. How could she not know!? Did she not know in general? Or specifically???

Emma, meanwhile, completely knows that something is going on, and she's very unhappy about it. She follows me around, looking at me pathetically and bringing me shoes in the hopes that it will make me stop doing this packing thing.


That's the only picture i took today, so it's the one i'm using. She was sleeping. Tongue out, eyes partly open, totally relaxed.

So we've been searching far and wide for someone - almost anyone - to be willing to take Emma for the time that we're gone. Everyone is either also going to be gone or they have small children or they have pets that would be uncooperative or they some other very good reason. Or they just don't want to, which is also completely valid. We asked seriously everyone, and finally gave up and turned to the boarding places, which were mostly booked, except for the one at our vet.

So i made a reservation for her and asked about how much time she'd actually have to spend in her kennel, and the answer was: Pretty much all of it. They get let out a few times a day, but that's it. And they never get to play with other dogs. And if we want her to have a human play with her, it's $7 a session.

I spent the day being completely sad and anxious, because THAT'S JUST MEAN. Seriously, like, i kind of think that Emma would come home broken and anxiety-ridden.

My mom called at about 7:00 to tell me that they'd be willing to take her, as long as it's okay if she spends time in her crate or outside sometimes, and i was like, "OH MY GOSH, YES! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!" Because Emma will die without any human cuddles or attention.

So now i can breathe again.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dog Park Drama

Things i did today in preparation for our trip:
  • Went grocery shopping for snacks and things to eat while driving around to see the sights
  • Peeled and cut up apples to make dried apples
  • Set up the apples and also pineapples in the dehydrator, and then checked on it a million times to make sure they weren't getting over-dried 
  • Packed all of my clothes
  • Fretted a lot about who will be taking care of the dog
I'm mostly happy about the dried fruit. Yum.

Katrina "helped" me pack. Mostly by playing with all of my jewelry.

ANYHOW. That is not the most interesting thing from today. That honor goes to our trip to the dog park. Most times we go to the dog park, it's pretty calm and the dogs play and every once in a while there's a scuffle with a dog who gets too aggressive, but the owners are all laid-back and friendly.

But today! Oh, the DRAMA! 

There were three different sets of dog owners involved, in various ways. 

First off, we had the two older ladies, who spent the first 20 minutes we were there taking selfies with their selfie stick. 

Then came a lady with a pitbull (Unfortunate, because in my dog park experience, the pit bulls are not usually the problem dogs, but this one was a dog who just should not have been there. It was just too aggressive.) 

Shortly after the pitbull lady arrived, the third party arrived with his two dogs - a doberman pinscher and an old, fat dog. He arrived right on the heels of a guy with three dogs. (Brief explanation of the setup: As you come in, there's a gate that opens to a little entryway, and then there's another gate. This way the dogs can't escape, because they can't get past the second gate.) 

So Doberman Man started opening the gate to the outside while the gate to the inside was still open, and there were about 7 dogs filling the entryway, greeting the 3 new dogs. Pitbull lady says, in a kind of snotty tone, "You can't open that gate! The dogs will get out!" To which Doberman guy says, in an even snottier tone, "OH. I guess i need to go back to college and learn that!" To which Pitbull lady responds, "I guess you DO!" So they got off to a great start. 

Doberman guy put his doberman into the main dog park, and then brought his old dog into the empty small dog section. I don't think Pitbull lady saw where he went, though, because she and the two Selfie Stick ladies started complaining about how he was such a jerk and then dropped of his dog and left! Meanwhile, the pitbull completely started harassing the doberman, and Pitbull lady ran full-steam at him to stop it. Selfie Stick lady completely assumed that it was the doberman's fault, because a couple of minutes later, she totally kicked the doberman when he came too close to her dog. (Kicked. What the?) And the Selfie Stick ladies left. (After unjustly accusing Katrina of leaving the gates open.)

Doberman guy seemed to be getting bored in the small dog area, because he brought his old dog into the main area, where he followed it around, wiping woodchips off his butt. (The dog's butt.) The pitbull came over and started harassing the old dog, and Doberman guy freaked out and made it much worse but jumping in and kicking the pitbull. (Again! Dog-kicking! What is going on here?!) He then swore and screamed, "That dog just bit me!" Pitbull lady was, meanwhile, running full-steam at the dogs to stop them. She dragged the dog away, asked if he was okay, and he was all, "NO! Your dog bit me! I need to see some ID! Has he bit anyone before?!?" (For the record, Katrina and i were 5 feet away and neither of us saw any sign of his being bit.) And she was all, "No, never! He didn't mean to bite you!" And he was all, "Rage, rage, rage! That's not the point!!!!" 

They went off together to get ID or whatever, and the other guy standing nearby and i just looked at each other like, "Whoa."

And during everything, Emma was just happily trotting around with a grin on her face, playing with the friendly dogs and oblivious to it all. As was Zane.

So that was exciting.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day!

It's Father's Day! The day to celebrate both my dad (who is a fantastic father!) and Juanito (who is the best dad i could possibly want for my kids!).

We didn't actually do a very good job of celebrating today, actually. Juanito wanted grilled chicken for lunch, which meant that he did most of the work for that. And then i was working on stuff for the trip, and he was doing something with his soldering iron, and suddenly it was time to go to my parents' house.

We picked up a giant pizza and brought it to their house to share, and then hung around for a few hours to talk and catch up a little bit. My sister Jill came, and my brother Jim and his family came, and we had fun watching little Harrison play in the middle of all of us.

Houston is totally starting to get older. While we were at my parents' house today, he spent the first couple of hours hanging out, listening to the adults talk, and only went to play with Katrina and Zane for the last hour or so. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Getting ready

In preparation for our trip west, Katrina, Beth, and i all got hair wraps. I did Katrina's, and Juanito did mine and Beth's. They're all really cute and happy. Yay!

Truly, our day was filled with a lot of preparation for the trip. Juanito worked on making a fancy net-thing out of rope to hold the luggage to the roof. I got everyone's laundry clean and folded so we can pack it up.

I put audio books on the kids' mp3 players, and Katrina and Zane both disappeared to their rooms for the rest of the afternoon (3-4 hours) to listen to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Katrina was all, "Well, but i've already read Harry Potter, so that doesn't count, right?" And Zane's got something like 25 different Magic Tree House books and 2 Percy Jacksons, so i think he'll have enough to listen to on the road.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Date night!

This morning, Zane immediately put on this outfit. I asked him why he was so dressed up, and he matter-of-factly told me, "Because we're going out with Auntie Beth!" As to why his pants were tucked into his socks? "I was being nerdy." Katrina was all dressed up in a fancy dress too, and i'm not sure what they exactly thought they were going to be doing with Beth, but after they heard that they'd be going to a park, they were completely happy to change into shorts and t-shirts.

Beth offered to take the kids - overnight - to give Juanito and me a date night. Yay! We went to dinner and then a movie, and it was really, really fun. Thanks, Beth!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I just realized that if our marriage was a baby, this would be the birthday where it would be legal to drink. I'm pretty sure that that makes us officially old!

So today was our 21st anniversary. Twenty-one years since the afternoon that we said our "I do"s, and i'm so very glad that we did!

We went to Noodles to celebrate with the kids, since it's kind of the sort of thing that the whole family should celebrate. I mean, if it weren't for our getting married, none of the kids would be here, a fact that the kids talked about in depth. "So if you'd given birth to me one day later, i'd be a completely different person!?" (Me: "Well, no. Once you were conceived, it didn't matter when you were born. But if you'd been conceived one day later, you'd be a whole different person!")

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


So i've been working like crazy to plan our upcoming trip to Colorado and South Dakota, and in a flurry of searching and planning and finding all the details ever about the Black Hills, i might have accidentally forgotten to blog for the past two days.

On the bright side! I've got a list of where we want to go and some information about those things and maps of where everything is. And also, i've got a approximately thirty billion things for the kids (and adults!) to do in the car, since we're going to be driving for hours and hours and hours. Also, we went to the library and got a bunch of audio books to listen to on the drive. We're getting closer to being ready!

Sunday, June 14, 2015


It was a rainy day today, so we did rainy day stuff for a lot of the day.

Juanito and i sat on the couch with the intention of reading. I read, while he slept. The kids played "Just Dance" on the Wii, while Emma went back and forth between sleeping between Juanito and me and jumping around trying to play with the kids who were dancing.

The kids and i planned to watch one episode of Doctor Who and accidentally watched three.

Legos were played. Drawing was done. Email was written.

It was a normal day.

And then tonight, Beth and i went to see "Pitch Perfect 2," because it was the $5 Sunday movie. And it was really good. We both laughed a lot.

So all in all, in was a really good Sunday.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Movies and friends

Tonight we had another movie night - this one with the friends we get together with every month or so to watch a movie. We grilled and laughed and talked through the entire movie, like we generally do. (I need to remember not to watch a movie with this group if i actually want to be able to hear the entire movie!)

It was Andrew's turn to choose the movie this month, so we watched "The Red Shoes," a ballet movie that was all sad and surreal and ... i think i liked it?

And now Juanito wants to start watching Ender's Game with me, so i am prepared to be really annoyed. :)

Friday, June 12, 2015


Katrina has been asking if her friend Alex could come over and play - or if she could go there - since the very first afternoon that school let out. (I mean, to be fair, she asks fairly regularly anyhow, but she started asking in earnest, and often, after summer vacation started.) Yesterday we went and got Alex from her daycare, had her until her mom picked her up after work, and then got her back at 8:00 so that she could sleep over and had her until 5:00 today. I am hoping that that will sate Katrina's need to have her over for at least a few days.

As to why Katrina used a marker to make herself look like a cat, i cannot explain that.

Beth and Keren came over for pizza-movie night tonight. We watched Paddington, which i was super, super hesitant about wanting to watch, based on the horrible previews that made it seem like a lot of potty humor. I was quite pleasantly surprised that it was really sweet and enjoyable. (Thanks, Beth, for making me watch it!) (Okay, actually, she didn't MAKE me watch it. She just said, "Maybe i'll watch it with your kids next weekend when you're not around...." And then i had to agree to watch it, because what if it was good and i missed out on enjoying it with them?! I'm so ridiculous.)

After we threw the kids in bed, we sat and talked and talked and reminisced and laughed. Friends are the best.

And, since it was a rainy day, that's pretty much all we did all day. That and read. And watch some Doctor Who. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015


There's a house down the street that's been abandoned for a couple of years now. According to my neighbor (who's lived here for years and seems to know everything about the neighborhood) it was previously owned by a baptist minister who impregnated all three of his special needs daughters, bought a convenience store, molested a bunch of little boys, went to jail and died soon after being imprisoned. The upstairs windows were kept boarded up, and his wife and daughter(s) lived their with their even more special needs (due to the limited gene pool) children. Horrible conditions were finally realized by authorities, and the house was abandoned and declared a hazard. It sat empty for 2-4 years, until today.

This afternoon, we stood across the street for an hour and a half and watched it get completely demolished. It was crazy, watching something go from being a house to being a pile of rubble that quickly. There were Duran Duran posters still hanging on the bedroom walls as they were being smashed to bits.

Houston declared it, "The best thing that's ever happened in our neighborhood!"

It WAS pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A trip to the library

We made a trip to the library today. Zane spent the entire time reading books but insisted that he didn't want to take any home. "I just don't like reading books more than once," says the boy who listens to Harry Potter on repeat day and night.

I found a book about how to be a spy and showed Katrina, and she promptly disappeared into it and didn't stick her nose out from it again until we left. "It says that women make better spies than men. Because we're more trustworthy. Also, that dishonesty is a spy's best friend...." (Me: "Yes. But if you're dishonest around people who know you, then that doesn't work. And we'll stop trusting you." Her: "Oh." Sad face.) She also decided to buy a used book to make a secret compartment. Her first choice was a pink and purple book with a giant rose on it with the title, "Guilty Pleasures." I laughed and told her that that book was completely not appropriate for an 11-year-old to even pretend to be reading.

Houston looked on Goodreads, found dozens of books that he's interested in reading, and looked up every single one of them to see if he could check them out. He came home with five. He's had his nose buried deep in a book ever since.

Tonight i got to go to Beth's house to have dinner and hang out with Beth, Karla, and Diana. I just really like my friends. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Vacation: Day 2

Day two of summer vacation, and i'm kind of shocked that i haven't yet heard the words "I'm bored!" There's been a little bit of bickering, but nothing out of control. We all played 2 short games of "Big Brain Academy" on the Wii, but that's all the computer that has been played. So. Summer vacation so far: double plus good!

I realize, of course, that it's only day two. I mean, there's lots and lots of time left, and i'm sure that there will be plenty of whines of boredom and plenty of bickering, but it makes me happy that we're at least starting out on the right foot!

Katrina and i fixed a puzzle today. I want to say we fixed a giant puzzle, but it was really only 504 pieces. But it felt like a giant puzzle because the pieces were horrible. Awful. They weren't SO bad when you could line up the picture, because you could, y'know...line up the picture and see if it was the right place. But this puzzle had a lot of sky and a lot of water, and all of the pieces seemed to be very nearly interchangeable. Nearly, but not quite, because if you put one somewhere and it was the wrong spot, and then you tried to find the piece next to it, that piece wouldn't fit properly. And so, for every single blue piece, we'd have to put it in and look really, really carefully to decide if it fit just perfectly. Toward the end of the puzzle, i felt like i was removing as many misplaced pieces as i was putting in correct ones. So annoying!

I felt bad for Katrina, because this is one of the first times she's been interested in doing a puzzle with me, and ... it was less fun than it should have been.

So. This puzzle goes to Goodwill, i think.

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of school year interviews

What was the best thing you did in school this year?
Katrina: Michigan's Adventure
Houston: Having fun with my friends during lunch and sometimes classes
Zane: Science

What was your favorite thing you learned in school this year?
Katrina: All the body systems, like how you breathe and how you digest stuff and how you go to the bathroom....
Houston: What individual countries in Africa are like, like the economy and stuff.
Zane: How your ears work

Who were your best friends in school this year?
Katrina: Alex, Jackie, Madison.
Houston: Anthony, Aidan, Melody, Chauncey, Zoe, Morgan, and Brandon
Zane: Levi and Antonio

What was the worst thing in school this year?
Katrina: Being absent twice.
Houston: Getting a bad grade in Spanish.
Zane: Music, because i don't really like singing, and the music teacher was really mean.

What is your favorite class?
Katrina: Social studies or math
Houston: Either Social Studies or Language Arts.
Zane: Science

What's something you learned in math?
Katrina: Long division.
Houston: How to graph stuff like slope, and the hypotenuse of triangles.
Zane: Fractions - adding and subtracting and multiplying them

What was your favorite art project?
Katrina: A giant pink flower with a black background made with oil pastels and paint
Houston: An abstract drawing made from a picture that was not abstract
Zane: The pop-up geckos.

What was your favorite book you read?
Katrina: "A Dog's Life" - about a dog from when it was a puppy and her life, but she was a stray for half of her life.
Houston: "Out of the Dust" - about the dust bowl and a girl who was basically right in the middle of it, and about her life.
Zane: "100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet" - Animals, weather, and natural disasters that are dangerous, and how to survive them

What do you like about your teacher?
Katrina: She's nice and she has good ideas of what to do if one class gets behind, how to catch up.
Houston: My favorite teacher was my homeroom and science teacher, and she was really nice, and when we had free time, she didn't make us do things like study hall - she let us read books or watch student news or watch movies.
Zane: How kind she is.

What are you looking forward to this summer?
Katrina: Going to South Dakota!!!
Houston: Going to Colorado and South Dakota. And being lazy.
Zane: Going to Colorado. I've never really been to a wedding!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

First Sunday in June.

After church we went to my sister's house for dinner with the whole family. The kids played and the adults talked, and a good time was had by all. (I assume. I guess i can't know that for certain.) We didn't stay a long time - Juanito had started a "clean out the garage" project yesterday and really wanted to get it finished, and i am not about to stop anything that starts with "Juanito had started a clean out the garage project."

He took all the wood scraps that have been laying around the floor and burned them up, making a perfect fire for s'mores. We ate dinner earlyish and then had s'mores and then found ourselves with lots of sunlight left for playing outside. The kids rode bikes and ran around and petted neighborhood dogs and played with the baton.

I talked to my next-door neighbor, who is honestly a really nice person. She explained the different kinds of brittle bone disease, and talked about chicken pox (except she called it chicken pops, and i half wanted to correct her and half wanted to change the official name to chicken pops). I think that she's had an incredibly difficult life, and she's handled it better than a lot of people would have, and even though i probably would never become good friends with her, i respect her quite a lot.

And to finish the night off, Houston challenged me to a game of "Big Brain Academy" on the Wii. Challenge accepted. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Festival of the Arts!

It's the first weekend of June, which means that today was the Festival of the Arts! Yay!

We went downtown this afternoon and watched some accordion players and some Scottish dancers, and then we headed over to the paint-in. Houston first went to the paint-in when he was technically too young, and he's gone every year, including this one, where he was technically too old. (I honestly didn't know the age limit either time. I'm apparently great at following rules but terrible at paying attention to signs telling me what they are. So if i KNEW, i'd obey, but i'm just...clueless.) So this was his 11th year, i think. Sniff. (Sunrise, sunset!)

Zane dribbled paint all over hià la Jackson Pollock. When he came out, Juanito and i were all, "I like your painting!" and he said, "I accidentally dripped some, so then i HAD to do that. I don't like it at all. It's terrible." Katrina painted an ice cream cone, and Houston randomly painted a banana with "I am a duck" in giant font. 

We wandered through the art, we sat and watched dancers and then went to see the story-tellers, and by that time we were all famished. Juanito went to get the car while the rest of us started walking toward home, and by the time he got to us, we'd made it nearly all the way home already. (We're speedy!) 

And then we had waffles and ice cream for dinner. Because we did. Shut up. It's totally healthy.

And then Beth, Juanito, and i went back to Festival to see "The Mines" play. Our worship leader is in the band, and Beth loves them, so we went to see them, and they were great. Right before them was a dance group that i was completely impressed by. While the other dance groups have lots of songs with really ... hootchie moves (Future strippers of America, as Beth said), this one was really classic and appropriate, and i can actually imagine wanting my children to learn dance there. It was refreshing.

First day of summer vacation! Win!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last day of school, Donut day!

It was the last day of school today! The last half-day, to be precise. It was also National Donut Day. I picked the kids up from school and we went to get a free donut from Krispy Kreme to celebrate. Yay!

Also today, Juanito got home from his two-day scooter ride. He planned to drive to Detroit and back yesterday, but then it took him 9 hours to get there, so he ended up staying with Beth's parents for the night rather than trying to drive through the back streets of Michigan on a scooter in the wee hours of the morning. He had a great time - explored some old buildings in Detroit, got a ticket for entering a building without a permit, took some cool pictures, and did yoga in the park on Belle Isle. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Field trip

Zane's class had their year-end party/field trip today. The first half was at the bowling alley. Zane told me, before we even got there, that he doesn't like bowling. He didn't want to bowl. Bowling was boring. He proceeded to be kind of grumpy through the entire first game of bowling, until he realized that he had come in second place in his group. Suddenly it wasn't quite so boring or dumb. He started the second game with a much better attitude, and ended up winning that game.

To be fair, the bumpers were up, and his style of bowling was to run up to the line and just kind of fling the ball down the lane. It generally bounced once or twice off the bumpers before knocking over pins. But then again, his form was no worse than most of the other third graders playing. There were a lot of kids who would walk up to the line, swing the ball back and forth, and then throw the bowling ball in a high arc toward the lane, where it would land with a dull thud before zig zagging sloooooowly down the lane. Some of the kids just stood right next to the ball return and flung the ball from there. I saw several kids accidentally step over the line and fall on their butts. I saw one kid accidentally let go of her ball so that it went backwards towards the audience. It was kind of chaos.

After bowling for about 2 hours (During which time Zane's group finished one and a half games. One. And a half. Games. Two hours.), we went to a park that's about 2 blocks away. It's a great park, with a fun playground and a giant field to run around in. (There were two swings, which were apparently in high demand. In the course of about 3 minutes, i had four different kids come over to me and say, "Zane is swinging and he won't share, and he's been on it for 20 minutes." (He hadn't. I know this because we'd only been at the park for about 5 minutes.) His teacher, who i already think is awesome, made me like her even more by telling them, "He's allowed to swing. You can just wait your turn," and then telling those of us who were sitting with her about a book called "It's OK Not To Share." Which...yes! I want to read that book now.) (I just completely derailed my line of thought with that long parentheses, so i'm just going to go ahead and start a new paragraph.)

I'd forgotten my camera at home (sad!), but Zane's teacher had a camera almost exactly like mine, and she was all, "Here! You can use my camera if you want and take as many pictures as you'd like! I know that you know how to use it! I'd actually really like that, because then i can just enjoy myself!" Me: "OKAY!!!" Her camera is extra-awesome because she has an amazing zoom lens, so i could take pictures surreptitiously. (Insert evil villain laugh.) The downside is that now i've taken a whole bunch of pictures, and...i don't have them.

There was pizza and games and face painting, but everyone could do whatever they wanted - no scheduled activities at all. It was quite lovely. This group of kids - the ones in Zane's grade - are really, really good. Every year, i think, "This class is so well-behaved!" Yay!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Winding down the school year

Houston had a field trip today. Their field trip, apparently, was "Go to the park. Play. The end." But wasn't anything at all planned or scheduled? i asked. Nope. Just ... play. The end of the school year, man. So educational!

Katrina and the fifth graders got to visit the middle school hallway and see what it's going to be like to be a sixth grade middle schooler. Katrina seems to have no trepidation at all. As far as she's concerned, it's going to be awesome.

It was sunny and warm again today, so before zumba we sat by the lake and had ourselves a little picnic. Picnics are the best kinds of meals. Nobody expects fancy food (at least...nobody expects fancy food from me, because i am not the Ma Ingalls type), and everyone's happy to be outside and enjoying the sunshine. Yay!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dutch Royalty!

The king and queen of the Netherlands was in town today, and someone who was connected with the venue or ... something is also connected to the kids' school, and...voila! Our kids' school was invited to attend the royal visit! They were all given bright orange t-shirts with "Dutch Royal Visit" badges and little pins with American and Dutch flags crossing. They got to sit right up front, close to the stage. Katrina took her camera and took pictures of the royal couple.

I'm kind of jealous!

I made sure to tell them yesterday and this morning how very, very exciting it is, because if our ancestors hadn't moved to America, that would be OUR king and queen. (Zane: "Really?! WOW! ... What are ancestors?")

They we somewhat less than completely impressed, however. Houston was all, "I couldn't even tell who they were. I thought the old people sitting by them were the king and queen. These guys were their 20's." (King Willem-Alexander is actually 48, for the record.) And Katrina was all, "I learned that Dutch people don't have an accent. They sounded just like us."

I think that, when your idea of kings and queens comes from books and movies, seeing a real, live king and queen (without crowns, wearing normal clothes) is probably a bit of a let-down. Thanks a lot, Disney.

Monday, June 1, 2015

End of the school year coming.

It's the last Monday of the school year. According to Houston, he watched 2 movies in school. So apparently the teachers are kind of checking out as much as i am. Houston has a field trip on Wednesday. Zane has one on Thursday. Friday is only a half day. It is so very, very the end of the school year.

Today was sunny and warm enough for sitting outside, writing stories and soaking up the sun. Our neighbors seem to be a bit confused about why my kids like to sit outside and write/read/draw.