Monday, June 20, 2016

Everything that's been happening this past month

I mean... I can't seem to write more than once a month lately. I have no real excuse. Nevertheless. Here we are.

It's been an eventful month - the end of the school year always is! Field trips and graduations and all of the hoopla that goes along with school ending and summer beginning. Yay! I took a million pictures and narrowed them down to my favorite 140 for a slide show...and then realized that that was way, way too many pictures for most people to want to actually look at, so i narrowed it down again to the bare bones, and those are the ones in the slideshow above. I will, if anyone in the world is interested, put the long slideshow down under.

So! Without further ado! Things that have been happening! (In order:)

1. Juanito has been building shelves and cabinets in our front room, and they are getting closer to being finished. It's all being made from old pallets, and he's doing a beautiful job. I can't wait until it's finished!

2. For the past 14 years, we've had at least one child in the baby/preschool/elementary area of church. Every Sunday, we've had to check a child in and out, and for most of that time, that included wearing a paper armband with the child's number. This month, Zane graduated out of the elementary area, up to Fifty6, and thus our time with the little kids area is finished. Henceforth, all of our kids will be sitting in church with us and then going to their individual areas on Sunday evenings.

Our church makes kind of a big deal out of the "graduation," and Zane was totally excited about participating. They did a whole graduation ceremony, at which they gave each "graduate" their own Bible (Houston and Katrina were totally jealous of the Bible!), followed by a family breakfast.

For weeks, Zane had been complaining that he didn't WANT to go to Fifty6. Couldn't he just stay HOME? Whyyyyy???? And i know why he was so opposed. It's because Houston was never a fan of Fifty6 at all. I tried to convince Zane that he would like it, that HE was not Houston, that Katrina liked it! He was not convinced. And then they had a Sunday where all of the grades moved up to their next group, and Zane got to experience Fifty6...and suddenly he LOVED it and started asking just how soon he'd be able to start going. He's now very disappointed that he has to wait until September.

3. Katrina has been using a school flute for the past couple of years, and she desperately wanted one of her very own. As the end of the school year got closer and closer, marking the point at which she'd have to return her flute for the summer, she got more and more desperate. She started looking up flutes, trying to figure out if there were any - ANY - that she could afford. She found a brand of flutes that were not only reasonably priced but also made in colors. Colors!

At first she totally leaned towards pink, but then she reasoned that she might outgrow pink, and really she likes blue just as much.... And so she spent some of her vast savings and is now the proud owner of a lovely blue flute, which she absolutely loves. (She does have to play it using slightly different fingering for one note, because otherwise the key doesn't press down all the way, but she adapted to that very quickly.)

4. For the first time, we were all able to attend the Great Salmon Release. This was Katrina's very first release, and rather than releasing one fish and then quitting, she made up for the previous years missed by releasing 5 salmon, all of whom she named first (Fred, George, Hermione, Sally, and Bob).

Every year, for the past three years, the kids' school has gotten salmon eggs. The kids get to watch the eggs hatch and grow until they're ready to be released in the spring. The first year, Juanito somehow got pulled in to helping parcel out the salmon into baggies, to hand to kids, who then released them into the river, and since then, he has been one of two guys who's been in charge of that job. This year we also helped with transporting buckets of salmon from the school to the river. And, of course, i take pictures, because...i'm me...and since i know that the teacher in charge of the salmon (who was both boys' teacher in third grade) likes pictures, i sent them to her. A week or two later, i was in the school to pick up the kids, and i noticed that there was a display of giant poster-sized pictures of the salmon release. I was all, "Oh, cool!" and then, "Hey! I took that picture!" and then, "Hey! I took ALL of these pictures!" I'm practically famous. Except for y'know...not.

5. The Sunday before Memorial Day, when it was fairly warm, we went to my sister's house for dinner so that everyone could go swimming in their pool afterwards. The kids were all in heaven. Most of the adults were much more rational and stayed dry and warm.

6. On Memorial Day, Beth, the kids, and i walked around downtown. It was a somewhat surreal experience, because it was absolutely deserted. We went down into an almost always completely full parking garage, and it was empty. Completely, utterly empty. Zombie-apocalypse-level deserted.

7. We went to see Verve Pipe at a free outdoor concert with Beth and Stephanie. It makes me happy that we're able to see them live fairly regularly. I think this was our third Verve Pipe concert. They started out with their kids' songs, which...i actually know and love more than most of their adult songs, and then finished off with stuff for the grownups. Juanito and i sang along with songs like "Cereal," "Wake Up," and "We Had to Go Home," while Zane pouted about having to be there at all and Katrina and Houston half paid attention and half read their books.

8. The fourth grade had their annual field trip to the YMCA camp. When Houston and Katrina had this field trip, it was an overnight, but this year they shortened it to just a day trip. It was a long day - we left school at 8:15 in the morning and got back at 8:00 at night - but i'm pretty sure that we did pretty much all of the same things we did when we were there for two days. There was canoeing and archery and rock wall climbing and crafts and candle-making, but Zane's favorite part was the "fur trading," where the kids had to run around in groups trying to find carpet squares with random animals written on them.

Again, there was archery! And canoeing! And rock wall climbing! But Zane preferred searching for hidden squares of carpet. Weirdo.

In the archery portion, the kids each got to shoot three arrows. When it was Zane's turn, his first arrow hit the dirt far before the target. His third shot went way over the target. But on his second shot, Zane hit a perfect bulls-eye. It was amazing. And nothing but sheer luck. Zane spent the rest of the day telling everyone he could find that he was really proud of himself because he got a bulls-eye.

In the past, the chaperons have been allowed (and encouraged) to go canoeing with the kids, and we were allowed to canoe basically wherever we wanted to on the lake. The rules have apparently changed, because this year adults weren't allowed to go out with the kids, and the canoes had to stay within a fairly small area. It was disappointing that i didn't get to canoe with Zane, but it was especially disappointing that the kids didn't get to really enjoy themselves as much. They spent most of their time just trying not to run into each other. Sigh. Rules.

We were the last group of kids from our school to get to do the rock wall. There are two walls the kids can choose between, one of which is quite a bit harder than the other. Most of the kids chose to do the easier wall, but about a third of our group decided to try the harder side. The guy in charge told us right away, "Just so you know! Nobody from the other groups has successfully reached the top on this side." Most of the kids chose to stay and try it anyhow, and every single one of them that tried made it to the top. It WAS hard, and they needed a lot of encouragement, but they all got to ring the bell at the top. Zane was the very last one to go, and everyone except for his teacher and i had already left for the next event. He was a bit disappointed to not have everyone there to cheer for him, and he had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with those long, long legs of his that got in his way, but he made it to the top and was completely impressed with himself. As he should have been.

9. Festival of the Arts! I told Houston beforehand that he was really just too old to do the paint-in portion this year. It's supposed to be for kids aged 12 and under, and we let him sneak in last year, but this year he's 14, and ... no. And so he decided just to stay home altogether, because he "only likes the painting and otherwise doesn't enjoy it." (????) So the rest of us went without him.

Beth and i looked at the schedule ahead of time this year and actually planned out what we wanted to see and when we should go. I wanted to see dancers, and she wanted to see "The Mines" playing, and there just happened to be a dance group right before the Mines were on, so we chose that group. And it was, absolutely, the very best dance group i've ever seen at Festival. It was a pretty large group, with kids from about age 9 all the way up through high school, and every single routine they did was as fun to watch as the one before it. I wish i could remember their name so that we could make sure to see them every year!

10. Houston went on a class trip to Chicago. It was an overnight trip, and they packed it full of fun things. They went to Navy Pier and took a boat tour and went to Medieval Times on Thursday night, and then they spent all day Friday at Six Flags Great America. He had So! Much! Fun!

11. Zane had his end-of-the-year field trip/party at a park. (Not a park right nearby like you'd expect, though. A park 45 minutes away, because....?) There was sand castle building and water balloon tossing and general playground-playing. Zane and his friend Finneas had both worn their fedoras, so they invented a new game called "hat ball." It was a very low-structure day, which was lovely.

12. We had a graduation party for Houston. It wasn't anything super-exciting - just cake and ice cream and family - but he loved it.

13. Katrina had her end-of-the-year beach field trip/party. It was not the warmest of days, and it threatened rain all day, but most of the kids ended up swimming nonetheless, and the rain held off. So! Success. We went to the most ridiculously strict beach/park i've ever, ever been to. Before you can even get in, the guy at the gate grills you about the rules, of which there are legion. (No running. No flotation devices of any kind, unless it's USCG approved. Goggles are okay, but no face masks. If you build a sand castle, you need to knock it down when you're finished.)

Katrina's at that age where kids are all at completely different stages. Some of the kids in her class still look like little kids, while others look like they could be 18. The boys are almost universally shorter than the girls. Some of the girls ran around in their bathing suits completely unselfconsciously, while others never changed or just kept giant coverups on the whole time.

14. Houston graduated. I already covered that.

15. The sixth grade band never did have a concert, so the band director decided that "anyone who wanted to" could come play at the graduation. Katrina was all excited that she was going to get to play during graduation. She practiced and practiced. (Her: "I'm nervous, because i just don't know if i'm doing this right!" Me: "Well, when you play with the group, are you able to keep up?" Her: "We've never practiced this!" They all went into it completely without every once playing as a group or even practicing that song. What?)

We got to the church for graduation, and she talked to the band director, who was all, "Oh, there's been a change. Instead of playing during the graduation, we're going to play out in the lobby beforehand." So...everyone there was sitting in their seats, waiting for graduation to start, which meant that NOBODY was out in the lobby. The entire audience consisted of Juanito, Beth, my parents, my sister, and my niece. And maybe two other people, but they weren't actually paying attention.

The band, meanwhile, was made up of 10 people, including the director, who played the trombone rather than actually directing. And yet! Everyone who had also been to the 7th and 8th grade concert agreed that they were significantly better than that concert had been. They sounded great, ESPECIALLY considering that they'd never once practiced!

16. Last day of school! Woohoo!!! Of course, Houston hadn't had school for almost a week, what with his class trip and then graduation and all. We went and picked up the kids, and then met Beth at Steak and Shake for end-of-school celebration shakes! Yay!!!

17. Juanito took a couple of days off, and so on Thursday we went to the local Frank Lloyd Wright house for a tour. The kids and i had gone last year, and last time we were almost the only people on the tour, and it was really cool and informative. This time, we apparently picked the busiest day of the year, so there was a giant crowd on the tour with us. It was still interesting and the house is beautiful nonetheless, but the kids and i were disappointed that there wasn't more interesting information. I think there were just too many people for the tour guide to be able to throw in lots of interesting side-bits.

18. We went to Saugatuck to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. We were about halfway there, when suddenly the front right tire spectacularly exploded. (Honestly, it's just so fitting that we should have car trouble on our anniversary! Our entire marriage has been filled with one random car emergency after another!)

Juanito spent approximately 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get the spare tire off of the bottom of the car (there's a tiny hidden compartment inside under the floor mat), and then had the jack nearly tip over, but he got it changed! Yay! (For the record: I know how to change a tire, but i don't think i could have actually changed this one.)

This was the first time Juanito and the kids had been in Saugatuck, and we had a fun time wandering around. The kids all wanted to buy all the things, and Zane did get a walking, squeaking pig, and Houston got a Doctor Who shirt and a book, and we all got friendship bracelets.

This was the anniversary that marks the point at which we've been married for exactly half of our lives. (Or nearly so. I guess that for me it'll be exactly halfway in a month and a half, and a bit longer for Juanito, but the NUMBER is halfway.) It's also completely crazy to me that when we got married, we were only 8 years older that Houston is now. Crazy!!! But i still think we made the right choice, and i'm so happy and lucky to married to my favorite person.

And there i stop. I need to remember to write more often. This was insanely long. Sorry.

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