Sunday, July 31, 2016

Zane's 10th birthday party!

When our kids turn ten, they get a big birthday party. ("Big" being relative. Usually they just get to invite one friend over for the night.) Zane's tenth birthday is tomorrow, and so yesterday was his big birthday party. He's been looking forward to this party for literally months - he was already trying to hammer out details with me back before Christmas.

He decided that he'd like to have a Lego party ("But not everything needs to be Legos, Mom. I want to just have some normal games too!") He and i went to the party store to search for any actual Lego plates or napkins or anything, but there was no Lego anything anywhere. And so we got creative. We decided to just go with Lego colors - red and yellow and blue and green being the primary Lego colors - and got tablecloths and plates and napkins and silverware in those colors. And then we bought yellow plastic cups and yellow balloons, and Beth helped me turn both of those things into awesome Lego faces that turned out way cuter than i'd actually anticipated. And, just to make sure that the Lego theme was obvious, i had the kids build some silverware and napkin holders out of Legos. (They were all, "Can we give them eyes?" and i was all, "YES! Make them look awesome!" And they did!)

As people arrived, they guessed how many Legos were in a jar (most of the kids were hilariously far off, and my dad ultimately won, so we declared an adult AND a child winner) and made Lego cars to race. Juanito built a huge, amazing track for the cars to race down. We were originally supposed to be racing outside, but it had been raining and was threatening more rain, so we moved the track inside instead.

And then we ate lunch, with a menu specifically chosen by Zane: Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and baby carrots and green apples and cantaloupe and wavy potato chips. He was especially excited about the wavy potato chips.

And then more games! We tossed legos at a target that kind of looked like skeeball. We played Pin-the-head-on-the-Lego-Man. We gave everyone an ice cube with a Lego inside of it, and they had to melt the ice cube to free the Lego.

And then we brought out the dart board. When i originally had this idea, i told Juanito, "So...i want to have a dart board where kids can throw darts at balloons and pop them. What can we use for darts?" and he went outside and made four of the deadliest-looking darts i have ever seen. Compared to these darts, lawn darts look like fluffy marshmallows. They're basically nails that he's sharpened into points and then added a handle to. But they worked!

So anyone who knows Zane knows that he loves candy. He does NOT, however, love pinatas, because of the whole "rush forward and fight over the candy on the ground" aspect. So instead, we stuffed a whole ton of balloons with candy, and then let everyone pop one balloon and collect whatever was inside. It actually worked really, really well.

And then the obstacle course, where they had to walk up a pallet and leap off, shoot some ping pong balls off pop bottles with a squirt gun, run through tires, climb through hula hoops while walking a balance beam, throw a beach ball through another hula hoop, crawl under and jump over some boards, walk a Z-shaped balance beam, and then hop and walk backwards to the finish line. It was awesome, except that some people had a really hard time with the ping pong ball shooting.

And then cake - which Beth helped me make, and which we were both pretty proud of  - and presents, and we ended almost exactly at the time we were supposed to end. Yay!!!

Zane totally had fun, and i think everyone else did too, so i declare it a roaring success! 

The Cursed Child

Last night was the midnight release of the new Harry Potter book, "The Cursed Child." Beth and i have gone to the midnight release of at least 3 of the Harry Potter books before, so of course we wanted to go to this one too! And this time, we could take Houston and Katrina, who have also finished the series! (We didn't want to take Zane and expose him to spoilers, but his best friend was sleeping over, so he wasn't upset at all!)

Beth made us awesome little bags of swag - cauldron cakes and floo powder and Butter Beer and chocolate-covered wands and a little bottle of Felix Felicis! They were SO cute!

The release was at Barnes and Noble, and they had games and fun stuff to do, and it was really fun.

I didn't actually read the book last night, as i did with the other books, because i was just too, too tired, but i did totally read it this morning and finished it in about 4-5 hours. And ... i'm pretty sure i liked it. I'll have to think about it a bit more, but i think i did. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Adventure Thursday!

Houston and Juanito are still gone until tomorrow, so Beth joined us for Adventure Thursday today! And adventure we did! Rain was totally predicted, so we were hoping it would hold off, and it totally did. It was a perfect day - warm and sunny.

We went farther than we usually do for Adventure Thursday, so it was extra-exciting. (Also extra "are we there yet?"-y from Zane.) Our first stop was the Mini Mac! It's a cute little replica of the Mackinac Bridge, built over a pretty little pond that is positively filled with turtles. I've never seen so many turtles in one small pond in my life! There was even a little grate down the middle, just like the real Mackinac Bridge! We ate lunch on the little island, took pictures in the beautiful field of yellow flowers, and let the kids watch the turtles for ages.

The Mini Mac is right outside of St. Louis, Michigan, which is a cute little, slightly abandoned-feeling, town that's smack dab in the very center of the "Mitten." (That's the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, for anyone NOT from the Mitten.) We walked up and down the street, and wandered through a couple of stores. One was a "Variety" store that fully lived up to its name. It had the most random assortment of goods, and was completely awesome. There were fishing lures and spools of thread and old-fashioned candy and kids' toys and random electronic bits and chairs and a book called, "Bird up! Pheasant Cookbook 'n More" and in smaller print it said, "How to shoot 'em and how to cook 'em...." There was a flea market-type store, which was absolutely enormous and had everything from creepy old dolls and piles of books just thrown on the floor to fancy glass dishes and old 45's. And then we went to the bakery and got ourselves each a donut, because...donuts!

After St. Louis, we drove a short distance to Michigan's smallest post office. Beth literally squealed with glee when we pulled up, because it's tiny and adorable. It was closed for the day (i can't imagine a post office that size needs to be open very many hours!), so we peeked in the windows instead.

And then we drove a few more minutes to see an old 2-story outhouse. It's on private property, so we couldn't get very close, but it was close enough to all agree that a 2-story outhouse is a TERRIBLE idea. Katrina was all, "Why not just build them NEXT TO each other if you need more than one?!" Why, indeed?

We then headed home by a different route, which brought us past a little saloon called the "Hog's Head," which also happens to be the name of a bar in Harry Potter. I was all, "We need to stop there!" and started driving around the block to go back to it, which brought us straight to a giant tank just sitting there. Double-plus good!

And then, the final stop in the adventure was a shoe tree. It's this giant tree that is filled with shoes. So many shoes!

We got home just as it started to rain and rain and rain. Everyone was starving and exhausted, so we ate dinner and collapsed on the sofa and watched an episode of "America's Got Talent." The end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Busy, busy, busy! But in a good way.

This has been a very busy but fun week. And it's not going to get any less busy!

On Sunday we went to a park/splash pad with my parents, my sister Jackie and her family, and my niece and nephew. It was pouring in the morning, and when we woke up, i was certain that we'd have to go somewhere else, but then it cleared up just in time. It wasn't super warm, but the kids totally played in the water anyhow and had lots of fun.

Katrina had a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, so we left the family earlier than we usually do and went to drop her off at her friend's (grandma's) house, where they apparently swam in the pool for 4 hours before quick eating cake. It was exactly the kind of party that Katrina loves - swimming, swimming, and more swimming.

On Monday, Juanito and Houston left for a quick trip to Kentucky. Juanito is staying with his mum, spending most of their time doing zumba, from what i can tell, and Houston is staying with his uncle JJ and his grandpa on their farm.

Tuesday morning Katrina, Zane, and i went to my parents' house for a sleepover! We've often said that the one downside of living so close is that we don't get to do the whole "visit for an entire week and get to spend lots and lots of time together, just hanging out," so my mom invited us over while half of the family was missing anyhow. Yay!

And that's what we did! We hung out and talked. I went shopping with my dad. All of the kids and i went to my sister's house to swim for half an hour. After the kids went to bed, Jackie came over and she, my sister Chellie, my mom, and i played cards for a few hours. And then the next day we spent hours at Jackie's house, swimming again. (The kids were thrilled!)

We took Emma with us, since we'd be gone nearly 2 days, and she completely exhausted herself, and i'm not even sure how. She was on her leash the entire time. It wasn't always being held, but i wanted to be able to grab her when she started chasing my parents' dog around. Their dog (Lily) is a tiny little fluff-ball, and she's a bit intimidated by Emma, so every once in a while she'll just randomly start barking at Emma. Emma takes that as in invitation to play, so she's all, "OKAY!" and then Lily is all, "Scared! Must run away!" except that as soon as she starts running, Emma gleefully chases her. And since Emma is about 10 times Lily's size, Lily's not a fan of the playing. (She's not always super good at not encouraging the playing, though. One time i actually watched her run straight under Emma from back to front. Emma was all, "What the?!")

While we were setting up our bed in the camper, where Katrina, Zane, and i slept, it was about 2:00 in the afternoon and my mom and i were boiling. It felt like the center of the earth, and we were all, "Geez. We might need to come sleep on the floor in the air conditioning instead!" My mom asked, "Will you need blankets? Or is a sheet good enough?" and i was all, "NO! A sheet is plenty! It's SO HOT!" Cut to the middle of the night, and the temperature has dropped by about 30 degrees, and Katrina (who was sharing the bed with me) and i were shivering. I finally woke up enough to stagger out of bed, half asleep, undoubtedly looking like a completely drunken sailor, across the camper to where the blankets were kept. But in my sleep-addled brain, i grabbed the smallest, thinnest blanket, which barely covered one of us and didn't offer much warmth, and we continued to shiver until about 6:30. We were huddled together to share body heat, and i finally asked, "Uh, hey. Should i get another blanket?" I grabbed one of the big, heavy blankets, threw it on the bed, and we both immediately relaxed and fell into a deep sleep. Lesson: Always have a blanket handy! I should know this already!

While we were swimming on Wednesday, i spent a while teaching Zane to swim again, and he did SO WELL. He can now swim the width of the pool, and he's all, "I LOVE swimming! Can we go swimming again soon? And you can teach me more?!" Success!!!

And then, Wednesday night, Beth came over and hung out with us for the night. We ate dinner and watched an episode of Cupcake Wars and then sent the kids to bed and sat and talked and talked and talked. Fun!  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Haircut and Balloons!

Two exciting things happened today. The second was planned, but the first was completely unplanned.

It was the middle of the afternoon, and i looked at Houston, whose hair was a curly moppy mess from having never brushed it after showering, and i said, "Houston, you need to brush your hair." And he said, "No." (In a somewhat jokey way.) I replied, "Well. You can brush it! Or i can cut it!" (In a somewhat jokey way.) And he said, "Okay," and didn't move.
Me: "Seriously. If you have long hair, you have to take care of it."
Him: "I don't want to brush it."
Me: "...."
Him: "We can cut it."
Me: "Wait. Seriously, though? I don't want to cut it and then have you regret it later!"
Him: "Yes. It's too hot. I've been thinking about getting it cut.

So within the hour, his hair was gone. He's donating it to Wigs for Kids, so it's a win all around! And he seems really very happy about it, honestly.

Tonight was the Hot Air Balloon Festival! Yay!

There was a free photo booth with virtually no lines, and my kids took full advantage of it. They, along with their cousins, were probably half of the business the photo booth did. They each have a small stack of pictures, and theirs are SO much cuter than anything i ever do in photo booths. So they spent nearly the entire time at the fair doing that.

My parents, my younger sisters and their kids, Beth, Juanito, and our kids were all there, so we had a good group of fun people to hang out with. The sky was cloudless and sunny, perfect for a balloon launch, and then the did the glow at sunset, which is always my favorite part. (I only wish they'd waited until it was a bit darker to do the glow. It was dusk, but not actually dark, and i think they're SO pretty when it's fully dark!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Oh my gosh. It is SO HOT today. Emma has spent the entire day flopped under the ceiling fans.

We had book club last night at my house. It was a warm night, so we all crowded into the front porch. Juanito added a fancy handle to the porch door, which prevents Emma from just pushing the door open and running straight out. I moved our comfy outside chairs into the porch so we'd have somewhere happy to sit. And then we added twinkle lights, and now the front porch is all happy, and we can leave the front door open and let Emma wander in and out of the porch. I've already spent quite a lot of time sitting out there, reading and enjoying any breeze.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The beach! And Katrina's popsicle.

We spent most of the day out at my grandpa's beach today. It was warm and sunny, and most of us accidentally got sunburned, but the sunburn was worth the fun. Houston and Katrina were out in the water nearly the entire time we were there, which was no surprise. Zane spent the first half of the time on the beach, building sandcastles, until i went in, and then he joined me and remembered that, "HEY! Playing in the waves is fun!"

When we first got to my grandpa's house, Juanito and the kids went down to the beach while i sat and talked with my grandpa. We talked about books (he's always trying to steer me toward reading more ... meaningful/worthwhile-type books) and he gave me lots of suggestions of things to read. We talked about what was new with us and him and the family in general. We talked about the first movie he ever saw (Sunset Boulevard) and how he wasn't allowed to watch movies when he was growing up, which led to his story about when he made profession of faith. It went like this:

"When i made Profession of Faith, we had a whole catechism class with about 16 people, and each person had to go individually to talk to the elders. The elders only asked three questions. Do you dance? Do you play cards? Do you go to movies? And if you answered yes to any one of those three questions, you had to wait a year, repent, and try again."

Me: "So...they didn't ask anything at all about your faith or what you believe?"
Him: "No. That was it. Three questions. Because the dancing was too sexual, the cards were playing with providence, and the movies represented all of the evils in the world."


Anyhow. eventually i went down to the beach to swim a bit, sit in the sun a bit, and take pictures of the kids and Juanito. I taught Zane how to kind of surf the waves close to shore on his stomach, and he loved that.

And then, as we were getting ready to leave, my grandpa asked if we'd like to go to dinner with him, so we went to an early dinner (we had to get Juanito home for Zumba) of really delicious hamburgers. And while we ate, we talked about the various places my grandpa had practiced medicine and which was his favorite (working the emergency room! "But even though i was a surgeon, i always tried to figure out how to fix them without doing surgery if it was possible. Most surgeons just want to cut open everyone!").

While i was reading to the kids tonight (Howl's Moving Castle and Harry Potter book 4), i let the kids make and eat popsicles. The popsicle maker thingy is SO COOL, and the popsicles are delicious, and Houston and Zane's were perfect, but Katrina's was...not. When i pulled it out, i immediately saw a fairly large moth frozen to it near the top. Ew. I cut that whole part off, and Katrina went about eating the rest of it, until suddenly she spit a piece out, threw it to the floor of the porch, and exclaimed, "I JUST BIT INTO A FLY!" So apparently her popsicle was SO DELICIOUS that not just one bug but TWO froze themselves to death to get to it. The fly was way at the bottom, and she hadn't actually eaten it at all, but...SO GROSS.

I let her have a bowl of ice cream.

Houston was all, "What?" And Katrina and i both said, "She/I bit into a FLY!!!" and he immediately shrugged in a, "Yeah, that's fair," kind of way.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Meijer Gardens!

We went to Meijer Gardens today with my mom and my niece. (All of us except Houston, who chose to stay home and sleep. In the middle of the afternoon.)

Neither of them had been to the Japanese Gardens yet, and Juanito had only been to part of it, so we spent the majority of the time in that section of the gardens. It's been several weeks since we walked through that area, so all different things were blooming, and it's just such a beautiful garden that i'm totally happy to visit it again.

One of the things i love about going to Meijer Gardens with different people is that everyone we go with brings something new. Going with my mom is a whole different experience than going without her - it's a lot slower, as she looks at individual flowers, and i actually learn (though sadly, don't actually remember) the names of different flowers and plants and trees. I discover that flowers that look quite different to me are actually the same, just a different variety. And since the kids are along, they spot every single animal that comes anywhere near to us. Today, Katrina spotted a crayfish that was hiding so well that even after she pointed out where it was, it still took me a long time to see it.

The past several times we've been out and about, we've run into people playing Pokemon Go, but i really didn't expect to see them at Meijer Gardens. AND YET! They were certainly there. There was one guy walking along, looking at his phone, who was wearing a Pokemon shirt, and i decided it was safe to ask him if there were Pokemon in the gardens, and he was all, "Oh yeah! Lots of them!" He then proceeded to explain the entire game to my mom. I know it's a popular thing, but i think people are weird. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


I told the kids that they could each invite a friend over for the day, so Katrina and Zane immediately called one of their best friends and invited them over, but Houston was all, "I don't really want to. But thanks." Why? "I never really know what to do with them, so then it feels all awkward." (Instead, he split his time between reading and playing with the kids who were here.)

I know i've said this before, but i'm just always so happy about who our kids have chosen to be friends with. They're just really, really nice kids.

They all played together for some of the time - they did folded drawing pictures where each person draws a third of the person without seeing the other 2/3, played hide and seek, and were generally silly together. Zane and Justin spent quite a while playing with Zane's Minecraft magnets, having contests of who could build a better (fill in the blank). Everyone giggled and ran around and just had a really good day.

And meanwhile, i got to sit and read for quite a while, mostly uninterrupted! We all win!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


My sister Jackie invited us over to her house to swim this afternoon, because it was going to be hot and sunny. My kids have been dying to go swim there for the past week, so it was a king of obvious choice for us to go.

Zane, who is nearly 10, still doesn't know how to swim, and we've gotten past the point where that is at all acceptable, so this afternoon i decided to force the issue a little bit. I let him wear the kind of goggles that cover the eyes and nose, and then i taught him how to do the simple "swim without moving your arms by pushing off the side and kicking your legs" stroke. (That's totally the technical name.) And it was a bit of a struggle to convince him that he HAD to put his face in the water, that he couldn't learn to swim properly if he was trying to keep his head above water. But eventually we got to the point where he could swim almost from one end of the pool to the other before he panicked and stopped to come up for air. And so then i left him alone for an hour and a half, to swim and play as he wanted to.

And then i pulled him aside again and told him to try swimming without the face mask this time...and that's where i lost him.

Me: "You won't always have goggles with you, especially in an emergency!"
Zane: "But i'm going to get water up my nose!"
Me: "Plug your nose, then."
Zane: "Everything will be different then!"
Me: "It'll be fine. Just try. can just go this far instead of all the way across." (I move to about 6 feet in front of him.)
Zane: "I won't be able to see!"
Me: "I'm right here. I won't let you swim into the deep end or anything."
Zane: "But i've never done this!"

And on and on and on. There are two problems here: He hates to get his face wet, and he hates new and uncertain experiences. It was half an hour of me encouraging and him trying to work his way up to actually putting his face in the water, and finally he kind of, sort of put his face in the water and kind of, sort of swam, and i called it good enough.

He immediately got out of the pool and wrapped himself in a towel and was finished for the day. (Everyone else was finished within 10 minutes too, so that was fine.) I sat next to him on the swing and talked with him about being brave, and he told me, "But i'm in Gryffindor! That means i'm brave!" And i agreed that he IS brave, but that means doing things even when you're afraid, and he didn't like that explanation very much at all.

Anyhow. I'm hopeful that this is the year that he'll actually learn to mostly swim. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Goodbye Rick

My brother Rick left today, to move way out to the deserts of California. We're all sad to see him go, and so, so happy that we got to spend the past several days with him.

Meanwhile, Katrina got home from camping, stinky and filthy and full of stories of adventure and fun. It's so good to have her home again!

We spent the afternoon at my parents' house, and then spent the evening in a heap on the couch, reading and then watching a BBC show about animals. All of us were pretty exhausted from lack of sleep, so having an evening to just do nothing was perfect.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Picnic and lots of games

Our family all met at the park tonight for a picnic. It's our kids' favorite park, and Zane was all, "Katrina is going to be so sad she missed this!" And yet, Houston chose to sit with the adults and play a game of Wizard. Earlier in the day he told me, "I cannot wait to go to Grandma's house!" And when i asked why, he was all, "Cards!!!"

So we played a game of Wizard before dinner. And then after dinner, Jim brought out his game of Washers, which is similar to horseshoes except that you're throwing washers into a box rather than a horseshoe onto a pole. We played a couple of games of Washers, but that game can only be played by four people at a time, so we moved on to the next game.

Three of us had brought along our sets of bocce ball (mine is clearly and considerably inferior, but it was great for the little kids!), so we combined the three sets and had a giant game with twelve of us. Juanito was the referee/little ball pointer-outer, and he was all, "I'm so happy that i found a way to play this game that i can actually enjoy!" It was the most chaotic game of bocce ball ever, with everyone just kind of throwing their balls at random, but it was totally fun. Houston and i were a team, and we won the first game, which was awesome, and then we did totally and completely terribly for the next two games.

By the time we finished playing, it was getting late, so we left the park and hit the ice cream store. Yay for delicious ice cream!

And then most of us went to my parents' house for yet another game of Wizard. Yay for fun people who like to play games! I would have stayed a lot longer, but Juanito had to get to work, so we took a picture of the six original siblings, since this was the last time we'd see each other before Rick leaves tomorrow, and then we headed home. It was nearly 11:00 by then, and Zane was all, "I'm getting used to these late nights!" 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday fun!

Nearly everyone was at my parents' house today. All six of the original Martinus kids, four spouses, and a lot of the grandkids were there for at least parts of the day. It was fabulous.

I told Zane that he wasn't allowed to watch TV, so while his cousins were watching a cartoon, he went outside and watched the show through the window. Kids.

We talked, made cookies, rolled coins, and played lots and lots of cards. Lots of cards. Houston learned how to play Wizard and won by a landslide his very first game. (It was totally beginner's luck, because he did lose quite horribly most of the rest of the night.) We had Chicago-style pizza (yum!). We played Duck with about 10 of us and it was wonderfully chaotic. We ate cookie dough (mmmmm). It was another super-fun day with family. Yay!

Meanwhile, Katrina left to go camping with Beth and Karla and Karla's kids. I miss my girl, but i really hope they're having fun! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

More family!

We spent most of the day with my family again. My parents, my brothers, my sister Chellie and her kids, my kids, and i all went to Pizza Ranch for lunch. We sat there for nearly two hours, until the kids all decided they needed to leave because the TV started having a show where they were trying to show the most flattering underwear for women's butts or something, and they didn't want to watch all the women in underwear.

The kids have been loving spending so much time with their cousins. They run around the yard playing all kinds of weird, made-up games. Meanwhile, we adults either sit around and laugh a lot or we play games of the more organized variety.

It's been a great few days.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


We spent the day at my parents' house. The kids were introduced to "The Price is Right," and we hung out with my dad for a few hours. I walked around the garden and took pictures of some of the beautiful flowers.

And then my brothers got there, and we all played Uno Roboto. The kids love that game, mostly because the get to give themselves silly names.

After a few rounds, Juanito got there, and Rick, Jim, Juanito, Houston, and i headed out to play croquet. We played with an absolutely ridiculous course, ranging all over the yard and going through crazy obstacles. It wasn't exactly the way the fancy British people play croquet, but it was fun. And i very nearly won, which is kind of shocking when playing any kind of game that requires a ball and aiming ability.

After the first game, we moved to the front yard and started a new game with a new course, but shortly after we started, right about at dinnertime, my sister Jill and her family arrived (bringing with them dinner for all of us!), and shortly after them, Alisha and Harrison and Eric and Kelly all came, and our game kind of broke up as we all got distracted by all of the new people. And that was totally okay, because i was completely losing at that point.

And THEN! As an added bonus, my mom and sisters and their kids all got home from Iowa just as we were starting dinner! It was SO GOOD to see my mom again - she's been gone since forever. And so we spent the rest of the night laughing and talking and telling stories and laughing some more. I love my family!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


My little brother Rick is unexpectedly in town for the next two days before moving out to the middle of nowhere in the desert between California and Nevada, and so we all went over to my parents' house to see him tonight. Yay!

My mom, two sisters, and their kids are stuck in Iowa with a broken car (I'm so sad for them! I hope they get back tomorrow!!!), so it was just my dad, my two brothers, one sister, Juanito, my kids, and me. We sat and talked and talked for quite a while, partially about Rick's move and job, and partially reminiscing about past trips and life when we were little. While we were sharing stories and my kids were laughing along, i was totally remembering sitting at my grandparents' house, listening to my mom and her siblings tell hilarious stories about when they were young, and absolutely loving it. I hope my kids have similarly happy memories.

And then we went out and played Molkky for ages until the sun went down and we simply couldn't see well enough anymore and Juanito had to get to work. It was totally fun.

We missed having everyone there, but it was fun to have a smaller group too. On the way home, Houston commented that he loves my whole big family, but he's kind of glad that we have less kids, so even when they're all grown up and married, there won't be a ton of people. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fourth of July!

It's the fourth of July!!!

Katrina, Beth, and i spent quite a long time this morning painting our toenails and then, on a whim, our fingernails. Katrina has some really cute monster fake nails that she got for her birthday, and she wanted to use those, so we carefully put them on. And then they almost immediately fell off. So we tried to kind of glue them to her fingernails with fingernail polish, but that lasted only slightly longer. And so in the end, she just gave up on those and we used the fancy transfer thingies that are really cute. Except then Beth and i were all, "I want to do that on one of my nails, for a fun thing!" So we did. And then we had to paint the rest of our nails so it didn't look weird. But they were all cute in the end!

Katrina found an idea in her American Girl Magazine to cover an ice cream cone with Magic Shell, and then add sprinkles before it hardened, and she really wanted to try it out. And since it's a holiday, it was the perfect time! We adults were all full of delicious soup and yummy fancy raspberry drinks, but the kids have bottomless stomachs, so they eagerly piled on as much as they could.

We went to our usual spot for the fireworks. It's just this little area between a path and some houses, right by some telephone wires. And i think most people don't sit there because of the wires, but we love it. It's never very crowded, it's practically right under the fireworks, so they're HUGE, and after the first couple of fireworks, none of us even notice the wires anymore.

This year our friends Linda and Andrew, who usually go with us, were in Germany, but Beth and Stephanie (and Stephanie's mom and god-daughter) were there. There were glow sticks and sparklers and popcorn and weird candies that Stephanie brought, and the kids were all very spoiled. There was the usual firefly catching and merriment before-hand. And then Juanito, Beth, and i started playing with long-exposures and glow sticks, and that lasted until suddenly the fireworks started.

And they were amazing. We couldn't decide if they were actually bigger than Grand Rapids or just different or if it was just our location, but while the Grand Rapids fireworks had some really cool things like waterfalls spilling from the bridge and fancy things you could only see close-up, the Grandville fireworks were just huge and seemed to fill the sky and then rain right down on us. There were several that made Beth and me actually gasp in surprise and delight, and Juanito kept a running commentary (things like, "That was just like bacon") that amused us greatly. There was the most perfect smiley face firework i've ever seen, and some incredibly bright flashing, loud banging ones, and lots of glittery, sparkly, amazing ones. It was fantastic. Everything fireworks should be.

Afterwards, we just took our time and took a few pictures and played with sparklers and long exposures some more. We figured, "Well, we're going to be in traffic anyhow! We might as well spend the time having fun rather than sitting in a car!"

All in all, it was a great day!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

2nd of July!

It's the Saturday before the 4th of July, and here in Grand Rapids, they do the fireworks on Saturdays, which is actually kind of nice, because then the smaller towns can do fireworks on the actual 4th and people don't have to choose.

Beth came over, and we grilled - brats and hamburgers and chicken, because we have some picky eaters - and then we had Juanito drop us off downtown, drive back home, and ride his bike back down to meet us. We found a spot in the middle of one of the main bridges - not a great spot, but adequate - and settled in to wait for the fireworks to begin.

Except then my brother Jim called and invited us to come watch the fireworks with them in his office building, so we leaped up and rushed over there. And the view was incredible, and we are now thoroughly spoiled. The Grand Rapids fireworks are great, regardless of where you stand, but when you can see them from several floors up, with a perfect view, you get to see the ones that are only visible to people with perfect seats.

Afterwards, we walked most of the way home while Juanito went back for the car. The kids were all completely hyper and excited and chattered non-stop. We got home at about 11:00, and people in our neighborhood were, of course, setting off fireworks. Loud ones. Until about 12:30. Because it's what they do.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Zane's new fish

Yesterday, Zane's fish Velvet died in a tragic fish-bowl-cleaning-related accident.

See, he and Katrina have both had their fish for about a week, and they want to be good pet owners, so they wanted to change their fish's water. Juanito devised this fancy cleaning system that involved a giant mop bucket, hoses, pumps, and ... i don't even know what else. It was meant to suck the old water out and then pump new water in. And unfortunately, it also sucked up Zane's fish.

Zane was absolutely crushed. He was all, "I really wanted to keep my fish alive for longer than a week!" And, "I don't think i should get another fish! Because i don't want to kill another one!"

I consoled him and promised him that it was not his fault at all, and this afternoon he happily went to the store to get himself a new fish. This one's name is Diamond, and our goal is to keep him alive for at least two weeks this time.