Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ArtPrize day -1!!!

Lots of pictures here.

Today was "Twin Day" for City's spirit week, so last night at about 8:30, Houston called Chauncey and asked him, "Hey! Do you want to be my twin?" Because they are boys, Chauncey also didn't have a twin plan, so they both wore their matching gym shirts from middle school, fedoras, and some crazy glasses that Chauncey broke in half and they both taped to their faces. Houston looked like this:

It's the day before ArtPrize actually starts, and per our usual tradition, we went to the Ford and Public museums to walk around and see the artists setting up their art outside. We ended up being there quite a bit longer than we'd planned, because Juanito and Zane decided to ride their bikes downtown after zumba to meet us. They got there just as we finished looking at all of the stuff we'd planned to look at, so rather than just send them straight home again, we walked over to a nearby hotel (which, obviously, is open) and looked at the art there too. 

I can never decide if every other year the art at ArtPrize is actually better or if it's that my expectations get really high and then i'm disappointed and then the next year i expect nothing and i'm pleasantly surprised again. But last year i was disappointed in a lot of the art, and so far this year has lots of things i like. (Nothing i LOVE yet, but since ArtPrize hasn't technically even started yet, that's probably to be expected....)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Arrrrr! Free donuts!

Today was "dress like a pirate and get a dozen free donuts at Krispy Kreme" day. (My brother Jim called to remind me, and i was so happy he did, because i'd totally forgot!) I told the kids that, and they all immediately set about finding or making pirate stuff. Part of their costumes ended up being some fake gold coins, and they spent many gleeful hours saying things like, "I dropped my booty!" and "I'm shaking my booty!"

I'd originally planned to go right after school, but Zane's friend's dad texted me to ask if Finn could come home with us after school. And then Finn's mom forgot to pick him up after work. And so by the time we left (with Finn, also dressed like a pirate), it was about 5:45, which meant we had just 45 minutes to get donuts and get back home so Juanito could go to zumba. It was a good plan...until we pulled up at Krispy Kreme and saw the line that went out the door and halfway across the parking lot.

Juanito called Beth, who agreed to come get him because she is really, really nice. By the time we actually got our donuts (four dozen!!!!), the line was twice as long as it had been when we got there. The employees had the donuts being constantly made, and they were taking them straight off the conveyor belt, putting them into boxes, and handing them out as fast as they could. I bet they hate this day!

Obviously we don't actually need 4 dozen donuts, so while i made dinner, i sent the kids out with a box to see if any of the neighbors would like a donut. They gleefully brought them to all of the neighbors we know and some of the neighbors we don't know. They were the donut-fairies...but pirate-y. Yay!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

ArtPrize! Day -4!

(I've taken a ton of pictures of ArtPrize already. Today's are here. Thursday's are here.)

On Thursday we all hopped in the car and drove around to a few of the venues that are outside of town - Arnie's, Coit school, the Downtown market. We tried to go a few other places, but they must have changed their minds about being open for preview week. One church that we went to was open, and we wandered all over the entire church before concluding that there was no art anywhere.

At Arnie's, there was a baseball game made of silly little metal guys, and Houston almost immediately spotted the fielder who was squatting down and playing with bugs. He ran over and exclaimed, "Look! It's me!" Hee. (That totally WAS him, back when he played.) Also at Arnie's was what might be this year's most pathetic piece: a bunch of printed pictures, colored in with crayola markers.

Today we headed into actual downtown and hit a few of the places that get completely insanely crowded during actual ArtPrize. We went to The B.O.B., and it was the perfect place to go, because there was almost nobody else there, so we could totally look at everything without giant crowds. We also went to Kendall and a couple of other smaller venues, and then we were walking toward the car when we realized that we could go into Devos and see some of the art there that just happened to be up already. Yay!

There's been a pattern that we've noticed, wherein the odd years of ArtPrize tend to be more disappointing than the even years. So far, i'm hopeful that this year will be good. There were things that i didn't care for, but there've been several things that i've liked, and i've only seen a small percentage, so ... finger's crossed!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ArtPrize begins! Sort of.

Last year, both Beth and i managed to go to every single venue in ArtPrize, which is...kind of insane, actually. But the very last place both of us went was Biggby Coffee. And so, this year, it was fitting that the very first place we'd go would be Biggby Coffee!

ArtPrize doesn't technically start until next week, but they're doing a "preview week" this week, where just some of the venues will have art for us to look at. And having an extra week seems like a really good idea!

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *  

Tonight Houston's school had a PTSA dinner + "go to all of your child's classes and meet their teachers" event. Yay! I got to sit with Linda for the dinner, which made me really happy, because that meant that i only had to be social with someone i already know, and not having to make awkward small talk is always a happy thing. Plus, i like Linda!

Houston's teachers all seem really great, and i wholeheartedly agree with his feelings about his geometry teacher being...okay. I'm hoping he's a great teacher, because he's not winning a lot of points on the personable scale.

Almost every single one of Houston's teachers, when i said that i was Houston's mom, responded in a really positive way. His Spanish teacher immediately gushed, "Oh, i LOVE Houston! He's just a joy to have in class!" And his Art teacher was likewise gushy. His health teacher's first response was, "Oh! Houston! He wrote in one of his assignments about the time when his brother bit a frog!" and i was all, "....? (Blink. Blink.)" Because to the best of my recollection, Zane has never bit a frog.... I shall have to investigate this story further.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Apples and Sunday

Yesterday morning, Beth was all, "Apples are available for the picking right now!" And we agreed that we should totally go pick some. And rain was in the forecast but not until 2:00, so we planned to go at noon, which would give us at least a reasonable amount of time. YAY!

We had paid for the apples that we were going to pick and had just started - JUST started - picking our apples when it started drizzling. Katrina was all sad, and i assured her that, as long as it wasn't pouring, we'd still see the cats and goats. "As long as it wasn't pouring" was only seconds out of my mouth before it started pouring. Pouring. And in an apple orchard, there are thousands of trees, but none of them make for good cover, so within a few minutes we were all soaked to the skin. At first we tried to hide and seek cover - in boxes, in wagons, by the cats - but eventually we were all SO wet that we were like, "Forget it. Just embrace the rain, do what we want to do, and then we'll go home and get dry." So we picked the rest of our apples. Katrina and Houston held kittens (really, really cute kittens!). We pet the goats we were allowed to pet and "aaaaaawwwww!"ed over the teensy baby goats that were probably born earlier that same day, because they still had umbilical cords hanging off of them. We got donuts. We shivered a lot.

But we got apples! Delicious ones! So it was probably worth it. And, as Katrina said, "It was an experience."

(More pictures here.)

Today was the first Sunday with our new pastor AND the first Sunday back at Fifty6. I didn't get to see my girls much today, because i was checking a million people in and then we were just in the big group, but i was happy to see several of them again.

Zane was completely excited about starting Fifty6 this year, and in the middle of the singing he ran over to me and whispered, "I might have made a friend!" and then ran back. Katrina moved up to "The Element" this year, and she's completely disappointed that last year's pastor has left, because "I liked her SO much better!" And Houston is now in Anthem, the high school group, of course. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

School pictures!

For the past few years, our school has done school pictures during the last month of summer vacation, but this year they changed it up and did pictures the first week. I'm guessing that it was partly to make it easier for the photographers, who could then come in for one day, take all of the individual AND class pictures, and be done.

The difference between Katrina's and Zane's choices for their outfits makes me giggle a little bit. Katrina started choosing what she'd wear days ago and chose one of her many, many cute long sweaters that have become her favorite thing to wear. In addition, she started looking days ago at ideas for hairstyles and finally settled on one that has lots of little braids all pulled back. (I had my doubts about this style from the beginning, because it looks cute from the side and back but not as much from the front.) I ended up doing her hair twice this morning, because i totally braided and braided and braided, pulled it all back, and let her go look at it, and she realized that it wasn't as cute as she'd expected, so we took out all of the braids and switched to a simpler, sweet little twisty-braidy-bangs-pulled-under-the-hair kind of style. Zane, on the other hand, went to his closet and just kind of grabbed a shirt that he kind of liked and threw on some shorts with it.

And so it was the end of the first week of school. So far:

Houston loves all of his teachers and is really enjoying City. He hardly gets to see Chauncey, but he does get to sit next to Summer in Art class, which is happy. He's already lost his homework planner.

Katrina is really happy to have most of her friends in her class. She's not sure about her new band director just yet, because she's "super strict!" (Me: "Yes, well, compared to your LAST band director, anyone will seem super strict because you're expected to actually learn something!")

Zane loves his teacher, has made a new friend, and is excited about starting band. I think he finally took all of the school supplies out of his back pack and put them into his desk today, after carrying them back and forth to school because he kept forgetting.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Last night my brother and sister-in-law had twins, and they are teensy and adorable and i would hold them all day if i could. The little girl is Eloise Grace and she was 4 pounds, 11 ounces. The boy is Micah Elliott, and he was only 4 pounds! They're so, so tiny. And so, so cute.

I went by myself to see them this morning and got to hold them for about half an hour. It was the perfect time to go - nobody to share them with! (Except Jim and Alisha, of course!)

And then tonight we all went to visit them. The kids were SO excited to meet their cousins! And now that they've had so much practice with holding Amiya, they're practically pros! (Except Zane, who "really doesn't like to hold babies.")

I took a million pictures, because i am me. Here are some of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First day of school!

Everyone was really excited this morning, of course, and so even though Katrina and Zane don't have to be at school until significantly later than Houston, they were completely ready to go by the time he was ready. And so i took first day of school pictures (YAY!) and then we all went together to bring Houston to high school and then drove straight to Katrina and Zane's school. I was thinking, "Geez, we're going to be so ridiculously early! Probably we'll have to just sit in the car for a while until other kids get there...."

But no. We got there fully 40 minutes early, and yet already the parking lot was nearly completely full. I parked and got out to take a couple of quick pictures of the kids in front of school, and left, and people were already parking illegally because there were no spots left. What madness is this?!

It was a hot day today, and all day i was thinking, "I'll be Houston is roasting at school!" They don't have air conditioning, and when we visited last week, it was the hottest place in all the world - both of us were dripping in sweat by the time we left. Houston's friend said that the teachers mostly have fans, but the windows don't open, and there's only so much they can do.

I drove over to pick Houston up after school - they haven't given out bus passes yet - and i paid close attention to how early the parking lot starts filling up. Unlike the elementary school, where people are lined up an hour early, the high school parking lot didn't even get terribly busy until about 15 minutes after the end of school. Lovely! So i sat and waited and waited and waited for Houston. I'd told him that he'd need to find me in the parking lot (which isn't huge), so i didn't want to go drive or walk around looking for him. Half an hour after school ended, my phone rang, and it was Houston asking, "Where are you?" Me: "I'm in the parking lot?" Him: "Oh."

Turns out, he got confused with his schedule and thought that he had another class, so he tried to go there after school let out, and then he thought i'd drive up and pick him up (which...we discussed this!). He was, indeed, roasting. (We went and bought him some shorts he can wear to school this afternoon.)

By then it was late enough that i just drove straight to the elementary school to get the other kids. It worked out well, because Houston needed to get his transcript, because his geometry teacher is somehow convinced that he didn't take Algebra 1. (He called last week and asked, and i assured him that Houston HAD taken it, but he didn't believe me. So i offered to call the school and ask them, and they confirmed that he'd taken it. But apparently that wasn't convincing enough. Sigh.)

Everyone's day went well. Zane was all happy because he made a friend! Katrina had blisters on her heels (sad), but is in most classes with her friends (happy!). Houston saw several people from elementary school, including his friend Summer, with whom he was best friends for years. They all had homework, which they all did uncomplainingly. (I don't expect that'll last past this week, especially for Zane.) And they were all ready for sleeping by bedtime.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Last day of summer interview!

(More pictures here.)

Today was Labor Day - the last day of summer vacation, so Beth, the kids, and i walked around downtown. We did the same thing on Memorial Day, and at that point, the entire city was deserted. Today there were quite a few more people there, and Beth made the brilliant observation that the difference is that Pokemon Go wasn't yet a thing on Memorial Day, and a good portion of the people we met downtown today were playing. Also there was a festival called "Laborfest" going on by the Ford Museum, and - possibly connected - the Ford was free today. We agreed that "free" was the most we'd pay to visit that museum, so we checked it out. And we all agreed that the Ford is the most boring museum any of us had ever been in. (Though Zane was excited that he'd been a boy scout.)

We had yummy steak and chicken on the grill and corn on the cob for dinner. We had ice cream cones and s'mores. And we were all sad to see summer end.

End of summer interviews:

What were your favorite things we did this summer?
Zane: "Going to Pennsylvania. My favorite thing was my birthday party, and THEN Pennsylvania."
Katrina: "Seeing baby Amiya. The Aviary. The zoo. Dutch Village."
Houston: "Seeing 'The Secret Lives of Pets.' Going to SkyZone. Going to Pennsylvania and Kentucky."

What are you looking forward to in school this year?
Zane: "Michigan Adventure. Fifty6. Getting more friends."
Katrina: "Friends. The math teacher, because she seems really nice. Having almost all of my friends in my class again. Art class. And a new band teacher."
Houston: "Wearing my Halloween costume to school. Seeing Chauncey EVERY DAY. Getting a locker with a lock!"

Are you ready to go back to school?
Zane: "Yes! I'm actually really excited!"
Katrina: "Yes and no. I don't want to do the homework or classes, but i want to see my friends again. And they have lots of books at school."
Houston: "No. I want to stay in summer vacation forever and ever."

What was the best book you read this summer?
Zane: "The fourth book of Harry Potter!"
Katrina: "'Heart of a Dolphin' or 'The Lost Hero'."
Houston: "Trials of Apollo."

How many books did you read this summer?
Zane: "I really don't remember. Maybe...about ten."
Katrina: "14."
Houston: "10 or 15."

What are some of your goals for this year?
Zane: "Making at least two more friends. Getting all of my homework done. But once or twice i might accidentally have stuff happen, and then i won't get it done...."
Katrina: "Getting all of my homework done on time. Not getting any planner signatures."
Houston: "Turn in all of my work. Not get in trouble once. Follow the dress code. Get good grades."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My grandpa is 97!

My grandpa's 97th birthday was on Tuesday, so today we all gathered at his house for a birthday party.

The party was scheduled for 5:00, but since he lives on the lake and the kids love to play on the beach and in the water, we decided to go earlier than that, so the kids and i got there at about 2:00. We stopped inside to say hello to my grandpa, and the first thing he said was, "Well, i hope you're not here to swim! Because the water is only about 45 degrees!"

And the water was, indeed, freezing. Absolutely, numbingly cold. But it was a really warm day, and when sitting in the sun, it was hot enough that i really wanted to jump into the lake for a swim. For the first hour we were alone. The kids made sand castles near the water, just close enough to get a tiny bit wet while not getting drenched. I walked out to my calves a few times to cool off.

Eventually my sisters came. Jill and i took a walk down the beach. Jackie dared me to go all the way in the lake. I tried. Katrina, Houston, and i all went in together, but we only made it up to our waists before we had to stop and turn around. It was a weird sensation to be standing in water up to my waist and be completely numb from the waist down, but sweating on my top half.

Most of the family was there, except for my brother's family (because they live in California) and my cousin Betsy's family (because they were camping with a group from church). Juanito and i were in charge of making a cute cake, and Grandpa provided the pizza - lots and lots of pizza. We ate. We talked. We caught up with cousins we haven't seen in a while. It was a good time.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


The boys' friends went home unexpectedly early this morning. Since it's a Saturday, it's the kids' day to get a morning to play on the computers, so while they played (mostly Minecraft), i went over to Beth's house. We sat on her porch and chatted for a couple of hours and i got to eat a yummy cinnamon roll that Beth surprised me with. Mmmm.

This afternoon, the kids started working on a new movie wherein they all become superheroes. For this movie, Emma is playing the Fairy Dogmother, so she was dressed in one of Katrina's old princess dresses. She was shockingly calm about it, even when she kept tripping on the long sleeve-thingies.

Tonight, Katrina and i started fixing a puzzle that i've apparently had since before 9-11, because it's of the New York City skyline, and the World Trade Towers are prominently featured. I've never fixed it before, and after starting it, i know why i've never done it before. It's ridiculously hard. We might finish it, but there's a pretty good chance that it'll end up getting packed back up for another 15 years.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Shakes, sleepovers, and pizza

We started out the summer by going for shakes with Beth, and so we figured that it was only fitting to end the summer the same way. Yum!!!

Houston and Zane's friends, Chauncey and Finneas came over this afternoon and are spending the night. Houston and Chauncey are trying to squeeze every single ounce of fun out the summer, and the little boys were sad that they'd missed out on their sleepover a few days ago.

Beth came over, and we had a very crowded, noisy, and fun pizza-movie night. We watched the fourth Harry Potter movie, since the kids assured me that i'd promised them we'd watch it this week. (I don't remember promising this, but we DID finish reading the book a few weeks ago, and ... sure, why not.)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The final Adventure Thursday of the summer.

(More pictures here.)

Today was the last Thursday of the summer. Sad. (I'm probably looking forward to summer ending about as little as my kids are. I love having the kids home all the time, and i am really, really going to miss having free time with them!)

Since it was the final one of the summer - and i never know if this will be the last summer that the kids want to do adventures with me, or if by next year they'll be rolling their eyes at the idea - i figured that we'd go out with a bang.

The first thing we did was to head to Krispy Kreme for some hot-n-ready donuts. I looked it up online, and according to their website, they have the hot ones until 11:00, so we got there at about 10:30, watched the donuts going through the machine, and each got a yummy, warm doughnut. We hadn't been there in ages, so the kids were all excited.

Next we headed over to SkyZone (the trampoline place), but when we got there we realized that they didn't open until noon, so we had about an hour to kill. Since i'd had a bit of trouble finding SkyZone, we already knew what was nearby, so we headed over to Trader Joe's and wandered around. At one point, Houston pointed at the shelf and said, "Cookie butter!?" and immediately an employee behind us popped up and said, "You can try that over in the corner if you want!" We all tried it and all agreed that we didn't actually like it. After we'd walked away, Zane said, "Usually i like anything sweet, but i was NOT a fan of that."

When we'd walked through the whole store, we still had time to burn, so we went to Michael's and PetSmart and wandered through both of those stores. Zane found guinea pig babies on sale and immediately decided that all he wanted in all the world was a baby guinea pig, and since he still had enough left over with his birthday money, couldn't he please get one??? (We're saying no. Our current guinea pig has had 2 roommates and hasn't gotten along with either of them. I think we need to wait until she dies, and then if people still want guinea pigs, then we can get a pair of them.)

Finally, at noon, we went to SkyZone and leaped around for an hour, after which everyone was hot and exhausted, but completely happy. (Side note: There is a foam pit at SkyZone into which you can leap from the trampolines. When you watch the little kids, it looks so easy! Leap in, crawl back. What i didn't realize is that that method doesn't actually work for adults. So i leapt in and then tried to crawl back, except that i'm big enough to sink, so it's more like crawling/wading through the foam to get back to the side. And then, when i got to the side and tried to climb out, i started to put one leg up, but then in the process i straightened the other leg, which immediately sank, and i quickly figured out that the only way to get out was by pulling myself out by my arms. Which doesn't look graceful when you're surrounded by and covered in foam - foam which is also trying to pull your socks off your feet while you try to extricate them. Luckily, Katrina was standing nearby, videotaping me and giggling. Sigh.)

From there, we worked our way down 28th Street. First the bookstore, and then a stop at Aldi to pick up some food for a picnic, and then a park for the picnic, playing on the playground, and some drawing time for Katrina and me. The playground was pretty neglected and had some broken bits, but it was also old enough to have a merry-go-round and a swing-set that was insanely high, which the kids thought was fantastic.

Juanito woke up and joined us while we were at the park, so he got to do the rest of the adventures with us. We took both cars to the car wash, where we all piled into the van and drove through and then all climbed into the little Rio and drove through again. (Incidentally, it was an entirely different experience in the car. The van is all quiet and the spray and the brushes are all fun and lovely. In the car, everything is loud and intense and it shook the car, and the water started to leak in through the door next to Katrina and me, and there was the added suspense of whether or not the antenna would break off. [It didn't.])

Next we went for frozen yogurt, and then drove over to my parents' house to hang out for a little while. And then, on the way home, we stopped at Goodwill for some last-minute school clothes for the kids.

By the time we got home, it was about 8:00, and everyone was exhausted. Showers were taken, and i'm hoping that everyone fell asleep fairly quickly.