Saturday, October 14, 2017

Books and stuff


Yesterday was our first pizza movie night in weeks, and we watched "Wonder Woman." As we watched it, Zane kept exclaiming, "She is AWESOME!" So yeah, everyone enjoyed it.

When i was at work yesterday, i noticed that "The Dangerous Book for Boys" was categorized in the same area as books like "Ripley's Believe it or Not" and "Weird But True," which makes lots of sense, because it IS full of facts and randomness. And then there's "The Daring Book for Girls," which is almost exactly the same, but THOSE are categorized in the same area as the "How to do your hair to look pretty" section. And that annoys me, because sexism! There's absolutely no logical reason for those two books NOT to be filed right next to each other.

So anyhow, i wrote the shorter version of that on Twitter, and included my library into conversation, expecting nothing. And they DIDN'T reply at all. But! This morning, "The Daring Book for Girls" was on the list of books that i had to pull off the shelves to send to other libraries, and it was being sent to the main library. So there's a chance that they're going to change it. And if they did, that would be awesome!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Marley



I've been reading "Marley & Me" to the kids for the past few weeks, and they've all been laughing and loving it. We're now at the end of the book, and the dog is getting older and sicker and i felt the need to prepare the kids for the eventual sad ending.

Me: "So...this IS a true story, and Marley IS getting older, and the book is almost over, so...."
Houston: "WAIT. This is a true story?!?!?"
Katrina, Zane, and me: "Wha.......???? You didn't know that?!"
Houston: "No! In fact, there were several parts where i thought, 'Well, that's kind of far-fetched.'"

I'm completely amused that we made it through basically the entire book, and he never realized that it's nonfiction. Especially because it seems so completely obvious to the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Conferences


Houston's school had parent-teacher conferences today. They set it up so that all of the teachers are in a giant U in the gym, and you just wander around and find the teachers that you want to talk to. We talked to all of Houston's teachers except two - they were both "unable to attend," which was a bummer, because those are the two i most would have wanted to talk to. One was his multi-media teacher, who i met at the beginning of the year, and i wanted Juanito to meet him, because he is daunting. He's the most physically intimidating person i've ever met. Also, it would have been fun to hear what he thinks of Houston, because his class is making a video wherein they have to explain how to do something very simple, and Houston's video is "How not to not be not dangerous." Because he can't just do something simple. (He is SO Juanito's son.)

The other teacher i wanted to meet was his history teacher, because he's the only teacher i haven't met yet. At the beginning of the year, when we had the whole "Meet the teachers!" night, Houston's history teacher was missing, and we found out the next day that he had quit. And then Houston had a substitute for a couple of weeks, and now he's got an actual teacher. So. It would be nice to meet him.

We did get to meet his other teachers, though, and, unlike last year when just about every teacher informed us of all of the assignments Houston was missing, this year they all had nothing but nice things to say about him. Almost everyone greeted us with, "Aw, Houston!" and then some version of "He's so great." So we probably didn't NEED to go to the conferences, but it's always nice to hear that people like your kid.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Braces!


For the past couple of days, Katrina has been getting more and more unhappy as this afternoon got closer and closer. She did not want braces. She did not need braces. Why was i making her get braces???

She has a friend who got braces recently and has been telling her how much pain she will be in for a few day, and that, combined with her experience with the expander, had her convinced that she was going to be in the worst pain in the world. Houston's reassurances that "It really doesn't hurt very much. Just a little bit for a couple of days," did nothing to calm her down. Nor did my reassurances that the expander probably hurt much more than the actual braces would.

I was a meanie and made her get braces anyhow. Afterwards, she gave me dirty looks on the way to the car. I asked her, "Are you mad at me?" and she humphed, "Yes."

So i bribed her back into liking me by stopping at Steak 'n Shake on the way home for shakes, and within minutes i was back in her good graces. One awesome thing about Katrina: She doesn't hold a grudge.

Anyhow. Katrina got pink rubber bands on her braces. Houston got blue again. They both look adorable. And her braces have only barely bothered her. So. I'll take it as a win.

Monday, October 9, 2017

And i'm back


I can explain my entire 3-week absence in one word: ArtPrize. From the time it started until the last day (yesterday), i was at ArtPrize for anywhere from around an hour to 8 hours. To be fair, the 8 hour day was a one-off, the Monday that Beth took off and we were downtown forever. Most days we were downtown 2-4 hours. Juanito, Beth, and i went every chance we could. Katrina came with us most of the time. The boys came sometimes, but Houston had a homework and Zane isn't as interested, so it was usually the 4 of us. And it was awesome. And Beth and i both saw everything. And i am exhausted and a little bit happy that it's over. I'm ready to get back to routine and having evenings at home and actually having time to eat actual food.

And, for posterity, here are the pictures of some of my favorite things from this year's ArtPrize:
My Favorites!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fear Not.


Juanito is going to be in ArtPrize again this year, and today he went to hang his piece up downtown. Yay!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday pre-ArtPrize tradition


For years now, it's been our tradition to walk around on the Sunday before ArtPrize starts to see the stuff that people have set up early. This year, none of the kids felt like going, so just Beth, Juanito, and i went. People may say that we're crazy for going before it's even started yet, but there are some very distinct advantages:

1 - We go to the big venues, and those are the places that, once it's Wednesday, will be packed or at least fairly busy pretty much all of the time. So this way we get to see stuff close up, without fighting through crowds, and we get to look for as long as we want without feeling guilty for taking too long.

2 - There are sometimes interactive exhibits, and we get to actually interact with them! This year, there are a couple of rocking chairs made from giant rocks, and we all totally got to sit in them, take our pictures with them, and have fun. Henceforth, there will be lines to try them out.

3 - Pictures! We can take pictures without having to wait until just the right second, when there's nobody walking in front of you.

So. Yep. We're dorks. But it's worth it. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

ArtPrize begins!


ArtPrize officially begins on Wednesday, but there are a few places that are having "preview week," which means we can get a head start. Most of the places, we're kind of like, "Meh, we can see those as we're walking around," but we DID want to go to the art museum. Thursday nights are free, and they have all of the ArtPrize stuff up already, so Juanito, Katrina, Beth, and i went to see it. It was lovely to be able to walk around without giant mobs of people - it was basically just us and one other guy there.

Over the past few years, i've come to not expect much from the GRAM, because so much of what they've had has just been dumb. And this year, again, there's nothing that i absolutely love there. I liked a couple of the things, though, and that's a step up from some years. Probably the weirdest and worst thing there is a guy who will be dressing up in a fox costume and writing "poetry" on pages ripped out of dictionaries. The poetry is stuff like, "Twilight is overrated," or "Color blindness ahhhhh." And i don't like poetry in general, but that is just .... not even poetry.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bug Boy and Open House


Katrina and Zane's school had an event today wherein they encouraged kids to dress up like superheroes. Zane was all, "I don't like any actual superheroes, so i'm just going to make up my own." And hence: Bug Boy.

Tonight was the Open House for City, which meant that i got to walk around to each of Houston's classes to meet the teachers and get a 10 minute "this is what we'll be studying" spiel from each of them. Houston loves all of his teachers this year, and i liked them too. However...there was one class for which i was the ONLY parent there, and it just happened to be the class where the teacher is 7 feet tall and very intimidating-looking. I seriously considered just running away. (He was very nice.)

The algebra teacher was explaining all of the homework that the kids have, and she mentioned that they'll have projects for each section. I was all, "Projects? How do you do a project in algebra?" So when i got home i asked Houston about it, and he was like, "Huh? What project?" Me: "Um, like, a project? With pages to do? You were supposed to turn it in already and it's worth kind of a lot of points?" Him: "I have no idea what you're talking about." Me: "Like...something that you were supposed to turn in? And everyone else would have been turning it in? With, like, a few pages stapled together?" Him: "Nope. I don't know what this is." Me (becoming concerned that he's already missing important assignments): "Maybe she didn't call it a project to you? Maybe she called it, like...a packet?" Him: "OH! Yeah, i turned that in."

Sometimes i don't think that he does language the same way i do.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Houston.


This boy. It is week 3 of school and there have already been two (2!) mornings when he was convinced that he was too sick to go to school. I forced him to go again today, and he was fine. Because of course he was. But every time i make him go to school, i live in fear that the nurse is going to call me with a judgmental tone of voice and be all, "Houston just threw up. Because you forced him to go to school. You terrible mother, you." (I might be paraphrasing.)

ANYHOW. Today was "Future day" for spirit week - the stupidest day ever, because HOW do you dress like the future without spending loads of time or money? - and so Houston had me draw a bar code on his hand. The future, y'all.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Spirit Week


This week is spirit week at City, and today was "decades." The sophomores' decade was the 60's, so Houston borrowed some pants and a scarf from Beth, paired them with a turtleneck, and he was HILARIOUSLY AWESOME.

I asked him what people at school thought, and he said that they all asked him why he was wearing pajamas. He responded, "These are a 60's thing. Look it up." And when they did, they were all like, "Whoa. It IS a 60's thing!" According to Houston, most people just wore a leather jacket and called it good.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday!


It's apple picking season! Houston, Katrina, Zane, Beth, and i headed to the orchard after church and we picked a giant bag of Spy apples (Zane's favorite) and a medium bag of Honeycrisp apples. I think Zane ate almost nothing but apples for the rest of the day.

Tonight was the first night of this year's student ministry meetings. Houston is in Anthem, Katrina's in the.element, and Zane is in Fifty6. Beth and i have moved up to the.element with our girls this year as well. I love having girls that i've already known and loved for 2 years, and it's nice that they're a bit older and less out-of-control, but at the same time, i miss my people from Fifty6 - the pastor, the family leaders, etc. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Harry Potter


We are getting very near to the end of the very last book of Harry Potter, and we've reached a point where everything is happening and we just need to keep reading and finish it. And so today i read three chapters with the kids. Zane is loving it, but he is also the wiggliest child in the world, and at one point, as he was scootching on his back under the coffee table as i was reading a vitally important part, i finally stopped and said, "Dude. This is important! I don't think you're even listening!" And then he gave me an excellent synopsis of what had been happening. So.


Friday, September 8, 2017

The finale


Tonight we watched the final Twilight movie. There was much eye rolling and giggling and mocking of actors. Beth brought vampire teeth for us all, along with "Congratulations on watching all of the Twilight movies!" certificates.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Book club


Book club tonight! We read "After We Fall," and while nobody actually hated it, it was definitely not well-liked by anyone either. We all kind of talked about how miserable and awful everyone was, and once that was discussed, there wasn't a lot more to say.  So instead we talked about stupid baby names and cures for neuroblastomas and other random stuff for most of the time. This year we've had almost entirely depressing books. Some of them have been really good, but they're all super sad. Next week we pick the books for the next year or so, and we're all trying to come up with good non-depressing options.

So this morning, Houston tried really hard to convince me to let him stay home sick from school. He was all, "I feel terrible. My stomach hurts. And i feel like if i go to school, i'll just be falling asleep and be miserable and not do well in anything. And i have a test in Spanish...." I made him go, because he's not sick; he's just really tired because he stays up too late and can no longer just sleep all day because it's not summer anymore. By the time i got home from work and asked him how his day was, he was completely chipper and smiles and "Great!" I have the hardest time with him, knowing when to make him go to school and when not to, because sometimes i've let him stay home, and he sleeps and then he's fine, and sometimes i've forced him to go and he calls me an hour or two later because he's thrown up. So i'm always nervous when i make him go, and i'm always relieved when he doesn't immediately call.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bugs and the library and me


The bug guy was at the library recently, spraying bug-be-gone stuff, and he found a "nest of millions of baby spiders" in the basement. My co-workers were telling me about this (i wasn't in the room when he was explaining), and they were all, "He said that he tried to spray them, but they kind of scattered." And i said, "Aw. Poor spiders."

They looked at me like i was crazy, and i remembered that most women are NOT married to Juanito.

Ever since then, i've become the go-to person when there are spiders/insects around. I rescued a moth that very day, and then the next day i moved a giant (GIANT) spider outdoors. I think everyone thinks i'm weird, but since most of us are women, i'm kind of useful.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day


Today was Labor Day, which meant that there was no school. Yay!

Houston went to a friend's house for the afternoon. Meanwhile, Katrina and Zane decided to do a whole "dance party," complete with games and prizes. They were totally excited about it, and it was completely cute and fun.

Since it was Labor Day, we decided that we should do the traditional thing and grill for dinner. Beth came over, and we had chicken and steak, and it was delicious. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rearranging!


This afternoon, Katrina and i rearranged my room. I used to rearrange it fairly often, but it's been the same for years now - long enough that the kids can't even remember it being any other way. And the best part of rearranging is that it forces me to clean the room really well - sweeping underneath furniture and everything! And then, to reward ourselves for a job well done, she and i went to get Frostys at Wendy's.

Besides that...the kids played on the computer, i cleaned up the house, Juanito and i made a quick trip to Goodwill to drop off some of the stuff we've had kicking around, and Juanito made waffles for dinner. So all in all, a good day.

Mindbenders and a birthday party


Last night i was chatting with my friend Karla, and she mentioned that they had gone to the Mindbender Mansion exhibit at the local museum and that her family had all loved it. And i thought, "Hey! *I* love puzzles! My kids love puzzles! We have tomorrow off...." And so this morning/early afternoon, we headed to the museum.

(First off, the museum has changed its pricing, and now all kids under 17 are "kids," AND if you live in the county, you get a cheaper price, and all of that is awesome.)

Everyone loved it. It's this huge exhibit with a ton of logic puzzles and brain teasers and other fun puzzle-y things. We mostly moved around together but solved things on our own, except for a few of the very hardest challenges. There was only one that we never figured out - building a structure out of giant nails to balance on the head of another nail. There were a couple that i worked on for ages before finding out that there was no solution, which is both super frustrating and also somewhat vindicating. Some were really easy and some were hard, and it was super enjoyable.

And then this afternoon we went to a birthday party for my niece and nephew (Eloise and Micah) who are turning one this week. They are adorable. They each got their own little cake to eat, and it was hilarious watching the difference between the two of them. Micah just attacked his cake and devoured it as quickly as he could shove it into his mouth. Eloise, meanwhile, delicately picked at her cake for quite a while (though she would have just shoved her whole face in it if she could have reached) before finally starting to eat it while holding a fork. So ladylike.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pizza-Movie night!


We have been working our way through the Twilight movies, mercilessly mocking them and talking through large portions of the movie. Every half hour, Juanito exclaims, "I mean, he's one hundred and twenty! It's so inappropriate!" Tonight was number 4, which meant that we had to fast forward through a few scenes (honeymoon), and it meant that it was the one where she had to drink blood. So Beth ordered these blood bags online, made red juice, and POOF! We all got to drink "blood" and be as gross as Bella.

The kids didn't have school today. They have an extra-long Labor Day weekend, which meant that we only have 4 days a week for the first 2 weeks of school, and that's actually kind of nice. The kids were all pretty tired by today, especially Houston, who again slept until 2:00.

I spent the afternoon switching out most of my summer stuff for winter, because we live in Michigan and it's now September, and already the end of August was chilly, so i expect that it's going to be fall weather soon. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Happy birthday to my sweet grandpa!


Today is my grandpa's 98th birthday. Ninety-eighth. He was born in 1919, during the Prohibition, before women had the right to vote, when Woodrow Wilson was president. It was the year that the first rotary dial phones were introduced, pop-up toasters were invented, scientists in England split the first atom, and the word "bagel" was added to the dictionary. Stamps cost 3¢, a loaf of bread cost 9¢, and you could buy a new house for an average of $5,600.

98 years is a long time, is my point. When i stop and think about all of the things that have changed in the world since he was born, it just kind of blows my mind.

Anyhow. I'm really happy that we get to still have him in our lives.

In other news, we've just finished up day 3 of the school year, and it's been going very well so far. Obviously we're still totally in the early "Let's have a great school year!!!" stage, but everyone is really happy with all of their teachers and all of their classes. Katrina has been decorating all of her notebooks - one is all Doctor Who-bedecked, and one simply has a pineapple on the front (for "Psych," obviously), and she has plans for at least 2 more. They're super cute, and i guess having a happy notebook is one way to make school more fun. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

First day of school!


It was the first day of school today!

Houston started his sophomore year at City. He texted me halfway through the day, saying, "I just learned that i am in middle school lunch again, so i'm trying to rearrange my classes so that i can be in high school lunch." And then he went to the counselor and took care of it all by himself, and now he is both in lunch with his fellow high schoolers AND he has the Spanish teacher he had last year who loves him. I am just super happy to see him taking the initiative to just take care of it all on his own. GO HOUSTON! He's super excited about all of his classes and his teachers, so that's awesome.

Katrina is an 8th grader this year. She came home from school with her pile of papers to be signed all organized for me to sign and a couple of notebooks to decorate like a Tardis and "something else cute." She also came home starving because the poor girl can hardly eat anything right now, partly because her face hurts and her teeth hurt when she chews, but mostly because there's a gap between the metal expander and the roof of her mouth, and everything even the slightest bit chewy gets stuck in there. She's been kind of living on jello and yogurt and air.

Zane is in 6th grade, and is very excited about being a middle schooler. The first thing he told me when i picked them up was, "I totally went to the wrong class today!" He was totally cheerful about it, completely unconcerned that he'd gone to the completely wrong classroom. Also, he was completely thrilled about his lunch table and being able to sit with friends. A promising start to middle school.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dahlias!


Today was the dahlia show at Meijer Gardens, so Beth and i went, because...dahlias! Both of us started out saying, "This year, i am not going to take a million pictures, because last year it was ridiculous." And i DID take less pictures than last year, but i still took way more pictures than i meant to, because they were all so beautiful and so different from each other. I mean.... That one up there is a dahlia. This one?
 ALSO a dahlia! Also? This next one - dahlia! HOW are they all the same kind of flower? It makes no sense!
ANYHOW. 

Today was the last day of summer vacation. We skipped church and slept in a little and just enjoyed not having any homework or anything we needed to be doing. Katrina and i did a Jigazo puzzle, and we all watched some Doctor Who, and i read a lot of both books that i'm reading to them, and we ate ice cream, and it was all lovely. And thus ends summer. Sad.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Birthday party!


For the past two days, the kids have been over at my parents' house, playing with cousins and eating my parents out of house and home (Seriously, they are bottomless pits.) and having all kinds of fun. Meanwhile, Juanito and i have had a couple of date nights, where we ate out and binge-watched "The Good Place" and just generally enjoyed having a kid-free house.

Today, the entire family - aunts and uncles and cousins - all went out to my grandparents' house on the lake to celebrate my grandpa's 98th birthday. Ninety-eight is an impressive age, and he is an amazingly healthy 98-year-old. Besides his being in a wheelchair now, you'd never guess that he was over 80. (Unless you knew him when he was 80. That might have been about the age that he and my grandma stopped playing tennis daily.)

It was the first time we've seen my cousins, maybe since last year. Usually we see them when we all go to the visit Grandpa and play on the beach, but Grandpa moved to a nursing home this year, and there is not much of a beach to play on, and it hasn't been a terrifically hot summer, so none of us has been there much. So it was fun seeing everyone and catching up. Yay!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Procrastination!


I am nothing if not an excellent procrastinator, which is why for the past two days i've been making sure my kids all have clothes for school that are hole-free and actually fit. Zane, especially, needed jeans, as he had about 5 pairs of jeans with giant holes in the knees and a few pairs that were inches too short.

In my defense, they have all been growing like weeds, so if i'd bought them clothes at the beginning of the summer, there's a good chance they'd have already outgrown them. Yesterday i got home from work at 2:15 and had to wake Houston up. He'd been asleep for 16 hours, and i'm pretty sure he grew an inch or two overnight.

So i made a trip to the store with Katrina yesterday (boys don't need to come along for bra shopping) and made another trip with the boys today, and everyone is now completely ready for school. Yay!

We haven't ONLY been shopping. Yesterday was the "come to school to meet your teachers and get your schedule" day for Katrina and Zane. Today Zane spent the afternoon at the beach with his friend Justin. We've had Frostys and read a few chapters of Harry Potter and had lots of snuggles. None of us is ready for the summer to end.

Tomorrow the kids are all going to my parents' house for the next couple of nights, which means that they'll have loads of fun with cousins and grandparents and Juanito and i will get to have a couple of nights with just the two of us, which is all awesome. But it also means that my summer with the kids is finished. Sigh.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse day!


Today was the eclipse, and we thought it would be more fun to experience it with other people, so we headed out to my sister Jackie's house, along with my parents and my sister Chellie and her kids. We were all worried that we wouldn't be able to see anything, because the clouds were rolling in shortly beforehand, totally obscuring the sun occasionally.

Once it started, however, it was a wee bit cloudy, but the eclipse was totally visible and really cool. The kids swam throughout, coming out every once in a while to check on the moon's progress. The adults spent more time actually watching the sun and playing with the shadows. Jackie brought out her strainer, and we had fun watching the holes become eclipses in the shadow. Chellie pulled out her old pinhole box from the eclipse that happened when we were in middle school, and while it was fun to see, i realize now why that wasn't more exciting at the time. It just doesn't compare at all to looking up at the actual thing.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

A very people-filled day


We had a really fun, full day today.

After church, we went straight to my sister Jackie's house, where there was lunch and swimming and babies and laughter. Zane dared to jump off the diving board - his first time jumping into the deep end of the pool. Immediately he decided that it was his favorite new thing, and he spent the rest of the time there jumping in over and over and over. "I LOVE swimming!" he declared as he wolfed down ice cream so that he could swim some more.

We left there a little earlier than we usually would, stopped at home to drop stuff off, pick stuff up, and say hello to the dog, and then headed to our friends' house. They're some of our favorite people, and we haven't seen them in months, so it was really awesome to get to hang out with them again. Plus they're fostering six adorable kittens, so there were kittens for everyone to cuddle and play with. Juanito made chicken pot pie, and it was delicious. Andrew was supposed to give us autographs because he is recently famous, but we never did get those.... It was super fun, and we laughed a lot, and discussed politics and scowled, and all came home exhausted but happy.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

I don't know if you've heard, but there's going to be an eclipse.


Monday is the total solar eclipse, and there are absolutely no eclipse glasses to be had anywhere. Like...anywhere. Every single store that had been selling the glasses sold out weeks ago. People are losing their minds, trying to find some anywhere. Meanwhile, NASA decided back...whenever...to make and give something like 2 million of the glasses to libraries to give away. And so our library had "a limited number" of glasses to give away. I'm not sure how many, but we had 200 at our library, and we're one of the smallest branches. So maybe 2000 total? And our director, in all of her brilliance, decided to wait until today to hand them out.

We've been getting calls for weeks from people looking for the glasses. People have called from hours away about coming to get some, because we were literally the very last chance people had for getting glasses if they didn't have them yet. Staff at the library, from the very top on down, were losing their minds, convinced that today was going to be utter chaos and calamity. Meanwhile, i was like, "Look. It's going to be maybe 15 minutes of insanity, followed by a few hours of people being mad at us for not having any left." What i was worried about was line control.

See, we have two doors at our library, one in front and one on the side. If people lined up at both, there was no way to get everyone into one line. I suggested putting a sign on one of the doors saying that the line was at the other door. That idea was shot down. I suggested just keeping two lines. Shot down. They just said, "We're going to be handing them out, and your job is going to be to get the line in order and to tell people where to go." Okay.

People started lining up at least an hour before we opened. I had Juanito and the kids go early to line up so they could get glasses, because i figured people would be waiting. By the time we opened, the line wrapped around the corner of the building. We opened the doors, and (as i expected) people just formed a mob. I initially tried to make a line, but it was utterly hopeless, so i mostly just stood in the middle of the mob going, "I have no idea what to do right now." And when the dust settled, we were exactly one pair of glasses short for the people who were there immediately. (The last person didn't seem devastated.) It took 4 minutes for them to be gone. At least two men gave their glasses to kids from different families who came in and were really sad, which restored some of my faith in humanity.

So anyhow. Eclipse in two days! And we are ready! Yay!

Anyhow. This evening, my nephew Harrison had his third birthday party. He is utterly adorable. The kids had fun playing on the playground. I had fun catching up with my family after weeks of not seeing them. Harrison had fun opening presents. And we all got to eat delicious pizza and Costco cake. So it was a good night.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Just a Friday


Yesterday i asked Katrina if she'd like to help me rearrange my bedroom some time in the next week, and she eagerly agreed. Today i got home from work, and she had rearranged her room and was in the middle of helping Zane to rearrange his room. The best part about rearranging is that you have to clean your room to do it, so Zane's room is finally clean again for the first time in ages. Yay!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Today



This morning, Katrina babysat for my cousin's kids (my cousin just had knee surgery and has four kids, so she just needed someone to be there to run after the littlest one while she rested). I asked her what they did, and she said, "We played the game Life." I was all, "Um...with the 2-year-old?" and she said, "Well. He spun for everyone, and he moved the cars, and i let him make some decisions...." It was her first babysitting job for not-Zane. Yay!

This afternoon, the kids all brought up their boxes full of memory/sentimental stuff and papers from school (report cards, artwork, stories they've written, etc.) so that we could put all of the stuff from the past year into them. I have a box into which we throw anything that might want to be kept, and then once or twice a year i empty it and give each kid the things that belong to them, and they decide what they want to keep and we throw the rest away.

Back when i was in charge of the boxes, i had everything organized so that pre-school stuff was on the bottom, then kindergarten, first grade, etc. It was a good system, because the papers don't usually say on them, "This is from second grade." As soon as i let the kids be in charge of their own boxes, however, that all fell apart. They love to take everything out to look at it and laugh at it and reminisce, and then they just haphazardly throw everything back in when they're finished. Which...fine. It's their stuff. I'm glad they enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ramblings about the library


So there are a few things that confuse me about books that i see in the library, now that i'm seeing all of the books on a regular basis.

1. I do not at all understand the choices that the librarians in charge of cataloging make. Sometimes there will be a book series, and half of the books will be under one thing and half under another thing, and that shouldn't be possible because they're all by the same person, but! For example, the Percy Jackson series of Graphic Novels - some are under the artist who illustrated the book and some are under Rick Riordan. Why? And Jenny Lawson's books, which are humorous memoirs, are filed right next to the books about an unofficial guide for Nook on one side and the best headlines in newspapers on the other side. Meanwhile, other humorous memoirs like Tina Fey are found 700 call numbers away, and then still other ones like Mindy Kaling are another 100 numbers down from that. No sense at all.

2. There are a LOT of adult fiction novels about Christmas. I understand kids books about Christmas and movies about Christmas, but i find it surprising that there are that many books for adults. Do people read Christmas books year-round? Or do they read a lot of Christmas novels at Christmastime? I just never would have thought about doing that.

3. Okay, so i know that there are definitely differences between boys and girls. I get that. But there are a LOT of books like this:
And why do men and women need different cookbooks? Or like this: 
Are mechanics different if you're a boy than if you're a girl? And there are enough of them that it makes me start to roll my eyes and bristle a little bit. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Adventure Monday!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Political-ish. Sorry.


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

*    *    *    *    *

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

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

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday


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

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

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

And that was today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Registrations and School Pictures and Vets


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Up North

This past week, we went up north.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Zane is eleven!


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

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

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

He loves listening to stories, whether they're read by me or an audio book, and he will spend hours listening to books while he's playing with Legos or other random toys in his room. His favorites are currently Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. (When i'm reading them, he tends to listen while hanging upside down on the couch...no, right way up...no, upside down...no, with his feet on the wall....)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 31, 2017

Zane's pre-birthday party


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

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

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

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




Saturday, July 29, 2017

I am a nerd


Just in case i needed proof that i am a total nerd, today i proved it to myself.

In the library, we put new books on a special "New books" shelf for six months. New books keep coming in, and so by the end of the month, the new books shelves generally start getting rather full. One of the parts of my job that i really enjoy is at the beginning of the month, when i get to go and pull all of the 6-months-ago books off of the shelf. I don't know why it's fun, but it just ... is. So i sort of, kind of look forward to the first of the month.

Today, we were pretty slow, and i was putting books away, and one of my co-workers came over and said, "So we're close to enough to the end of the month that we decided we could go ahead and pull the older new books today. I've already gotten most of them, but you can get the ones in the random places if you want?" And i felt genuinely kind of sad. And then realized how utterly ridiculous that was.

So. Dork.