Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lots of Noise, Lots of Bouncing, Lots of Quiet

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July!  We certainly did.  And we took note of what things have changed and what things have stayed the same.

We went, as we do every year, to the parade in our nearby park.  Some things about it are always the same: Politicians throwing candy, antique cars blowing funny horns, the lazy band on the flatbed truck, Polish dancers, accordion players, baton twirlers, Elvis....  Missing this year were the racing sausages, and there seemed to be fewer dogs.

Elvis always brings it to the very end!

Aden and her dad

We've come to count on this one church that always hands out bottled water as they march by, and we were delighted to see Stick Guy in the lineup.  There is a guy in Bay View in a hat who does fancy tricks with devil sticks as he walks around town, and we are always happy when we spot Stick Guy out and about.  It's about time he was in the parade!  Although, it's possible he just wandered in there and no one minded.  We could probably do that too, really, if we waved flags and stuck a bow on the dog.  Who would know?  If it wouldn't completely mortify my kids I would consider trying it.

The main thing that is different is how easy it is to do things with my kids anymore.  As we walked to the park Ian and I were trying to describe to them what an ordeal that short trip used to be.  We needed to dress everyone, and make sure we had enough water and snacks, and usually a diaper bag.  There was a stroller, and sunscreen, and backup plans for if we had to separate for some reason (usually to find a bathroom).  Now we just...walk to the park.  The kids can take care of themselves.  If one of them wanted to go back home they could.  We don't have to know where they are every second.  It's lovely.

My kids have also outgrown most of the afternoon activities in the park, and that's just fine with us.  They were happy to go home after the parade and entertain themselves while Ian and I ran errands.  (That mostly consisted of going to the Apple Store with my work computer to try to upgrade it enough to last us another couple of years.  It's from 2007 and the DVD player built into it stopped working not long after we got it, and the guy at the genius bar suggested we just leave it be and use the idea of not having one as practice for the future when none of the new machines have them anyway.)  We had a cookout.  We cleaned the kids' rooms a bit while I was home to nag them about it.

Mona on the little trampoline
The main thing the kids did at home was enjoy the new trampoline.  We got a 10 foot trampoline to fit on an octagonal portion of our deck in the backyard a few years ago, and that thing has been in constant use and is finally wearing out.  We moved it off the deck into the main yard to look into repairs, and discovered the kids actually liked it better there.  We decided since the kids are bigger and we don't really use the yard anyway that we should get a bigger trampoline.  We found one on sale online that was 15 feet, which didn't sound that much bigger, and it fills the yard! We scooted the smaller one over into the last bit of open yard, and now the kids call it the Penalty Trampoline.  And we may have an idea how to fix it, so we may leave it there.

Which means we have two trampolines.  TWO.  Who has two trampolines?  Well, we do, apparently.  Our whole yard is nothing but trampolines and the kids couldn't be happier.  It will actually work out well, I think, because any smaller kids in the neighborhood who want to join in the fun can bounce more safely on the littler one while the big kids do their wacky bouncing games on the bigger one, all at the same time, so no waiting.

Little trampoline moved over
Assembling the new trampoline was interesting.  Not only is it bigger, it's taller, which meant we had to stop at one point and cut down a tree branch that was going to be in the way.  (Because no project that looks like it will be simple is ever really simple.)  But it was up and going in time for the 4th of July and much bouncing was had by all.

Dog helping Mona

Big new trampoline!

Stopping to cut down a branch

4th of July, hanging out on the new trampoline

The poor dog spent the whole day traumatized by firecrackers.  By the evening he simply wedged himself between Aden's bed and her nightstand and kind of went limp as if he'd given up on ever being happy again.  He's figured out stairs once more, though, so that's something.  He just doesn't want to leave the house anymore.

The biggest change in festivities this year was that we split up in the evening.  I took Mona and Quinn to the fireworks in the park, and Ian and Aden went to Summerfest.  For those not familiar with Milwaukee events, Summerfest is the largest music festival in the world.  (That's not hyperbole, that's according to Guinness.)  It's big, it's noisy, we can hear it the whole week all the way from the lakefront downtown.  We never go because it's mostly a lot of drinking and it's crowded and the couple times I've been were not enough to entice me back.

But Aden was given a pair of free tickets through a STEM group she belongs to, and a friend of hers invited her to go hear Weird Al perform on Saturday night.  I thought it might be fun for her and her dad to go together.  The show went until midnight, and I felt better about her being there with one of us.  It was her first rock concert!  Turns out Weird Al was Ian's first concert back when he was about 13.  How sweet is that?  They had a great time.

Today everyone, including the dog, headed off to Michigan for some time at the cottage.  I'm still at home because I have a mandolin orchestra concert to perform in this week.  It's so quiet!  It's been so odd to have literal explosions going on yesterday, and then total silence here today.  I'm using the time to clean while I can enjoy the fact that everything then stays clean after I walk away.  But I miss the dog at my heels.  And bugging the kids to practice.  And Quinn leaning on me while saying, "I love you, mom!"  And all the bouncing.

But life is good!  Hope it is for all of you, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inside Out: The Parents' Heads

The kids and I saw the new Pixar movie Inside Out last night.  It's as good as everyone has been saying, and I agree with a lot that has been written about what an important movie this is for kids.  To have a representation of what it means for memories to be lost or viewed differently as you grow up is complicated fare for children, but it rings true, and may give many a better perspective on those ideas as they grapple with them in their own lives.  Plus, just being a good Pixar movie, it's clever and visually rich and has many jokes aimed squarely at adults that kids will grow to understand later which keeps it entertaining for everyone.  This movie will also provide you with a good cry.  (Only Mona didn't cry, but she almost never cries during movies.  She also roots for the raptors and the snakes over the bunnies, etc., during the nature shows we watch because "they have to eat too," so she's got a realistic streak that keeps her on an even keel when it comes to entertainment.  I cry at everything.)

In any case, without risking any real spoilers, I wanted to share my thoughts on one small segment of the film that I've been pondering since we left the theater: The scenes from inside the parents' heads.

Monday, June 22, 2015

What Day Is It?

I was checking Facebook this morning before heading out to swim and was reminded it's the birthday of my cousin's daughter.  She's five today, which is exciting, but then I remembered that her birthday is the same day as our wedding anniversary

I kind of forgot we even have an anniversary.  I looked at Ian and said, "Hey!  Happy Anniversary!" and he looked surprised and then smiled and said, "Oh yeah!" 

Then we took a moment to do the math and realized it's been 18 years.  We are a whole-legal-to-vote-person-amount of married.  Kind of cool! 

I remember years ago in college my family threw me a surprise birthday party one year, but since I obviously didn't know about it I started the day feeling disappointed that nothing special was happening.  I was just going with Ian to my grandma's house for dinner the way we did every Sunday.  But then I realized that what was an ordinary kind of day for me was better than what many people get for a special occasion, and I had a lot to be happy about on my birthday.  And then, of course, I got to be super extra happy anyway when we pulled up to grandma's and realized everyone had gathered there. 

But I never forgot that genuine sense of contentment and joy that I came to just thinking about how good I have it in my day to day life.  Today's anniversary is like that.  I love my marriage.  I like it just the way it is day to day.  I don't need the super extra happy to enjoy it.  Big gestures and special things can be fun and exciting from time to time, but I wouldn't trade that for how nice my life is in general at its most ordinary. 

My husband spent the day doing all manner of things to keep our household running smoothly and to make our lives better.  I hope I was as helpful to him.  I think we're a good team.  (Even if we're not good at remembering to, you know, check the calendar sometimes.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

On Not Drinking

I don't drink.  I've never had a drink.  I have no interest in drinking.

This is just a regular fact of my life, so I don't give it much thought, but a little while back on a long drive with a cousin she asked me "Why not?" and I had to provide an answer.  It's interesting to try to explain something about yourself that you don't usually articulate, and it's easy to forget that something that is normal for you is different for other people.  I forget that drinking for many people is a common experience, so in case anyone is curious about a slightly different perspective, here's mine.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Latin Lessons

After almost four years we are finally getting around to Latin lessons for Quinn.

Quinn, age 4, excited about his new book
I'm not sure why he's always wanted to learn Latin, but back in 2011 to distract him from his impending tonsillectomy, I ordered him a copy of Latin is Fun online and he was really excited.

The problem was I didn't know Latin, and I wasn't qualified to teach him.  We got him other materials (he even has a copy of The Cat in the Hat in Latin), but without someone to guide us with accepted pronunciation we were kind of lost.  Latin wound up on the back burner, and there is always so much else to do it was easy to keep it there.

But I recently had a conversation with a friend who has a son the same age as Quinn who is learning ancient Greek, and he recommended we contact the Classics Department at the local university in order to find a tutor.  Turns out the same man teaches both Greek and Latin and was happy to fit in Quinn for lessons.  We've had two lessons so far and it's been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book of Mormon

We went to see The Book of Mormon here in Milwaukee this weekend!  The original plan (when we bought the tickets half a year ago) was to go with my brother and his wife, but that was before their baby made different plans for them.  So we decided to take our daughters instead.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Welcome to the World!

I have a new nephew!  The adorable Rivyn, son of my brother Barrett and his wife Dosha, arrived into the world a bit earlier than expected, but he's home now and doing well.  I got to meet him in the NICU on my way to Vermillion, South Dakota recently.  I'm looking forward to holding him next time.
I'm looking forward to lots of things!  So are my kids.  They are excited by the idea of a baby cousin to love and eventually include in all their fun.  I'm glad that my kids have each other, and that my niece has them, too, and now this little boy will be part of that cousin group and the recipient of all they want to share.  They want to pass down their favorite sand toys at the cottage and show him how to paddle an inner tube across the lake there.  They want him to bounce with them on the trampoline and bike around the neighborhood.  They want him to join in their cookie baking experiments and to help decorate our sidewalks with chalk while waiting for an ice cream truck to come by.

In good time, though.  They understand for a few years there's just a lot of aimless cuteness to admire, but of all the cliches about raising kids the one about "It goes too fast" is probably the most true.  (Followed closely by "It changes everything.")  As hard as it is to imagine right now with that little boy unable to do much more than wiggle, they will be doing those things and more with their cousin before we know it.