Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sorting the Loot

This morning the kids asked if they could see, just see their Halloween candy.  I told them they could and suggested they sort it into snacks, chocolate, and fruity candies, but if they asked to eat even one piece, back up on the fridge the pumpkins would go with all of the candy back inside.  They kept up their end of the deal (but ate some Pirate's Booty for a snack after).




Seriously, they ate absolutely no candy during this process.  The kids just love to sort!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Costumes 2015

Halloween 2015

Goodness, I haven't posted since the first day of kindergarten?  I'll have to do better as we continue on into the school year.  I haven't been keeping up with my photo project either, but I have been taking pictures.  I've just lost my flow and haven't been processing and posting regularly.  (Blame Jamie Fraser.  I'm on the fifth book.  It's a problem.)

Here's a little something, though.  Over the years I have come make a habit out of getting pictures of the kids in their costumes  in our backyard a few days before trick-or-treating.  I bribed the kids with the gummy worms they were given at the Greenfield Village Halloween Nights event a couple of nights before this.  Between that and breaks to go in and warm up between locations (the front porch, the back hill, and the neighboring common area), and we were good to go.

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Nobody told this kid to pose.  The costume seemed to affect him!
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He insisted on this one.  Good idea, buddy!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day of Kindergarten

The kids are at their first day of kindergarten, and I'm at home in an empty house.  I'm not hating this, I must say.

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Of course, this is a rare occasion that is not likely to happen again unless I'm sick or something.  I chose to take the day off to walk the kids to the bus stop with Mike, to meet them at the school and walk them in for their first day, participate in the parent coffee hour in the cafeteria, and be available at the end of the half day to meet the kids back at the bus stop like I will the rest of the school year.

I'll meet my own students tomorrow and hope that starting the year with a sub didn't get us off on a bad foot.  I trust they'll understand.

Michael and Sophie did great this morning.  They woke up a half hour earlier than necessary and snuggled in bed with me for a bit, a perk of staying home today that I didn't anticipate.  There were some typical morning road bumps (Sophie getting mad that Michael was singing, Michael resisting his new outfit despite trying it on yesterday and being cool with it), but overall they got dressed, made their beds, ate and cleaned up their breakfast, brushed teeth, combed hair, and tolerated me taking 466 pictures on the way to the bus stop.  No joke.  On big days I get tempted to lean on those priority settings, but I stuck with manual and took a ton to be sure I got something.  Here are a few.

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So far there have been no tears from any of us.  It's been exciting, really.  I can't wait to hear about their morning!

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hide and Seek

One of the challenges we know we're going to face when the kids start kindergarten next week is the total elimination of naps, at least five days a week.  Over the summer I have tried to cut back on the naps, but these kids just still love them most days.  They even ask for "driving naps" when we're out for the day.  I too have come to love driving with soothing music playing, drinking my afternoon coffee, and taking peeks at my dozing babes in the rear view mirror, their faces looking much like they did as infants in their car seats.

To help ease the napping habit, we often purposely do fun stuff in the early afternoon like go to the pool or a park.  On Friday, we went for the park. 




Michael and Sophie played hide and seek for most of the time there.



I love Sophie's look of glee at being spotted by Michael.

Although these two have spent three days a week during the last five school years in child care, they spent two hours of those days napping.  Kindergarten with its five full days a week is certainly going to wear them out.  Wish us luck with that and the rest of this special transition!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Last Bits of Summer

We've been trying to squeeze in a balance of fun and relaxation in these last days of summer vacation.

We've been playing... (pies in the oven)

...exploring our backyard...


...and beyond...(this macaw is at the Creature Conservancy in Ann Arbor)

...using our imaginations (picking flowers or gathering might be surprised)...

...and enjoying the sun.



Friday, August 21, 2015


After the photo scavenger hunt in July, I think I needed a little breather from the camera.  I've fallen behind a bit, but here's a little recap of a little getaway the kids and I took with my mom.

Sophie in the water
Like last year, we headed to the west side of Michigan and spent a couple of days going to the beach, picking strawberries, and just generally kicking back.  We spent this time in Holland, MI, and although we didn't intend to get sort of touristy, we did.  After an afternoon at the state park beach, we spent the next day at Dutch Village and Windmill Island Park.  We saw demonstrations of how wooden shoes are made viewed a couple of dance performances, the kids rode on swings, a carousel, and a Ferris wheel, and we all climbed the stairs of a windmill and learned how it grinds flour.  I bought some of the flour, and we made blueberry muffins with our souvenirs back at home.


The kids picked dandelions for the young woman working at the blueberry patch.  Too sweet!

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For dinner we ate at New Holland Brewing Company where they were having a family night.  One of the kids' activities was building with gumdrops and toothpicks, and Michael and Sophie loved it so much we've been doing some constructing at home as well.

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Michael is almost constantly making sound effects these days, roaring like any sort of beast or engine at any given moment.  That makes portraits tricky!

I spotted Sophie sampling the materials.  

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Friday, July 31, 2015


We spent the morning at the pool today, and I checked off what will probably be my last scavenger hunt item: goggles.  The hunt ends at midnight tonight.  I need to find something so motivating for August!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Campers

PicMonkey Collage

We just returned from making great memories on a four day, three night camping adventure, our first as a family.  We camped at Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee, MI.


I was hoping to camp within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore but waited too long to book our site.  Manistee is about an hour away from the dunes, which wasn't ideal, but there was plenty to do in the area.


The campground is along the Lake Michigan shore, and our site was literally steps from a bluff overlooking it. We were able to walk down to the beach to swim and found the large staircase to be well worth the effort.  The stairs and beach were much like what we enjoyed at the house we rented a few years ago located further south down the shore.


We enjoyed a trolley tour of Manistee one morning and were pleased that one of the trolley's two stops was right at the front of the campground.  Manistee is certainly not bustling, but the calm was a pleasant difference from the more touristy Traverse City and Mackinac areas where we have vacationed before. The history and architecture presented on the tour were interesting enough, and the kids did fine on the hour long ride.


Michael and Sophie requested a chance to fish on this trip. We were unsuccessful at catching any fish that afternoon, but spending that time with the kids and giving them a little experience was our real goal.  We'll go again closer to home some time.

Before heading out for this camping trip, the kids and I made a scavenger hunt together with items like "flying insect" and "yellow leaf"  The hunt lasted the whole trip and was fun for all of us.  Surprisingly, we never noticed any animal tracks, so I sent the kids to look for some as we cleaned up the campsite on the last morning.  The hunt was a great way to keep the kids occupied!

Leading up to this trip, we read The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin and Gisbert van Frankenhuyzen quite a bit this summer.  We borrowed it and a few other camping related books from the library:

The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing and Julie Durrell
Camping by Nancy Hundal and Brian Deines
Ladybug Girl at the Beach by David Soman and Jacky Davis

My first attempt to read The Legend of Sleeping Bear earlier this summer was a bit strained.  I was almost as choked up as I was reading Love You Forever the first time when Michael and Sophie were newborns.  By the time we read about the grieving mama bear in the tent the night before our dune climb, the kids were basically telling the story to me.  The book really helped them to understand the geography (Wisconsin is way, way, way on the other side of the lake) and why mommy is a safety nut ("...I am watching over you and loving you forever.")  Sniff.

To get a head start on the heat, we left the campground early for Sleeping Bear Dunes.  We stopped at a scenic overlook and the visitor's center on the way, and looking back I wish we had waited on that, so the air would be cooler.  The weather was pleasant and dry for our trip, but on this day the temperatures did climb into the mid-nineties.

Sophie and Michael did great with the actual dune climb despite the sand already being quite hot on our feet in the mid-morning sun.  The kids wanted to keep on going once they reached the top of the big dune and climbed up and ran back down another small hill before resting at the top of the big dune for a bit.  Mike joked that he ran back down that little dune so fast that his feet fell off, and the kids got a kick out of digging his feet back out of the sand (at the ends of his legs, of course!).  They did the same joke a few times themselves.  We knew ahead of time that hiking the dunes further like Mike and I did years ago when we came by ourselves was not a good plan for this visit.  Maybe when the kids are bigger and on a cooler day. An hour or so on the dune climb was plenty.

No, nobody's crying in this picture.  Smiling.  She's smiling.

After a stressful attempt to take some pictures (sun was too bright for Sophie, and I was putting family Christmas card style pressure on the event--bad combo), we held hands and enjoyed gravity's help as we tumbled back down the dune.


After making some stops along the Pierce Stocking Drive along the lakeshore, we took a side trip into Traverse City for lunch and a couple of drinks at Right Brain Brewery.  A close friend of my mom's has some paintings on display there.  Since we were in the area we couldn't resist a return trip for ice cream at Moomer's.  I think this was our third visit, our second with the kids.  Eating a waffle cone of Cherries Moobilee while watching the cows that aided in its creation has become one of my favorite Michigan summer traditions.

We spent a lot of time in the car that day, but we were okay with escaping that heat.  We hoped to get more beach time back in Manistee, but with a campfire to get going and the day getting late, we just took the kids to play at the park near the city beach.  Like any five-year-olds, Michael and Sophie find playing on a new playground with a a rocket ship structure as exciting (if not more) than climbing a national treasure or splashing in a Great Lake.  Sometimes that works in our favor.


All of our camping nights ended with campfire dinners (hot dogs, hamburgers, hobo ham dinner), dessert (s'mores, campfire apple pies), and sunsets.  We had a good bedtime routine going where we made one last stop at the bathrooms after the sunset, brushed teeth, and put on pajamas in the tent before reading those library books.  That time in our tent with flashlights, sleeping bags, and chats about our day's adventures was my favorite of this trip.  The kids went and stayed asleep like camping champs.

I was even able to drink my coffee in total silence in the mornings.  The memory of that alone could motivate me to do this again in the future.


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