Monday, July 25, 2011

Vacation 2011: A recap

Do you remember returning to your college dorm after a holiday break at home spent relaxing with family and friends; staying up too late talking or playing cards and drinking some wine, doing everything but thinking of deadlines and projects and your internship? You just get back, your car loaded with clean laundry and stocked with new food that you are busy putting away. You're not really thinking about anything in particular, just busying yourself with the task at hand, and out of seemingly nowhere you squint your eyes, your throat closes up and you just want to bawl?

That happened to me last night.

Vacation is over. For a week it felt like the world was put on pause just for our family to enjoy. We had a really great time but all to quickly we are back to the grindstone; back to projects and deadlines and a house to clean and dinner menu's to plan and a yard and garden to mow and weed. I wasn't thinking about all of that as I was standing at the kitchen counter unloading bags. I wasn't thinking of anything, really. Out of the blue it just hit me and I was sad. After spending the week surrounded by family our little unit of four seemed so...small.

Within a couple of days we'll be back to our old routine, which will be both welcome and hated. Our Summer Vacation will slowly fade from reality to memories. Thankfully there are a lot of good memories to hold us through until next year.

This past week we got away and relaxed. We took a couple of day trips - Jim Peck's and a train ride in Laona (post to come) - we saw a water ski show and went swimming at the beach (almost daily.) Keaton caught a turtle and played with his cousin non-stop, I snuck in as much reading as possible, Collin did a little fishing, Hutton ate a lot of sand and got to pet some new animals. After the kids were in bed we spent a few evenings having some drinks and playing some cards. I'm happy to report that the Girls won Euchre 2011!! Oh yeah, put it in the books, woot woot! Kira and I snuck away, or, as the guys call it, "checked-out" for an afternoon and visited a local bookstore and the cutest little coffee shop. That was the hottest day of the week, which was a hot, hot, HOT, week and in one word I'd call it "splendid." It was some much, much needed girl time. The boys also got to "check-out" a couple of days later to go fishing.

I wish I would have taken my camera out more and had the chance to go kayaking, but thankfully there will be plenty more trips to the cabin. Plenty more trips that I'm already day-dreaming about.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vacation 2011: Wildwood Wildlife Park

Next summer, if you're wondering when to expect the heat wave just ask us which week we've scheduled our family vacation.  We seem to have a knack for picking the hottest week of the season.  This week has been hot, hot, hot and without air in the cabin the afternoons have been....well...kinda miserable.  But with the exception of last night the evenings have been nice and we've been making the most of the days with frequent trips to the beach and playing outside in the kiddy pool. 

On Tuesday we packed the kids up and headed to Jim Peck's Wildwood Wildlife Park.  Collin and I both have memories of going here when we were kids.  While many of the places we went to back then have closed, Jim Peck's is still open and going strong.

What I remember most about our trips as kids is petting the deers and porcupines.  Now the first animal you see when walking in are the goats.  And those little buggers are hungry.

The best part of Jim Peck's is that you can get up close with the animals and there is a big variety of animals.  There are farm animals like goats, bunnies and chickens.

And Northwoods animals like bears, deer, and wolves.

And you can feed them.  The bears get special Bear Juice and the deer will eat pellets out of your hand.

We were reminded through that these are wild animals when two bucks got into a tiff right in front of us.  Actually, so close to Collin that he was almost in the middle of it.  While holding Hutt.  We moved past the deer at that point.

There are also "zoo" animals like monkeys, a camel, zebra, and tigers.

Can you see the little monkey in the window?

And then there are the prairie dogs, with the life size prairie dog tunnel.  Like last year's trip, this was probably the highlight for the boys.

I totally want a prairie dog!
The last place we stopped was in the bird house, where you can feed the birds a stick of seeds.  Hutton loved the birds and cried when we wouldn't let him touch them.  Keaton, my bird lover, was a little more hesitant.

We finished the morning with a train ride for the big boys before heading to Paul Bunyan's for lunch.

Eating at Paul Bunyan's is like stepping back in time, eating family-style meals on bench tables off of tin plates and cups. 

We had a great morning and we came home for an afternoon jaunt to the beach, floating in the water and watching the speedboats.  Ahhh, vacation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Vacation

For the next week we'll be...

Spending time with family
Playing in the sand
Going to the beach
Reading on the dock
Catching some rays
Listening to the loons
Exploring new places
Enjoying vacation

I may pop in with some pictures from time to time.  Otherwise, see you in a week!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WeDay: The Good and The Bad

Every day has its moments. Good moments and bad moments.  Moments that are almost instantly forgotten, moments that will fade with time, moments that leave a permanent mark in our minds.  In so many ways yesterday was just an ordinary day; an ordinary day full of a lot of little moments.  Let's start  with the bad, shall we...

  • Had to wake up to my alarm at 5:30 am.  One of my WeDay rules is no alarms, but I had work that I didn't finished the night before that needed to be sent by 8 am.  So up and out of bed I got.
  • A biting incident. Papa has been giving Keaton a new truck to take home every night.  They are special trucks and ones The Baby probably shouldn't be playing with.  Hutton had the coca-cola truck, there was some yells of No Baby! No Baby!  I heard a squabble, I ran in the room just in time to see Keaton holding the truck and Hutton holding Keaton's arms and sinking his teeth right into his forearm.  Yes.  Hutton bit Keaton.  Keaton cried, it was actually a pretty good bite.  But honestly, it might have also been a pretty good lesson.
  • A cry of Oh No!  Just as we were getting ready to leave.  One look gave me my answer, a potty accident, on the stairs.
  • Target.  Keaton likes to walk and because Hutt is in the cart it's easier for me if he walks.  But yesterday he took off, peeked around the jewelry aisle, smiled, and then went the other way.  I waited for a bit and then went to look for him, which is not easy when trying to maneuver a cart.  He was gone.  I looked back and forth, around this way and that.  No sight of him.  Finally I heard someone call for down the main aisle to the sales clerk that this little boy was lost.  I went out there but he was running back to the bird seed aisle (where we had just been).  I couldn't get to him quick enough and down another aisle he went.  Finally.  Finally I got him to stop.  I picked him up and his lip was quivering, tears about to stream down this face.  It was scary.  For both of us.
  • Got the kids to library hour (early!) and played with all the toys until story time started.  Hutton was not pleased about having to leave the toy area and let out not one, but TWO blood curdling screams as I carried him to story time.  Embarrassing about sums it up.
  • Kids fell asleep on the way home.  I didn't even attempt a car seat to crib transfer and decided to let Hutt nap in his seat.  Said nap lasted about 15 minutes then he woke up and refused to go back to sleep unless he was being held. For the next 2 hours.
  • Trying to make dinner with Hutt in his highchair who was ticked to be stuck up there.  There was alot of crying/whining/screaming.
  • Keaton pouring out my reserved cooking liquid that I needed for the pasta.  Me yelling at Keaton.  The look on his face when I realized how ridiculous I was being and bent down to give him a hug and apologize.  Him talking to himself 5 minutes later reenacting the scene.  Under his breath: Mama says NOOOOOOO! (That was actually kinda funny too, but also sad, because this kid, he internalizes everything.)
  • Getting bit while nursing.  A bite that drew blood.  Lots.  I sat there for 15 minutes afterwards with throbbing pain trying not to cry. All while the baby slept.  He didn't even realize he did it.  And he was not happy when I refused the boob in the middle of the night, but I'll tell you what kid, I'm a little scared of you and your teeth.
But, like most days, the Good outweighed the Bad:
  • Going to Story Hour for the first time!  Playing with all the toys: the tunnel,the legos, the train set, the house, the trucks.  The boys were in heaven there, they would have stayed all day if I had let them.
  • Hutton waking up from his nap and me having to hold him meant I got to sit down with a book for 2 hours.
  • When Keaton woke up from his nap he joined us on the couch and we snuggled and read another dozen books until Hutt finally woke up.  It was so sweet and while we were laying there I couldn't help but think, this?  This is perfect.
  • Keaton dancing in the car to Katy Perry.
  • Starbucks.
  • Buttery Shrimp & Radish Pasta (Try it!!  So good.)
  • Jam is restocked.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This and That

This weekend I finally declared defeat and decided to get someone in here to help clean the house.  I bitched and moaned about how I just. can't. do. it. anymore.  Collin is on board.  I have the number of someone I know and trust.  But I'm too chicken shit to actually make the call.  I hate telephone talking!  So instead I've been busting my ass in the evenings/whenever the kids are semi entertained to try to get a lot done. I don't want to leave this house a mess before we take off on vacation.  So far, I've cleaned the mudroom and kitchen, quickly vacuumed, and worked on laundry.  There is still so much to do.

Speaking of vacation, why does there have to be so much pre-trip work?  And post-trip work?  I hate that part of it.  Keaton needs a haircut, Hutton needs a pair of shoes, our car needs a new battery, bills need to be paid, we need to get some cash from the bank, I need to pick up a book from the library, we need to line up someone to come water plants and feed the cat.  Oh, and packing.  And the cleaning clothes to pack.  And the Target runs.  And the making sure Maia has her tick medicine on.  The List! It goes on and on and on.

On Saturday Collin and I each took a kid to run errands.  Keaton chose to come with me to get an oil change,Target, the bank, the post office, the farmer's market, Starbucks, and the meat market.  He was a great companion except for the fit he threw when I tried to get him back in his car seat after the oil change.  While we were inside paying our bill a brand new Cadillac Escalade pulled up and left me about 3 inches of space to squeeze him in the car.  The guy had his window down and asked if I needed him to move over but I said no, we were fine.  And that's when the fit throwing began.  Because he wanted to climb up into the seat himself.  But there wasn't room for him to do that and me stand behind him with the door open to make sure he didn't fall.  So he screamed and thrashed and I tried calming to get him to settle down all the while I just wanted to yell, Don't you dare fucking hit that new Caddy!!!  (with the owner inside!) Then after the meat market I accidentally pinched his leg with the belt buckle.  Still, when I asked him who you was going to go with next time, Mommy or Daddy, he said Mama.  It was probably because of Starbucks.  Kid loves him some Iced Caramel Macchiato.

The rest of our Saturday was spent going to a birthday party.  Except when we got there there were no cars and the garage door was shut.  Collin immediately looked at me and said "Bender?" I called Tanya and guess what!  birthday party was on Sunday.  Opps.  We were only 23 hours early.  Notice we weren't 24 hours early, oh God no, we were an hour late, but 23 hours early.  So instead we came home and made dinner and after baths we made popcorn and watched Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

Because we just had our carpets cleaned before Hutton's birthday party we instituted a new rule: popcorn has to stay on the green blanket. And you have to have your hands washed before leaving the green blanket.  Keaton was very good at following the rules.  Hutton, on the other hand.  More than once I uttered, I realize you're only one, but this rule applies to you too!  And then he ran away from me with fistfuls of popcorn giggling up a storm.

Speaking of Hutton' birthday, I'm in the process of writing his 12-month post and there will be a birthday party post to come but I hired a professional photographer (Auntie Cas!) to take pictures at the party (and do his one-year shots) because I never have time to man the camera during the parties, so I'm waiting to get those before finalizing the posts.

I took these pictures of Keaton wearing Collin's shoes back in April, I think.  His hair looks so dark in them.  It has really lightened up in the sun.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vacation Journaling: 4th of July weekend at the Cabin

Saturday, July 2nd

Our trip was postponed until this morning even though we were packed and actually on the road last night.  We hadn't made it into town yet when I realized we'd forgotten the pack-n-play, we turned around and Collin ran in the house to grab it and when he opened the hatch to put it in the car Maia jumped out and refused to get back in.  It was so hot and humid and the air in our car is not working - I think she made the right call. 

When we finally arrived this afternoon it was just in time for naps, which was perfect because Mimi & Pa Grizz had to go to Three Lakes to see some family and when they got back the boys were up and ready to hit the beach.  We walked over to Lake Mildred, which was packed with people and dogs and boats, and for the first time in years I got in the water and swam with the boys.  I'm not much of a water person, it's usually too cold for my liking, but getting in and splashing around with them was so much fun.

On our walk back Mom and Collin were up ahead pushing the stroller and carrying a wet Keaton.  I lagged behind carrying a beach towel wrapped Hutton who was wiped and had his head on my shoulder. As Dad caught up to us he started making bird calls - I remember him doing this to Justin and I when we were young and us imitating any call he made.  Hutt sprung up to see where the sound was coming from and Keaton yelled from up ahead "More Pa Drr! More!"  It was the favorite part of my day.

Sunday, July 3rd

Race day.  Today Collin and I ran our first 5K together, the St. Germain Freedom 5K.  It's my first race back after having Hutton and like any race in the past it fueled my desire to keep running, get stronger, improve my time.  Before I started training my goal time was 30 minutes.  After running my first 3 mile route I knew there was no way I'd hit that.  So I readjusted.  35 minutes.  I finished in 34 50 something, just under my goal time.  I'm happy.  And I'm even happier that I crossed #23 off of my Life List.

We had planned on staying in town for the 4th of July parade but I forgot to pack hats and sunscreen for the boys and they were pooped after being forced awake at 6:30 this morning, so instead we headed home with a stop at Hoggie Doggies for lunch and ice cream.

During naps I sat on the dock and soaked in some rays.  When the boys woke up we headed back to the beach.  I could get used to this life.

Monday, July 4th

There is nothing relaxing about leaving day.  It's like the anti-vacation.  Although we weren't on any sort of time schedule, we slept in and took naps and generally enjoyed the day, all of that was overshadowed by the hassle of tearing off the bed linens, collecting all the dirty clothes, packing everything back up in the car while also watching two active little boys and trying to re-sweep and do dishes and clean counters.  I hate leaving day.  For so many reasons.

We are heading back to the cabin for our (whole) family vacation in 7 days.  We're all so excited.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

WeDay: Strawberry Style

Kind of. Sort of.  Okay, not really.  But that was our plan!

With the recent crazy weather strawberry season came late around these parts.  While they are usually ripe and ready to be picked by Father's Day weekend this year it wasn't until the week after - right in time for birthday party craziness in this house.  Last week came and went so fast as we were trying to pick up from the party (still not all the way complete) and get ready for the holiday weekend at the cabin that I had no time to run to the patch to even buy some pre-picked berries.  On Friday before we left town Collin stopped at the little stand at the end of our road and bought a quart, which were good eating, but not near enough to restock our freezer of jam.  So that was my plan for yesterday, find some strawberries and have the boys help me make jam. 

Just one little problem, a lot of the patches are all out of berries.  The one place I think we might have been able to find some closed at noon; the boys and I napped from 11 to almost 1 pm, by the time we got there the gate was shut. 

So after running errands we stopped at the little veggie stand down the road and got some fresh peas and another quart of berries.  We couldn't make our jam but we did slice up a cup of berries and made strawberry smoothies.  The next best thing, I suppose.

We rounded out the day with dinner on the grill and sweet corn on the cob.  It wasn't from around here (corn is going to be late this year, too) but it was actually pretty good.  Afterwards we did a little work on the garden.  Collin and I weeded/planted while the boys trampled and pulled.  It was...a little stressful. But they loved playing in the dirt and I'm hoping as the plants grow they will learn to appreciate the work.