Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Summer of Sailing

After five races, M's season of sailing is over. I'm happy that I wasn't a sailing widow all summer. Some guys race EVERY weekend of the summer. He's done A LOT of sailing this past month! Four overnight races in three weeks. (No wonder he's walking around the house like an old man -- I'm sure he'll recover soon.) Here are a few pictures of the Mackinac finish....

Here is T looking for Daddy sailing to the finish line. T's binoculars aren't the best, but he sure had fun looking out towards the Mackinac bridge to be the first one to spot the boat.

The boat is crossing the finish line!!! That's the Round Island lighthouse, which is just passed the finished line. Every boat that finished got a "canon" -- a loud gun-like noise precisely at the crossing of the finish line. We were so proud, man!

This is the boys posing with dad, UD, UB, and cousins Aand M. The four older ones just got finished with the 41 hour race. They are posing wit a blow-up "old goat." UB is a member of the "Old Goat" club -- meaning that he has finished more than 25 races from Chicago to Mackinac island -- actually, this one was his 39th Mac race! (R has a "bite light" in his mouth. It's a mini flashlight that sailors use when they go down below and don't want to wake up the crew that is on the sleep shift.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Like Auntie, Like Nephew

Twice this summer R has reminded me of my sister:

1) We'll all be outside and he'll be the only one that gets bitten by mosquitos. I remember that Jen used to work better for me than OFF Bug Spray. As long as she was near me, I wouldn't get bitten, but she would. Poor girl. I told R this and he thought that the two of them should have a game to see who gets the most bites in a timed competition, "as long as we have a lot of Calimine Lotion and Itch-X in the house, we'll be fine." Are you up for it sistah???

2) I let each boy take seven bucks on our vacation. T's strategy was to spend it all at once on whatever he could (he chose polished rocks and a toy airplane -- neither of which is really a souvinere (sp) of where we were.) R, however, would ONLY buy something if he got change back.

Does this sound familiar, Sis??

The first thing that he bought cost two dollars. He had a five dollar bill and two singles. I told him he could give the clerk the two singles and he's still have his fiver to spend later. No, he said that he'd rather give her the five dollar bill so that he'd buy the toy AND get change back. "It's better this way, mom. I get more money and the toys." Okay.

Then, he chose not to buy this really cool thing at the fort that he wanted because he wouldn't get change back from his five dollars that he had left. As much as he wanted it, "it's not worth it, you know mom? Because I don't get any money back." He bought something little somewhere else and came home with three bucks and change.

You Don't Know What You Have Till It's Gone

Yesterday and today rivaled the heat records in my neck of the woods. It was 94 degrees yesterday, but *felt* like 108 due to the humidity -- that's what the weatherman said. I remember this "heat index" thing now from living in Chicago -- it feels hotter than it is because it's so darn sticky, sweaty, and sweltering. (It's just like the wind factor in the winter, but exactly the opposite -- ya know?)

Anyway, while all this heatness is going on, our central AC has been a workin' and a workin'. M has always said that our unit is too small for our house because it Never Stops. It's always running -- none of that on-for-awhile, off-for-awhile stuff for our little guy, nope. Once it's on, it's off and running.

Until yesterday at 4:00 pm. When it stopped. Completely.

I noticed that it was feeling a bit warm in the house. I wandered over to the thermastat to see if I had accidently turned it off for some reason or if it was set for "leave" -- which is what we do when we're out of town. Nope. It wasn't on "leave"...

and what was that temperature again, oh yeah EIGHTY degrees. Arghh! No wonder I was hot! Once I knew it was 80, it was really hot!

By the time night fell, it was 86 degrees inside. That's because it gets hotter here in the evening. What's up with that? At least in California, even when it was 100 during the day, it would COOL DOWN AT NIGHT. Not here, nope. It gets hotter...and stays humid. Yuck.

I checked the filter and it looked fine. I checked the breaker and it was fine. That's all I knew how to do. M was still out of town finishing the Port Huron to Mackinac race. So, I employed the two fans that we have in strategic positions and put the boys in a cool bath for an hour. By the time I went to bed at midnight, it was DOWN to 83 degrees in the house and 87 degrees outside.

I woke up at 5 in the morning and ran around opening the windows -- I was thrilled to get the temperature back down to 80 degrees (one degree short of my goal -- the 70's sound so much more tolerable than the 80's, ya know?)

Poor Emily the babysitter. She didn't bargain for what she got today. I gave her twenty bucks extra for hazard pay. I told her to get the kids wet every hour or so -- cool bath, water gun fight, running in the sprinklers, whatever it took. Then I told her to hold out in the basement where it was at least 15 degrees cooler. Finally, as a last resort, she could take them to her house if she wanted to. She's such a sweetheart and said that it was no problem :>

When I came home from work it was 88 degrees in the house and 85 degrees outside with not an inkling of a breeze in the air...and the air was thick with 80% humidity. Gross. Emily and the kids were melting in the living room watching a DVD, all with smiles on thier faces. Bless their hearts. Emily took her money and rushed out the door, promising that the day went along great.

Anyone for a leisurely dinner in air conditioned Red Lobster? Both boys said it sounded like a great idea. So we ran out the door too.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We're home from a very fun trip. There's a lot to tell, but I'm pretty pooped. M's boat was the 7th to the island -- pretty good :> They had over a day of no-wind (bad!) and a morning of a storm (good for wind!) They got in at about 8:00 in the morning on Monday. So, we got to play on the island for two days with him, which was great.

I'll write more later, but here are the boy's favorite parts of our trip (I asked them earlier this evening):

R: Eating fudge and playing at the kids' camp (at our second hotel after leaving Mackinac)

T: The butterfly house and the fort.

R: Oh yeah, and the fort. (How could he forget the fort??? He LOVED the fort!!!)

Here's two pics to keep your eagerness at bay until I write more:

Here's R posing with some soldiers at Fort Mackinac. R could have stayed there all day long and never have gotten bored.

T had good luck getting butterflies to land on him at the Butterfly House. (R was jealous until (thank goodness!) one landed on him too. Yes, that is a real butterfly on his hand. Too cool!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Two Beautiful Boys

I love my boys. Sometimes I look at them and wonder how a mother can love her boys so much. Certainly no other mother can love her boys this much. It's really amazing how much they fill my heart. Watching them grow into such wonderful human beings is really a blessing.

I was sick earlier this week and T picked me flowers and sat and rubbed my arm to make me know he loved me and let me literally feel his love. R helped me set the table and jumped up to help whenever I needed something -- "anything for a sick mom" he would say.

They want to please... and they struggle with doing what seems like fun versus doing what will please me and M. You can see their brains nearly combusting with internal struggles. They usually error on the side of what I'd want them to do. They're young, after all. I know the ratio of doing what I want them to do and what they want to do will shift at some older age.

But for now, they're on my side.

And I love it....


I'll be off-line until next weekend. (See below).

Off for Some Fun

We're off on a family vacation. M is sailing from Chicago to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw - like our dog!) and we're going to go up there to greet him when he crosses the finish line. His boat is a biggie -- about 72 feet -- so he should finish in about 35-40 hours. The last time I waited for him to finish this race, it took him about 60 hours (smaller boat and no wind.) This one should be much better.

Here's a website that tells you about the race: M's boat is Porororoca (I think that's spelled right) in group GL 70 (the big boys) and we might be able to follow his progress on the computer (if his boat is one of those that is tracked.) I can't believe that he's racing with these big boats -- I've heard about Nitemare and the others -- they're fast! The residules of the hurricane are here, so we'll have isolated/scattered thunderstorms -- M doesn't mind that at all, it means he'll have WIND :>

The boys are SOOO excited about the trip. There are no cars allowed on the island -- only bikes and horses to get around. We'll have a good time for three days -- swimming in the hotel pool, touring the fort on the island, visiting the butterfly house, eating fudge, swimming in the cold lake, renting bikes for a bikeride (I checked and they do have bike trailers and kids seats for the boys.)

Here's a website that tells you about the island

We'll also spend a day or two at Sleeping Bear Dunes where we'll rent a canoe.

Here are the boys on canoes at Grammma Smith's house over the 4th. Riley's on the top pic, with his big cousin helping in the back.

T is having a great time, too. He looks so grown up, doesn't he?

I have a lot to do to day -- laundry, pack, take Mackinaw (named after said island) to her "sleepover camp" (aka really cool kennel that she loves), pick up the new Harry Potter book to read on the island, get some DVDs at the library for the kids to watch on the long drive there... I better get going!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Public Service Announcement

Just a note:

There are two new blogs on the net for your reading pleasure. My sister and my cousin have joined the blogging world. Check out their blogs - you can click on them from here -- just go to the right-hand margin under "Blogs I like to Read."

Enjoy! Now, scroll below for your regularly scheduled blog...

Dinner Ramblings

Here's a picture of T that I peaceful.


Tonight it was just me and the kids for dinner, because M isn't feeling well. (poor guy, I hope he doesn't have what I just got over.)

Well, R could *not* stop talking! Ay yi yi.....he was all excited about a time machine that he wants to build. He went on and on. I'll try to remember some of his excited chatter (while T and I enjoyed our fruit salad, cresent rolls, and mac n cheese.)

R: When I'm 8 I want to build a time machine. Or maybe when I'm seven. I'll be six in two weeks, so 7 isn't that far away. I'm going to build a really cool time machine. It will be successful (editor's note: yes, my brilliant almost-6-year-old used the word "successful"). It will be successful, not like those ones on TV that blow up. I'm going to take the bath tub to sit in and protect me for my trip.

Me: How will the bathtub protect you?

R: Well, if the bathtub protects you during a tornado it should be okay in a time machine. It will be really great to go back intime and see all of the things that we need to the dinosaurs, except that they might eat me, or the cowboys and I could bring my guns, but they should be real for the trip. And I could take a clock and hook it up to the bathtub...that should work out good for going back in time. I would try to go into the future, but that's the trickiest...I'll work on that after I go back in history first.

Me: That sounds really great. R, but I've never really heard of a time machine that works. Scientist have been trying to do that for years.

R: Yeah, that's a good point, mom. Maybe my machine will take us to a place where people dress up like the people in the olden days and act out the things so it's just like you are there. That would be really great and awesome, you know? To see it just like it was back in time..and the houses could be like the olden day houses and the food could be like the food they had then. You know?

Me: I think that's a good idea, R. Now, you let T talk for awhile and take three bites of mac n cheese.

T: Moo. Mooo. Moo.

Me: T can you speak human and not cow, I'm not good at cow language right now.

T: Moo! Can I have some more fruit salad?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Story About A Man And His Boat

M is a sailor. Not the white hat, military kind of sailor...but, the sail on a sail boat kind of sailor. He's been sailing since he was about 8 years old. He learned on small boats on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin -- boats that took one or two kids to race. He's been racing big sailboats for about 10 years -- big, as in 32 feet or so big -- the kind that take about 7-9 people to sail in a race. He's done the legendary Chicago-to-Mackinac Island race about 6 times. (Even though you may not heard of the race, it is legendary. Ted Turner has even raced it on his sailing yacht.)

Anyway, needless to say, M has wanted a sailboat FOREVER. When we moved to the Midwest from San Francisco (and had a big of jingle in our pockets) he wanted to buy a boat. But he also wanted to put in a pool, and he wanted to own some hunting property, and he wanted to own a cottage, and he wanted to upgrade our I missing anything? So, we made a deal. We set aside a bit of money and agreed (note, that means that we agreed together) that we would live through one summer and then decide which of the fun summer things we wanted to invest in -- the boat, pool, cottage, or RV. It would be silly to just jump into one of these expensive things without knowing where we'd rather spend our time (and money). We agreed to this. Together. Agreed.

How is it that every other week, M has come to me with another "amazing deal" on a sailboat? Honey, this is such a bargain and she's a beauty (all boats are female, did you know that?) Each time, I would remind my darlin' that we agreed to a plan and wouldn't buy anything this summer. Then, there was the sailboat in Grand Haven that was in incredible condition -- no, I reminded him, we agreed that wouldn't buy a boat this summer. Each boat seemed to get more expensive. First they were in the $5K range, then somehow they crept up to an amazing deal at $9K. He wore me down (which was probably his plan to begin with.) I finally said, okay, if you can find a boat that works for the family for $1K we can get it this summer. Of course, I thought that this was impossible. After all, look at the price ranges that he was dealing with before.

Well, I obviously don't know my husband very well, because I should have known a "mission" when I said one. For two weeks, he was online and on the phone, researching sailboats that were for sale in the closest five states. He learned about which fleets were active, which boats had benches (a stipulation that I had -- I hate sitting on the edge of the boat, and it's not safe for the kids), which boats were light enough for our SUV to pull on a trailer. I knew I was in trouble.

He had it narrowed down to two kinds of boats -- Stars and Buccanneers. He found a Buccaneer in great shape a half an hour away from his mom's house. The Buccaneer is 18 feet long. As T says, "it doesn't have a basement" so there is no place to sleep. But she's a cutie! I'll post a picture as soon as I get one. Ours is sky blue with a red-and-white striped (like the Cat in the Hat's hat) spinnaker. We named her Yankee Doodle because of her colors and the fact that we got her on the 4th of July weekend. The name Firecracker was a close second; actually, it was the kids' favorite, but we wanted to show a bit more patriotism.

M and the kids sailed it at his mom's house last week and had a great time. We put it in the nearby lake on Sunday and had a blast too. R is a natural sailor. When M told him to "cleat the jib" R knew exactly what to do! T was more interested in the snacks that I packed than learning how to sail, but he had fun too.

Here's a website that shows some pictures of the Buccaneers, so you get a feel for her. They race them with two people, but you can sail with 4 or 5 pretty comfortably.

Yesterday, the wind picked up and the trees in our woods started really blowing, so he jumped in the car and went out and took Yankee Doodle for a spin around the lake before the thunderstorm started.

My man has his boat...and he's a'grinnin' from ear to ear.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Party of All Parties

So, we've lived here for about nine months and have been itchin' to have a party. But, we haven't known anybody to invite. Now that we've been here a bit, M knows a lot of people in our neighborhood. He's like know, Mr. Friendly. I like that about him. So, M designed an invitation for our shindig and I invited a few people from work and he invited, well...the whole neighborhood! Luckily not all could come and we had about 35 people at our house. About ten of them were kids.

We had the menu discussion about two weeks ago and wanted something barbeque-ish, but didn't want to be chained to the grill the whole time. We threw around things like pulled pork sandwiches, brats, hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and even sloppy Joes (which got ruled out because of the non-griling aspect of them and the fact that I don't think that they are really "summer food" to begin with. We/M kept changing the menu. He was going to bring back the Italian beef from Chicago (but he brought back a sailboat instead, but I digress). Instead of actually deciding anything, we decided to have pulled pork sandwiches AND brats AND hot dogs! M bbq'd two pork butt roasts on Friday afternoon/evening/night and we pulled pork from 9:30-11:00 on Friday night. A lot of work, but it sure was good. He also bbq'd the brats on Friday and we simmered them in beer all afternoon on Saturday. I just had one for dinner tonight too and they sure are tasty -- the taste very beer-y and delicious. Strange that I like them to taste like beer since I don't like beer. Hmmm...

Anyway, when folks asked if they could bring something, we told them to bring an appetizer. I made a big pasta salad, chocolate-dipped strawberries and brownies for dessert, and apples with caramel sauce (like I made last week. They were such a hit then, why not?) I also put out chips and salsa, chips and onion dip, veggies and dip, and I made tortilla-roll pinwheel sandwiches (like last week) but never put them out because we had SO MUCH FOOD. Our friends brought bruchetta (two different kinds from two different people, more veggies and dip (from a nutritionist), spinach casserole, and a blue cheese ball and crackers. Good thing that M convinced me that we didn't need the artichoke and spinach dip that I was going to make.

M had hooked up our deck speakers which are in the shape of terra cota planters, and are actually terra cota planters on top. Totally cool. He made a "party mix" of songs that played throughout the party (it had four hours worth of music on it and we used it all and then restarted it for another hour or so.) We had three coolers filled with drinks, one with cokes and juices, one with wine and vodka coolers, and one with beer. An interesting note, we had two pastors and thier families in the crowd -- I've never seen a party where the coke drinkers outnumber the beer drinkers. We had to keep refilling the coke cooler. Funny.

We had the "jumpy" blown up and going so that the kids could jump to their hearts' content. It was on the other side of the yard from the play-fort, so we had kids all over the place. We had enough chairs for 24 people because we borrowed 6 chairs from our neighbors. People kept complimenting us on such a fun party. It was fun! The kids got to stay up for the whole thing and were thrilled that they got to run and catch fireflies. Again, very cool. R asked if he could stay up that late every night because he loves fireflies....ummm, no. Fraid not. The boy doesn't sleep in. No matter what time he goes to bed, he gets up at 6:45 or so. So, no can do with the fireflies every night.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

I promise to write about the boat, but right now I gotta make sure that two boys are washed up in the tub. They've been in there for twenty minutes, but I don't know if they've used soap yet.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fourth of July Summer Festivities

It's been a whole week since I last blogged. And it was a busy one. M sailed from Wisconsin to Michigan and then we drove to Illinois, going through Indiana. Yep, it was a four state weekend. We celebrated M's dad's birthday -- on July 3rd, just like my sister -- and had a little party in their huge backyard on the lake. While M golfed with his dad and brother (a request from the birthday boy) M's mom and I got ready for the party. I made tortilla roll-ups, apples and caramel dip, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. She made BBQ pork for sandwiches, her famous salsa for dipping, deviled eggs, and cream cheese with pepper jelly for crackers. Lots of M's dad's family came and the boys got to meet some more cousins -- two teenagers that played with R and T all day long; it was like R and T were their personal play things. Boy did my kids love it! They took them on canoe rides, had wrestling matches in the water, and practiced swimming. They played tag -- how I always turned out to be the "safe" spot, I'll never know, and played bocce ball. It was a really nice day. We had lots of good food and good company and good weather to boot!

Almost best of all, both boys took a nap before the festivities began -- amazing! A. Two. Hour. Nap. Nice....! They were in good spirits all day -- no crankiness and no complaining (but, then again, what's to complain about in a day like that?) They even got to stay up until 10:00 so that they could see our fireworks show...our own personal fireworks show.

M and I bought a whole lot of fireworks in Indiana back in May. It's legal to buy cool fireworks all year long there. Even fireworks that shoot up and explode into the air - like the professionals! It was awesome.

The next day, I took the train home (five hours on two trains, but it was nice...a little "me" time with a book and my new iPod) and M and the boys stayed for two more nights. They got back late last night and we're all here together now.

Two notes that I'll write about tomorrow or the next day (call this a blog teaser, if you will): We now own a sailboat, and we're getting ready for a party on Saturday night with about 30 people.

See ya later!