Monday, December 22, 2008


As AJ told me on the phone, I haven't blogged in a "coon's year." So, here I am a month or so after my latest blog. Here's my checklist from the past few weeks:

  • Bring boxes from the basement - check
  • Buy Christmas tree - check
  • Help with craft at Cub Scout pack meeting - check

  • Decorate Christmas tree - check
  • Fix angel for top of tree - check
  • Take down regular decorations - check
  • Put up Christmas decorations - check
  • Buy presents - check
  • Send box to California - check
  • Send out box for Colorado family - check
  • Make sure M and I have something to wear to fancy holiday party for work - check
  • Go to Holiday party - check
  • Make cookies for cookie exchange at work - check
  • Make Christmas cards - check
  • Address Christmas cards - check
  • Make little gifts for staff at work - check
  • Take Christmas photo of boys - check
  • Print out Christmas photo of boys - check
  • Put photo in cards and seal cards - check (did that tonight)
  • Make dessert for dessert potluck at work - check
  • Wrap presents -- not done yet!

In between all of the Christmas preparations, the whole family has had the stomach flu and then a week later has had the cold/flu. That basically means that we were all sick for two weeks. The stomach flu started on Thanksgiving night at my inlaws house (what fun it was to do three loads of laundry between 11 pm and 3 am!)

Since it's been so long since I've blogged, here are some pictures to reward you for coming back to see if there is anything new here.

R went hunting with M one Sunday last month. He's too young to hunt himself (by one year) but he wanted to go and keep his dad company and see what it was like. We decided it would be okay. I talked to R about how he'd have to be bundled up since it was snowing. M had a heart to heart talk with him beforehand, letting him know the details of "field dressing" and told R that it was kind of a sad thing. R still wanted to go. After all of that, they didn't see a deer. (I swear that I fixed the red eye on this picture before I posted it. I tried it three times and gave up. Just pretend that his eyes are brown.)

Here are father and son sportin' their flame orange gear, ready for the hunt. (in the snow)

M and I had a lovely tenth anniversary weekend in October. We dropped off the kids at M's folks house (where they had a great time being spoiled rotten!) and spent two nights away with just the two of us. We went out for some great meals, including fondue, brunch, and tasty steak. At the steak house, we got the royal treatment because their house wine is one of the wineries that AJ and UR sell to -- we got a tour of the restaurant, including where they dry age the beef. It was pretty cool to see, no pun intended! Here we are in the restaurant. It's nice to see how handsome M looks with hair! (His is growing back gradually.)

Here's one that M took of us while we were waiting for the boys to take the train ride at the Zoo Boo in town.

Here's a picture of the boys that didn't make the cut for Christmas pictures, but it's a cute one!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spelling 101

The boys have spelling words every week. T has ten words and R has 20 words. So, we practice them every night and really work on them on Thursday nights since they both have spelling tests on Fridays. I thought you'd like to know what kinds of words they're working on.

T's words (Second Grade):
He should do okay tomorrow. The word that he trips up on is "much" because he tries to put a "k" after the "c" (muck). Hopefully he'll remember that "ch" makes the "ch" sound.

10 of R's Words (4th grade):

Both of them have challenge words -- words that give them extra credit if they get them right. R's (4th grade) are all around economics: economics, harvest, scarcity, community....

T(2nd grade), on the other hand, has the hardest challenge words ever: succeed, guard, customer, pugnacious, luscious, luggage. Where did they get those words?? Who even uses the word "pugnacious" these days? Anyway, I had him focus on his regular words, and we chose two challenge words to tackle (customer, luggage.) No reason to stress the boy out trying to spell "luscious". Anyway, how can they go from "us" to "luscious" or "pugnacious." Someone punched the wrong button and clicked 9th grade instead of 2nd grade when they got these challenge words...or something!

Test yourself today to see if you can spell as well as a second and fourth grader.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Singing With A Friend

T had a friend over for a playdate and they broke out singing a "rap" that they have been singing at recess time. He says that they take "typical songs that we all know and turn it into classic rock." (I'm not so sure about that." T told me that he does some dance moves too. (I call it swaying.) Check it out, it's cute:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

As you know, M is the Cubmaster of the boys' Cub Scout pack. He puts his heart into it and is doing a great job. He has grown the Pack from 8 boys when we first joined three years ago to 27 boys last year and 48 boys this year. Word on the street is that we are a really fun Pack and lots of boys want to be a part of it. He's learned a lot along the way, including how to recruit other volunteer parents; how to delegate; and how to get up in front of the kids and make a fool of himself so that the kids laugh.

The biggest fundraiser of Cub Scouts is popcorn sales. The Pack gets 28% of the sales, which is pretty impressive. Last year our Pack raised $11,000, which was the most ever raised by this Pack. So, M set a goal of $15,000 for this year and said that if that goal was met, the Cub Scouts could shave his head. Well, you do the calculations. With 27 boys we raised $11K, so what should we have raised this year with 48 boys. If you said about double, you were right --we raised just over $20,000. So, M let the boys shave his head.

Here is the before picture:
Here are the action shots:

You can see the excitement from the boys. Who will take the first swipe at M's hair?

They all crowd around to see the action.

Here is T getting ready for his turn. You can see that M is still smiling -- what a trooper!

R was pleased as punch to help cut his dad's hair off.

And now, the "after" shot. As I said before, what a trooper!

"Fall Is" by R

Here is a poem that R brought home from school. It was displayed on the wall in his classroom during October:

Fall is what you see when you see the color of distinct leaves.
Fall is what you feel when you feel the endless piles of leaves and the hay on a hay ride.
Fall is what you hear when you hear kids playing in leaves and the ring of a bow in deer season.
Fall is what you taste when you taste warm apple cider with pumpkin pie.
Fall is what you smell when you smell a turkey feast on Thanksgiving and candy corn on Halloween.
It is quite poetic...and quite mid western with the deer hunting (LOL). By the way, R made the honor roll at school with over a 3.5 GPA (he's getting one B and the rest A's). M and I went to the school rally this morning to see him get his Honor Roll ribbon -- we're so proud, man.

The second grade doesn't have an honor roll, but if they did, T would have a ribbon too. He's getting one 3 and the rest 4's (just like one B and the rest A's.) We feel that we made a good choice when we switched them to this charter school.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Our friend, A, as Lord somebody from Peter Pan, R as Frankenstein and Squire Thomas. They were allowed to trick or treat on their own down the culdesac by our house before M and A's dad took them down the rest of the street. Meanwhile, A's mom and I sat on the front porch with a bottle of wine and gave out candy to the kids. (I know, I know, we got the good deal for the night, but you may not remember that last year the men stayed at gave out candy while we moms took the kids out in the freezing drizzle. So, we thought it was only fair. After all, it was a balmy 54 degrees this year. As a matter of fact, I think that we deserve to stay back at the house for two years after what we went through last year!)

M and I were invited to a Halloween party last night. We have never been to one together and had a hard time thinking of costumes. All of a sudden, I had a brainstorm and we were....

Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife, Beth....

Whaddaya think?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Free Military Channel for a Weekend

This is what R just told me as he was jumping up and down in the way that only he can:
"Yes! I was afraid they were going to say the Phantom was #1, but they didn't! After all, it doesn't have a gun.

I knew it! It's the P51 Mustang -- the best military aircraft in history. I knew it; it's an American classic. I feel (and I'm sure dad does too) that this is the best military plane of all time. Oh yeah!"

This has been my weekend -- a weekend of free Military channel. With TIVO, that weekend will last all week.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Fun and Busy Weekend

M and I had this ethical dilemma last week. We were invited to a fancy 40th anniversary party at the Chicago Yacht club that was to start at 6pm on Friday night. The dilemma was when to leave for the windy city. It would take us 3-4 hours to get there, depending on traffic. I had a half day (only a couple more of those for the year) but the kids were in school. The dilemma was when to take them out of school. Since we had to take them out early anyway, we decided to just have them skip school and head to the museum of Science and Industry. This is a museum that we have wanted to take them to for many years. We were waiting for the right time and when they were the right age. Boy, are they the right age now.

R wanted to start in the exhibit called Toys 3000. It taught kids how toys are made and tracked the business of a ball company. The boys had fun climbing a way that tracked the timeline of the business.

They got to watch robots make a toy, a gyroscope, for themselves. They got to pick out the color of the toy and the robots put their names on their toys. Here, T watches, fascinated as the two parts of the gyroscope are put together by the robot.

T loves his gyroscope and says it's cute. He played with it for the entire ride home on Saturday. Here he is, making his "he's so cute face."

One of the robots in the exhibit took a picture of our family and "danced" with it. It was pretty cool.

The coolest exhibit of all for us was the submarine tour and exhibit. When M and I were at the museum a decade ago, the sub was outside and there was no tour and no exhibits around it. That's what we expected and we were excited about that. However, now there is a great exhibit -- lots of hands on activities and a great tour with an engaging story. They don't allow pictures in the sub itself, but here are the boys driving the sub in the simulator. The boys were very proud of themselves because they had a successful mission, after they just watched a pair of adults fail their mission. That's my boys!

That's it for now, I'll write more about the weekend soon.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Apples are the Tofu of Fruit

We went apple picking when uncle D and Aunt J were here last weekend, so I've been making apple things lately. I started with apple sauce in the crock pot and an apple crumble pie. As the boys were eating the pie, T asked me what was in the recipe.

Me: There are apples, cinnamon, sugar, and a bit of flour
T: There seems like more to it. It's so delicious.
R: The apples taste all cinnoman-y.
Me: That's because they soaked up the cinnamon and now they taste like cinnamon too.
R: Oh, I get it. Apples are like the tofu of fruit!

R was remembering a conversation a few months ago when I told the boys that tofu doesn't really have much flavor of its own, but takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with. You gotta love when those synapses start connecting in those brains.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Look at You, Blogging from your Laptop, in the Kitchen

"Look at you, blogging from your laptop, in the kitchen..." That's what R said to me a few minutes ago. M bought me this awesome laptop a couple of months ago, which is so great for me. But, I haven't been able to blog from it because we couldn't get the wifi to work -- something about loading on the security software first, which prevented us from loading on the wifi software. Thanks to hours of patience by my father on his visit and some more help from M, I'm bogging wireless now! Yippee!! I feel so liberated.

We had a great visit with my folks. It's always so good to see them. I'll write more about their visit later, but here are some pictures that I took.

First, the four of them looking nice...

And here is one of them making goofy faces...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

10.5" of Rain

We had a doozy of a rain storm over the weekend. We got more than 10 inches of rain in three days. Our backyard didn't get the memo about it because it happens about every ten years and the house is only nine years old.

The boys thought it was great fun..."swimming in the backyard!" Or, rather, "turning the backyard into a water park."

I let them play out there for almost two hours. It was about 70 degrees. It was raining the whole time. Hard. At one point, the rain was just pounding down and I thought to myself, I better get them out of there. So, I went to the door and watched them playing in the pounding rain. And I thought to myself, What's the big deal? So they'll get even wetter! So I quietly went back in. A bit later, I made some tea for them to warm up with and called them in. I figured that I should get the cool mom award, but they were bummed because "the water is getting really high now and we can really swim!" Oh well!

On a bummer note...our basement flooded. Everywhere. Hundreds of gallons of water. About an inch or so. Everywhere. It started as a trickle in a known-to-be-affected area, which we thought was under control. Then, it started coming in the other known-to-be-affected area, which took awhile, but became under control.

Then it started coming up from the ground. That's right, the water came up through the floor of the basement. Perhaps it's because there were "water puddles" under the grass outside. They raised up, ever so gracefully, like a mound of grass. When you stepped on them, you squished down about 6 inches of water underneath.

And all of that water came into our basement.

We started with the carpet cleaner, sucking up the bits of water here and there. Then we got the wet/dry vac. We both worked down there for hours upon hours. My asthma acted up big time with all that humidity and I was panting and panting, trying to catch my breath. M would tell me to go up, but I would shake my head, No, I'm staying to help. Finally, he'd help me see that I couldn't BREATHE and breathing is rather important to living. So, he stayed and I collapsed upstairs, finally catching my breath an hour or so later.

We went to bed at midnight with most of the water cleaned up. We woke up to a basement full of water...even in places where it hadn't been before. Ugh! It kept coming up until about noon on Monday. Now we have a commercial dehumidifier going (along with our regular dehumidifier) and a commercial fan (along with our box fan). Yesterday, we kept the AC on at 65 cold degrees to help dry everything out. It's finally dry.

The irony is that the boys and I had just spent three hours cleaning up the basement on Saturday morning so that they could show their grandparents their Nintendo Wii games next weekend. I organized all of the Cub Scout stuff and consolidated it from 5 boxes to three. Lots of work. The boys picked up their toys and rearranged some things. At first I thought that all of that hard work was for naught, but then I realized that it was a blessing because we were able to quickly move things to higher ground since it was all organized. I'm definitely looking at the bright side -- like, good thing our basement isn't finished with carpeting -- it would all be ruined.

Now, the basement is water-free, but has mountains of things piled up upon couches and tables. So much for the Nintendo Wii demonstration -- as R says, at least I saved the electronic equipment from the flood. That's a nice optimistic view for sure.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

T Can Ride a Bike

Last Sunday, M was out with T and he called me on the phone. M said, "are you ready to go for a ride, T wants to show you something." So, I grabbed my camera and this is what I saw! (Okay, I know, it's not a surprise since you already read the title of this blog, but you can pretend to be surprised when you look at the picture.) Isn't his proud smile just precious?!

I like this shot of him putting on his helmet. Such effort is involved

And one more of the big boy in motion. I sure love him...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

First Day of School

T and R started their new school year on Tuesday. They're going to a new school this year -- a charter school that emphasises the three R's. They weren't too sure about going to a new school, but they like it okay now. There is a pretty strict dress code - plain pants (black, navy, brown, gray, tan) and plain shirts with collars (no stripes or prints) and belts. Here they are getting ready for their first day.

They both chose to wear blue shirts on the first day, but they could have picked any color. Can you tell that they are a bit apprehensive? Anyway, they had a really good first day, they both have made friends and they're going to do great.

I got a pretty good smile out of T. See how he buckles that chest strap on his backpack? He's always done that.

Summer Ends At Shady Shores

I've blogged about the great time that we have at Shady Shores in years past. This year was no exception. We all had such a great time. We get together with our friend, Kevin, who used to work for me in San Fran. He has a bunch of family (cousins, sister, aunt, uncle) and friends who we join at this adorable little complex of cottages on Lake Huron. This isn't the best picture because it's taken from the street, but it gives you an idea of how the cottages face each other and are perpendicular to the lake. It's so quaint.

Each little cottage is about 500 square feet or so and have two bedrooms, a tiny kitchen/living room, a bathroom, and a sun porch. Ours is #7 (we've had the same one for all three years that we've been there.)

We played on the beach, swam in the lake, canoed and kayaked on a nearby river, and kayaked in the lake, played tether ball, shuffle board, and board games (including pegs and jokers) for four great days. It was so relaxing.
Everybody is so welcoming that we feel like part of the family -- hugs all around when we arrive and when we leave. The kids run around with all the other kids and have a great time. I think that they really like their Independence there.

T had lots of fun too. When he wanted some quiet time, he got out his journal of hand-made paper and his colored pencils and drew. He went out to the beach to be inspired by the scene that was out there.
I took a close up picture over his shoulder so you can see what he was drawing. He was focusing on getting the seagull just right.
We also went to a Paul Bunyan festival for a day and had a good time watching the chainsaw wood carvers and listening to tall tales. The boys even used am old-fashioned two-man saw to slice a "wooden nickle" (it was about 8 inches in diameter) and watched a boy scout brand it for them. I forgot my camera that day, so I don't have any pictures -- darn.

Here are the boys standing in front of the Shady Shores sign, like I have them do every year. What a great way to end the summer!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A New Smile

While we were in Isle Royal, T lost his third tooth. It had been loose for awhile, but not loose enough to pull out. We were at the Lodge and it had been raining, so we waited it out playing our new favorite card game, Kings in the Corner. After the rain stopped, the boys and I headed out to hear a park ranger talk about fishing on the island in the 1800's. We didn't all even make it out of the door, when I saw (in slow motion, of course) T slip on the wet floor outside and slam his mouth into the edge of the screen door. Blood was dripping out of his mouth and he was screaming bloody murder with big tears coming down his face. He had his hands over his mouth and we saw that his tooth was out. M and I tried to make it a happy occasion - Yay, that tooth finally fell out! But, T wouldn't have it. He was crying into the sink, saying "this is not good" and "I am not happy about this" and "it hurts too bad! It will never be the same." We got him to stop crying and got the blood stopped, when it happened...he saw himself in the mirror.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Did the crying and wailing start again! "I look ridiculous!" " I can't believe this happened!"

Needless to say, we were late for the Ranger talk, but we did make it.

He's okay now. Thank goodness.

I'm sure you're wondering.... The tooth fairy did come, but came to our house and gave him double pay (two bucks) for the "pain and suffering." When T got up to bed after we came home, he found the money and was totally stoked.

Here he is in his glory the day after the incident:

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Visit to Gladstone

My gramma was born in Gladstone, MI, so we took a bit of a detour on our way home to make sure that we visited her birthplace. Although she moved to California when she was three years old, you'd think that she lived in Michigan all her life. Whenever the University of Michigan was in the Rose Bowl (which has been a lot during my lifetime), my Grandmas would put Michigan colors and pennants up and sing the fight song. She has always been so proud of her homestate!
The town is just a little one in the "UP" (the upper peninsela of Michigan.) There's not really much going on in town. It looks like it used to be a big iron mining and railroad town back in the day. I'm very glad that I got to look it up, though.
Ever since I've lived in the midwest, she always asks me if I've been to Gladstone, MI. Well, now I can proudly tell her that...yes, I have!

Thank You for Playing!

Believe it or not, your stories make more sense that our actual conversation. Here it goes.

The boys were getting ready to go to Cub Scout camp (they left today) so I was telling them Girl Scout camp stories. I went about 7 years in a row, so I had a lot of stories and had 'em laughing and laughing. I got to my CIT year (Counselor in Training) and the boys were a bit giddy. I explained how I had pool duty for most of the camp, including "polar bear swimming" (7 am swimming in a COLD pool) and "water ballet." This is where the crazy story starts....

Me: So my friend Julie and I were in charge of teaching the girls a water ballet. We had never done it before, but we figured we could do it. We picked a song that was popular at the time, "Copa Cabana."

R: You said that you got sunburned, you should have picked "Rock Lobster" (he says with his head banging in that rock-n-roll way.)

T: "R, it's Red Lobster, not Rock Lobster!"

T: Mom, I don't know that song, will you sing it?

Me: Sure, it goes something like, "Her name was Lola, she was a show girl, with diamonds in her hair and a dress cut down to there. His name was Rico, he wore a diamond..." Oh, I don't know all the words, but it was a good song. I finished the story, explaining all the moves that we did. Later on, as R was rinsing the dishes, I heard him singing.

R: "His name was Rico, he was a beaver..."

Me: Rico's not a beaver, honey. (Both boys cracked up.)

R: I'll just sing the song I made up earlier today: "I'm taking a ride on a camel's back."

Crazy conversation, huh? Anyway, I was smiling and loving every minute of it the whole time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

You Guess the Conversation

The boys and I were eating dinner, laughing and telling stories. Here are three quotes from one conversation. These quotes didn't happen all in a row, but over the course of a five-minute conversation about a story that I was telling about Girl Scout camp. Your job is to try to guess what we were talking about (good luck!) or create a story that incorporates all three quotes. So, I'm looking for interactive blogging and commenting here.... Here it goes:

T: "R, it's Red Lobster, not Rock Lobster!"

Me: "Rico's not a beaver, honey."

R: " I'm taking a ride on a camel's back."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Many Bandana Looks of T

T loved wearing his bandana. He wore it a few different ways to get different looks and different levels of comfy-ness. The one above is when he took off the bandana without untying it, and moved the knot to the front. It has sort of an Aunt Jemima quality to it, doesn't it?

Here he is with a similar look, but a bit more open. He didn't care that his brother and parents told him it looked a bit strange, he still liked it.

Then, of course, there's this look, which is really quite normal.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back from the Wilderness

We're back! It was a beautiful place to visit -- and the only way to see it is to either kayak or backpack. We were in the "backcountry" for four days, hiking or backpacking on three of them. As you know, I had never backpacked before so it was quite an experience. The good news: I was able to use pit toilets and spare myself the whole pooping-in-the-woods thing. (There, I got that out of the way. I know you were all wondering.)

After a 10 1/2 hour drive, we spent the night in Copper Harbor -- the northenmost part of Michigan. Then we took the 3 hour ferry to Isle Royale. M was excited that it looked just like it used to look when he was a teenager, only smaller (as most things do as we grow up!) We got our packs on and headed over to the water taxi, which took us to Daisy Farm. Daisy Farm would be our home for two nights. The water taxi dropped us off at the dock and the boys and M checked out the map to see where we'd sleep for the night.
We basically had to walk around the campsite to find an open site. If no one was there, we could have it. We were lucky to not only find a site, but to find a shelter! I was so excited -- in addition, it was just a stone's throw from the lake (Lake Superior, that is.) We set up our two 2-man tents in the shelter just in case it rained (you can see the tent through the screen of the shelter in the picture.)

This is taken from the picnic table in our site looking towards the lake. M and R were filtering water when I took this picture. We filtered water twice a day so that we would each have 2-3 liters of water a day to drink, plus enough to cook and wash dishes with.

Now, about our backpacks. T carried about 14 pounds when we added his water for the day. We each carried our own sleeping bag, clothes, extra pair of shoes, and our own water -- plus food. (M and I carried the tents and cooking gear. The picture below shows what T carried: two ziplock bags with his clothes (one for shirts, undies, socks, and one for pants/shorts.) He also carried two dinners (dehydrated minestrone soup and beef strongenoff) and the hot drink bag (instant coffee, tea bags, cocoa bags, creamers, and splenda) and his fishing pole and reel.

R carried similar things to T, but a bit more. His food included some heavier things -- granola bars and oatmeal for each day. He also carried my air mattress, which I'm forever grateful.

After we got our camp squared away, we hit the lake. Both boys went swimming in their skivvies as did all of the other backpackers out on the dock. R stayed in the water for almost an hour and loved running and jumping off the pier. T was in the water too, but got out often to warm up on the dock.

After dinner ("Daisy Farm Tuna Mac" named by M) the boys and I played a mean game of Crazy Eights.

M and the boys tried their hand at fishing a few times, but with no luck. Later in the trip, we heard that it was a really bad year for trout.

The next day was our day hike up to Mount Ojibiway. It was a little more than six miles round trip. With the incline to get to the top, we were glad that we didn't have our packs with us. M carried T's pack as a daypack for our lunch (PB&J on tortillas) and water. R carried a hip pack with our first aid kit in it.

Some times we hiked through swamps, so the forest rangers built these boardwalks, which I loved.

The view from the top was stunning. We could see Canada, which was what the boys were hoping would be the case.

The next day we headed out for our second camp, Three Mile. It was a four mile hike with full packs. The last mile was a BEAR, and the first three miles weren't that easy either. The trail was clearly marked, but there were tons of tree roots and rocks just waiting to twist an ankle. The last mile was up and down over boulders. We were thrilled to arrive at the campsite and even more thrilled to get a shelter right on the water again.

Setting out on the trip at 9 AM, we were all in good spirits. R and T stop for a water break using our hydration bladders in our packs.
A few hours later they weren't so happy and fresh. They hung in there, but were glad to have a break. T rarely got tired, he was always raring to go. R got pretty tired and not so happy at times. Funny how that turned out...
With a little more hiking to do, we made it to our great camping spot for the night.

We woke up to see the sunrise and get an early start the next day. We had showers and comfy beds on our minds, and wanted to get to them as soon as we could. T took this picture of the sunrise at our campsite. Beautiful.

It's amazing how a swim, good dinner, and good night sleep can be so refreshing. The boys donned their bandannas and we took off for the Lodge -- 4 miles away.

Here's a view of the Lodge from the water - it's very quaint. It looks nicer than it is -- the rooms are like a Motel 6 room. It didn't have a TV, but it had a bath and a shower and two comfy beds. That's all we needed!

Here we are all cleaned up and ready say good bye to the island and take the ferry back to the mainland.