Saturday, September 6, 2014

That Time of Year

It's a pretty brave coaching staff that agrees to bring a bunch of six-and-seven-year-olds to a soccer jamboree just a week in to the fall soccer season, but with perfect, cool, sunny weather and a bunch of boys who had worked hard during their two practices during the week, their first tournament was successful and fun. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Let's Goooooooo!

She woke up an hour early and headed immediately for the laundry room to find her purple polka dot dress and her pink flower pants "because that's special, right, Mama?"  She said she didn't want to eat anything.  "I just want to go.  Let's goooooo!"  When I told her that Sammy was still sleeping and we had to wait for him to get up and get ready she ran in and grabbed his feet.  "Sammy wake up!  You need to get up.  NOW!"
To kill time I tried to take a few pictures in front of the house but she threw her backpack at me and made crabby faces and repeated how she just wanted to goooooooooooo!  45 minutes before we needed to leave the house.
After just a little drama with Sam and his pants that have a button that he insists is simply too big for the size of the slot that it's supposed to fit in to, Eva ate half a banana and a homemade blueberry smoothie without spilling a single drop on her polka dot dress, and we climbed into the Mazda and raced to school just in time.  Before we'd even reached the parking lot Eva spied Stella's car and she wanted me to park by her friend, but Stella and her daddy didn't look ready to part, so we took a few pictures in front of the school and walked around the side entrance to find our way to Mrs. Norton's classroom.  I could hardly keep up with Eva as she bee-lined through the crowd of preschoolers and parents, and even the arrival of Stella couldn't slow Eva down.  Only when she discovered the classroom door closed did she pause and stand by me, chewing on her tongue and shuffling nervously against the wall. 
The classroom door opened and she shot in between all the parents and it took a while for Sam and I to finally reach her long enough to give her a kiss and a hug and say I love you.  And off she went to play with princesses and zoo animals and magnetic dress up dolls in wooden boxes.
My baby.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Meadows, Mushrooms and Moss

I was a quarter of the way to La Crosse when I realized that I was supposed to turn on Homer Road and head back in to the woods along East Burns Valley Road.  So I whipped the car around and exceeded the speed limit and ran a couple of traffic lights later than I should have during the yellow, but I wasn't the only car pulling in late to Family Night.  I pulled through the gate and backed in on the grassy slope that was probably not legal parking area and walked into what appeared to be an empty Camp Wenonah.  I headed in the direction of the barn tucked in to the damp valley and complained under my breath that there was nobody there to greet and direct parents.  And when I came around the corner and found all the other parents sitting with their children on wooden bleachers watching a skit taking place between me and them, I ducked out of sight and waited for the applause before scurrying across the bridge and sitting next to Sam.  His face lit up and he put his hand on my leg and leaned in to me.

After each of the age groups did a quick song and then a quick skit (Sam's group did a joke about an invisible bench that he had shown me earlier in the week), we were set free to explore the camp with our children.  Everyone else headed to the high ropes course, but Sam and I took a sharp right and headed deep in to the woods so he could should me the teepees and animal houses.  Yellow wildflowers and moss grew along the trail, and the fiddleheads were mostly open and shimmering in the low sun filtering through the trees.

Sam showed me tree houses and mushrooms and flowers and moss, each time telling me a little story or fact about that particular piece of wilderness.  On the way back down I asked him what he wanted to do next and he told me about a hike up to the bluffs where you could see way down.  I said I wasn't sure we had time, but we could maybe hike part of it.  Back in the center of camp the other families played some ball game in a court and started building a fire and watched children on the ropes course, and Sam and I began a steep ascent behind the firepit.
The trail was steep and moss-covered and as I climbed I wondered if it was a good idea to push those muscles 12 hours before I'd be running a steep hill for Ragnar, but the smell was intoxicating and Sammy said "Mom, I love this!" and I knew there was nothing I'd rather be doing.  Sam pointed out buckets mounted on trees that they tossed balls at during their long hikes, and he made sure I noticed the steep terrain and the way the water had washed away sections of the valley.  He showed me more mushrooms and big leaves and rocks that sparkled like diamonds.  And when we heard noises in the woods Sam stood a little closer and asked me what that sound was.  But we kept climbing and climbing and climbing.  And as we got closer to the top and the sunlight lit up the trail ahead of us, Sam ran ahead.  "There it is.  There it is."  He knew just where the trail split and he told me what was in each direction and we decided to stay left and visit the meadow at the top.
"I love trails, Mom," he told me.  "We need to spend more time on trails."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


It was late in the day and we were all tired but wanting to be outside, so I made a pictorial check list and sent the kids outside with their papers and their markers and their curiosity, and we discovered all kinds of fun things in our yard.  Sam enjoyed it so much that after they completed their second hunt he came inside and made a scavenger list for Mommy to find.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Best Grandma in The Whole World

In the car on the way there, Eva and Sam talked about all the things they wanted to do at TT's... pick raspberries and go to the wildlife sanctuary and ride rides at Bay Beach and come out of the butt at the children's museum.  Eva hardly remembers TTs real house since we haven't been there since October of last year, but she remembers some of the adventures and the Barbie house that we set up in the basement.  And within minutes of arriving they were digging through the toy box filled with matchbox cars and lego and piling blankets and pillows in the living room and dancing around with Grandpa Jim's hats and searching the house for loose change.  We tackled the gardens and spent a fabulous afternoon at the aquatic center and rode ponies and braved the Zippin Pippin (which Sam says he doesn't need to do again any time soon) and enjoyed a great deal of relaxing quality time with "the best grandma in the whole world."  In the car on the way home they wanted to know if they could go back tomorrow.  We all wish we could.
Pit Stop 
 Sam uses Jimmy Joe's hat to imitate Pharrel Williams
 "Take a picture of us Mom.  We're snuggling."
 Aquatic Center
 Again.  Again.  Again.
 Never enough slushies or snowcones
 Eva helps with some garden shopping
 Eva can't get enough of the ponies, especially her friend Willie.
 One ride is enough for Sam.
 Family train ride
 Family helicopter ride
 Sam braves the Zippin Pippin
(AFTER the ride friends told us we should have
rode in the front so we didn't go airborne on the steep drops. 
Sam is in no hurry to try it again.  And neither am I.)
Can we get another one? Please!!!!!  Pretty please.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Fun in the Kitchen

With the logistics of moving and the excitement of a new neighborhood and a yard with a creek and playmates and hidden treasures like toads and worms to discover, we haven't spent a lot of time in the kitchen this year.  (Although it often seems like I spend ALL my time there.  Make the meal.  Feed the meal.  Clean up the meal.  Repeat. And repeat.  And repeat.)  And even though Sam has been asking on a weekly basis if we can make his favorite cookies, I have really not wanted to get out the flour and the sugar and the measuring cups and deal with the mess of sprinkles all over the ceramic and frosting smeared all over the bane-of-my-existence countertop that never looks clean no matter what I do.  We've done pizzas on the grill with friends several times, but when it's just our family of three alone, the last thing on my list of things to do would be "Make MORE mess in the kitchen." 
But when we sauntered down to the garden last week and discovered that all the rain that had produced a giant zucchini plant leading to a generous supply of zucchini and cucumbers that we could not possibly eat all in one weekend, I asked if the kids wanted to make zucchini bread.  On the way back to the house we crunched down most of the smaller cucumbers and saved the big ones to make cucumber salad for dinner.  Eva hoisted a large zucchini over her head and said "Whoa.  This is super heavy." And Sam carried the largest zucchini with both hands and asked if it was the largest zucchini I'd ever seen and what WAS the largest zucchini I'd ever seen and what did I do with it and how did it get so big and did I think we'd ever grow one that big again.
Later in the day I pulled out an old recipe for blueberry zucchini bread and Eva peeled and shredded the zucchini before eating handfuls of it raw alongside the quart of blueberries we set aside for the last step.  Sam played with Lego at the dining room table but showed up for the tasting of the batter, and it was so much fun that I didn't even mind sweeping up flour and cinnamon and mopping up egg whites and milk.  When it came out of the oven Eva declared "TT is going to LOVE this!" 
Now we just have to make about 10 more batches before we're out of zucchini.