Saturday, June 17, 2017

hot hot hot

Friends, it's been HOT and MUGGY around here lately, but we didn't let a little heatstroke keep us from venturing out Thursday afternoon to take Avalon and Jack to Taltree for their first-ever visit. We stopped for lunch on the way, and since Jack was asleep in his car seat, we got it to go and took it with us. We ate in the musical garden while the kids played the instruments. After that, we explored the children's adventure garden for a while and checked out all the animals. Jack was less than impressed, but I guess that's what happens when you live with your own personal petting zoo.

After that, we took a walk along the Heron Trail, where they had a series of fairy houses set up. The houses were really neat, all made from natural or recycled materials, and the boys all had fun exploring them. Jack was stuck to Max like an adorable little burr (as usual), and cried every time Max was out of his line of sight.

Our final stop of the afternoon was a visit to the train garden (yay!), where the boys tried to complete a scavenger hunt. They got about halfway through before they decided that it was just too freaking hot to finish. (They were right. We were all red in the face and drenched in sweat. Yuck.) Along the way, I found Waldo, but all three of my boys gave me identical looks of puzzlement: "Who the heck is Waldo?" Okay then!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

ah, summer

Summer break's in full swing, and these boys have been loving it. Last night we met Laura, Jimmy, Gracie, and Elly at Price's Pond, and the cousins had a great time proving they could swim all the way across (at least Liam, Max, and Jimmy), playing chicken, and doing cannonballs off the end of the pier. You may remember that Price's used to be a members-only park, but last year it was donated to the city to become part of the park department. Last year we had to buy a pass, but this year I hear there's no admission fee ... but no lifeguards either. That should make things interesting.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that our town leaders aren't used to being given big land gifts that need to be maintained, so they're trying to figure out the best way to handle things. Interesting note: I'm not sure exactly when Centennial Park, the town's main park, was established (though I'm guessing based on the name it was either 1951, 100 years after Plymouth was incorporated as a town, or 1973, 100 years after it was officially designated as a city; either way, it was before my time), but I can tell you that Magnetic Park/Bird Park has been around since the 1930s. I can also tell you that for years it had a bird sanctuary with pheasants and peacocks and even a vulture, because my grandpa used to visit it all the time when he was a kid. I just tried to look that up online to verify, but all I can find is that the park is officially called Magnetic Park because the water in the wishing well supposedly has magnetic properties because it has a high concentration of iron. Hmmm, definitely something to ask Gramps about next time I see him.

Anyway, now that you've all joined me on that completely pointless but (I'm sure) thoroughly fascinating tangent, all this is to say that summer is fun, Price's Pond is a gem, and the boys like swimming. The end.

UPDATE: Gramps reports that the water in the wishing well does indeed have a high concentration of iron, and that further, it was believed to have healthful qualities. He said his father used to tell him that the water there was the best and healthiest, and that they drank it all the time. But then he said, "We ignored the squiggly stringy bits, but those mostly stayed at the bottom anyway. But if the area flooded, which it was prone to since the river was right there, we had to give it a few days to settle down before we took a drink again." There is just way too much to unpack there, so I'm not even going to try. I will tell you, though, that my Uncle Mark also remembers both drinking from the well and the squiggly stringy bits. So there you have it. Whatever "it" is.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

bike the drive 2017 -- the drama

so many possible dramatic themes to this year's bike the drive in chicago (the sunday before memorial day). the absence of holli, and the last-minute substitution of my mom. the threat of severe storms. waking up the morning of the ride to discover that the sun had been extinguished (or it was 4 am). the treacherous betrayal of barb's front-tire tube. the heroic efforts of max during his first bike the drive, and the constant, inextinguishable power of liam during his second. the effortless, let's call it grace, with which i smoothly dispatched the 30 miles of the ride. but what about the blueberry mini-muffins, you ask? what about the muffins?

sunrise just south of the chicago river bridge
we were set to do bike the drive this year, with liam making his second ride and max his first. unfortunately, holli was hit with a severe sinus infection that knocked her out for almost three (!) weeks and left her with an epic pile of work to negotiate, so we needed a substitute. barb (my mom) was ready and willing to take her place, and the boys and i crashed at her and kevin's house the night before. after a delicious dinner of grilled italian sausages and various fixings, we all went to bed early and got up before the sunrise. there's a 4 in the morning too?

storms had been predicted all week for sunday morning, and a line developed late saturday in eastern iowa and advanced toward chicago. forecasts called for its arrival anywhere from 9 am to noon, which might have put a damper on the ride. thankfully, the storms headed north of chicago until later in the afternoon, so we were treated to a beautiful day, if somewhat chilly during the early miles.

the caravan downtown was uneventful, but after parking and unloading the bikes, we discovered that barb's front tire was totally flat. seems that the 20-year-old tube had decided to give up the ghost sometime between the night before when i inflated it and our arrival downtown (liam, who rode with barb, reported hearing air escaping during the drive down, which made it extra cruel). so mom was out, and our merry band of warriors was down to three.

we pressed on, and it was a good ride. the city was beautiful, as usual, despite a certain name on a certain building along the river ruining an iconic view of our magnificent city. liam was unstoppable, of course, and max was a champ, devouring bagillions of chocolate chip cookies at every rest stop.

the mural at the bryn mawr underpass, muffins and cookies await at the nearby rest stop
max enjoyed watching the many sit-down bikes and trikes, and he was very happy to see that bike the drive wasn't a million bikers packed handlebar-to-handlebar for all 30 miles. we were all surprised at the dude doing the ride on roller blades, however. wish i got a picture of that.

heading south, just before the michigan ave. exit
after the northern leg, which consisted of many hills (overpasses), i was worried that max would want to call it a day and skip the southern leg (grant park to the museum of science and industry, and back again), but he was game to try. liam, of course, was anxious to press on already. that kid is a titan.

so it was a good ride at bike the drive, despite holli's absence, barb's exploded tire, impeding storms, and uncertainty at both home and abroad. not to mention how much it cost to park in the grant park garage (way too much). i'm already looking forward to next year.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

get yer goat(s)

You may remember Coco, my parents' new goat, who lives happily in her pen with Lil Debbie the pot-bellied pig. Funny story: When my sister Bethany bought Coco, they thought she was a baby goat, but it turns out she is a pygmy goat ... and that she brought a little something extra when she came to live at my parents' house. That's right, Coco was with kid(s). Well, last night, Bethany texted to say that the big day had arrived, so Henry and I headed over to watch the proceedings.

Happily for Henry, most of said proceedings were over by the time we got there, as Coco had already birthed a boy and a girl. There was some suspense as to whether there would be a third kid, but that turned out not to be the case. But Henry was on hand to watch the kids take their first shaky steps and bond with their mom, all the while being sniffed with interest by Lil Debbie. So now, if you're keeping track at home, that pen contains Lil Debbie, Coco, the kids (who apparently will be named Pebbles and Bam-Bam), and three ducks. You know, a modern family.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

happy last day of school!

Friends, I can hardly believe this day is upon us: The joy of the children. The dread of the work-from-home mother. The summer break. Heaven help us all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

awards day

Check it out! Henry won first prize for first grade in the Tri Kappa Spring Student Art Show! We didn't even know he was entered, so imagine my surprise when the school called to say he had won a cash prize and to ask if I was ok with them giving said cash prize to my first grader. (I was.) He was so excited! The prize was $15, which is a LOT of money for a first grader; he plans to spend it on "lots and lots of gum." Here's our Henry with his winning entry, "Shadows," and his ribbon and prize money.

And yes, yes, you should insert your "I guess artistic talent skips a generation" comment here.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Generally speaking, Pluto is an amazingly calm and tolerant puppy. He's almost four months old now, and he's graduated from basic dog school (we might enroll him in more advanced classes later on). He follows commands really well, and he is already completely devoted to his boys.

Which is not to say that he doesn't go into wild puppy mode sometimes. I left him to his own devices outside today for a little bit too long, and he managed to get to several of Mike's plants and create a giant mess outside. Oops.

me: "Just wait until Mike gets home."

Pluto: *slinks away*