Friday, October 29, 2010

Read Elsewhere: The Power of Detail

From Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg:

"Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical.  We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles.  We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it.  At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth.  We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded.  This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand.  We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived.  Let it be known, the earth passed before us.  Our details are important."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who Ya Gonna Call?


(Jemma at dance class, in her Dumbo costume, dancing to the Ghostbusters song.)

But I'm Blaming My Dwindling Metabolism for the Fact That My Jeans Are Getting Tight

When a friend from another state calls and leaves a message on your answering machine, the entirety of which is the instruction to proceed immediately to Williams-Sonoma and purchase large quantities of their pecan-pumpkin butter, you do so.  At least, I do.  And then you call her back when you're on your way home from the mall to report that you have done so, and she tells you to go to the pumpkin butter company's website, look up the recipe for Dessert Squares, and make them immediately.  Because she shares your love of a quality baked good, you walk to the store, buy the necessary ingredients, and bake the bars that afternoon.  And then your family eats the entire 9x13 pan in four days.

The best part?  The recipe requires no fancy equipment, just stirring a few things together in a bowl or two, and it begins with yellow cake mix*.  Which means it's super easy, and which reminds me of another begins-with-yellow-cake-mix recipe that's also perfect for fall.  It's from my friend Di, who first made it for me one night during dental school when I went over to hang out and watch television with her while the guys were rocking out yet another late-night study session at our kitchen table.  It's good warm from the oven, it's good cold from the pan, eaten with a spoon bite by bite every time you walk by the pan on the counter, it's good reheated in the microwave with some vanilla ice cream on top.  So if pumpkin's not what we're in the mood for, this works, too:

Di's Apple Crisp

1 box yellow cake mix
1 c. sour cream
2-3 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/4 c. brown sugar
cinnamon to taste (1T or so)
1 egg
1 stick butter

Mix the cake mix and butter together until crumbly.  Reserve 2/3 cup of the mixture.  Press the rest into a buttered 8x8 baking dish.  Layer apple slices on top of crust.  Mix the egg and sour cream together and pour over the apple slices.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved 2/3 cup of cake mixture and sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

There.  Now we all have something to bring to this weekend's Halloween festivities.

*This post sponsored by Heather, and yellow cake mix.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Organizing for Joy

It's a typical Monday.  Jemma and I run with the jogging stroller, then hit the grocery store.  I clean the house, make a plan for dinner.  I do the girls' laundry, sort some baby clothes to give to a soon-to-be mom, try to plan Jemma's birthday party.  Annie has school, then wants to play on the playground before coming home to start her homework.  We do.

When Jason calls around 5:00 to say he's leaving work and heading home, I'm in the kitchen.  There's a little music coming from the Pandora station on the computer, Annie's rolling a pair of dice and charting the sum, and Jemma's coloring earnestly in a coloring book at the little table.  The windows in the kitchen are wide open to catch the warm breeze, and I hear kids squealing with joy outside from their game of tag.  I have chicken in creamy tomato sauce bubbling on the stove, some garlic bread in the oven, a spinach salad coming together on the counter.

I hang up the phone, kiss Annie's head, then Jemma's, say, "This is one of my very favorite places to be:  in my kitchen, late-afternoon, making dinner and hanging out with the two of you."

Later, I was thinking about where, exactly, some of my other favorite places to be are.  I came up with a small list:

  • on my yoga mat in shivasana at the very end of an hour's practice, eyes shut, mind clear.
  • on the beach, preferably walking along it with bare feet.
  • in bed with the girls, reading their bedtime stories.
  • in my own bed with a great book, ready to drift off to sleep.
  • at a football game with a cheerful crowd in the fall.
  • running around the lake.
  • in a big city at dusk, dressed up for a night out.
  • at an outdoor concert in the summer.
  • on a date with Jason.
  • at the ballet with Annie and Jemma.
  • in line at a coffee shop.
  • picking the girls up from school and staying extra to play on the playground.
  • in front of our fireplace on Christmas morning.
  • at the bar (or the spa, or the coffee shop) with my girlfriends.
I just fiddled with the links on my sidebar again and I added Seth's Blog, a mismash of marketing strategy, paradigm shifts, and interesting takes on what works and why in this moment in history.  One of his posts today was titled Organizing for Joy, and although the post itself was business-focused, the title spoke to me in another way.  I love the idea of organizing my life for joy, of being intentional about how I spend my time, money, talent, and energy so that my life is set up for maximum joy.  I love the suggestion that there's a method to making a life you love.  I love thinking about how being in my favorite places as much as possible fits into this strategy, and I wonder how to engineer my days to do that:  more yoga, more reading little girls to sleep, more concerts, more fireplace-gazing, more days at the beach, more dates with my husband.  How else, I wonder, does a person organize for joy?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good Things, October 2010

One last frolic in Lake Michigan;

painting pumpkins;

playing in a big, beautiful pile of leaves;

reading new library books on a rainy afternoon;

a cozy fall dinner (roast chicken, butternut soup, and stuffing with bacon, leeks, and pecans);

starting the boo in our neighborhood;

sisters running in their first race together (and Annie telling me she'll run a marathon with me someday);

the cow train at Crane's on a Sunday afternoon;

Jemma's deep love of the fire truck (and fireman) that visited her preschool on Thursday (fireman:  "What do you think we do if we see a fire?"  Jemma, with gusto:  "Spray it!", while 90% of the other 3-year-olds hid between their mother's legs from the trauma of it all;

hosting a tailgate party before the high school football game on Friday night, complete with lots of hot dogs and sunshine and beer; taking the family downtown to have passport pictures taken (yay, warm winter vacation!); Williams-Sonoma pumpkin pecan butter; lots of runs, walks, and bikes around the lake at the peak of its fall glory; morning walks to school and afternoons at the playground after Annie comes hurtling out of the building; more than my share of pumpkin spice lattes after yoga on Friday mornings.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fashion Disaster Day

We got an e-mail last week from Annie's teacher, announcing that the elementary student council had decided that today would be "Fashion Disaster Day" and encouraging kids to wear crazy clothing choices, unusual hair-do's, and mismatched socks.  I had a few smug moments of amusement, wondering how this would be a departure from the way Annie chooses to dress herself on a daily basis.  Yesterday, for example, she wore this:

How much can red shirt/orange-with-pink-polka-dots skirt/gray leggings/bright blue socks be improved upon, as mismatching goes?  But, oh, I was so, so wrong.  Here's what Annie will be wearing when she heads out the door in eight minutes:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold Stars

Sometimes I think one of my biggest challenges in finding satisfaction in raising my children (and mostly staying at home with them) is that there is a distinct lack of gold stars.  Meaning, in case it isn't clear, that nobody is really standing around cheering or saying thanks or, perhaps, even noticing most of the things you do on a daily basis.  Nobody notices that you packed the 78th lunch in a row, got a babysitter for the preschool open house night, put away the clean laundry, taught a 6-year-old her addition facts, or unloaded the dishwasher again while you were on hold with the person at the bank.  Nobody puts a gold star in a square next to your name like your Sunday School teacher used to when you memorized a Bible verse, a long line of shiny foil stickers after the name Stephanie F.  Being a grown-up doesn't work that way, and it especially doesn't work that way when your "boss" is your family.

I'm thinking of this today partly because of a post of Linda's I read a couple days ago, where she wrote about how hard it can be to find identity when you step away from the corporate world - even if you are, in fact, happier in your present "job."  I remember feeling exactly the same way for a while after Annie was born:  feeling borderline ashamed of my lack of earnings; wondering why I had worked so hard to be "smart" for so many years; avoiding social situations where I knew people would ask me what I "did;" not wanting to write "homemaker" on any type of IRS form.  It's not even that I was unhappy with what I spent my days doing, but more that I missed the affirmation of having colleagues, family members, and even new acquaintances know that I was capable of making a presentation to a graduate class or teaching a child to read.

I have always been this way, I think, seeking acknowledgement of my efforts, wanting praise for a job well done.  I've always loved report cards, employee reviews, the comments a professor or boss would write in the margins of an evaluation or a term paper.  It's probably a weakness that I'm not intrinsically motivated to clean my house unless there's a possibility that someone will stop by and see it, that I want some special award for putting up with a whole day with an especially whiny, clingy child.  Instead, it seems, there are just more loads of laundry to put away, more long days arguing with someone when you ask them to go wash their hands for lunch.

It's complicated, too, by the fact that I try not to take too much credit for the good things my kids do.  And this is not because I don't want them to do good things (because I do in fact spend a lot of time and effort trying to teach them how and why), but because I've seen so many kids raised in identical ways by identical parents turn out so radically different that I lean more toward the nature than the nurture in that debate; that is, I don't give myself too much credit for either the good or the bad that comes of my children and instead just try to do the best I can with who they are.  So when Annie masters the spelling of all her star words or blows people away with her reading vocabulary, I don't think, Yeah, that's because I taught it to her.  When a parent from preschool tells me that Jemma's name fits her perfectly "because she's such a bright, happy jewel of a girl" I mostly think that it's who she is.  I'm not patting myself on the back for raising her to be so kind and sunny.

And then?  To add another little nail in the self-esteem coffin?  I've been using the time while Jemma's at school to up the quantity of my weekly writing time, focusing not just on the copy work I do for my friend's company, but also taking more time to send queries and think about breaking into magazines and new markets.  Last week, I spent at least an hour crafting what I thought was a great, viable pitch to a magazine.  I e-mailed it to the editor (the mag's requested query method) and received a "thanks, but no thanks" from him within less than an hour.  Distinct lack of gold star, there.

I wish I didn't want the gold stars, but I do.  After a week of little accomplishments - baking a cake and buying a gift for my mother-in-law's birthday, planting tulip and daffodil bulbs, remembering to pack a snack and Annie's dance gear into her backpack for after school on Wednesday, editing an article, making chicken rice soup and pumpkin enchiladas and rigatoni with turkey sausage, researching house refinancing possibilities and basement remodel details, ordering Christmas cards, returning library books on time, registering for the next round of ballet, paying bills - I (childishly) want someone to be impressed, to say, "Wow!  You did everything on your list!  Let's see:  Being on time, A+.  Cooking, A+.  Gardening, A+.  Planning ahead, A+.  Fitting in Exercise, A+.  Honor roll!"  But there is just another list, another lunch to pack, more laundry.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but I think that beyond recognizing the problem (check!), I should probably work on realizing that when you're a mom, the rewards don't come in the form of gold stars on a chart or promotions or pay raises.  I should get comfortable with the fact that nobody is ever going to notice (or thank me for) many, many of the things that I do in this current occupation, just like I took for granted the thousands of small acts of love my parents made on my behalf.  I should stop waiting for someone to notice the sacrifices I've made for them - should, in fact, stop thinking of them as sacrifices at all.  I should think of them as things I am doing for people who I love and stop needing any kind of recognition for it.  I should remember the walk we took after dinner tonight in our puffy down coats and how we sat in the driveway afterwards to watch the sky turn pink.  I should think about how having a little girl kiss your cold cheek is far, far better than a gold star any day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And It Begins . . .

I'm backing the car out of the driveway, turning my head over my shoulder to watch behind me, and I catch a glimpse of Annie's face in the backseat.  She's smiling shyly, which is unusual because we're heading to catechism, which she professes to "hate."

"What are you so happy about?" I ask.  For a moment, there's still silence, still a sweet smile as her eyes look down at her wrists and I put the car into drive, turn the wheel, and head down the street.  She hesitates.

"Ryan P. gave me this Silly Band today," she says, and she can hardly meet my eyes in the rearview mirror.  "It's a hammer."

In spite of myself, I smile but try to keep the smile out of my voice as I ask, "Did you give one of yours to Ryan?"

"Yes," she says, "a Christmas tree."

"Oh, good," I say.  And then, casually, because there are strangely at least three Ryans in her grade, at least one of whom is a girl: "Is Ryan P. a girl or a boy?"

More silence, more downcast eyes, more smiling.  "A boy."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Time Flew

I'm standing in my dark kitchen just now, printing out the calendar for next week and trying to make a grocery list.  Usual Sunday night tasks for me, but somehow tonight I'm feeling particularly filled up after a busy, fun weekend, and my brain can't quite focus.  We packed about a million things into the last three days, including:

-attending a four-year-old birthday party that featured lots of trampoline-jumping, scavenger hunting, and happy little kids wearing glow necklaces in the car while they looked at the stars through the sunroof on the way home.

-celebrating my brother's birthday by spending this afternoon at Crane's Orchard with my family, then heading back to my parents' for cake, football, and watching the girls color in my old coloring books that my thrifty mom saved all these years (vintage Strawberry Shortcake!  Monchichis!  I almost didn't want to let Jemma scribble in them . . .)

-heading downtown for the kids' marathon and feeling so happy and proud about the fact that - for the first year - both girls ran their little hearts out on the 1.2-mile course.  Jemma gave me five at least ten times after she crossed the finish line, Annie now acts like running more than a mile is no big deal at all, and both girls were absurdly pleased with their medals, and with the ice cream they scored on the post-run refreshment table.

-squeezing in my own run with my favorite running buddy on a gorgeous Saturday morning run around the lake, and supplementing that exercise with biking around the lake with Annie tonight, then walking after dark with a friend, talking house renovations and laughing about the various reasons our kids will be in therapy someday.

-indulging in dinner and drinks with just the girls at Reserve last night, where - even though the food was maybe a little too precious - I was reminded again of how much a great glass of red wine (Shafer One Point Five!) and a no-holds-barred talk with good friends can truly matter.

-listening to the song "While You Were Sleeping" by Elvis Perkins almost every moment I was in the car and having it stuck in my head when I wasn't.  And as the rest of my family is sound asleep right now and I stand alone in my dark kitchen, typing,  it's still stuck in there:

While you were sleeping

Your babies grew,

The stars shined,

And the shadows moved.

Time flew,

The phone rang,

There was a silence

When the kitchen sang.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall, Preserved

The color is probably at its peak right now, and every walk to school and drive to town has us pointing and oohing at the trees.  Annie and Jemma love to swish through the fallen leaves on the sidewalk and jump wildly into the pile of orange and red that our neighbor raked together for just that purpose.  I mostly, true to form, want to press the pause button and bottle all this color up, so sad to know that in a few short weeks, a strong wind will have sent the last leaf to the ground and we'll be faced with months of grays and browns and whites.  

Yesterday Jemma and I did a fun project that will let me preserve a tiny bit of this riotous fall color.  Every year, I try to bring a few leaves inside - maybe scatter them down the center of the dining table, or tuck a few under a vase on the mantel - but they always lose their luster and crumble after just a few days.  So when I read about this idea, I knew we had to try it.  Here's what you do:

Walk to the store to buy a block of paraffin wax (look for it at the grocery store, near the canning supplies) and one of those disposable aluminum pans (baking aisle).  On your way home from the store, give your three-year-old the task of gathering the most beautiful assortment of leaves she can find.  (Choose some yourself, too, because you can't resist.)  When you get home, cover your kitchen counter with newspaper, then wax paper.  Drag a chair over to your stove and get ready to melt the paraffin wax in the aluminum pan over low heat on the stove, like so:

While you wait for the wax to melt, lecture your three-year-old 45 times about how HOT! the wax will be.  It will be HOT!  Tell her to only hold on to the stem of the leaf.  When the wax has mostly melted, take a leaf by the stem, submerge it completely into the wax, let a bit drip back into the pan, and then lay it to dry on the wax paper.

Let the leaves dry completely, then peel them easily from the wax paper.  When you finish, you'll have dozens of beautiful waxed leaves to use in art projects, put in glass bowls on your dining room table, string up to make garlands, and tuck into vases.  

Jemma and I had fun doing this, and I'm so pleased to have little pieces of fall color to scatter all around my house that will last at least until Thanksgiving.  Because, sadly, the leaf pile outside is going to get sucked up by the city trucks at the curb sooner than I'd like, and then there will be no more of this:

or this:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Read Elsewhere: Picky Eaters, Marriage, and Love Notes

Just in time to resonate nicely with my book club, who gathered at my house last night to celebrate Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life by making a variety of the recipes in her splendid book and then talking about our own food stories: a taxonomy of the picky eater.  I've been following this blog, Dinner, a Love Story, for a few weeks now, and this is too funny not to share, especially with other foodie parents who despair of their children ever eating and enjoying a "normal" range of food.

And then, on a completely unrelated note, an excerpt from Committed:  A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert.  My friends and I talk sometimes about how life and motherhood have changed since our parents' generation, and we speculated recently about what sorts of current practices or beliefs will seem silly, outdated, or unenlightened to our grown children.  I am 100% on board with Gilbert when she writes:  "In any case, whatever happens with gay marriage, and whenever it happens, I can also assure you that future generations will someday find it ridiculous to the point of comedy that we ever debated this topic at all, much the same way that it seems absurd today that it was once strictly illegal for an English peasant to marry outside of his class, or for a white American citizen to marry someone of (another) race."  Sooner rather than later, Elizabeth.

Finally, the note Annie gave me late last week, which I have read over and over, and which I will probably file away someone to be kept for a long-ish time:  "Dear Mom, I jeste read the birtday card from my birtday and it made me thincke of you.  Love, Annie."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October Tradition: Day at the Beach

Every October, somehow, there is at least one gorgeous weekend where the weather is a flashback to summer.  Today it was close to 80 and sunny, so we did what we always do on those rare October days.  We went to the beach for the afternoon.

The girls read books together in the backseat the whole way down to Dunes State Park in Saugatuck, shouting up music requests from time to time (Bob Marley is a current favorite).  We hiked a longer path to the beach than we usually do, so of course I did a fair amount of carrying Jemma, but the temperature was perfect and the sun was dappling the trees in shades of orange and yellow, and I didn't mind.

We crested the last, big, sandy hill and saw Lake Michigan sparkling below.  The girls cheered, took off their Crocs, and ran at full tilt down to the water, their arms windmilling in the sunshine.  We had taken sand toys, so we spread out everywhere and made drip castles, dug holes, caught ladybugs, and wrote words in the hard-packed sand with sticks.  The water was chilly but not horribly so, and we all went in up to our calves over and over to fetch water and walk down the beach a ways.  I actually got fairly wet,  Jason fell asleep on a sheet for a while (another October beach tradition), Jemma walked a piece of driftwood as a balance beam over and over, and Annie climbed a giant nearby dune four or five times, just for the sheer joy of running down it again and again.

When we were hot and tired and sticky with sand, we walked back through the woods to our car and drove to Saugatuck for ice cream.  But since it was close to 5:00 when we parked the car, we decided to just get dinner first, which we did at Wally's, sitting on tall barstools and gawking at all their Halloween decorations while waiting for our food.  We played twenty questions while we ate.  And THEN we went to Kilwin's for treats and ice cream.

We stopped in to see my parents on our ride home, then watched the sun set out the car windows the rest of the way back.  I thought about how lucky I am to have a happy, healthy little family to laugh with on the beach on an October afternoon.  I thought about how, the next time my toes are in Lake Michigan, things will have changed again, as they always do, and how this is one more string in a long, long series of fun little family traditions we're building one outing at a time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Though summer is clearly long over, we loved our family's summer list so much that we decided to do the same thing at the start of every season.  So there's a fall list on the chalkboard by the back door, and we're chipping away at it.  Also:

  • Thanks to a resurgence of interest in cooking by yours truly, we're cooking and baking with pumpkin (pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin seed brittle, so far); on Wednesday night, we drank pumpkin beer after the kiddos were in bed.  

  • This morning we got pumpkins for the girls, brought them home and immediately glittered them a la Martha Stewart.

  • Jason took Annie to the bank to open her very own savings account with some birthday/chore money.  She came home with a green leather booklet.  When I asked if she had to sign her name, she signed meaningfully and said, "Four times."

  • The end-of-the-day, beginning-of-first-grade, I-have-lost-all-coping-skills meltdowns have really tapered off, just like every parent of an older child said they would after a month or so.  Which is good, because for a couple weeks there, it felt like we had a three-year-old and a two-year-old.  (There was an incident that involved glow-in-the-dark pajamas at the Old Navy at the Rivertown Crossings mall after I had taken the girls to see Toy Story 3 on a chilly Friday afternoon that ended with me carrying Annie out of the mall and down the escalator while she straight-arm whacked me on the back the entire time, Jemma following along behind.)  Parents of younger children, flip your calendars ahead to the September of your child's first-grade year and block it off.  You're going to need a lot of babysitters, alcohol, and parenting books to get through that.

  • Perhaps related to the progress above, we've instituted a behavior modification reward system here, too.  After a (different) epic meltdown two weeks ago, my teacher brain finally kicked in while I was listening to her scream and yell in her time-out.  What we need to do is eliminate the behaviors we don't want, and reward the ones we do, just like I used to do in my classroom . . . and, cha-ching!  I remembered The Marble Jar.  The Marble Jar was the way my classes could earn special days.  Every time the class cleaned up an activity before time ran out, or all remembered their homework, or walked quietly in the halls, or did well for a substitute, they earned marbles in a jar.  When the jar was filled, they got to choose a reward - pajama day, board game day, outdoor day, etc.  So Annie and I sat down and listed the Never OK behaviors (hitting or hurting, mean words or names, rudeness, and not listening) and the Good Choices (kind words, being helpful, listening, doing your best, and good manners), then wrote them on a piece of orange construction paper that now hangs on our fridge.  Each behavior can earn or lose a marble in the jar, which sits on the side of the fireplace mantel.  When they fill the jar (it's about 2/3 full), they'll get to choose a reward.  Watching Annie explain it all to Jemma the next morning was the best part.  They love to do something helpful, often even working together, and many meltdowns-in-the-making have been nipped in the bud by the reminder that they could lose a marble from the jar.  I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

  • I have become moderately obsessed with creating a viable mudroom/back entry to the house in my basement, the stairs to which are a part of our back door entry area.  I would very much like winter 2010/2011 to not feature snowpants and boots lying to dry all across our kitchen floor.  Road blocks to progress in this area include the bins and piles of random shit scattered around down there (partly by me, but primarily by someone else in this house who is much more of a pack-rat and who believes in saving things like Raiders Starter jackets and empty Wheaties boxes with Michael Jordan on the cover from 1988, ahem); the complete and total unfinished-ness of the basement itself, with its cement walls and floors, plywood "walls" in random places, and drains in the floor; the creepy coal room; the very small amount of water that occasionally seeps down one wall and across the floor (luckily, to the drain!); the lack of desire to have a bunch of construction nonsense going on at our house for weeks; approximately $20,000.  But.  But!  I do have a guy coming to give me an estimate on waterproofing it on Monday.  We'll see what he says, and go from there.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Annie started having homework this week.  This isn't "choose something to bring for show-and-tell," either; first grade homework is real-deal homework:  writing math patterns, reading aloud for ten minutes, singing songs in Spanish.  She's supposed to practice her math facts, which we fit in by doing flashcards while she's in the bathtub at night.  There's a weekly Mystery Bag to fill with a secret item and bring to school so others can hypothesize about its properties and guess at its contents.  She's supposed to "work with the star words" a few days a week, too, a vague instruction that I think might vex me if not for my stash of teacher-ideas from years past.  So we dumped the Scrabble tiles into a bowl on the coffee table where they're always available, and yesterday she picked five "star words" to make with the tiles and played around to discover which other words we could make by changing just one letter.  Today we're going to write them in shaving cream.  Before bed, she reads the family a chapter from her current book.  We all sit on the couch and listen as she flies through the words.

Ten minutes a day?  I think it's more like twenty, or twenty-five.  And guess who else wants to "do homework"?  Jemma threw such a fit on the first afternoon that Annie was sitting at the kitchen table, creating a repeating pattern and a growing pattern, that I had to stop making chicken pot pies and create a sheet of "homework" for her, too.  She practiced writing the letter R (her choice) and showed it proudly to Jason when he came home.  Every day, I make up a new little activity for her, too.

I guess this is our life now, October 2010 until . . . May of 2025, when Jemma graduates from high school.  But I am totally going to make Jason take over with the math starting in middle school . . .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Away

We pulled Annie out of school on Friday and spirited the girls away for a weekend on the Leelanau Penninsula, one of our very favorite places in the world (it's a close second to Hawaii, and oh-so-much easier to get to . . .).  Jason and I have been spending weekends there since the summer after we were married, when we first met up with friends whose parents have a place at The Homestead.  We've camped at DH Day campground, spent a romantic pre-baby weekend at Black Star Farms just before Jemma was born, and try to get up there at least every year or so.  But this time was the first (except for one winter weekend we stayed with friends when Jemma was a 3-week-old baby) that we've brought the girls.  We were a lot hopeful and a little nervous.  We wanted them to love it, the way they loved South Haven and being at their up-north grandparents'.  And we wanted to love it WITH them, so we crossed fingers that they'd be up for a few adventures and we got in the car at 7:40 a.m. on Friday, destination a Homestead condo we'd rented on for two nights.

It.  Was.  Glorious.

I want to include almost every one of the (264) pictures we took over the three-day span, though that would be obnoxious.  But really, everything - from kayaking to hiking, from Funistrada to Art's, from doing puzzles at the coffee table to building a fairy house on the beach, from watching the sunset on our deck to seeing three (!) rainbows at once from the height of the overlook on Pierce Stocking Drive - was pretty magical.  And even though the girls continue their highly questionable vacation tradition of waking up pre-6:00 a.m. (ugh), and even though I had a weird, debilitating neck issue caused by a pinched nerve, and even though Saturday was chilly and drizzly, we are so glad we spent the time and the money to share one of our favorite places with them.  They did us proud.

Oh, and one of the best parts?  Stopping into The Cottage Book Shop, buying a copy of The Legend of Sleeping Bear, reading it to them on a bench outside, then walking to the end of the street to show them the two "baby bears" in the story in the form of North and South Manitou Islands.  I think that teachable moment makes up for all the Little Bear DVD they watched the whole way home yesterday.