Family


Today was the first official swim meet. An intersquad, but still, the kids had to go up to the blocks and swim in their own lane and be timed. Leva was psyched. She couldn’t wait to try to dominate (where is all of this competitiveness coming from??), and swam the 100 free relay, 25 free, and 25 back. The first race was the relay and she was the anchor. Her team was in dead last, by a lot, when it was her turn to swim and she swam as hard as she could, breathing out of both sides! She was all smiles when she climbed out of the pool and ran over to me. “Did I win?!” was her question. No, love, you lost, but did you have fun? I LOVED IT!!! Next up, the 25 free. She was in a heat of five girls and she and Marlo tied for first. She got a bacon flavored lollipop, which she hated, so she ate it as fast as she could. (?) She she caught the bug – she had won.

Geert was nervous. He kept remarking how deep the deep end is, and how it seems deeper when he swims towards it, rather than jumping off the boards and swimming away from it. He asked if he had to swim as hard as he could or if he could take a break. Then, when it was time for the bullpen, he goofed around with the other boys, and when time to report poolside, got up on the blocks, looking pretty cool. At the gun, he dove in (!!) and swam as hard as he could to the other side. He breathed to the side and slapped the water with his arms and made it all the way! He came out beaming. “I got fourth!!” After the meet, he was ready to try on his swim cap and was asking about the next practice. He bought it.

Waiting for the last event, Leva met Mo, a patient of mine. He had come up to say hi and check in and was very friendly to her. After that, all she could talk about was Mo. Where is Mo? Who’s that man, can he babysit us? (He’s 15) Did Mo see me swim? Before her event he wished her good luck and she proceeded to crush the 25y back. And Mo became her good luck charm (or source of first infatuation, whichever). Leva came home ecstatic. She loved swimming and was talking about practicing to become faster. She even asked if she could go to the pool tomorrow to “swim laps”. Uh, no. No pool tomorrow. How about the park?

That’s apparently how long it’s been since my last post. Five months. A lot happens in five months and all of it, certainly, is worth remembering. Big things like trips and events are noteworthy and tend to make the blog, and those are great things, but it’s life that I’d rather remember. The little things that aren’t caught on a thousand pictures and become a self-explanatory photojournal. Hmmmm…

Hattie had her five year well-child check today. She got two shots and was very brave. Brad said her eyes welled up and her lip quivered, but she mostly held it together until they got to the car. Then she let it loose and cried. She got a bagel at Panera with dad, and after lunch, her ice cream (her appointment was too early in the day to get ice cream for lunch, our tradition after a shot). She finished pre-school last week, woke up the next day and asked if it was the day kindergarten started. When we said no, she stomped her foot, scowled, and marched back to bed. She still has that bit of diva to her. She’ll do well in k-garten – she already knows most of the teachers in the school and a bunch of kids, including Lola, who’s name she now spells instead of says. “I’m going to do the talent show with L-O-L-A this year! We’re going to do EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!” She has crazy hair, dresses herself in ridiculous combinations that somehow work, and will talk any stranger’s ear off. Everyone smiles and shakes their head when they say her name. She’s a great singer and we’ll oftentimes find her playing by herself, singing. In tune. It’s beautiful.

Geert is finishing first grade tomorrow. He’s gotten so much taller (taller than Leva at his age!), is just as skinny and still has his roaming laser focus. Today, he’s all-in to baseball and the Queen Mary 2. Recently, skateboarding, which he’s seriously amazingly good at. Sometimes legos, now melty beads. Minecraft or the Titanic. He’ll get a theme in his head and will explore it in all facets (building with legos or beads, drawings, dress up, videos on youtube, pretend play), then see something new and move on. He can’t sing worth anything – when he wears headphones and sings he sounds so bad Brad and I can’t stop laughing. But he can sit at the piano and play gentle melodies that he makes up and has figured out some chords on his own. He has two best friends, Jasper and Adry. Jasper is very quiet and kind of follows along, but is always there. He’s fun because his dad, Oliver, is german, and Jasper is bilingual. Adry is a little more wild and he and Geert will spar a bit, but then continue playing. At field day on monday during lunch, we found the three of them eating together on the lawn. He still has trouble saying his R’s and turns seven a week from today. We had some serious issues with him wasting time at school this year. He’d be given over an hour to complete a page of work, and maaaybe fill in the first item. So he started bringing stuff home that didn’t get done. Then he had a ton of homework. His teacher, Mrs. Garrison, chalked it up to his lack of focus and talkativity (which he were psyched about – Geert’s talking to kids? hooray!!). She tried dumb stuff like putting him in different groups or giving him a timer or putting a folder wall around his desk space. But walked away and never made sure he tried to get anything done – so he didn’t. We frankly let it slide. Hopefully, that was the right thing to do. I’m sure one day that laser focus will hone in to something productive that excites him, and he’ll be unstoppable. Until then, we’ve just got to make sure he can read and do his math and not get in trouble, right? And keep him from breaking any body parts skateboarding (unlike Brad, who broke his wrist a few months ago – skateboarding back to the MINIVAN).

Leva finishes second grade tomorrow. She’s super tall and loves it, and is now, all of a sudden, into soccer. It’s something that we gently nudged her towards at the end of last year, because all of her friends were doing it and we thought she’d have fun. She tolerated it. But somehow, in the last 3 weeks or so, the kid gets it. She talks about Abby Womback and wanting her hair short like hers and being aggressive. She gets on the field and PLAYS SOCCER. This is nothing short of amazing. Leva will look up, play the field and maneuver. She made two goals in her last game and they were real, intentional, good goals. And her friends love her, so when she scores, she gets smothered with hugs. It’s so fun to watch. She still enjoys tennis and she and G will swim for the Grandview Gators for the first time this summer. She draws rather abstractly, and she loves to fill volumes with her writing. Her main writing goal is to write as much as possible, as many pages as possible. Her spelling is horrific and she couldn’t care less. Her art teacher remarked on her last grade card that Leva has an exceptional eye for color and composition. This is true. She also dresses herself and does her own hair with a flare that i’m sure i’ve never had. She’s friends with everyone, boys and girls, but is starting to tell the difference. She’s started tinkering with the piano and loves to play phrases over and over and over at a deafening volume until my ears bleed. She’d much rather play by ear, and is very resistant to reading music, much like she was resistant to learning to read. Every once in a while she’ll ask for a piano lesson and we’ll go over it, but I honestly don’t think it’ll stick. She can sing well and carry a tune, but isn’t sophisticated enough yet to sing a harmony. She’s the best dancer I’ve ever seen.

One day we went to Glen Helen. It was really fun! When we were walking we saw a tree that cracked and looked like a square.

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It was cool because right next to the tree there was a cave and me and my brother and sister went inside. It was cool inside, it was dark, fun, creepy, small.

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After we went in the cave we went to yellow springs and played in the orange water. It was fun. We used sticks to clean the water and wipe away the leaves.

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Then we where hiking and we found some cool stuff. there were a lot of steps.

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Then we went to Clifton and saw Christmas lights!

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When we were done, we got in the car and drove to Young’s dairy and got ice cream.

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When we got home we went straight to bed!

At some point, we should mention that our children eat now. This is a time we weren’t sure would ever come: that they would eat regular sized portions of a variety of foods. But they DO! This week, if you asked them, their special treat food of choice would be sushi. All of them. These kids can pound sushi. Geert can literally eat two california rolls BY HIMSELF. Leva and Hattie pick up the slack with the edamame, and vegetable tempura. We get to eat sushi out without a baby sitter, and if we were paying someone to watch the kids, it probably comes out even. Sadly.

Geert has also started eating french fries. Another day we thought would never come (I know, french fries, but he’s a kid! He’s supposed to eat fries!) And he eats 2-3 bowls of cereal every morning. And he’s still the skinniest kid you’ve ever seen but he’s finally getting taller!

They all love iranian salad. They all eat ravioli with pesto. They love peas. Palak paneer. Salmon fish sticks. Jicama. Guacamole. Pork cutlets with hot peppers. Orechiette with broccoli and anchovies. Quinoa salad. Crab and corn chowder. Hummus. And the “chocolate donut holes” that are made with almonds, dates, cocoa, salt, and vanilla – that’s it, just that, and they LOVE them. What a bunch of healthy eating weirdos.

We started off the holiday with Geert donning the star on this year’s tree. I don’t have a full picture of it, but it was excellent this year. Colored lights only on the bottom half. Candy canes littered around, again, the bottom half. We forgot the box with half the ornaments. And by the time Christmas came, the start was hanging over on an angle. Perfect.

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We got to Kansas before the Michigan Fischer cousins (and after driving through a Missouri white knuckled ice storm and arriving at 4am), so Leva and Hattie spent some time with Oma to make Jesus’ birthday cake

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while Geert played with some of Poppop’s old model trains

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Christmas Eve – the traditional shot. Snif.

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Christmas morning we somehow averted disaster. Brad and I usually put out presents on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed. In Kansas, we put them all under the tree when we got there, because there were already presents out and we wanted to get them out of the car. In the madness of Christmas Eve, we forgot to put out cookies or milk for Santa. The next morning, Geert snuck downstairs, but came running back up telling us “We need to stay in bed, Santa hasn’t come yet!”. I’m honestly not sure how we got out of that one.

Chima!!

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A Kindle Fire Tablet!!

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Tech’n with Cam

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3/4 of the Gordon clan

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Emma and Oma

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The Patriarchs

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And more presents…

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Geert and Lauren

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Lucy and G

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A surprise hit with butterfly necklaces

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Lauren and Hattie got matching puppies. Lauren named hers “Peanut”, Hattie named hers “Chocolate Flower Rica Donut Fischer Fairy Bubble”

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Joe Bill and G Will do Legos. Don’t interrupt.

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Until this weekend, Brad and I had only spent one night away from all three of our children. And that one was in our own house and didn’t really count – especially because that was the time Leva threw up in three different beds in their house and I got a phone call about it at 4am. But for this weekend, a last minute trip out of town was in order. Baba and Gummy wanted to take the children to see a local farm with its fall festivities, and let them trick-or-treat in Springfield for the night, so Brad and I decided to make a quick trip out of it.

What the parents did:
We drove to a park called Brown County State Park about 30min south of Indianapolis, having heard that it had good mountain biking. We miraculously got a reservation in a cute little “rustic cabin” that must have come from a cancellation – the entire park: the lodge, the cabins, the family cabins, the rustic cabins, everything, was full for peak fall colors. We hit the trails for my first mountain bike ride in about 8 years, and it was beautiful.

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Brad mimicking Geert not looking at the camera
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The cabins
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The happy, well-rested mom and dad
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What the kids did:
Went to a cool farm in Bellefountaine, OH with Aunt Vera, aka Nonni
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Played on hay
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Got farm presents from Gummy
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Rode horses
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And went trick-or-treating with Gummy and Nonni. Geert, his perpetual fireman. Hattie, my old angel costume. Leva, my old 8th grade St. Teresa cheerleading outfit. I guess it is a good thing (sometimes) that Baba saves EVERYTHING!
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It’s official, I want a farm. A nice little hobby farm, just like Slate Run Farm, would do very nicely. This farm, donated to a preservation society and then to Columbus Metro Parks, was frozen in time in the mid 1800’s, where it has remained for I don’t know how many years. It’s staffed by folks who dress in period dress and do period stay-alive things like farm their garden, keep chickens and pigs, farm hay, preserve food, and care for the property, using only techniques from the period. They made it look so easy! You don’t need air-conditioning! You just need a screen door on every wall of the house with lots of windows to open and an outdoor kitchen that I must have. You don’t need running water! You have a handy pump that the kids love to use, right out the back door. You don’t need grocery stores! You can preserve your own food from your own garden right to the side of the house, and eat delicious eggs and chickens anytime you want. You don’t need a zoo! You have farm animals to entertain.

The kids can go bowling!
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They can have a ball feeding the pigs! (Undoubtedly the most disgusting animals on the planet. You really don’t know what it means to say “you’re a pig!” until you see them snorting and slothing in their own poop to eat a rotten apple that Leva bounced off their head)
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Your kids will happily grind your corn! (And do it all day – at least two kids cried when we finally pulled them away from the corn grinder, afraid that they would grind their own fingers off)
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They will care for your animals with love
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And run to greet you while you happily work in the plentiful garden
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Wouldn’t life be perfect? And then I thought about all the bugs and spiders in the canning cellar, and how all of the jars looked dirty and scary, all of the squash were kind of sunken in. And most of what was canned (at least so far) were beans and pickles and how I could only take that for so long. I thought about the double wide outhouse, and how there was no such thing as a hot shower and everyone must have smelled terrible all the time. And how making my kids clean the pigpen would make me fear for their very lives. Hmmm. Well, maybe our modern life is grand, and there are certainly some things I would prefer not to live without. But I’d sure love a farmhouse with a tall swing and large garden, sitting atop a breezy hill, with space to roam and play and quiet stars at night.

Our first official vacation this year, actually, our first official vacation in over TWO years, was to Beaver Island, Michigan. Ever heard of it? Yeah, neither had we, until my friend Bob Murray started weaving tales of crystal clear water, ferry rides, shooting stars and weeks of internet/cell phone/cable-free interlude. He’s been going there with his family for about 50 years, and after hearing about it for a few years now, I bullishly asked if we could intrude on paradise. He said YES! (And that’s why he’s my best friend)

We had planned to leave early on Friday, but the “big boat” blew its motor and our departure time changed to 2:30p, three hours earlier than planned. So we left on thursday after work and made it to Ann Arbor, for a typically wretched hotel stay. Really, what is so exciting about a hotel room that our children can’t fall asleep until 10? Then Geert, who had been ill the entire previous week had a coughing fit to the point of gagging. I had just gotten him into the bathroom for some water when he barfed down my back and all over the bathroom floor. Nice. At least it was on the tile where we could clean it up easily, but I still felt so bad I left a note apologizing to housekeeping. Luckily, everyone seemed to wake up happy, eat a good breakfast, and we made it to Charlevoix in time to drop off the van and luggage and have some lunch. We also had time to watch the bridge go up and down a few times, which was very exciting, and count boats coming in from the big lake.

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The ferry ride, the kids’ first, was spectacular. A kind stranger ran on board and grabbed us a table to sit at with the kids (hero #2), and the weather and water were perfect. The kids ate popcorn, played video games, ran on deck and around the boat, and had a ball.

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We were met at the dock by John, a friend of the Murrays, who had a van for us and led us to the house. Our van wasn’t coming over until the middle of the night due to the aforementioned scheduling issues, but this gave us the opportunity to use an island car, which I’ve wanted to do ever since seeing them on Peaks Island in Maine. Ours was fantastic – 20 years old, roll-down windows, filthy from the dirt roads, and the best part – no car seats. The kids went wild. We quickly adopted the “nod and wave” for seeing anyone on the dirt roads (seriously, even folks in their front yards will wave at you on Beaver Island) and enjoyed the bumpy ride to the house.

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Leva: This van is a piece of junk! *pause* It’s AWESOME!!

First thing next day: the beach. The Colony of Murray is set up on the dunes overlooking the western coastline of the island, on a cove called Donegal’s Bay. There’s a bit of a hike through the dunes to the water, but I have to say, the kids never complained about it, and even seemed to enjoy it. The dunes are fantastically beautiful and hilly and I think the trail was an adventure for them. Not to mention perfect fodder for photos. (See Brad and the kids at the last rise?)

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We made it!!

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Our first experience with this beach wasn’t exactly what we expected. As soon as we crested the last rise of the dunes to the water, we smelled dead fish. A lot of dead fish.

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There was also a lot of algae in the water, which hid slippery rocks at the water’s edge (we couldn’t see them because of the algae and couldn’t see past them), but hey, it’s a beach, the weather was windy but pleasant, and the sand was nice once we raked the dead fish out of a section for the kids. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon building sand castles and digging pools.

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We came back in to do a little coloring

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a little Legos

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have an afternoon drink (the full bar was awesome – Brad’s never gotten to play with one before. He used the recipe book to try a new drink every day. Black Russian, anyone?)

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and do a little “paintface”, as Leva calls it.

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We also hit the grocery store so we could be domestically responsible, and quickly developed the ritual of pre-dinner Pee Wee Herman episodes. Hattie called him Kiwi Herman. Geert called him Wee Wee Herman. The kids typically watched him naked, which is rather appropriate.

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Sunset from the porch

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Reading at night

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The next day, we decided to make the trek to the southern tip of the island to see the lighthouse. Thirteen miles on dirt roads through the woods is a bit much and took about 45 minutes, but for the first time ever EVER, the kids listened to music and didn’t ask to watch a movie or play a game. The island is magical.

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We couldn’t climb the tower because there was a giant hornet nest at the top of the stairs, but it was fun to read about the history and see the view. We rewarded good children with ice cream for lunch at Daddy Franks, my kind of place.

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And since we were in town, decided to check out the playground on the beach.

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Wait a minute! There’s no algae here. Kids are running in the water because there aren’t any rocks! We zipped home to get suits and came right back to have a glorious afternoon. Leva made a friend named Ava, who’s mom is named Stacy, and we learned from them a little more about how the island works. The algae moves. The dead fish thing hasn’t happened in over 10 years. Donegal bay beach can be even BETTER than this public beach because it’s not crowded. Really? Hmmm…

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Out to breakfast on Sunday, because we felt like it, at Dalwhinnie’s, where we ate on the front porch and enjoyed the view and the breeze.

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When we got back to our beach, it was indeed a totally different beach. It’s amazing what a difference two days can make.

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More paintface, more Kiwi Herman, dinner and bed.

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Monday was fossil Monday. We took a trail to McCauley’s point, at the south end of our cove, to look for what Bob said was easy pickin’s. We’re obviously not good fossil hunters. We didn’t know which color rock would give us the best yield, because we’re not geologists like Uncle Chad and don’t know which rocks are million year old sand. Brad kept throwing rocks against other rocks to break the layers because he seemed to think that would find hidden fossils (I think he just likes throwing rocks). And all I wanted to find was a trilobite or a fern. I found nothing. But Leva found this:

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Is this something? We don’t know.
Hattie: I don’t like fossils!! Do they bite?

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It was hot. Sweat was dripping down my nose as I bent over to look at a billion rocks that all looked like rocks to me. Let’s head to the TOY MUSEUM!

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The Toy Museum is not precisely a museum. It has a bunch of old toys on display that you can’t buy (which I suppose earns it the title), but also has bins and bins of old toy crap for anywhere from 5 cents to $2. Bob had told us about the place and how it was crack for kids, so each of ours had a pocketful of change when they got there. I was proud of them, they budgeted to pick toys that they could afford, agonizing over whether to get a clicker or a candy lipstick, and when they got to the cash register with their treasures, they were charged random fees for their load. Confused, but happy kids.

Up the street was the maritime museum, with what Hattie learned to call “Old Bob” out front, where we went to learn more about sunken ship mysteries. Specifically, the wreck of the Hattie Fisher, that sank in this very cove, some very long time ago. Leva was obsessed – Brad had read about it in a local history book back at the house and Leva could not wrap her head around it. What kind of boat was it? Why did it sink? Where is it? Is it still there? Why does the wood fall apart? Where did it go? Do the fish eat it? Did people die? Why did they name it Hattie Fisher? For the rest of the trip, anytime she found a piece of wood in the water, Leva wondered very loudly if THIS was a PIECE of the Hattie Fisher.

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Bedtime stories with Frog and Toad. I loved these books as a child.

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The next morning, Geert was idly looking out the back windows when he exclaimed, with much interest: “What is THAT? Some kind of CHICKEN?” Wondering what the heck he’s talking about, we run to the back door to see a wild turkey strutting out of the woods in front of the back porch. The kids were amazed but Brad and I couldn’t stop laughing. I think we used that phrase every day for the rest of the trip.

That night, the winds were high and Leva came into our room just before midnight, scared. Brad went to sleep with Geert so she could sleep with me, but instead, we wrapped ourselves in blankets, snuck out onto the back porch, and watched the stars. Leva gasped – she’s never seen a night sky full of stars before. We picked out the constellations I know, which isn’t many, and watched a satellite sail by. Leva is convinced she saw two shooting stars. Magical.

The rest of the trip was spent doing much of the same.
Painting rocks

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Going back to the beach

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Getting better at “the ladder”

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Getting braver and out further into the water

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And more paintface, and more Wee Wee Herman (until we finished the entire series of 8 VHS tapes), and more painted rocks, and more trips to the public beach, and more ice cream for lunch. And then it was time to go home.

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The kids waved goodbye to the island, then Leva turned around to bury her face in my legs and sobbed. No one wanted to leave. To underline that point, Beaver Island, while having blessed us with the return on the “big boat”, cursed us with the roughest seas I’ve ever experienced. Eight foot swells at some points, per the shipmen, and while the first 45min or so were tolerable, once we got into the middle of the trip, everyone was feeling bad. We’re a bunch of sissy landlubbers. We tried staying at the window to watch the swells hit and feel the cold wind in our faces, but Leva was rapidly turning several shades of green, and ultimately quietly threw up, poor baby. Geert sat perfectly still, asked permission to suck his thumb and stared into space, willing himself not to throw up. Brad and I held onto children and tried hard to hold it together. Hattie was completely, utterly unaffected, which was highly irritating, as she hummed and and fidgeted and wanted to run around while the rest of us were trying not to throw up on each other. The waves lasted right up to entering the canal to the dock. It took hours for us to feel well enough to eat a very late lunch/early dinner. But we did, and we ate fastfood crap and milkshakes and made it the whole way home, landing in the Fischer garage around 9:30p.

We loved Beaver Island. I loved that it was off the grid and I didn’t have any calls or texts or emails to sort through (despite landing in Charlevoix to 184 email messages). I loved that it was quiet and we could sleep with the windows open and roll over to see the stars. I loved that the water was 83F and the sand was soft and my kids could touch 50 yards off shore, and I didn’t have to worry about them drowning. I loved that everyone waves. I loved that there’s one grocery store and one ice cream store and a community center that is proud of their island heritage. I loved that it’s hard to get to and less crowded. I even loved the wacky Irish Catholic, Mormon, Native American seafaring history of the place. I loved that it has one stretch of paved road. I loved watching the storm roll in from Wisconsin on our last night. Thanks, Bob, we owe you one.

I’m really REALLY bad about blogging lately. Somehow, while looking at seed catalogs and dreaming of ridiculous, unheard of heirloom seeds (what the heck’s an Amaranth?, can I grow purslane in a pot?, will a white beet taste good?, it turned the pasta PINK?? I need that!), i found myself reading other peoples’ blogs and thought about how Geert turned five and had an epic weekend and the history of it (aside from pictures and hateful facebook) is lost. Until now. And I’m feeling a bit sarcastic, so let’s see how this goes…

I don’t know why Geert was deemed worthy of an epic birthday weekend. Leva turned five without much fanfare, but her birthday is in October and we have school and it was crazy. Geert’s birthday is conveniently usually over a three day weekend and after school gets out and the pools are opening and Grandview has a parade in his honor (or for Memorial day, whichever you choose to believe), and I think really, we Fischers were in dire need of some get-out-of-townage. Pittsburgh, naturally, was the obvious choice.

We were going to leave early Saturday morning, but the kids found out that was the day of the parade, so they sobbed and we postponed. They collected a baby sized grocery bag of old person candy – individually wrapped bubble gum, stepped on tootsie rolls, now-n-laters, and a few choking hazard super balls (that yes, we’ve already pulled out of Hattie’s mouth), while watching the karate club hurt themselves. A young man came hurtling down the street to kick (and ideally break) a balsam wood board, but rather, he hit the board wrong, kicked the girl holding said board in the shoulder, knocking them both over. Huzzah! 6000 baseball teams – many of which were out of candy already due to overzealous throwing early on, the high school band, and a bunch of muscle cars driven by old men who did NOT throw candy, and I see no point in that.

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We then ate a quick lunch and piled in the van for the short trip straight to the Duquesne incline. We had to wait in line for a while, actually, which was weird, and the kids were excited to be on the incline for about 30 seconds. Not impressed at all with the view. Didn’t seem to care about the trip down at all. Next.

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The kids were pretty antsy by this point, so we went to one of my old favorite spots – Schenley Park. I can’t believe I remembered where the playground is, but the kids played for a while, and Leva and I got to check out one of my old running trails. This was the first of many times that deja vu got the best of me – having been away for so long, and having so many fond memories in and associated with a place can be overwhelming. I loved that park.

We tried to have dinner at Pizza Palace with Gary Agate, but we couldn’t get tables together, so Brad and Gary got take-out and we hung out at the Agates for a while. Very nice to catch up and see how much kids can grow in almost 10 years. Amazing!

We got back to the hotel and set up camp – kids were asleep by 9p (waaay after bedtime, and predicting a rough day the next day), and slept fitfully. Leva kept kangaroo kicking Brad in the chest, I slept with both Geert and Hattie, it was kind of a mess. We should either try to stay in hotels more often for the kids get used to them, or give up altogether. We went to Eat-n-Park for breakfast the next morning because it was close, and we were nostalgic. It wasn’t the best idea, but we got a good picture!

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Then: Kennywood!!
It was awesome. We started at Kiddie Land with the cars. We don’t oftentimes get to see the look of pure joy on Geert’s face, but this is it:

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Our day was long, exhausting, and super fun. We spent most of the time in kiddie land – any and all rides were great, the lines were reasonably short and the kids hadn’t seen anything outside of it yet. After lunch, Leva decided to brave the JackRabbit, an old wooden roller coaster that makes your stomach jump – she loved it! Then Geert wanted to do it. He loved it! Hattie was MAD that she wasn’t tall enough, so we took turns taking her back to the Whipper-snapper while the other parent would take an older kid on a roller coaster. She won out in the end and did the log flume, though, so I think she was satisfied. By late afternoon, kids were DRAGGING. Hattie got off a ride and laid down on the ground. Leva got in the stroller, with her long legs hanging out the end. Geert asked to eat. to EAT! Geert never asks to eat. So we got almost real noodles with sauce, watermelon, and put a movie on Brad’s phone on the table and ate a very quiet dinner. Last turn on the merry-go-round and we headed home to bed.

Dinners

The next day, Geert’s birthday, we had donuts in bed. Of course we did.

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We packed up tired kids, who hadn’t slept much better the next night either, and took the cranky lot to Frick Park. Another favorite haunt where I miraculously remembered a playground. (seriously, it’s kind of creepy, young adults without children don’t notice playgrounds – do they?) I loved this morning. The playground was fresh and new.
Hattie loved the famous hill slide.

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Leva got to climb.

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And Geert got a new airplane that flew like a dream. I love this picture.

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And then we drove home. Such a great trip. And honestly, we wore the kids out, but it only took a few days to recover – totally worth it. As Hattie would say, “Again! Again!!”

I’ve been too bored to post. Not that I don’t have anything to do, but when I’m tired, and it’s the end of the day, either the computer’s not on, or I need to read something, or i get sucked into facebook on my phone. I see potential pictures all around and think of funny stories to include on the blog, and then I never make it over to write them down. Tonight, for example. (although, admittedly, I’m writing this one down) All three kids ate their dinner, which was very green (how many American kids eat dinners where everything is green? Our kids rock.). They all chatted happily. It was a beautiful evening, so we walked to Jeni’s and got ice cream. All the kids had ice cream smeared all over their happy faces. We walked home. Stopped in the alley to see Mr. Cooper’s cat, Hiccup, who did not seem fond of children. The Davies came home and Maddox got out and five maniacal kids were screaming and laughing and chasing him all over the alley while Hiccup cowered in Mr. Cooper’s arms. Life is good.

Updates in bullet points:
- We got a swingset from a neighbor. I paid way too much for it, but it has monkey bars, two swings, a trapeze and a yellow see-saw swing. Kids ecstatic.
- Hattie’s hair is starting to curl. It’s weird. The top 4 inches are crazy wavy and coarse, then transition into smooth straight tangleless hair. I need to take a picture, I’ve never seen anything like it.
- Geert can read. We’re not sure when this happened. He can read 3 or 4 letter words. Amazing.
- Leva can read chapter books. Likewise, we’re not sure when this happened. Amazing.
- Brad broke his rib mountain biking last weekend. His fault. He should ride with friends. But it still makes me sad to see him wince when he sneezes.
- Allergies are terrible this year. My car is green in the morning. Kinda like Georgia.
- Our yard is starting to look like a real yard. I love it.
- We still seriously think about leaving Columbus. Maybe Milwaukee? Cinti? Hmmmm….
- I was appointed fellow to the ACSM. I don’t like to talk about work on the blog, because it’s not part of my family, but I am really really happy. Unreasonably so.

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