Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Day Between First Days

Lindsey's first day of second grade was yesterday.

Marissa's first day of kindergarten is tomorrow.

Here are the "first day" photos from yesterday -- it was actually Lindsey's first day, but Marissa's second to last day of KinderCare.

The photos were taken in the evening, as Lindsey was a bit too scared and tearful in the morning for photos. She was very nervous about her first day, and informed me that NEXT year she should only have one first day at a time -- a first day at school and a first day back to Minneapolis Kids. Doing both of those on the same day is apparently very difficult. Unfortunately we will always be on vacation the week before school starts, as their summer program is closed that week, which only makes it harder because she's also very sad that vacation is over. What can I say, the girl takes after her mother. We will probably try to work it out so that on her first day of school we can take her directly to school when the day begins, then have her start the before and after school program the following day. She was much better by day two and back to her usual excitement at being at school with all her friends, and was liking her new teacher very much.

Marissa informed me tonight that I should NOT make her lunch tonight, she wants to help make it tomorrow morning. And she is very VERY excited to be in Mrs. Carlson's class (her teacher is actually Derek Carlson, a man. I am sure this is not the first time he will be called "Mrs," though).

More first day photos to come tomorrow!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Reading this blog is less painful than a slideshow of the trip

Oh, why thanks for asking, yes, I DID have a nice vacation. What were the higlights, you ask?

From a parents point of view, one highlight was taking a little "test drive" of leaving our kids at the grandparents while Wayne and I went to Genesee Creek to visit Michelle, Steve and family. The girls enjoyed the time with just their grandparents, and we enjoyed a night out of just the adults. It was great to finally see Michelle and Steve's house -- we'd heard so much about it, an original farmhouse with lots of charm and lots of places to spend money if you so chose. It was great to finally see their place in person -- what a great place for kids to grow up, with lots of nooks and hidden crannies to play in. Kristi drove up from Indiana to join us for dinner, and her arrival at the grandparents' the following day was a great surprise for our girls.

For the family, another highlight of the trip was a visit to the newly opened Storybook Gardens in Sheboygan. It's a great outdoor space with landscaping and buildings inspired by children's stories. My mom checked it out ahead of our trip and was somewhat disappointed by it, since much of it is still under construction, and it seemed like a quick tour from an adult's perspective. But through a child's eyes, the place was full of wonder and thrills. After all, what could be more exciting than opening and closing the crazy door and windows of the Dr. Seuss house?

If you asked our kids, the other highlight of the trip was seeing friends from the Twin Cities. I know, we see them often (Lindsey sees her friend Ava 5 days a week at school), but still, it was something special to see them out of the normal environment, especially when the *new* environment was the lakeshore of Lake Michigan.

We visited them at their rented condo in Sheboygan -- when you opened the door of their rental, you walked over a small sand dune and then could sink your feet up to your ankles in the softest sand as you overlooked the lake. Wow. We brought a take-out dinner with us, ate, and then walked along the lakeshore. The resort had a bonfire at 7:30 and we stayed to roast marshmallows and the kids rolled down a grassy knoll in the dark, laughing all the way. 

While we enjoyed this visit as well, the other highlight of this for us was the view and the sound. I love the sound of waves crashing on a shore. The moon was unbelievable as it rose in the distance, shedding its light on the water. It was so peaceful.

When we returned to our home on Thursday, I felt like we'd been away for several weeks, not just four days. What...school? Work? What's that?

A Vacation to Remember

It's hard to believe that our week-before-school vacation has already come and gone.

We spent most of the week in Wisconsin with my mom and stepdad, visiting family and making new memories.

My favorite part? Not sure I can narrow it down to one, but the sweetest had to be watching the cousins playing. Now that Marissa and Paulie are both 5, they are playing together more. Lindsey seemed content with letting them have their playtime, while Maddie was otherwise occupied with more toddler-like things.

Some quiet sandbox time under the shade umbrella.

Chase me chase me!

I was surprised that this one was Marissa's idea -- swords!

More photos and stories to come of the whole week -- soon to be followed by first-day-of-school stories.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What...I have a job??

I do? Really? Because, you know, after two day's worth of driving, loads of time in Wisconsin having fun with dear family members and having ample time with the kids, I forgot.

You mean...Monday isn't just the first day back to school for my kids??? I have someplace to go to??

What do I do? I forget. I hope someone fills me in when I get there.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Santa Finally Granted Lindsey's Wish

Around Christmas Lindsey kept asking for a swing in the backyard, along with a host of other things. Swings are hard to come by in December and we really couldn't see ourselves setting one up with a couple of feet of snow on the ground. Wayne and I were both thinking of a swing in a traditional sense -- two pieces of rope, a rectangular seat, and a back and forth motion.

Then a few weekends ago the girls spent a night at a friends house, and got to see a disc swing. Theirs was strung from a sturdy branch of an incredibly large tree -- you could get a running start and swing back and forth, round and round, in any direction you wanted. If you could convince an adult to give you an underdog, you could fly through the air! They fell in love with this swing and wanted to play on it all the time.

We couldn't find one in stores but Wayne found one on the internet, so he bought one and last weekend he put it up. This has become the highlight of our girls' time at our house. They cannot wait to get outside, get pushed around or push each other on it. Definitely a hit!

The only drawback is that our tree isn't quite as huge as our friend's, so usually someone has to stand by the tree and push the rider away from the tree if she gets too close. But that's become a game too, and so far only Marissa has scraped a little bit of her leg on the bark.

We've always held off on getting a playset or playhouse for the backyard because of the space. It's a postage-stamp sized lot; there's not a lot of room to have a playset without it taking over the whole yard. I'm glad we finally found an outdoor activity that they can do that takes up so little space and was easy to install (if you don't mind 12-foot ladders).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Case of the Giggles

I love listening to my girls giggle uncontrollably at the littlest things. It reminds me to laugh...every day.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Loving the Lakes

I will continue to get up and hit the skating trails before work every now and then, even though my "big event" is done. And here are some reasons why.






Sunday, August 08, 2010

Happy Birthday Doggy

I'm a week late in posting it but we did celebrate on the actual birthday (August 1st).

Happy 12th birthday, Dax! We're so glad you're a part of our family.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

15 years of Rollerblading Tested

Today I participated in my first-ever inline skating competitive event. I signed up for this months ago, and have been diligently waking up at 5 am every day  now and then to skate the lakes and put some miles on.

I love inline skating because there's a little bit of speed involved which means a little bit of risk, but not a huge amount of risk. It's not like I'm flying on a bike at 40 mph, I'm just going 8 mph, maybe 10, and having a good time. I've been skating since the summer of 1995, when I bought my first pair of Rollerblades when I was between jobs and had no health insurance, which I remember my mother being very concerned about.

Some months ago Wayne found a half marathon that had a skating element to it and encouraged me to sign up. I was already skating 7 miles on my normal skating routine, I was sure I could train up to a half-marathon distance.

Like I said, I've been getting up and doing my routes, going on some longer trails and completed a couple of 10-milers. I was able to finish those 10-milers in about an hour, so both Wayne and I figured that I would complete the half-marathon in about 1 hr 20 minutes.

I had registered as an advanced skater but ended up being lined up with the open skaters. This was mostly by accident, as they didn't put the wave signs up until literally a couple of minutes before the start, and prior to that people were milling about wondering if they were in the right place. I was near the front of the pack of the open skate and didn't make a move to get up to the advanced skaters. Those women looked like they knew what they were doing -- they were all suited up in professional suits and had the nice, NICE skates, the ones that look like little sneakers with 100mm wheels on them. Yep, I was pretty sure they were going to leave me in the dust so I didn't try to move up to that group. I was completely intimidated and wondered what the hell I was thinking registering as an advanced skater.

The course was pretty hilly; I heard from some skaters after that it was "brutal." I had been concerned beforehand about the hills because I'd heard it wasn't very flat and had a couple of hairpin turns, but it turns out that the hill that I take both up and down between Lakes Harriet and Calhoun was actually steeper than any hills we skated today, and I've done hairpins before, it wasn't that big a deal.

At mile three I saw a huge pack of people pass me up while we were climbing a hill. It was a little disheartening and I was tempted to push myself to pass them, but I already felt like my legs were burning so I decided to hold out and save my energy for later in the race.

Later on I passed that entire pack.

I also had skaters with those sweet $1,000 skates pass me by on the down hills -- their wheels were so fast that they ate up the pavement and flew by me.

I passed them on the inclines.

I finished the half-marathon in 56 mins 51 seconds. I had no intention of breaking the 1-hour mark, didn't even know I could.

I was 92nd overall out of 375 skaters (top 25%), and had 6 advanced skaters finish AFTER me, despite the fact that I had lined up with the open skaters. I definitely could have done better had I actually started with the advanced skaters  -- there were only 10 women who self-identified as advanced, so the road would've been clear at the start had I had the confidence to start with them.

Now I know.

Half-marathon skates are apparently few and far between, but I'm going to be on the lookout for them, and who knows, I'll probably move up to the full marathon skate next season.

I was incredibly proud of myself and of this accomplishment. But just to keep myself humble, I had to check out the top finishers. They completed the race in 36 minutes, or a little over a half an hour. That's an average speed of 21 mph...on skates. (My average speed was 14 mph, in case you're wondering.)


Monday, August 02, 2010

Marissa's Birthday Week

I know, Marissa has been five for almost a week now, and I haven't yet blogged about it. Let's just say that her birthday wasn't just a single day, it was practically a week-long celebration of five-ness.

It started with her birthday party on Saturday the 24th, which was at Pump It Up, an inflatable playplace. She has wanted her birthday party at Pump It Up since she was 2 and Lindsey turned 5 and had HER 5th birthday party there. Every year, when she turned 3, 4 and now 5 Marissa's been asking to her have party there. Finally -- she is 5 and the answer this year is YES.

The party was made all the more special by the fact that my dad was at our house again on his way back to Arkansas after a week in Upper Michigan, so he got to attend the party. It was the first birthday party he's attended for either of my girls, and he enjoyed watching all of the shenanigans. I'm not sure why, but watching children play energetically seems to sap the energy from adults, even if they aren't out there using energy themselves. It's a strange phenomenon which requires more thought...in a later post.

Then on Marissa's actual birthday, Tuesday, she was awoken by her mommy who sang her happy birthday very quietly in her ear, and was given a special happy birthday hug from her daddy. She got to bring cupcakes to school for snack that day, and that evening she opened up all the gifts from her family (ourselves and grandparents). Then we all went out to a hibachi restaurant for dinner. I know, my kids have expensive taste. I don't care.

Then this past weekend we gave her one final gift -- a handmade "magic doorway" that a friend of mine made. She had dropped it off in time for Marissa's birthday, but I had to hide it in the front closet quickly while she was dropping it off, because Marissa was on her way to the front door to see who was at the door. Needless to say, I forgot that the present was in the front closet and forgot to wrap it for Tuesday gift opening! So it became an extra special birthday gift as she got to open it that past weekend and Wayne promptly put it up. I'll post a photo of what a "magic doorway" is as soon as I take a picture of it.

To round out her birthday week, Marissa went to the doctor this morning for her 5-year check-up, which included two vaccinations. Lucky girl! She did so well, she didn't even cry when she got the shots! Her birthday week ended on a bit lower note than it started; at least she got to go out to breakfast with mommy before the doctor's appointment.

A month from yesterday Marissa will be starting kindergarten. How did this summer go by so quickly? How did the past five years fly?