October Highlights

Saturday, November 5, 2016
By this time, school work is getting more serious, temperatures are getting cooler, and before you know it you're hearing holiday tunes played in department stores!  But, fall is my favorite, and so we try to savor it.  We have been blessed with fantastic fall weather this year and here is what we've been doing with it....

Another camping trip (the last of the season) to Devil's lake Wisconsin was, again, filled with great weather beautiful scenery!

I know that there are studies that show nature's positive effects on the brain.  I don't need science to prove that.

Cole got to attend his first Bears football game with Rich!  It was a good game, but they came up short. 

We had a great visit from my Aunt Beth from North Carolina!  An entire weekend of gatherings and fun!
Playing a game.  We were really usually much more lively than this!

Beth and the kids

 We had a reunion with old neighbors we grew up with...

And Halloween....
Cole - as Kylo Ren

Will - as a SWAT team guy with his buds

Pumpkin Patch!  We got all the necessities: pumpkins, kettle corn, cider and apple cider donuts!

Lastly (and a slight bleed into November), THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!  This has been surreal and so joyful!  It is a fantastic departure from the gloomy election time that we are currently in and has simply been a great reminder of sportsmanship, family tradition, and history!  We have bought the gear.  We have had a mini-party to watch the parade and rally.  Oh - and this is the first year we all went together as a family to a game!  But also, in this very month Rich and I got to visit Wrigley through Advocate and have dinner on the field, a tour, and just plain hang out ON THE FIELD!  Having this be the year makes this memory even sweeter!

And that does it for October.  It was a great month. Bring on November, food, celebrations, and the chance of snow!

Quick Rant

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I interrupt this leisurely reading of the family's goings-on to bring you my thoughts on a daily subject: social media and our kids.

Kids are social.  It seems like a natural partnership for them to have an affinity for social media apps.  And I believe there can be some great enjoyment and good that comes from them.


Give your kids some darn guidelines and restrictions.  I'll admit...Rich and I are pretty much learning as we go with this whole parenting thing.  I mean, sure, we pull wisdom from our parents, but not everything is an even transfer.  This is uncharted territory and we are going it alone.  Actually, we are diving in along with many others of our generation and I'm not going to hold back from saying some are just plain doing it wrong.

Here is what I know is true.  I feel strongly that this isn't a matter of "well, that's how you parent..." but more of a "right" and "wrong."  I liken it to putting an infant in a car seat.  Yeah.  You do that.  Not doing it is wrong.

Your kids should have a "no more device" bedtime.  Period.  Practically up through high school, as far as I figure.  I dock my phone at night.  Sleep deprivation and unnatural sleep cycles affect so many people.  Teach your kids when to say when.  I know there are studies about our eyes staring at screens and how our minds are less able to calm themselves down, but frankly, I'm too lazy to cite them.  Plus, I feel that a little common sense leads us to the same conclusion. 

Your kids don't need notifications keeping them awake and they DO need to know that they can step away, and life will probably roll on.  They need to know that not responding to every tweet / like / comment / snap / you name it...is okay.  In fact, probably better. 

Your kids need to know how to focus SOLELY on one task sometimes.  They need to learn the art (because it takes some practice) of being 100% present. 

Our media devices are an important part of our society.  I get that.  But like all advances, we need to remember that we must proceed with caution and restraint.  (For example, cars are great.  Driving everywhere in lieu of walking/biking/moving one's body...is not).  And if we adults have a difficult time regulating ourselves (and we do), imagine an immature mind that is still growing, learning, and molding itself around the situations and lifestyle that it is experiencing daily. 

To me, it's a scary thought that tweens and teens are going to bed by device-light.  Trust me, I know this to be true, as I see my daughter's phone light up well into late night (on school nights) as it sits on it's dock in the kitchen.  So I intend to start with my own family and already know full well it is an against-the-grain path.  But I feel like I owe the three little minds we brought into this world the effort in this matter.

End rant.

Three Day Weekends....

...And why they're great:  Because there's three days and lots of possibilities!

Take the first 3-dayer of this school year, for example.  We took a camping trip to Michigan (St. Joseph) for some beach, shopping, eating and orchards.  So after a long trek through the Indiana snarl they call the expressway (we planned for this...dinner packed and everything)...we made it in the dark and set up camp.

Snacks and games

 The beach, though beautiful, was piping hot and the water was FREEZING cold!  So we spent less time than we thought here.  But there was an outdoor market, great shopping and food, so we spent a lot of time downtown.
Exploring some historical memorials

That's right!  This wine is still in my wine rack!  (wine tasting...check!)

Where you can find Paige

Beautiful St. Joseph beach

Sweet treats!  *sigh* I want to go back

Awesome view and greatest splash park ever!

Apple picking followed by chocolate tasting!  Can't go wrong!

 I hesitate to book the first weekends of a new school year because everyone is a bit "worn."  But this relaxing, beautiful re-charge trip was just what we all needed to take a moment to bond, recharge, and keep going!

Another School Year!

Sunday, September 18, 2016
I secretly loved last year because there weren't any "firsts" or new steps in heading to school.  Everyone already kind of knew their way.  This year, Cole is alone at the elementary (handling it just fine) and Will ventured onto junior high.  After a slight feeling of overwhelm the first couple days, he has rose to the occasion and seems to be keeping up just fine. 
Truth: this is the second day.  #momfail

Locker combo stress!  Wish there was a way to promise them after a few days it will be nothing!

Junior Highers!  Truth: Paige got dress-coded for these shorts.  What can I say?  We were (ARE) still in summer mode.
I am forever thankful for the ease at which all things "school" come to my kids.  Overall, each day is relatively stress-free and enjoyed by them!  I know this isn't true for everyone, and so I try to remind myself of that regularly.

After the first week, the kids and I worked another successful Farm Day!  And...BONUS! We came home with a new pet!  This is Rio, the $5 bunny.  Only she really cost near $100.  But, after some getting into routine, she proves to be a fun addition!

The cage doesn't look a thing like this anymore, because...live and learn.

Was going to be everyone's pet, but lives in Paige's room and she mainly cares for her.  But fun for all!

Harness: $12.  A good idea in theory, but bunnies are escape artists and we probably don't trust this harness.
Cole finished up his football season (but still plays plenty backyard and playground football) in the first week of school...

Not a winning season, but a great win to close the season!
Up next, a great getaway to Michigan on the first 3-day weekend!

Summer Summary Part 3

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

At first, we weren't committing to the two-part Wisconsin camping getaway my sister and family had planned, but finally signed on and are glad we did!

It started with 3 nights in Oshkosh for the air show.  We spent 2 days at this great event and the rest of the time fishing, jumping on the jump pillow, swimming in the pool and hanging out at the campground.
gone fishin'

virtual flying reality.  Emphasis on reality because when Cole did it, he actually reached for the joystick.

They all did the bungee trampolining

A sky-written thanks to the volunteers.  Major flying talent!

We got to meet these pilots

A Star Wars plane?  That's worthy of a picture!

Flying drones, virtual planes, etc.

Pilots in training.

Ready for the airshow.

Then, we skipped over to the Dells area where we camped right on the river in great sites and got passes to the Chula Vista water park.  These days were filled with water parking, river swimming, boating, and enjoying the campground.  (Also a little food borne illness for Shawn and split open chin for Cole, but details).
pontoon boats: faster than they look

river rats

This guy was in charge of our safety

Four steps down from our campsite

Downtown Dells

And the joy of really enjoying a sunset

Well, we've done more things...visits from friends, fun days out, but this pretty much sums up our summer.  I mean, Will just finished his summer reading project with hours to spare, so let the school year begin!

Summer Summary Part 2

Sunday, August 14, 2016
I'll start with 2 major birthdays.  First, we officially have a tween in the household.  Again.  In case you're not keeping track, that's 2 junior highers, leaving the elementary school days of snack time and field days dwindling to 1 kid.  I'm excited for Will, of course.  I think he needs this challenge and though it will be a transition, look forward to seeing him rise to the occasion.

He still wants a birthday party, though.  Preferably with balloons.  This time we went to the movies and had a few buds spend the night, then had the family over to help celebrate.
the boy gang

Lucky kid...with an accomplished birthday wishlist.

eleven candles

The other birthday party we celebrated was Rich's grandmother's 92nd.  She and Aunt Ginny have been visiting for quite some time now (heading back to the sunshine state today), that allowed us to gather for this occasion!  We had a nice somewhat surprise dinner in her honor.

Later, Olivia had her first solo sleepover at grandma and papa's house, but first we all went to the Cougar's game for Frozen night.  Olivia was getting tired at about her bedtime until we fueled her with cotton candy, dippin' dots and more!  Then she was ready to stay late for the great fireworks display!

Don't be fooled.  She's just here for the Dippin' Dots

Then we went on a great Wisconsin camping vacation.  This will get its own post.

After that, we got together with my dad's side of the family which we termed "cousin fest."  We have many cousins on this side of which we have not seen in a very long time.  This gathering of all 16 great grand children of my grandmother's (who got to join us for a while) was unprecedented and quite special.
Count them if you don't believe me

Jacob (10 months) and Annie (7 months)

Name a (somewhat dangerous) backyard activity...we did it.  Zip lining, tractor driving, roof climbing, etc.

Great grandma Jo and Annie Mae - separated in age by a mere 95 years.

72 hours until school and still more summer to catch up on...