Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

sunflower surprise

A volunteer sunflower is towering over my front garden this summer. It just opened up into a big beautiful bloom a few days ago. The ones I plant never do as well as this one. I don't know if this one sprung from a rogue seed from the compost, or if it was brought over by an adventurous bunny rabbit or bird from the elementary school garden up the road...but I don't care. It's finally blooming, and seeing those bright yellow blooms cheers me up a little bit when I'm feeling blue. It's like this flower is grasping on to the last threads of summer. Like me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

vacation

Pictures say it better than words...














...I'm just sad it's over already!

Friday, August 14, 2009

three...two...one...make rocket go now!

I meant to post all this last week, but time got away from me. Uncle Joe has come for a visit and gone home to Virginia already. Oma and Opa arrived last Wednesday and will be driving home tomorrow. We went to Door County for the weekend, and it was fabulous. More on that later, but first, a rocket launch!

My dad taught Space Exploration at Boy Scout Camp this summer. I don't know what all this entailed, but I do know he launched lots and lots of model rockets, some more successful than others. At my request, he brought the supplies along to give little Daniel and his best friend Abe (from across the street) a hands-on demonstration.

Opa put the rocket and launch pad together:



The boys managed to watch from a safe distance:



Abe brought his own space shuttle:



Daniel got to push the button!



The first launch was a success! But then the rocket got caught in a tree:



So Stuart threw his shoe in the tree to dislodge it, only to get his shoe stuck up there, too.



If at first you don't succeed, try throwing your other shoe (it might get stuck too):



Rescuing rocket #1 and Stuart's shoes was fun for all the grown-ups:



Joe to the rescue!





Did you know Joe is part monkey?



All in all, a grand time for everyone, even the little sisters, who weren't so interested in the rocket launch, but enjoyed being at the park anyway:




Can you believe summer is almost over?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

exercise

This morning I saw a horrifying thing as I walked into the grocery store. A man was running by. He wasn't particularly young, but he was built like an athlete, and the look on his face said he'd probably been running a while. It was pouring rain, so it was impossible to tell how sweaty he was. But - and here's the horrifying part - his nipples were bleeding. He was wearing a white shirt and there were two streaks of bright red running down the front. I couldn't help but stare, though I don't think he noticed me. I don't even know if he noticed his own problem. Yowza.

I am not an athlete. I was never athletic, never inclined that way. I was scrawny and wimpy and could never aim worth crap to throw or catch a ball or even a frisbee. I suck at hackey sack (though it hasn't stopped me from trying on occasion). In college, though, I decided that regular exercise was a good idea, so I started running. I usually went alone so no one would hear how hard I was panting, though by the time Stuart and I were getting serious, we would run together at night. By the time I graduated I ran 4 miles every day.

Since moving to Wisconsin nine years ago, the exercise regime has had its ups and downs. For one thing, it's really hard to run outside in the winter when the temps are below zero and the sidewalks are covered in ice and snow. Some people do anyway, but they're the hard-core crazy types. In grad school, I biked to campus in just about every kind of weather except thunderstorms. As long as it was above 5 degrees outside, I even biked in the cold. I tried swimming in the early mornings for a semester, but it was just too grueling to leave the apartment at 6:30 a.m. and jump in the pool. Then we had kids and it all kind of went to hell. Exercise is such a time-suck, especially when you've only got a couple of precious hours in between meals and bedtime to make it happen.

I'm trying, though. I might even join the Y because 1) they have childcare and 2) they have pretty decent preschool programs I would like Daniel to be a part of this year. Now that I am 30 and have the postpartum paunch, it's more important to me than ever to maintain some level of fitness. When you're 20, you're basically invincible. But when you're 30, you really can tell whether or not you ran this week. You feel better, you look better if you exercise. It's frustrating that I don't have the same endurance, though. This afternoon it was warm and muggy, perfect weather for going to the pool, so we all went and I swam 500 meters and it totally kicked my ass. That's, like, 5 times across and back. I was gasping for air and had to stop, even though I had wanted to swim farther. I've been running again, too, though not terribly frequently, which means I don't go more than a couple miles. Sometimes I do a few sprints to make it worthwhile.

What's funny about all this is that until recently I didn't hold any standards for myself when it came to exercise. I was just glad to be outside and moving around. For months after Anya was born, I figured that all the kid-lifting and chasing and running up and down the stairs to do laundry was at least keeping slothdom at bay, if not keeping me in shape. But now I have goals, such as they are. I want to run faster, swim farther, bike more. Not that I plan to start competing or joining any sports teams or anything. That'll be the day.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

post-visit funk

Steph and Eric left yesterday morning after a wonderful but too-short stay of 4 nights and 3 days at our house. We ate good food, we drank good beer. Stuart and Eric biked to Mt. Horeb, where we visited the Mustard Museum and ate at the Grumpy Troll (Steph and I took the car - 20 miles is too long for the bike trailer). The men took the kids to the children's museum so Steph and I could visit a local yarn shop. We went to the zoo and visited several parks. We stayed up late watching our favorite episodes of Futurama and Arrested Development on DVD. Steph taught the kids some yoga. Here's Daniel doing the Tree pose with her:



(Anya tried it too, but she only managed to stand on her tiptoes.)

It was over all too soon, and now I'm in a little bit of a funk. This always happens after a visit from family members. We don't live close to anybody. My parents are in Kentucky, Stu's parents are in Kansas, our brothers live in the South (Virginia and North Carolina), and most of my extended family lives in Kansas. Every time someone comes to visit, the kids get a little closer to their own extended family. This has been the case for Daniel for some time, but it's really just kicking in for Anya. Less than five months ago, I took Daniel and Anya to Lawrence to see Steph and Eric (and the cats), and in that relatively short amount of time, Anya has transformed into a different person. At that time, she wasn't yet walking (quite), hardly ate solid food, and was so afraid of letting me out of her sight that she would wail and fuss every time I went to the bathroom. She has mellowed considerably since then and seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with everyone. There was bonding all around.

And then, of course, Steph and Eric had to drive away and Stuart had to go back to work (he took a couple of vacation days for the occasion) and I was left with a messy house and a pile of laundry and a seemingly insurmountably dirty kitchen and no one to talk to over the age of three. We so badly want to live closer to family. So badly. Yes, we know how lucky we are to have financial stability in this economic climate, and yes, Madison is a most excellent place to live (long winters notwithstanding), but we really want Daniel and Anya to have a meaningful relationship with their grandparents and uncles and cousins, and that just seems impossible at this distance. Our parents, all of them, certainly make a lot of effort to visit as often as they can, and we travel when we can as well. But all that driving is exhausting and can't happen as often as we'd like. We've talked about relocating, perhaps to Kentucky, but we can't do that without a job lined up for Stuart. (I'm not in a position to be the family bread-winner, though I can work as a freelance accompanist any place there's a need.)

I'll cheer up soon enough. My parents and brother are coming next week for a visit, and I'm quite excited about it. I expect I'll crash pretty hard after they leave, but I'm trying not to think about that just yet.

Monday, August 03, 2009

popsicle!

Steph and Eric are here visiting this week. We're having all kinds of fun, which I may report on later. In the meantime, enjoy these shots of the kids having an afternoon popsicle break. I know y'all are just dying for some eye candy!