Thursday, December 11, 2014


I have so many feelings and so much to say and yet the thought of capturing it all on here feels very overwhelming.

My first thought is why are so many bad things happening to such good people? Is it because we’re getting older so we’re more aware of it? Or is there some weird shift in the universe? Whatever it is, I hate it. I hate that my friend’s best friend is fighting for her life right now with a rare blood disorder and subsequent kidney failure—a bubbly 30-something who, to me, has always epitomized “full of life and full of joy.” She wasn’t feeling well around Halloween, and now—less than two months later—she’s in the ICU, on dialysis, in stable but critical condition, waiting for a kidney transplant.

Aaron’s aunt, who is only 53, is also really ill. On Thanksgiving we got a call that she was in the ICU at Mayo. Apparently she got an infection that sent her lupus diagnosis into overdrive. She was in a medically induced coma for a few days and is just now awake (but still incoherent). I don’t know if the infection—which had spread to her brain—has affected her cognitive abilities. She’s a gifted pianist and a really sweet person (even though we’ve had our political differences) and devoted mother of five. She celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary in the hospital, on one of the days they didn’t know if she’d pull through. Aaron’s uncle, who is normally a calm, quiet man, was a mess.  At one point, when a bunch of medical personnel went racing into her room (leaving him outside) he thought he had lost her. She's still at Mayo, no longer fighting for her life, but still incredibly sick.

My boss/friend's mom died unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Her mom had been visiting family down south, fell asleep, and never woke up. They suspect she had a heart attack. "I never thought I'd be planning my mom's funeral in 2014," Sara said. "I thought she'd be around for at least another 20 years." Sara is only 38 and has experienced the heartbreak of losing both parents and a beloved mother-in-law, and her father-in-law is fighting his own battle with cancer. 

And then there are the stories in the news … young people courageously battling brain cancer, teenagers dying of flu-like symptoms, bullying-related suicide. Sometimes it's enough to make your heart feel like it's going to shatter. And you look at your OWN family and your mind plays out morbid worst-case scenarios and you can't even process the horror. You wonder how people pick up the pieces and move on. How can you NOT be changed after going through such an intense loss?  

I guess the bright side (I always, always, always try to find a bright side and I hope I never lose this part of my personality) is that it puts EVERYTHING in perspective and makes you hug your loved ones a little bit harder. That thing you were worried about at breakfast? Probably not that big a deal. We're breathing, we're healthy, we're here together. And instead of giving in to road rage or glares or exasperated sighs when a stranger does something rude or inconsiderate or selfish, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. You never know what they're going through behind closed doors. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own battle."

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Many Faces of Halloween

There is what seems like a blizzard going on outside, and it's only November 10. It's the first significant snowfall of the year and the National Weather Service has declared a winter storm warning. There are school closings. Meteorologists are predicting anywhere from 12 to 18 inches. 

I can't even.

I waited 30 minutes in the blowing snow and cold (all buses were running late), cursing myself for not wearing my warm winter coat, but thankful I had thought to wear my hat and scarf, and a coat with a hood, then sat on the bus from 8:10 to 9:30. Usually I'm a half-glass-full kind of girl, but I don't feel cheerful/optimistic about this. It's NOVEMBER 10. Can't we have another month free of snow before winter "officially" starts? It makes for a very long, very drawn-out season. 

The kids, however, thought it was great.

It almost seems weird to be writing about Halloween when I can hear ice pellets outside the window and see snow blowing all around, but really, Halloween was only 10 days ago. So here goes. 

Halloween was on a Friday this year, and despite the freezing weather (weird that I'd be mentioning the weather twice in one post, isn't it? It's what we do in Minnesota, dontch'a know?!), and despite Adam not feeling well during the "getting-ready" phase (due to the usual battle of not eating lunch - another post for another day), this Halloween will forever go down as the Year Both Kids Finally "Got" It. 
It's a big deal (to me, anyhow), considering the fact that we've been taking one or both of the kids trick-or-treating for five years now without much fanfare. 
I was getting worried that my love-of-Halloween gene was going to skip a generation, or my kids wouldn't understand the fun in getting dressed up (not an option), or maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't see the point in getting candy from strangers. Which, come to think of it, is what we tell them NOT to do every other day of the year.
And if your kid doesn't care about dressing up and/or getting candy, then what's the point in trick-or-treating? 
All of the galaxies must've aligned this year, though, because Adam was excited about being a kid zombie (face paint! In first grade! YES!!!) and Ben was excited about being Mario instead of Batman (and then he wanted to be Bob the Builder, and then he wanted to be a Power Ranger ...) and I have to tell you, it PAINED me to purchase a costume for him that I knew I could make, but it seemed impossible to find a pair of overalls in his size, and just the right red hat, and so I gave in and spent $30 at Target. And he insisted on carrying his costume around the store—he was so excited!—and wore it to daycare ("Everyone said I was a perfect Mario!") and again on Halloween, and he loved it, and that's really all that matters. 
Anyhow, when we were all bundled up with winter coats under costumes, Aaron had perfected Adam's facepaint and "zombiefied" his outfit, my dad had found his flashlights, my brother and I had decided very last minute to dress like we were in the Army, I had made my hot cocoa and Bailey's, Aaron and Trish had their big cans of Coors Lite, and Adam started feeling better, he and Ben got INTO it. It was music to my ears hearing those happy choruses of "trick-or-treat!" (and "thank you") ... right up until the last stretch of houses, over an hour later, when Ben said he couldn't feel his feet—they were SO FROZEN (Oh, Ben, see all those little Elsas out there?! Just "let it go!" wink, wink)—and Adam dramatically announced that he was so tired he just couldn''t.walk.anymore. (Thankfully we had a wagon.)

I've been excited about introducing my offspring to the joys of Halloween since I first accepted the mind-blowing fact that I was going to be a mom.

Adam wore his first costume when he was only 11 weeks old. I showed him off to friends and family and that was about the extent of it. I mean, he was 11 weeks old, I wasn't going to take him trick-or-treating. That would be ridiculous. But MY GOD, little baby costumes are the CUTEST, aren't they? Especially when you can get an expression like this one? "Egads! What on earth is going on?! This is horrifying! Why am I dressed this way and who is this imposter beside me?!?!"

The next year, my daycare provider Mary offered to loan us an adorable lion costume she had originally sewn for her grandson Sam, who wore it at 8 months. It fit Adam perfectly at 14 months. It even had a long lion's tail! We went to a friend’s Halloween party prior to Halloween, a party just for the kids. That was a first. It was so much fun—especially with so many of us having little ones around the same age—we were hoping to make it an annual tradition. Lo and behold, that friend moved out of state (and eventually back again) and the tradition never caught on. 

When Adam was two, we once again borrowed a costume from Mary. This time, he was a Dalmatian. How perfect! My family used to have a Dalmatian (RIP Lucky, you crazy, loveable, hyper-spaz of a dog). This was also the first year we decided to bring the little guy trick-or-treating, and it was kind of a no-brainer to go to my parents’ neighborhood. There was a small part of me that felt guilty for abandoning our 'hood, but since we don’t feel close to our neighbors, beyond the occasional wave-when-you-see-one-another/make-polite-small-talk-when-you-both-happen-to-be-outside, and my parents are part of an association, and therefore friends with their neighbors, AND they wanted to see Adam in his costume, it just made sense.

My dad bought a few bails of hay for us to sit on, attached a flatbed behind his four-wheeler, and pulled me, Aaron, Adam, and my niece April, who was along just for the heck of it. My mom stayed back and passed out candy to the neighbor kids. We didn't last too long, and that was ok. Baby steps.

Sweet puppy!

By the time Adam was three, he had a fairly new baby brother to accompany him. I don't remember much about that Halloween, other than the fact that Adam was a very warmly dressed duck (I bought the costume at a second-hand shop), Ben was a pumpkin (also purchased second-hand), we were on foot while trick-or-treating and Ben was heavy to carry around, mainly because he was a whopping 22 pounds at four months. I think we went to 10 houses. I assumed this would be the last year to dress both boys as I wanted to dress them, and I was right. 

Daycare Halloween party

Oh! And that was the year that I brought Ben to our friends' annual Halloween party. We were pretty sneaky about it, since it was adults only. Most of the guests didn't realize there was even a baby in the house. He slept upstairs in the pack-n-play while the party was going on in the basement, I went upstairs to feed him occasionally, and probably around midnight, he woke up and I brought him downstairs to meet the few party-goers who were still around/still awake. And then THIS happened!! Cabbage Patch Ben! 

The next fall was the first year Adam wanted to be a superhero instead of a cute animal. I knew it was only a matter of time before the superheroes barged into our lives, but I was still sad about it. Thankfully I had Ben to fulfill the "cute animal" factor. He wore the Dalmatian costume that Adam had worn. (Thanks again to Mary!) 

I made this scary alien guy and put him in my parents front yard. Adam thought he was funny.

Take this dumb thing off me!

In 2012, Adam was a storm trooper and Ben was Batman. Batman, Batman, Batman. This was the year that Ben became OBSESSED with Bruce Wayne (he even wanted to change his name to Bruce). He wore that Batman costume until he wore it out. We had to replace it twice. He honestly believed he was Batman when he was wearing it. (He once wore a Batman costume to a Saints game, much to the enjoyment of the fans around us.) We brought that thing everywhere we went.

Halloween party at Grandma's - missing cousin Kayla

In 2013, Batman was proud to show off his new muscular figure (weight training and eating clean) and Harry Potter was ready to take on the wizarding world and overcome Lord Voldemort. This was the first year that my brothers, Shawn and Nick, my sister-in-law Trish, and my brother's girlfriend Ashley joined us for the Halloween festivities. My younger brother wore a Freddy Krueger costume and may have traumatized both kids. 

No, not scary AT ALL for a three and six year old, Uncle Nick. Also? My dad made those pants with fabric paint.

And now! This year!! Success! 

Can you find me!?

I've been "into" Halloween ever since I can remember. I blame my dad. (The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.)

My dad, the long underwear devil

My mom is Cleopatra, back row, between Raggedy Ann & the belly dancer - circa 1976.
My parents hosted an annual Halloween party for many, many years.

I learned, at a young age, that the very best costumes are not the generic/overpriced store-bought versions. They're home-made. They are also immediately recognizable, not offensive, and—in my opinion—require a little bit of effort. My favorite childhood costume was the year I was a ladybug. My dad made my costume out of poster boards. Sadly, I don't think we have any photos. I did find this one, though. I was supposed to be an old lady. All I really remember is my mom laughing as she made my boobs big and saggy. I was trying to look crabby, but it comes across as "tortured fourth grader/bored out of her mind." I'm wearing one of my mom's antique hats—she bought a box of them at an auction. I loved wearing them. My friend Ann was a baby. Notice that she had a pillowcase for her loot. I had a little bag.

I continued trick-or-treating until I was entirely way too old to be knocking on doors and asking for candy. I was 14 (!!). At that point, I was strictly just in it for the candy. I was on the cross-country running team and I dressed up as a cross-country runner. (Laaaaame.) In the years that followed, I gave up trick-or-treating in favor of helping my dad get our big green house "spooky" for the kids in our neighborhood. We had an old record of Halloween sounds—chains dragging, moaning, screaming, witches cackling, cats meowing—and we put a speaker in a side window and played it every year. We screwed a green lightbulb into the front porch fixture, and made a dummy out of newspapers, old clothes, and my brother's Spiderman-head piggy bank (then covered it with a mask). One year we put my mom's clothes chest in the front yard because it looked an awful lot like a kid-sized coffin, then we put my life-sized doll in it for added effect. CREEPY. I took great pride in the fact that some kids were too scared to knock on the front door.
I was overjoyed when I got to college and realized it was ok—even encouraged—to dress up on Halloween. The costumes were just a LITTLE more rated-R than I was used to (so much cleavage!!!), but it was all part of the college experience. The Halloween celebrations I remember most were the three I spent in Madison. State Street was craaaaaazy.

I was a poor college kid. This was the best I came up with. (It was the same year my roommate Webs was a bear—white sweatsuit, sock ears, painted nose and whiskers, Tonya was a geisha girl, and our friend Kay wore yellow scrubs and a beak in an attempt to be a duck, but instead wound up with the nickname of "toxic waste.")

I had a squirt gun and secretly "shot" the bitchy girls on the dance floor.

When JJ wasn't standing near me,  people thought he was Teen Wolf. I had real cookies in my basket ... a big hit with drunk college kids.
 Bad 70s cop and Cruella. I had a stuffed Dalmatian, too, not sure where it was for this pic.

Dominatrix!! I bought my pleather outfit at Hot Topic.

 We went to Half-Time Rec in St. Paul & SO MANY DIRTY OLD MEN WANTED ME TO WHIP THEM. I wrote "I bite" on my arm. They loved that, too. This was my only attempt at sexy.

What a FUN night. We went to Aaron's house after this. (We had just started dating.)

Ice Queen & masquerade ball attendee Katie - some bar somewhere. 
Aaron didn't want to dress up.

From dominatrix & Ice Queen to THIS. Richard Simmons and his groupie. 
Sweat to the oldies with me!
Beauty pageant winner Tonya (home from Idaho), Kay the Himalayan (drove from Green Bay), Rads as Oscar the Grouch (she WORE THAT GARBAGE CAN ALL NIGHT!) and drove from Milwaukee, yours truly, and cowgirl Jods. It meant a lot to me that some of my dear college girls were in attendance for my & Aaron's first annual garage Halloween party, 2003.
The start of our "wig swap" tradition

Old lady with baby on her back. Aaron was EPIC.
What? You didn't know Ronny liked to party?!
Tennis great John McEnroe and Annie. "The sun will come out, tomorrow ..."
Loved the costumes; hated the cheap face paint.
Fairy "ghoul" mother and Beetlejuice (I love this girl!)

Alfalfa Aaron, German dude (my dad), Dog the Bounty Hunter's wife Beth (Trish)
With my brothers. My mom stayed in the house with Adam. I breastfed him looking like this. 
He was unfazed.

Aaron was Richie Tenenbaum, but most people guessed the Unabomber. My face paint was ITCHY but I kind of loved being Grinchy.
Whatch'ya gonna do when the HULK comes for you?!! 
I made my 'stache out of Adam's Barbie's hair. 
SNL sketch - Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley (my SIL's sister, Tara, made her "fat suit"), Chippendale's dancers, complete with a dance-off.
(Aaron had to have a few cocktails for that.) 
Nerds. I really channeled my inner theater geek to get into character.

La, la, la-la-la laaaa
I was a little disappointed that Rem didn't have her annual Halloween bash this year, but it all worked out, since we went on a haunted hayride instead.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A little better than he expected

I was worried about how Adam would handle his first day of first grade, and as it turns out - maybe I was more worried than he was. When he woke up in the morning, he seemed ok. He maybe even smiled. 
"I'm just gonna do whatever Michael does today," he announced.
It was as if he decided overnight that Michael would be his rock, and he was going to hold onto that thought for dear life, like a life preserver.
Fine by me. 

Aaron made him scrambled eggs and he ate (almost) everything on his plate. There were no tears. He posed for a first day photo outside and seemed relaxed. He talked a little bit to Ben on the drive to preschool, and then grew quiet. I checked in the rearview mirror a few times to see if he was wearing his worried face. He looked a little scared, but not terrified. Nothing like last year.

When we got to preschool, he gave me a hug and kiss and joined his other friends (the "school-agers") - the routine wasn't much different than it has been all summer. 
Ben had a new locker and a new teacher, and seemed indifferent to the change. He walked over by his old locker, seemed a little confused that it wasn't his name on the extra-change-of-clothes basket, then found his name on the other side of the room and hung his coat there.
"I'm going to be your teacher now, Ben," said Ms. R, who greets us every morning. "Everyone who has a fish nametag on their locker is in our class."
He walked around looking at the photos on the fish nametags, then lost interest and wandered over to his friends. I had to call him back to say goodbye. "I almost forgot to give you a hug and a kiss!" he exclaimed, grabbing my face in his hands.
I hugged and kissed him, looked over at Adam who was laughing with his friends, yelled "Have a good first day!" and was glad when Adam smiled and waved goodbye. Ben smiled, too. 
And that was it. 
That was the first time in two years that I've left a "first day" classroom without tears, without having to forcefully remove little fingers from a death grip around my neck, without having to see a sad face crying, crying, crying from his spot on the "goodbye chair" at the window as I drove away (the heartbreak!), without having to feel that familiar sad ache deep in the pit of my stomach, like I failed as a mom, like I was being insensitive and mean, abandoning my child in a place he didn't want to be.
Friends and family sent supportive texts and emails throughout the day. "So far, so good!" I replied.
I thought about him as the day went on, but not like last year, when I couldn't concentrate on anything else knowing how sad and worried he was.
When I went to pick up the boys, I found Ben sitting on the floor next to a little boy who I didn't recognize, working on some type of puzzle.
"I have a new friend," he announced when he noticed me watching them. Then, his insecurity showed through when turned to Caleb and asked, "You are my friend, right?"
I was relieved when Caleb nodded yes.
When we were away from his little friends, he told me that he was the only one in his class who knew how to hold a scissors. He was pretty proud of that fact. (When you're 4, it's the little things.)
"How do you think your brother did today?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Probably good."
We walked together to his class upstairs, where Adam was playing a computer game with one of his friends (a third grader). He walked over to his locker to grab his giant Minnesota Wild backpack and threw it over his shoulder like a college kid. 
"So, how was it?" I asked (the suspense was killing me).
"It was a little better than I expected," he answered. "But there's a mean kid in my class."
When I asked what his name was, he said "It's a girl, Mom." (Why do I assume 'kid' means 'boy'?! Is that a common assumption?) He said she wouldn't get up off the floor in gym class and "WASTED HALF THE TIME JUST LYING THERE" (Adam's favorite class is gym, so I'm sure that really irritated him) and she talked bad to the teacher and, to top it off, she hit Adam's backpack when he was leaving, and he didn't even do ANYTHING to her. I told him that sometimes the mean kids need love the most, and he should always be nice to them (at first, anyhow). "Sometimes girls who like boys act mean," I went on to say (a boy in my third grade class used to try to wipe boogers in my hair. As it turns out, he had a crush on me. Go figure.) "No, she doesn't like me, she's just mean," Adam answered.
Maybe she was nervous. Maybe she was overtired. Maybe she was scared.
Or, maybe she IS mean. If that's the case, I hope she doesn't target Adam. 
Lunch was pizza, and that was good. He ate most of it. Michael and Adam played together at recess, because Blake, Gunnar, and Kellen wanted to play soccer, 3 against 2, and Michael said that wasn't fair and he QUIT. So Adam quit too. Adam wasn't the first one done with his math assignment, but that was alright. His teacher was nice. His class talked about what they did this summer, and Adam didn't want everyone looking at him, so said "I pass" when it was his turn to talk. Michael also passed (even though he went to Legoland and probably NO ONE ELSE went to Legoland this summer). 
We drove home and waited for Aaron, then headed to Chipotle to celebrate. I have a feeling it might become a first day of school tradition.
The second day went pretty good, too, with the exception of Adam getting the hot dog at lunch, which he KNOWS he doesn't like, which resulted in him throwing away the hot dog and only eating an apple and drinking his milk rather than actually asking the lunch lady for a PB&J (which he KNOWS he likes). "Everyone would look at me," he told me when I reprimanded him for not ordering the sandwich. (In kindergarten, they would give their orders to the teacher, who would relay them to the lunch lady. Now, as a first grader, he's responsible for speaking up in the lunch line.) Aaron and I had a long talk to him about the importance of eating ... nothing that he hasn't heard a billion times already. I have a feeling we'll be having a conversation with the lunch lady at some point.
Day three was another decent day. Still no homework. He did eat lunch (chicken tenders). After school he had a soccer 'meet and greet,' where Aaron, the assistant coach, met the head coach and all the kids on the team. I had to stay late at work to put out some fires—we were on deadline—then joined the boys at the rec center, where Ben fell off the slide (backwards) and hurt his back and wanted to go home RIGHTNOW.
I think everyone is grateful that it's Friday. Week one and done! (And now I'm ready for a nap. Who else is with me?!)

Monday, September 1, 2014


I wonder if every night-before-the-first day will be a struggle. I thought it would be less complicated this year, now that he has a year of kindergarten under his belt (or, more accurately, under his tiny little adjustable waistband). I thought he'd be ok now (maybe not fine, but better). And once again I'm Googling "dealing with childhood anxiety" on the night before school starts. Poor boy. I just want to make it go away.

We had a wonderful weekend — on Saturday the boys went to Grandma Patti's while Aaron and I saw an amazing concert at the State Fair (*we became huge Cloud Cult fans and have a newfound love of Doomtree after that show ... "Doomtree BANGARANG all you rappers sound the same, beats, sound the same, raps, sound the same ..."), on Sunday afternoon Grandpa Rick had a pool party and we hung out there for a few hours with Aaron's side of the family, and today we spent the afternoon in Forest Lake with my family. The sun was shining, the food was excellent, everyone seemed in good spirits. After lunch we took the boat over to the beach/park area. The kids played on the playground before we walked over to a little gelato shop on Main Street. Once we got inside the shop, Adam turned white as a ghost.
"I don't feel so good," he announced as he sat on the floor.
"Do you feel like you're going to throw up?" (How many times have I asked this question?)
He yawned, lied down, then covered his eyes with the crook of his elbow. "My head is hot," he whimpered.
Oh no.
We walked back to the lake, called my dad to retrieve us (he was fishing with my brothers), and waited in the shade. Ben was oblivious. Adam looked miserable.
When my dad pulled up to the dock, Aaron actually carried Adam to the pontoon. He looked so fragile.
Shortly after we headed back, Adam groaned "I think I'm gonna throw up."
Thankfully, there was a plastic bag on board. My dad hurried back to shore (as fast as you can hurry on a crowded lake), Adam sitting in Aaron's lap, retching into the bag for the majority of the ride.
Once we got back to the air-conditioned comfort of my parents' house, he crawled into their bed and passed out in record time. It had been hot today, was he out in the sun too long? He definitely doesn't drink enough water, was he dehydrated? Did he eat enough today?
Tomorrow is the first day of school. Everyone was asking him about first grade.
There it was. The root of our problems. ANXIETY.
I used to think the anxiety caused him to throw up, but now I think maybe my mom was right when she thought he was getting migraines because of stress. (or whatever triggers them when you're a kid)
My family got into a lengthy discussion about migraines while Adam slept. My mom has them. My aunt has them. My aunt's boyfriend used to get them. I've had them (but only two, THANK GOD. Those two were bad enough!!!). My friend A told me her husband started getting them at Adam's age, and threw up every year before the start of school. She told me what triggers them, and what helps.
Nerves can do some wicked things to our bodies.
We got Adam home, coaxed him into eating a little bit, and BOOM. He was immediately sick again. He threw up over and over and over until I thought there couldn't be anything left to throw up and then he threw up again. It reminded me of how I feel before I have to fly (or, how I used to feel ... I'm not quite as freaked out anymore). It's hard to eat when you're that nervous and your stomach is one big knot. It's hard to concentrate on anything else. The only way to get over the anxiety is to do the thing that's worrying you and push through the fear.
Right now he's sleeping peacefully (or maybe fretfully? who knows?) in his bedroom next to ours, and I'm sort of dreading tomorrow when I drop him off at preschool, knowing how scared he's going to be. Why did I ever think it would be easy? Of course it's going to be hard for him. It's a new teacher, new classmates, a new routine. We've talked about it, what to expect. We bought new clothes, a new backpack, new shoes. We went to the open house. He asked some questions, we answered them. I didn't really prepare myself for this level of fear. (Again.)
I'm hopeful that the first day/week won't seem quite as scary because he knows the school now ... he knows the nurse (he spent many afternoons finishing his lunch in her office, and how many calls did I get when he threw up at school?) ... he knows the gym, the cafeteria, the playground. Most importantly, he'll be with his best friend Michael. I am SO GRATEFUL to his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. B, for requesting that they stay together for first grade (thankyouthankyouthankyou). I'm grateful that he found his classroom last week at the open house and his first grade teacher, Mrs. S, talked to him and let him know what he could expect on the first day (here's your desk, here's your coat hook, there's the bathroom). I hope she knows a little bit about his personality so she can help him tomorrow if he's struggling (will he be crying? quiet? sick?). I'm grateful that he'll know five sweet kids in his class of 24. I'm grateful that he knows what bus he'll be taking and the kids who will be taking it with him to and from preschool. Those are all familiar, and tomorrow, familiar will be his lifeline.
And yet it's heartbreaking to know that the most familiar people of all won't be there - me and Aaron. We can't "save" him from the Unknown and that hurts. Part of me wishes that Aaron and I could be there with him, holding his hand, whispering words of encouragement, giving him hugs, offering a safe place to return to when our beautiful little green-eyed boy is overwhelmed with all the NEW, but then he won't know that he's capable of doing it on his own. And there will be so many first days and new experiences ... I want him to have the confidence that he's going to be just fine. I want him to know we believe in him.
Tomorrow—all day long—Aaron and I will be sending him all the love in the world, hoping he remembers to stop and breathe, to relax, to EAT, to smile, to laugh, to have a little fun with his old friends (and maybe even make some new ones).

Every day will get a little easier.

Ben, on the other hand, hasn't said anything about preschool and his new teacher and class tomorrow other than "Oh yeah, I'll have a new teacher, she's the one with the yellow hair" and "Now we'll be on the one side of the room with the two rats, Little Girl and Big Boy, which is kinda mixed up because Little Girl is big and Big Boy is little." 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer: Part B

Annual family trip - this time to a cabin on the Namekagon River in Hayward, Wis.

This looks like a good spot to sit.

Tremblay's Sweet Shop, Hayward
Wilderness Walk Zoo & Western Town 

The peacocks just roamed the grounds. So beautiful.
Pizza farm!!
Third year visiting the Pizza Farm in Pepin, Wis.

Guest of honor
Trying on my new sunglasses
Playdate at Karla's house when Becky was in town from San Diego
Popsicles before the Adults vs. Kids basketball game
Camping at Willow River in Hudson, Wis. (It was J's bday - so we made him sit in a chair. King Jeremy!)
We hiked a mile for this (twice). The first time we got caught in a torrential downpour at night. Toads were EVERYWHERE on the path back to our tents (I kicked one toad like a soccer ball. Ewwww!) Our friend Russ had a MOTH fly into his ear canal and get stuck inside, wings beating against his ear drum for HOURS before it finally died & our friend (a doctor) was able to extract it with a tweezers. The next time we hiked to the waterfall—during the day—it was much more relaxing. 
I've never sat UNDER a waterfall before.
Over by the grotto
Another first - sitting in a grotto. Just an amazing day all around.
We hiked to the outlook, despite the staircase being broken.
Cuuuuute couple!
It was a long drop down
Robyn joined us at the campground one night (she lives in Michigan).

Aaron's grandma Margaret turned 80. She looks and acts like she's 60. Such an inspiration.
Austin County Fair (they like their farm machinery in southern Minnesota)
Fun rooftop "date" with Aaron, Alex & Kelly (Adam was at a school lock-in)
Helping dog-sit our "niece," Bella. Such a sweet girl.
Old-fashioned fun
Meeting at Central Park in Roseville when Jesse was in town from Cali
Two (two?!) Pokemon tins from Auntie T. So generous!!
Small family bday celebration for Adam's 7th. (He's having a party with friends in September.)
Aaron took a week off to spend time with the boys. They had an adventure every day.
Cutest baby in town!! Christopher
Fun bbq at Em & Ben's house (Adam tried to photobomb the pic and failed).