The Kids

Clarence Joseph DuBois

1 October 2012

September 13, 1922 to September 29, 2012

Saying goodbye to my grandfather, Clarence DuBois. He was 90, he had been ill, it has been a long hard 5 months. He always said he’d never wanted to live to 90. I will miss him terribly. He was one of my favorite people. We didn’t always agree, but our conversations were always thought-provoking. Told me I looked sharp, but only when I did. Taught me so much about storytelling, joke timing, card playing, listening, even how to walk in the woods (“get your hands out of your damn pockets, Sarah”)

Grandpa, you’ll be missed.

Passages

30 November 2010
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And so another November has come to a close. And with it, so many dreams. Wow, I am coming from somewhere dark. It is dark outside – the incredibly shrinking daylight is getting to me. I am considering the idea that having snow on the ground might reflect some light from the moon. It has helped that the Christmas lights have sprung up all over the town. But it may be time to get a farm yard light.

Henry had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears in the middle of the month. The surgery was low key. His recovery was easy and fast. Despite my hopes, his internal volume control has only been notched down slightly.

Arabella is talking more and more. Bewwa enjoys her time with Gra’pa and Meemaw (Grandpa and Grandma). She wrestles with Hiyee (Henry) at every chance she can get. She is relentless, brutal and feels no pain or fear. She wants to follow Mi’enda (Miranda) and hang out in her bedroom. And as tough as she can be with Henry, she wants Miranda to paint her nails. Bonus for when they glow in the dark.

We had parent teacher conferences for the big kids. They are “Secure” in their work. Very secure. Henry is having a hard time expressing his upsets in words. Miranda is learning classroom management skills.

I have the Christmas cards back from Shutterfly.

Miranda now thinks it is a tradition to shop at 3 am on Black Friday. She is tired and grumpy by 6.

The cold that swept through our family in October after our trip to Texas has lead to antibiotic November. Rob has a sinus infection that won’t quit. I officially had pneumonia (much improved, but still a follow-up chest x-ray away before cured can be bandied about).

And I am going to start a new job in about 2 weeks. It has been a tense month for me. Excited for what’s ahead.

And catching up on 30Rock on Netflix has been amazing. I know the worst case scenario is that Netflix may either A. break the internet through overuse or B. break Net Neutrality, but I still love it.

Spooky drifts

3 November 2010
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Now that Halloween and the election is over, we can pack away the fear, the costumes, the hauntings. We had quite a costume year – I miss our group costume years. This year, we cavorted as a punk zombie, a witch, a gold-medal Olympics speed skater, a wolf, Obi Wan Kenobi, a Texas hipster and a black cat.

Aw who cares, pictures!

failing NaBloPoMo

2 November 2010
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It somehow seems nicer to just fail at NAtional BLog POsting MOnth right from the start. I didn’t write yesterday. I won’t write tomorrow. But today.

Some pictures from Texas:

car wash blues

12 October 2010
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Rob has been singing a lot of Jim Croce to the children. In turn, they have been singing, mangling and mumbling a lot of Jim Croce. The trick, they tell me, is to not breathe. All in one breath – suddenly depressing, low-down mind messing working at the car wash blues. It really doesn’t matter if I have that right.

I am in post-vacation letdown. Six months of prep. Six days of vacation. And now, home. I am trying my hardest not to turn my brain into mush. I need to pick out, then create or buy Halloween costumes for Henry and me. And maybe Bella. Probably not Bella. She can be a cat (from Miranda’s stash) or a lion (from Henry’s stash) . Two is a feline sort of year. We are doing three outdoor activities for Halloween, I hope. I want a warm costume suitable for a 30-something mother. And somehow being an Eskimo’s honey just sounds like it might be a bit racist.

We had a great trip to Texas.  I am not sure if we would have ever visited Texas if we didn’t have friends there. So much America, so little vacation time and money. But seeing as we have gone and will go again, I like Texas. I like how it is big and proud of it. I like how it is in on the joke and yet, still the joke, to nearly any punchline you can imagine. My vowels get just a little longer and I enjoy being called “ma’am” and my children called “baby.” The food was good, even when we didn’t have Tex-Mex.

We visited Ft Worth, Waco, and Austin. Austin made me think of the grown up child of Madison and San Francisco. Still hippie, but bold and bright and business too. I am supremely bad at timing vacations – the kids had school and I thought they’d have a day off.  The Austin City Limits Festival was being held. Which would have been awesome if we didn’t have kids, had tickets and didn’t want to stay in a hotel. The breakfast tacos were very good. An army and a family of 5 travel on their stomachs. That and time at the swimming pool.

The closest we came to dying (the hallmark of some people’s scale of a good time) was the flight out. The plane went up. And then banked sharply over Lake Michigan as the cabin filled with smoke. The smoke then cleared and we headed back to the airport. No idea how bad it really was. Incredibly grateful the older children could not see either my or their father’s face. We deplaned. Waited a bit and got on a new plane. No news.

This trip used up our Midwest frequent flyer miles. The flight itself, except for the smoking part, was fine. The staff was kind. The ride was smooth. The baggage arrived. But the reservation process was a nightmare. Frontier changed our flight number and then our flight arrival time twice. I called, sat on hold, politely pleaded to keep our seats together. in June, July and August, with a “just checking” call in September.  We bought the seats in April. The plane was nearly empty until September. And it didn’t matter. The calls didn’t help. I had to use the great power of Twitter on Tuesday to have one seat changed so we could ride as two twosomes and one single seat in adjacent rows. My two phone calls for help did nothing. But the twitter person @flyfrontier had superior spatial reasoning and found a good solution for us. On the way home we had two seats together and three seats in three different rows. And the phone staff, even the gate agents on the flight out, couldn’t help us. We got the DFW ticket counter 3 hours early and the wonderful woman there did get us all in 1 row, with Rob behind us.

I suppose I could say all is well that ends well. But this is my internet soap box. It was aggravating and a huge hassle. I’ll certainly consider Frontier again, but it isn’t my #1 anymore. And so ends an era. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and be inspired for Halloween.

Lake Life

1 September 2010
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Today was the first day of shool. There were high anxieties but few tears. This is a good thing. And the 40 minutes we waited for the bus to bring them home made last week, with the lazy days on the shores of Lake Michigan, seem even farther away than they did yesterday.  We had a delightful week in Jacksonport in Door County. The cottage was so-so. I don’t think bunk beds are in our future. But the sandy beach and the lake, wow. Lake Michigan was warm, the sand got everywhere, the children even got sunburned. Miranda turned 9. She went zip-lining and let her parents tag along. We rode bikes. I read five novels (my love letter to Monica Ferris will follow soon). We played a three generation game of dominoes four nights in a row. I was the youngest player. We had to buy beer over and over. In other words, awesome. I am ready for a beachfront life. (Click on any photo to see a slideshow)

when Cameron was in Egypt’s land

19 August 2010

Summer is ending! Or so the Facebook reports of school beginning lead me to believe summer is over. The hot heavy humid weather finally broke. The weather is now cool and dry, crisp, like you can smell the pumpkins and apples ripening in the fields.

Did I say pumpkins? Our fabulous pumpkins have grown and grown!

We have three x-large. And then four or five smaller ones. We can’t wait to carve them. I don’t think I have much of a farmer in me; it seems so bloodthirsty to plant the seed, fertilize them, water them, weed around them, and then wait until they are perfect and cut them up. And not even to eat them.

Summer is ending. And with it, the chances to take off for the day. I decided to take the kids down to the Art Museum. Wednesday was a beautiful day – blue skies, dainty puffy white clouds, Lake Michigan , dragonfly swarms!  And minds influenced by John Hughes start thinking about Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Three kids, an Art Museum, blue skies. Ah. But taking the three small-ish kids by myself, especially with the youngest still needing to be strapped into a stroller to avoid having us be shushed or worse by security guards, it doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. But the blue skies and the plan – only an hour or so there. We’re walk quickly. We’ll take in the Art Museum in a very breezy, kid-friendly way.

The Burke Brise Soleil as designed by Calatrava was magnificent. Miranda missed the wings entirely, and she still loved the space.

Bella wanted out of the stroller. The Brise Soleil is the prettiest waiting room in all of the country. It has gorgeous views. And space to run. And benches. But we could be waiting to see a doctor, or a judge or maybe even catching a plane. It didn’t prepare us to see the art collection. And it was so very light and airy and much of the gallery space is shadowed and almost dank.

Of course, with everyone snapping photos like this, who needs art?

We made our way into the museum. And maybe if I had pulled out a Monet first off or if this museum had a Seurat, Miranda would have gotten into the spirit. Instead, I thought modern might tickle our sensibilities. All those questions about what is art and the colors are so lush. Alas, I chose wrongly. Even Ferris Beuller had to deal with Cameron on his day off.

The kids area was a hit:

I missed the family packs when we went into the kids area on our way into the collections. A scavenger hunt might have helped. Of course, every time we stopped Bella decided she wanted out of the stroller. So no sketching or reflecting or slowing down for us. Henry would have liked to find out just how close you can get to the art before the alarm goes off. For the record, we did not set off any alarms.

They did appreciate the chair gallery where you could sit in the chairs! Which is way cooler than it sounds. And twins of some of those chairs were in other exhibits, which the kids noticed and appreciated.

Next time, I figure out how to get outside to the War Memorial. I think the juxtoposition and the views are interesting. Next time, we’ll check out a family pack. And next time, we’ll take Papa.

August, oh August

12 August 2010

I read somewhere today (but I don’t remember where so it will be sadly uncredited) that August is the February of summer. Isn’t that the truth?

Our August has been fine. Our anniversary kicked off the month (12 years). We saw one of Rob’s brother and family. The kids would like to have cousin C visit often.  We met a new baby, darling N, last Sunday. She was so small. And adorable. And patient with my kids’ desire to paw her. Miranda had junior book club. Henry won a TROPHY for participating in T-Ball. T-ball has dragged on for Henry, his enthusiasm waning with each 3 inning game. But the trophy, wow, it buoyed his spirit. He’s ready to sign up for next year.  I know we’re supposed to hate participation trophies and the “we’re all winners” spirit of t-ball, but I disagree. I love it. I’d rather we all not lose than only one team win. The kids went to Pioneer Kids Day on the railroad in West Bend. The learned about hobos. And model railroads. And had a far better time than Miranda expected. Of course, after her plan to chalk hobo messages on our mailbox fell to the wayside, she had a hard time falling asleep, worrying that we’d all become hobos and lose our house.

We’re off to the State Fair on Saturday. Having done the Ozaukee Co. Fair last month, I think we can skip the animal barns.

It is incredibly, soul-despairingly hot here. I don’t want to go outside. I don’t want to let the kids out, not that they are enthused. It is hot. We (our family, not humanity) are not meant to live in the desert, I’d guess. I venture out at some point to check on the garden. Harvesting has begun. The zucchini had to be trimmed be trimmed back – too much miracle grow? We have 3 huge pumpkins, grown from seed! They are amazing! And several small pumpkins. I’d love to have more pumpkins next year. I am most excited to watch my red and orange bell peppers – they are just tinged red and orange. The zucchini feel like I am paying to harvest them. But red peppers feel like someone is handing me crisp dollars along with the yummy vegetables.

We have begun shopping for Miranda’s birthday. And Bella’s will be right behind. Ah, August. School is sneaking up on us. Boo!

right field

19 July 2010
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I better post about T-ball before the season ends. Henry plays. Rob coaches. Miranda, Arabella and I cheer.

School’s Out For Summer

10 June 2010
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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Or as Henry put it, after kindergarten graduation, he was happy and sad, sort of like when a war ends. He sang the songs, the did the hand motions, and he burst into tears when his teacher called his name for his diploma. His teacher later said to me that Henry has been showing the emotions that he (the teacher) has been feeling all week. It was an emotional day. I cried, quietly, during the ceremony/celebration. I was pleased there were no mortar boards involved.

Henry is excited about his new teacher. And pleased that several of his friends will be in his class next year. Miranda was very worried about being separated from her friends, to the point of a meltdown last night. But with appropriate promised bribery, she sailed through the day and was still quite perky after school. A side note, after Henry’s celebration wound down, we had 30 minutes until Miranda got out of school. And a warning that we could not claim the older children early. It was quite boring to be at school without a purpose. And then it rained when we tried to play on the playground.

Going through Henry’s journals:

“If I would be a fish I would be friends with an angelfish. Cause he wouldn’t eat me. We would swim together.”

[From the Mexico unit] “I have cero pets. I have dos sisters. I have been on uno rollercoaster. I have tres TVs. I have sieta people in my family.”

“A boy was dressed up as a gorilla. A girl was funny. A boy a secret agent.”

“I was good at computers. Cause I play computers a lot.”

Let’s let summer ring!

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