A week in review

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Let’s go backward in time, shall we? Today. This afternoon. I made this scrumptious smoothie. Peach-nectarine bliss. Sounds like a good name for it, right? I haven’t made enough smoothies this summer. Seems like a goal for the next few weeks. Perhaps I’ll have some more tasty photos to share.

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This was from Friday. Friend. Backyard. Tent. All went well until the storms rolled in. Ooops!

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While they were setting up the tent, I snapped some garden photos. This one is one of the many stems of hollyhocks rising up along our deck railing. I planted the first one before Dev came home. A gift from my mom. And it nicely cooperates each year by returning. I planted some wildflower seeds in the backyard garden this year with no expectations, but one of them sprouted up nicely too.

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This is Lion. He looks ferocious, doesn’t he? Well, he’s not a warm and fuzzy guy, but he’s not thaaat bad. I definitely kept my distance for the photos, though, since he’s a bit persnickety about strangers getting anywhere near him. We had a lovely visit with our friends, and Lion, earlier this week. Which is where I shall leave off in the backtracking.

 

 

Up

Spontaneity. It’s not my strong suit.

It’s not like I plan and organize my days to the minute. Or even the hour. But I like to have an idea about what’s going to happen next. And make sure it’s feasible.

The plan for Friday was to take the train into Chicago to visit some old friends. We’d spend a few hours hanging out with them, and then head home.

The first part of that plan worked out well. The train from Michigan City dropped us off at Millennium Station at 10:28. We grabbed some raspberry sorbetto from Eataly. (Again…my kid is hooked!) Then, after insisting he was still VERY hungry, we had lunch at Dao, a restaurant Scott and I used to frequent when we worked around the corner. So. Good.

Our friends were staying in a comfy Embassy Suites where we parked ourselves to do some catching up. It was so good to chat. It’s been probably ten years since we’d since each other so we had plenty to talk about.

But when it was time to head out for the planned excursion to the zoo, the kids put up major resistance. What? I love the zoo! Apparently they preferred to sit in a hotel room and watch The Lego Movie. Rather than spend a beautiful afternoon strolling among the lions and tigers and bears. I jokingly said, “Well, if that’s the case, then we’ll go grab a drink somewhere while you watch the movie.”

And you know what? We did! First spontaneous thing.  (The kids were supervised by the 15-year-old so it’s not like we were irresponsible or anything!)

Cathy, Derek and I hit the hotel restaurant/bar and had a lovely afternoon of wine, food and conversation. It wasn’t the zoo, no. It was probably better since we were able to just relax and talk.

Afterward, a slightly spontaneous trip to Navy Pier was proposed. Although Dev and I were getting close to our time of departure at this point. We had to catch the 6:00 train if we wanted to get home before midnight. And that’s when Cathy suggested that we spend the night.

What? Really? How can we? (These are the panicked thoughts that went through my non-spontaneous mind.)

Pull-out bed in the “living room,” Walgreen’s around the corner for a toothbrush and contact lens cleaner, check the schedule for the train in the AM. We would be late for our volunteer gig at Crash’s, but it was doable.

So we stayed!

And we all enjoyed a nice evening at Navy Pier, complete with a ride on the Ferris wheel that made my kiddo pretty darn happy. So spontaneity isn’t all bad. Just don’t count on me to take that stance on a regular basis.

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Mr. Sorta Social

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My kid? The one with cute the toes up there?

He’s growing up.

Of course, you say.

But with all of the outgrowing of clothes, his developing sense of humor and the rapid-fire knowledge he keeps spewing at me like a geyser, I saw the biggest change this weekend when we spent time in Grand Haven with my cousin and his family. A family made up of adults. Not a single kid in the bunch.

Dev actually hung out happily with everyone. He listened in to the conversations, made a few comments of his own (when encouraged), only asked to play the iPhone 38 times and was very reasonable when he only got an affirmative on that once. He didn’t persist when I told him we weren’t buying stomp rocket refills at the toy store. He didn’t pout when he only had a small window of time to play in the water. And he happily ambled along the pier with me as we chatted about all sorts of stuff. Even during the car rides to and from the lakeshore he never once let loose with, “I’m bored!”

And the next day he asked me, “Mom, did you have fun yesterday?” I said yes and he replied, “Me too!” (Of course you can’t really tell that from his expression in the group photo below, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

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Four-day weekends go by too fast

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Of course the two-day variety go by even faster. There always has to be *something* to complain about, yes?

It’s easy to get used to day upon day of relaxation, though. Don’t deny it!

So here are four days crammed into one post. I’m crazy magic like that.

And this is Crazy Carl. He zooms over Reeds Lake every Fourth of July. He’s 73. You wish you could do that, dontcha?

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And here’s my kid walking out where it’s DANGEROUS. I’m such a bad mom.

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And when we returned from the parade and the other celebrations, I made this. Nom, nom, nom!DSC_2344 DSC_2347

And on Friday night, the one immediately AFTER the Fourth of July, they thought it might be a good idea to camp out in the backyard. “They” being the boys. But they didn’t think about the overzealous neighbors who didn’t get the boom-booms out of their systems the night before. They were back inside before 11:00. But at least they had fun setting up!DSC_2393triptychorangeshirt

On Saturday morning, my husband had the brilliant idea to visit the new Downtown Market. Our first time. I’ve never seen my child so excited about “grocery” shopping before. It didn’t hurt that the first booth we came to was the caramel corn booth, complete with Unicorn Poop. What nine-year-old could resist THAT? But he was geeked about everything. Honey. Apple strudel. Cheese. Cherries. Blueberries. Go-Nuts. (ha!) He even suggested I should go ahead and get some asparagus, “even though Dad doesn’t like it.” He was obviously forgetting his own dislike of 99% of the world’s veggies.

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And then there was Sunday, which revolved around Scott’s comment that the farmers’ market strawberries would go great with some angel food cake. Well, yeah…duh! So of course I looked up a gluten-free angel food cake recipe and cracked myself a dozen eggs. I’ve made angel food cake once before and that was after putting it off for years with the thought that it must be hard. (It wasn’t.)

This one was just as fun to make. And I honestly think it tasted just like any other angel food cake. Except maybe a bit sweeter from the powdered sugar. I may try a different one next time to tone down the sweetness, but otherwise, topped with smashed up strawberries and Redi-Whip, it was sooooooo good. I wish I had a shot with the toppings, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.DSC_2524 DSC_2508

 

So there was this Festival thing

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I’m not sure why I never blogged about this HUGE event. The old Lori, who blogged all the time and was loyal to her site, would have regularly updated about the ins and outs of planning something like this. But now there’s Facebook, Instagram (as you can see), Twitter and all sorts of other social media channels. I shared on those, yes, but I didn’t really document this the way I could have – or should have.

It was a big deal. Three crazy days of joyful mayhem in downtown Grand Rapids. Twenty-six food booths. Six stages. 250+ performers. So much great art. Something like 12,000 volunteers (thank YOU to all of them!). Way more press appearances than I would have liked (I’m shy). And lots and lots of details to decide on and manage.

I wanted to be a behind-the-scenes reporter during the past year to share with people just what it takes to make Festival of the Arts happen. I wanted to. But I always felt squeezed for time. Just fitting in the planning itself took a lot. Two substantial meetings a month, extra meetings with my co-chair (Carlos!) regularly, small group meetings that gobbled up much of March. Then there’s the full-time job thing. And the MOM-AND-WIFE thing.

But I really could just kick myself (lightly) for not being more attentive to the recording of this. Luckily I have some nice photos to freeze some of those moments in time. Maybe in my next post I’ll share my non-Instagram memories.

What I will say is that it was an awesome experience. I met so many new, cool people. I learned sooooo much. And, when June 7 rolled around, I was just amazed at the weather and the crowds and the smiles that seemed to be on everyone’s faces as I walked around. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to do this. Thank you to all of my Festival friends. And thank you to my very understanding husband and son. Smooch!

 

Two days away

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What did we do in Chicago for two days?

  • We braved the cold
  • We visited the Museum of Science & Industry (and bought a model of the U-505 u-boat because that’s the newest obsession)
  • We ate at Lou Malnati’s, where mom had a very nice gluten-free pizza
  • We got up at 5:15 on Wednesday morning because, well, because
  • We took the subway, of course
  • We got off at Clark & Division and walked up Clark, counting the many, many, many taxis that passed by; mom lost the contest
  • We stopped at Starbucks because it wasn’t yet 9:30 so we had some time to kill
  • We went to the Chicago History Museum (which opens at 9:30, you see) and checked out tons of cool exhibits – including the Vivian Maier exhibit, which I had no idea was there…so cool!
  • We walked through Lincoln Park along the nature boardwalk
  • We (well, he) threw ice at the pond to see if it would break the ice on the surface
  • We went to the Farm in the Zoo and said hi to the cows
  • We grabbed a quick lunch at the Lincoln Park Zoo and then saw tamarins, chimpanzees, gorillas, lynx, tortoises, sand cats, giraffes and, always a hit, meerkats
  • We walked many, many, many blocks just so we could ride the el
  • We got Garrett’s popcorn and a salad from Au Bon Pain
  • We spent three hours hanging out at the hotel because we were tired and cold and the bed was comfy
  • We visited P.O.S.H. on the way to the Lego Store, where we managed to leave without getting a single item (miracle!) – although he’s still pouting about that
  • We got on the train again and rode all the way to Howard and then double-backed to the Berwyn exit
  • We met up with Archie and Diana for dinner at Lady Gregory’s (big thumb’s up!)
  • We got a ride back to our hotel and promptly went to bed
  • We checked out of the hotel the next morning
  • We met up with my cousin Pat and his daughter
  • We went to the Sears Tower (I will not call it that new thing) and the kiddo and my cousins went out on the glass walkway thingy while I firmly refused
  • We walked around trying to find Union Station
  • We found Union Station after getting hot cocoa
  • We went to Chinatown and had to find a bathroom post haste
  • We ate at Joy Yee, which was pretty tasty
  • We drove home (phew!)

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Well, hello 2012!

Well, I’m finally getting to a post in 2012. Yikes! And in December I only had a single entry. What’s my world coming to? I realized not long ago that my online life has changed pretty dramatically over the past couple of years. My two places to be used to be my blog and Flickr. I was obsessed with Flickr. I met so many awesome people on that site. And then there’s been a steady march of new places on the web. Facebook. Twitter. Ning. Pinterest. Yadayadayada. How is a person supposed to split themselves into so many different pieces?

I’m finding myself gravitating to different spots now. Facebook mostly. I suppose because I can see what my friends are up to. (Even though I complain about the shallowness of it all. Do I really know what they’re up to from a two-sentence post?) Twitter is still a good spot, but I can’t seem to keep up. The updates on Facebook are every 5 minutes or so. Twitter dishes them up every .5 seconds. I’m way too slow to handle that. Plus, I’m deep into the launch of a social intranet at my workplace, adding yet another online destination and cutting into any time I would have somewhere else.

I can’t seem to give up this blog, though. Even if I can’t seem to post regularly, it’s still my place. I’ve had this domain since 1998 and I started blogging on it in 2000. Maybe I can get better at the posting in the near future. I’ll pepper this one with photos from a recent playdate we had. Kids and parents. With two of Devin’s oldest pals. With the high ISO and the low grain, I went documentary-style with most of my processing. If you can’t beat the grain, embrace it!

 

 

Oh, for pete’s sake!

Every day I say, “I’m going to update my site. Yes, I am.” Obviously I’m not a woman of action these days. I have, though, been snapping way more photos than I had been. So at least one of my creative outlets is being nourished. I have no idea of where to start with sharing those. I’m kind of OCD about things being out of order date-wise, but I’m going to throw up my hands and just go with it, starting with the East Grand Rapids Fourth of July Parade. We biked over with our neighbors, Chris and Billy in what Chris called our “bike gang.” Devin brought his mitt to catch candy, but ended up going with the old-fashioned method of scrambling after the pieces within five feet. Good times!

I want more days like these

It’s funny how it happens every year: I think, oh, yay, summer’s here! I’ll do THIS and THIS and THAT and THAT and LOTS OF THIS. Oh, how much fun I’ll have!

I do indeed have fun. But there’s never the time I imagine that stretches ahead of me. I don’t get half of the things done, if even a quarter. This was, in fact, the worst year ever for my garden and I swore I was going to be so productive. Instead I have half of my containers filled and didn’t put any vegetables into the raised bed. We threw wildflower seeds in there to at least have something nice to look at instead of empty boxes of dirt.

I just want more days for bubbles, sprinkles, putt-putt golf, beach adventures, hiking (without the darn bugs), taking the bus downtown to explore, catching fireflies, making s’mores, getting together with friends and grilling up a storm. Is that too much to ask?

I’m a mum


I love being a mom. I get to hang out with this character all the time. He really is good company.

He was very excited about Mother’s Day. So excited that he gave me my gift a day early. And I love it!

He and Scott gave me cards this morning, then Scott and I read the paper together in a leisurely fashion. (He offered to make me breakfast, but I was good with a bowl of cereal and my tea.) Then Scott ran to the store to buy top soil while Dev and I geared up and took a bike ride around Reed’s Lake. After pedaling, we all jumped into the yard work. It was so beautiful outside and just being out there and spiffing things up was awesome.

Manual labor was followed by baseball at the park. We brought Juliette along so she could sit beneath the trees and wait for the squirrels to come by. For dinner, Scott proposed getting takeout and eating on the deck, which was perfect. Especially when he mentioned Bombay! Hello, samosas!

And now I’m going to bed early. I’m exhausted. I hope all of you moms out there had a lovely day!