Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Good to be in Madison

These summer days are messy, tiring, happy, and perfect! Jacob and Zachary have been taking golf lessons every week with a few buddies. One day they forgot a water bottle on the course. I sent them back to get it, and when they came back 15 minutes later, they were loaded down with golf balls--Zachary could barely walk for the bulge of his pockets!
Their ideas intrigue me--like attaching the hose to the back of Adam's bike so that he can be a "moving sprinkler." Adam learned to ride a two-wheeler this week, and he races around the neighborhood like a rocket (except with the hose; they learned quickly that it wasn't as fun as it seemed!).
The boys are always imagining. They call their pretend play "Mom and Dad." They play "Mom and Dad Pirate," "Mom and Dad Camping," "Mom and Dad Skiing," ad infinitum. My favorite is when they play just plain "house," or as they call it, "Mom and Dad Original." The other day I overheard them playing "Mom and Dad Poor" and they were counting up pennies and trying to think of ways to save money. Ha!

Zach and I shared a fun day at his Cub Scout camp, shooting arrows and rock climbing and taking in Scout food and silly skits. I can't remember a time when he and I had ever had a day-long date like that. I enjoyed him so much.
Around town we've been busy with city events. The free traveling art projects with the Art Cart have filled a few happy afternoons: Here's Michael putting his mark on the famous shoe slide. Kids paint it every  summer with the help of area art teachers. The outside is a Lorax-esque mural.
The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery offers thoughtful, fun science programming for kids. Jacob won a construction contest there by building a 29-inch tall spaghetti and marshmallow structure:
They also have the kids work with real instruments in real labs. Here Zachary uses a micropipette to create a polymer mold, used to illustrate scaffolding in tissue engineering.
The geology museum never disappoints, and Camp Randall is fun. (Here the kids kept insisting that the statue behind them was "Burlington" of Burlington Coat Factory. That's why they wanted to pose next to it. They make me smile a million times a day!)

 And $1.50 ice cream at the university creamery? Every trip to campus deserves one (or five) of these!
 Other days have been boating days (tubing with sweet ward girls),
visiting days (picking raspberries with dear Ann),
 climbing days (posing after scaling a glacier-formed granite hill for two hours!),
 digging days (digging out canals with our hands because I always forget the shovels!),
 and, of course, baseball days (Jacob pitching in his last tournament game).
What will we do with only one month left of summer? I want to do everything again, plus some more.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To Grandma and Grandpa's

This summer is the first time I've braved a long road trip with the kids solo. But with all my family meeting in Maryland and Eric tied up with his new fellowship position, I decided that we would go for it!
The thrilled kids even got to stay in a hotel on the way out:
After they ate and cleaned up their breakfast, I let them run around in the enclosed courtyard. A grandmotherly woman laughed, tongue-in-cheek: "They're very good boys....It's just a shame they don't have any energy!" I love meeting the sparky, adventure-bound people in hotel breakfast rooms. We swam off some more energy, hit the road, and a few "Our National Parks" DVDs later, arrived in Maryland.

My brothers and mom came up with us to Gettysburg the next day. The rangers let the kids carry muskets and handle findings from soldiers' haversacks. We also viewed the moving 1883 cyclorama and toured the museum.
 Of course time with uncles was tops, especially at the beach!
All of my family was there by the weekend. I was thrilled to see all my siblings, and the kids loved the happy business of a full house. "Mom, there are three five-year-olds here!" Michael sang to me.
Here's most of us after hiking to waterfalls, climbing up rocks, trudging through rain, hiding in caves, and forging a stream:
Kids are such beautiful, happy people.

My brother Brian and I trained most mornings running in the blazing humidity--one morning my heart rate reached 180! Another morning we played soccer with my brothers--all of whom have played Varsity in high school or on club teams--and I seriously thought my heart would pound out of my chest. It's a joy to run again.

The day we left, we drove away crying. When we were still crying 45 minutes out, I said, "Forget it! We're heading back!" The kids cheered and we went back to Maryland for three additional days. During that time my brother James and I helped my dad put siding on his shed. My engineer dad designed and built the 10 x 10 structure and it looks great!
 Here's a post-building, ladder-high hug with James, my closest-in-age bro and dear friend:

Then we really left. Part of staying longer was that we had to tackle the drive back in a day. It took 15 hours, but we made it! Victory shot: