Thursday, September 29, 2011

End of Month... in pictures

The parts of September that never made the blog...

Only a grandma... but, you have to admit, they are pretty stinkin' cute!

Lots and lots of park time in September. We've hit about eight different parks in the last few weeks! I love fall!

Off to Connor Prairie. Grant said the buildings were boring (a little too educational for him), but he sure loved when he got to practice throwing a tomahawk.

Then, it was off to the Children's Museum one more time! We had to check out the new frog exhibit!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mommy's Helper

Grace loves to help. She loves to tend to those who are sick. She is quick to lend a hand. She has such a tender heart for being a helper, and it's just one of the special God-given that give me pause and make me excited for the years ahead. Here she is in my 1960's kitchen helping me juice some carrots, kale and apples. Yum!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Swim Lessons... Again...

Well, we're enrolled in another four weeks of swim lessons, finishing up just before our trek to Disney. The kids love swim lessons, and our persistence is finally paying off. Grace is officially swimming all on her own, both "dog paddle" and some "big girl arms" (freestyle)!! Grant's almost there: he can swim all on his own with one breath, but he can't quite get how to get a second breath.

Since we are staying at a home with a private pool at Disney, I hope these two will be good to go, all on their own.

How did my two babies get so big???

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Farewell to My Favorite Band

First off, as you may or may not know, I am a complete music geek. Or at least I was a complete music geek. These Days, I'm more of a book geek, or perhaps a father geek, but I'm still a pretty big music geek as well. So let the geekery commence...

Since I was 10 years old, I've purchased thousands of CDs, gone to hundreds of concerts, and sung along to countless rock bands, but no music has had a greater impact on my life than that of R.E.M., the college radio titans who announced this week that they are disbanding after 31 years. Murmur has long been a toss-up for my favorite album, and while I bounce between Murmur or the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds for that title, no other music has had the same impact on me that R.E.M. albums have had over the years.

You may think it silly or overstated that a band could really impact your life, and perhaps you're right, but for me, R.E.M. has been the soundtrack of my life since I was 12 years old when my cousin passed along a worn out cassette copy of Lifes Rich Pageant. It literally changed my taste in music overnight. After that, I was THE die hard R.E.M. fan to people who knew me, and many of my memories from that point forward are tied to various R.E.M. related events.

* I remember the older kids in the Indianapolis Children's Choir wearing their Green tour shirts to choir practice after seeing R.E.M. kickoff a leg of their 1988 tour in Indianapolis at Market Square Arena.

* I remember sitting in the basement of a house at Myrtle Beach with my cousins listening to "Flowers of Guatemala" for the first time and thinking the bridge in that song was the best thing the Beach Boys never wrote.

* I remember buying Murmur, Reckoning, and Fables of the Reconstruction shortly after that trip and listening to them non-stop for a solid year.

* I remember having a cassette single of "Stand" that I nearly wore out.

* I remember being excited for the fan club Christmas package to arrive every year with its super cool 7" included.

* I remember running to Karma Records to pickup Out of Time the same night I went to see INXS with a bunch of friends my sophomore year of high school and listening to the CD on the way to the concert.

* I remember wearing my Reconstruction tour shirt virtually every day during my junior year of high school. (I still have it. It's yellowed.)

* I remember my friends telling me about seeing the "Drive" video on MTV prior to Automatic For the People arriving in October of my senior year.

* I remember sitting in a friend's backyard singing "Driver 8" while Chris played it on his guitar.

* I remember standing in line at midnight my freshman year at Purdue to buy Monster, and the store manager giving me a big R.E.M. poster. (He knew I was a fan because I'd stop in and buy R.E.M. bootlegs there all the time.)

* I remember driving to Milwaukee and back with my sister in a dying automobile to see the band live for the first time.

* I remember driving to Chicago to see the Monster tour with friends. Somehow some of my friends managed to meet Peter Buck after one of those shows. I was always jealous.

* I remember standing in the rain after roadtripping to Columbus, OH and Pittsburgh, PA for R.E.M. shows in college. I've never been wetter than we were in Pittsburgh.

* I remember standing in line, again at midnight, to buy New Adventures in Hi-Fi at Von's in West Lafayette.

* I remember driving to Athens, GA in the middle of the night on a business trip, just to check out some of the places associated with R.E.M. lore.

* I remember dragging my wife back to Athens several years later, just so we could eat at Weaver D's and see all the "places that used to be the 40 Watt."

* I remember my wife writing to Peter Buck about me being some kind of psycho fan, and him sending me back a very nice letter (it's framed.)

So while it may seem silly to have any emotional reaction at all to a bunch of guys in their 50's disbanding a rock group they formed as drinking buddies in college, it's more about reflecting on all the good times with great friends I've had in my life that have gone by with an R.E.M. album spinning in the background. Those are fond memories put to great songs and for that, I'm grateful to R.E.M.

(Checkout AllMusic's entry on R.E.M. for song clips. And click here and here for proof that I'm not the only crazy person who grew up loving R.E.M.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy 36--Man, that's old!

Happy Birthday to the bestest friend, the bestest daddy and the bestest hubby in the whole wide world. You keep us laughing and keep us working, and we are all thankful to God for you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chinese Festival

Every year we head to the local Chinese Festival. It's small, but it's fun, and for our family, it's important.

This year, didn't start out so well.

But, things started looking up.

There were crafts, games and face painting.

And, Bret ate a mound of pork buns. No shocker there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A New Found Freedom

Last spring, I thought Grant had given up naps. There was a two week stretch when he didn't nap--at all. We read, played games, frolicked outside, and just as I was getting used to having him all to myself during Grace's nap, he started napping again.

But, about two weeks ago, I decided he needed to give up his nap--for good (for the most part--he took a short nap just today, after all). Despite the fact that he was napping every afternoon, he was struggling to fall asleep at night, and I'd often find him singing to himself in hushed tones as I was heading to bed myself.

So, despite the temperamental afternoons we're now experiencing, I think he's getting better sleep without the naps, and I think this will help prep him for long kindergarten days next year (I HATE saying that out loud... it's an evil word: kindergarten [a.k.a.: stealer of children]).

And, while Grace still naps, her naps are far less important to her. Grace is never moody. Ever. She is super easy in the morning, waking up happy and cheerful. If she gets really tired, she'll just doze off for 15 minutes or so, and then, she's good to go. So, while our routine mostly means that she still naps in her bed, we don't have to feel so tied to being home.

Which is amazing!!!!!! I feel so much more freedom (I know it is short lived, as a newborn is on his or her way eventually), and it's just grand!

So, in honor of this new found freedom, we headed out during a rainy day last week to meet up with cousin Drew Michael for some bounce house fun. And after Grace caught a cat nap, we were off to the Children's Museum. It was a whirlwind fun day, one we could have never had before.

I think I could get used to more "run 'em ragged days" in the coming weeks!

Bounce House Fun

Children's Museum (again, I know)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Labor Day: A New Tradition

Bret and I tend to avoid crowds. We suffer through them from time to time, but if polled, crowd avoidance would be high on our list of "agreed upon marital tenants." We don't like large parties. We don't like traffic. We don't--despite the next two big trips we have planned to the contrary--like touristy areas. We're okay to lay low.

So, it came as a surprise to both of us that on Labor Day morning we woke up and thought, "state park," almost in unison. Nothing is more crowded than a park on Labor Day, and in Indiana, there is almost no better (read: more popular; read: more crowded) park than Turkey Run.

So, despite common sense, we packed a picnic, put the kids in grubby hiking clothes and headed out early in hopes of beating the crowd.

And the amazing part: we did! The kids hiked, climbed, stomped in creeks for about 2.5 miles, up and down and up again with little to no complaining (and only one near-death experience).

Turkey Run is an Indiana treasure, and we head there often (less than an hour away, after all), but this particular Labor Day morning was even more perfect than usual: cool weather, healthy kids and crowd-less for most of the morning.

I think we have a new tradition...

Throughout the hike (notice all of Grant's karate moves...)
Grace didn't like the suspension bridge (but, Grant was on his way to help)

And, how can a day get any better when this kind of stuff happens spontaneously and without Mommy intervention?