Our new way of connecting with family in Oregon, Washington, and Southern Minnesota: Yahtzee on Google Meet/Hangouts and FaceTime. We learned a few things about cameras and scoresheets and the importance of seeing the dice when we’re playing, and it was so nice to connect in a way we’re used to doing in person. I predict many more creative solutions to come ❤️
In the evenings at our house, in those interminable minutes while we try to finish preparing dinner, the two older kids are often “bored” and don’t know what to do with themselves. Recently, Griffin shuffled into the kitchen and asked me forlornly, “Daddy, what can I do right now?” He wasn’t asking, “How can I help?” No, this was a bitter expression of hopelessness in the face of far too few minutes of screen time.
I usually reply with something snarky like, “Go stare at a wall!” (Never very effective, but surprisingly satisfying.) Last week, however, I came up with something new. Perhaps a parenting lesson from ECFE finally sank in. Or maybe it arose from the fact that I was facilitating an immersive “design thinking” week at school. Instead of snark or exasperation, I said, “YES! Quick, get a piece of paper and a pen. Draw a shape that represents you in a color that represents your mood!” (I was riffing off of an icebreaker from a recent workshop.) Startled by my specificity, Griffin immediately went to his desk and did it, coming back with a multicolored blob that included a variety of emotions (including “hungry” and “bored,” but also some positive ones). Then he asked for another “art challenge.” And I heard the distant sound of angels singing.
Art challenges have become a fun new activity to keep the gremlins of our witching hour at bay. Maggie, of course, joined in too. Below are a couple of examples of their responses to my challenges from the last few days.
I’m not deluded enough to imagine that this will work forever, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. And I do love watching their artwork evolve.
Another lovely summer weekend at the cabin. The water was warm so we spent much of our time on or in the water. Many highlights of this trip escaped digital capture, including seeing young otters playing by the lakeshore, a few sightings of a belted kingfisher, and a bizarre close encounter with a meditating cormorant (who remained standing on a sunken log unperturbed by Griffin approaching nearly within arm’s reach). Plus Daddy capsizing and emerging from the lake covered in muck. And a humongous man-eating water tarantula (that’s its scientific name) on the dock.
But we did manage to get a few shots. Click below for larger versions.
Donald Trump came up tonight during an eclectic dinner conversation, mostly between Sarah and me, but including various spawn sponsored tangents. I don’t remember what we were saying precisely, but it wasn’t flattering. This piqued Griffin’s interest, of course, so he started asking questions about this Trump character. Both Sarah and I backpedaled off our most colorful aspersions — “ok, maybe he’s not a total idiot,” “he just likes to say ridiculous things,” “we just don’t agree with him about anything” — which only made Griffin more interested. (We usually keep the trash talk out of earshot.)
Suddenly, a look of understanding crosses Griffin’s face, and he says, “Ohhhh! He’s that guy… um, that really bad guy.”
“That bad guy. The one we learned about.”
“Where did we learn about him?”
“At the u-boat exhibit in Chicago.”
“Oh … wait … Hitler?”
<between gasps of appalled laughter> “No, honey, Trump is not as bad as Hitler.”
We scheduled our Bethesda segment with my parents primarily to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday and originally planned to stay for five or six days and then do some Appalachian camping on our way north to Ithaca. As it turned out, we needed all the time we could get for some family R&R.
Shortly after our arrival, Sarah was stricken with strep throat and Maggie had an infected finger, requiring multiple trips to urgent care. I was fighting a cold (we feared it might be strep, but I dodged that bullet) and my poor dad was hit with a powerful cold as well. But it was the perfect place to curl up and lick our wounds. The kids love it there and adore their grandparents. (One of my favorite moments of the trip was when Maggie refused to follow us downstairs for dinner, stating firmly, while sitting at the top of the stairs, “I want to wait for Grandpa!”)
Despite all of the illnesses, we did manage to get out with the kids a fair amount. The pictures below make it look like all we did was romp around, but really we just never took out the camera when we were convalescing.
We didn’t let a little snow and frigid temperatures interfere with our Thanksgiving Bocce game. Grandpa Jeff got out the snow blower and made us a court. The teams:
- Griffin, Nik, Alli, Pam
- Maggie, Andrew, Sarah, Jeff
We played to 11, and it was close to the very end. In the final round, 10-9, team 2 landed the clinching point. They simply had superior mastery of snow-braking techniques.
On the Roy side, the bocce tradition began at a rental house in Fort Bragg, California, on the Mendocino coast. We used to rent the place for Thanksgiving in the early 2000s, inviting friends and family for feast and fun. Here are two pictures from that era (with a slightly different climate!):
Two winters later, we finally have a swept and inspected chimney, bringing our cozyness potential up at least three more points. To Griffin and Maggie’s delight, we built our first crackling blaze tonight.
Griffin and I just returned from a nearly two week trip to California (which we’ll post more about soon). Andrew came, too, but only for about five days of it. We returned in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and Andrew took off for a conference Wednesday afternoon. He’ll be returning Saturday. Needless to say, it’s been a major disruption to our normal routines, and in particular, our sense of togetherness as a family. Griffin is definitely missing his daddy.
This morning after our shower/bath, Griffin was all snuggled up in his towel on my lap, and he put his head on my shoulder and said, “I have a sad face.” I asked him why, and he said after a long pause, “I need Daddy,” and let out a big sigh. It nearly cracked me in half.
I think we’re all looking forward to some family time starting Saturday night. Come home to us safely and soon, love!
We’ve had a wet, cool spring here in Minnesota, so the arrival of summer has come like a flash! All of a sudden, the trees are full with foliage, gardens are exploding with all the colors of the rainbow, the sun is shining, and the outdoor festival season has begun. One of the things I really love about the Twin Cities is the Season of Celebration, otherwise known as summer. There is no shortage of celebrating the warmth and extended daylight with music, art, theater of all kinds, restaurants spilling out onto the sidewalks, and plenty of places to play, play, play.
Griffin and I enjoyed our first festival today, the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival in downtown St. Paul, and it really felt like a true kickoff to summer! We started our visit with a theater performance at the Ordway called Corbian the Dinosaur (check out the link! It’s really cool!) It was billed as a “glow in the dark adventure,” and it seemed right up his alley. This was Griffin’s first professional theater experience, though, so I wasn’t sure how long he’d last. But to start off, he was fascinated by the theater with its gold railings, velvety seats, and lights along the aisles! I chose seats close to an exit just in case we needed to make a quick escape, but as soon as the lights dimmed, he settled into my lap and watched. the. show. for. an. HOUR! I couldn’t believe it. He was entranced by the glowing figures, loved to clap with the audience, and yelled out, “ALL DONE!” whenever a scene would end (we’ll work on theater etiquette at some point!). A smashing success!
Next we headed out across the street to Rice Park where there were vendors, free art projects, and shady spots to watch people dancing on the side of a building. Seriously. These acrobatic building dancers called Project Bandaloop were AMAZING. Actually, I thought they were incredible and mesmerizing while Griffin was all into the bronze Peanuts sculpture of Lucy reading a book that we were sitting next to. Ah, to each his own.
The icing on the cake was nearly an hour spent in a public fountain seemingly made for water loving kids (and Griffin is most definitely a water loving kid who sometimes asks for a bath 3 or 4 times a day). Hamm Plaza was transformed into Discovery Garden (check out this time lapse video of it being made), which really should have been called Joyful Garden. I wish I had brought our good camera, but here are some shots from my phone of Griffin in the midst of pure summer bliss:
All in all, a fabulous start to summer. Bring on the adventure!
We were lucky enough to be on the last stop of the Grummy 2011 Grandchild Tour a few weeks ago, when Andrew’s mom, Sandy, stayed with us for a week! Between all the moving that’s been going on in our lives in the past year and settling into our new home, we hadn’t seen her since last spring, so a visit was long overdue. She wanted to see our new digs and spend some quality time with Griffin, so we got to host her here in Minnesota! Griffin was quite excited that Grummy, who normally appears on our computer screen, would be staying with us. He was quick to tell her all his new words, sit on her lap for some reading, and show her around the house. Every morning he excitedly woke up saying, “Grummy? Grummy?” and would rush down the stairs saying, “Hi, Grummy! Hi, Grummy!”
One of our destinations while she visited was the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This is a favorite for us, as well as a great spot for taking photos. This time, once again, did not disappoint!
We also took Grummy to the Children’s Museum, on a tour of Minneapolis lakes, to the Roseville Library, on a tour of Andrew’s school, and to the Mall of America! Overall, it was a great visit for everyone and we loved having a chance to hang out with Sandy. Griffin asked for Grummy in the morning for almost a week after she went home, and he’s still calling string cheese (which was a snack unique to Grummy in Griffin’s world) “Grummy cheese.”