Tuesday, September 28, 2010


“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”

~ Albert Einstein


Monday, September 27, 2010

promoted times two.

This weekend we had a karate promotion. This time it was both boys. G was promoted to orange-white, and A to solid GREEN!!!!!

Several of those kids are turned around backwards looking towards the camera because A was cheering SO loudly for his little brother that the whole room was enthusiastic about G's belt. :)

This is G's last belt for a bit as he (asthma boy) takes a class break during peak cold/flu season (he'll start again in the spring). He has had 4 months of karate and has really liked it - it works right in with his break dancing, he says. :) Happy boy!

This promotion for A marks 2 years since his very first belt promotion. Karate is something that he asked to to, he loves doing, and he wants to continue. Being in karate is his decision, and this has been the ONLY class he has ever taken that he has been interested in more than a few weeks. He loves the focus and precision. The routine. The exactness of things. And of course he has an *awesome* instructor.

As he has been going along, many of his older karate mates have been invited to join the black belt team. This is basically moving it up a notch - from taking karate and doing kids classes, to making a commitment to take karate to the next level, focus on the goal of the black belt, sparring, and moving into weapons. The instructor formally invites each kid when they are ready. They of course want kids who are dedicated and physically ready, but also those who they feel are emotionally/mentally ready to do this.

A has been hoping hoping hoping that he would get that letter inviting him to the black belt team. And finally, a few weeks ago, it was time. The invitation requests that the candidate write a formal letter to the instructor accepting the honor, stating their goal of achieving a black belt, and signing a two year commitment to karate to work on that goal. Of course he said YES this is what he wants and he understands what that means. He dictated his letter to me, and worked with me on typing it into the computer and had some help with spelling and wording here and there, but he did it. Printed and signed. He received his blue pants, his black belt team patches, and then this weekend his new belt. Wow!

I have been a little worried about how he will transition into the classes with older kids/adults which include full body gear, a bit more self discipline, and of course weapons. I know he can "do" it, but being a very sensitive kid who relies on routine to help him manage himself in group environments (and who has a hard time with the restrictive feeling of pads and straps of the body padding), I hope he can smoothly navigate the ups and downs of all of that now - different people in classes, different expectations. Of course all I can do is support him 150% in what he does - and know that he is an awesome kid who will figure it all out. This is his commitment, and I have seen how wonderful karate has been for him and how much he loves it. And I have seen how great his instructor is with him, and how supportive the other kids in his classes are...a great environment for him to step up and do karate as a big kid, compete, and get more into the sport.

Oh my boy is growing up!

This is one proud mama.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Last week I turned 43. A few people I know commented on my
lack of blog post to commemorate the event. So, my thoughts?



caught my eye.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

outside days.

There are some places we go where we all just feel so calm and happy and grounded. While we spend a lot of time OUTside, some places are just ... more. Devil's Lake is one of our favorite places - it is so beautiful. Due to too much road construction for awhile there, we haven't been as often as we like. Yesterday we headed up for the afternoon. It was a perfect afternoon - not too hot, not too cold, sunny, and with practically empty beaches and trails. The water is even still warm!

My oldest, A, has a hard time living in his skin sometimes - for lack of better words to describe it. But get him outside in a big empty beach, park or forest, and he is happy, relaxed, and focused. He and his brother spent hours in the lake, stacking stones, building rock sculptures, skipping stones and trying to capture little fish in rock rings to observe them. Pure bliss.

Of course we also had a picnic under a big purple tree, went on a hike, looked at the orange leaves falling under some of the trees, collected black walnuts (G is collecting tree seeds/nuts), watched animals and studied plants and moss, looked at of the amazing purple and pink quartzite rocks (created by a glacier 12,000 years ago), and just had a wonderful afternoon.

I know that having something like that in our backyard, far from close together houses, hard pavement and urban busy'ness would be so wonderful for all of us, but especially for A. Some day we hope to move out of town a little for acres and space -

Until then we will always go to find the places that make us feel happy and calm and grounded as often as possible. We are all happiest there, after all.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

living history.

We are lucky to live only 50 miles from the largest living history museum in the US (and one of the largest in the world). Old World Wisconsin is a favorite fall day trip - we like to go when school starts, as we get almost 600 acres pretty much all to ourselves, with full re-enactment staff!

We love to explore - not only visiting each farm and finding out what traditions, crafts, and architecture people brought to Wisconsin in the 1800's from their 'home' countries, but also to have a day out in the sunshine, walking the trails, just being outside in the woods all day long. This time of year we can also see the leaves starting to turn.

This museum has many traditional farms setup - spread out over hundreds of acres. So each farm you visit is a whole experience. Wisconsin was settled by many people - Danish, German, Norwegian, and Finnish, to name a few.

Each farm has a real historical home that has been re-located to this outdoor museum, with stories of the original families who lived there, and each home has someone 'living' there who is busy on the farm...milking the cow, doing the wash, baking pies, working in the full garden, cooking dinner, spinning or weaving, and of course chatting with visitors. My guys love finding out about who lived there, what they slept on, what they ate, and what 'chores' the kids had back then (kids had to work!). ;)

The fun part is of course it is a living history museum - so we get to participate in many things, and not just watch...both boys especially love the blacksmith where they get to fan the flames.

The farms also have animals to visit - cows, chickens, oxen, horses, sheep, and one very big friendly pig.

The museum also has a one room schoolhouse, a town with several shops and a blacksmith, and a town hall full of vintage games and toys. Our favorite there has always been the tops and of course stilts and hoop and stick. We always spend a long time there, so do that last.

This visit we were in the kids activity area at closing time, and the boys were asked to help retire the flag for the day (oh, such excitement!). They took their job very seriously, and helped bring it down, fold, and put away.

While we love love love to walk most of the time, there is a tram to ride between areas - it is almost 600 acres after all - which is always a nice way to chill out and let the boys sit for a few.

One thing that was very different this trip is that in June this museum was hit by a tornado. The tornado flattened hundreds (thousands?) of trees, wiping out big swaths of forest, and damaging some buildings.

While it is amazing that the tornado primarily hit the parking and entrance areas and left most of the historical buildings in tact (and all farm animals survived), it is still quite shocking to drive in and see the damage, even a few months later. We did see photos and video of the damage after the tornado (and the aerial views, wow), but it of course isn't the same as seeing it in person. There were times we just stood with our mouths open at the mountains of broken trees which are still being trucked out - and the boys hugged and climbed on the stump remaining from their favorite tree, where we used to sit and have lunch.

We always learn so much, and not just about the past...

What a wonderful day!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

september, pt 1

Oh, September! The days are not so hot, the nights are chilly, the mosquitoes are pretty much gone, the leaves have the slightest hint of color, the fields are golden, the signs on the rural roads shout Apples! Pumpkins! Squash!

Our kitchen counters are full, and we spend each day outside as much as we can be, exploring, harvesting, playing, roaming, gathering, and each evening baking, cooking and canning.

Oh, I do love September.

Friday, September 10, 2010


G lost his first tooth!

Thursday, September 09, 2010


We had a mini-trip this week...an overnight trip to Dubuque, Iowa. We go once a year or so to the Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium there. This visit was our first since they expanded and added another building with more river history and preservation as well as a splash play area and big aquarium.

We love going to museums right after school starts - it is too early for the field trip buses, and we get the whole place practically to ourselves. That gives us plenty of time and quiet to really explore, read, listen, look, absorb. My oldest is a very sensory sensitive kid, so this is necessary for us - he can go at his own pace without the noise, smells, and distractions of too many people!

Having time and quiet means we can really get into the exhibits too, and often get to chat in-depth with the people working at the different areas ... both boys spent a lot of time chatting with the lady at the touch tank about crayfish and river pollution, and we even watched them feed an alligator and huge alligator snapping turtle! We wandered for hours - there is always something new to explore each time we go, and we all learn so much.

While Dubuque is less than 2 hours from home, it is always nice to make it an overnight, and with my husband home for 2 weeks (woo hoo!) we decided to stay in an awesome hotel. We swam in the pool, spent time in the hot tub, the boys got cozy in the hotel robes (love!), we ate at a nice restaurant, played board games in the room, looked at the river and city at night from our window, and wandered the downtown area. Perfectly wonderful - spending time exploring with my favorite people on the planet.

Just from asking about the name of the hotel we were in, we found out about the history of Dubuque and learned about the tales of how Al Capone may have been tied to the this place. Of course getting little morsels of information about gangsters, prohibition, smuggling, racketeering, and how that all played into the history of a small midwestern city sitting on the Mississippi River...well, my guys are totally interested in finding out more!

So we are back home, re-charging, getting ready for the Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend. What a great little trip...can't wait for the next one!

Monday, September 06, 2010

what a week??

Did I say 'what a week' last Monday? As all of us mothers know, just when you think you made it through the worst of it...the other child gets sick...we even had a middle of the night ambulance visit. What a week!

I think I can honestly say we are through the worst of it - and the cherry on the pie is that my husband has two weeks off! We have several mini-trips and all kinds of creative projects planned for the next two weeks. A lot of fun, wandering, and 'catching up' to do. Can't wait to share.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

photos of the day: garden