What’s up

What’s been going on around here this week? Well, I had my last week of class. Finally! Now I’m actually really truly done and graduated. This was just a wrap-up course, so not a big stressor, but I still had to be on Zoom every day for an hour and a half. I would do class out on the back patio, which was the most pleasant way to do a digital course. The boys usually followed me out there and entertained themselves.

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One of the days, Henry sat on my lap for the whole hour and a half. He kept hugging and kissing me, which was delightful. Best class ever. He wanted to hear my classmate’s response to what I’d made for a observation tower design project we’d been assigned the day before. Here it is, haha!

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I took this next picture, because I love the colorful soap at the car wash. It makes me very happy to watch the colors drip and mix on their way down the windows and windshield. So I thought I’d share my joy with you.

I often get my school/work things done on the weekends, since I’m on boy duty during the weekdays. So on Saturdays, Joe tends to scoop the boys up and take them somewhere beautiful to hike. Today it must have been somewhere quite muddy, since Henry came home with his hands like this:

 

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Last weekend, while I celebrated my cousin’s baby shower digitally, the boys headed to this gorgeous spot.

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It rained that day, but that didn’t keep them from exploring.

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I was the one escorting them to this next beautiful place. We had walked to school to pick up their yearbooks, and then continued on to grab sandwiches on the go. This pretty pond is on our walk back home.

 

We love the bird sounds around it.

We also found tiny toads. The boys will show you just how tiny:

And now I’ll show you for real:

Joy of joys, in the endless rebuilding process of our interstate, they are currently working on the stretch right out front of our house. This makes for lots of house shaking and nighttime beeping, buuuut…we got to watch some mesmerizing work up close.

The view south

The view north.

We walked up to the next two bridges north to see if there were other interesting views, but the best stuff was happening right under our own. When we got back, the view south was fully clear of asphalt. It’s amazing how fast it goes, even though it feels slow while you watch (or are waiting for your entrance to re-open!).

And now, for something big….

I wore these pretty earrings the other day. They were made by my best friend out in California, and when she gave them to me, she said they were perfect for an art teacher.

I wore them in my job interview this week, and they must have made me look the part. I got the job! I’ll be teaching art in the fall at a middle school in New Brighton, a suburb north of the Twin Cities. Hooray!

 

 

Play

It has been a glorious seven days.

We got to have backyard funtimes at the Novaks’, which included some seriously social distanced frisbee from porch to yard below.

Then on Friday, the boys and I enjoyed a day at the beach in Clear Lake. I actually love that the pandemic has encouraged all of life to be outdoors!

Eating ice cream outdoors is the best way anyway. Check out this beautiful raspberry-vanilla twist cone!

Unfortunately, there was a guy fixing the air conditioner right behind us, so there were some pretty loud, awful noises that happened. Here’s Henry trying to plug both ears while holding a cone.

It made for some drippiness, but when you’re in a suit all day, who cares?!

Before hitting the highway to head home, we hit the Iowa Trolley Park.

It was not at all what we expected (trolley-themed playground), but ended up being a pretty cool experience.

There is a circular railroad track that this diesel engine tools around. The boys were even able to operate the train while it was running. It was super loud, so that was the big negative of the trip, but you can’t exactly mute a train!

In addition to getting to control the speed of the train, they learned how to switch track points, and each got to do it themselves.

But all of that was pretty overwhelming with the size and noise. When it was shut down, though, and the hand-car came out…THAT was when the boys got amped up and loved pumping that thing down the rails.

Charlie then had a million questions about all of the crazy contraptions and old machinery around the place, so the man running the place got to share his passion and knowledge with someone truly interested. I think he had as much fun as Charlie. Here’s an old streetcar that was there.

Normally he wouldn’t let people go in, but we promised we’d be careful!

Saturday, two of our friends were scheduled to run the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. Obviously marathons aren’t happening right now, but they kept up with their training and created their own route around town. Friends provided water stops for them, us included. Here’s one of them back on his way again! They both finished at or before the times they were hoping for.

Once they were both past us at mile 17, we were free to roam the creek as we pleased. Joe looks like he’s explaining how something works.

We were curious if we could reach all the way around this tree holding hands.

We weren’t even close! It was way too big.

Under the interstate

We tend to linger in this nice spot, because it has sand, water access and logs to climb over.

That day we took it to another level, actually getting in the creek. Luckily, I still had stuff packed from our Clear Lake trip that we never used, so we were able to change and enjoy.

It felt delightful, and the boys immediately started telling a collaborative story in which they were mining the sand to create alternative fuels. Then I would test the fuels in my imaginary car and tell them how it ran.

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Eventually, I just plunked down and started playing with the mud myself. It was delightful.

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It’s summertime

The last day of school for MPS was last Friday. Here’s Charlie at his last class meeting of the school year. You’ll notice Henry is right there. He was paying close attention to most of Charlie’s schoolwork, and loved his class meetings. So however first and second grade go for him…he’ll know exactly what’s going on when he gets to third! He already really hopes he gets Mr. Collier, and I can see why.

So now that distance-learning is done for awhile…what will we do with our days?! We started with a fun painting project from my mom.

We got an internet ‘booster’ early on during quarantine, so our wifi now reaches the backyard with ease. That meant we were able to jam out to some sweet tunes while we worked.

Remnants of one of Henry’s mustaches

Here’s how they turned out!

The boys hand-picked their locations. They are both gracing different parts of our front yard…actually the two spots that our mailman is certain to see, so I hope they bring a bright moment to his route. We didn’t get mail last week, because the post office was burned down, so it was actually really exciting when we heard that first clank!

And speaking of exciting, it feels like real positive change is happening in the world. Take time today to really listen to someone you may not know much about. We’re all humans who require love and respect to thrive. So let’s spread that love and respect around!

I’ve been really missing my weekly dates with the boys at Royal Grounds coffee shop–so much so that you may remember awhile back I made a mini model of the place. On Saturday, we walked over and enjoyed some of their coffee and delightful homemade goodies.

In this kind of weather, we probably would have enjoyed our treats on the benches outside anyway, so it didn’t feel too strange not to hang out inside. I was pleased that I got to see the owners, and that they recognized me despite my mask!
“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your naaaaame!”

It was my neighbor’s 90th birthday that day (!!!!), so on our way back, we stopped in with our cards to wish her a wonderful day. She shared some photographs from her youth. I’d seen them many times, but she knew the boys hadn’t, so she got a chance to share her stories with a fresh audience.

I also got to walk with two of my friends in Battle Creek park this weekend. This discovery that COVID is pretty much only passed through the air has made life in slightly closer proximity to others more feasible. Never have I loved walks so much as right now! And let me tell you…I have always LOVED walks.

The lack of library access has changed a lot for us. Everyone in our house is a voracious reader, and library visits were some of the most anticipated events in our lives pre-COVID. Digital library loans have been incredibly helpful, as has my longtime Kindle usage–so much so that we have multiple of them. Charlie’s teacher also hooked us up with access to EPIC, which is a digital library for schools. Kids don’t have to check out books from it, they just have 24/7 access to everything in the library. Now that the schoolyear’s over, I don’t know how much longer we’ll have it, but it has been a game-changer.

Here we are enjoying some early morning cool in the backyard, all three of us on our digital devices reading (Henry drawing while EPIC reads his book aloud for him). The screen time would have made me cringe just 3 months ago, but now I consider this scene one of delight. What a world!

My final grad school class (just a wrap up so I can get my Master’s as well as my license and certification) started Wednesday, so before my mornings got booked, we fit in a nice long Minnehaha Creek walk. Had to pet the bunny sculpture along the way.

The best. Henry loves when he gets to clamber, and Charlie loves being right along the water and enveloped in trees. Nailed it!

If not for the mosquitoes, we would have been at this spot for hours.

Apparently Henry loves ducks as much as I do.

Last night we started a game of Monopoly and finished it up this morning. With emotions running higher than usual and more board games being played, the boys are learning more about how starkly different it feels when you’re winning versus losing. I even felt it myself when Charlie and I tried to learn the game of GO together. It’s been a good way to frame discussions about mindset and empathy.

And finally, the big thing around our house the past few weeks has been CARS. Especially Pixar Cars, since we’ve been watching the movies for…I kid you not..the first time. These boys have an encyclopedic knowledge of the cars’ names and traits, but they’d never actually watched any of the movies. We started with the second one, then watched the first and today watched number three. Don’t know why, that’s just how it happened.  But now they’re allllll about it, and their toy versions are now found everywhere.

Including here on the kitchen counter. This must have been a crazy race.

May’s End

The irises bloomed at the same time as all of the unrest last week.

It led to a lovely exchange with a man passing by my front yard as I weeded. We shared grateful smiles and ‘hellos,’ and he expressed astonishment at their beauty. We admired their petals together, and shared a nice moment of communal joy.

I saw one final tulip on our walk home from 38th & Chicago on Wednesday evening.

It’s always nice to arrive home, but especially in spring.

Mooooore cupcakes in process!

Henry asked me to take a picture of this piece of charcoal.

On Friday, the people who help our neighbor Donna out weren’t too excited about coming to south Minneapolis, what with all the chaos. The night before had been bad, in terms of destruction. Joe was out doing cleanup work on Lake Street, so the boys and I all headed next door to give her a hand!

She was very happy to have some young energy enter the house after her sleepless night.

She even gave us some beautiful peonies and sugar cookies for our time. Not necessary, but SO appreciated!

We had some leftover homemade frosting from the cupcakes, so we figured it would go perfectly on the cookies. It did.

I put the peonies in my little nook. I’ve been loving having a corner of my own for readin’ and writin.’

We left that afternoon for Little Canada for the night. We were getting notices from the city and various organizations that outsiders were infiltrating the city, etc. When Minneapolis recommended chaining up and hosing down the insides of garbage cans and putting inside anything that could be used for arson or breaking windows…I figured it was probably not the place for my children to sleep for the night. I hastily packed a suitcase, took pictures of every room in the house in case they turned to ashes, grabbed our most important papers and drove up to pick up Joe from his cleanup duties. Since we had a safe place to go, we went.

I still didn’t sleep well, but it was nice to just lie in bed and know my family was safe. We did a pop-up walk with the Novaks the next day, and it felt wonderful to be surrounded by people I love.

The protests continue, and I am in support of them. The voices being raised have been speaking for a long time, but were still not being heard. Now maybe we can all better listen. Now the message is being embodied in so many places and in so many ways, not just on my side of my city. It does seem that some of the immediate, pent-up, local fury has been released. I won’t pretend I wasn’t hesitant to come home for the next night, but we are here, and here we stay. I can only say that I am hugely privileged in this world that I experienced fear like this for a few days. Too many people experience it every day, nearly everywhere they go.

There is nothing like coming home to make you appreciate it, even if it’s only for a night. Everything about home makes me glad to be here.

Our backyard is way up there on the list, though.

It’s good for everything from soaking up the sunshine splashing in the hose to drawing, reading, and even experimenting with remote controlled cars.

Can you see the mustache? He stamped one on himself for the day.

We walked through M.L. King Park today on our walk to find some lunch. Henry was admiring the mosaics, which we don’t often stop to enjoy.

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Our intended lunch spot is apparently closed down for awhile. It’s a little hard to tell these days who’s open and who’s not. A few of these businesses make it clear they are, despite the plywood. Boludo, where we were hoping to go, is tucked right in the middle there and is seemingly locked up for now.

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Butter Bakery, a good ol’ standby, was there for our lunching needs, although the combo of the boarded up windows, chairs on tables, and needing to take the food to-go made the usually sunshine-y spot feel like an entirely different place.img_20200603_1219559062863205022289221.jpg

We found a shady bench and chairs on the side of the building, though, so we still thoroughly enjoyed our outdoor lunch experience.

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Alright, guys, let’s end on a big note here: HENRY FINALLY LOST HIS TOOTH!

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It’s technically his second, but the first one fell out at night, and we’re not sure where it ended up. So it’s the first time he’s gotten to hold his tooth in his hand. His permanent teeth seem to grow in behind the baby ones, so his baby teeth take forEVer to fall out. This one’s been with him for…I don’t even know how long.

So, HOORAY!!!!