After starting school, Charlie commented to Joe that he was getting less movement during the day than in the summer. It made it harder to fall asleep. The next night, while sweating in the hot, humid day, we pondered what we could do that evening to get in some activity. Swimming came up, and we all jumped at the idea!

Lake Harriet really came through for us, though Joe seems reluctant to admit it in this shot.

Oh…it was just that I asked him to directly face the sunset.

This past weekend, a dear friend from college got married, so Joe and I headed to Chicago. The first person I got to see was Rosie! We celebrated her birthday with cupcakes and dancing.

As you can see, she’s got a brand new sibling, so having a special time to celebrate just her was pretty important.

I was delighted to get to meet Alice, though!

The extended weekend was like a mini Macalester reunion, but with just friends!

Friday, Tina and I tried to meet up at a botanical garden, but the buses were making things difficult. We did our own things instead, but ended up at exactly the same place! Jane’s sister-in-law recommended I check out the Bahai House of Worship, and right as I entered, I saw Jack and Tina! The gardens and temple were stunning and such a peaceful place to be before a weekend of activity, social engagements, and logistics.

Like, for instance, how do you get six people to a wedding in a five-person car?
(Answer: I jump in the trunk!)

The ceremony was very touching, and everyone looked so beautiful!

Gotta love a photo booth

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my parents were champs and came up to stay Thurs-Sunday so the boys could do school uninterrupted and have a weekend with them. Looks like they got some haircuts while Grandpa grilled burger!

They got in Luke’s birthday party and a Saint’s game on all the same day!
These guys are pros.

After a morning and afternoon wandering the Loop together, Joe and I disappeared into our headphones on the plane. As we approached the Cities, his nose got closer and closer to the window.

It was good to get back to these guys and the shenanigans we all get into together.

Gearing Up

In April, I planned a whole new configuration for the living room, after moving the giant Lego table out. Charlie’s stuff finally arrived last week, so it was time to start exploring chair options. I wanted them to actually sit in different options and feel out what kind of seating would be best, so we headed to a place that sets up scenarios for you to wander through and experience: IKEA.

Charlie hadn’t been there since he was in preschool, so he was pretty enthralled by the experience.

“Is this the right size, Mom?!” he joked.

Their favorite area was the wardrobes, where they spent about a half hour hiding in each of the different ones, deciding which would be the most comfortable hidey-hole.

They found what they thought they’d like, but I wanted them to think on it for a while first.

As much as we all tried to stay in denial, the school year kept creeping closer, and things like school supply lists and Open Houses starting becoming realities. Both boys move to new schools this year, Henry to the 3-5 school, and Charlie to middle school (6-8). Charlie’s school, Justice Page, felt massive to him, but luckily at his Open House, who was there waiting to greet all of the students at the door, but Justice Alan Page himself. How cool is that?

Middle school’s a big transition, and I’m finding myself having to come to terms with having less control in the boys’ life. For instance, when we hit the park for a scooter, I simply couldn’t keep up with them on foot. To insist that they go slow or wait for me constantly would have lessened the enjoyment and fun. Instead, I made sure they could find me when they needed, and let them zoom off out of my sight, trusting that the scary monsters I envision in my head are unlikely to manifest in reality and that my boys would be smart and careful.

They’re the tiny dots on the path across the water.

It’s hard, this parenting thing. It’s beautiful to see them so capable and independent, but I’m guessing the protective fear you have about whether they’ll be okay never goes away.

It’s just something I’ll have to carry while I gain more time and energy to pursue my own interests. Like book club! We’ve been meeting for over 10 years now.

The last thing before school starts is always…FAIR WEEK! Joe’s parents have developed the tradition of taking the boys, but this year I decided to tag along. Apparently, they often start the day off by riding the big Ferris Wheel. It was my first time!

Charlie had his eyes on the RVs and Ice Houses, but Henry couldn’t get enough of the tractors. They had a display of running tractor engines separate from the tractors themselves, and he was transfixed.

He had lots of questions for this guy.

Crop Art! I totally agree with these two being given high prizes.

Henry enjoyed imagining himself at Hogwarts

and Charlie was way into the baby animals.

Everyone was into the cookies.

We thought our excitement was over for the summer, but Zach threw out one more spontaneous adventure for us. He’s an airplane mechanic, and he invited us to come to the hangars!

The boys and I were very impressed and excited. We got to see a brand new plane, a thirty-year old plane, and a very very large plane.

In the cockpit of the 1990s plane

Look! I’m in the pilot’s chair!

The boys had a lot of questions

This was the very very big plane. It was bonkers.

Charlie had fun counting how many seconds it took him to walk front-to-back and from wingtip to wingtip. I don’t remember the final totals, but I know it was longer than the toddlers had patience for!

After all that, we needed some food. With the Mall so close, the boys wanted to go to a specific pizza place they like there. They have old arcade games they like watching the demo screens on.

And then…we decided to get the chairs! They were right across the street after all, and both boys were still set on the ones they’d picked out. So after one more test sit, we headed down to the storage area to find the boxes we needed amongst all the massive shelves. It was quite an adventure.

Then Henry had some fun in the checkout line with the bucket hats.

And…voila! Comfy seats for drawing, Lego-ing, and homeworking ease.

Oh! Did you think we were done? Nope, not quite yet. Labor Day Weekend is for cabin times, after all. It was nice to get in some good quality down time with folks.

The lake felt wonderful in the sunshine!

Henry loved the sandbar.

Nora loved shoving him off the seat

Everybody had fun.

It was hard to leave the tranquility and come back to the bustle, and hard to watch Charlie get on the school bus with the big 8th graders hanging out the back window. Their first days went well, though, and we’re all adapting to our new routines. It’s all good.