Thursday, April 28, 2011


I have no pictures from our last day in Sheboygan, but here is what we did: ate pancakes, played Apples to Apples Jr., colored, ate lunch, Grandma took the girls to a water park while my dad and I walked to a funky coffeehouse downtown and drank chai before he walked me to my massage. Yes, I am not making any of this up.  And there was lasagne and wine for dinner.  These extra days of our visit have been well worth it in terms of quality time and renewal...thank you!!!

Here are some photos from the past few days - the glimpses of the sun, and our perseverance in the rain.  On Monday we headed to the Sheboygan Marsh, which was vast but inaccessible without a boat. You can see it stretching beyond Grandma Liz and the girls, high in the viewing tower. We tried a short hike, but there were little flies and mud and a grouchy girl.
Next we stopped at a section of the Ice Age Trail, studded with birch trees and showing off one spring wildflower, the hepatica. I would love to spend more time walking this trail.
After lunch in Sheboygan Falls, we headed to a new park we had visited last summer: Bookworm Gardens.  As before, the girls loved it...
One addition was little book nooks that held books you could sit and read, which we did.
Some of us acted out the stories (Katie and the Sunflowers) while listening along...(I would also like to mention that while my daughter makes the weather here look downright HOT, I can assure you that it was nothing like hot. It has almost felt like spring here, and there are still medium piles of snow at the edges of some of the larger parking lots.)
Tuesday we went to the Children's Museum, which was nearly empty, as the local kids have returned to school this week.
Our hands-down favorite activity was the press-pin wall...
Ani, who leans toward the intrepid, quickly scampered up and through this netted tunnel, and thought it a lot of fun.  Eliza is cautious and needs to observe more often than not, before deciding whether or not she can or will do something.
Ani must have made it look like fun, because before too long, and after a couple of tries, Eliza got to having fun with it too.  In these moments their dynamic reminds me so much of my sister and I when we were kids.  She always tried the scary stuff first - the ski run, the slide, everything. She even has tattoos; I'm still working up to that one...
The lake is such a magnet for us; it is the closest to a sea that we've been for too long.  We find it mesmerizing, so our day ended there...
Our trip at an end, the weather taking a turn for the better, it is time we made our way home...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

sometimes Weather knows best

The weather between Wisconsin and Ohio has been described this week as "severe" - thunderstorms, high winds, hail, possible tornadoes and flooding.  Not what this novice long-distance driver wants to hear. So when my dad and his wife mentioned that it might be prudent to stay a couple of extra days, we gratefully accepted.  Our trip was scheduled so that we would not miss another week of farm school, but we've let go of all priorities this week other than traveling safely and enjoying this extra time with grandparents.
Sheboygan, Lake Michigan
I was apprehensive about lengthening our stay because our first day here was kind of horrible. For me at least. I feel like I am actively working through some major issues when I am traveling alone with my kids: self-consciousness, trust, patience, to name just three.  Trust that my parents (all five of them, including inlaws and step) see the whole of who we are, the works-in-progress, not just the little snapshots that make me cringe. Trust that my kids are going to be true to who they are and what they are experiencing, whether it is total immersion in the world of cousin-play, or sudden overwhelming longing for home, or simply a need for time to adjust to a new place and new people - and that that is all OK.  Self-consciousness about my parenting skills, about my children's behavior, about our interactions, my responses, their attitude, the food choices I make for our family, our values and priorities that lead me to make those choices.  And patience with all of it! Though I am very grounded in our choices and our lifestyle  when we're at home, I feel like I am quick to regress to a state of panic when we've been away from home for some time, and while it is getting better the older the girls get and the wiser (!) I become, it is painful to have it resurface for at least a day or so every single trip or visit. Haven't I lived long enough to let these things go? Haven't I already learned these lessons? Am I so (fill in the blank: dense, unevolved, stupid, spiritually disconnected, etc...) that I can't grow beyond these feelings that so negatively affect our time with family?  
Wing, Sheboygan, Lake Michigan
Anika and I wrestled through the first day, a battle of wills, alternately threatening and consoling each other. It was mad-making for both of us. I felt like one big apology - feeling regret about our interactions, embarrassed in front of my dad and Liz, wishing that the equilibrium she and I have found lately was evident right now - so they could see what a good parent I am and what an amazing child she is. Well, Ani was where she was - she is growing more flexible as she ages (which is what I hope for all of us!), but I love and admire her ability to be in tune with what she needs, regardless of the group agenda. On what we thought was our one day here, she wanted nothing to do with hiking or being outside. She wanted to get in the car and drive home. She wanted me to herself, and when that wasn't possible (or so I thought), she declared she hated me anyway. Ouch. All of it was painful to me, and in case this hasn't happened to you, you cannot be your best self coming from a place of sheer embarrassment. It is ugly. So I just tried to let go. And do you know what happened? The more patient, calm people in our group (hi, Dad) took over. Eliza, Liz and I headed off into a beautiful birch wood - a part of the Ice Age Trail - while Ani sulked in the car with my dad. Quickly, however, she was dragging my dad out of the car to run and play on the small hills and boulders spread near the parking lot. By the time we returned, she was laughing, my dad was giggling, and the restart button had been pushed.
I had been carrying all of these bad feelings with me, but my dad understood. Liz understood. They've had kids, they have thirteen grandkids (with one more on the way); they've seen imperfection, and they love us all anyway. As do the other grandparents we've seen on our trip.  I had declared, "We won't leave you for the last stop next time! This always happens, that my kids are overwhelmed and done with visiting and ready to go home!" - more apologies.  My dad quietly remarked that maybe we were just needing more time, a little transition to being Here and then we'd have a nice visit. When we extended our time here, that is exactly what happened. Things were not Perfect, but Ani got one-on-one time with her grandparents. Eliza got to hang out and socialize and play and enjoy being in the midst of people she loves. I got some time alone (ahem) - we all got what we needed, time to connect and just be Here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

eastery goodness

Easter at Grampa's house
Big Papa Marzo
Making pysanky eggs (Ukranian style egg decorating)

early Easter morning huddle

Sunday, April 24, 2011


We've had our share of rain and sleet this week - and games of cribbage, dancing with the Wii and late-night conversations with my sister and brother-in-law - but during the windows of fair weather we got outside to walk with family...
Friday we went to one of my favorite places in Madison: the arboretum.  There were some tender signs of spring...I love the slow unfurling of new buds; this bloodroot looks like it has a little coat on, doesn't it?
New mayapples, still wrapped up...
The gem of the walk was finding a pair of sandhill cranes in the wetlands.  The girls were running along the boardwalk when they heard a clacking noise - the startled cranes were clacking their beaks in alarm, so they slowed down and stood watching them preen and hunt.
This is a place I have walked with my grandma. How I love walking there with my mom and my kids.