Summer activities have hit us with a bang. Since returning from Duluth, we have been running non-stop from one thing to another. Learning from past summer experiences, I have found it best to cram-pack our first summer month with all the activities that the kids want to try. It helps the kids to transition from their normally busy days of school, and gets their anticipation of activities out of their systems. We are then left with the hot month of July to relax and play, going where the breezes may take us, or hiding in our air-conditioned house all day long. This is followed by the always fun-filled month of August which begins with our County Fair, directly leading to our favorite vacation to a cabin near Vining, Minnesota, where we get to visit with our good friends and celebrate Great-Grandma's 100th birthday this year. This year, we will have an added treat at the cabin as our Miami cousins and Grandparents C will be joining us mid-week! August often ends with one last "Hurrah" in Duluth before we begin the new school year. Yes, after many years of getting summer vacation wrong, vacillating from summers that were way too busy to summers that were way too boring, we finally have a really good system going.
Thus, we have been crazy busy the past two weeks. Alex has been MIA nearly everyday with multiple marching band rehearsals and parades. He is down at the park by 7am every morning, comes home for a quick lunch, then is often off to a parade competition, usually not getting home until 11pm or midnight. The new show~Trempe Ardent~ is fantastic, as always, and the band has enjoyed winning many awards already. Though the marching band season is so very short, the amount of time these kids put in and the number of competitions they are entered into in a short one month span is staggering to anyone's endurance. It is like being in boot camp. These kids work HARD, usually in sweltering heat under layers and layers of polyester uniform. But they put on a great show, and our band is certainly one to be proud of. We are one of three in the Minnesota area that are expected to win all the competitions. That's one good band!
Michael has picked up a bit more hockey again, but with a little less rigidity over the summer. He has been enjoying the benefits of our brand new arena that opened this month meaning only a 3 minute drive for us instead of our typical 20-30 minutes to find a good sheet of ice. He has been skating two mornings a week, and every Friday night. The parents that are showing up at these times are also coaches who have been running the kids through drills and working their little tushies off. This has been a great adjustment on our pocketbook, as we have now only to pay the entrance ice fee of a mere few bucks per time versus the blanket hundreds of dollars for an ice hockey program/camp in which you may or may not make all the practices anyhow.
Jonny is our busy body this year who is trying his hand at everything. He has already completed a week of basketball camp, is currently taking weekly golf lessons, is still playing baseball two nights a week, and is looking forward to tennis lessons next week. But the best thing so far has been this week's acting opportunity with the Prairie Fire Children's Theater....85 kids have been working like maniacs all week, memorizing lines, putting together scenes, learning songs and acting technique, all to put on two evening performances of the play "Tom Sawyer" this weekend! Our born actor, Jonathan, was chosen to play the second leading role of "Huck Finn". He has been enjoying this immensely, and he truly has a gift for this. I am so proud of him for being so responsible in accepting such a big role with such short time constraints. I can't wait to see the play tomorrow night. He certainly gets his acting gene from his Daddy....I would keel over and die if I had to stand in front of all those people on a stage.
Melissa, Crispy, and Laura have been busy with morning swimming lessons. Because Laura had not passed her first round of Puddle Jumpers in May, I had to scramble to get her a spot which did not coincide with the other kids' lessons as well. We therefore ended up with spending two hours at the community center every morning instead of the less than one hour that was originally planned. The kids always had fun, and would be able to play in the inside playland when Jonny or Michael would come along to supervise in between lessons, but it made for very long mornings.....and hot and humid mornings sitting in the pool area, watching the kids, sweat rolling down our backs, the lifeguards not allowing spectators to even dangle their feet in the water during lesson time. Laura passed this time, and Melissa was getting very brave with bobbing all the way under the water, and came SO CLOSE to jumping off the diving board. I think that her hesitation was more the fact that she has difficulty jumping forward in general, even on land.....you could tell that she really wanted to jump off of the board. Poor kid....we have been practicing jumping off the couch (always fun since standing on the furniture is a no-no), but it just did not quite transfer to the diving board at the pool. Crispy was just down right scared....no chance was he going to jump. We now have two weeks off before we start another swimming round. Hopefully we will get some practice at the pool in before then.
Thomas is trying his best to be a good sport, getting dragged from one thing to another. He has been missing all of his morning naps, and by the time we get home, it is necessary to make everyone lunch. He is usually beside himself with whininess and tiredness, crying, crying until I can get the kids settled at the table and finally give him some attention. Still not walking, but he does have a few new tricks. He has been perfecting standing up from the middle of the floor hanging onto nothing. He sure thinks he is hot stuff. He also has been doing this funny fake crying thing....when he hears someone else cry, he begins to copy it, but with no emotion on his face. Just "wah, hah...wah, hah..." on and on. Like he's mocking the other kid who is in distress. Funny boy.
In my very sparse few moments, I have managed to make a fool of myself in hockey, thanks to my neighbor. She convinced me to sign up for this game in Richfield. What we thought was the appropriate level for us by the Internet description, ended up being about 2 levels higher than our ability, was 80% men, and lasted an excruciating 90 minutes. There were times I thought I was going to get killed. It was awful. It was the first time I have not enjoyed myself playing hockey, and I hurt my back, causing me to miss a golf lesson the next morning. Never again. But my neighbor is pestering me to sign up for another one next week. I am starting to wonder if perhaps she is seriously insane.
Golf lessons have been going well, and it will be interesting to see how that transfers onto a real course. The instructor really knows his stuff, and it is exciting to actually be hitting the ball each time. What else.....ah yes, I spent 6 hours replacing our mulch in front and back yards. That was after 3 hardworking boys spent 4 hours together laying most of it. It was not fun at all, so much work, and such a waste of money. I do not think that I will be able to rationalize it two years from now when this comes up again. Hundreds of dollars and hours of work, for what? For most of it to just blow away, or get washed down the hill by the rain? Fantastic.
We did get new neighbors last weekend. After over one year, the house next door finally sold. Despite the mom next door yelling at our girls the first day because they had the audacity to ask her seven year old to stop spitting gum in our yard, things have gone well, and they seem to be nice people. They have lived in this city for 8 years already, so they already have a life and family here and don't need us. That's good, it takes the pressure off.....we don't have time to make new friends!(or barely keep the old ones......:o( )