La Quinta

by Kayte

We spent today with Grambo & Papa in snowbird paradise. After breakfast we took the kids to a local park where they enjoyed the undivided attention of four adults. Afterward we took a bike ride to the tennis courts where Grambo & Papa introduced Brody to pickleball. Then it was time to drive home – both kids fell asleep in the car exhausted: the sign of a good weekend.

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Splashtopia

by Kayte

This weekend we drove to The Desert to meet some friends for their annual Splashtopia waterpark adventure. We spent three awesome days floating down the lazy river, soaking in the jacuzzi, playing at the beach, and swimming in the pool. The park also had two waterslides, but Max and Lola were just an inch shy of meeting the height requirement. Better luck next year! The kids played hard all day and crashed hard at night.What a fun weekend.


Michigan Trip

by Kayte

Wow August is almost halfway over and I’m just now getting around to my first post of the month. We took a trip to Michigan for a week so I’ve been backlogged under travel recovery, 1,000+ photos and back-to-school prep. But now finally photos are edited, posts are written, and here is our vacation:

I spent a lot of time this trip comparing it to our first visit to Michigan. Overall it was a lot easier traveling with 4-year-olds than two infants. The first time around we had bottles, cribs, high chairs, special pureed food, naps to work around, etc. This time it was pretty much like having two little people in tow who could eat whatever, sleep wherever, and do everything we did. Plus it was a lot more fun! Max & Lola were so excited about the trip and had such a great time with all the people and activities. They really have an optimistic, open attitude about new experiences which makes it so fun. This was a very positive litmus test for future travel and more adventures.


MI Day 8 – DTW > BUR

by Kayte

We opted for an early flight back to California so I could get the kids in bed at a decent hour and start the vacation-recovery process in anticipation of school starting next week. We may have been up at 5:30am (2:30am PST!) but we were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise across the mist-covered fields. It was a peaceful beginning to another relatively easy flight home.

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We had an absolutely wonderful vacation but we were all very happy to see Daddy again at the airport. Home again home again jiggety jig.


MI Day 7 – Fish, Swim, Tube

by Kayte

We couldn’t get enough of the fresh water while we were in Michigan so we spent our last day here playing at the lake. Fresh water is such a scarcity in California these days that it’s mind-boggling to encounter a seemingly endless supply for fun and play. Max & Lola both did some more fishing off the dock. They both cast their bait and hooked their own fish. Max proudly reeled in his bluegill, but Lola hooked a big bass that nearly pulled the rod from her hands so we helped her get it to shore.

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Probably one of Max & Lola’s biggest new experiences this trip was tubing behind the boat! We went very slowly around the lake but it was enough excitement for them. And hopefully they’re old enough where they’ll remember all the fun they had this trip! And if not, we have lots of pictures.

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MI Day 6 – Walk & Ride

by Kayte

My parents live on 10 acres of land and I spent countless hours playing outside while growing up. Today the kids got a taste of my childhood as we meandered along the nature paths through the property. Max was amazed by all the sticks; when we walk around our neighborhood in LA he’s so excited to find one little twig and often plays with it for a week until it breaks. In Michigan he encountered more branches than he could shake a stick at! I think Lola prefers smooth sidewalks to bumpy trails, but I was realized that she was getting a great PT workout: navigating uneven surfaces, climbing over fallen trees, walking up/down hills, etc.

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After our nature walk Max & Lola each got a turn riding on Grandpa’s tractor(s). Fun like this would cost you about $5/ticket in LA! I think Max may have been born to be a farmer. He had so much fun helping out around the property; watering plants, raking grass, clearing brush, walking the trash 1/4 mile to the end of the driveway.

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Photo by Lola

After a fun day at home we met up with some old family friends for dinner at the lake park and celebrated their two (older) kids’ birthdays. It was a cozy end to another beautiful day.

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MI Day 5 – Family Day

by Kayte

Sunday we got together for lunch with our extended Michigan family. Parents, grandparents, kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. There were 6 kids, 3 dogs (including a puppy) and lots of noisy fun. Max & Lola keep asking me if everyone’s backyard “is a park” – they’re not used to so much green grass and open space.

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Lola was an absolute riot. After a very brief feeling-things-out period, she burst into rare form and took command of the room. She led people around, gave orders, sang, orchestrated doctor play and just generally made herself the center of attention. My parents asked me if she’s usually so outgoing in large groups of [relative] strangers, and I couldn’t really think of a comparable situation, but she was pretty consistent the entire week with groups of friends and family so I guess so! She must be the lone extrovert/class-clown of the family.


MI Day 4 – Friends Day

by Kayte

On Saturday we met up with two of my best friends from childhood, Michelle and Jeremy, and their respective spouses, Alex and Stefani. We went out for lunch, played at the park, and had a great time just hanging out. Michelle/Alex and Jeremy/Stefani had of course met the kids before, but this was the first time Max & Lola were old enough to meet (and hopefully remember) them in turn.

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MI Day 3 – Fireworks

by Kayte

We had plans to visit the county fair today but I figured that we get enough noise/crowds at home and decided to revel in the calm, quiet of my childhood home. We spent the morning outside at my parents’ house and the afternoon back at the lake for more swimming. In the evening we went to an outdoor concert at a park that had a bounce house/slide, playground and big wheel track for the kids. My aunt and uncle met us at the concert, then brought fireworks back to the house for the kids. This 4th of July I realized that NO fireworks are legal in California when I couldn’t even find sparklers, so I asked my family to save some for us in Michigan. Max & Lola like the sparklers (under very close supervision) but thought even the little fountains were a bit too loud.

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MI Day 2 – Scenic Lake

by Kayte

Our first day in Michigan started and ended on the lake: boating, swimming, splashing, fishing. The kids both caught (or at least reeled) their first fish from the lake and Lola had no problem grabbing hold of hers. They marveled at playing in a lake where they could wade into the water on a sandy bottom without fear of huge waves. I marveled at how far away from me the kids could run around without worrying about traffic or crowds. We were so grateful that my brother was able to come up from Nashville for the week to spend time with us. Such a beautiful, peaceful day.

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MI Day 1 – FNT > DTW

by Kayte

The kids and I are off to Michigan for a week! Yes, I, as in solo parenting; as in 2-kids-1-mom-outnumbered-on-a-plane! Originally we had planned this trip around the kids’ summer school schedule and unfortunately Brody had to stay behind to work but we bravely forged ahead. Admittedly I was a bit nervous leading up to the trip, but I figured the worst that could happen is that we were all utterly miserable for 4-odd hours until we landed in Michigan and then my parents could take over. Turns out it was much better than that and, dare I say…easy? Granted there was a lot of baggage to haul, a decent amount of whining and someone (not me) threw up on the plane before we even left the ground (somehow, magically, all caught in a bag); but once we were on the actual plane I handed each kid an iPad loaded with shows and enjoyed near-silence for the next 4 hours. I didn’t even bring anything for myself to do (thinking I wouldn’t have time to read) so was actually bored for awhile. Not a feeling I experience much these days. Overall the plane ride was a great success and it’s good to know the kids can travel so well. Viva la vacation!

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Upper Oso

by Kayte

We packed our minivan to the gills and drove out into the wilderness for the kids’ second camping adventure. The packing and set up was a lot easier this year, as the kids were able to wander around and [mostly] keep themselves occupied while we got things in order. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse, which in SoCal terms means 90-degree heat. It was a hot, hot day to be outside with no A/C, but we made the best of it with lots of shade and cold drinks. Luckily the campsite was in the bottom of a valley so the sun disappeared behind the mountains fairly early in the evening, leaving us with lots of ambient light and bearable temps.

The kids loved our camping adventure and the whole family is already looking forward to our next trip!

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Legoland

by Kayte

Max and Lola played hooky from school to go on an epic adventure: Legoland! They’d never been to an amusement park before and this was the perfect first trip. Legoland is geared toward younger kids so Max & Lola were just the right height/age to go on about 75% of the rides. We were also lucky to be able to go mid-week while school was still in session; there was hardly anyone else at the park and NO lines. The longest we had to wait was 15-20 minutes for one ride, but most rides the kids could just run up to the front of the queue 2-3 times in a row.

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One of the first rides we took the kids on was a rollercoaster. I wasn’t sure what they would think of it since they’d never experienced anything like it before. I hoped we weren’t about to derail the entire tripe. But as soon as we came down the first big drop and around the curve all I could hear was laughing, laughing, laughing. It was amazing.

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One of their favorite activities was the various driving rides. One, the Safari Trek, was a controlled ride along a rail but they LOVED “driving” with mom and dad. The second, Jr. Driving School, was a free-form track complete with working steering wheel and gas pedal. I’m not sure if Lola even made it around the track once, but she laughed hysterically every time she rammed into the curb. Max did a pretty good job navigating around the track, except when he tried to park his car and crashed into a garage door. Hopefully this isn’t an indicator of driving skill at sixteen.

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Another favorite ride was the Beetle Bounce. It was a ride that took them straight up and then brought them back down in a series of stomach-dropping jumps. It didn’t seem exciting to us (the parents) but the kids thought it was great. It was also one where they were big enough to ride by themselves (the parents weren’t even allowed) so they liked the feeling of independence.

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Legoland also has its own small aquarium so we took an underwater stroll. The kids were pretty wiped at this point so we went through quickly, but they were able to pet some sea stars at the tide pools and watch some big fish swimming around.

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There were all sorts of other cool rides like boats and helicopters and airplanes and horses. The main thing was we all had so much FUN. It feels like these past few years we have been limited because of either their age and/or some of their developmental delays, but this trip was one of the first time I felt like they could just DO everything and anything they wanted. It all just felt so normal. Pure joy.


Memorial

by Kayte

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Today we said farewell to my beloved grandma. Farewell, but never forgotten. She lives on through all of us with our commitment to family, our love of giraffes, our frugal habits, our Chicago roots, our steadfast determination in the face of adversity. Family was the most important thing to her, and I feel so fortunate that her great-grandchildren had the opportunity to meet her, and that she had the chance to know them. She was one of our most avid blog-readers; embracing technology in her 90s; sitting through dial-up internet speeds waiting patiently for photos to load. She will be sorely missed, but she leaves a family full of love and dedication in her wake. Love you Grandma-in-Chicago.

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1917 – 2015


Brookfield Zoo

by Kayte

For our free day in Chicago we decided to visit the Brookfield Zoo; a favorite family pastime. The weather was spotty, alternating between pouring rain and humid sun, but we managed a fun day visiting the animals. We spent a long time gazing at the giraffes, which were my grandma’s favorite; a love which has been passed down to Lola.

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My dad brought a bunch of old photographs with him to Chicago, and I found this similar fountain pose among them. My brother and I with our Grandma and Grandpa at the Brookfield Zoo circa 1993 or so? Maybe my parents can weigh in on the date…

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Brookfield Zoo circa 1993

 


LAX > MDW

by Kayte

This past February my grandma passed away at the admirable age of 97. Our family decided to wait for better (less snowy) weather to hold the memorial services, so we traveled to Chicago this May weekend to say goodbye. It was a bittersweet trip. Although the occasion was somber, we were all very happy to have our family together in one place. In a way it was fitting: my grandma has always been the focal point for family gatherings no matter how far-flung we have all become, and this weekend was no exception.

The kids were amazing travelers. I wasn’t quite sure how they would do now that they are both so mobile, but we were able to keep everyone happily distracted for the 4-1/2 hour direct flight. The trip was not easy by any means, but we sure had a lot less stuff than the first time the kids flew to Chicago two years ago. AND no one threw up on the plane (or elsewhere) this time!

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