Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Autumn Apples

Who would have thought that shopping for fruit would be so exhausting? Last weekend we took our annual family pilgrimage to Apple Jacks apple orchard. We spent about 4 hours of applicious fun. I know that we could have gotten a bag of the same apples at the grocery store for one-third of the price, but we go every year for the experience.
It was a beautiful day with the temperature close to eighty. It was a little too warm for apple picking, but it was better than the forty degrees we braved last year.
We started at the Apple Cannon. It is a hydraulic tube that shoots apples a few hundred feet into a field at a spray painted target. I came nowhere near the target. You see, the wind was blowing and the site on the cannon must have been off and I wasn't used to the trigger and the apples weren't balanced properly and.......etc. Number One Son came the closest, getting his apple within twenty feet or so. I was surprised that he wanted to shoot the cannon. Each time it fired, a loud sudden burst of air would sound. This sound did bother his ears, but he overcame his sensitivity when it was his turn

Apple target practice sparked our appetite for apples, so we got our plastic bags and went on an orchard safari. We followed the map to the 'Sweet Sixteen' section of the orchard. This is N1S's favorite apple variety. The kids loved running through the trees picking apples. I made sure to tell them to only pick apples on the tree, not from the ground. They enjoyed eating a few while gathering too.
After paying for the privilege to pick apples, the kids went on the kiddie train ride. This was ten small barrels made into train cars. They were painted like Holstein cows, each with a name, and pulled by a four-wheeler around the strawberry field.

Then we took a quick wagon ride to the haystack, the live Irish band, and the pony rides. Sweet Pea got to ride the smallest pony and was thrilled. She really likes ponies. N1S waved his baseball cap to the crowd as he rode off into the sunset.
By then, we were a little tired so we bought a bag of popcorn and sat down to listen to the band while Mom visited the gift shop. Did you know that they sell apples in the gift shop too? They also sell apple pie, apple crisp, apple butter, apple jelly, apple cookies, apple donuts, apple dip, apple candy, apple cider and sloppy joes. If we would have had more time, I'm sure we would've found apple beef jerky too.

About the only thing we didn't get to do was walk through the corn field maze. We just ran out of time. We also missed the $3 face painting. We just ran out of money.
The ride home was pretty low key. A sure sign of fatigue. We may have to go back in a month to check out their pumpkins. We may do the maze then, when it is a little cooler.

I don't know why we get so excited for overpriced apples, but we do. It must be the change of season and the colors and smells that go with it. We've gone to orchards for the last four years as a family and I can remember each one. That is probably why we keep going. Apples are only the means to bring the family together. It's much healthier than McDonald's play land and more fun. I believe family traditions are important to the strength of the family. It constantly gives us something to look forward to. And I would like our kids to look forward to family outings as long as possible. It won't be long before Lady Di and myself are no longer cool. Although, I find that hard to believe. I know we will try to find the time to pick apples next year.

Maybe they will have a pumpkin cannon by then.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The 'Times' Are a Changin'

Not only are the times changing, but so are the additions and subtractions. The school district offered a class tonight to explain the 'new math' that they are teaching the kids these days. It seems that every two to three years a new way to do math is adopted by the school. This is OK with me. I enjoyed math in my younger days. I think that different math methods only enhances the understanding of numbers. Not every method works for every child, but different options are good for students to find their own way.

The night started out with a downpour. A storm blew in just before the class. I quickly jumped in the pickup and headed out. The rain increased so that I could barely see. After three blocks it started to hail. I whipped a uwey at the next stop sign and raced back home. I parked the pickup in the garage and took Lady Di's van to the class. I was sure she wouldn't mind. It already has a little hail damage anyway. I hydroplaned all the way to the primary school because the sewer drains couldn't keep up with the deluge. It probably didn't help that I was racing close to the curb to see how big a wave the tires could make. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, the rain stopped. Which was good because the front door had a sign that said, "Go to the back door".

I entered the school and eventually found the class, after accidentally crashing a women's aerobic class in the gym. I'm glad I figured it out before I really started to sweat.

I walked into the correct class and helped myself to the snacks. I took a few pretzels and a bottle of water. OK, I really took a fistful of cookies and a Pepsi. I thought the class was very informative. Did you know that four is now the new five? It was a relief to finally learn the definitions of the terms that Number One Son has been using to describe his math homework. I found out that the kids use the 'Lattice Method' for multiplication. I think this method is often used in backyard garden landscaping and under porches. They also use the 'Partial Product' method. This method helps the student complete part of the problem before getting out the calculator. There was no mention of the fingers and toes method, which was in vogue when I was a kid. Of course, way back when I was a kid in the olden days, we only used numbers one through five. All those other numbers and that fancy zero were discovered much later.

I was lucky enough to meet Number One Son's challenge math teacher. She was nice and spoke very positively about N1S. She also is very excited about math. When she started quizzing me about multiplication tables, I pretended to have a coughing fit and made a dash for the water fountain in the hallway.

With my narrow escape, I made my way home in time to kiss the kids goodnight. It was then Lady Di's turn to quiz me on what happened at the meeting.

"It was great, Hon!", I exclaimed. "They served cookies!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Muy Caliente!

Lady Di has started her autumn canning. We don't have a garden, so we're stuck with what we can sneak out of our neighbor's garden. This year our neighbor generously 'gave' us a grocery bag full of nice tomatoes. I am kidding about stealing their produce. Anyone who knows the Midwest, knows that no one can eat as many tomatoes as they grow. People here, work endlessly developing special fertilizers. They design watering systems and tomato canopies to shelter their delicate fruit. Only to give them away by the crate on the free table at church.

After I had eaten my fill of the bag, (I love tomatoes on sandwiches.) Lady Di started cooking them for salsa. She is using her brother-in-law's recipe. Knowing him, I'm sure the salsa will be hot enough to ignite some chips. We will probably have to keep the bowl moving on the table so the fumes won't darken a spot on the ceiling.

My brother-in-law and Lady Di like things hot. I, on the other hand, prefer feeling in my mouth. It didn't take her long to fill about a dozen jars. When they were done, I had a taste. My tongue didn't burn to a cinder. My ears remained smoke-free. The salsa was very tasty. Rachel Ray couldn't have done better.

Lady Di did add a few of her own secrets to the recipe. Now I am trying to convince her to come up with a name for her creation. She voted down 'Hot Mama's Salsa'.

Summer Ending? Well, Alright.

Now I'm afraid I will have to concede that summer is definitely over. It's not because school has started. It's not because our daytime temperatures have dipped by forty degrees. It's because the swimming pool has now been drained. We thought that we could maybe get one more warm stretch of weather to use it, but at this point, it would take another ninety degree week to amply warm the water. The water would have been great to chill a dozen kegs or so, but we don't have that many friends, so the draining commenced.

There actually was one sole who thought he could still enjoy a night swim in the frigid waters, but he learned the hard way that swimming at night is dangerous.

Sorry PETA, but we did have a sign that said, Pool Closed.

This is the first year we have had a pool this size. I quickly found out that a pool of this size requires a little more work to put away for the summer. Once the water was drained, I tried to prop it up on the swing set to dry. I could barely drag it to the swing set. I opted to spread it out on our hill to dry. I also found out that pools like this one don't do the lawn any favors. I now have a fourteen foot diameter brown crop circle that smells like a barn. Sweet Pea was mad because she couldn't play in the backyard anymore because of the smell. Her highness can also feel a pea under a dozen mattresses.

Now I have to scrub down the pool with bleach because of the mysterious growth on the bottom. The pool's bottom, not mine. I don't know where the pool will go once it is cleaned, dried and folded. It's pretty heavy when all rolled up. I'm sure it won't go back in the box. Maybe, I can fill it up in the basement and have that indoor pool I've always wanted. Lady Di says our basement already has enough 'smells' and doesn't need to add 'barn' to the list.

We'll have to see how the summer treats us next year. If it is as hot as this summer, we should get our money's worth of swimming.

Although, I think next year I will hire a pool boy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Vikings Ate My Homework

Last week was the first week of football for the NFL. Millions of people sat on their couches or recliners with a bowl of chips or popcorn, drinking pop or beer and watched their favorite team. Some people do not care for football. Lady Di and Sweet Pea are two of them. Number One Son and I cannot understand that. We love to watch football. Mainly, the Minnesota Vikings. If the Viking game is over, which it often is by halftime, we will switch over to the Packers or Bears or Lions game. These are the teams we follow.

Now I wouldn't call myself a fanatic. If I miss a game, it isn't 'Life or Death'. If Lady Di really wants to watch "Bridezillas" or the "Creative Napkin Folding show" on HGTV, I will usually let her. I may go to the upstairs television or listen to the radio in the garage, but it is no big deal. Plus, listening to games in the garage rocks! But it does lack a bathroom.

Since the Viking team as been in a rebuilding mode for the last couple of years, the games have been less than stellar anyway. I usually get a couple loads of laundry folded while watching. Sweet Pea can usually beat me at a few games of Chutes and Ladders too.

I think what I enjoy most is the inactivity of watching football. I look forward to the Sunday game because it means I will have 2 to 3 hours of being lazy. Nothing to lift. Nothing to fix. Nothing to think about. I have vivid junior high memories of laying on the floor with a bowl of popcorn watching football with my dad or grandfather. When I was young, our family's Sunday routine was, church in the morning, followed by Sunday School, then usually a rather large Sunday lunch. My favorite was fried chicken. Then getting a big pillow to crash into and enjoy Tommy Kramer blow up at the referees. The big meal and comfy couch usually rendered us unconscious by the third quarter.

I'm not claiming that our Sundays were very productive. But they were family time. We would talk about the game, but that would always lead to many other topics of conversation. We would talk about school, music, news or any other issue that would come up. The game itself was not really what was important. The fact that our family would congregate every Sunday to enjoy each other's company was the important thing. At Thanksgiving we would travel three whole blocks to Gramma Peg's house and I would listen to the adults while watching the Detroit Lions. Even though not much got accomplished during the game, I don't see it as time wasted. I miss those times from my childhood.

Even as Sunday afternoons were some of my favorite times of the week, Sunday nights were my least favorite time of the week. I still feel uncomfortable and edgy on Sunday nights. I know it comes from not doing my homework for school during the week. Knowing it was due on Monday morning, I still would procrastinate and force myself to finish my homework on Sunday night. I hated the anxious feeling I would get when it would get close to supper time. Then I knew I only had a few hours left before bed. More than once, I was caught without proper resources and the library closed. This was before the Internet, of course. You know, the 'Stone Age'.

Now those days of homework and cramming for tests are behind me. But I still feel depressed on Sunday nights. I think it is because on Sunday night, the weekend is down to the last few grains of sand in the hourglass, and I feel like I didn't get enough done. I know there are jobs around the house that are not going to meet their deadline.

Which brings me back to football. I'm a little conflicted about making similar memories for my family now. Do I want a tradition of sitting in front of the television every Sunday noon for five months? Will my kids grow up to be procrastinators and thereby ruining Sunday nights for them as well? Right now, I think any excuse to be together as a family works for me. I think a few Sundays per month won't hurt. I might even learn to fold some awesome napkins.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reading Is Fundamental

Now that school is in session, I get to enjoy something on a monthly basis that I always miss during the summer vacation. No, I'm not talking about anything amorous. I'm talking about the Scholastic Book Orders. Those three or four page catalogs that the kids bring home from school that offer to sell you discounted books. I love these catalogs! These offers appeal to me at two levels. First, I love to read and second, I am very cheap. Where else can you get a Harry Potter set for $50? I just like looking through them, even if I don't buy anything. Our catalogs usually have many classics of children's literature. Authors, E. B. White, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Roald Dahl are regulars. I'm sorry to say that I don't care for about half of the books in the flier. The Spongebob, Dora and other cartoon based books usually don't rise to the challenge of children's literature. There seems to be a lot more Barbie, Bratz and any other Nickelodeon show books too. But, whatever gets kids to read is OK with me. In the past, we have enjoyed a few Scooby Doo chapter books. The pictures were few and the mystery was entertaining. Even though I knew the monster was going to be a guy or girl in a costume, like it always is. And yes, the bad guys would have gotten away with it, if weren't for those meddling kids.

We have used Scholastic to build the kids library quite extensively. Children's book companies, lately, like to get you hooked on a series. That way, every time a new book is published in the series, you have to buy it or else. That also sets you up to buy their 'boxed sets' if your child likes the first book in the series. This isn't so bad when the grandparents start sniffing around for Christmas list ideas. Number One Son's favorite book sets include 'Magic Treehouse', 'Jack Sparrow' and 'Magic School Bus'. Sweet Pea likes 'Clifford', 'Curious George' and 'Frog and Toad'.

I enjoy reading these books as much as the kids do. I don't always get a lot of time for real reading. Reading the Sears ad in the bathroom doesn't count. N1S's books usually have some history or science lesson hidden in the story. I usually learn as much as he does. SP's books often have wonderful artwork and a good moral. Along with the good read, I get to enjoy time with my children teaching and entertaining.

I also like how these book orders mark the change of seasons. There are Halloween and leaf books in the fall, and Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books in the winter. They also give me a timely 'heads up' for when Valentine's Day is approaching. We keep our seasonal books in a separate basket and bring them out during the appropriate season. We have to read 'Skeleton Hiccups' every fall, and 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' every winter.

If your school offers Scholastic book orders, I advise you to take advantage of it. If you don't like a book you buy, you're only out a couple bucks. The only down side is that your kids' rooms will overflow with books. We have donated a couple laundry baskets full back to the school already. I know we probably buy too many, but how can you say no?

I am hoping that the children enjoy their books enough to revisit them when they are older. When they get old enough to actually read for pleasure, maybe they will pick a book from their shelf at random and be reminded of the first time it was read to them. Hopefully, their memories will be strong enough to enjoy the same books with their own kids. When that day comes, I will be ready to play the role of 'the Grampa who reads to us'.

I would, hopefully, like to be known to my grand kids as 'the Grampa with hair' too.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lunch Lady Land

Today, I met Sweet Pea for lunch at her kindergarten cafeteria. While walking through the halls to the lunch room, familiar smells brought back memories of my own lunch room adventures. I remembered some of my favorite school lunches. Pizza, burger on a bun and triangle tater tots were some of my favorites. And of course you can't forget, Sloppy Joe, Sloppy, Sloppy Joe. I never did get a taste for the school's Spanish rice though. I checked the menu beforehand and found out that we were having toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. Score!
We have discovered that Sweet Pea has been struggling to finish her food during lunch time. This usually is no problem at home. She is advanced for her age at asking for seconds. At school though, she has trouble getting through 'firsts'. Lady Di has volunteered in the lunch room a couple times and has identified the problem. It seems, Sweet Pea likes to socialize at meal time. Lady Di witnessed SP talking to her 'girlfriends', her friends who are boys, teachers, lunch ladies and anyone within earshot. This left her plate full for the first 19 minutes of the 20 minute lunch period. When the lunchroom monitor walked by saying, "Finish up. Only one minute left.", Sweet Pea went into vacuum mode. With both hands grasping utensils, she started shovelling in food like a combine in a cornfield. But in a very ladylike way I'm sure.

Today, I got to enjoy SP's company with a few of her classmates firsthand. I got to the school early so I would be at the lunchroom when SP came with her class. For the best surprise effect, I hid around a corner and waited for her class to arrive. As her line passed me I didn't see Sweet Pea. I looked around the corner to see her crying. I rushed over to her and asked, "What happened?" I guess she had bumped heads with the boy in front on her. I wiped her tears and asked it I could have lunch with her. That made her feel better. So much for a big surprise.

She introduced me to her friends and we sat down to eat. Grilled ham and cheese, corn chips, an apple and carrots. As I ate, I could see why Sweet Pea had trouble finishing her food. I hardly said a word and I couldn't finish my plate either. And I can eat pretty fast when I want to. I should probably mention that the lunch ladies gave me two sandwiches. I was happy to see that SP ate about half of her food. I was also glad that she didn't spill on her clothes because it was picture day too.

I wasn't so careful. Sorry Lady Di.

Speaking of Lady Di, she came to visit us at lunch too. LD was volunteering for picture day, so she sat with us. At the end of lunch SP realized that she would not have enough time to finish eating unless she stuffed her cheeks like a squirrel's, so she asked Lady Di, "Can I have a baggie to take this home for later?"

I don't think this restaurant does that.

I did see an untouched Milky Way candy bar in one boy's lunch box, I wouldn't have minded trading for. Who sends a full sized candy bar in a kindergartner's lunch?

Overall, we had a nice lunch date. I got to meet some of SP's friends and she got to show off her Dad a little. One of her friends asked if I could be on his dodge ball team at recess.
"Sorry", I said, "Old football injury."

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Don't Forget the Lyrics

What ever happened to the Happy Birthday song? Growing up, the Happy Birthday song pretty much stayed the same through the years. Every birthday day party would culminate with a cake, candles, and the song. Nobody would want to start the song, so a few people kind of half started until everyone could join in. Inevitably, the person who started the song would always start it either too high or too low. Then, uncomfortable screeches or gurgled rumblings would occur on the second to last stanza, causing giggles and groans until everyone finally got together at the end to shout the phrase 'too you!'. Sometimes some joker would add, 'And many more.' to the end. Or a child would start the 'How old are you" verse until Mom would give him 'The Look' that would cause his voice to sheepishly fade out.
I do like the verse about looking and smelling like a monkey though.

Then about 5 years ago I started hearing a slightly new version of the song. After our oldest started preschool, he came home with little extras added to the song.

It seems that quite a few 'cha, cha, cha's had been added after each stanza. As in, "Happy Birthday to you. Cha, Cha, Cha. Happy Birthday to you. Cha, Cha, Cha. Happy Birthday dear Whatsizname. Cha, Cha, Cha. Happy Birthday to yooooooooou. Cha, Cha, Cha.

This was pretty cute when our youngun sang this the first time, complete with the booty shake that goes with the Cha, Cha, Cha's. After a few years a 'Hi-yah' was added to the last Cha,Cha,Cha. And it wasn't just our child. I heard the Cha Cha's at multiple parties from N1S's friends. Where did this come from? How can the Birthday Song change? Are we breaking a law, singing it that way?

Now I know that time moves forward. Sometimes things change. It's fun for the kids. It's still a cute song. But now the kids have gone too far with the song. Our kids have added rhyming verses at the end of the song to prolong the torture.

The song now ends with a chant like this.
Happy Birthday, to you.
Cha, Cha, Cha!
Cut the cake!
Belly ache!
Scooby Doo!
Pizza too!
I love you! (this one they reserve for family members only)

Followed by peals of squealing giggles, then and only then, are the cake and ice cream ready to eat. By the time they are done with the song the ice cream is already melting and the cake surface is covered with a thin coat of candle wax. Those of you who know me, know that I don't wait for cake well.

I know N1S created the added chant and sinisterly brainwashed his sister and her friends to shout it after every birthday song. I'm wondering if anyone else sings alternate versions of the Birthday Song. Does anyone else say Cha, Cha, Cha, or is it a local preschool teacher scheme. Can I cut the cake without getting a belly ache?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kindergarten Already?

Sweet Pea had her first day of kindergarten today. Since the bus arrives at 7:05am, I went into Sweet Pea's room to wake her. "Good Morning, it's time for your first day of kindergarten."

She opened one eye and said, "It's not morning yet."

"Oh yes it is. Let's get up for school.", I coaxed.

"Daddy, can you open my shade, please?"

"OK." As I opened her shade she drowsily slurred, "See Daddy, it's still dark out. It's not morning yet." Our little lawyer.

And thus began the first day of Sweet Pea's quest for knowledge.
Can you believe, the first day of school in her life and she is already trying to sleep in?

A few minutes later she came down for breakfast. With Sweet Pea, sleep can never compete with meals. She seemed to gather strength from her peanut butter and honey toast. Lady Di got her dressed and her hair styled and she was ready for school.

Sweet Pea's best friend rides the same bus to school so she had someone to sit with on the bus. The bus stop looked like paparazzi at Brittney's trailer. Multiple Mom's taking pictures of their kids standing together, standing alone, standing with the dog, walking to the bus, stepping onto the bus and waving out the bus window. Lady Di then jumped into the Van-mobile and followed the bus to school. She was volunteering in the lunchroom today. Even though lunch didn't start until 11:30. I think she just wanted to see that her baby got to school alright.

Anyway, Lady Di watched Sweet Pea get off the bus. With a boy! (I thought I felt a twitch at work) She then walked to her classroom. Lady Di went in to greet the teacher and tell SP to have a good day. As Lady Di turned to walk away, she felt a tug on the back of her leg. Lady Di looked down to see her Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea's sweet blue eyes told Lady Di that she had something important to tell her. Lady Di's eyes began to well as she looked around to see if any other Moms had such precious children who loved their Mommy as much.

"Yes, Sweet Pea?", sang Lady Di.

"Mom, am I having cold lunch or hot lunch today?"

You actually could hear Lady Di deflating. "Hot lunch, dear."

"Thanks, Bye Mom."

So much for a teary Hallmark moment.

We should have known. In the weeks preceding kindergarten, Sweet Pea was always telling every one that she is so excited for snack time at school. I hope she can put that much excitement into her studies. I think she will do just fine. She already has many new friends and loves her teacher. Lady Di and I are going to surprise her, and join her for lunch at her school. I can hardly wait. I hope they don't run out of triangle tater tots.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Have a Good Day

This is the first year that both munchkins go to school all day. Number One Son is entering third grade and his sister, Sweet Pea, is attending all day Kindergarten this fall. Is it possible to experience 'empty nest syndrome' before they move out? Whenever the house is empty and quiet, it is just another reminder of how fast they are both growing up. It has been nine years since we haven't had a young one in the house. N1S was just starting school when Sweet Pea was born. Now she will be riding the bus too.

N1S got to start school today. His little sister gets to start her learnin' tomorrow. The bus comes at 6:40am. It is dark when we get up and the sun is just starting to awake up when we go out to wait for the bus. We will need flashlights when winter comes. Even though it was early, N1S got right up and picked up where he left off last school year. He got dressed, ate a cereal bar, brushed his teeth and sat out on the porch to wait. N1S likes routines and this is the exact same order he got ready to last year.

When the bus came, N1S gave the driver some muffins that Lady Di had made the night before. It doesn't hurt to 'grease the wheels' a little at the beginning of the year. We actually do things like that because N1S is more comfortable if he knows people well. Baked goods break the ice and the drivers usually remember him for it. They also appreciate a little pick me up on the first day.

N1S came home after school today with a big smile on his face.
"That was excellent!", he proclaimed, walking up the driveway. This was somewhat unusual. In years past, when we would ask him how his first day was, he would grunt, "OK I guess". Further questioning by Lady Di or myself would glean like answers.
"Do you like your teacher?"


"Did you make any new friends?"


"What are their names?"


"What was for lunch?"

"Ummmmm....I forget."

"Did you really go to school, or just fall asleep in the bathroom until it was time to come home?"

"Ummmmm....I forget."

This year he was really excited coming home from school. I think he was mostly proud of meeting a new friend. People who know N1S, know that he sometimes struggles with initiating and sustaining friendships. He said he met a kid who really likes Harry Potter, and I guess they talked in English accents all day. I'm sure the lunch ladies were impressed. When Lady Di asked N1S his new friend's name, he actually knew it. And he didn't say Dumbledore.

At supper time, it was my turn to ask him about his day. He told me about his friend. He told me what he had for lunch. (mini corn dogs) He even told me about the book that the teacher read to them.

Is this what I can expect from third grade? Is N1S finally turning a corner in his development and/or maturity and paying more attention to his surroundings? Or did he simply have a good day at school. I don't really care why my son had a good day at school. I just care that he had one. I know everyday won't be golden, but I would like to see that most of them are. He is off to a pretty good start.

We also were notified that he was accepted into the accelerated math program at school. N1S loves math and numbers. He likes to figure out different ways to solve problems and rearrange numbers. He doesn't always like to do math homework though. Maybe I can get him to balance the checkbook.

His sister, Sweet Pea was accepted into the accelerated speaking program at her Kindergarten. She will have no problem keeping up with this. She is definitely not the shy one and would love to tell you why. I asked her if she was excited for kindergarten. She said, "Yeah, and we will be getting lunch!" I guess lunch at school for the first time would be cool. She has actually joined her brother for lunch at his school before but I think she really is looking forward to being with her class.

Tomorrow, Sweet Pea invades kindergarten. I can't wait to hear all about her day.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Summer Over? Never!

I heard from someone that summer is now over. Is summer really over? The temperature still seems like summer. Flowers are still blooming. I'm still mowing the lawn. I'm not ready to release summer from my kung-fu grip just yet. Just because Labor Day has come and gone, doesn't mean I can't still work on my awesome farmer's tan lines. I can still hear cicadas in the trees and I can still walk barefoot in the grass. Oh no, summer is not over yet.

Every year, summer speeds by faster. We never have enough time to do all of the things we want to do. Since we had a record number of ninety degree days this year, we got to swim more than previous years. Both pool and beach. We played baseball and soccer. We got to go to the State Fair. We went to the Mall of America. We went to a Twins game. We rode bikes and played with chalk and bubbles. We went to parades. We did a little fishing and golfing. We visited family in three states. We had a few bonfires with smores in the back yard. We even went camping for the first time as a family. Summer always seems so short. We hardly got to do anything!

If summer fun really is over, what can I look forward to now? Let's see. I can look forward to cold weather and shovelling snow. (Yay! Minnesota!) I guess that also means less mosquitoes. Also, now that the kids are in school, I can try out that napping program I've been developing. But only on my mornings off from work. Maybe, Lady Di and I can do some exercising together. Or maybe a little golf. When the mildly cooler weather comes, I won't have to mow the lawn as much. Plus, I won't sweat a bucket and a half while doing it. We will get to go to high school football games on Fridays, and watch college football on Saturdays, and pro football on Sundays. If you call Vikings football, pro. We have trips to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch planned. Church suppers will also start filling the calendar. Then comes Halloween, burning leaves, hot chocolate and before you know it, Thanksgiving. Gee, I wish summer wouldn't last so darned long. I never have enough time for my Autumn fun stuff.

But how can school actually be starting already?

Even though summer seemed to go on endlessly, school sneaked up on us again. Let me clarify, school sneaked up on me. Lady Di was ready weeks ago. She not only gathered school supplies from the kids' school lists, she packed their backpacks and had them ready last week.

N1S starts school tomorrow, and Sweet Pea starts in two days. We'll see if we can strap them down for bed tonight. It will be hard for them to sleep, knowing all the fun stuff we have to do, now that summer is finally over.

Shoulder Angel

I'm very proud of Lady Di. She has recently climbed the first rung on the ladder to nursing. She just completed an accelerated three week CNA training program. So now she is a certified nursing assistant. Her program had tests every day. She was so nervous about passing them that she studied like crazy every night. It paid off too. She graduated at the top of her class and was offered a job at the nursing home right away. Her instructor gave an award to each student at the end of the program. She cited Lady Di for being 'Most Meticulous'. At the beginning of the program, Lady Di's instructor told the students that she was going to be a little angel on their shoulders, whispering the correct way to perform tasks. She said that Lady Di's award signified that Lady Di no longer needed her shoulder angel, as she always strove for perfection and never cut corners when caring for residents.

She's not sure if she will work right away. She is also taking a college English class on her way to nursing school. Once her college general classes are finished, she can apply for nursing school. Her CNA certification and 4.0 grade point average should give her a little bit of an edge when they select students for nursing school.

It's not easy to go back to school after over fifteen years. I don't think I could do it. In fact, I'm sure I couldn't do it. My study habits involved a lot of procrastinating and cramming. Now with two kids, I don't think they would always be accommodating to the 'all nighter'. Lady Di doesn't have that problem. She does her work nightly and actually learns what she needs to know instead of memorization. I know Lady Di will do well. She really works hard and it will be worth it in a couple years when she is a nurse.

Nursing really does suit Lady Di well. She is the most caring and empathetic person I know. She works well with kids, seniors and everyone in between. I don't see any limit to what she will want to do. As long as she continues college, I will try to be there with help and support.

As long as she tells me where the 'college parties' are.

Stuff About Me

My photo
I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.