Goodbye, Children’s Treehouse

Somebody was not particularly happy about her last day of pre-pre-school. Our family has invested a lot of time (and money) into childcare at Children’s Treehouse over the years and has been incredibly grateful for their services, but since Genesee will start 4k in the fall, my parents decided that my sister deserved a summer vacation, too. But when Genesee learned that she won’t get to see her BFFs Arlo and Chloe on a daily basis, she was less than impressed.

Still, the photoshoot must go on…

Moving on up (to Second Grade)

I did it! I graduated first grade like a boss! My teacher, Mrs. Ramsey, said I “blew the first grade benchmarks for reading and math out of the water!” According to her, my word accuracy and comprehension skills were very solid, I was an expressive & fluent reader, I used class time constructively, and I always got right to work.

More importantly, Mrs. Ramsey always trusted me to run errands and to work with my classmates who needed help. She said, “I know he will be patient and kind.”

And also notable was when she signed my final report card with “Keep shooting hoops! NBA all the way!” because she knows I’m a baller!

I loved having Mrs. Ramsey for my main teacher, being supported by Mrs. Nicole in our classroom, and also knowing that my Aunt Julie was teaching right next door! I enjoyed Share Days when I would often showcase my blog, but especially when I got to teach my class about the Tuskegee Airmen by bragging about my Great Great Uncle Alfred Gorham. And, I became good friends with Danny, Wyatt, Ashlyn, and Austin, among many other new buddies.

Now, I’ll be moving on up to second grade. But first, summer vacation!

Big Sky Country

On April 23rd, we loaded the family and my grandparents into the Suburban and headed for Montana to accompany dad on his bear hunt. The last time I stayed at a quaint, remote cabin in the middle of nowhere Montana was when I was in my mom’s belly! This time, however, Dad promised much nicer lodging, with indoor, functioning plumbing.

First, we had to drive through Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming until we found a hotel with a pool! And that’s when we learned that my sister is actually a mermaid… completely fearless in the water! And by “in the water,” I mean, she obsessively bobbed her head underneath the surface so much and for so long that mom didn’t know if we should all be impressed or call for a lifeguard. I guess Genesee’s YMCA swim lessons have had an impact!? Luckily, we all survived to enjoy a delicious Applebee’s dinner in the comfort of our hotel sheets.

Eventually, after 11/2 days of driving, we arrived at our final destination and Dad did not disappoint!

Once we got settled into our home-away-from-home, it was time to get serious about hunting by scoping out 12,000 acres of wildlife paradise. Then, after learning the lay of the land, we made a game plan to wake up at 5:15 a.m. every morning to search for a bear that didn’t want to be found.

Not all was lost, however, because we won the hide-and-seek contest against the elk cows and bulls, turkeys, mule deer, prong horns, porcupines, gophers, long billed curlews, and Clark’s Nutcrackers… all discovered against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped mountains. But, in case that wasn’t enough to call the trip a success, Dad and I also caught a nice rainbow trout at the fishing pond and, just to keep the ladies happy and fed, we harvested a turkey on our final hunt!

My favorite part of hunting was shooting Mountain Dew cans with my BB gun and playing chauffeur for Dad and Grandpa by driving the Honda across the rugged terrain. Still, some of the best memories made happened outside of hunting hours when we enjoyed movie marathons with buttered popcorn (Genesee’s new favorite movie is Flicka 2, particularly the kissing scene), played Chutes & Ladders championships, practiced our golf swings and soccer moves, learned how to play Euchre, caught up on lost beauty sleep, went on long hikes, took joyrides on the 4-wheeler, ate LOTS of food, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of limited internet connectivity.

Thanks for a great trip, Montana! We love your wide open spaces, but you can keep your steady 25 mph winds.

Until next time…

Lucky #7

On April 16th, I got lucky.

It was my 7th birthday, we had no school, and I found a surprise delivery at my front door: my good friend, Danny! We played our hearts out at my house and then mom took us to a movie, followed by a drive through Taco Bell, which ended with lunch at the park!

Then, over my birthday weekend, we hosted a pizza party… the first family gathering at our house since summer!

Just like every birthday, I have lots to be thankful for…. mostly the presence and good health of my loving family, but I’m not mad about the presents I got either! I will surely become quite active with my new bike, golf clubs, smart basketball, and smart soccer ball; keep up with me if you can!

Soccer Star

I’ve officially launched my soccer career. And let me tell you, I’ve got moves you’ve never seen!

Like at my first game, I leaned my upper body strangely far ahead of my feet (even though I’ve never run with that posture before) and then I clumsily fell forward every time I touched the ball. My fan club seemed confused, yet entertained, so I just kept running myself to the ground.

For game 2, I tried a different strategy: Staying upright. (Which worked, because I scored a goal!)

Lesson for the next game: Remembering that throw-ins on the soccer field are not like jump shots on the basketball court.

Follow me for more soccer tips!

Easter 2021

Despite forgetting to leave out carrots, the Easter Bunny was gracious enough to pay us a visit anyway, and left behind chocolates, toys, movies, and baskets full of happiness.

That’s what you call classy, thoughtful, and selfless… spreading goodness to others without needing to chase a dangled carrot.

The world needs more Easter Bunnies.

The One-Year Anniversary

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” – Jamie Anderson

We miss you, Papa Murphy….

Halfway to Four

On January 26th, Genesee turned 31/2. We celebrated this joyous occasion by completely forgetting about it and doing nothing. But even though my growing sister had no half birthday cake to show for it, we figured this milestone was still worthy of a blog post.

At three and a half, Genesee has bloomed into the mature fun sister I’ve been waiting for…. she farts every time she goes potty and she loves to let her butt drop into the toilet bowl for a quick bath.

When she’s not talking to you with her eyes, she insists on proclaiming, “I TOLD YOU SO,” even though it makes absolutely no sense, like when I’m simply minding my own business, enjoying my cheerios.

These days, my sister refuses to wear dresses, but has great appreciation for the mis-matched sock fad. So, if you don’t attempt to make her look cute and if you promise to take her to McDonald’s for “Chicken McNuggets, a strawberry shake, and a napkin,” she may consider you a candidate for best friend. But be warned, she sometimes thinks she’s a dog, so it would be helpful if you’re fluent in barks, like she is. And when she says, “uppy-uppy-uppy” with her arms pointing toward the sky, that’s her desperate plea to be picked up and consoled, but I find it more satisfying to just tickle her armpits.

Nobody quite does three and a half like my sister does, but that’s why we love her so much.

Cheers (and fears) to the countdown to four!

Destination: Sunshine State

Since New Year’s Eve 2020 was our last happy and healthy memory with Papa Florence, we were determined to make big plans for the 2021 new year to avoid sulking in sadness. So…. road trip to Florida!

We packed up our camper and left Wisconsin the day after Christmas and cruised all the way to Kentucky to find a Jellystone campground to sleep at. Then, we woke up and toured Mammoth Cave National Park before driving through the Great Smoky Mountains until we reached our final destination: Ocean Grove RV Resort in St. Augustine, Florida.

Once we arrived at the resort, we met up with Colin’s family and Cha Cha & Ernest…. the perfect combination for a party! We ate, swam, biked, ate some more, toured the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S., watched movies, walked along the ocean, and toasted with mimosas to celebrate our super duper fun getaway vacation!

Before making the trip back to winter, we visited Chelsee & Ernest’s lovely home in Gainesville. As we neared the eve of the new year, nothing made us feel closer to Papa than being reunited with his golf cart and puppy dogs! Cha Cha & E even took us to a holiday light show and one of the featured songs was Hallelujah!! It was a special sign from Papa that he is still with us, and a cue for me to start ugly sobbing.

We loved every minute of watching the bat release, enjoying a Satchel’s pizza dinner, touring the boardwalk for alligators, fishing for bass, biking through the trails of the Sunshine State, and ringing in 2021 with great hopes for a better year ahead!

Thanks for the hospitality and reprieve from our winter doldrums, Cha Cha, Ernest and Florida. Maybe we should make this a tradition?!

Christmas 2020

It’s not officially Christmas until we’ve visited the Rotary Lights – the event that warms up even the coldest of nights!

I was bummed that COVID ruined my yearly tradition of visiting Santa there, but was pleasantly surprised to see him and Mrs. Clauss hanging out in the Duluth Trading Company storefront! Crisis averted.

Christmas in quarantine was much lonelier than we would have liked….

…but it still, somehow, felt magical.