Friday, July 20, 2007

U-Pick, I-Pick, We-Pick

I love the u-pick farms in Michigan. In June we go to Rowe's in Belleville to pick strawberries and sugar snap peas. Here is Adam this past season with my friend Heather:

And this is why I do not recommend strawberry picking with a young baby, unless said baby likes being covered in dirt and strawberry juice and eating small rocks and pieces of straw (mine does):

In July and August we go to the Dexter Blueberry Farm and pick...blueberries. There are at least two things I love about blueberries. 1) The bushes are very tall, so you do not have to bend down to get the berries; 2) The bushes do not have any thorns. Here are some of my friends at the farm yesterday:

Now that Eli and Adam are old enough to help, we picked 10 pounds of berries in about one hour! The berries are huge this year. Here we are in the little shack where we pay for the berries. Eli is hefting our harvest, and Adam is showing off one of the buckets we tied around our waist. Esther is wondering why she is not at home taking her nap yet:

In August and September we go to Makielski's in Ypsilanti to pick fall raspberries. You'll have to stay tuned for pictures of that. The last time we went, we didn't even make it out of the parking lot before we had eaten every last delicious berry. So yummy!

We finish out the u-pick season in September and October at Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan, where we pick apples and pumpkins. Here is Adam helping Aunt Leslie pick her very favorite Golden Delicious apples last fall:

Yesterday we took a little detour on our way home from blueberry picking and came across Urquhart's Tree Farm in Chelsea. When I explained to the boys that we could go there to cut down our own Christmas Tree this year...I think we've just extended our u-pick season. Stay tuned for that as well.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Saying Goodbye

We have called Ann Arbor home for the past 9 years. It has been a wonderful place to live. There is one teensy-tiny drawback to living in a college town, though, and that is saying goodbye. I don't think I can even count how many friends we have lost when they finished their time at the University and moved on. Even friends who were not here for school, friends we thought would never leave, are gone now. Today I am watching Maddy, Lauren and Lizzie as their mom and dad pack all their possessions into a moving truck, clean their condo, and get ready to drive to Nashville. Eli will miss being chased on the playground by Maddy, and Adam will miss being in the same kindergarten and primary classes with Lauren. Here are Maddy & Lauren with their mom at a recent barbeque in their honor:

Just a few weeks ago we lost Willa & Wyatt, who have gone to make a new home with their family in Kansas City. Willa helped Maddy chase Eli on the playground, and whenever she played at our house, she got the boys playing house, or school, or store instead of their usual Pokemon or Harry Potter games. Wyatt was our one friend who wanted to play as much as we did, so he was always ready to come over at a moment's notice. Here is Wyatt with Eli and Adam during his goodbye sleepover in the tent in our back yard:

Another wonderful friend that we are losing this summer is Brand. Brand, Adam, Wyatt and Jake were the four musketeers in preschool two years ago. He is moving with his family to Japan. Here he is with Adam and Jake at Jenny's Farm Stand in Dexter last fall:

This Friday we will be attending a goodbye party for Adam's friend Vinicius, who is moving back to Brazil with his family. Vinicius was in the same kindergarten class as Adam, Jake, and Lauren, and he played soccer with the boys as well. Here he is with Adam and Jake at Plymouth Orchard during a school field trip last fall:

The major loss that started out the summer was saying goodbye to our beloved Aunt Leslie, who finished graduate school, packed up her room in our basement, and moved back to her home in Utah. Here she is, wrapped up by Eli, on the day of her departure:

Our one solace is that sometimes we get to see our friends again. Eli's friend from kindergarten, Aidan, moved to Maine last year. Luckily, his grandparents still live in Michigan, so we got to see him in February when he came out for a visit. Here he is in our living room enjoying Pokemon cards with Eli and Adam:

Another way of seeing old friends is to visit them in their new homes. The friends we get to see most often are those that live near our parents. Last summer we got to see Dan & Christine and Pete & Nicole while we were in Utah. Here is a picture of Dan & Christine on the front step of their beautiful home in Draper:

We also got to see all four of the families from Ann Arbor that have settled in Boise, where my parents live. Here is a picture of our friends McCall and Olivia (and a random neighbor) at their home in Boise last August:

Later on the same day, we had an Ann Arbor reunion picnic at Municipal Park with the other families that live in Boise. Shown here are Brigette & Don with Sage and Micah, Gwen & Rich with Olivia and Lola, Potato Girl with Eli, Adam and Esther, and Rachel with Emily and David:

Because my hard drive crashed last year, I don't have pictures of many other friends who we've visited over the years. We've driven to Dallas to see Jordan & Andrea, to Cincinnati to see Matt & Suzanne, to Atlanta to see Jason & Carolyn. We've visited Tami & Dave and Erin & Mark in Utah, and Lybi & James in Arizona. If you look through the links to other blogs on the far right of this page, you will find many friends that used to live in Ann Arbor. If you are reading this, and you are our friend from Ann Arbor, please get yourself a blog and send me a link to it so I can keep track of you. Maybe some day we can have a big reunion here in Ann Arbor. Until then, we blog.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Favorite Wedding Gift

When I married Dan, I got one of the greatest gifts you could ever hope to receive: a wonderful second family. I couldn't post a tribute to my family without also posting one to Dan's. Let me introduce you, first, to the girls. This picture was taken in my home in May, when our families convened in Michigan to attend Eli's baptism:

On the far left is Jody: chemist, cellist, former missionary to Poland, number 4 child and the middle daughter. Next to her is Dan's mom, Linda. Then comes Melinda, the oldest, who we call Bug. She loves singing with a choir, playing the organ, traveling the world, and speaking Russian. On the far right is Leslie, number 5 child, and the youngest of the girls. She is the one who lived with us the past two years while getting a masters degree in viola. We wish she'd never graduated, so that we could keep her forever.

Now for the boys:

On the far left is the tallest of the boys as well as the baby of the family, Andrew. He recently returned from a mission to Prague. Next is Linda, now dwarfed by her giant sons. On the other side of Dan's mom is Dan, my husband, number 2 child, the oldest boy, and formerly the tallest. And on the far right is Tim, number 3 child, middle boy, and husband of Andrea (not Potato Girl), shown here being crazy with Adam last summer:

And here is a more normal picture of her with Tim at my brother Mark's wedding:

One of the nice things about our two families is how well they know each other. Dan's entire family was waiting with my family at the airport the day I came home from my mission to The Philippines. A few years later they came to Boise again for Eli's baby blessing. My brothers and Dan's sisters attended the same ward in Provo for several years, during which time they regularly mooched meals off of them (I think they provided helpful services in return). Dan's sister Leslie played the viola for one of the tracks on my brother James' Brementown CD. Tim asked Andrea to marry him while on vacation with my family at the Oregon Coast. My mom was at Tim's wedding and Dan's mom and several siblings were at Mark's. In this picture, taken last July at Mark's wedding, you can see (left to right) my brother Nathan, Dan's brothers Tim and Andrew, and my brother James:

And here are our two mommies, posing with their three grandchildren last summer (Dan's mom on the left, mine on the right):

Well, that may have been more than you ever wanted to know about our families, but I enjoyed the experience of writing about them, so thank you for indulging me.

The Rest of the Family

Seeing the pictures of Nathan and James in my last post made me want to introduce you to the rest of my family. As you know, I am the oldest of the five children of Larry and Teresa. Here are the Parental Units at my house in May when they came out for Eli's baptism (aren't they the cutest?):

Nathan and James, who you've met, are next. The youngest of the three boys is Mark. He is about to celebrate the first anniversary of his marriage to my wonderful sister-in-law, Kamis. Here is a picture I took of them at their wedding last summer (the cutie in the middle is Kamis' little sister):

And last, but definitely not least, my very favorite and only sister, Karen. Here is a picture that I took of her with her "super" (he loves Superman) husband, Ben, at their home in Pocatello last summer (the cutie in the middle of this picture is their ferret, Badger):

That's it for my side of the family. Stay tuned for an introduction to Dan's brothers and sisters.

A Weekend with my Brothers

Let me introduce you to two of my three brothers:

My brother Nathan (in the panda shirt) turned 30 on Tuesday. Nathan lives in Boise. My brother James (in the Harold B. Lee library shirt) lives in Washington D.C. James suggested that my parents fly Nathan to D.C. as a 30th birthday present. When I heard that Nathan and James were going to be spending the weekend together, I wanted to go, too. My dad kindly offered to buy me a plane ticket, as well, in honor of my 30th birthday (which was two and a half years ago). So on Saturday morning I said goodbye to my sleeping family, stepped into my friend LL's car, and was whisked away to the Detroit airport.

I arrived at the Regan National Airport at 9 a.m. James instructed me on how to take the Metro to his place, and when I arrived at his stop, he and Nathan were waiting for me. We walked back to his apartment on Capitol Hill, which looks like this:

James fed me breakfast (a toasted bagel with cream cheese and juice), and then we headed out for our first stop of the morning: Arlington National Cemetery. At the cemetery, we visited three sites: John F. Kennedy's grave, the Arlington House, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here is the picture I took of the eternal flame at Kennedy's memorial:

I was surprised to see that beside the markers for JFK and Jackie were the markers for two little babies. One just said "Daughter. Stillborn. 1956." The other said "Patrick Bouvier Kennedy", and the dates indicated that he was born in August 1963 and died two days later. JFK was shot and killed in November of the same year, and I wanted to know if this was in deed their son, which would mean that Jackie lost both a baby and a husband within a few months of each other. I found out later in the day that the Kennedys did have 4 children. Arabella was their first, and she was stillborn in 1956. Caroline was born next, in 1957, and then JFK Junior in 1960. Finally they had little Patrick, who was delivered by emergency c-section 5 1/2 weeks early and didn't have the lung capacity to sustain his life.

Up the hill from the Kennedy grave site is the Arlington House:

James told us that the land that is now the cemetery was part of Robert E. Lee's plantation before the Civil War. During the war, the Union army buried their dead on Lee's land, so that after the war, there wasn't much he could do with it. The house is being refurbished until 2010, so there was no furniture in it, and it looked a bit run down, but I really liked the paint color and the doorways in this room on the ground floor:

Our friend in Ann Arbor, Laura Lee, has told us several times that she was born in Robert E. Lee's house, so I asked about that, but the docent didn't know if that would have been possible or not. I need to ask Laura Lee again.

I didn't know anything about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was expecting a head stone that said "Unknown Soldier" or something. Instead, there was this huge white building with an outdoor amphitheater, and an indoor museum filled with tributes from all around the world to the Unknown Soldier. Here is a picture that I did not take:

Outside there was an armed soldier, a "Sentinel" dressed in his full fancy uniform, including white gloves. This is what he looked like, again in a picture I did not take:

James told us that we had to stay and see the "Changing of the Guard." It was so hot that day, and the sun was blaring down on us. Standing on the steps watching the three soldiers go through their elaborate ritual I almost felt like I would pass out from the heat. It bothered me to think of how hot the men must be in their uniforms. The soldier in charge, the Relief Commander, spoke to us in a strange, stylized, barking voice. James said they always speak that way during the ceremony. I found out today that the tomb has been guarded every minute of every day without fail since 1937.

We met Dan's sister, Melinda, and her friend Megan at the cemetery. They drove us back to James' place for lunch. We had a nice rest, and then left again in the late afternoon to go see Bodies...The Exhibition at Rosslyn on the Metro.

James had heard about this from mom, who saw it in Chicago. It is an exhibit of real human bodies that have been plasticized with silicon so that they are preserved indefinitely. For $26.50 a person, you can see a freak show of anatomical science. The image that I will never forget is the large case containing an entire human skin. It looked like a cow hide, but it had a belly button, and was shaped like a deflated man. Sorry, but I haven't been able to find a picture of it. Ha ha.

After the exhibit, we walked over to the Iwo Jima monument, which was much bigger than I had imagined it:

James told us all about the movie Flags of our Fathers and how hard it had been for the men in the photograph (which later became this monument) when the military ordered them to come home from the war and tour the country to raise money. Next we took the Metro to Cleveland Park for dinner at an Italian restaurant. Back at home, we ate a delicious chocolate and strawberry cake made James' friend Victoria. I collapsed into James' bed and slept long and deep.

Sunday morning we took the Metro to Friendship Heights to attend church. I visited the Relief Society of the Chevy Chase ward while Nathan and James were in the sacrament meeting for the D.C. 2nd ward. After church we rode the metro to the Smithsonian, and spent a very enjoyable hour or two in the Hirshhorn Museum. I like this portrait of James and Nathan with wavy faces that I took there:

My favorite part of the museum, and possibly of the whole trip, was watching a thirty minute movie by Peter Fischli and David Weiss called The Way Things Go. When I first glanced at the television in the gallery, I saw a tire on fire and it looked pretty boring, so I moved on. But James and Nathan were riveted to the screen a few minutes later, so I returned to wait with them. Moments later I was hooked, and we couldn't leave until we'd seen the whole thing and then watched our favorite parts for the second time. The movie looks like it is set in a big warehouse. There are no people in the movie, no talking. You watch as a suspended bag of garbage slowly unwinds until it bumps into a tire, which rolls a few feet and causes something else to happen. This goes on and on and on, and there are fires, explosions, water, vapors, smoke, bubbles, irons, ladders, and lots of tires. We were laughing so hard at some of it, and at other times the suspense was killing us. It is a lot like the sequences with the squirrel and the acorn in Ice Age: The Meltdown, but it was not animated.

We returned to James' apartment for lunch with several of James' friends from church. Here are a few of them posing for me (from left, Nathan, James, Aaron, Amy, and Brian):

James made some yummy chicken with peppers and onions, I was in charge of the salad and rice, Vick made fried platanos, and there was watermelon and lemon banana cake with maple frosting. After our meal and some pleasant chatting, Nathan and James rode the Metro back to the airport with me and said goodbye.

I just want to thank my mom and dad for buying my plane ticket, James and Brian for sharing their bachelor pad with us, Dan for watching the kids and refinishing the floor of our bedroom while I was gone, Vick for making the chocolate cake (and reading my blog!) and Nathan for turning 30. It was a great weekend.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Some Favorite Picture Books

It has been quite awhile since my last post, I am realizing. I've got a bunch of books that I keep meaning to write about so that I can finally take them back to the library, so here goes.

First on the list is The Dog Child by Simon Black, illustrated by Honorio Robledo. I thought this book was cute, and a little bit weird, but it was a big hit with the boys. It is about a couple who treats their dog as though she is their daughter, even sending her to kindergarten. Finally the dog gets her secret wish when her humans have a baby, and she gets to go back to being a regular pet:

The next book that merits mention comes with a warning. It is The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. I am not actually recommending this book. This story was surprisingly violent. The wolves start out building a house of brick, which the pig knocks down with a sledgehammer. Their second house, built of concrete, is smashed down by a pneumatic drill. They build their third house out of barbed wire, iron bars, armor plates, heavy metal padlocks, Plexiglas and reinforced steel chains. The pig blows this house up with dynamite. The illustration on this page looks like a scene from Iraq. I have been showing the book to everyone who comes over, which has launched it to celebrity status, and Adam has been begging for it ever since:

My third recommendation is A Harvest of Color by Melanie Eclare. This is the nonfiction account, illustrated with photographs by the author, of a group of children who grew vegetables together one summer. Each child picks a different vegetable and talks about planting and taking care of it as it grows. At the end of the summer they make a giant salad of their harvest and eat it together. This book has really captivated the boys:

Well, we hope you enjoy our recommendations. Happy Reading!