Tuesday, September 2, 2014

End of Summer Report Card

Summer's over... whomp whomp (sad trombone).  Today is the first day of school, so to relive all the summer magic, I thought I'd post a little summer recap for posterity's sake.  Also, so I can prove to my children that they had a fun childhood.
Here is our Summer Bucket List, as it stands today.  We didn't knock everything off our list, but most we did.  We would still like to take Noah to the Kroc Center in the next month, because he was awarded four passes for having perfect attendance last school year.  We want him to feel rewarded.  We didn't end up doing a lemonade stand because midsummer, the city closed our road due to repairs, so we didn't have any traffic!  We just ran out of time for the rest.  Here's a picture recap, in no particular order:

1.  Grand Haven Beach on Lake Michigan
After the beach, we walked down the road and ate lunch at Pronto Pups (aka the world's MOST DELICIOUS corndogs... from a gal who's not particularly fond of corn dogs).  The line was super long, and people walked away with fistfuls of corndogs.  Not joking.

Eating on the hill beside Pronto Pups, overlooking the river

2.  Bus ride to John Ball Zoo
The kids received free admission and round trip city bus passes at the end of the school year.  We took full advantage and rode the bus.  It was really fun!  I was a little nervous trying to figure out where to get off the bus, but the bus driver was really helpful.  Bonus:  the city bus did not disappoint and was full of lovely and strange characters (some requiring explanations from mom once we were off the bus and out of earshot).

3.  Splash Pad

4.  Visits with Uncle Michael and Auntie Alycia
We got to see them twice this summer!  The girls were thrilled that Auntie let them play dress up from the clothes and accessories from her closet.  Noah loved lego building with Uncle Michael.

5.  Painting, Sewing, Drawing, and General Craftiness
A beloved past time for this crew

6.  Too Talls
Our family's new favorite!  This is a block from our house, so it is a nice walk or bike ride away.  I think we made it there for treats every couple of weeks.

7.  The National Rowing Competition
Since we're still kind of new here, I'm not sure if this is an annual event here, but it was so much fun to watch.  It was held at the park across the street from our house.  There were thousands of boats (shells?  rowers?  whatever they're called), and the athletes were so friendly, and answered lots of questions about the sport.  We watched the co-ed pairs, and women's teams of four.  Gary took Mylie down another day and watched the mens' teams of eight.  Gary has his sights set on rowing now, and the Grand Rapids Rowing Club boathouse is just a mile from our house.

8.  Bike Rides
I think we went on bike rides nearly every day.  We road along Riverside Park, sometimes over the river and down around the minor league ballpark.  Sometimes we stopped and took a closer look at some of the cool things we spotted, like this turtle below.

9.  Our First Annual Yes Day!
The rules were 
1) Mom and Dad will say YES to anything for one day only
2) Your YES couldn't infringe on someone else's YES 
3)  It couldn't cost money

One might think that our kids might get out of control on this day, but they didn't.  We were very surprised to see that they really collaborated on the whole event.  They spent a couple of days leading up to the big day talking about what they wanted to do.  They even gave me a list of meals they wanted (and all agreed!).  So here's how it shook out... CocoPuffs for breakfast (they had never had them, but were thrilled to try them.  They ate the whole box in one day),  They wanted to eat in the family room, Noah wanted to go to Target to look at toys, while the girls wanted to go on a bike ride to the park.  They wanted ice cream for dessert after dinner.  There were requests to play cards, watch a movie, and stay up late.  They also chewed a lot of gum.  That's it!  Given almost free rein, this is what they were content with!  We will definitely do this again.

 9.  Farmers' Market
We had so much fun!  We got so many fresh berries, sweet corn, soups, napa cabbage, and raw honey. The kids' favorite part was eating a fresh, raw piece of sweet corn.  So good!

10.  Fishing Tournament at Grandma and Grandpa's
a.k.a "Krull Lake Bluegill Derby"
This one was checked off our list, kind of.  A lot of work was put into planning this event, and everyone was SO EXCITED!  We had teams picked, award ribbons, team champion plaque, games, goodie bags, homemade ice cream, and a sleepover.  The day of, we got round one in (out of five) and then the sky opened up and the deluge of rain began.  We had to postpone the rest of the tournament, hopefully in the next month or so.  

 Fishing Cousins

Right before the rain

11.  BBQ
Luckily a really nice group of families have included us in their circle of friends.  What was dubbed "Grill and Chill" was a weekly BBQ, rotating at various houses throughout the summer.  We met almost every Wednesday night for dinner. It averaged 10-14 adults and 19-23 kids.  For The Crazies, this was the highlight of almost every week.  I didn't get many pictures, but there were usually marshmallows on the fire, catching lightning bugs, lots of running, and usually a few casualties among children.  

12.  Vacation Bible School
We did two rounds of VBS with friends.  So thankful!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Heard Around the House: July 2014

You know that one commercial that depicts a dad going school supply shopping with his kids.  Dad is gleefully riding the cart down the aisle while the kids mope along behind him.  As a teacher, I never could relate.  I loved summer vacation and mourned its end.  However, now as a stay at home parent with a ten week summer break,  I can. not. wait. for. the. end.

Did you know that bored kids want to eat all the time?  Did you know that boredom often incites the most obnoxious levels of sibling fighting?  Did you know that bored little girls will begin to use their regular clothes as dress up clothes and nearly double the amount of laundry a family normally produces?  Did you know that the glory of summer break for a seven and nine year old wears off around week four?  

So basically, what I'm saying, is that most of what I've "heard around the house" during the month of July is lots of "I'm bored" followed by "I'm hungry", with an obscene amount of screaming mixed in to drive me sufficiently crazy.

But.  They're cute, so let us just focus on that for a few...

Presley:  Mom come here!  My poop looks like a weiner dog without a head.

Presley:  Mom, will you love me even when I'm a grown up lady?
Mom:  Yes, of course, I will love you forever.
Presley:  Then what color purse are you going to give to me when I'm a grown up lady?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Heard Around the House: June 2014

Noah:  I had the BEST dream last night.  Grammy and Pappy were farmers and lived on an island far away from here that was an island farm.  We were flying on a private jet to visit them and jumped out with parachutes.  Then we floated down and had deluxe omelettes for breakfast.

Cousins in May... in an apple orchard... jumping

Presley to Noah and Mylie:
Did you guys know I'm allergic to ninjas and poison berries and stuff?

Mylie's first sewing lesson... she did so much better than I expected!

While looking at our wedding pictures...
Presley:  Was I invited to your wedding?
Me:  No, you weren't born yet.
Presley:  So you didn't want to invite me because I didn't have a face or skin or eyeballs or legs?

Noah's half birthday celebration at Too Talls ice cream shop

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Half Birthdays, The Talk, and a Skateboarding Drummer

Our party animal gets to celebrate his half birthday on the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year.  Lucky guy.  I'm finally understanding that parenting sweet spot that those who have parented before me have talked about.  Turns out 9.5 years old is the beginning of what I hope will be a long phase of truly enjoying my kid.  Simmer down there, it isn't that I didn't like him before, or that I don't like my girls... it's just that parenting littles is physically AND mentally exhausting.  I'm imagining the teenage years may possibly be mentally exhausting, but at least I'll be well rested.  I hope.  

Nine and half years old is a time of starting to see his talents and passions emerge.  His sense of humor, which has always been ahead of his time, is more of his own.  He surprises me sometimes with his wit.  We can have deep discussions with honesty and reasoning, and he still likes to talk to us.  Bed time, because it is uninterrupted time, is where he tends to spill his guts and we have the best heart to hearts.  Noah is honest, and I never have to doubt his word.  He seems physically incapable of lying, his conscience won't let him.  I accidentally had THE TALK with him the other day.  I wandered into that territory by accident and was completely blindsided.  One minute I was listening to his plans to start a band and the next minute he asked what "making out" meant and then blammo.  Gary and I had made the agreement that he got the boy, and I got the girls on account of matching anatomy... but alas.  Gary owes me big time.  By the end of the conversation I pretty much wanted to hide in my closet and gouge out my eardrums, but during the actual conversation, I totally faked being calm like it was totally no big deal to use the "p" and "v" words all nonchalantly like this was the most natural conversation in the history of mother/son interactions.  I guess I'm not over it because just typing that out made me squirmy.
Noah is really good at drawing and writing stories.  He runs really fast and keeps getting better and better at soccer.  He always tries to scam me into giving him back massages every night by playing to my emotions.  He is the least picky eater of anyone I know and actually prefers food that is healthy, bless his heart.  He isn't good at 8x9 and 8x7, for some reason these two math facts just won't stick in his brain.  He is a delightful first born gem.  Without him being as awesome as he is, he probably wouldn't have any siblings.  Mylie and Presley thank him for that. 

Our freshly shorn handsome boy

Happy Half Birthday to our one and only Noah Loyal!

Noah at age nine years and six months:

Favorite Color... purple

Favorite Food... Spinach Lasagna
What I want to be when I grow up... Lego Masterbuilder
What I like to do... skateboard, play drums, hang with Sam
Favorite Friends... Callen, Sam, Jason
What I like about being 9... having more privileges like going on bike rides

Thursday, June 12, 2014

That's a Wrap

What feels like an eternity after Arizona schools let out for the summer... today was the last day for these two yahoos.  First and Third grades, in the books.  My oh my, how they've grown!!!
 June 12, 2014
Last Day of School
Mylie, 1st Grade
Noah, 3rd Grade

 And just for comparison... here's the first day of school.  
September 3, 2013

Mylie lost her front teeth and grew in some chicklets... she also grew two inches and up a size.  Her hair grew longer and she no longer will allow me to do her hair.  Her extracurricular activity this year has been volunteering with the small animals at the Humane Society every week with her Dad.

Noah lost some random teeth too, but pretty much has the same smile.  He grew at least an inch in height, and about five inches in hair.  His extracurricular activities included basketball and soccer.  He decided soccer was his favorite.

To keep us all motivated and accountable, we created this list of things we want to do this summer.  I would hate to get to the end of August and realize we forgot to do something we really wanted and intended to do... here's a peek:

So very excited for summer in Michigan!  We are finally being rewarded for living through that wicked five month long winter.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Tipping Point

There is a moment, or an occasion, when the scales tip in one direction or another.  The scales tipped and dumped me right into full blown nerd-dom where, let's face it, I've been hovering near for a good decade or two.  We took our impressionable offspring to... a gem and mineral show.  That isn't a typo.  Perhaps worse yet, we enjoyed it.  I died a little typing that.

Oh sure, it was in a dilapidated strip mall, and I had to act super pumped and convince the troops how awesome educational outings are, but once we got there it was pretty cool.  For a total of $1.50 spent, each kid got to fill an egg carton with 12 different types of rocks and fossils.  We spent about an hour touching and looking at all sorts of fossils and crystals and rocks from all over the world.

So there you have it... photographic proof of what we suspected all along.  We Krulls have a bit of nerd flowing through our veins.  And we are totally okay with that.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Boy

I really don't want to be that mom... the one who constantly brags about her perfect and gifted children, and how motherhood is just a breeze and fulfilling always.  So I won't, because The Crazies came by their nickname honestly, and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that they're not totally screwed up before they fly the nest.  So with that disclaimer firmly in place, I am going to share about my talented son and the moment that I just about lost it because I was so darn proud of him that my heart was nearly bursting.

Noah.  He is just so smart and sincere.  Hidden underneath that shaggy mop, and climbs everything energy, is a very sensitive soul.  The last two years have been a challenge because of two international moves, one cross country move, three houses, a new school... a rough school, new friends... or lack of. He is so strong, but it has been hard on him.  God graciously gave him an amazing teacher this year who has been such an encouragement to him.  Back in February, Noah came home and casually mentioned that some of his artwork and writing had been entered into a contest.  He didn't know any details and thought he probably wouldn't win.  It didn't seem very important to him, so I really didn't press for details and kind of forgot about it.  A few weeks later, he started to mention every once in a while that it might be cool to win, but that it wasn't a big deal if he didn't.  Well, I'm smart enough to know that if the kid brings it up, that means he's been thinking about it.  And if he has been thinking about it, it probably is a big deal to him and it would be a big deal if he won.  At the end of March, he told me that they were going to announce the winner at his school the next day.  We talked about how cool it would be if he won, but that even if he didn't, it was still an honor to be recognized.  He came home the next day ecstatic that he had won.  We were happy that he was happy.  Awards are fun!  Again, he didn't really know any details but that we might get a letter soon.

Well, to sum it up... the letter came and we were shocked.  He won for best story, not at his school, but for the Grand Rapids Public School district.  They would have his art and story on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and would have a reception where he would give a speech and read his story.  

Leading up to the event, Noah became really nervous and wasn't sure he could get up and speak in front of a large crowd.  I really believed it would be a good experience for him, and kept encouraging him.  His teacher let him practice in front of his class, we prayed for courage, and hoped for the best.  
 Noah's artwork and story displayed at the GRAM, top

The evening came, and I was probably more nervous than he was.  We got all gussied up, and headed to the GRAM.  He was given the royal treatment, and I could tell he was nervous.  He had the chance to practice with the microphone before they opened the doors.  People started filing in, a couple hundred in all.  Noah had lots of support in the crowd.  His cheering section included the four of us, Grandma, Aunt Katie and cousin Jan, Our friends the Longs, his teacher and principal, his art teacher, and the language arts specialist from his school... 15 in all.

Could they be any cuter?

Mic check before the doors opened...

He got up on that stage and nailed it.  I was totally choked up.  Looking at my boy, being honored for a talent, and his specialness being recognized by someone other than the people who love him dearly, was amazing.  He was becoming his own person, totally separate from his little family, right there in front of my eyes.  And he was doing it well.  I know I was beaming, but it wasn't until the Education coordinator from the museum, who had been working with Noah on his speech, spoke some kind words about him, that I just could not hide my quivering chin and watering eyes.  It is an amazing feeling when someone other than me (or a certain Grammy who notoriously wears "Mom Goggles"), gets up on a public platform and says what an intelligent and earnest kid your son is.   To say I was simply "proud" is a serious understatement.