Sunday, August 10, 2014


When Julia and Finn's newest cousin, Claire, was born recently, their total number of cousins doubled! That's quite the accomplishment for a baby. Our families don't live close, so it's always a treat when the kids get to see each other.

Even with the distance, it's great to see how quickly the kids take to each other.

Being the new girl, Claire obviously got a lot of oooh'inh and ahhh'ing attention from Julia and Finn.

Julia attempted to help get her baby cousin dressed after a diaper change.

Even at meal times, they were close.

Finn showed Johannah how to really eat a piece of pizza - the bigger, the better!

The three oldest did things outside the house too: At the zoo the three fed animals together.

There are some things that a baby just doesn't get to do. Walking to the park with her cousins is one of them.

Julia and Finn gave Johanna plenty of attention once they got to the park.

Though they don't live near to each other, the kids always make the best of what time they do get to spend together.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Milwaukee Trip

We had several things planned for the kids' first trip to Milwaukee:
Zoo, Discovery World, Brewers Game.

Julia likes to refer to these carotenoid-digesting birds as flaminguinos (FLAH-ming-gwee-nohs). She makes the same adjustment to penguins.

Speaking of penguinos...

I hadn't been to the Milwaukee County Zoo since I was a kid. The one thing I vividly remember was being amazed at how the peacocks just walk around like they own the place. I was glad to see the birds still rule the roost.

It's interesting that they can go into different animal enclosures at will. There was a peahen with peachicks (yes, that's the proper terminology) on the wall near the bears.

I took a lot of animal pictures, but since the main purpose of this blog is to share family pictures and happenings, I'm not going to post many of them.

Not sure what Finn's facial expression is all about or whether the big cat approves.

Discovery World is on the lake front and is part science museum, part aquarium. We did the science part in the morning and the aquarium in the afternoon.
They had several music-based exhibits around the history of music technology. Julia the guitar player needed to get next to the larger than life instrument.

I was looking for improvements from this mirror, but things went drastically wrong.

Amanda and the kids pumped the giant buttons to make the fan spin.

Julia and Finn played tic-tac-toe against each other. They picked their moves and a robot made the moves for them.

The kids each laid on a bed of nails. They laid on a platform with holes in it and then the nails came out of the holes and slowly lifted the person.

Julia looked quite competent in the driving simulation. That makes me feel better about thinking about her turning double-digits in a few weeks and approaching the age of some of those adult activities.

Finn had to go to a museum to play a video game I played as a kid. It was cool and made me feel really old at the same time.

They had an arts and crafts area where some fairly complex items could be built. Julia built a hand purse and Finn a shoulder bag.

The kids tried out the different hands-on activities that demonstrated uses different scientific principles.

We took a break and for lunch headed north along the water. There was dragonboat festival going on in the lagoon near Veteran's Park that sounded interesting.

We found something to eat and watched some of the teams rowing the long boats. Then we headed back to check out the aquarium.

Finn found a catfish that seemed to be fond of him.

Having tanks on all sides of you is always an immersive experience.

There were also exhibits to check out the insides of submarines.

The touching tanks are a good way to learn that stingrays are squishy.

The Brewers game that we attended was much more than just a baseball game. Before the game was a tailgating party for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin to celebrate their granting of 5000 wishes over the last 30 years. We were all given blue t-shirts, with Julia's being a darker color to indicate she was a wish kid. There was a great turnout for the event and fun activities and good food.

There are hundreds of pictures from the event, found here, if you're so inclined. Here's one of Julia and me. They took a group photo of all the wish kids in attendance - you can see it here.

Though we weren't the droids they were looking for, these folks let us snap a picture with them anyway.

Julia and Finn each go their names created into a piece of art. This guy stayed really busy!

Finn had to try his strength out.

It was the first time for all of us at Miller Park and the kids' first major league baseball game. We had a good time (and the Brewers won)!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Update

A number of years ago, the flow of blog posts tapered off. It was likely a combination of me not finding time to write them and just not having too many exciting things to talk about. The posts drastically picked up at the end of 2010 because of the C word. After Julia finished treatment the tapering started again. I guess it's not a bad thing that there aren't as many cancer-related blog posts anymore. But it also means that our lives are just kinda plugging along and maybe there's not always a lot of excitement to talk about. Although, I could probably always find some funny kid story to share... so maybe it's on me.

School's been out for a while and we're moving right along with summer activities. Finn has soccer - he's been coming home sweaty, tired, and happy. Both kids had a fun summer school class that just finished: Julia took French and Finn took a class about nature in Wisconsin.

Julia has never been much of a swimmer. It didn't help that she missed a whole summer's worth of lessons and playing in the water in 2011 due to cancer treatment. She's been taking individual lessons for a few weeks and has been enjoying herself. The one-on-one attention is really what she needed to help build her confidence and let her figure things out at her own pace. After her lessons Julia has usually been beaming with pride and talking about what she was able to do. She felt good enough that she's now signed up for one of the standard group lessons. We're excited that she found what worked for her!

About a week into summer vacation Finn announced that he wanted to play the violin. We had been thinking about having him take music lessons of some sort so we ran with it. I kind of wondered if it was a fleeting desire, but he's really taken it seriously. He has a few lessons under his belt and really concentrates while he practices at home, as evidenced below.

During the second half of the school year, Finn's reading really took off. I remember Julia's reading ability having a sudden growth spurt like that too. It's pretty cool to witness it. But that doesn't mean they don't still enjoy being read to.

We get outside and go for walks as a family fairly often. Finn was checking out the water at one of the lakes in town made by the Kinni.

Even the dog came along on a tour of the trails at UWRF.

Every once in a while, I would find a ton of pictures on the camera from Julia getting a hold of it and going nuts. Recently, Finn did the same thing. This is his first (of hopefully not many) bathroom selfies.

He had a number of these crazy-eyed close ups. It was a little disturbing.

And of course, a boy and his dog.

And to get a little bit more of Julia, here she is posing near one of our gardens with one of the many puffed dandelions. The dandelions have been gone for weeks already and we have a nice spread of clover instead.

With all the rain we've been getting, it's no surprise we found a spectacular rainbow. This one was the brightest and clearest one I had ever seen.