Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Vacation: Madison, WI (Part 1, 4th of July)

I took quite a few pictures throughout the three-and-a-half weeks we spent in Madison (though just as was the case during our trip to Minocqua, I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should have), so instead of posting them all today, I think I'll divide up the pics over at least a couple of posts. You know, just to keep the readers coming back.

Our first full day in Madison was the 4th of July. We started the morning off with the Vilas Neighborhood parade, in which Will rode his decorated bike and Hallie pulled her decorated and full-to-the-brim-with-stuffed-animals wagon. Well, Hallie started the parade pulling her wagon, but after the first half block she gave up and Grandma generously stepped in to pull the wagon - with Hallie in it - for the remainder of the parade route.

I told Will at least 17 times that the parade WAS NOT A RACE, but my words fell on deaf ears. He zoomed around the eight-block parade route, passing walkers and runners and riders and bikers alike, seven times before Grandma and Hallie made it back to the start. And every time he rode past Grandma and Grandpa's house - which happens to be on the parade route - he indicated, with a proudly displaced #1 finger, that he was in first place.

In case you can't tell, the parade was the best non-race of Will's life.

The neighborhood fire station's truck had been scheduled to lead the parade, but an unscheduled fire kept the truck and it's firefighters from arriving until after the parade had already come to a close. Neither Will nor Hallie had any interest in the fire truck when it did arrive - if you look closely in the picture below, you can see Will cruising around the corner, right past the truck. 

After the parade we headed out to the Stoughton Junior County fair, where we watched chainsaw wood carving, played with baby chickens and ducks, met a few larger and older animals, watched our first truck/tractor pull, rode the amusement park rides

After a family cook-out and showers to cool off (the 4th of July in Madison felt more like the 4th of July in College Station), we played with poppers and sparklers and watched Grandpa set off "real" fireworks until the mosquitoes joined us and threatened to ruin the party.

Hip, hip, hooray for a fun holiday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yellow Belt

Right before we left on vacation, Will graduated from an orange belt to a yellow belt in karate. As he continues on with lessons, he loves the sport more and more, and we've been pleasantly surprised to discover how naturally karate comes to Will. Don't get me wrong - he works hard. But he seems to have a grasp on the over-arching concepts, movements, and form that many his age don't have.

I can't help but brag...watch Will's form compared to the other students testing at his level (the adult in the center is the instructor, so his form is of course perfect).

After graduation we took our new yellow belt out for dinner and he proudly sported his karate uniform and new belt.

Congratulations, Will!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Summer Vacation: Minocqua, WI

After a one-night stop in Madison, the kids and I loaded ourselves and accompanying gear back into the car and drove four hours north to Minocqua for a three-day visit. I took very few pictures - I don't think I even took my actual camera out of the car - which while unfortunate in terms of memories, is indicative of an enjoyable vacation.

This year the Lodge held only Grandma, Grandpa, me, and the kids...comparatively, Lodge life was quiet. We missed Tom especially, but Adam, Chandi, AJ, and Grant as well. Perhaps the entire crew will be together at the Lodge again for Christmas or next summer.
Will and Hallie heading down to the water.
This view - from the top of the stairs through the
trees to the lake - takes my breath away every year.
On a morning jog around the loop I ran into this sweet, young thing.
After years of being afraid of - or at the very least, apprehensive about - her life jacket,
Hallie finally realized it's benefits. Perhaps its because her infant life jacket finally fits.
And after years of being terrified of the lake, Hallie finally embraced the sandy shore,
weedy lake bottom, and dark water. She's not yet a swimmer, but she's no long afraid!
Will hasn't been afraid of the lake for years.
One of the many fish Will reeled in this year.
The next - and final - leg of our journey took us back to Madison for the much of the remainder of July.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Vacation: Council Bluffs, IA

After a week in Lincoln, Nebraska, we drove across the Nebraska/Iowa border to Council Bluffs for my cousin Amy's wedding (for which Grandpa Paul, Sara, Tom, and I provided the music) and a family reunion. The weekend was short, but it was great to see and spend a little time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. (At least one of my cousins had never met Hallie before.)
Our house had a great swimming pool with a diving board
and a basketball hoop, which the kids - especially Will - loved.
Baby Carter tried out Hallie's headband. He clearly love it.
Working on our nails the night before the wedding.
Singing at the ceremony.
The boys.
Dance party.
Hanging with my kiddos.
Will and my cousin, Val.
Hallie and my cousin, Emily. Hallie looks
miserable, but I promise she was having a good time.
Grandma, Grandpa, and Will.
The girls.
After a whirlwind two days we redistributed people and luggage and headed back out onto the open road...Tom to College Station to head back to work, and the kids and I - along with Grandma Brenda and Grandpa Paul - to Madison where we regrouped, unpacked, and repacked for a few days up at the Lodge.