Tuesday, August 26, 2014

art deco + literature + relics

This is what happened on the way home from Adventure Day Three. She passed out so hard in the car that I was able to move her to the couch where she continued to snore.
 And then Larry came home, then this happened. I had a hard time waking both of them.

 Before setting off for Adventure Day Four, I thought I would get a little computer time in but Thomas had other plans. I deal with this a lot. I lay out work on the table and he is in it, on it, over it. Mavis, always the perfect lady, never tries to help.

After shooing him away, KatieRoz picked us up for the trip downtown to our incredible library's main branch. It is an impeccable art deco structure. These are the original elevators. The girls wore capes "like Elsa" (of course). Boy were they the scene traipsing around there as if cape wearing was the norm.
Relics. The girls had no idea what these were. It had a cord. It was this silver contraption with a phone on it? Ella blurted out, "It's making this weird noise." Uhhh, yes. That would be a dial tone, Ella. Think about it - they have no idea what a dial tone is, let alone a corded phone.

The children's area is a wonderland - including this salt water fish tank with great peep windows for viewing. The capes clearly make this viewing better.

Roz is checking on "Red dragon with a big fat belly" to make sure she doesn't need food. This is their normal routine. Ella is a dragon, Roz (not a fan of dragons AT ALL) checks on her with any food requirements. Odd birds.

Red Dragon, reading about dragons.
 One of the current fascinations at our house is maps - any kind. She enjoys making them too. So while they were flitting around, I grabbed the wonderful librarian. Have I mentioned my love and adoration for librarians? Especially children's librarians? Wow. Who needs the Internet?! I wanted to direct the girls to the appropriate aisle of maps or almanacs that would entice them. She hit the jackpot. We came home with two huge (translation: heavy) map books, including a story book of a little guy and his dad wandering New York City in story-form.

Not to be outdone, as if the librarian just KNEW that Roz had traveled to Paris with her parents and grandparents, she handed over a story book of a little girl and her grandpa in Paris. Her face lit up so brightly.

The girls with our genius librarian.
We finally ripped them out of there to go catch lunch with Larry at our favorite diner. This might be one of my favorite elevator selfies in a long time. Again, I think the capes really add something.

 After lunch, I made them pose for this. Roz, always the willing participant, was far more cooperative than Ella. It wasn't until after I snapped it that I read the writing in the upper right corner: "This Frontier Needs Heroes." I don't know if there was ever a pair more ready to become that...on the brink of big-kid school.

Filters are fun. This photo could be 100 years old.
We came back to our house to let the girls wind down a little before KatieRoz pushed off. It was Thursday. In less than 24 hours, Roz was starting Kindergarten. Four years of the KatieRoz routine/era was coming to an end. The girls didn't realize this. The moms were hypersensitive to this fact. It all felt pretty surreal. When you consider that almost every Thursday and sporadic Tuesdays (while I worked from home) were spent steeped in each other, well...that is over 200 adventures.

Do I think these two are going to drift apart? Impossible. Do I think Katie and I are going to drift apart? Unthinkable. Do I think the universe is swirling and changing and off-balance? Absolutely and it is going to take some time getting used to.

Ella is who she is today in part because of the friendship and love she shares with Roz, Katie and Patrick. Roz is the closest thing she's known to a sibling. So our times together will be have to be more intentional as we weave our ways through different school system schedules and obligations. We will be seeing more of each other during weekends, I suspect. All of this is good. But for awhile, Katie and I are mourning the loss of this really, incredible thing we have shared the last four years. How blessed are we.


PS: Adventure Day Five is a whopper. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Art lovers who slumber.

The end of summer means morning glory time. How perfectly this sweet little heart-shaped leaf greeted me on Tuesday morning. It was time for Adventure Day Two. 
We had tricks up our sleeves today. We started out by hitting the art museum. It seems every other parent and care-giver had the same idea: one last visit to the Family Center before school begins. Wow was it packed!! We honored the anniversary of our funky glass pavilion by making 'glass' chandeliers. Roz was a Frozen theme and Ella wanted all black but could only find one strand. Yep, consistent little things. Blake is pictured here with her creation, too.

I love this painting.
Then we went outside to blow off some stink. Our museum is stunning on so many levels. The exterior is not to be dismissed, for sure. We could have watched them run around against this backdrop all afternoon.

Even Panda and Cat enjoyed the view.

We went our separate ways and told the girls we may see each other later on in the day or evening. Liars, we are. We had it all planned out for the girls to have their first slumber party at Roz's house. Because it was the first EVER, I knew I was packing my bag to stay in the guest room just in case we had a 2am meltdown. The girls were screeching fools when they found out. Ella found out first because she saw me packing. She was the one who got to tell Roz (who just thought we were coming over to hang out for a bit.) They ran and screeched and ran and screeched. So when it was time to start settling down, this is what it looked like...

By 10:39pm, they had both stopped giggling and talking. They let their tired little bodies give in. And they slept. All night. With no 2am meltdowns. Whew. Before leaving, we grabbed suits and hit the pool at "Aunt Anne's" house, the gracious next door neighbor who allows us to invade her backyard during the summertime. It was a perfect ending to a great stay at the Roz B&B.

I was being eaten alive by a dragon and a dolphin.

And just more proof how far Ella has come, she can swim next to Roz from one side of the pool to the next! Summer, we wish you could give us just another month - just like this.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

One Entire Week Off!

We called it Adventure Week. In a move I haven't made since my adoption leave, I blocked out an entire five consecutive days off from work. I usually plan them for long weekends, etc. But since this was the last week for Ella and Roz to enjoy their weekly time together before school begins, I wanted to make it special for them and for Katie and me.
So we hit the road for the Lake Erie shores for Adventure Day One.

And it was great.

And super windy.

And for those that don't think Lake Erie can be a fierce presence, check out those whitecaps. I will say that this is not the area experiencing the horrendous algae bloom situation (still ongoing saga, by the way).
Hard to tell who is having more fun here - Roz or Mama Heather.

We came back later that day to find this in our back garden - just one more reminder of the cool stuff going on all around us...if you just keep your eyes open.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

She came back.

The BFF had an amazing time with her family and friends down in Florida. But let's just call an ace an ace: we are happier now that she is back home.

Katie and I signed up the girls for one camp this summer and made it count! They had yoga camp with Miss Erin last week and it went very well. The girls were thrilled to see her again. And I was thrilled to hear how good they both behaved that day.

And this is where you learn about how I found this incredible little gem just a few short miles away from our front door. A camel farm, people...and not just a camel farm but a petting zoo as well. Jackpot! Did you ever think you'd see these two fools riding a camel? Well, we weren't the only two: Katie and Roz did it too. It was the best $10 I have spent in a year. We all laughed such huge belly laughs.
There were peacocks, goats, sheep, zebras, a ze-donk (yes, it was awkward), chickens, baby chicks, wallabies, bunnies, parrots, parakeets, alpacas, llamas, lemurs and TWENTY THREE camels.  Geez, almost forgot the smallest frog we've ever seen: see below me trying to kiss Prince Charming.

Since the place was new on our radar, we went in with low expectations. We were delightfully blown away. And who knew camels were so darn social?! Our city girls got into the groove and were feeding the animals all by hand comfortably. We cannot wait to bring some friends along our next trip up.

PS: Yes, wearing jackets in August...crazy weather this summer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Don't drink the water..

This is the post where I begin by explaining how we live near the Great Lakes, how awesome that resource is to our living experience and then tell you how awful it can be when it goes wrong. We've got run-off issues and algae blooms. It made for an incredibly interesting four-day stretch. We couldn't drink it, boiling it made the algae worse and bathing in it was forbidden. The city was thrown into panic mode. Bottled water couldn't be found within a two-hour radius. I woke up early that morning to head north to photograph a wedding with Nikki. I did so after bathing in a sink filled with bottled water. Too much information? Sorry. It was really a bizarre time here in Ella-land!
I had these notes on all the faucets. Oh what creatures of habit. What a lesson for all of us and how we take our unlimited, clean water for granted.
We piled in the car the following day, left the water woes behind, to celebrate this sweet man. Little Abbott turned ONE. It was a fantastic celebration with Trent, Kim, Abbott and a whole army to celebrate. Man, we were happy to be there with them even if it was a whole lot of driving time in one day. Worth every second...

And in spite of the lousy water, our city managed to welcome us home with this incredible sunset. At least we can still get that right!

I got a text from Nikko's mom about getting our former pre-school buds together. It is hard to tell who was more excited - Ella or me. We spent a full day at the YMCA outdoor pool and picked up right where we left off. (If only they were starting kindergarten at the same school!) In a few weeks, we will be heading to the annual Greek Fest to watch Nikko and his brothers perform in the Greek dancing festivities. Because, you know, Nikko really needs another reason to be cuter.

What is better than having good friends? Having good friends who have a pool! As if we didn't have enough swimming with Nikko, we headed to Ava and Addy's house for a night filled with swimming too. You see, Katie and Roz were due back that evening. Their flight was cancelled. Ella was destroyed because we were going to surprise them at the airport. Oh the tears. Our girl had been counting the hours for their arrival. When Mama Sara heard about the meltdowns, she came up with the best idea: Ava-Addy time. They saved us that night and it only goes to show how intertwined our lives have all become.

Daddy John Ho, the biggest kid yet!
Our neighborhood moms group is still going strong on Friday nights with some great Kids 'N Cocktail celebrations. This is Ella and me at a very late hour after we all biked home. What a good exhaustion that was!

Then we had a swimming party with our FCC group. But for the 10-minute rest breaks, Ella was in the water for four hours that afternoon - as brave as can be. I don't get to see some of these cutertons very often and had a beautiful day/evening catching up with everyone.

Ella and Junie

Good old Thomas is up to his antics. His sister may have the obvious good looks but this sweet guy has the most patient disposition ever. And he thinks he has good hiding spots, even when he doesn't.
A few of our neighborhood families hooked up with us for an early Larry gig at our favorite watering hole. Sophie and Ella were checking ID's before the night was over.

Her talents also include maneuvering her way around the photo options on my smart phone. Not only does she take some pretty darn good photos with it, she can now edit them...all while I'm not paying one bit of attention. I found over 40 'selfies' of her one night. This was my absolute favorite.

This is me. Enjoying my yard, peace and quiet and coffee :)

This is me. Getting a spectacular henna tattoo at the Indian Bollywood Festival.
And last but not least, this is Ella showing a very quick burst of excitement at her soon-to-be-school as we dropped off some documents still needed for registration. The excitement didn't last long and when asked now, she is confessing to be "a little excited" about school starting. Fingers are crossed she doesn't back pedal on that!