Thursday, July 30, 2009

Honeywell Field

Jimmy: Hey Dad can I ask you something?

Dad: Yes Jim what is it?
Jimmy: Did you ever play in the championship game at Honeywell field?

Dad: No Jim I did not.

Jimmy: Well, I can not believe it, but here we are!

No matter that the actual championship was rained out days before and in reality there was a dead tie going into the game, we where at Honeywell field about to embark on the first ever ( of many) championship games. The day was a bright and sunny 80 degrees, the field had been previously attended to by a world class field guy, the foul lines were straight , the bases squared to home plate and the lights were on, it did not matter that it was 10:30am... there was a scoreboard!!

The game featured the Lions Park Squirrels and the Gearity Park Royals, Jimmy was on the Squirrels. When I pointed out to him that I thought their team was the squirrels because of the gray uniform, he told me "not really"... so, I inquired as to the formation of the name. Now there is not a chance I can do this justice in prose but I will try. Jimmy informed me that the reason they are called the Squirrels is because when the opposite teams gets a strike the squirrels all bunch their hands up around the shoulders, tilt their wrists, move their upper lip back and chirp like a squirrel. Go ahead, I know you want to try it - come on join the team! Or... it could be because they are a bunch of squirrely 7 yr olds that are just learning to play baseball... you choose.

Jimmy had a great game went three for three with 4 RBIs and one stolen base. ( We still have it at home). Kay and Billy were drinking slush's like they were going out of style and cheering for the concession stand folk.

The Squirrels were the home team & the games go from 10:30 to 11:50. At the bottom of the third it was Squirrels 18 Royals 6. The Royals came to bat at the top of the fourth; it was 11:05 & 6 pitches later they were out, the game was over and the score was 38 to 38... Did we mention that fielding is not a strong suit at this age?

A dead tie. How did that happen? Crummy accounting ,we are in America. Makes you wonder if Enron has had a lasting affect. No matter... Jimmy got is teammates in a circle and told them, (and I quote) ' Guy's we did a great job, we made it to Honeywell field, next year we will kick their butts, I am going to Dairy Queen".

So much for Honeywell field and the big leagues.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Griswalds Family Vacation - Part Duh

OK...where were we??? ......Wait, we need to take a minute to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog with an update ... I have to apologize, as I read over the last few months of blogs, they seem to be getting dry-er and dry-er. This was fact made particularly more clear as I read a friends blog who was lamenting about the same strange form of creative absence as we have been feeling. Hang in there, stick with us. We don't want this to fall into being another mindless, self promoting family site. I think the emotional and intellectual exhaustion of raising 3 kids, being in school and working full time are starting to deplete any creative brain cells we have left. We'll bounce back, I promise! The other foot note is that blogger did something to the functionality behind posting photos and now, once you post them, its nearly impossible to move them in the blog to the "right" spot, so.. I am giving up. We picked the best photos of vacation but they aren't necessarily going to coordinate with the commentary beside them.

Kay has become a master of temporary tattoos and the boys are loving the attention. Kay even wrote Billy's name in Sharpie above the tattoo on his arm. They returned the favor by COVERING her back in tattoos. Nice.

OK, back to "where were we?" ...The next few days of vacation were great, we did a picnic swim lunch at Lake Michigan, we went tubing, we rode bikes, we went on a hike, we played badminton and basketball and went to the park. We ate ice cream and chips and slept until 9 every day. It was exactly how vacation should be.

Backing up a bit, I am not sure that I gave a good background to this place. Glen Lake is where we spent 2 weeks every summer as kids. My aunt/uncle/cousins would rent a cabin right next to ours and we'd spend 2 weeks doing everything I just listed above. It was magic. Now, my parents and aunt own 1 each of the cabins we used to rent. They are on the same piece of property and share lake shore. Its magic all over again.

Not sure about you, but bringing your kids to a place that was special to you growing up and then being able to see/experience it again through their eyes is unbelievable. You feel old and young all at the same time. How lucky/blessed are we that we can give our kids the same magic summer experience we had ?! A big thank you to my Mom and Dad for providing this!!

(photo of Mom & Dad:)) OK, on to the main event. Each day we woke up to..."5 more days to my birthday" "4 more days to my birthday" 3 more days to my birthday".. finally Grandpa starting asking each morning "Kay, how many more days until your birthday?" Until, finally, the answer that was shouted through the land?! 0!!!! Yep, Kay celebrated her 6th birthday in grand style. She had 2 parties (a breakfast monkey bread party with Kara, Grandma & Grandpa, Sue, Lynn, Dadu and us and THEN a kids only party at Tammy's country club where they could watch movies, do arts and even order their own dinner. All while the grown ups ate a nice peaceful meal on the other side of the country club. Now, that's what I call a good plan".

Kay is not your typical 6 yr old girl. Yes, she asked for colors, crayons, paints, sparkles, makeup, etc. But, there were no requests for clothes or shoes or hair stuff or the like. Nope, Kay had her heart set on 1 thing and 1 thing only. You guessed. A hermit crab. Yep, she hounded us for 8 weeks prior to her big day with this request. Lest you think us bad parents, we finally relented, so on her 6th birthday we went to the pet store and brought home Gladys, the hermit crab. Why Gladys? Glad you asked. Kay has been missing her Kindergarten teacher in India, Gladys Ma'am. So, there you have it, a tribute to her 1st teacher. I am sure Gladys Ma'am would be proud.

We ended our trip with a quick 2 day visit to my sisters house in Grand Haven. It was the perfect ending. The kids got some intense play time with their cousins, the dad's got to golf and the mom's did a mini spa afternoon (hair cuts, eye brow waxing and pedicures). We even indulged in a few late night movies for the kids and I will never forgive Jeff for getting me addicted to Mad Men. Go check it out on AMC, its good!

Here's our final vacation snap. All the Murphy/Basil cousins sitting still and smiling.

It was a good no great vacation!!

My Music Store

We interrupt the summer vacation blog with the following update from Jimmy's trip to the music store.

Many of you know Jimmy's obsession with music and he has been lately driving us crazy with questions about guitars, drums, keyboards and now the cello.

We need to get his guitar repaired and he insisted on going to the local music store to have a 'talk' with them. He even wrote down all his questions

Here is a recap:

Jimmy: Hi I am here to ask you a few questions.

Really Mellow Clerk Guy ( RMCG): How can I help you?

Jimmy: Do you have any cool guitars that are not so expensive?

RMCG: Well we have some used guitars that are around $150.00

Jimmy: Who used them and are they any good?

RMCG now with a funny smirk on his face: I do not know who used them and the guitars were all fixed here in our shop.

Jimmy: Do you have any Gibson guitars?

RMCK(smirk is growing): Well we are not a Gibson distributor but we could locate one for you if you want?

Jimmy: How much are they?

RMCG: They are about $1500.00

Kay: That is alot

Jimmy: That's because they are really cool

Jimmy: OK I saw a couple of stratocaster guitars can you tell me about them?

RMCG looking at Dad with a dazed look in his eye: Well we have this green on and the left hand one.

Jimmy: Are they any good?

RMCG (smirk grows again): Why... yes, yes they are.

Moving on through the store....

Jimmy: Is this the drum room?

RMCG: Yes, yes it is.

Jimmy: Can you fix my drums they are from Indian where we used to live and need to be fixed and I need a new Tom Tom, a couple of cymbals and a new foot petal for my bass drum.

RMCG: We do not usually repair drums. ( Another glance at Tom ...Who is this kid?)

Jimmy: Well if you do not repair drums can you fix my guitar and do you have amplifiers that will work with my guitar?

RMCG: The average charge for fixing a guitar is $30.00 and we have several levels of amplifiers that will work.

Jimmy: How late are you open?

RMCG: 9:00pm

Jimmy: Ok thanks for your help I will be back

Tracy got the download at dinner. Jimmy ended this update with "Mom, I really gotta get back into lessons and music, this is killing me!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What I did on my Summer Vacation part I

The trip to Target ended up yielding more than just a DVD player however the family truckster was packed and fully loaded as we prepared for the cross country journey and family bonding experience. The destination was Grandma and Grandpa Hickey's cottage in Glen Lake,Mi a mere 14 hours away. The new DVD player was functioning, the cooler was packed with snacks for the kids and caffeine for Mom and Dad and at 5:00pm Central Standard time the journey began.
There are several things that can change the balance of power and one of the is traffic. So it was no real big surprise when at 6:00 we were just crossing over the Mississippi River barely 15 miles into the trip. Tom was already frustrated and Tracy was surprised by this. We hadn't spent so much time in the car to go so little since our Bangalore days. We even had to take a rest stop in Hudson, that's a mere 50 miles from our house. Not an auspicious start to a long road trip. But, never fear .... the ride after that was uneventful. 2 full length movies, an eat fresh (subway) dinner stop, and one potty break and low and behold, we arrived at Sue's house at the reasonable 10:30pm hour. The kids went nuts. They were racing circles through her house, insisting on a tour, found the cable kids station and basically creating a ruckus. But, after a glass of wine and unplugging our hearing aids, they kids all fell asleep mid sentence.

The next morning was a purposeful strategy of get up late, get the kids outside, wear them down and then deposit them in the car for the next 8-9 hours. It worked. We had a leisurely breakfast with Sue and headed to the zoo. The Green Bay zoo is great! Its like a cross between the Como Zoo and a nature center. They have 1 of just about everything (moose, badger, black bear, etc - this is Green Bay you know...) but the MAIN attraction are the giraffe's, they have a pair (husband & wife) who you can feed. They built this huge tree house thing and you stand on it and feed them Rye Crisp. They have these long slimy black tongues and they let you scratch them behind their ears. Its was pure kid-dom. Very fun.
Our drive through the UP (say ya to da UP, eh!) was relatively uneventful. We watched 5 full length movies & ate A&W for lunch (a Murphy tradition that its not officially vacation until you have a Papa burger and root beer for lunch, but does raise the question, what does A&W stand posed by our inquisitive 7 year, anyone know the answer and I'll treat you to a Papa burger meal....). The drive was gorgeous, right along Lake Michigan, through small towns and over the Mackinaw bridge (wow, holy cow, wow, look at that, oh my gosh - all from our little engineer that could...Billy). We tried to stop outside Traverse City for an ice cream, but apparently their smoking laws are archaic. We found a small roadside diner that looked like the perfect place for a traditional ice cream sundae and float. But...NO.... the diner was crammed with smokers of all ages, all eating and smoking at the same time. There is nothing like that to ruin a perfectly good ice cream craving. We settled on bags of chips and soda from the gas station. We arrived in Glen Lake about 8pm and just in time for Mac & Cheese a late night swim and more hugs all around. Glen Lake is directly across Lake Michigan from Door County. But... the time zone it one hour ahead, so ...if the sun goes down here at 9pm in the summer, its 10pm there. Perfect kid and summer vacation timing... it goes unsaid that there was another glass of wine and kids falling asleep mid sentence:)

The 4th of July!!! Yippee!!! Tammy, Jeff, Georgia, Joey and Herbie made the drive up from Grand Haven and arrived just in time for the BIG Glen Arbor 4th of July parade. My cousin Jamie, her husband Kurt and their 2 kids Kara and Reese (pictured to the left) also made the trip from Detroit.This is THE parade of the year in our family. Its a traditional small town parade, every car, float, boat, bike, person that goes by is throwing candy and the kids go nuts (this year, one float threw out fully cooked hot dogs in buns with ketchup all wrapped in aluminum foil...nice! Not to mention the float that comes around after it with bottles of cherry coke:)) We had bags full of candy, we were all dressed in holiday appropriate t-shirts and by the end were full of dirt, melted candy and water from spray guns. All in a days work:) We rushed the kids home and a full afternoon of swimming followed. Once again, a few glasses of wine/a bonfire/kids falling asleep mid sentence.

Sunday was a tough day. The dads all went golfing, the mom's stayed back and the kids decided to get creative. It was lemonade stand day. In pure marketing genius, we decided to do a gift with purchase ... buy a glass of lemonade (25 cents) and get a free piece of candy (our ill gotten gains from the parade). It was masterful. We got ride of the candy and they kids felt like they were making money. Some of our customers caught on right away though and we had more than one comment of ..."yeah, that's the candy I threw out at the parade yesterday"... But, we netted $14 in all, not a bad days work. Jamie, Kurt & Reese had to head out. Kara got lucky and was able to stay the rest of the week with her grandma so that she could play with us. Yippee!! Again, swimming, wine, kids falling asleep mid sentence. (see all the cousins on the hamock)
Monday was a bit crummy weather wise, but that wasn't going to stop us...Jr Ranger Program, here we come. 7 adults and 7 kids set out bright and early to earn our Jr Ranger badges. This is the most unbelievable National Park program. You head to your local National Park, pick up a packet and spend the day visiting specific parts in/around the park to answer the questions, riddles, games and activities in your packet. All the material is totally age appropriate; its interactive (sort of a high octane scavenger hunt) and everyone learns something new. We loved it! Plus, the best part was the swearing in ceremony. Yep, at the end the kids had to hold up their right hand (note, some are still working on that distinction - no worries, it wasnt a part of the test) , take a pledge and became Jr Rangers. They got a badge, certificate and Ranger pin. Too cool. In hindsight, I wouldn't have tried to do it ALL in one day, but then again, that's was vacations are for ... nothing in moderation... (wasn't that Oscar Wilde's quote - everything in moderation, even moderation - I love that one....) Again, wine (adults) sleeping mid sentence (kids).

Tuesday saw Tammy and troupe off and back to Grand Haven. We said good bye and reconnoitered our schedule for the next 5 days...
More to come on that in What I did on my summer vacation part II :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Take me out to the Ballgame

It was off to Milwaukee to visit Pete, Laura, Ben and Alex a water park and an outdoor baseball game featuring the Brewers and the Giants.

The car ride was from hell and the kids put enough pressure on Tracy and I that immediately upon returning to Minnesota it was off to Target to buy a portable DVD player.

The first night was a real treat because we went to an official Wisconsin Friday night fish fry. We had to wait for about an hour and Pete and I were debating the issue about why this particular restaurant was not an all you can eat fish fry, which is the norm. Well when we were finally seated and the fish was brought the pile on the plate told us why it was not and all you can eat, I mean this was a serious pile of fish. The battle ensued and when the dust cleared we had to bring fish home!

The next day was at the water park and the kids had a ball. We had to drag them away from the rides and pools and force then to eat lunch. Then it was off to the ballgame. I was very impressed with the efficiency and determination shown by the tailgaters. Now for some people I will explain the 'art" of tailgating. It is a term that dates back early in American culture and centers around a group of people who attend an outdoor sporting event and bring with them everything that they own and create an outdoor kitchen and dining room. The term refers to using the tailgate of the car or vehicle as the table from which to serve the food and place the lawn chairs around.

The new tailgate's have taken this to the next level. Being that most vehicles today do not have a tailgate the person simply loads their SUV with the needed equipment and upon reaching the stadium it is a race to see who can get set up and cooking the fastest. I would have to save that 43 minutes from parking to eating a brat cooked over the coals, no propane here, was quite impressive. Not to mention setting up a Packers Bean Bag toss and having chairs and kid food and cold beer, well done Pete. The kids seem to have enjoyed themselves and took to the tailgating like fish to water and Jimmy even found some friends to play catch and to pitch to him. The Brewers won the game on the bottom of the 9th and it was a perfect finish to a great night.

The next morning it was off to the Peterson family farm where Billy was in heaven with all the animals and pets. The kids played with the horses and Laura's Mom made the most incredible cream puffs that we had to eat two just to be sure. The car ride home further added to the need for the portable DVD player and we are now ready for the big road trip to Grandma and Grandpa Hickey's cabin in northern Michigan more on that to follow!