Three Kids and a Dog

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Imagine my surprise when I came across this picture in Hailey’s school newsletter. The simple joy on both the older woman’s face and Hailey’s face says a lot. (Her school welcomes older adults from the retirement community down the street to come and interact with the children.)

When I showed Hailey this picture, right away she smiled and recognized the older woman (she had been in Hailey’s classroom last school year too).

Hailey went on to tell me she was reading Ms. Mary Ann a book about snakes. I’m sure Ms. Mary Ann loved that book especially because Hailey can’t quite read yet but conjures up her own stories in her mind based on pictures in a book or ones she draws.

I love her imagination and it’s evident Ms. Mary Ann does too. What a sweet and satisfying friendship between the two.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Building of Our Beach House

On Thursday, Tom and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. And while this day reminds us of the beautiful September day when we got married, it also reminds us that not even a year later we purchased land in a Michigan beach town to some day build a beach house on to make memories with our future family.

Well, nearly 15 years later we're almost there. We broke ground in June and the house is expected to be done before the end of the year. It took us 15 years. Three kids. Two dogs. Three condos/houses.

We wanted to sell it when the recession hit and we were paying a double mortgage on our two city condos because we couldn't sell one. Luckily we had good jobs. So we held on.

We wanted to sell it when we were paying more taxes for our vacant land than for our condo in the city. But we didn't. We kept paying the taxes and the mortgage.

Eventually, we subdivided the large parcel of land into three lots selling two and keeping one for ourselves and paying off our own piece of land. We bought into the private beach and the tram system that would take you down to the beach instead of walking the stairs when we had the money so we wouldn't have to pay for it later.

We contemplated selling our land again and buying somewhere else in Michigan where we would always vacation but we decided one summer to rent a house close to our land and explore the area to decide once and for all if that's where we wanted to be. After the week was over, we concluded it was. There was so much to do - beach, great restaurants, good shopping, wineries, apple picking, festivals, farmers markets you name it. We were within a short drive of it all. So we stayed.

We always envisioned Adler would be alive when we finally built our beach house. It would be our country home and she'd have a yard and when she grew old we'd bury her in the backyard up there. Our kids will be 5, 9 and almost 12 by the time the beach house is finished. Sadie will be almost 3. It may have taken us longer than we anticipated to build but that makes the story of how it came to be so much better and more special.

It did take time, but time is all we have now to make memories up there with our family and friends.

Side and back view

Second floor front porch w/ view of lake

First floor front porch

Monday, September 10, 2018

Austen's First Cross Country Team Race

Austen is having so much fun in middle school. He's enjoying switching classes and having different teachers as well as making new friends. He really took to heart what I said before school started about making sure there is no one sitting by themselves at lunch. There was a new kid whom we met during orientation who just moved from Nebraska. His locker is by Austen's so we met and talked with the the mom and kid a few times during our practice locker/schedule run throughs. I told Austen that if he sees someone sitting by himself/herself to invite them to eat lunch with you. The first day, he said, mom, I got to lunch a little bit late and I saw "the new kid" eating lunch by himself then I saw all my other friends sitting at another table. I went and sat down next to "the new kid" and starting eating lunch then my soccer friend and his friend joined us and another one of my friends and soon he wasn't eating alone anymore.

As a mom (and one who was the new kid a lot when I was young), this story almost made me cry. I was so happy for that kid and proud of my own son. It's hard navigating 6th grade when you're just trying to fit in and here was Austen not caring if he had a place to sit but caring about the feelings of someone else who would have to eat lunch alone. I truly wish more kids did this and parents encouraged this sort of inclusivity. It's been three weeks and Austen still eats lunch with this group of boys. It's interesting watching his friends change too. He still has his friends from elementary school but he definitely gravitates toward his soccer friends now that there are more at his school from his team. (The other half goes to the middle school across town but I can only imagine if they were at the same school!)

In the interest of being social and making new friends, Austen also joined the cross country team. In his first race he had to run with 6th, 7th and 8th grade boys. He did great finishing in the top 6 for the 6th graders (who beat many of the 7th and 8th graders). Only the top 20 6th graders get to run in the district meet so I'm glad he's placing in the top 10 or so because if he continues he'll get to run that race too. Here he is running with his buddy Matthew and then finishing strong.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Peyton Tries Cheerleading

This is the year for Peyton to try new things in an effort for us to find some activities that she really enjoys and can't live without doing. So in mid August, she joined the cheerleading squad to help root for our local 3rd grade football team. They had practice almost every day for two weeks prior to school starting. And, then once school started she's had to go to practice twice per week for 1 1/2 hours and then cheer on weekends at games.

She's cheered at two games so far and it's been over 90 degrees both days. But, she did not complain! She was out there doing her thing and excited to be part of her team and socialize with the other girls.

Her favorite parts are the high school cheerleaders that help lead her cheer team and teach them all the cheers as well as getting to shake hands with all of the football players after the games!

Not sure if this one will stick either but she's having a lot of fun that's for sure!

Here she is (second from left in the back) performing her "Dynamite" cheer.

Monday, August 27, 2018

First Day of 6th, 3rd and Pre-K

It's been a long wait, but the first day of school finally arrived! Austen's been busy walking his schedule and figuring out how to open his lock expeditiously. (I think he has it down!) Peyton was so excited to get the only male teacher in her whole elementary school (and very happy that she doesn't have a teacher that Austen had like her previous two years). Hailey is just happy to go back to school to see her friends (most of them boys).

We walked Austen close to school (and surprisingly he wanted us to) to send him off on his own into those middle school years. But he was ready. Ready to make new friends, ready to move from class to class and ready to be more independent.

Peyton was just happy. When she found out her teacher, she wished that school started that day. I have a feeling that it's going to be a really good year for her - especially since it's been long rumored that her teacher doesn't give any homework. (This will be hard for her come 4th grade when she gets a ton!)

Hailey was excited to be part of the first day pics with her siblings as usually she starts later but today they all started together. Hailey's start time for school also changed which put her going to school right in the middle of when Austen and Peyton leave which will be challenging to figure out since her school is a bit farther from our house (a good 6 minutes or so by car and across the tracks). So Tom may be taking her to school from now on while I usher off the other two. We'll figure it out and get into a routine. Routine - that's one thing that I'm glad to get back into. I do like having a plan every day and some structure to the day.

Here's to the 2018-19 school year! Hope it's a great one for all three of my kiddos!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

We Love Our Sadie

The dolphin cookie for Sadie
I haven't written in awhile about Sadie so I thought she deserved some face time.  She continues to be a happy dog and she's settled in nicely to her 2.5 years. She loves to go for R-I-D-E-S (we have to spell it because to say it gets her too excited unless you're ready at that moment to take her with you!) in the car and travels really well but we've yet to bring her on a big road trip with us because she's much too big and takes up a lot of space!

How did Adler get to go on so many trips, I wondered, but we can't fit Sadie? Well, first, I guess she's a lot bigger! About 30 pounds bigger than Adler. Second, we didn't have 3 kids most of Adler's life when we traveled so there was a little bit more space for her. And, third, Adler didn't chew my seat belts in the back of my car so I didn't have to replace them regularly much to my dismay!

But, while we are away, we are always thinking of her and bring her back treats that the kids picked out for her like a dolphin cookie or a peanut butter doughnut from the dog bakery. She had such fun eating them both and the kids were so excited to give them to her.

At 2.5 years, she finally decided (with a nudge from us) to stop sleeping in her crate at night in our bedroom (so glad I don't have that huge thing in my room anymore!). We rolled out Adler's old pillow and she's adjusted nicely to sleeping on that and then moving to the cold bathroom floor when she's hot. In the morning, like Adler, she usually waits for us to wake up even though Hailey will try to get her to go downstairs with her. Sometimes she'll rest her head on the side of the bed inches from my face and then I'll feel this tongue lick my eye or some part of my face. What a sweet way to wake up!

She's growing up our Sadie. Her foot dragging hasn't gotten much better so it's still short walks for her. But she sees a chiropractor for some cold laser therapy every month or so and her condition hasn't gotten worse. She can still run and play with us (just not with other dogs where she'll overdo it) and she's happy. That's all we can ask for as I think this dog is going to live a long life with all of her surgeries and therapies she put us through in her first 2 years. At least I can only hope!

This doughnut looks sooo good! And it's a doggie doughnut!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Swimmer of the Summer/Year

A few weeks before the end of swim team, Peyton got in the car after practice in tears. My friend got swimmer of the week, she said, and I did not. They said she always comes to practices and meets and she doesn't but I do. "Why didn't I get swimmer of the week?" she whined.

This was a teachable moment so I told her that she should be happy for her friend getting swimmer of the week.  However, I understood her disappointment as she really had been working hard at swimming - attending every single practice and meet when she didn't have to and doing pretty well overall for her first year of swimming. Keep working hard, I told her, your hard work will pay off (this is my mantra I use with Austen a lot too - If you put in the work, you'll see good results).

So she kept her head down, kept going to swim practices and all the meets (until she had to leave for sleep away camp for a week), but the day she got home she wanted to go to the pool to practice as the next day was her conference meet and she hadn't been swimming laps since she'd been away all week. Even though it was rather cool and started to rain, she went to make sure she was at least a little ready the next morning for her meet.

The conference meet was a lot like I remember going to my brother's meets. Inside, long and somewhat boring. She swam in 2 events and did okay as she was swimming against some kids that probably swim all season long. Still she placed 4th in backstroke out of 2 heats which wasn't bad at all and her relay team did okay too but placed pretty high.

The conference meet marked the end of the season before the awards banquet. We had a conflict the night of the swim banquet as Austen had lacrosse followed by baseball tryouts so one of us had to go with him and the other with Peyton. She wanted me to come so I went with her and I could already sense how disappointed she was going to be if she didn't win an award. I mean this is my kid who doesn't like to work too hard really at anything but she did put forth a lot of effort at swimming this summer and even though I was so proud of her, that was not enough for her.

They give awards (using superlatives) to all the kids first and she got the award for being a speedy swimmer. After they went through almost 100 swimmers, they announced the 8U girls swimmer of the summer/year....Peyton Szurgot! She was so happy - grinning from ear to ear and skipping over to me with her award. See, this is probably why she was never swimmer of the week - they don't win swimmer of the year. Everything happens for a reason, I told her.

I only wanted her to conquer her fear of deep water this summer and she did more than that. I think she found a love for swimming. If only she wasn't so fickle about that love (and wanted to do it year round or even next summer!)

Peyton with Coach Sophia (whom she said she might like a little bit more than me!)

Getting ready to swim at conference (she's in the middle with the yellow strap on her goggles)