Three Kids and a Dog

Monday, July 29, 2019

Indiana Soccer Camp - Year 2

It was Austen's second year attending Indiana University's Soccer Camp and he couldn't wait to go. Like last year, he knew his roommate(s) and had even more friends on his floor from his team. Turns out he even knew a lot of kids from the previous year when he went too.
Austen and his roommate, Jimmy

I drove him down to Bloomington on a Thursday (which I was more than happy to do). And, I don't know who was more excited. Me or Austen. Tom says his happy place is Michigan. My happy place is IU. So many great memories. But beyond the memories, it's just a beautiful campus to walk around. I decided to stay for the long weekend instead of heading back on Saturday to pick him up on Sunday. I walked the campus so much my legs hurt. They took me to downtown Bloomington, through campus, to the renovated basketball stadium, my freshman dorm, my sorority house and Austen's soccer fields. There I caught glimpses of his evening games from afar. I heard his coach yelling at him to get those 50/50 balls and I knew right then that I liked this coach because that's what I've been telling Austen all year.
His Team

I took my computer and iPad and besides walking, I sat outside at the Union or the local Starbucks or Blooming Foods (think small Whole Foods) and worked. I enjoyed the solitude. I walked the Bloomington Trail. I shopped the Farmers Market and took a drive to College Mall and then out to Brown County and back. It was a beautiful evening. I met up with friends to reminisce and have a drink/dinner. But mostly I enjoyed B-Town. It was hot but I was in my happy place. And it was only made better on my morning walk one day past the soccer fields by a kid about Austen's age who asked me "Do you go to IU?" At first I wasn't sure he was talking to me because I already had passed him when he asked the question. But when he repeated his question for a second time, I turned around and saw that he was directing his question at me. I was more than flattered. Do I go to IU? Did this kid really think I was more than 20 years younger than I was?! Yippee! My heart soared. Then I smiled and said, "I did! Best school ever."

I think Austen might agree. He had a really good camp. He learned a few things. Worked on a few others. Did really well in the final game with great play and a goal to tie the game 1-1 and help his team advance to PKs where he easily placed his shot in the right corner. Alas, his team still lost but his play was strong (although he probably could have put the ball in the back of the net a few more times). He was super close to getting MVP of his team but another really good player beat him out for his play during all of camp even though Austen outshined him in the final game. Still a much better final game for Austen than the previous year. He looked more confident out there and sure of himself.

Overall, he had a great time again and asked to attend both overnight camp sessions next year.  I can't wait to go back either, Austen. But next year, we may just have to bring the whole family!

Can it get any better than this?

Sample Gates!

Hanging out in his dorm - foreshadowing?

 Austen takes his PK

Monday, July 22, 2019

First 4th at the Beach House

Our first 4th of July at the beach house! The work is done and now we get to enjoy the summer up in Michigan. On the 4th, we usually attend the local parade and then have a bunch of friends over for food and drinks and then walk to the fireworks. But this year, we got to make new memories up at the lake.

We drove up late on the 2nd so we had almost a full week of beach time, farmers markets, friends and fireworks.

Fireworks were actually on the 3rd and I have to say they did a really nice job shooting them off over the lake.We had a big barbecue on the 4th with some friends after some beach time and then shot off our own small fireworks. (Sadie hated the fireworks this year even though in years past they didn't seem to bother her.)

We got to spend a few more days up at the beach after our friends left and before we knew it, it was time to head home on Sunday again. Each weekend we can't wait to go back. There's never enough time up there and so much to see and do.

My cuties

So happy to spend the 4th at the beach as Peyton loves to swim!

Waiting for the Fireworks!

My little sparkler

Monday, July 15, 2019

Austen Ends Little League Career with Championship

Not too long ago, I was watching Austen run down players and tag them out at first base when he was 4. It was embarrassing at the time because these kids never had a chance. Austen was a great fielder then and he continues to be a top fielder today.

When we were moving to our town, I remember walking around the park (that sold us on the area) complete with an elementary school, middle school, pavilion, playground, soccer fields and baseball fields. Tom and I discussed how cool it will be when Austen was old enough to play at the Little League stadium there under the lights. So how is it possible that he's already there and it's already over? In. The. Blink. Of. An. Eye.

We returned from Alaska just in time for his Little League team championship game (we missed travel baseball playoffs due to the trip). It would be his last game under the lights as he ages out of Little League next season. He played shortstop most of the game and made several key plays/throws to get people out at home, first and second.

Up against a tough, fast ball pitcher, there were not too many hits from his team either. I think only 3 out of 10 of his teammates hit consistently and Austen was one of them. It was certainly a nail biter until the end when they ended up winning with the tying run on 3rd base. Game over. Giants win 4-3.

What a way to end your Little League career - with a great season and some great coaches. I'll miss seeing him play under the lights for sure but I'm hoping Peyton becomes our little slugger in softball so we have years left at the park.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Alaska Part III

Alaska 2019
We arrived in Juneau early and we departed the ship to board our float plane taking us over several glaciers. To say it was awesome and breathtaking as we soared in a 10 person plane (with Papa as the co pilot) was an understatement. The view. The glaciers. They were stunning. The ride was smooth and the view magnificent. The landing was better than any runway landing too. Nice and smooth! The kids really enjoyed themselves and I didn't make a big deal out of the small size of the airplane or the fact that two float planes had crashed earlier that month in Ketchikan either (although Disney did end up canceling our float plane excursion there and after going there, I can see why).

So after a quick lunch back on the boat, we embarked on our dog sledding adventure. This was the highlight of the trip for my kids. The two older ones had studied the Iditarod (the famous Alaska dog sled race) in 2nd grade. Peyton especially was obsessed with it so she was really looking forward to seeing the dogs and how they train in the summer. Our guide, Julie Scarema, is an Iditarod hopeful and one of the prodigies of a former Iditarod winner. She mushes his dogs. She also raced against/knew Peyton's favorite Iditarod mushers, Kristy and Anna Berington. Whatever question she asked, Peyton knew the answer to. Even the fact that the mushers had to live in a tent (remember summer camp last year) did not deter Peyton from wanting to be a musher! We got to learn more about the Iditarod, go for a summer dog sled ride and visit the pups. It might've been the highlight of the trip for our kids.

Pure joy!

Mushers are awesome!

After our excursions, we walked around Juneau which was probably the biggest of all the cities we visited.

Next up was Ketchikan. We had to trade in our float plane adventure here for a boat excursion through the Misty Fjords. The scenery was once again breathtaking. Lots of wildlife was seen like seals, bears and bald eagles. Papa didn't see the whales like he hoped and we did when we were coming into Dawes Glacier that morning. But it was a great way to end the trip before sailing back to Vancouver and ending our Alaska voyage.

It was a great trip that we will remember forever. Breathtaking scenery that is unparalleled. I think the reason why I found it so stunning was the combination of the trees, mountains and the water. What other elements can make something so magical? And it was just that. A vacation to remember for sure. Thanks Papa!

Having fun!

Namaste! Til next time!

On our way home. It's like 11pm!

Monday, July 01, 2019

Alaska Part II

Disney Wonder from our excursion
On Monday, we were ready to board the Disney Wonder in Vancouver. Our boarding time was 11:30am and pretty much everything moved swiftly to get us on the boat. Once on, we enjoyed lunch before heading to our state rooms. However, we did experience our first snafu. You see the Easter Bunny had brought the kids Mickey cruise magnets for our state room door, personalized with everyone's names. Peyton was sure I would forget these at home so she packed them in her bag but when we arrived in Vancouver, they were crumpled since they were a thin magnet, so I used the ice bucket to straighten out the larger one with our last name on it. Then there were five smaller ones with all of our names on them. Peyton put them all under the ice bucket unbeknownst to us so when we did the final sweep of the room, we didn't notice they were missing. The cleaning crew recovered only 3 of these and Tom had to debark the ship to get them but Hailey was still disappointed hers was missing. Of course Peyton's was there. However, the Mickey sail away party soon took our mind off the magnets as we bid farewell to the mainland and started our trek toward Alaska.

The magnets
The first day we were at sea. I enjoyed a massage, we saw Dumbo the movie, ate some more, the kids went to the kids club and before we knew it the day was already over after dinner and the nightly show. On Wednesday, we arrived at Dawes Glacier. Stunning white and crystal blue lava- like ice structures between the mountains were just stunning. We took a boat to see them up close along with some magnificent waterfalls as well as calving of the glacier (breaking off and falling into the water). Huge pieces of ice drifted nearby us in the water while seals sunbathed on them like beds.

Thursday, we stopped in Skagway. The town was small so it was easy to peruse the shops in an hour or less. We bought some souvenirs and then boarded the boat for lunch before heading on our 4.5 hour White Pass Train excursion. The views were magnificent but the smell...let's just say it's the best air I've smelled ever. Fresh and clean with a mix of pine and newly cut wood. I will remember that smell forever. Hailey missed most of this as the long days coupled with it being light til almost 11pm took it's toll and she got in about a 2.5 hour nap! This was also the "Frozen" night so my two girls, who refused to dress up as princesses, decided days before the cruise that they wanted to be Sven and Olaf - the reindeer and snowman, respectively. So thank God for Amazon. I was able to order an Olaf costume and some Sven antlers and put together some semblance of a costume. And while not many other guests participated, my two were happy as can be to wear their outfits to dinner and the show after. In fact, we hit a karaoke bar after the show and Hailey kept asking me if people wanted to take pictures with her! (Kind of like all the other characters on the boat!) So being the good mom and not wanting to disappoint her, I sought out and begged random people to take pictures with her. Believe me the smile on her face was well worth it too!

Next up is our day in watch for my update on Alaska Part III.

Captain Mickey first day
Sail Away Party

The Kids Club - Better than the Disney Dream

So excited to board the ship

Dawes Glacier

Random Olaf pictures

Random Olaf pictures

Views from the White Pass Rail Train

White Pass Rail Train

Olaf and Sven