Monday, July 21, 2014

Silver Lake: Shopping and Eating (Featuring Java Nook)

Very first afternoon in Silver Lake. It's a bit chilly thanks to some rain showers so Kris asks me to get him his hoodie. Then it hits me. I didn't pack the boys and my hoodies because I'd planned to have us wear them on the way. We did not wear them.

Kris, being the best, amazing husband that he is, ran up to one of the stores to see what they had to alleviate my mistake.

Silver Lake, as told to us by our camping neighbors, had been nothing other than a campground and a restaurant 10 years ago. Thankfully, for us newbie campers who didn't pack our sweaters, or quite enough food, that has changed. There are rows of different businesses side by side from rent your own sand dune buggy, to souvenir shops, restaurants and a few attractions I'll talk about in a different post.

And the prices! This is not a tourist trap place. We paid $20 for my pull-over Silver Lake branded hoodie. The same for the boys and theirs. Sebastian's may have been a bit less, but I don't remember off hand. I got water shoes for $12. Restaurants had good food (deep fried asparagus is their specialty and it's pretty darn good) and friendly atmospheres, and many of them even had "photo op" spots the boys just ran to.

 (Where I got my water shoes: the boys in their Silver Lake gear.)

This second photo is Percolator Pete. Silver Lake didn't have any major chain grocery stores we could see, much less a Big Name coffee shop. We had seen Java Nook (link to Facebook page) on the way there and made a beeline for it our second morning.

The owner/operator was a very kind woman who made us caramel (Kris') and English Toffee (me) coffees. We were able to get orange juice, a fresh muffin for the boys and some homemade breakfast burritos spiced with some mild hot sauce. AND SHE HAD WIFI!! It was all really good stuff and we were able to sit and enjoy our breakfast and talk to the owner who offered our boys stickers and chatted about the history of her shop, the area, and her favorite attractions, some of which we went to see on her suggestions alone.

It was a great area, really open only six months a year from May to October, and they knew how to make us feel welcome and interested in coming back. Unfortunately, we did not return to Java Nook before we left, but if we make our way back up there, it will certainly be on the list!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goodnight Whispers

As I checked on Joshua last night I had to step over a sleeping Sebastian who prefers the floor for some reason (his mattress is actually on the floor as part of the bottom "bunk" of a loft bed - he likes to use his bed as a pillow and the floor as his bed).

His band-aid had fallen off and he was worried his cut would be in trouble but I assured him it got enough medicine and we would check on it again tomorrow. I kissed and hugged him goodnight, then turned to leave.

"Mommy," he whispered. "Please get Sebastian."

"He likes to sleep on the floor."

"No, Mommy. Please say goodnight to Sebastian."

My heart swelled and I smiled. My big boy takes such good care of his baby. I crept back in and brushed Sebastian's back while telling him goodnight. I whispered goodnight to Joshua once more, but his back was already turned to me as he settled in for bed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Silver Lake 2014: Camping

Camping. My mother hates camping - in fact, she says her idea of a camping is a cheap motel that doesn't supply a hair dryer in their bathroom. We did camp as kids with her in a pop-up camper and only where she knew they had decent bathrooms.

Kris took a course in high school on survival camping where they weren't allowed to start fires (destroyed the environment) and had to pee on rocks (so wildlife wouldn't be encouraged to eat vegetation they wouldn't otherwise eat).

So, we did things by the book. Bought a new tent, and set it up in our yard. Made a list, checked out a few websites for food (we should have looked for equipment, too, but you know, we managed) and left with the knowledge we could turn around or get a hotel where we were going if it turned into a total disaster.

I wanted to go to a Jellystone Campground. I've always wanted to go to one, ever since I was a kid and this was the perfect opportunity since I was doing the choosing. They have multiple campgrounds and the one I wanted to go to was booked by the time we were ready to schedule, so we booked the one up in Mears, Michigan at the Silver Lake / Sand Dunes, where my mother had been just a few weeks prior, as it turned out, so Joshua was thrilled with the location.

I prepped the boys with the few YouTube videos I could find for Yogi Bear that were not Adult Swim and were in English. They had to know who we were going to see, after all. In fact, while we were there, we managed to catch a wagon ride with none other than Boo Boo.

Sebastian was a bit scared of the big guy, so we didn't try to catch the other wagons with the other characters. Yogi and Cindy would drive through the campground, though, in the afternoon, so Joshua got to run after them a few times and wave.

The site was nice, near the end of a one way loop. For a family campground, it was amazingly quiet during quiet hours from 11pm to 7am. Of course, during the day people were all over the place and probably as exhausted as we were, but that's for another post.

(Our Tent)

(Our picnic table - Yogi didn't steal our food, but from what I understand, Kris stole some dinosaur eggs for breakfast the first morning, and the dinosaurs followed us our whole trip after that. Thank goodness they weren't angry birds ...)

The bathrooms weren't anything to write home about, but they had hot water. The best part about them was their location right next to the pool. After we came back from our activities during the day, we could swim and then go directly from the pool to the shower and head back to camp for the evening, for our campfire and some card playing while daddy made dinner.

It became very clear, very quickly on the first night that bedtime had to be a family affair when the boys played the night away while Kris and I waited for the fire to die down. We had brought the Harry Potter book I'd been reading to the boys and we would get through a chapter each night, then settle in for sleep. The boys shared a mattress with their new sleeping bags and would cuddle as they slept. I didn't quite catch that, but I got something close. :)

Overall, camping was a great experience, though a little stressful for our poor two year old. Though, any vacation at his age is stressful, so I wouldn't attribute that entirely to camping. We definitely plan to do it again, and even to increase our camping stock so we can be a bit more prepared for, say, rain during mealtime for example. (No pavilion for the picnic table.) That being said, camping is also cheap, even at a campground like Jellystone, as compared to staying in a hotel.

And you get a fire. That you get to poke with a stick. That you get to roast marshmallows over. For smores. :D

Do you camp? Any suggestions or ideas for us newbies? Favorite campgrounds? Best bathrooms? I want to know it all!


(I'll update here with links to the other posts about this trip as they are written.)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Back from Vacation!

And back to civilization! We just returned from a 4 day camping trip. I had planned to blog along the way, but it turns out there was no cell reception where we were staying on the Western Michigan shore. In fact, my phone thought we were in Wisconsin most of the time (for the time update)! When there was cell service, it was not good enough to post via my phone. So those best laid plans definitely failed.

So, next week, I will tell you about our vacation to Silver Lake in Mears, MI and the cool places we found along the way. Kristoffer and I are very keen on visiting the small businesses when we travel - no McDonald's, but a locally owned restaurant, for example, and we found a great community up there I'm going to do my best to share with you. :)

For now, though, rest! Because, as we all know, returning from vacation is a lot of work!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Privilege Time - The Structure of Electronic Play

We have more electronics in our home than any family of four should need. You would think, anyway. The challenge becomes, then, how to structure usage of these things.

This is a struggle we have as adults. Kids, who have much less self-control ability than we do, shouldn't be held to higher standards, but they definitely need more help figuring it out.

My husband and I have a strong belief that children should not be denied electronics. In our way of thinking, if children are completely denied electronics, they could find themselves at a disadvantage to their peers who have had access to them. This is the age of electronics and intuitive devices make it easy to figure out - if you stay familiar with them. However, we recognize hours and hours on these things is a bad thing. Our boys, for example, become whiny, argumentative and downright mean to each other if they've had too much screen time.

Enter, Privilege Time. Right now, only Joshua qualifies for it since Sebastian is two and his electronic time is even more restricted and monitored. The guidelines of privilege time go like this:

  • Privilege time must be earned, it is not a given right. However, it isn't 5 minutes earned here or there until it equals an hour, the whole time is assumed at the beginning.
  • Bad behavior results in time taken away. I take this time away in 5 minute increments as early as the day before. I take this time away from the beginning of the hour, so Privilege time always ends at the same time. If all the time is taken away, it's an automatic nap/rest hour instead.
  • During this hour, Joshua can choose any electronic from playing video games (LEGO, of course), playing or some other educational site on the computer, or playing games I've approved or watching Netflix on a tablet.

This has become one of the greatest things I've implemented into our schedule. It's better than time out for discipline purposes, though we still use that for immediate behavior issues. And it starts at the beginning of Sebastian's nap time. The reason this particular point is great is many fold.

  • Joshua helps me "wear out" Sebastian for his nap time with lots of active play.
  • Clean up before nap/privilege time goes amazingly well.
  • For the first hour of Sebastian's nap time, the house is quiet so he can fall and settle into sleep.
  • It works as resting time for Joshua who is too old and too young to enjoy a good nap.
  • It gives me a good resting time, too, particularly if he's earned the whole hour.

Privilege time ends at snack time. Joshua and I 'sneak' a treat and play a board game or cards pretty much until Sebastian wakes up. Joshua honestly looks forward to this almost as much as the perceived freedom he has during privilege time.

On a good day, it works exactly like that. We all know life in a house with kiddos doesn't necessarily go to plan, but the plan helps keep us on track toward where we want to go, as windy and bumpy as it might become. That's why I call the guidelines guidelines, rather than rules. It leaves room for movement, where I feel a rule is something more concrete, but I suppose that's a post for a different day. :)

How do you handle electronic time in your house? 0 hours or unlimited access or something in between?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dear Analin: Bubba Misses You, Too

I wrote a post yesterday on Dear Analin that cross-references here, too. As I'm sick (again, I know - it's insane, yet here it is), I thought I would re-blog the post since it's a bit of how Joshua remembers his baby sister even though he's only seen her in pictures.


Dear Analin: Bubba Misses You, Too: Dear Analin, My mom asked me the other day if it was too late to send a sympathy card a week after a colleague of hers had lost her father...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Balance Bikes - Better than Training Wheels!

I may have written about this before ... Last year (I think) we gave Joshua a balance bike for Easter. Four months later, he was riding a pedal bike without any trouble. He was newly 4. That year, two other five year olds learned to ride pedal bikes in my driveway, all having had a spin on the balance bike? Coincidence? Hmm. ;)

Okay, so this is a balance bike, if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

They come in metal or wood, ours has rubber tires so there is no air to fill. There are no pedals. The back two pieces that hold the back tire on are foot rests as well. Basically, they walk with the bike, then run with the bike, then learn to go with the bike, their feet up and balancing.

Now that I know about these bikes, it's crazy to me they aren't used more. You buy a bike these days and it tells you "Do Not Use Training Wheels" because they're dangerous. We do anyway. Then our kiddos can ride their big boy/girl bikes, but they're learning it wrong. They have to learn all over again when we decide it's time to take the wheels off. Crazy!

What about the life on them? Sebastian is two and is just starting to use it. Even at it's biggest setting, Joshua's too big at 5. Basically, this replaces the tricycle you would otherwise buy (or buy as well). And, even better, it saves you a couple bucks later when it is time to graduate to a pedal bike and you don't have to 1) locate training wheels to 2) purchase them.

And no, sadly, I am not getting paid for today's infomercial. ;) I just really like the idea of these bikes. And the littles love them, too. Sebastian can be on his own 'big boy' bike along with the other big boys, and he does pretty well, too, for a 2.5 year old.

So, if you would like to see about a minute and a half of the cutest balance bike rider ever (after his brother), press play. :D

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cedar Point Trip, 2014

We took Joshua to Cedar Point this weekend with a couple of our friends. It's his second trip, the first when he was three. He had a lot more fun this time, despite being freshly recovered from a sick bug. Look at how much he's grown!

(3 Years Old)

(5 Years Old)

They had their automated dinosaur event still going. It was exciting because, at three, Joshua was terrified and he refused to take a photo like this one:

It was his first Ferris wheel ride as well. Last time we went, we'd gotten to the very front of the line when it started to thunder and the wheel was shut down. He was so nervous on the wheel while it was being loaded, but he had a lot of fun when it started going. At the end, he didn't want to get off, though that may have been more of not wanting to go home, since it was the last thing we did.

He's asking when we can go back again. It's a bit expensive, to be honest, for a five year old and a Mama who doesn't ride the big rides (Daddy did the first trip, but hung out with us for this one). We've been lucky to go on discounted tickets so far, and hope to keep that up. Next time, though, Sebastian will be old enough to go along. I think I'll need more help, particularly if Kris wants to ride some rides again. Lol.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Slightly Different Adventure

Figuring out priorities has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I'm a pleaser by nature, so it's difficult for me to say no, or to stick to that no even if I managed to say it.

I also have a ton of interests and truly wish there were more hours in the day - or more energy in me - to be able to touch even a little bit into each of them.

With Analin's death, I've really seen myself in a new way. I've realized my priorities don't have to fight, I just need to take a more long term view of things. It's also important to realize life isn't about A to B to C, but about each step and each breath along the way that make us who we are and what life is about.

I don't want to quit blogging. In fact, I have no intention of doing so. I'm just going to combine it with more of my life than try to force something from it I don't have the time or energy to force. I've been asked time and time again why I don't do a mommy blog. I think it may be time to try it out. Chasing Revery doesn't exactly sing like the title of a mommy blog, I know, but in the same sense, I think revery should be a part of all of life, not just the imaginary and creative part of it.

So. Off on this new experiment. I don't promise pattern or structure, or even regular posts, but I can promise adventure. Regardless of what any one says about being a stay at home mom, there is always adventure in it.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pause Button Pressed

Unfortunately ...

This blog is on Pause until it's author recovers from a particularly viscous virus even the doctors are a bit beguiled by. :-/

I hope to be back soon. <3