Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Remember this guy? He's been such a happy, easy-going, low-maintenence part of our family for a year and a half now. Yesterday he left us.

He went out in a most dramatic way. When we left to run errands he was fine, doing swimmingly even... It all happened so fast. (Or maybe it was slow? We were gone.)

When we returned home from the library and grocery store Joshua was the first in the door. I walked in to hear "mommy there's a fish on the floor by our deck." My first thought was What?!? But I looked over and sure enough, there was Michael, flopping on the floor by the patio door to the deck.

As far as we can figure, the water was a bit higher than usual and he jumped out. But, instead of staying there and waiting for help, he started on an adventure turned suicide-attempt. Somehow he survived the four-foot-drop off the island cupboard and flopped the 10 feet over to the deck door. The kids have never even watched Finding Nemo, so he couldn't have gotten any inspiration for an escape from that...but to the door he was drawn nonetheless. And there we found him, in rough shape.

I thought he was a goner for sure. But, to be a good (albeit very surprised) Mommy, I got the fish net and scooped him up and plopped him back in his bowl. And started warning his owner of his likely approaching death.

He made it all afternoon and into the evening, though I was pretty sure he wouldn't fully recover. We left for a walk and when we returned he'd finally given up on recovery. Joshua found him and was quite stoic, saying "he's got one of his wings (fins) up in the air, I think he's dead" Lydia is confused: she keeps saying Michael. Potty. Flush. Gone. and going in there to see if he's come back. Joshua asked to hold him before his "flushing ceremony." This grossed Mommy out a little, but it's his fish and he hasn't been able to touch for over a year, so we (well James, actually...thanks honey!) wrapped him in plastic wrap and Joshua said his good-byes.

It's only a fish, but it's really our kids first personal experience with death. Joshua got teary after he was gone and wanted answers about where Michael was now and if we'd see him again. How do you re-assure a 3-year-old about death while being honest but not scaring them? We held him and talked about what a good pet Michael had been. He liked the idea of Michael going down the pipes to the sewage plant and eventually "becoming dirt." It is the life cycle, but it's never easy.

He's now looking forward to the next fish, which he's already told us will be blue and named Pipp. Ah, resiliency, it's how we get through life with a pre-schooler--everything is dramatic, but at least he recovers quickly.

Good-bye, Michael, you will be missed as much as any fish can...!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Concerts on the Square

In case I haven't mentioned it here recently, I think Madison's a pretty cool town! There's the zoo (it's FREE), a great children's museum, and of course the farmer's market.

But, although we've been here for four years now (wow, has it really been four years already?!?) we're still discovering and becoming part of other Madison traditions and opportunities.

For example, Concerts on the Square. I know free concerts in a park with some sort of live musician(s) are not a tradition original to Madison. My first experience with one of these was in London, actually, but I know it's common all over... However, it's something that happens every summer in Madison, on the capitol square (the orchestra plays on the steps, pretty cool), and not just one week, or two, but for every week for six weeks each summer!

We've made a concert intentionally one other time since moving here, and another time we happened to be downtown when it was going on, but before this summer one child or the other was not really big enough to last for a whole concert. We've made it twice now this summer, and I think we'll continue to try to be there regularly.

Basically, the whole lawn of the capitol square becomes a giant picnicking/relaxing/chatting sprawl of concert attenders. To take part you simply place blankets or chairs or much more elaborate set ups on the lawn. (I didn't get a picture of these, but some people actually have custom made tables just for this purpose and bring/buy a gourmet meal and sip wine while the concert moves along--sounds relaxing to be sure, but we are not in that life stage right now!)

It's an eclectic mix of young and old, dressy and casual, well-to-do and working class. There are kids playing and dancing on the mall and collections of seniors in their rocking lawnchairs tapping in time to the beat and a lot of everyone in betwen. Everyone comes together for one purpose and puts aside their differences for the evening. And it's totally Madison. Love it!

We really enjoyed the music both times, though I'd have to say as much as I enjoy classical music, hearing an orchestra playing movie themes live just really cannot be beat, so the week the whole program was epic movie themes has to be my favorite. The kids enjoyed the music as well, but hands down their favorite part was the treat we got the first week. Rather that purchasing individual ice cream cones for everyone from the vendor and spending a good chunk of the entertainment budget for the month in the process (somewhat defeating the whole point of a FREE event) we instead stopped at a corner grocery store and got a 1/2 gallon and a package of cones. Total cost: just shy of $4, and out of the grocery budget to boot. :) Extra bonus: the kids thought nothing could be cooler than making their own ice cream cones and eating straight from the carton. Mommy loved the fact that it was all outside and everthing that got coated in sticky ice cream hands could either be left behind, wiped down, or tossed in the washing machine upon our arrival home!

We're loving summer time here in Madison (though it's been a bit chilly) and are looking forward to the fun continuing into fall, which somehow seems to be just around the corner. How about you? What's your favorite free summertime activity with or without kiddos?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Precious Little Feet with Big Shoes to Fill

This is our entry for iHeartFaces special "feet week" edition.

I love this picture! It was taken last summer as part of a larger set in which Joshua is playing with a caterpillar. He randomly decided that it would be fastest to take a pair of James' shoes outside instead of putting on his own. The result is precious. I've always loved it when my little boy decided to wear his daddy's shoes--for me it just captures all of the awe, respect, love and wonder a son has for his father. And it's a bittersweet reminder that someday in the not-too-distant future, those shoes won't be to big for him, but he might be too big for them.

But, for right now, I'm going to enjoy him like he is--curious, inquisitive, sweet and busy, busy, busy!!

Click on over to this week's iheartFaces post and browse the other fun entries.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Half-Birthdays

The nice part about having kids with birthdays two days apart is that with a mostly-combined birthday celebration on their actual birthdays, I actually have some interest and energy for their "half-birthday(s)."
I remember several years as a child when we got to celebrate with a half-birthday-cake and I still remember it fondly. I've never been super disciplined about it like I know some people are (my mom has a friend who celebrates her "birthday" each month of the year!) but I think it's fun for my kids especially while they're this little--a year is a long time when you've only celebrated three...or one! Anyway, we actually made a "half" cake this year. (I took one layer of cake and split it in half and stacked it so only half of it was there.) It looks a bit worse for the wear since the kids wanted our fresh homemade strawberry-mulberry jam on it in addition to the frosting and the humidity was high. But, it was tasty anyway, and the kids (who helped me make it) were very excited for their "cup-cake" as Lydia referred to it. :)
Candles and sprinkles are requirements for any "celebration" as Joshua called it, but I don't have a clue where the birthday candles got put during the move, so as you'll see we had to make do with a decorative candle, but they didn't seem to mind. It was fun for all of us, you just can't help catching the excitement of your kids!
Here are the pictures. Enjoy!

Lydia's still a novice, it took her a couple of attempts to blow out the candle...
Joshua's quite the expert, however!

Ready to dig in! (Joshua kept running to find James or me saying "hurry it's time for our celebration!")

Verdict: It's good...

It's very, very good....

I think this face says it all...
Happy 1/2 Birthday Babies!