Saturday, November 15, 2014

"I have loved the stars too fondly... be fearful of the night."

I have always had a strange fascination for space. I remember spreading out my dad's big blue sleeping bag in the backyard on summer nights and watching the stars appear, or lying back on our snow tubes after some night sledding and looking up at the brilliant sky. I told people I wanted to be a biochemist one day and become an astronaut like Shannon Lucid. I did eventually realize that acheiving these goals required more than a passable understanding of mathematics and more complex science than my brain could handle, but if I could get there on pure heart, I might have been to space and back again by now!

Liam shares so many interests with both Aaron and me, and seeing things like the universe through his eyes is so amazing to me. We talked about the Rosetta probe reaching comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and sending out the Philae lander to explore and send information back to earth; hoping to discover more about the origins of the universe and the beginning of life as we know it.

"Mom, I don't think it is such a good idea to find out exactly how life began," Liam said after thinking over our comet conversation. When I asked him why not, his answer stopped me cold.

"Because if we find that out, people will think they are just like God."

He is 8 years old. He grasps the ethical dilemas of scientific discovery as a second grader. He amazes me every day.

Tonight I snuck him out of his room after Max fell asleep to watch Apollo 13 snuggled up in the chair with me. We get one wild and crazy life to live, buddy, and I can't wait to see the things you will do.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday, Liam!

It was a truly epic weekend! The boys dressed as Call of Duty soldiers for a very brisk evening of trick-or-treating! The whole family was in town for the weekend, and we spent Saturday at Lambeau Field browsing the Gallery of Shoppes and Cabela's! We also had cocktails at Anduzzi's, swimming at the hotel pool and dinner at Graystone Alehouse!

Today was Liam's 8th birthday, and we celebrated with a Minecraft themed party! He opened his gift from mom, dad and Max and said, "Wow, I can't believe Max has kept this a secret for so long!" I told him that is because Max did not know what the gift was!

Creeper Cupcakes!

Happy Birthday, buddy. You are getting so big!

One of the best things about the weekend was Auntie Kimmy flying in from Florida!

The boys were so excited to have both aunties, grandmas and grandpas, and even great grandma in town all weekend!

Max was a great helper while Liam opened his presents. He was diligent about putting all the wrapping paper away, and was genuinely excited for his big brother and his gifts!

He stayed right by Liam's side the whole time...

...even resting his head on his shoulder sometimes! I just love watching the two of them together!

Grandpa Howie and Granma Pammy's gift got a big reaction from the crowd! Liam's tanned fox skin! This is the fox he shot last spring with Grandpa Howie!

Max taking his job very seriously!

And also enjoying a few gifts he received himself!

The cousins! Brooke, Liam, Braeden, Bethany and Max!

We had such a wonderful weekend. I love that our family was all able to be there to spend time together and just have fun. I miss them already!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Smith Family RoBasin!

Holy amazing weekend. Well, amazing 24 hours. I drove up to the new family camp on the Dead River with mom and dad to bring the first load of camp gear! Fall in the U.P. is amazing, and I can't believe we now have a cabin we can visit year-round on the river!

We paraded up M-95 with dad in the lead. This is mom with the load of bunk beds. She told me to stop following so closely. I told her to stop speeding up and slowing down. We love each other.

We turned off of M-95 and followed the winding back roads past Deer Lake.

And here is the first glimpse of the camp! This is the garage through my windshield. I may have been screaming with excitement and/or jumping around a little while driving. I think Grandma Karen would say it was ok this one time...

And the cabin!

Mom fished the key out from under the pumpkin and opened 'er up!

We got organized and then had some dinner in the new camp!

Just sitting on the deck of OUR CAMP.

Oh, hey, just hanging out at OUR NEW CAMP.

Checking out the beach. The camera does not do justice to the fall colors!

It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and we actually could hear the leaves falling from the trees in the woods around us!

Dad, scouting for fish from the beach!

Oh, hey, just a view of OUR CAMP from the beach!

Sauna Aiika!

I found this Suomi license plate in the sauna! Shined it up real nice. Keeping that! 

The deer feeding station out behind the cabin.

Dad up in the garage loft. Hi dad! About 5 seconds after I took this he spotted a dead partridge in the driveway. We thought maybe the camp has a magical force field that kills animals who get too close. Then you don't have to hunt for your dinner, you just set your lawn chair up at the force field.

It got chilly outside after we sat and watched the stars on the beach and talked to Kimberly on the phone! Dad made the first fire in the stove and warmed us up!

The basin was misty when we woke up this morning.

It was so peaceful to eat our breakfast and drink coffee on the deck of OUR NEW CAMP!

The water was like glass for much of the morning.

Dad fired up the riding lawnmower and mowed the lawn. Then he found the new lawnmower blade the previous owners had left for us and mowed it again!

We stopped our cleaning and ate lunch on the deck! It warmed up really quickly outside and eventually got to almost 80 degrees!

Mom and I sealed all the wood inside the cabin. I had the honor of using an old dog dish for my sealer bucket. So lucky. Sisters - this is the wall behind the stove after a coat of sealer. It barely looks any different, but it looks fresher and really nice. Not really shiny, but maybe a little bit of a sheen to it. Dad took over sealing for me in the afternoon because I had to leave to come home for work. They have a list of things they'll be working on for the rest of the weekend. Sarah heads up there with them the next two weekends, and hopefully we can get the boys up there before it gets too cold out! They are going to love OUR NEW CAMP! 

Side note - the Ishpeming Cemetery is on the road to camp. I stopped on my way home to take some pictures and wander around for awhile. I know Kimberly will be super excited about this! Sarah might enjoy this fact as well! 

First weekend at camp was a success!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crystal Cave

After our visit to the Little House Wayside, we drove about 20 minutes north to visit Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, WI. The boys have been begging to go to the cave since last summer, and we've been promising to take them and then forgetting about it. I wanted to get this trip in before the end of the summer, and I am so glad we did! We spent the night at Auntie Sarah's in Wausau, and then drove west for our day of adventures!

The cave tour is well done and the cave itself is very navigable. Our tour guide, Amanda, did a nice job and taught us a lot about the history of the cave, bats and, of course, crystals! The boys got to help "lead" the group into the various chambers and were careful not to run or touch anything. They got a little chilly in the 50 degree cave, but at an hour long, the tour was just long enough. We emerged from the ground and headed over to Prospector's Creek to do some gem panning!

The boys each got a bag of mining rough and poured it into their gem pan.

They had to screen and slide it through the mining sluice to make the gems and minerals appear. And appear they did! They both squealed happily as shiny gems separated from the dirt. They uncovered quite a few gems, and I was impressed with how much they found in one small bag!

Liam's eyes lit up as he looked at each gem and carefully placed them in his prospector's bag.

Max picked through the mining rough for every last sliver of treasure and filled his bag right up!

We had fun sitting in the shade afterwards identifying our gems with the supplied gem identification card. 

Max is getting very good at reading and was able to sound out most of the types of gems in his bag, including calcite and crystal points.

We were at the cave on a Monday, so I'm sure that is why it wasn't very busy, but I really loved feeling like we weren't rushed and weren't in a huge crowd to do everything. We were able to take our time and do whatever the boys wanted to do. They even got to pick out one shark tooth each at the gift shop! They couldn't believe their luck! ;)

This was the perfect way to end the summer. The boys were great travelers, we got to visit with Sarah and we got to spend some quality time with just the three of us.