Friday, August 26, 2011

Magic and running

School has started, and the boys are getting settled in their routines. They're both at the high school this year.

They're getting into after school routines, too. Robbie had his trumpet lesson yesterday, and Eli had a piano and tympani lesson today (his piano teacher also teaches percussion!).

And for fun? Well, it's been Magic: the Gathering for Robbie.
It's a card game. What I figure is that it's like Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh, but for older kids. "It's been around LONGER than Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh," points out Robbie. It makes no sense to me.

In the summer, Robbie and his buddies would swim at the Bever Park Pool, then play Magic at our house. Now that school has started, they don't have much time. But they were here today (Friday) after school!
You can tell when they're at our house.
Eli is not interested in Magic: The Gathering. He and his buddy Chris have taken up running. I'm glad--Eli has always been a gifted runner. In elementary school, he was the fastest runner in his class. This despite the fact that he was also one of the smaller kids.

Eli and Chris have been running to Tomahawk park and back every evening. It's about 2 miles, roundtrip.

View Directions to Tomahawk Park, Cedar Rapids, IA in a larger map

I've asked Eli if he would like to run on the cross-country team and he is NOT interested. He's not a joiner! But as long and he and Chris are enjoying it together, that's fine.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wisconsin, Take 2

It's Band Camp week for the boys this week. This means they're at a sleep-away camp M-Th to learn their marching band routine for the fall.

This year, since BOTH boys were gone, Bruce and I decided to take advantage of the empty nest and go on a trip together!

This is the first time we've done this since the boys were born. That sounds pathetic, but we don't have relatives close by to take both of them overnight, and sleepovers never seemed to occur on the same weekend for both guys. Besides, we like to travel with them . . . most of the time.

Still, a trip without the boys meant a nice B&B instead of a hotel-with-a-pool. And it meant slow food and tours with tour guides!

We set off for Madison, WI after putting the boys on the bus Monday. The weather was perfect! After a picnic lunch in Belmont, IA, we drove to Spring Green to have a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. We've been near there so many times on trips to see the APT, but have never done a tour.
Tours were definitely pricey, but great. There were fewer than a dozen in our group, and we had a 2 hour tour of the house and grounds.
We got greeted by Sherpa, official Taliesin cat . . .

I love the way Wright "framed" views of the landscape--and used Asian art. Above all, I loved his optimism--that there could be a new and exciting way to view nature and make things.

Next, we drove on to Madison, where we had a B&B booked--a room at the Arbor House, an "environmental inn" in a historic building. We loved the location of the B&B, in Madison's "near west side." As we walked to a restaurant for dinner, we saw some cool things, like this little free library

flags for pedestrians to carry so they wouldn't be hit by cars when they used a crosswalk (!),

The Belgian bistro we walked to for supper had great food. Though we did decide against the moules frites, the grass-fed burger (Bruce) and chicken-tarragon salad were great.

Just across the street from the restaurant was MadCat, a local boutique for cats!
I'd hoped to find one (it's a chain of 3 in Madison) because a former student worked there--and it looked fun. It turned out to be where Meagan worked, but she wasn't working that evening.

The next day, after mushroom/asparagus eggs, pear smoothies, and tea, we ventured downtown. We started at the Chazen Museum of Art on the UW campus--it had a really nice collection--and was free. There was a great exhibit on printmaking as rhetoric (how appropriate!) and some awesome ancient Greek vases (I'm reading a biography of Socrates now, so that was timely).
I also like looking at modern/contemporary art, and they had a whole floor of that. This one made me laugh--it's called Congress of Fools!
They look pretty foolish.

From there, we wandered up to one of Madison's lakes, Lake Mendota--the student union looks over it, and there were pleasant tables under the shade.
Oops, I must have been crooked when taking that photo!

I wanted to see the capital where all those people were protesting Governor Scott Walker. Inside, some people were gathering to sing protest songs under this beautiful dome.
There were still remnants of protest about.
We had lunch at an adorable Italian place, Porto Bella , which had a charming courtyard for dining.
After lunch, we headed to the Olbricht Botanical Garden, on Lake Monona. It's famous for having a Thai Pavilion, which we visited--very beautiful!

The plantings were really nice--and this garden was free to visitors!

We were pretty tired after that, so headed home--less than 3 hours away. For a 36-hour vacation just for us, Madison was just right.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August already!

Today was Eli's last day at Pioneer. No more shoot bags and tassle bags for him! He thinks he made over $700. Pretty impressive. And I'm especially impressed that he worked so hard for so long in such awful (hot!) conditions.

Here he is with his buddies Chris and Finn at Pioneer.
He's now talking about working Pioneer again next year, maybe even being a corn measurer, who carries a heavy metal pole around to measure the shoots and the height of the corn. He may not have enough seniority to do that--may be more shoot bags and tassle bags.

Meanwhile, he is really looking forward to going back to our volunteering at the Humane Society. He misses the kitties, and I'm sure they miss him.

Robbie has also been busy working--in lawn care with his business, BAGELS. He hasn't been mowing much, but has done a lot of weeding and some mulch-shifting. It seems to be fairly steady work; every time we go to church, he gets another job from our friends there :-)

Driving to the jobs gives him some good driving practice. He's getting quite good at it.

On the days he hasn't worked, he's done some engineering--he built this binary counter out of LEGOS.
What's a binary counter? Well, ask Robbie. This device counts marbles that go down a shoot. But it counts them in binary--on or off. The marbles cause switches to go in an on or off position . . . I told him to make a movie of it and put it on YouTube . . .

I've been busy getting the guys here and there . . . haven't had much sustained time to do Coe stuff, but have been doing some freelancing. And crocheting! Here's a tiny mushroom I made.

And an armadillo!

He goes inside his shell, too.

Bruce has been going to see presidential candidates . . . of course, it's only Republicans who are campaigning, and a lot of nutty ones. He's seen Bachman, Santorum, and, today, Ron Paul. Ugh. All in the name of (political) science!