The Ear Muffs

Ah, summer mornings.  When I can open up the back door and let the kids out…for as long as they’ll stay out.  But, every summer, they have to re-adjust to the unexpected mass of bugs that jump out of the grass to greet them as they run around.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!   MOM!!!!  BEES!  EVERYWHERE!  GROSS!  EW! MOM!!!!”

Living by the lake has mostly advantages, but there are a few pesky things I could do without.


We have bug seasons here.  Mayflies, Muffleheads, Canadian Soldiers, Noseums…They have many names…but no matter what you call them one thing is clear.  They are annoying, and they are everywhere.  Just like the ‘summer people’ who show up in droves and forget how to drive.  (Funny, they can all find their horns, though…)

First are the Muffleheads…and I’m just going to call them what I’ve always called them even though it may not be their real name.  They gather in massive clouds around the lights at night, and swarm the grass and bushes in the morning.  They leave green spots on cars, boats, houses…anything you leave out at night.  I sympathize with my kids on this one.  I run through swarms of them in the morning, occasionally getting blasted in the back of the throat with one.  It’s tough to know whether to try to cough it up, or just swallow it and be done with it.  Gotta stick to dark pants while they’re in season, because there’s no way to avoid sitting on one.

In between bug rounds the spiders are slowly beginning to take over.  If we don’t have a professional come out and spray a few times a summer, the front door with be covered with webs by mid-June. Even with applied chemicals, anything left out in the back yard  has to be hosed off each day before the kids will go near it.  Again…can’t blame them.

After the Muffleheads come the Mayflies…or Canadian Soldiers?  I get them confused.   But, they get so bad around here they have to be shoveled off the streets in places.  Especially on the islands.  You can’t miss them, because they freeze in place when the sun comes up, wings sticking out flapping in the breeze.  Although they make for easy fishing bait, it’s nasty to hear bugs ‘POP’ under your shoes when stepped on.

Like anything, the kids become numb to the bugs after a while, and start giggling when the Muffleheads land on their arms, and quite enjoy ‘popping’ the Canadian Soldiers under their shoes.

“Mom!” Brianne laughs…” there’s an Ear Muff on my swing! ha ha ha ha!”


It’s really a mass of bugs at the lakeshore.  Biting flies, mosquitoes…all kids of stuff.

However, small price to pay to live by the beach.  And, have a constant laugh watching my girls react to constant battering of insects.  If you come up to the lake to vacation?  Buy sunscreen with bug repellent.  I can sell you some real cheap if you can’t find it.  lol.

Happy Bug Seasons!


Ocean Motion.

Parenting is full of full circle moments.  Watching my daughter ride ‘Ocean Motion’ at Cedar Point for the first time with her hands straight up in the air is now added to my log full of those moments.

It just doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was on my first ‘Ocean Motion’ ride, totally freaked out…and definitely not sticking my hands straight up in the air.  As CP Marina people, my family and I would go to the church services inside Hotel Breakers every Sunday…and on the way back to the marina, we would all ride ‘Ocean Motion.’  AND the potato sack racing slides…but Planet Snoopy now sits where that ride once was.

Brianne and her Daddy on Ocean Motion

Lots of people call my 4- year old my ‘mimi-me,’ and to a certain extent, that’s true.  She looks exactly like I did at that age, and she’s very loud, dramatic, head-strong, and …. well, hilarious.  Her giggle attacks make me flash back to childhood in a snap.  But, one thing that sets us a part is her courage.  She doesn’t over-think or over-analyze things…she’s just simply not afraid.

Except for the occasional bad dream, which Grandpa takes away with ‘Grandpa Magic,’ she’s an extremely brave and strong little kid.  Just as soon as she is tall enough to ride a bigger Cedar Point ride, she’s in line…on the ride…hands straight up in the air.  Which is why, now that she has just cleared the height requirement for ‘Ocean Motion…’ we’ll be riding it a lot this summer.

“Mom…don’t hold on to me…mom-don’t even touch me…I’m fine.  MOM!  Am I tall enough to ride this by myself yet?”

She is so little in that big ride, I can’t help but want to hold onto her in fear that she’ll fall out!  Take her back to Jr. Gemini and let her ride that 10 more times in a row.  (I’m not exaggerating…it was actually 11 times in a row last trip in the park.  Only got off when they had to let someone else on the ride…)  Kiddie rides?  That’s getting to be too boring for her, now.

It’s all happening so fast.  And, as I watch her ride the little kid rides with her little sister…I’m struck by how little ‘little-time’ I have left with Bri.  And the ‘little-time’ I have left with Lo will go even faster, because she’s right on Brianne’s heals trying to do everything her hero, ‘Bee,’ does.

Ocean Motion.

Who would’ve ever thought it’d become a reminder to soak in every moment I get to stand outside the gate and watch my little girls have fun on rides.  Before I know it, they’ll be dragging me on rides I’m terrified of.  For now, I just get to sit back and relax…sip my coffee and let them argue over who’s going to beep the horn or ride in front.

Happy Thrill Rides…


The Stomach Drop.

It’s nice to open the day with a brisk run and a peak at the sunrise from the beach.  Having so much to be extra thankful for this morning, my thoughts drifted to this early Spring…rather…Summer…weather, and how it makes waiting for Cedar Point to open as agonizing for me as it is for my kids.  Staring at it across the water from the end of my street…I feel if I just gaze hard enough they’ll decide to open early.

Cedar Point is the best amusement park in the world.  No really.  It is…officially and stuff.  But, to me, it’s so much more than that.  More even, than all the childhood memories spent wandering within the confines of the beautiful peninsula it resides on, becoming a part of it’s every breath as an employee one summer in college, and now sharing laughs with my own kids there.   It’s a living analogy of my life.

My favorite?  ‘The Stomach Drop.’

CP has built two rides that instill fear in me.  The Top Thrill Dragster.  Sitting on it, you’re about to go 120 mph but don’t know when.  And, Power Tower.  Legs dangling at a ridiculously high height with no warning of the drop.

In that moment before take off, or drop down, I find myself so nervous and terrified…despite the fact that I’ve come out alive hundreds of times before.  Then, BAM!  My stomach drops…I swear I can feel it seeping out of my toenails…and down-or up- I go.  The ride goes by in a screaming blur, and I exit with wobbling legs.

At ‘the park,’ I’m expecting to face some fear when I enter the line to ride.  In life, fear has a tendency to smack me in the face without warning.

Every parent knows that challenges don’t happen one at a time.  They have lots of friends, and they crash the party all at once.  On the cusp of three bouts of stomach flu this week… it felt like it should be Saturday…but the calendar said Wednesday.  Add also, that after days of wondering why there was dried blood in my one-year-olds ears, the quest to unfold the mystery began with phone calls, a doctor visit, meds and ear drops.  The way things had gone this week, collided with my parental instincts at full speed  Already sleep deprived…I still felt like I was waiting for the ride to start.

I was right.

Lo Lo's poor ears...

That night in conversations amongst family, we remembered Lo Lo pulling an end table down on herself a few days ago when we were away visiting family in Findlay.  Driving to pick up dinner, a natural wave of panic rushed through me.

My stomach dropped.

It was a bad fall but yielded no bumps or bruises, so we wrote it off.  I had little time to take solace in the conversation from the pediatrician, who so graciously had patience with my obviously freaked out tone.  Just hour later, Lo Lo’s turn with the stomach flu began.

With a call back from the doctor in the morning, we began a day what should have been spent outside in 80 degree March weather inside doctor’s offices… and eventually… a hospital CT scan room.  Lo Lo had been sick with the stomach flu through the night, and we were both riding on two hours of sleep.

Through it all…my sweet little Lo giggled and bounced around as if nothing was wrong, even though she had been throwing up to the point of exhaustion just hours before, and had blood mysteriously making it’s way out of her ears.

I nervously but graciously awaited the ear specialist to make a diagnosis, juggling both of my daughter’s lack of compliance to sit still…and my oldest warning me she was about to poop.  Trying to piece together, in angst, what the conclusion my daughter’s symptoms were leading the doctor’s conclude…I heard  “….recent fall…possible base skull fracture…CT scan…put her to sleep for the test….”  The words ‘skull fracture’ began to ring in my ears, and then I got lost in the blur of my own tears welling up.  All I could manage was an “I need you now” text to my husband.

As the four of us walked into the hospital to face Lo’s test together, the power of prayer began to take over, shielding me from my own worst case scenario’s and thoughts on what it ‘could’ be.  It was a grim circumstance to hold my Lo Lo’s hand as she’s strapped down and sent through a huge machine for a CT.  But when the test was over, I felt an odd sense of calm, which was confirmed by a positive call from the doctor an hour later.  “Weird,” he said, that Lo Lo was acting like her complete happy self with her symptoms.

No skull fracture.  No ear damage.  Lots of deep breaths.

“Weird.”  I’d rather a weird mystery than the terrifying news other families in similar circumstances have to digest.

As a kid, it’s fun to push that boundary of fear on roller coasters and thrill rides.  Real life fears are much harder to look in the eye, especially with a happy temperament like Lo.  But when we prevail, God-willing, it is simultaneously empowering and humbling.

Finally having the chance to think clearly as I write this, I just remembered something my older daughter had said to me before bed the night before in response to her little sister’s ears (we had seen the doc for the first time that day)….

“I will pray for an angel to come spend the night with Lo Lo, Mommy.  I will pray that God will send an angel to stay with her aaaaallllll night long and ‘pertect’ her.”

Happy Fear-Facing…


All Better. 🙂

Rain in the Forecast…

We’re somewhat preempted to grumble about rainy days.  Even the weather channel girl mulls over rainy forecasts, trading in her ‘sunny day’ forecast enthusiasm for a more glum tone.  Every wonder why that is?  What’s so bad about the rain?

It makes no difference to my kids what the weather is doing outside…their focus lies solely in the fact that they want to be out in it.  They aren’t worried about getting soaked, or their fingers becoming cold and pruney.  All the rain means to them is rain-boots and puddle splashing as we meander down the street.

In the grown up world, we are sometimes slightly over-informed…

There has always been, and will always be, and abundance of rain to grumble about.  Weather we hibernate inside until the sun comes out is up to us.  Fear of getting soaked to the bone has never kept me out of the rain…to the point that I remember my Mom pulling up beside my teenaged self running through a thunderstorm, asking if I wanted a ride home.  Being my Mom, she knew all too well that I meant to be out in it.  Being a good Mom, she had to make sure I was OK, anyway.

From birth on, children need their Mom’s assurance that everything is OK.  It’s evident in the look of approval my girls seek to splash in puddles…even with rain boots on.  An extra hug…a pat on the back…’Mommy Cuddles” as my older daughter says.  Kids are no more afraid to ask for extra encouragement than they are to get soaked in the rain.  Self assurance is just another basic human need.

You can learn a lot from a toddler.  How to let go and play in the rain…how much hurt a hug can heal a bruised self confidence…

But toddlers can learn a lot from us, too.  Like, how to let go and play in the rain…how much hurt a hug can heal a bruised self confidence..

We shouldn’t ever assume that just because we’re adults we need any less assurance than our kids.  It’s OK to let go and play in the rain.  To face seemingly mundane or difficult tasks…and with fearless abandon seek extra hugs of encouragement when needed.  That’s where faith kicks in, as well.

We’re all just grown up versions of the kids we once were.  Put the rain boots on and splash around.  Life if short.

Happy Splashing…



Getting splashed by the lake at sunrise.


With toddlers, is always a new trick, right?

Lots of little kids walk on their tippy toes when they are toddlers, especially when they first learn to walk.  At least, that’s what I’ve been told…and that’s what my first daughter did.  It was one of those extremely cute ‘baby’ things that she did…and then it quickly passed and she was running down the street full speed.

My younger daughter, almost 2…is still tippy toe-ing around the house…down the street…at the store…everywhere.  She walks on her tippy toes, runs on her tippy toes, stands on her tippy toes.  It’s quickly becoming as much of a character trait as her shoulder shrugging and eye-lash batting are.  It’s probably just an extended phase…but I’m loving every sweet second of it.

I wouldn’t put it past little Lo to be on to something already.  Some kids seem to come out of the womb with a mission to do something.  For Lo, she’s been dancing…and tippy toe-ing…to her own beat since day one.  Influenced by her older sister who’s started dance class, and our nightly dance parties in the kitchen…she knows a few steps.  But, she takes it to a level that makes me wonder if she’s got a natural gift to move.

The funniest, being, when I catch her grooving down the hallway, or out of the room, without any music necessary.  Or in her car-seat, just jamming to the beat in her own little head.  She watches TV one of two ways:  sprawled out in her bean bag chair, or with one leg up on the coffee table as if she at the ballet bar.  When music IS on..look out.  Older sister Brianne will never have the spotlight all to herself again, because Lo is literally right on her heels when she’s dancing around.  Brianne spins, Lo spins.  Brianne does a shuffle step, Lo does a shuffle step.  Brianne leaps across the room, Lo leaps across the room.  You get the picture.

I thought tippy-toes would be replaced by Lo’s recent discovery of the somersault.  My 3, almost 4 year old still doesn’t somersault.  The last thing I expected Lo to do is tuck her little head…almost…under and roll onto the floor.  “How do I get her to stop doing THAT?!” I asked my Dad, who witnessed Lo’s latest feat right along with me.  Afraid she’s not going to tuck her head enough and break her little neck…rightly so as every other somersault shifts sideways…I limited her to the carpet, at least.

I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, seeing that Lo looks at me upside down from between her legs all the time.  Constantly bent down analyzing her toes…I think she must have just fallen all the way over one day and liked the dizzy feeling.  Who really knows.  All I know, is this flexible little groove-monster has ‘Future Dance Star’ written all over her.  The tippy-toes still trump all other tricks.  Upon entering the house…the shoes come off, followed shortly by the socks…and away she tippy-toes…scampering out of the room like a little prima ballerina.  I can’t wait to put my little tippy toe-er in dance class.  My little performer…here we go.

Happy tippy-toe-ing…