Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ethan's First Day of School

Today was Ethan's first day at UM Flint's Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. So far, so good. He liked it AND he's already been studying for a few hours this evening. Good job babe! Eth has 40 classmates and a small group of professors he will be working closely with for the next 3 years. On Monday, they had a team-building day that really helped to "break the ice" and get rid of some of the stress of the unknown. They emphasised time management, and the time commitment needed for the program. Whew, good luck! I'll be as supportive as possible.

Our first week here Ethan took all of us on a tour of campus. (That's why Anna is in all the pictures... no she didn't accompany Eth on his first day, but Daddy and Anna would have liked that too.) I thought campus was beautiful. The White building is where 99% of Ethan's classes will be, and was just recently built. There is a river running through campus, so of course Anna thought we had to try out the bridge. We went to the bookstore and got a little UM flag for Ben and Anna's room. Anna was very impressed with the escalator's and thought Daddy's new school was pretty fun. We all shared a few gyros for lunch at the Pavilion's food court. It was a fun day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Settling In...

We're getting all settled in to our new place and Benjamin has been unfazed (see above). Overall, it's been fun, but a bit overwhelming at times.

For example, Anna has been going through many big steps right now. She's in a new "house." We're still explaining to her what an apartment is. The second day here, we were leaving the main entrance to our building and she said, "But dad, I don't want them to go into my house." She thought the whole building was hers, and wasn't happy that one of our neighbors was entering it. Anna also got a big girl bunkbed when we moved in. She loves it. The first night in her bed, about two weeks ago, she cried a little and came out once. We explained that she couldn't come out, or she'd have to sleep in her crib again, and she hasn't done it since. What a big girl! (She also hasn't cried since that first night.) Also, I have FINALLY got around to potty training Anna. I think she's been more than ready for a while. But man, what an inconvenient process. So, we've had many successful experiences, but then put it on hold for a little trip we took. :-)
We've been out into the Flint area, about 15-20 minutes away, and have really liked it. We were expecting much worse, but I guess we've just avoided those parts of town. Above are some pictures from the Flint Children's Museum that we got a year membership for. It's very nice with many fun, educational things for Anna. It's also exciting for us to be around so many more options for shopping and restaraunts, not that we've had much time (and soon funding) for either. Coming from Marquette, the Flint area seems like a booming metropolis. The population for the actual city of Flint is only 125,000, but many cities, including our own, run into eachother in Genesee county. The population of the county is 445,000. I just googled that information...I know, sad. All for the sake of the blog.
In our own little town we have a few beautiful parks very close to our house, including a "castle park" just like the one at Lower Harbor in Marquette. Anna was very excited to see we have one here too. There are a few rivers running through the area, and Anna loves trying out each bridge. We have a little strip mall right next to our apartment with a few convenient things: a store, a bank, a dollar store (Anna and I bought bubbles there today), a Little Ceasars, two local family resaurants, a dollar movie theater (if we can just find a babysitter now), a hardwear store, and a few other things. The town's library is just across the street from us. Yay!
We've been swimming at our apartment's pool a few times in the two weeks we've been here. Anna loves it and has made some friends there. We've met a few of our neighbors in our building and everyone is so nice and friendly. The girl who lives across the hall from us has a little boy Anna's age, and a little boy Ben's age. Fun! We plan on getting them together to play this week.
Last week, after we opened an account at the bank right next to us, we picked up a pizza and brought it back to our apartment to try out our picnic tables. (Anna's idea.) It was a beautiful day, as in, not hot. After lunch, we tried out this bike trail that begins right behind our apartment and goes all over town and country. About 26 miles of trail? Beautiful.
So, everything is going very well. Ethan starts classes on Wednesday and we're going to miss him so much. But the kids and I have lots of things planned for us to do and learn and experience. Also, I am really liking apartment life. Maybe it's just new and exciting for me now, but I hope the excitment doesn't wear off. Of course there are things I miss about our house and being home owners, but listen to this list: we can take our trash out whenever we want, we don't have to shovel or mow, when something needs fixing we just call the manager, we have a swimming pool, and even though we're in a smaller space, I really like having everything close and easily accesible. It's also forced me to be even more organized. I know, I know, how could that even be possible? (I love organizing things for those of you who didn't know this about me.) So yep, life is good and I'm sure I'll keep you posted on it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trip to Indiana's "House"

We left Marquette a few days early to attend my Grandma Hazel Jones' funeral in Rochester. On the drive down, the kids were really well behaved in the car. I was pleasantly surprised and was apparently expecting the worst. When we got to Indiana, we'd been driving for about 7 1/2 hours and still had 2 more hours to go. I told Anna that we were in Indiana and just a little more to go, and she said, "But mom, when will we get to Indiana's house?" I tried to explain what states were and looked at the map, but she just said, "Indi 'ana' is like me; 'Anna' Ellene Rayhorn."
It was so wonderful seeing so many family members at the funeral. Many I hadn't seen for years. Anna always loves to see her "new cousins" as she calls her second cousins. The first picture is of Anna climbing the steps to my Grandma Hazel and Pappy George's house in Rochester. I have so many wonderful memories there and it was a big, beautiful, old home. The next picture is of my mom holding Ben with my Aunt Janet sitting next to her, swinging on Uncle John's porch swing. Next is Anna with my Uncle Dick and Aunt Kathy's kids - Elijah, Jared and Wyatt. (My first cousins.) The last picture is of Anna and Wyatt swinging with Anna watching as Wyatt tosses around his beautiful curly, blonde locks. I wish I would have taken more pictures of all the other family, but didn't get the chance.

After staying in Rochester for a few days, we drove to Fort Wayne and stayed the night at my Uncle Harry and Aunt Linda's house. Anna loved it there. When we first arrived Anna and I received the complete tour of the property with my Uncle in the golf cart. The last time Anna was there it was winter and we didn't go outside. We saw all the trees he planted (Anna even found a nice juicy pear to eat, which she thought was the coolest thing ever and is pictured above). We saw his garden with all the different fruits and vegetables (we each had a delicious cherry tomato and Anna thought the corn was especially interesting). We saw the bees, as my uncle Harry recently started bee keeping. And we also saw the neighbors horses.
My cousin George and his wife Anna came over Sunday afternoon with their kids. Above is Anna, Levi, and Sam getting a ride with Aunt Linda in the golf cart. Anna and Natalie are eating lunch together. They played so well together - it was sweet! Benjamin and Seth also played well together. Here they are holding hands and they were also 'chatting' with each other quite a bit. Benjamin got so many, "He looks just like a Jones boy," comments. Of course, mostly that was from family that hadn't met Ethan, or they would realize that Ben looks just like him. I do have to admit that Ben and Seth look very similar.
Before I close this incredibly long blog/journal entry, I have to say a few things about my Grandma. She was an amazing woman. She grew up on a farm in Michigan. During WWII, she served as a nurse for the Army. All four of her brothers also served, even though as a farming family, only one son was required to serve. She married my Grandpa and moved to Indiana where she raised her family while working nights as a nurse. She was so giving to the less fortunate and always welcomed anyone and everyone into her home. I spent many weekends with her when I was younger and she would always take us swimming, to the library, bake cookies, and feed us like no other. Until I moved to Marquette in high school, we always had Christmas Eve at her house and many, many other large family gatherings. Grandma Hazel had 5 boys and 1 girl (including twins). From that, she and my Pappy George have 19 grand kids and 30 great grand kids. I know her legacy, influence and practical advise will live on for generations to come. It lives on in me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sugar Loaf Mountain

We hiked up beautiful Sugar Loaf Mountain a few days before we left Marquette with my brother Andrew and Jen. It was a perfect day. Anna wanted to hike most of the way herself, so it took awhile, and Jen carried her on her shoulders the rest of the way - thanks Jen. We took Buddy with us and he ran all over that mountain and got incredibly tired out. Man, what a view. (In the first pic, we told Anna to look sweet - I think she got it.)
Anna, Benjamin and I left Marquette a few days earlier than planned because my Grandma Hazel passed away. We went to Indiana to attend the funeral, which I'll probably make an entry on later. It was good to see all the family and for Anna to see all her Jones cousins again. We met up with Ethan on Monday. We're all settled in to our new place downstate and we are really enjoying getting to know the town. I'll write more details later.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Feliz Cumpleanos Anna!

Anna turned 3 today. Holy cow, time flies! We celebrated her birthday a week ago with a party at a beautiful local park by Lake Superior. She was very excited for her Winnie-the-Pooh party, as you can see from the picture above.
We had family and friends come which turned out to be a pretty good sized group. Anna reveled in it. The kids played at the park, see Anna above with her cousin Rebbecca, and my mom threw together one organized game for the little ones. The adults sat around chatting and snacking. It was nice and laid back, and the weather was gorgeous.

Anna kept sneaking cupcakes throughout the evening, so when it was time to sing to her and have her blow out the candles (see 3rd picture), we just couldn't let her eat one more. Poor girl. :) So it was just for show. The picture in the middle is with two of Anna's Great Grandmas...and another cupcake.

Present opening got a little intense, both with the amount of presents given, lucky girl, and also with Anna's possessiveness of them. She wasn't like that last year at all, but I guess she's getting older and....wiser? Or just more touchy. I had a little talk with her and then she was a little better at sharing.
Anna is the joy of our life. She is full of funny stories, sayings, and ideas. Anna loves pretending, and is so creative and random. She can be the sweetest, most caring girl ever, and is often concerned with others around her. Today Benjamin had to get shots, and she made sure to ask the nurse if she could hold his hand because, "Probably I can help feel him better and he will be brave." Sweetness! Anna is so smart, and I try to realize I'm probably just a biased mom, but I am just amazed at the connections she makes, and the things she is picking up everyday. I love so many things about her (her singing, her dancing, her laugh, her teasing). I should just cut myself off now. I am so blessed to have Anna as my daughter. Happy Birthday Sweet Pea!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What the!?! More Pictures?

Yep, we had our friend Brian take pictures while Meghan and Rorie were in town. Melissa wanted some shots of all three grand kids. Unfortunately, Ben didn't really want to cooperate. He just wanted to sleep. There were only two pictures of the three of them when Ben wasn't crying. To be fair, he wanted to go to sleep on the way there, AND he sat through 20 minutes of family pictures first. I love the shot of the three of them where Ben is crying and pushing Rorie away, obviously showing us he'd had enough; Rorie looks sweet and unfazed; Anna is thinking, "What am I supposed to be doing here guys?" So we have plenty of pictures of Anna and Rorie together, which is sweet.

For some reason, Anna was a little serious during this photo shoot. She just wouldn't smile much. Despite that, I really like how these pictures turned out, even though I hadn't thought through our outfits until earlier that day. Nice. I love how Benjamin is looking more and more like Ethan and Anna is looking more and more like me. It's too fun. Since we are moving in just over a week, it'll be nice to have the beautiful Marquette scenery and Lake Superiour in the background to remind us of home.