Hello from the future

Hello. I’m going to file this post as if I wrote it the year I stopped the blog, but it is in actuality not July the 7th of 2014, but January 21, 2022. (Part of me is turning over in my head how to approach any of this. I was a year behind when I stopped – so I can’t even put catch-up posts on the date they should be entered!) Ian’s turning fifteen years old – and he’s on his second week of driver’s training. Nina’s in middle school and is a wonderful young lady. Ian’s in marching band. Nina plays cello in the orchestra. Seth is gone. Sabine is right here. And my dad took one last ride on June 24th of last year – and did not return.

It is very close to ten years since I stopped writing. It breaks my heart to have stopped, but it was a broken heart that stopped me in the first place. I’m not sure exactly what happened – or maybe I am. Months before Lilly Looking Through would appear on Steam, I started seeing the end looming on the horizon, like dusk. I became anxious. I looked for ways to keep this going. Interviewed at a game studio in Kalamazoo – but it wasn’t the right fit. And everything else was a few states away. I want to tell that Daran that if he could somehow move on from this, he’d enjoy his children growing up all the more. But a dark cloud settled over me, and stayed. It’s that simple. I was not inspired enough to keep writing this. I would think about it, but I felt unhappy, and it seemed like going back to it would mean reliving it. And it spread. I was not inspired enough to focus on work. And it got worse. Life got harder and more complicated. There were a ridiculous number of good things – it was just a little harder to see them; and not as easy to smile about them.

Family, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry I stopped the blog. I just listened to Nina ordering chips and salsa at three years old and asking me about Halo – and I’m completely choked up. How did I not see how important this was to me?

I’m happy to say that I did, at the very least – make some posts on Facebook here and there as major events happened. I’m thinking I might actually get back into this – dig into the photos of the past, dig into the Facebook posts – and just slowly work my way forward. Weirdly now might be a good time to catch up, as each day is not filled with an adorable quote. It’s more like each month – and they’re admittedly less cute quotes, yet more hilarious. They’ve got my sense of humor, if I may be so indulgent as to say that. 🙂


I have so much to tell you.



August 2013 Catch Up Mode

Alright everybody, it is time to get this blog caught up. We are back to being almost a year behind. A lot of what is stopping me from keeping it up-to-date is that I am living with the frustration of being behind all the time. So here’s the deal. NO VIDEOS. Videos take forever to edit, by comparison… so for now I’m skipping videos and may come back to do those later. The big thing is to get caught up, so let’s focus on pictures and audio/written. Hold on tight!

So, here’s all of August in ONE entry! GO!

Also, I’ll apologize in advance… I went into great detail about my story this month, because this is possibly the best month of my life from certain angles; I want my children to know that I got to do what I always wanted — at least for a little while.

 August 1st, I hopped on a plane to go visit Grandma Sue, who needed a little help from her kiddo. This is O’Hare, where my layover was. See this image larger.

 It’s really a nice airport, if you don’t have to stay overnight or anything. See this image larger.

 I guess I went a little nuts with the pictures, sorry. See this image larger.

 August 5th, and it was time to head home… Grandma Sue and I bonded a lot and we were both very happy I made the trip. Meanwhile, Steve from Geeta Games informed me that Lilly had won a conference… and I was going to get to go to PAX Prime 2013, for me, a near-Holy pilgrimage. And it was right around the corner, too! See this image larger.

 August 6th, Ian got to go to the same wild animal reserve that Nina was able to earlier in the year as part of his summer camp at daycare stay. See this image larger.

 Alligator is eyeballing Ian… See this image larger.

 His whole class from the summer camp. See this image larger.

 Giraffe in Michigan… how’s the weather up there? Crappy. Anyway… Thanks Mommy for chaperoning on this trip… I was busy making a video game! See this image larger.

 August 9th, lazy summer… See this image larger.

 After a hard day, we stopped for ice cream across from day care. See this image larger.

 August 11th, Nina VERY neatly organizes her toys… See this image larger.

 August 16th, our hope with Lilly lay in Steam Greenlight. If we were “green lit” the game would be an immediate success, we figured, based on the history of other green lit games. If only, we dreamed. See this image larger.

 August 17th, we beta tested Lilly with some strangers… See this image larger.

 Overall they enjoyed it, but a couple shortcomings reared their heads. Turned out, there wasn’t much we could do about them on our schedule and with our budget. This would come back to haunt us. See this image larger.

 There were my two beta-testers, and we had a hilarious time. See this image larger.

 August 19th, Uh… Ian with a napkin. It’s a shame this was a year ago, I’m sure there was a reason I took this. See this image larger.

 Ian didn’t get it this year, but I can say with confidence that he got it in the spring of 2014… mostly because I’m playing catch-up now in the summer of 2014! See this image larger.

 Little cutie! See this image larger.

 Yeah, sometimes, little guy… sometimes. See this image larger.

 August 19th, we got a visit from Phil and Joyce and their son Vonn. See this image larger.

 Ian and Nina chilling out. See this image larger.

 Oh, here we go, here’s a shot of the three of them. Recent rumor has it that they are trying to move from LA, back to this area, as of July 2014. No idea if it will happen, but I can honestly say I love Phil. He’s a really great friend, and having him around would be fantastic in all sorts of ways. We could watch Vonn, they could maybe watch our kids, the four of us could go out… Joyce and Melissa even get along great; so this would be perfect. See this image larger.

 Here’s a pic of us hanging out. See this image larger.

 August 20th, here we are at BC Pizza, and Ian is enthralled with whatever the heck was on TV. That’s what happens when you go from no Nickelodeon, to Nickelodeon in one sudden jolt. See this image larger.

 August 24th, and who needs a trip up to the cottage? I sure did! See this image larger.

 Nina is cute as a button, to this day, but there was something super duper cute about her this trip, so expect a lot of pics. See this image larger.

 Some of her just giggling in the sun, for example. See this image larger.

 Ian laughs maniacally, because apparently that’s the best way to laugh. See this image larger.

 Quality time with Grandma Marcia! See this image larger.

 Ian gets a little wet! See this image larger.

 Perhaps even wetter? See this image larger.

 Probably my favorite picture from 2014, right here. She was completely fearless and comfortable in the water, and what a little smile! See this image larger.

 How’d she get her hair wet? See this image larger.

 Mystery solved! See this image larger.

 Nina’s best oompah oomph imitation happened when she wore her warm-up sweater/dress over top of her life-jacket. See this image larger.

 A few beached porpoises… See this image larger.

 WHO SAID BOAT RIDE? Nina leads the way. See this image larger.

 Second-in-command! See this image larger.

 *I have the best seat!* See this image larger.

 *I have the best seat!* See this image larger.

 “GO FAST GRAMPA DAVE!” See this image larger.

 “Hey, how old are you?” See this image larger.

 “PHREE!” See this image larger.

 Thanks for padding the table each time, Grampa and Gramma! See this image larger.

 Quiet reading with Gramma Marcia, and somebody is tiiiiired. See this image larger.

 Comfortable yet? See this image larger.

 Pigtails! See this image larger.

 My totes adorbs fam! See this image larger.

 August 25th, Nina and I cuddle on a bench while others swim at the island. See this image larger.

 Home from the island, and the kids were out cold. You play hard, you sleep good. See this image larger.

 See this image larger.

 August 26th, Nina sails over to Meijer Gardens! (Again, Mommy went with, and again, Daddy had his head in video games land.) See this image larger.

 I want to pick her up and hug her! See this image larger.

 A bit of an adventurer and archeologist… Ninana Jones! See this image larger.

 More play… See this image larger.

 August 28th, and Ian has a locker! And he gets to share it with whatever the heck a “Braylon” is. See this image larger.

 Believe this was a bit of an orientation, as I said, on August 28th. It is sort of sad, when I look back, how much I had to miss to be a game developer. See this image larger.

 But meanwhile, I was at Steve and Jessica’s reveling in good news. Valve had decided to green light ALL the winners of the contest. We wouldn’t have to spend the PAX conference asking people to vote for us! It would turn out, however, that Valve was letting ALL of the doors open… instead of some 15 games making it in that month… 200 showed up all at once. We were sort of lost in the shuffle. See this image larger.

 August 29th, in the wee hours of the morn, myself, Steve and Jessica all hopped in his car to head to the Chicago airport. See this image larger.

 On a plane again… See this image larger.

 This is the weather that greeted our arrival. It was still pretty epic, with the evergreens everywhere. This was the only day it rained, and there was lightning. Seattle-folk told us that the weather we experienced in the time we were there was anything but typical. Usually no lightning… and a whole lot less sun. See this image larger.

 That night I was at a party and I ate this mess. It was steak, french fries, and a sort of blue cheese dressing. It was America on a plate and it was freakin’ awesome. All of the food this trip was absolutely brilliant. See this image larger.

 Christian is the guy on the left… we’re holding our two awards for the contest that we won. (It should be noted that I really didn’t have much to do with the demo, which is really what bought our tickets to get to Seattle. So I’m in debt to the rest of the team for making this dream come true.) See this image larger.

 Which dream? This one. See this image larger.

 And this one. Seattle very quickly became the place I’d most likely move to if I ever had a real chance. See this image larger.

 And even this dream… I got to see one of the funniest live D&D sessions of Acquisitions Inc. See this image larger.

 And I met Sonic the Hedgehog! See this image larger.

 You can’t see them all here, but three of these people are the Stansels… they were an amazing host family that let us have the run of their house. And Jason (not pictured) let us tour a studio, and just pointed from a single parking lot, at all of the developers in the area that I would love to work for. Microsoft, Bungie, 343i, Sucker Punch, Valve… each in their own building downtown. The little boy in the foreground, I believe his name was Owen. Was a super sweet kid that reminded me of Ian. I was horrible during this trip, about touching base with home. The time difference, my phone being constantly out of charge, and just being on the show floor made for little contact with my family.See this image larger.

 I won’t say much more, I’m sure I’ve said too much already about the trip. We worked the floor a lot, trying to get people interested in the game. This is us doing our thing… the guy on the left there is Mark DeForest, a legend in my eyes, he worked on Myst and Riven. Truly this was the trip of my dreams. The game went on to moderate reviews, and what I would call fairly poor sales. The team disbanded, and the dream was over. But for a bit, I had it, and I’ve never been happier, career-wise. I daresay it was even worth missing my son’s first day of first grade… which isn’t easy for me to say. See this image larger.

 While I was out of town, Grampa Ray and Grandma Barb stayed at our house, very helpful! See this image larger.

July 2013 – A Nashville Wedding

(REMINDER, when I put stuff in asterisks, *like this,* the kids didn’t really say that, I’m just making a funny bit of dialogue as a caption. If the kids actually said something during the picture, and I remember it, it’ll be in normal quotes, “like this.”)

 July 26th. We’re on our way down to beautiful Tennessee to see the betrothal of Meliss’as friend Dietz and his fiancé, Jenny. Here we stopped at that Pizza Hut on the way down… you know, the one in Munfordville, Kentucky. No the other one in Munfordville, Kentucky. THAT one, yup. See this image larger.

 Travel weary. See this image larger.

 But not exactly tired. See this image larger.

 Mommy wisely ran the children around a bit to get their blood flowing. See this image larger.

 They did a couple laps. See this image larger.

 Aaaand, let’s get back in the car! See this image larger.

 This van… had a lot of carpet in it. At this point we were almost there. And I probably swore to never drive 8 hours in any direction ever again in my life. I say that a lot. See this image larger.

 July 27th. Cool restaurant. I think this was owned by the bride’s sister, so we went there to support the family. See this image larger.

 I enjoyed my breakfast, so did Elton. See this image larger.

 The kids were happy to be there. See this image larger.

 Obligatory silly face pic. See this image larger.

 July 27th, we drove by the Nashville “Adventure Science Center” on our way to the hotel and knew we should check it out! So we did. See this image larger.

 Nina attempts to give herself bunny ears… although the “batman building” in the background almost did the same. See this image larger.

 It had this cool inner structure for the kids to play in with exhibits built in. Toward the top level (I think it had eight, total) it starts getting claustrophobic. See this image larger.

 Here Mommy tries to flip around into the top part successfully. I don’t know if I ever did make it up to the top just because of how cramped it ended up becoming. If they ever have a fire in that place, they will be in big trouble. See this image larger.

 In line for the planetarium! A kind guy at the front desk showed us how we could buy tickets for the show and see the rest of the place at a discount rather than just buy tickets for the museum. See this image larger.

 Hard to get good pics in the planetarium. See this image larger.

 I think Nina was ready for a nap. See this image larger.

 That’s a big piano. See this image larger.

 Finally, the kids fulfill a lifelong dream of riding on the Magic Schoolbus with Ms. Frizzle. I can happily report that the bus did not end up in somebody’s digestive tract, or in space. See this image larger.

 *For Science!* See this image larger.

 Figuring out leverage! A fun day was had by all! See this image larger.

 July 28th, we met up with one of Melissa’s friends. He’s former FBI so we didn’t take a picture. See this image larger.

 This was an awesome restaurant though, and I’d go back again in a heartbeat. You might think I would forget the name of this place, and that might be true… OR I can’t tell you because of the FBI thing. Classified. See this image larger.

 July 28th, and the big day has arrived! See this image larger.

 Nina looked beautiful and adorable that day… See this image larger.

 Here’s some other stories that I recall from our trip, while we look at some pics… Ian’s jokingly cry-face reminded me of being at the Wafflehouse (and the kids were trying my patience) on one of the mornings, and having somebody “pay it forward” without our knowledge. Free breakfast! People are super nice in Nashville… that whole southern hospitality thing, they aren’t kidding. See this image larger.

 Love these kids. Ian, of course, had to go potty just as they started assembling the procession… so we scrambled to the nearest men’s room… See this image larger.

 …which turned out to be in the middle of the advancing procession as we got back out of the bathroom… See this image larger.

 … we couldn’t go out into the main area with all eyes waiting for the procession, soooo Ian and I had an adventure, ducking behind curtains and sneaking through back kitchens. It was pretty fun. See this image larger.

 Mommy looked beautiful as well. See this image larger.

 Selfie! See this image larger.

 *Mommy can I go dance now?* See this image larger.

 *No? Not yet?* See this image larger.

 *HMPH.* See this image larger.

 *We can now? No chaperone! You stay!* See this image larger.

 *I’ma go find 10 people to dance with!* See this image larger.

 *Weee!* See this image larger.

 She was on cloud 9… so happy! See this image larger.

 The boys fight over who is going to dance with Nina. See this image larger.

 I guess this kid won. This picture ended up out of focus, obviously, but I still think it is cute. Adds a little romance. See this image larger.

 Some little girl attempts to interfere. *Do you mind if cut in?* See this image larger.

 *Yup, I mind!* See this image larger.

 Such a sweetie. Mommy was kind enough to help out a friend during the reception part of the wedding, and missed a few of these moments, but got to re-connect which was good.See this image larger.

 Ian didn’t dance much, but we enjoyed the music and the Karaoke. See this image larger.

 Saw a cute opportunity… Nina’s hand on the lights (the LED kind that aren’t hot, of course!) See this image larger.

 Both kids! See this image larger.

 Mommy got a couple nice dances in with Nina before it was time to go. See this image larger.

 We squeezed in a quick picture as the photographer was trying to leave. See this image larger.

 Here’s Dietz, Melissa and a Miller Lite! See this image larger.

 July 29th, on the way home, at a gas station… I think this was in Indiana. See this image larger.

 July 31st, video games at home again. I think this is the first (and so far only) time that Ian and Nina played “split screen” Minecraft. See this image larger.

July 2013 – Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and More

 July 2nd, and Ian is apparently dressed in camouflage in case he stands in front of an American flag. See this image larger.

 This progression shows why nobody gives a six year old a license. Here he is smiling at me because he’s trying to hit me… See this image larger.

 Here he is smiling because he’s almost hit me… See this image larger.

 …and here he is grinning for pretty much running over my foot. See this image larger.

 Look at all of the red white and blue regalia! See this image larger.

 July 5th, at one of Conner’s baseball games, I wandered around and took pictures of things that I thought were interesting, because the score was 22 to nothing… and while I love my nephew very much, and I can’t underline enough the importance of seeing a game through to the end even though you’re losing… it was uh… less interesting than this multilayered paint. See this image larger.

 And whatever this is. See this image larger.

 This is wood. See this image larger.

 Nina flirting shamelessly with the baseball players. See this image larger.

 *Hi Fellas!* See this image larger.

 *Hmmph. They just keep plain’ baseball.* See this image larger.

 After a long day, Nina tuckers out. See this image larger.

 July 6th, Nina playing at Aunt Mel’s. See this image larger.

 The kids gather round one screen for a video. I think it was something about Jack Frost. See this image larger.

 July 12th, one of the best feelings I’ve had as a father came from the summer reading class that Melissa signed Ian up for. The smaller class size really resonated with Ian, and he picked up the pace on his reading skills in a hurry. He was so happy after class that he skipped alongside me on the way to the car. See this image larger.

 I thought about all kinds of fancy solutions, but in the end it was one of two blocks of wood that completely stopped an influx of nesting birds from trying to build under our deck. Up until this point I’d been having to take down partial nests every couple of hours! See this image larger.

 July 13th, Ian and Max playing some video games together… See this image larger.

 Wow, full house! Scott and Elena’s daughter and son, Rowen and Kevin join the crew. See this image larger.

 Max Ninja. See this image larger.

 Sometimes Max can look a little intense! See this image larger.

 Must be some kind of giggle club. See this image larger.

 July 14th, the good news is that this is mostly a picture of ice cream going in. See this image larger.

 July 15th, a storm and a rainbow in our hood. See this image larger.

 See it? See this image larger.

 A late celebration of the Kitty’s birthday. I think he’s 18. See this image larger.

 July 16th, and Melissa’s job hold an annual Garden Gala for vendors, clients, and family of the people that work so hard. Ian can be shy sometimes, but when play is involved, he warms up quickly. Particularly when somebody does him the service of asking him if he would like to join. This girl thrilled Ian by spending a little time with him. It is worth looking at this one larger so that you can see how happy he is. See this image larger.

 Triclops. See this image larger.

 After the Garden Gala; almost time to go home. See this image larger.

 July 18th, this is what it looks like when you have a large party at Jester’s Court. I think this was for Jake’s birthday, but there weren’t too many other quality pics. See this image larger.

 July 20th, I couldn’t get a picture of the actual mama in this pic because she was busy, but here’s Melissa holding Norah, Brandon’s daughter. See this image larger.

 July 22nd, that blur is Ian going for the gusto on a major dive. He did well! See this image larger.

 July 23rd, picking Ian up after reading class each day was a real treat; he was always so happy to see me, and yet also so happy with what he had learned. See this image larger.

 July 24th, Nina marching around pool-side, pretty much owning the place. 😉 See this image larger.

 July 25th, hey Nina, is it hot? See this image larger.

 So hot that our trees needed a great big drink! See this image larger.

 Yup, keep going, they’re big trees! See this image larger.

 That’s probably enough for now, thanks! See this image larger.

Next entry, a Nashville Wedding!!

July 2013 – Nina’s Boulder Ridge Field Trip

 July 1st, and the motorcade arrived, complete with secret service agents and officials. See this image larger.

 Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the Excited State! *Hm hm hmm-hmmmmmm hm hm-hm hm hm-hm hmmmmmm-hmmmmmm* See this image larger.

 Yes, today is field trip day and we’ve arrived at Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Center! Here, pet a wallaby! See this image larger.

 Pet this creepy lizard thing and then go running back to your seats, hurry! See this image larger.

 This was my first real look at Nina’s water bottle and backpack that we had to pay for as part of her classroom fee. It was hilariously overpriced to begin with, but to have the first glance show a completely mangled bottle (albeit from Nina chewing on it) made it all the more hilarious. See this image larger.

 I asked one of the other parents in the group to watch Nina temporarily, so that I could run over and buy her a souvenir sweatshirt. It was amazing how cold it was that day for July, very cold, and windy. I won “good daddy” points from the various moms on the field trip for doing this, as well as the teachers, Melissa (through the phone) and most importantly, from Nina. See this image larger.

 One of the most nightmarish things I’ve seen in my life was this alligator. All it did to inspire this fear was submerse itself. The pond could not have been more than two to three feet deep, but this monster completely and silently disappeared about three inches under that water. (What I mean to say there is, the pond looked completely safe to the unwary.) See this image larger.

 For some reason, this chicken wire didn’t seem like enough; maybe I’ve seen Jurassic Park a few too many times. See this image larger.

 Next came the bus tour! See this image larger.

 And I had the smartest, cutest little tour guide in the place! See this image larger.

 Look at you, you big lug. Maybe they keep them so fat that they can’t move fast or climb or something, who knows. I’m not a alligatorologist. See this image larger.

 My favorite little girl! See this image larger.

 Posing for a quick pic on an elephant, and then lunch! See this image larger.

 She didn’t really want to eat much of her sandwich, so I asked her to at least take a bite out of each half. So she did. It is always hard, during these field trips, to say good bye. The kids don’t want to go back to school or day care, you don’t really want to go back to work… there’s usually some tears involved. Nina at least made it to the bus before crying this time around, but it didn’t make it less hard. It was an awesome trip, though, we both had fun! 🙂 See this image larger.

June 2013 in Audio and Video

VIDEO, June 9th
Click here to see and hear Nina doing her best to read a book. She’s working from memorization, of course, but still pretty cool!

VIDEO, June 24th
Click here to see… Nina and her class playing at Java Gym! This one is large because I wanted you to be able to make out her face as she bounds by. She’s so excited! Sadly Java Gym had to close its doors, so we can’t go there anymore.

VIDEO, June 24th
Click here to see… another video, this one will be blurry, but it gives you the general idea.

VIDEO, June 29th
Click here to see… Nina makes her own obstacle course at Jester’s Court, a different play area I’ve mentioned several times.

AUDIO, May 6th
Click here to hear an mp3 that is another one I’m recording just for kicks. The kids have a lion toy that they both played with as new borns and infants… it plays these songs when pulled. We thought the batteries died, but it turned out that it just need a tug in the right direction. That said, I could tell the batteries were failing, so I recorded this so that the kids could hear these songs again later in life.

June 2013 – Dialogue and Milestones

Milestone, June 3rd
Nina fell all the way down the office steps, but was fine, contrary to what was indicated by the sound effects, which were not unlike some kind of subwoofer test at a movie theater.

Dialogue, June 6th
Nina sees a VW Beetle : “A happy car!”

Dialogue, June 8th
Nina to Mommy: “Do you want a bookmark, Mommy?”
Mommy, legitimately exhausted: “No. Nina, I am so tired of asking you to clean up your mess this morning that I am literally sick of hearing myself talk. Go. Clean. Up.”
Nina, oblivious: “Do YOU want a bookmark, Ian?”

Dialogue, June 12th
Mommy to Nina, who was holding melted ice cream cone: “Turn it around.”
Nina spins her whole body around.

Dialogue, June 13th
Ian, at swim class with goggles: “With my goggles on I can see lights in the water. Real ones. Like those up there. (points) Underwater!”

Milestone, June 18th
Yesterday Ian thanked his Mommy for giving him a treat even after discovering that he didn’t like it. Ian also excelled at math homework and some English.

This month, we come to the end of an era. Just as Ian’s daily status updates from day care stopped happening at a certain class (and/or became more about the whole class, not our offspring) the same has happened for Nina. This will be the last “NINA DAYCARE NOTES” post as a result. I’ll still put some of our more fun quotes from around the house into a post, but I’m thinking it’ll all be combined with Audio and Video. Silver lining: The blog should be a little easier to update.

Daycare Notes, Monday, June 3rd. Nina’s caregiver: “Overall Nina had a really good morning! She had a blast ‘cooking’ in the sandbox for Mia! For centers Nina loved cutting up all the colorful paper. During circle time Nina helped me tell the story by talking about what the word ‘disturb’ means!”

Daycare Notes, Tuesday, June 4th. Nina’s caregiver: “Nina cracked me up this morning with her frequent updates on body temperature and how she was either going to put on or take off her sweatshirt to compensate. She let me know every time she made the adjustment. It was very serious business and very detailed. I was in stitches!”

Daycare Notes, Wednesday, June 5th. Nina’s caregiver: “Had a great time outside today – we went for a walk on the White Pine Trail and checked out all kinds of flowers, trees, bugs and birds. Nina had a cheerful ‘hello’ for everyone we passed along the way. We got back, she beelined for the sandbox, stripped off her shoes and socks, and played there until we came inside.”

Daycare Notes, Thursday, June 6th. Nina’s caregiver: “Nina and her friends cooked up a feast in the dramatic play kitchen for Miss Sarah. Nina dressed up in at least three layers of aprons, donned a chef’s hat and oven mitts and created all sorts of tasty dishes! Apart from doing a little letter fishing in the alphabet pond, it took up all of her choice playtime. They had so much fun!”

Daycare Notes, Friday, June 7th. Nina’s caregiver: “Overall Nina had a great morning! She had been talking ice cream all day. At one point she was singing about how much she loves it! Nina almost had everyone singing it with her!”

Daycare Notes, Monday, June 10th. Nina’s caregiver: “Nina came back from her field trip was a big grin on her face. Ms. Gina said that Nina had a great time and did very well with the preschool group! They must have worn her out; she laid right down and fell asleep fast!”

Daycare Notes, Monday, June 10th (Report from Preschool classroom.) Nina’s caregiver: “We made it to Wahlfield park! The rain didn’t keep us away. We took a walk down a path and listened to all the different sounds. We enjoyed our lunch safely undercover all the rain started back up. A great first day in preschool-Ms. Andrea”

Daycare Notes, Tuesday, June 11th. Nina’s caregiver: “In centers Nina took the time to explore ocean animals, doctors and puzzles. Played monsters at the park and had fun in the sandbox.”

Daycare Notes, Thursday, June 12th. Nina’s caregiver: “Nina had a great time in Ms. Julie’s fitness class this morning-she was so excited to go! She jumped right into every activity was a big grin on her face. She told us in detail exactly how she was going to construct her s’more and she ate it very carefully, so as not to lose a single crumb.”

Daycare Notes, Thursday, June 13th. Nina’s caregiver: “Nina explored kitchen and animal centers. She was excited to get her face painted and play house.”

Daycare Notes, Friday, June 14th. Nina’s caregiver: “Last day in early preschool. We had a blast with waterplay today! She sprayed the garden very thoroughly with her water bottles. And she did a great job taking turns with others. Due to the wonderful weather we decided to have lunch outside and under the trees.”

June 2013 – Part III, The Rest of June

June 17th, this day a weird storm floated over Rockford. It was gorgeous so I took a few pics of it, hope you don’t mind! See this image larger.

Look at these colors! See this image larger.

The clouds looked like otherworldly spaceships parking in orbit. See this image larger.

I’ve always wanted to take a picture of lightning with just my finger and a shutter, and sort of pulled it off here if you open this up bigger and zoom in toward the left. See this image larger.

June 22nd, Mr. Steve and Mrs. Jessica brough Holly and Hannah up to play with us for an afternoon. These are the people that I was making Lilly Looking Through with… It was nice of them to come visit! See this image larger.

Didn’t realize we had so many dam turtles. (I mean turtles that live at our dam.) I honestly thought these were fake until they started moving. See this image larger.

After a long day of play with Mr. Steve and Mrs. Jessica and the girls, the kids surrendered to a short nap. See this image larger.

June 23rd, the kids get all dolled up for church. See this image larger.

Now if I could just get a smile… See this image larger.

…hmmm, halfway there… See this image larger.

Perfect! And I mean, WOW, perfect! This one’s worth looking at bigger! See this image larger.

What a cute haircut! You look bright and springy! See this image larger.

June 28th. I don’t remember what happened that Ian and I apparently spent a lot of time together, but it looks like we spent the whole day together. (Even looking at the old calendar, I see nothing on that day that sticks out.) Anyway, let’s go to Dam Dogs! See this image larger.

Have I mentioned the family carnivore loves his hot dogs? See this image larger.

Ice cream for dessert. Try to get some of it in your mouth, kiddo! See this image larger.

June 29th was little Jake next door’s birthday. He’s an intense little guy, that’s him on the right side of the “throne” back there in the light blue shirt. He’s the one that screams so loud sometimes that I think he might be using echolocation to find his brother. See this image larger.

The kids really love this place. It is actually pretty nice for adults too, unless it gets really crazy busy. See this image larger.

This is the baby area of Jester’s Court… Nina rides on pink giraffeosaurus. See this image larger.

June 2013, Part II, The Cottage in June

June 15th, I admit that it is a little hard to look at this shot, given the winter that we’re currently having… it has been a long and pretty difficult one for Michigan. This is actually a crop from a full panoramic shot that I made with my iPhone. I should figure out a way to have it pan-able. You know, when I have time. See this image larger.

*Ian, look, I’m taller than you now!* See this image larger.

*Nuh-uh!* See this image larger.

Nina stirs the pancake batter… thanks for letting Nina help, Grandma Marcia! 🙂 See this image larger.

The bunny finger salute, a tradition of many families, but one that I’ll always think of as a Chapman tradition. See this image larger.

Nina attempts to do a similar set of bunny ears on Ian with success! See this image larger.

Elmo gets a hug while Ian considers peeing with door wide open, as if he were raised in a barn. See this image larger.

Photographer Ian Chapman observes the den’s inhabitants in action. Here, the elusive and colorful Grandma Marcia is seen hunting down a side of bacon for the rest of the pack. See this image larger.

A wild Nina appears! Only Ian’s skilled eye and super high-speed camera were able to capture her briefly before she sprang away out of view after a gazelle or pillow. See this image larger.

Grampa Dave, the alpha male, sits high upon a golden hilltop surveying the surrounding lands and his digital camera. See this image larger.

Daddy, in his usual sloth-like state, is prodded into action by his young cub. Ian’s camera captures the moment as Daddy wisely considers his options. See this image larger.

With his experience and patience, Ian’s camera is at the ready just in time for a commonly heard but rarely photographed event: a wild rumpus begins! Daddy has determined that all his cubs may play outside of the den, in the sun! Then he wanted his camera back. See this image larger.

Ian ran all the way to the next cottage and back, in an attempt to burn up his limitless energy! See this image larger.

Hey, Cutie! See this image larger.

My favorite girl! See this image larger.

You’ve heard of Edvard Munch’s The Scream… This should be called “The Scheme.” See this image larger.

It should be pointed out that Melissa literally has a bucketful of clout. See this image larger.

LOOKITLOOKIT! See this image larger.

A brief rest. See this image larger.

What a little face! Nina springs away from the sprinklers that Grampa Dave got out for the kids to play with! See this image larger.

Looks like somebody got a little soaked! See this image larger.

“Thanks, Grampa Dave!” See this image larger.

Grampa Dave fashions a little dress out of a towel, as Nina giggles. See this image larger.

Towel is staying up, nice job! See this image larger.

Nina needed help next with a band-aid… thanks Gramma Marcia! Hey these Grandparent-folk are pretty handy, huh? See this image larger.

Ian waters the plants, thankfully using a bottle. See this image larger.

Smiles during story time, and starting to wind down. See this image larger.

June 16th, early afternoon boat rides are very popular with the little ones. See this image larger.

There’s those bunny ears again! See this image larger.

Your crew today will be Captain Dave Chapman at the helm and Cadet Ian Chapman as boat jester. See this image larger.

The girls grab a little light near the bow. See this image larger.

Life jackets on for safety! Don’t let that cute face fool you, she’s coming up with mischief. See this image larger.

A little chat with Mommy while we cruise the canals. See this image larger.

I like that windblown look on you, kiddo! See this image larger.

Ok this one is definitely aiming to misbehave. That or he’s feelin’ the NEED… See this image larger.

…FOR… See this image larger.

…SPEED! See this image larger.

I love these ladies. Great shot… want to give them both a hug! See this image larger.

Must almost be time to go home… we had a great time, thank you Grampa Dave and Grandma Marcia for having us over again! See this image larger.

Almost forgot! A special shot to celebrate Father’s Day… a very warm, happy memory for me. 🙂 This was also a great weekend to spend a little time with my father. We did some maintenance on the boat and got it in the water. 🙂 General update I may have neglected to mention because the timeline covered here is actually almost a year ago from when this was typed up: Grampa Dave survived a pretty horrible motorcycle accident but healed up well and is doing pretty great, to this day. Gramma Marcia got attacked by a pothole during a charity run and wound up in a cast, which is why you see her as such in the picture Ian took. See this image larger.

June 2013, Kindergarten Ends, Summer Starts!

June 3rd, and… you know I don’t have any words for this. Well, ok… I’ll say this much: If you see a shot like this on the blog, know that there are about 10 more of them in any one session. 🙂 See this image larger.

June 5th, Ian attends a graduation party at school, even though it is not quite his last day of Kindergarten. In this image, we see a message from Ian that tugged on our heartstrings. Most kids’ messages said something like toys or recess. See this image larger.

It is funny comparing these shots to present day. He looks like such a young pup here… still has such a sparkle about him. Recently I told a joke and got a full-fledged eye roll, which simply hadn’t happened yet back when this was taken. See this image larger.

Water balloons were carefully handled, as if made of glass… See this image larger.

Carefully son, carefully. See this image larger.

You did it! You were super cautious, and you saved the water balloons… See this image larger.


Ian scouts ahead for targets, looking innocent… See this image larger.

and then strikes like a ninja! (That’s him flying on the right.) See this image larger.

June 7th, and this sleepy little bundle’s last day of Kindergarten is today. See this image larger.

I happily turned off the alarm clock for the summer… See this image larger.

Morning preparations were made… See this image larger.

On this beautiful summer day the whole family walked Ian to the bus-stop. See this image larger.

Couldn’t be more proud of my kiddos! See this image larger.

These are our neighbors, Aaron and his sons Jake and Brendan. It was interesting to have Brendan be a part of our morning routine, but that stopped abruptly for the summer, and didn’t happen again. It turned out that the boys joined their teacher-mommy Clara at a different school in the area. See this image larger.

Nina came along to say good bye as well… See this image larger.

I think that’s a present for the bus driver or a teacher. Melissa’s so good! See this image larger.

Quick hug and a kiss, and he’s off! See this image larger.

“Bye brother!” See this image larger.

But Ian wasn’t the only one moving up in the world! Nina moved up to the Preschool room! See this image larger.

He stepped onto the bus as a student… See this image larger.

And stepped off as a free kid. Here we are at the end of the day, Ian with a bucket of treasure in tow. See this image larger.

Ian mentioned recently (meaning in first grade) when this was written, that his current bus broke down, and as a result he got to ride in his old bus “Eighty-Four, I think it was?” And as you can see here… it was. The woman you can see driving here took her job very seriously and we really liked her a lot. See this image larger.

June 7th, Ian made me a model of Totoro from the movie “My Neighbor, Totoro” a film by Studio Ghibli that the family enjoys. So creative! The coffee filter is an umbrella! See this image larger.

The artist with his creation! See this image larger.

June 9th, “It is my distinguished pleasure to announce the arrival of her royal majesty, Princess Nina of Rockfordia.” See this image larger.

We were at Elena and Scott’s house for this evening. I think Melissa and I went out on a date and left them with the kids. See this image larger.

This is June 11th, and swim class! See this image larger.

And there’s that happy sparkle again. I think this was before Ian started giving us a lot of hassle about going. It is weird though, because even when he did start disliking it… he’d claim he didn’t enjoy it, but I’d always get a picture of him smiling. See this image larger.

Nina, after a successful leap. See this image larger.

Mommy dressed inappropriately for the toga party. See this image larger.