Summer 2015: some old and some new

In some ways, our two months off flowed quickly and easily, following the current of summers past. We did a lot of what we do every year:

We swam,…

Tired out Uncle Alex in the pool today! Thanks for a fun day! @alexrlunawe celebrated lots of family,… Happy Birthday to the man who makes my universe work. You anchor me when I'm drifting and lighten me when things feel heavy. You give my life gravity and levity, balance and growth, security and surprise. I love you so much more than the height of your bThree generations! Happy Father's Day! @keithcrossmanDSC00100DSC00111DSC00399 Family night out at the Strikers game…and we celebrated lots of dinosaurs, too, of course! Finn began by joining his friend Ethan for two weeks at “Jurassicamp,” a daily adventure that turned out to be a lot less paleontology-oriented than we had hoped. Our little dinosaur lovers are getting so BIG! @nathalia_ruiz We stepped up the intensity with serious dinosaur animatronics at the Detroit Zoo… Prehistoric Life at the Detroit Zio DSC00172DSC00165

DSC00183…and with another summer visit to the prehistoric era and one of Finn’s favorite places — Dinosaur World: 

We're back to visit Dinosaur World!

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DSC00369  We also returned to dreamy summer Sundays at the family cottage on Sugden Lake: Summertime at Sugden Lake, Michigan DSC00150

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…and to the green walks and shallow, cool creek by Aba and Abuelo’s house in Milford:

DSC00198A branch in a creekPebbles from the creekDSC00255DSC00243DSC00262DSC00248

At the end of July, as always, we headed back to the pool and “lazy river” at the same Orlando resort:

Summer vacay!DSC00320Two cousins, a pool, a floatie, and... a soccer ball?One time around the And at home we just played like always — with toys, legos, and board games — but there were new things to learn, too. Finn discovered that losing can be fun through Telestrations, where a scribbled beard became a mummy became a striped prisoner became the bars of a jail; and he learned that fun can be tiring through our step up from Monopoly Jr. to the more complex Monopoly-style DINO-OPOLY, with bones and museums instead of houses and hotels. The first time Finn had to sell back his bones and mortgage his beloved Giganotosaurus, his eyes filled up with tears. But then the laughter started, and he was cry-laughing — or craffing, as Daddy calls it — because a three-hour long board game played past bedtime was new territory, and we were all nearly extinct.

Got a new game!Something that DID become extinct, though, was Finn’s first tooth, which after weeks of the wiggles, was the first to finally fall out.

Finn's loose tooth finally fell out! He wrote a letter to the tooth fairy before he put the tooth out that night:

Finn's note to the tooth fairy... Both the gap between his teeth and his question signified how big a boy he’s becoming. And when the tooth fairy answered “an artist,” he asked me, “Did you write that?”

Finn also ventured into bigger boy literary territory this summer with books by Raold Dahl. The Dinosaur Cove series finished, he needed something new to really love, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was just the place to start. Chocolate rivers and candy grass? Definitely! I adored hearing the excitement in his voice when he read to me from that gloriously crazy novel — but I did not adore the fact that he followed his reading with an imitation of one of the book’s atrociously behaved children. “I’m like Violet Beauregarde!” he said one afternoon in the car, and when I turned around to look at him, he had already (as she does) put a piece of gum behind his ear and, accidentally, also into his hair. “It’ll come out, right?” he asked. “Sure. With scissors,” I said, trying to sound stern but fighting back the urge to smile. Even though I wasn’t happy about the wad of gum in his hair, it still seemed so surprisingly funny and touching to me that while reading such a big boy book, he pulled such a little boy move. It reminded me of how young he still is, how easily a six-year-old blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Finn seemed astonished that his moment of silly play had consequences in the real world.

So he's halfway through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and absolutely loving it. Great! I thought. Then he asked for a piece of gum in the car today. "I'm like Violet Beauregarde," he said. "When I need a break from chewing, I'll just put it behind my

But the hardest and most serious real world lesson learned this summer was about loss. Just last weekend we lost one of our pet chickens, our sweet Janie, who had been back and forth from the vet with a crop problem. Because she’d needed extra care from us, we were closer to her than to the other chickens, and Finn spent hours holding her in his lap, petting her soft, speckled, gold-brown-black feathers.

Finn's enjoying some special time with Janie, who essentially had her stomach pumped at the vet yesterday. Poor little thing seems much better today; hopefully her medicine, a restricted diet, and some love and care will help her to recover!

We were all heart-broken to lose her, but Finn was devastated. “There’ll be no more Janie!” he cried. “She’ll be gone forever!”

Still, in between tears and hugs, as we spoke about burying her in the backyard, he wanted to be involved, suggesting on his own that we put her out by the coop near our other chickens, Vera and Hopster. Afterward, Finn wrote her name on a stone we placed on top of the dirt.

After spending the summer giving special care to one of our chickens, our sweet little Janie, we finally lost her late last night and buried her this morning in dirt and tears.

“How long will I feel sad?” he asked me later. “It will get easier with time,” I told him. “But I’ll never be quite the same,” he said sadly. And even though he seems to have recovered from the initial shock of Janie’s absence, I know he thinks of her often, touching the feather we kept or just mentioning her in conversation. A couple of days ago, Finn woke up and said with a smile, “I dreamed Janie was flying.” In real life, because her crop problem kept her too top heavy to even fly into her nesting box with the other birds, she would instead use a shallow ladder to slowly make her ascent. But Finn’s dream made her lighter, infusing reality with fantasy. Although he knew the difference between the two and understood that Janie was gone, he also learned somehow that healing and growth depend upon not just accepting reality, but envisioning something better. What a lift it was to picture Janie in flight. What a lift it was to see Finn smile.