Archive for September, 2023

Thursday!  The day dawned sunny and bright and I sent the kids across the street to chill on Grandma’s porch while I showered and dressed.

Coffee delivery a la Tiff!  Have I mentioned how much I adore my sister-in-law?

We spent a lazy morning on the porch, thrilled to have the added company of our niece, Shanay.

This truck was Isaac’s very best buddy for the week.  He spent hours opening the doors, putting the little plastic driver inside, closing the doors, repeat, repeat, repeat…

Tractor videos with Grandpa…

This kid’s hugs border on aggressive sometimes.

Isaac would stand at the top of the road here, spotting the water in the distance, and I knew he was making a mental calculation about whether or not to make a break for Grandpa’s boat.

Bring him back, Jules!

We headed into town late morning for the farmer’s market and doughnuts.  Walker is such a sweet little community.

Afternoon shenanigans on the golf cart (we hid the keys!)…

And corn hole!

Heads-up:  Isaac cheats.

We went back to City Park in the evening to do some swimming and catch a summer concert on the lawn.  The kids took a minute to warm up to the water.

But once they were in, the were IN.

We couldn’t keep Isaac from launching himself off the edge of the dock at every turn.

Lake baby!  Dream come true.

Eventually, though, his teeth started chattering, so I wrapped him in a towel, distracted him with a bowl of grapes, and sat him at the end of the dock to watch Dad and Sister swim out to floating dock.

It took some further wooing to get Juliette out of the water, but finally she emerged and we headed over to the main lawn for some live music.

We sat back and snacked as the band got going, but eventually, Isaac couldn’t help himself – Buddy wanted to dance.

Silly little goober…  He hammed it up big, pausing every so often to soak in the smiles from his adoring fans.

Face painting from the same kind librarian that led story time at the farmer’s market earlier in the day…

And then flower tattoos for Isaac.

Back for more dancing…

And somersaulting…

Oh, Isaac.  Way to bring the party wherever you go.

Friday!  A quick pop into town for coffee and milk…

A walk on the Walker dock…

And then we bopped around back at the resort, golf carting and meandering and playing cards.

Tiff’s sweet pup, Gunner, smiles bigger than I’ve seen any dog smile before.

After naptime, back to the pontoon!  Our happiest of happy places.

Best captains!

And more boat bops.

We anchored at a sand bar and pulled out the giant lily pad for the kids to play on.

Swim time with Auntie…

Isaac looks like a bug in these goggles, but you can tell they make him feel like the coolest kid on earth.

We hunted for frogs, but came up short.

And so opted to get our thrill from lily pad jousting.  Get him, Jules!


Grandma and Grandpa watched from a safe distance.

From jousting to gymnastics.

She’s such a summer beauty.

Time to head back…Buddy’s tired.

Or is he?!

Shane’s dad hosted a fish fry that night with the Walleye he’d been stockpiling in the freezer over the previous few weeks.  We hung out on the porch and the neighbors trickled over and we ate crispy fish and Tiff’s ice cream sandwich cake and reveled in our last evening of low-key camper life.

Tiff had bought Juliette a pack of those little capsules that expand into foam animals when placed in water and goodness, what a thrill!  It really is the little things.

Grandpa and Juliette conspired to squeeze in one last fishing trip.

Hooked one!

(But she’s not quite ready to unhook the fish herself.  That’s what grandpas are for!)

Juliette kept asking, “Just one more cast?!”  It was nearly dark by the time we headed back.  Another 5-star day.

Saturday was go-day, and the tears flowed as we hugged goodbye.  We’d been so spoiled all week, with love and lake time and food up the wazoo.

Isaac’s face here says it all…”You mean we’re really leaving?!  What the heck?!”

I know, Bud.  It’s an awfully special place with some awfully special people we were leaving behind.

I’ve got some catching up to do on here!  It has felt lately like we’re either living our best lives, out and about in the fun zone, or living our hardest lives, holed up inside as we struggle to recover from whatever version of the plague Isaac has brought home from daycare.  Neither state of being leaves much energy for blogging.

But I find myself coming up for breath and going through photos of our early-August trip to Minnesota.  Feels like eons ago, yet these snaps bring back all the feelings of anticipation.  Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Tiff, Uncle Jason…we’re coming for you!

Isaac did as well as could be expected on the plane ride.  He was busy, but generally in good spirits.

And oh, Juliette’s joy as we sped toward Walker.  Denny was waiting for us in the golf cart at the road leading to the resort and as we spotted him on the horizon, Juliette scrambled to unbuckle her seat belt, flying out of the car to wrap her arms around him the second we rolled to a stop.

We quickly settled into our camper, grateful for the well-stocked fridge and the basket full of toys and the cozy spot on Grandpa’s lap.  Those Schnells really know how to roll out the welcome mat.

We ate pizza and then wandered down to the lake, where Juliette tried her hand at fishing while Shane chased Isaac.  It always felt like that boy was about a step and a half from tumbling into the water.

Got one!  Hardly a keeper, but still a thrill.

Do you see why this place is called Moonlight Bay?

Tuesday morning was rainy, so we cozied in at our screened-in porch for Tiff’s breakfast casserole and a round of board games.

A break in the clouds!  Isaac was ready to run.

We went into town for late-morning coffee and got the scoop on the latest additions to bustling downtown Walker.  I made a mental note to come back later in the week to survey the new doughnut shop.

Naptime with Buddy…always a vacation highlight.

The sun came out in the afternoon and we bopped around the resort, golf carting and boating and rolling Tonka trucks around Grandma and Grandpa’s porch.

Isaac didn’t join us on our quick cruise around the lake, but he was ready and waiting to board the boat (and maybe swim some laps?) when we docked.

A boy and his owl…

I can hardly put into words how stinking happy Denny was with his grandkids tucked in next to him as he cruised around the campground.  Lucky gramps.  Lucky kids.

Wednesday!  A morning walk to check on Grandpa’s boat…



Shane, of course, had scoped out the pickle ball courts in town and we headed there before lunchtime to check out the scene and cool our heels.

A kind couple saw Shane and Juliette doing their drills and asked if they wanted to play a match.  Juliette’s first grown-up game!  She crushed it.

They make such a good team.

Pool time…

A post-nap plea of, Outside?  Outside?  Outside?

And then, pontoon time!  My very favorite time.  Tiff and Jason took us out on their new rig and we leaned in hard to lake life.

Cold drinks in beer cozies and Taylor Swift piping through the speakers and the wind in our hair…it was just all so good.

(Juliette was really feeling the lyrics to I Can See You.  It’s a bop.)

Denny and Pat cruised alongside us in their own boat and Isaac waved and shouted, “Hi PawPaw!” every 15 seconds.

More pontoon dance partying…

We anchored at a sweet little beach and got out to play and swim.

The kids fed each other grapes and pretzel sticks as we zipped back toward home and they were both just so giddy, laughing like crazy over the silliest things.  An afternoon on the water will do that to you, I guess.

I mean…

Tiff fed us all again on the porch that evening and the kids played until they could play no more.

Isaac fell asleep within seconds of being tucked into his Pack N Play and then Juliette and Shane stayed up late chatting in Juliette’s little sleeping loft while I drifted off myself, buzzing from a day rich with sunshine and smiles.

It’s been a few months since Isaac has gotten his own post.  I know he still features prominently in just about every photo I take these days, but this one’s especially especially for you, baby boy.

He continues to love all things with wheels and as we drive down California Avenue on our way to and from daycare, the backseat is a chorus of “BUS!!!” and “CUCK!!!” (truck) as he looks excitedly out the window.  I find matchbox cars in the bathtub, between couch cushions, in the cup holder of his car seat.  I was finishing up some work at the kitchen island the other night while Isaac played in the living room when I heard him murmur, mmmmmmmwha!  mmmmmmmwha!  I kid you not – that boy had his little green sports car pressed against his lips and he was giving it kisses before tucking it safely into his toy school bus and waving, “Bye, Car!”  It’s his version of dropping the baby doll off at school, I guess.

It’s a rare treat when we find an off-duty bus parked by the sidewalk.  Isaac is minorly frustrated that he can’t get inside, but he’s more than happy just to ogle the reflectors and super-sized tires.

Oh boy, and the garbage truck!  It felt like Isaac had quite a few Mondays sick at home this summer, which meant he could sit on the front porch in the morning and watch garbage trucks cruise up and down our street.

(Bye truck!)

His vocabulary is exploding day by day.  A couple of months ago we were oohing and ahhing over his enunciation of the word “Ow-el?!” whenever he swiped Juliette’s Hedwig stuffy from her room.  But suddenly I’m hearing him exclaim, “Oh Gosh!” and tick off lellow (yellow), boo (blue), wed (red), and PINK as he rummages in the bin of play-dough containers.

(Hedwig isn’t the only thing Isaac swipes from Juliette’s room.)

He loves to stand at our dining room photo wall and do roll call.  Mama!  Dada!  Da-dette!  (Formerly Da-jee-ya, so I guess he’s getting closer to saying Juliette?).  There’s Ellll and Paw-paw (for grandma and grandpa) and Parper, for Juliette’s buddy Harper.  And then Iseeee for sweet little Isaac.

His need for speed lives on, and his sister has the back strength to indulge him in push-car zoomies.

He has an oversized bouncy ball that he loves to flop around on, rolling his body off the top of it and onto the floor with a huge THUD.

It’s all fun and games…

Until someone gets hurt.

He’s still my best little gardener…

And still revels in a few minutes to soak his dirty feet and hands in the bath.

There are few things I love more than a freshly washed baby wrapped in a cozy towel.

(But maybe a freshly washed baby in his sister’s old robe takes the cake?!)

Slicked-back hair Isaac…  It’s like he knows how handsome he is.

The requisite sister snaps!

(This was was after he fell asleep on the couch as Juliette was singing songs to him late one morning…)

When I just can’t get around to that evening haircut, we resort to a work-around to keep the hair out of his eyes.

I’ll stop now with the sister pics, but gosh, the way he looks at her…

A sampling from the “sweet Isaac” album circa summer 2023…

And then, last week, the Birthday!  My kids’ birthdays are always bittersweet – what fun to celebrate, to watch them well up with joy as they tear into gifts and inhale frosting-topped cupcakes!  What a beautiful thing it is to stop for a moment and dwell singularly on the magic of their growth.  But…oof.  The growth.  This growing-older business feels awfully hard and all-too-fast sometimes.  I can’t help but long for baby days gone by, can’t help my mind ticking through all those lasts I may not have known were final at the time.  When did he stop sitting up to nuzzle against my chest after his evening bottle?  When did he stop fitting in the Ergo?  When did I let all of his onesies shift to the back of the dresser, replaced with 2T and 3T T-shirts?

I spent a couple of minutes perched over his crib the night before his birthday, soaking in the beauty of his soft blonde hair, the sound of his slumbering breath.  I prayed for the year to come, gave heaping bounds of thanks for this joyous, affectionate tornado of a human that made his intent to enter the world abundantly clear two years earlier.

But enough with the nostalgia – let’s celebrate!  We kept his ‘party’ chill – just backyard pizza and presents with the Rusts.  Isaac needed just the littlest bit of help from Juliette to get the unwrapping started, and then he was off to the races.

And the biggie…

Because this kid needed just one more thing with wheels…

Once the bus was unboxed, I sat back for a bit to sip my glass of wine while Isaac just…played.

(Juliette just can’t help herself with the toddler toys sometimes, and I love it.)

The Rusts rolled in and we ate pizza and cranked up the tunes.  Isaac really started feeling those part vibes.

More presents!  This one from Sis:

And he could not have loved it more.

A couple more…

I suspect there will be an extra amping-up of holiday excitement this year.  So fun to see these two get so much joy from giving and receiving.

Finally…SUGAR!  Last year, Isaac had to be coaxed into tasting his cupcake.  This year, he was reaching for the entire plate the minute Juliette stepped out the door.


We sang happy birthday to our boy, but I’m not sure he even heard us.  That cupcake top was licked clean of its frosting in about four seconds.

Oh, Buddy.  You’re so good at being life of the party.  Also, maybe it’s the button-down, but you’re also so BIG in this pic.  Big in the very best way.  Big in the “can’t wait to hear what words come out of your mouth next” kind of way.

(Party on, Jules.)

Here’s to an epic year of terrific TWO’s!