Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend: Exhausting, Fun, Exhausting


That is how I feel after the first three days of Kai’s summer break.

We took advantage of his free time to travel to Michigan to visit his grandparents.

Along the way, we stopped in St. Joseph, Michigan and enjoyed a picnic lunch along the bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. Well, ‘enjoyed’ is perhaps not the best word. The view was nice but things grew tense when we had to battle Kai to get him to eat his tuna sandwich. He finally ended up eating it, but the relaxed mood was long shattered.

After lunch, we took a short walk to investigate some nearby sites.

We found one place that had old funhouse mirrors that Kai enjoyed.

But it was when we got to the interactive water fountains that everyone’s spirit finally lightened. Kai loved splashing through all the different water jets, and we enjoyed watching him have so much fun.

When we got to his grandparents’ house, Kai quickly engaged in a discussion of Pokémon with Papa. After many peaceful months with no talk of Pokémon, Kai’s obsession was rekindled when my wife gave him some Pokémon games she found at a garage sale. Kai’s grandfather seemed to enjoy the interaction with his grandson, not having tired of the Pokémon talk like we had.

Later in the afternoon, we hit the beautiful beach with Bubbe.

Going to the beach remains one of Kai’s favorite activities, and a visit to the beach would not be complete for him without a good roll in the sand.

That night, we had a family game night. One of our games was Qwirkle, which requires matching tiles with different shapes and colors. Kai distracted me to no end by goofing around and not seeming to pay attention. But whenever his turn came up, he seemed to find a good move to make and he ended up winning the game.

The next day brought a trip to a waterpark. After our recent visit to the waterpark near our home, Kai really wanted to go to the one in Michigan. We thought he would love the slides.

But, as is seemingly always the case with Kai, we had to take two steps back before taking three steps forward.

He wanted to start on the lazy river. He again was scared of the fountains of water despite having just run through fountains the day before.

When we went to try our first slide, our troubles really started. We decided to try one where the three of us would ride a round raft down a long slide. Everyone has to carry a raft up to the top themselves, and we found out they are not light. When we were halfway up, Kai said he was scared and refused to go up any further.

I stayed to watch the raft while my wife tried to change his mind as Kai ran back down the path. After several minutes, I realized they were not coming back and abandoned the raft.

I found the two of them in a mutual state of anger. My wife wanted to leave and told Kai we would never go to a waterpark again. Kai wanted to go home as well. Although it is often my wife’s job to be the calm one, this time it was my turn.

I sent my wife off to get food while I took Kai to a pool portion of the park. He started to calm down. Then we went on the lazy river, where he calmed more.

Finally, I told him matter of factly that we were going to go down a (different) slide. He was scared, and at first refused. But I persisted and reassured him that he would be safe. I told him that Mom would be happy again if he went down the slide.

And so we went.

And he loved it.

He could not wait to go find Mom to tell her that he had gone down a slide. She took awhile to warm up to him, but after we all had lunch, we were all in good spirits again. We all went down the slide several times.

Late in the afternoon, Kai said that he wanted to try the raft slide that he had backed out of earlier. My wife and I lugged the heavy raft up the hill. We waited in line. I was wondering if Kai would change his mind.

But he did not.

And when we started going down the slide, he joyously yelled that this was the best slide of all.

* * * * *

The next morning we went to a pick-your-own strawberry farm. The following picture shows Kai doing some actual picking. Usually he just wants to eat, but this time he collected some in his container.

What the picture does not show, however, is the battle that ensued prior to our going. Kai had wanted pancakes for breakfast, but then ate very little of it. I was determined that he eat at least half of one pancake, and told him that we would not going strawberry picking until he did.

My patience wore thin as the temperature outside kept rising while we battled it out. No one wanted to pick strawberries once the day got too hot.

Finally, Kai ate his breakfast, and we did have a nice time picking berries.

On our way home from Bubbe and Papa’s house, we went to a rather unique place where volunteers run old steam engine trains for visitors to ride on. The trains are of three sizes, with the biggest being a full-size steam engine. But our favorite was this small train that took us on a nice ride through the woods.

Even this occasion was not without its stress. It was a very hot day, and my wife and I wanted to take a very short break to get a cold drink. Kai quickly angered and said very mean words because he wanted to keep riding trains without a break. The quickness to anger is something we are still dealing with, and it can be challenging as to how to handle it.

I wanted to teach him that his words and actions were inappropriate, but did not want to leave without finishing riding all the trains. In the end, I decided that Kai would not be allowed to watch videos in the car on the way home for a period of time. I’m not sure it was severe enough of a consequence, and it is something I continue to ponder.

On the way home, we got stuck in really bad traffic as we neared downtown Chicago. Our GPS suggested an alternate route that took us into Chinatown. When Kai saw the signs, he said he wanted to eat in a Chinese restaurant. My wife did not want to cook dinner once we got home, and I felt like taking a break from the horrible traffic, so we decided to make our first visit to Chinatown with Kai.

There are many choices of places to eat, but we picked a spot we had heard of. Kai ate a seafood dish with rice noodles while my wife and I shared Mongolian beef, barbecue pork, and sweet and sour chicken.

Kai wasn’t perfectly behaved, as he danced around a bit and hit his chopsticks together, But the restaurant was not crowded and he did fairly well otherwise.

So now we are home.

Last night, as he did the first night at his grandparents’ house, he awoke at 3AM and complained that his back was itchy. Although his skin is not red, it may have gotten a bit sunburned.

Between the interrupted sleep, all of the battles, and the many activities, I am exhausted.

And it is only three days into summer break.

Thank goodness summer school starts in one week.


  1. Oh my word...I'm exhausted just from reading of your adventures! I would say that the good outweighed the bad, though. Your photos are wonderful. I hope you all get some sleep. Yes, school is a wonderful thing. I wish we had year-round school here! ha.

    1. As time goes on, I tend to remember only the good and not so much the bad. So, my recollection of this weekend will get better and better over time.

      I don't know how I would manage with as many boys home all summer as you have! :)

    2. Well, I start out strong and with a good attitude, but I admit to wearing thin by the end of the summer! I usually cry (literally) tears of joy on that first day of school! ha.

    3. Ha! Well, hopefully your new pool will help everyone have a relaxed time this summer.

    4. Yes, hopefully! Today was the first day it was full with water and ready...and it poured rain all day! haha. It wasn't warm enough either! Oh dear!

  2. I especially like that tiny train. It must have really given the sensation of movement and an air of if you were on a magic carpet. No sides to block the view.

    I know it seems a bit tough right now...but Kai has what most people would love to abundance of energy. There are even many kids who lack basic energy levels. To turn it up is far more difficult than to redirect. Once he learns how to harness that energy...his potential will be unlocked.

    1. That small train was great. The openness was really nice. I liked that it was a real steam engine, too.

      Kai's energy is nice... though sometimes he gets very intransigent and does not want to do things. I guess I need more energy (and patience) to keep up with him.


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