Yup, I have it - even though I haven't actually be able to WATCH any of it, since I spent opening weekend in class and almost getting disappeared from the face of the Earth due to some sort of derecho-type weather situation with hailstones the size of nickels and horizontal rain and lightning-struck trees. (These things may or may not be related - I honestly can't tell.)


Let's play my favoritest game in the world: What in the world is going on in rockle's mind? In this case, I have made a collage of my top ten favorite summer Olympic athletes ever as of about 20 minutes ago. Can you guess who they are, what sport they competed in, and how many Olympic medals (of any color) they won? Hints below the picture.


#1 = 1984.
#2 = 1976, 1984, 1988.
#3&4 = 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012.
#5 = 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012.
#6 = 1988, 1992.
#7 = 2004.
#8 = 1996, 2000, 2004.
#9 = 1968, 1972.
#10 = 1976, 1980. (Plus: 10.)


Deep Blue Something

My sister mentioned on her blog the other day that My Nephew The Elder is not much of a swimmer -- yet. In so many ways, he and my own kid are so much alike -- what with the silly Pop-Pop faces and the general excitement about everything and the camaraderie and the matching superhero T-shirts -- but when it comes to the pool, he and Shae are total opposites. She is a cross between a goldfish and a mermaid and a (very skinny) great white, what with all the swimming around while singing and eating everything that isn't nailed to the concrete patio. And he ... is not, so much. He is perfectly happy to sit on the side under an umbrella and eat his freeze pop in peace. (Not unlike his Uncle G, actually.)



I don't know what caused the turnaround -- the heat? some rare disease? too much to eat? or maybe it's fleas?* -- but Joey went all the way in the pool when he was "back East," for the first time maybe ever. The first time I can remember, anyway.


And I can tell from the look in his eyes that maybe he is not quite sure about this whole life-under-water thing, but I can also tell from the fact that he actually did not want to get out of the pool for a little while there that perhaps the next time we go out and visit the Midwest in the summertime, Shae will not be going down the great big waterslide by herself.


Resistance is futile, little man. You will be assimilated.

WHEE! #ibelieveicanfly



Hi, Mom! (A Drive-By Photo Dump)

Still from Chicago: Joey tentatively in the pool.

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Still from Chicago: Joey ... dancing? ... near the pool. (I didn't know what this was when my own kid did it, either.)

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Also still from Chicago: Shae bowling. Like a boss.

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From when the Chicago peeps came to visit: Joey in the pool, for realsies. (Sorry for graininess - Instagram.)

WHEE! #ibelieveicanfly

Also from when the Chicago peeps came to visit: Our adorable (grand)children, because they are adorable, duh.




Also from when the Chicago peeps came to visit: even when she's being a grumpus, Shae still has a pretty cute face.


Later, gators!



I don't know a damned thing about golf, professional or otherwise, so let's just say we're calling the kids "Annika (Sorenstam) and Rory (McIlroy): The Next Generation" and be done with it.

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I especially don't know anything about miniature golf. I am an absolutely TERRIBLE miniature golfer. If my husband had ever taken me on a miniature golf date, he'd never have married me, because he would have seen my Agony of Defeat face, and it is not NEARLY as attractive as my Thrill of Victory face.

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Of course, my Thrill of Victory fact isn't actually all that cute, either. Winning at Trivial Pursuit all the time ever has made me smug and unpleasant. And also AWESOME AT TRIVIAL PURSUIT, BOOYAH!

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These pictures are additional testimonials to the [Midwestern City] Parks District, by the way. This is an absolutely GORGEOUS miniature golf course. It was close to 100 degrees out that night, but we hardly minded, with the nice breeze over the pond and the flattering light and whatnot.

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Incidentally: I'm not sure that the kids are entirely ready for miniature golf, per se -- they didn't really get the "gist" of it -- but it was HIGHLY AMUSING watching them wave their putters around all-devil-may-care about whether or not they shot someone's eye out.

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Someone's been watching the Masters in HDTV. I'm not saying who. Because it might be me. But I'm not going to lie: the weekend we got our "new" TV I laid on the couch and watched Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach all weekend long and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I wasn't even drunk or anything.

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This picture is just here because it's one of the few where my nephew is not the EXACT AND ENTIRE spit and image of my sister. But he's still related to me, because he looks like a very young (say, age 3½) version of my cousin Michael.

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And this picture is just here because ... wow. Clearly, vacation agrees with her, right?


In Praise Of The Park District

One of the things that always impresses me when I visit my sister is that the city she lives in has lots of really nice public parks -- including a REALLY AWESOME water park.

Exhibit A:

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Exhibit B:

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Exhibit C:

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Exhibit D:

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Exhibit E:

If my sister's kids were not cute enough to entice me to the Midwest, the Parks District might do it.


Where's Perry?

According to Phineas and Ferb, there's 104 days of summer vacation 'til school comes along just to end it, so the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it.

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Looks like the next generation has it all figured out, though.



It's pretty much part and parcel that wherever we go on vacation, we go to see animals of some kind. It's how we roll. (PS: Proof that I actually saw the baby while we were out there.)

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Usually it's the zoo, but we have been known to visit aquariums from time to time. Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is one of my favorites because (1) it's free and (2) it has a big giant tractor.

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Also: lots of places to pose the kids together, including but not limited to inside a "hollowed-out" log inside the gorilla exhibit, and in front of a male zebra. (Don't ask me how I know it's male or I'll be forced to tell you.)

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It's a pretty zoo, too. Chicago is a pretty city. I am not one for "big cities," generally, what with the fact that I hate people and all, but at least the Lincoln-Park-Zoo-part of Chicago has lots of pretty things to look at (and excellent light).

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Oh! And a carousel! Which was pretty much the hit of the visit. Anything that gets the kids to smile naturally is all right in my book.

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Not to mention, the skyline makes a lovely backdrop for family pictures. (I still think Philly's is more spectacular, but Chicago's is quite photogenic.)


I'll Take Blurry Pictures Out Of Context For $200, Alex

On Sunday night while we were in Illinois, we went to a community carnival -- the kind with kiddie rides and red velvet flavored funnel cake. (Which, incidentally, was fine, although I thought the traditional flavored funnel cake was better, and in any case, I will always prefer good old fashioned fried dough because COME ON.)

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Joey found a ride he really liked. Actually, he liked several of them, but the car ride was by far his favorite, I think.

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Sorry for all the blurry pictures, by the way. I did use the Magic Camera but the combination of low light, fast motion, and my complete and utter inability to hold the camera steady all conspired against me. (Even with vibration reduction on the replacement telephoto lens!)

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I took Shae on my favorite ride at any carnival anywhere ever: the Tilt-A-Whirl. Yes, I know I am an Oldy McDustybones, but I can't help myself. I love the Tilt-A-Whirl. I have no shame about this. I can whip that suck around pretty fast, too. That's one of my more marketable skills, actually.

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The kids went on four rides total -- the cars, the Tilt-A-Whirl (Shae only), this thing that was a spinning dragon thing that we didn't get any pictures of, and a kiddie coaster called the Dragon Wagon, which is possibly the greatest amusement park ride name ever. Say it with me: Draaaaaaaagon Waaaaaaaagon. See? AWESOME.

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Shae is on this kick right now where she wants to scream all the time on all the rides. SCREAM. ALL. THE. TIME. It's cute for the first ride. It's even kind of cute for the second one.

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But poor Joey had to listen to my kid AND HER GIGANTIC LUNGS screaming for like two hours, so yeah, I kind of understand that face he is making in that last picture. I imagine I was making the same one.

= = = = =
For the next couple of days there might be duplicate photos, but I promise we'll get past them soon. Your patience is appreciated at this difficult time. Thanks! -- Ed.


Domestic Bliss

I don't know what YOU did while I was away on vacation, but I spent the week watching my daughter and my nephew (the 3½-year-old, not the 3½-week-old, obviously) be all thick as thieves, acting like methed-out monkeys high on Pop Rocks and Coke, as preschoolers are wont to be.

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Actually, that's not true. I mean, yes, kids are oftentimes inclined to Behave Badly, but Shae and Joey were mostly on their very best behavior all week.

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They even helped out with the yard work, even though it was 858°F or something. Those two are Good Do-Bees, as my grandmother would say.

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Of course, it was easy to get Shae involved in the gardening when she found out that, in the Midwest, it involves a tractor. Vroom vroom!

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I just wish that they hadn't tuned the radio on the John Deere to talk radio. How much funnier would these pictures have been if the soundtrack was "Call Me Maybe" instead of bloviating talking heads?

= = = = =
For the next couple of days there might be duplicate photos, but I promise we'll get past them soon. Your patience is appreciated at this difficult time. Thanks! -- Ed.