Go Caroling

Posted by jdg | 9:31 AM

The other day, a lovely Jewish neighbor of ours organized a fun Christmas caroling expedition through the neighborhood. I don't think the kids knew all the words, but I know they had a really good time.

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Trim the Tree (in Elf garb)

Posted by jdg | 7:35 AM

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Take a Ride on the People Mover!

Posted by jdg | 11:23 AM | ,

Uh-oh, it's almost 2010 and look who just figured out how to make animated GIFs.

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Visit "the country"

Posted by jdg | 6:53 AM

A good friend of ours lives in a neighborhood that realtors optimistically call "north Corktown" (a casino, a stretch of prairie, and some old, lovely houses mixed with newer ones north of I-75 and south of MLK). He wishes they would call it Norktown instead. My kids love dropping by his house for a visit because his neighborhood is full of farmers and the sorts of people begging to get into long, protracted conflicts with the city over their growing drifts of pot-bellied swine or the Christmas displays swelling their porches.

This chicken belonged to a house my friend's girlfriend referred to as "The Spirit Farm." My daughter kept screaming "Wild chicken! Wild chicken!"

This is the farm a few doors down from my friend's house that I took the Time Magazine reporter to a year ago, still going strong. They have bunnies, ducks, pigs, and various other fowl too. It's very much a Big Red Barn situation over there.

They have an awe-inspiring Christmas display on their porch (that's worth a post in itself---as was their Halloween display) unfortunately their dog-grooming van was parked in front of it the other day so I couldn't get a good shot of it.

This is all a few blocks from the Catherine Ferguson Academy, an old art deco school that's been adapted into a farm and educating pregnant teens/teen mothers for years (an extraordinary program). They have horses!

Definitely one of the coolest parts of our city. All this about a mile from the skyscrapers of the central business district.

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Roll Down a Hill. . .

Posted by jdg | 7:55 AM

These photos can't tell the full story, which involves me working very hard to convince them to roll down the hill, mostly by example. At first the concept terrified my daughter, but eventually she got into it. The boy needs more time, but he cackled joyfully while watching us.

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They tasted better than they looked.

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Robot 2.0

Posted by jdg | 5:28 AM

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) has a great free Family Day every month, and yesterday the theme was ROBOTS and SPACE INVADERS! The museum had a bunch of incredible materials and art supplies set out for kids to build their own robot and space alien costumes. Some of the costumes were really incredible (my architect neighbor was there building his son a very impressive getup). We brought our old Halloween costume for a head start and used some of the materials to give it an update (reboot?). My favorite new element was the transparent red eye thing she glued on, hers was the robot kitty tail. The exhibit provided some really cool Star Wars-style backdrops for pictures, too.

Thanks MOCAD!
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The Heidelberg Project is sort of like a tourist attraction around here, mostly hipsters and Europeans, but it's a great place for kids too. I've been bringing them here regularly since we moved to Detroit, and now my son is old enough to really get into it. Tyree Guyton gets most of the attention for the project, but there's a guy who also lives there named Tim Burke who makes his own stuff there, and that's actually what my son prefers. I've talked with Burke and he's quite a character who's obviously battled some demons in his day. He welds some mean "robots" and collects a lot of interesting stuff out abandoned buildings (including a few hundred dental molds that he uses to give his robots mouths). The kid LOVES them. 

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Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Posted by jdg | 10:50 AM

When we lived in San Francisco, our favorite excuse to grab an In-N-Out Burger was to go down to Fisherman's Wharf on the pretense of visiting the Musee Mechanique, a huge collection of old-timey arcade games and animatronics houses in one of the old piers. We'd raid the couch cushions for nickels and dimes and waste away part of an afternoon in there before filling our stomachs at the only location of California's famous burger franchise in the city. It's a shame then, that we've lived in Detroit for more than three years and never made the trek out to the suburban hinterlands to visit Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum.

It was a little disappointing to find it tucked away behind a really ugly strip mall. Here's the view from the front door:

This Marvin guy has a massive collection of cool old amusements, and the place had the feel of an actual arcade rather than a stuffy museum. After an initial period with both kids clinging to me in fear of all the creepy stuff up on the walls and inside the arcade cases, we had a lot of fun there (especially once my daughter realized you could earn tickets playing certain games which could be exchanged for PRIZES). It was a great way to spend a cold, rainy fall day.

But some of the stuff was seriously terrifying, none more so than the barfing "county food inspector":

He really barfs. We paid 50 cents to watch him do it. Later, we watched an employee peel back his face and pour some corn syrup and other stuff down the face of the terminator thing underneath *shiver*.

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Wash the Dog

Posted by jdg | 8:52 AM

We had some ridiculously warm weather last week and decided to give the dog one last good outdoor bath so he can start from scratch on that long winter stink. This time I let the kids do the whole thing, and while he thoroughly enjoys the sudsy massage he hates the rinsing. It's pretty pathetic. This from a dog who goes out of his way to bellyflop in putrid puddles and once scuttled across a sheet of ice on the edge of the Detroit River to dive into the freezing water after some ducks floating a dozen yards out who just looked at him with duck pity.

Big baby.

So. Much. Fun.

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Shiver Me Timbers

Posted by jdg | 7:23 AM | , , ,

We spent part of the morning making our own pirate flags. She wanted hers to be "kind of like a dog pirate." No complaints here. We set shore on the sandy beach where old Brass Knuckles McCabe had buried his chest of doubloons.

"Arrrrr, so this is where the treasure be!"

$1.27 in buried coin, three pretty rocks, a perfectly good pencil. A good haul, mateys.

Someone got marooned for a little while.

She declared herself to be Captain Maxine the Salty Dog.

He was given the name "Captain Opty Ba-cake" by Captain Maxine herself.

I was told to swab the decks while they climbed to the crow's nest.

Later the First Mate gave me the Black Spot.

p.s. can you tell we're excited for Kate Inglis's book

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Get Out the TUBES

Posted by jdg | 1:28 PM

We have a whole bunch of these things that people gave us over the years. Every once in a while it's fun to throw them all out on the playground and watch the neighborhood kids crawl around in them. We did this the other day and I saw this awesome scene:

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The Big Bike Ride

Posted by jdg | 7:08 AM | , , , ,

Well, the summer of the bike is officially over. I'm sure we'll still get a ride in here and there, but the everyday rides and the school pickups are probably part of the past now. The other afternoon the sun came out for a few hours and we did what I'd promised her she could do sometime this summer: ride her little $15 bike with me all the way to the Dequindre Cut. When we got to the entrance ramp the little daredevil coasted down shouting, "Look pops, no feet!" Heart attack.

The boy got up close and personal with our favorite graffiti character down there, dubbed Purple Zombie. She even wrote a song about him:

"Purple Zombie
Drinking Coffee
Yeah yeah yeah."

She makes me sing the first line, then she sings the second, and Gram chimes in with the third. Someone really ought to dump a load of used tires on us.

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