We're two weeks into September and with summer all but completely behind us, the kids are both starting new classes.

Garrison started kindergarten two weeks ago, and so far, he's really been enjoying it. He seems excited to attend school on weekdays and he seems to enjoy it. He's so social that being around kids his age for almost seven hours every day sits well with him.

We've let him choose every day whether or not he wants to eat the lunch served by the school cafeteria or bring one from home. More often than not he asks what the school is serving the next day (we have a calendar of meals from the school) and hopes that it is something that sounds good so he doesn't have to make a lunch. However, he is rapidly learning that school lunch isn't all that great. For instance, they serve hot dogs sometimes (good) but the only condiment is ranch dressing (bad). French fries are served sometimes (good) but they are baked and not fried and then kept in a warmer for hours before being served (very bad). Tonight he was asking about what a "chicken patty" might be. I described it as a thin piece of chicken covered in breading. I told him they served it last week and asked him, "Did you see anyone eating one last week when they served them?" His response, "Yeah...It didn't look very good. I'm going to take a lunch tomorrow."

Dinah also started in a new classroom at her day care. Her old classroom consisted of all the youngest kids at the center and almost never got to go on any of the trips that the bigger kids did. Now she's in a new room with more three year-olds and they get to go on all the field trips which I'm sure she will enjoy. Garrison also attended her day care for two days a week over the summer which both kids seemed to enjoy. Dinah enjoyed having her big brother at the school and Garrison enjoyed the social interaction with kids his own age.

A month or so ago we bought a 2007 Honda Element to replace the Ford Focus we previously drove. The Ford had really gotten to be too small for our family (especially as the kids grew) and had numerous mechanical problems, as well. The Element is much bigger and fits our family much better. In addition, we were able to put a roof rack on the Element so we got our canoe out of the back yard for the first time since 2006(!). We used to put the canoe on the car fairly frequently when we were driving Sarah's Saturn wagon. However, in 2006 we bought a Toyota Avalon and just never got around to putting a roof rack on it. Then we bought the van (no roof rack on it) and had kids so the canoe just sat in the back yard for eight years.

In the interim we had rented canoes a couple of times from local places and taken the kids canoeing which they had enjoyed. Sarah and I enjoyed getting out on the water again, so we got pretty motivated to get a roof rack on the Element and got our own canoe back in the water.

Last weekend we went canoeing up at Devil's Lake State Park and it was a gorgeous day. There was little to no wind so the lake was calm and the paddling was easy. After canoeing up and down the lake (stopping on the far shore to let the kids wade and throw stones in the water), we took the canoe back to our starting location and got out our lunch. We swam in the lake for an hour after lunch (it was sunny and 70F) before heading back to Madison.

Today we took the canoe over to the other side of town and went canoeing on the Yahara River. The wind was up (there were whitecaps on the lakes) and the weather was noticeably colder so the River turned out to be a great place to canoe. The current wasn't too strong and the wind was deflected over the river by the surrounding buildings. We paddled from Tenney Park down to Lake Monona and back, followed by lunch at a tavern on Williamson Street.

It's been great to have our own canoe back on the water again. We figured out how to get our paddles and life jackets stored in the garage so that we don't have to run up and down the stairs to get ready to go paddling. The straps to secure the canoe to the car are right next to the straps in the garage so I anticipate that we're going to do more canoeing in the future.