One Afternoon in Detroit

Or ‘What I Want My Kids to Know About Detroit’.

Because the thing is I NEED them to know about Detroit. To feel like Detroit is familiar and comfortable and holds good memories. Because that is what Detroit is to me. Detroit is my home.

And I know, I know, in all technicalities I was born and raised in Oak Park, a small city on just north of Detroit.

But I was raised on 10 Mile. 2 miles north of 8 Mile. And spent a good portion of my life either at Eppert Oil (my Grandparents company in the city), the museums in Midtown, Belle Isle and the East Side. And then as soon as humanly possible (at 21 yrs old) I moved to Hamtramck (the only city inside the city of Detroit, so like the Vatican City to Detroit’s Rome).

I guess what I’m saying is I feel I can claim Detroit for my own. I’m no poseur folks.

And it’s very important to me that my girls have the same fond memories and comfortable feeling in Detroit that I have. I want it to be theirs as much as Lansing is. I want them to know all the cultural and architectural gems. I want them to have a sense of urban connection and street smarts, as well as an appreciation for the city that may look a bit rough and lack a cosmopolitan edge but has more charm and heart than any other city in the country.

So whenever we get a chance to spend a full day roaming the city we do. And we found a really great excuse a couple of months ago to spend an entire day bouncing around and taking our own impromptu kiddo Detroit tour.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, sunny and warm but not muggy hot (Detroiters call anything above 40% humidity ‘muggy’), so we decided to find something outdoors.

First off we had to eat, and while we were thinking of hitting up something in Midtown or the oh-so-chic Corktown, we opted instead to take the kids to Eastern Market. While it wasn’t a market day it was still quite busy with produce and meat vendors accepting deliveries and all the popular eateries around the market busting at the seams.

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We decided on Russell Street Deli, and while it wasn’t the best Deli ever, it was decent and satisfying and fast. Though it made me long for corned beef at Bread Basket Deli or even (gasp!) Grandy’s in Hamtramck. But the girls had fun and as soon as we had full bellies we headed off to our next destination…Belle Isle!!

Perhaps if we hadn’t been so spontaneous in our plans we would have known the island had just hosted the Grand Prix races a day before we arrived on the island to special spots like the point you can see the best view of Detroit AND Canada, the Scott Fountain and the Casino were all inaccessible that day. So we decided to go to the playground, a spot we used to play when we were kids. And though the Super Slide, we spent many a summer day on, was closed for the day, the Playscape area was a vast improvement from what we used to play on when we were kids. Accept for one thing…it was filthy.

Recently, during the bankruptcy and ‘save our city’ process, the State of Michigan park service has taken over Belle Isle under the state parks system. Many were skeptical about this decision but most thought it was a great idea, particularly if state funding was used to get the park clean and maintained. I don’t know what we were expecting when we got to the island, but less filth and more amenities maybe?

While the playground is massive and well visited, it was covered in garbage. Covered. Much of the equipment was damaged and either covered in grass clippings or dead leaves or spilled food and drinks. The swings at this main play area were altogether gone. And while the kids certainly had a good time, and there were plenty of kids there to play, we were disappointed by how shabby it was.  I remember when this playground was new and we would take Kylara to play when she was my girl’s age. It was impressive and cool. Now it’s just thousands of dollars of equipment wasting away under garbage and compost.

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But do you think the kids noticed any of that? Nope. They had a ball. Once we were done playing we drove around the other end of the island for a bit, and headed for our final destination of the day…

The Heidelberg Project.

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If you haven’t heard of Heidelberg and artist Tyree Guyton please click on the link above and check it out. Essentially, one talented modern artist, Tyree, created an art gallery from his neighborhood in a down-on-its-luck east side Detroit neighborhood. He’s usually recognized for the colorful polka dots on abandoned and burned out homes all over the city, but his true masterpieces are the neighborhood homes where he uses found and discarded objects to create 3-D art installations and sculpture that remind us not only of the things we leave behind, but how they can be transformed into something new and interesting and powerful.

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When I was first starting out in the film business I worked on a local feature called ‘Detroit’ and we used Heidelberg St and the street behind it for a week long shoot. I remember talking to Tyree then and how hopeful and encouraged he was by the influx of people and energy in his hood. But now, 14 years later, the neighborhood and Project have been rocked by multiple arson fires, in an attempt to wipe this art from the planet. It is a shame but that’s not how Tyree sees it.

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It is not ‘art’ in a traditional museum sense. It isn’t classical painting. It is modern and raw and disturbing and thought provoking. There is a sense of loss and a sense of wonder but never a lack of visual interest. It always has been art in it’s most uninhibited and transformative state. And now it’s quite literally The Phoenix of Art. Rising from the ashes of those that don’t understand it or don’t care about it’s impact on the neighborhood and the city.

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We were SO fortunate that Tyree was out that day. Just hanging out on ‘Heidelberg TV’ as he called it.

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And I was fortunate enough to talk with him for about 20 minutes about the transformative quality of art. The Magic of art. How all things change and grow and become things we don’t recognize, but that change is life, change is art, art is Magic, life is Magic. I say Magic capitalized because that is how we spoke of it, as something real and tangible and experienced.

I talked about how bringing forth life and watching children grow was Magic, he talked about how watching his life’s work burn and then rebuilding it was Magic. He was not sad y’all, he was not angry at the arsonists. Disappointed? A little. But accepting of the fact that life goes on, terrible shit happens sometimes, and we rebuild. The Magic of life is in the constant forward movement.

The Magic of art is in it’s constant reinvention. And in that way Life = Art and Art = Life and it’s all Magic.

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God I love talking to artists.

The girls were absolutely enthralled by the ‘Heidelberg TV’ and the main house that has recently been recomposed after being burnt to the ground. Seeing toys and objects they recognized. Finding things in hidden corners. It was Magic to them.

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To me Heidelberg is something essential for my kids. As essential as the Detroit Institute of Arts, or the Field Museum in Chicago. Something we must see often. Something I can’t wait to take them back to. It’s important, not only for the city of Detroit, but for our children and future generations to see and imagine what is possible to make from things that we throw away. How things can be transformed. The Magic and interest of everyday objects and discarded things. The Magic of art. Because…

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I couldn’t agree more.

As we walked back to our car, a slow rolling minivan passed us. In years past it might have been a drug dealer or undercover cop. But it was a tour bus. Something called ‘Show Me Detroit’. And while Tracey and I chuckled to ourselves and thought it was completely absurd, particularly seeing as we were on our own sort of tour, it struck me much later. This is the city of Detroit at it’s finest. In the throes of bankruptcy, dwindling population and a lackluster economy but hosting tour groups and with the New York Times forseeing (years ago) that it was the next ‘Like Tribeca back in the day‘ and Fortune magazine calling it the ‘New Brooklyn’. It IS absurd. But that’s what makes Detroit such a fantastic and interesting place to be. And why I will ALWAYS call Detroit home.

So if you had one day in Detroit where would you go? If you’re not from Detroit, what would be on your ‘Must See’ list? Detroiters, any special places I should take the girls on our next day out?

I’m BAAACCCCKKKK!

It has been an incredible, stressful and occasionally heartbreaking few months here in Bacon Land. But now that the dust has largely settled I am happy to announce my return and recommitment to this humble forum with a whole new focus and energy.

So what have we been up since last we updated?

Isora turned 2.

Cedella has blossomed into a Teenager/Hot Lava Girl/Best Buddy/Heart Sister (all her own terms for herself. Thanks a lot Preschool. lol)

We lost our sweet furry daughter/sister/friend Kira. Our hearts are still a bit broken but we will always remember her soft cuddly love.

*NOTE – I wrote something about her but didn’t have the heart to publish it at the time. I will publish it this weekend. 

We’ve had countless playdates and adventures with our awesome Lansing friends and family.

Oh yea…we bought our first (and hopefully) last home.

What?! Want me to say that again?

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!

We have been looking for a home to call our own since moving to Lansing nearly five years ago. I think we’ve looked at somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 homes in the past few years. Gone to at least four or five lenders. But for one reason or another it has never been the right time. But we made due with renting and living in two awesome homes over the past five years.

So when we started looking again in January it didn’t really seem real. And though I have been an obsessive Zillow.com and Realtor.com stalker, I guess it didn’t really sink in that we were serious this time. But then we were Pre-Approved. And then we were working with the lovely Emily Lott. And then we were making Forever Home Wish Lists. And then we were really Looking At Houses. And then we were Falling In Love with one house or another. And then we Struck Gold and found the house that was literally just sitting there waiting for us.

And then, for our 5th wedding anniversary we put in an offer.

And now…after two grueling weeks of car loads, countless trailer loads, purging, sorting, packing, wrapping, schlepping, sleeping on the floor, eating take-out for weeks cause we didn’t have our dishes moved yet, wearing the same few shirts and pants cause they were already covered in paint, lifting, dragging, sweating, cursing, painting, cleaning and unpacking…

We. Are. Home.

Here’s a few pics of the house in it’s BEFORE state (please note the snow on the ground in April in Michigan. SMH).

Our hideously yellow, Fixer-Upper, quad-level, midcentury modern house in the woods (which is also one block from the Capital Area District Libraries Okemos Branch and 5 minutes away from Target. Score.)

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And now for some really exciting news. My sister Tracey and I have pretty much always been HGTV obsessed. My Mom can attest to my adamant desire for red carpeting and an all black and white room as a teenager. I thought it was the height of interior design chic. I mean, come on, it WAS the 90’s folks.

But with this obsession (and our love of all things Design Blog and that we will both be home owners this year) we have decided to create a new blog called “2 Sisters 2 Houses” to detail all our efforts to transform our houses into our Homes. There will be plenty of DIY stuff, how-to tutorials, lots of cool design things were are currently lusting after and paint. Loads and loads of paint. And I can’t wait to start showing you all the work we’ve already done! Stay tuned…

Don’t fear though. Babies & Bacon and these two beauties aren’t going anywhere. We just took a quick break. Plenty of Cedella and Isora being cute (like this one taken on our first night in our new house while we all camped out on the floor)

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and exploring their new big backyard to come…IMG_6282

If you need more Bacon in the meanwhile you can follow me on Instagram @mrseyebrowz where I post ridiculously cute pictures of the girls as often as possible. Love to you all and glad to be back!

 

Wordful Wednesday: The Biz at 18 Months

My blog has suffered under Extreme Busyness Syndrome. So much so that monthly updates for my sweet Isora Rose have been all but non existent. (*To Isora – Sorry sweet girl. I really would have liked to write more about you over the past 18 months but keeping up with you and how quickly you learn everything is pretty time consuming. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love you and your Wiggle Worm ways so no complaints that I loved your sister more, m’kay?)

So I figured I’d take this Wednesday to gush show off brag discuss my sweet baby girl.

This is Isora Rose. 18 months old but just told me the other day that “I 3 year old Mama”.  Ummmm, no, you’re not. But cute that she repeats every. single. thing. her sister says, right? And yes, she talks. A lot. All day. All night. She says words that sound funny coming out of a 18 month old mouth. Like ‘remember’ and ‘medicine’. She nearly always says ‘thank you’ often says ‘please’ and her newest fav is “No. I do it.” SMH. WAY too early for that statement if you ask me. She says all her ABC’s and “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,14,Zoomi” (cause she knows it makes us laugh). She sings along to all our songs in the car. She loves when I sing Alouette and My Favorite Things and 1 2 3. And she loves Bob Marley. Of course 😉

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This little lady has always been sweet and chill but as she’s grown she has blossomed into the most good-natured, smiling and happy child I’ve ever known. She rarely cries (though the closer we come to 2 the more she fake-cries) and if she does get a boo-boo it’s easy to make her smile again. The song ‘Alouette’ used to be her stop-crying song. Now you just say “Boo Teta”. I know. It’s silly. Cedella said it to her once when she was crying and it stuck. They both crack up. Every. Time.

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There’s something else you must know about Iz. She is completely obsessed with her sister. Whatever Ella is doing or saying, Izzie is copying. It’s adorable and funny, as short-lived as it may be. Because one day they will fight over toys or clothes or boys or life but for now they’re pretty inseparable. And that’s cool with me.

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Despite their closeness they are very different children. And that’s the coolest thing to see. All the things that Iz loves that El gets easily bored by. All the subtle little differences.

For example…this kid loves to brush her teeth. It makes her whole day. She’ll say “brush teeth” until I go into the bathroom with her and put toothpaste on her Dora brush.

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She is a Weirdo. With a capital W. In our home Weirdos are just silly people who are different and unique. Weird is a positive. She has Weird in spades. She wore this one snow boot around for hours. Hours. And would freak if I tried to put the other shoe on her. Weirdo.

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And man is she funny. She is constantly thinking of new ways to make us laugh. She’s a natural Goof Ball. I kinda wish I could roam around the house mostly nude with a basket on my head too. Sadly she’s the only one that can get away with it, she’s a trailblazer of physical comedy.

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Like the Corn-Holio. She does this one a lot. Actually she takes off her shirt a lot. When her tummy is free she’ll rub on it like she’s rubbing a Good Luck Buddha and say “Tummy”. Makes us laugh every. single. time.

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And this…her fake pouty face. She’s got you fooled, huh? Keep in mind this face was directly followed by

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a big old grin.

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Did I mention Izzie can and will sleep just about anywhere at any time? No really. Anywhere. Remember this? A booth in a busy restaurant in Chicago.

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And at the Zoo. Even at her favorite place she sleeps.

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Another thing to know about this little lady: she loves to eat. Loves. Anything and everything. The only thing she seems to have an aversion towards is fish (which is weird cause we eat a lot of fish) but she loves everything else. Current obsession? Hummus, PB&J, Turkey and Yogurt. And cupcakes. Anything with frosting is cool with her.

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Always fruit. Off the tree, don’t care. She was digging on that pear. The cuteness of her eating this pear fresh off her Jiddo’s tree just kills me. I love it so.

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She is a book lover just like her Mama and her sis. Current favs include ‘Pajama Time’ ‘Duck on a Bike’ and the Little Critter book ‘I Was So Mad’. And anything that has baby faces for her to kiss. She’s really into kissing right now.

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Though she loves to hang out at Play. she really comes alive at the zoo. On this visit she woke up just in time to chase the peacocks . It never gets old.

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She is a very intense and avid colorer. Have you ever seen a more serious coloring face? She’s doing business here.

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And she has entered the Momma and Baby phase. The second we get to Play. she goes right for the babies. At home she carries around three at a time.

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She even wears her babies while she’s watching her favorite shows (Currently: Daniel Tiger, Super Why, Team Umizoomi and Dora).

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Though she loves taking care of her babies she is still very much Mama’s Girl. I can’t get enough kisses and hugs from this kid. She’s positively delicious. She makes every single cell in my body vibrate with happiness even on the rainiest and grayest days.

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I catch myself sometimes just staring at her. Just in awe of some new thing she’s taught herself or something funny that she’s done. Watching that sweet grin spread over her face is like medicine for a stressed out soul. I love to watch her play and explore and try and persevere.

But seriously, where did I get this blonde haired green eyed child from? Another unique and beautiful thing about this sweet girl.

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But whatever you do. Don’t take this girl’s babies or food….cause she’s a tough girl. She’ll get ya.

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See? Told you she was funny.

Do you have a hilarious child of your own? I’d love to here about what makes your kid an awesome Weirdo!! Please share stories!!

Linking up with Amanda at Dude Mom and Angie at Seven Clown Circus. Go check out their gorgeous families now. Just do it.

Happy Wednesday!!