Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Bird; It's a Plane; It's . . .

Uh, your guess is as good as mine.





Oh, yes, it's the Hot Pink Ballerina - prepared for every situation involving cold feet and swimming pools.


Whew! I feel safer already.



And just in case you're still worried, still feeling unsafe . . .



Never fear -


The Pirate and the Princess are here.



Keeping the world safe, one day at a time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chuckles

Claire: Mom, what is a president?
Me: a president is someone who is in charge of things.
Claire: What kind of president is Barack Obama?
Me: He's the President of the United States.
Claire: That's what kind of president I want to be when I grow up.

Ben: I want to be president too!

(brief moment of silence while Claire ponders this.)

Claire: Mom, are there presidents of each state?
Me: No, the people in charge of states are called governors.

(Claire turns to her brother)

Claire: Ben, you can be a governor.


________________________________________


Claire: Mom, what does my name mean again?
Me: It means "clear, bright and light."
Claire: What does Ben's name mean?
Me: It means "son of my right hand."

(silence)

Claire: Well, then I'm the daughter of your left hand.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just Call Us The Clampets

As I predicted, since I've finished posting about our trip to Ohio, my blogging has slacked off yet again. Really, there just hasn't been all that much going on around here. Other than trips to the pool, the library, and The Walmart, the only interesting thing that has occurred is that Shawn has been working like a dog, once again, to attempt in turning our yard into something respectable. Actually, it has come a long way since we bought the house. We've planted, I think, about 9 trees, countless bushes and various flowers, but the yard is still having a hard time forgetting that it used to be a rock-filled tobacco field. Every summer Shawn reseeds, fertilizes, and prays that grass will grow, and every year we are disappointed in the outcome. Not one to back down from a fight, however, Shawn keeps at it.



Anywho, he and I were just discussing the other day that we have lived in the South now for nearly as long as we had in the North. I was shocked by this, but it's true. I moved to Tennessee for college in 1994, and have resided in some Southern location ever since. Despite this fact, I still wholeheartedly consider myself a Northerner, and I'm not sure that will ever change. I list the following as evidence of my Northern "ness" :




  1. I have yet to fully adopt "y'all," and still prefer the Northern, gender neutral address of "you guys" when addressing more than one person.

  2. Carbonated beverages are still called "pop," not "coke," not "soft drink," not "soda."

  3. I do not consider it to be officially winter until the temperatures are BELOW 40 degrees.

  4. I miss snow, and it makes me sad that my children don't own snow boots or snow pants.

  5. I still have more sweaters than I ever have need to wear, but I refuse to get rid of them.

  6. I still think of Ohio as "home."

  7. I hate okra.

  8. I hate grits.

  9. I think wedding receptions should include a full sit-down meal.

  10. I do not find it necessary to have full-blown, personal-detail-revealing conversations with people I have just met.

I think the evidence speaks for itself.


However, both of my children were born in the South, and though neither of them say "y'all" yet, I am daily presented with more and more evidence that they are more southern than northern.


For example, Claire asked me the other day that if boogers were supposed to be made of snot and dirt, then why weren't her boogers orange since the dirt is orange.

Now, don't even act like you haven't had conversations with your children about boogers. I know this happens to all of us at some point. In fact, I wasn't at all concerned with the topic of our conversation. Indeed, talking about boogers didn't upset me at all. What did upset me was the fact that my child thinks that dirt is ORANGE!


She's right actually. The dirt here is orange, but I grew up seeing dirt the color that it is supposed to be. BROWN!!! She has no idea that dirt is really brown and that what she is seeing is the red/orangey clay-like stuff that passes for dirt here. I am still shocked when my husband brings home a load of orange "dirt" for our landscaping, but my daughter merely views it as normal.


Sad.


And, as further evidence that both of my children are southerners. I present to you a picture of Ben after a hard day of playing outside:


I rest my case.

Yeehaw.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The glorious 4th

Well, I need to finish up these posts about our July trip to Ohio, especially since August is right around the corner (a fact I can hardly believe). I'm not sure what I'm going to do after I finish this post though because, Lord knows, there's not much going on around here to post about. Right now my blogging options include:
  1. The celebratory removal of the kiddie potty from the bathroom. This happened not because Ben has finally been potty trained (oh that that day would come soon). No, the removal occurred because our hall bathroom started to stink of urine, and even after Shawn attempted to clean everything in sight, the bathroom still had the faint odor of stinky feet. How's that for disgusting?
  2. The lady across the street repainting her statue of the Virgin Mary. Mary is now sporting a nearly neon coat of electric blue paint. Does this make her more or less Holy? I'm not sure.

See. My future blog posts threaten serious boredom.

But, before that happens, I have Saturday and Sunday of our trip to discuss.

I grew up in a town that went all out for the 4th of July - parade through the center of town, followed by a decent street fair and then some pretty amazing fireworks that night at the high school. I have always wanted to take the kids back so that they could experience this too, as the local 4th celebrations seriously pale in comparison. Don't even get me started on the sorry excuse for fireworks shows that go on around here. It's ridiculous. I was also hoping to put Claire's occupational therapy to the test that weekend too. She has come a long way this year, and it's been quite some time since I've seen her cover her ears in defense, but the parade noises AND the fireworks are enough to make anyone cover her ears.

My dad informed me that the parade and street fair have really grown since I saw them last, so we were making some serious logistical plans on arrival times, parking, and the best place to set up for the parade. In fact, if not for some friends, we wouldn't have had a place to sit. The entire parade route was lined with blankets and chairs several DAYS before the parade! That's some serious parade commitment. But, we got it all figured out, and after a YUMMY breakfast of homemade waffles and strawberries (thanks, SueAnne!), we arrived, parked, walked, and walked, and walked to our spot.


All set, and ready to go!



This picture gives you some idea as to the masses of people that turned out for this thing.



SueAnne, Papa Bill, and Grandma. Notice the long pants and sleeves! Still chilly in Ohio, but that was sooooooo much better than hot and sweaty.




The parade begins.




Ben was in little boy heaven. There were plenty of fire engines, police cars, music and costumed-action figures to keep him thoroughly entertained.






"Hmmmmm. That band is playing those drums really loudly. Am I ok with this? Not so sure."






Hello nostrils and Ben's bum. Can you tell I was sitting on the ground?





I love this picture. That's Claire on the far right, and I have absolutely no clue who the other girls were. She just made friends with them that morning during their group effort to get as much candy as possible. The paraders often hand out candy, partly as business advertisement, and partly just to be nice. When I was a kid, they used to pelt it at the crowd from atop the floats, and kids would play suicide scramble in the middle of the street over 3 tootsie rolls. Now the paraders calmly walk down the sides of the street and hand it to the kids. This is a much better way, safer (no gumball related concussions now), and the kids get WAY more candy.
But back to why I love this picture. Claire makes fast friends wherever she goes. Just introduces herself and asks if she can play. She and the little girl in navy blue are the same age, both starting kindergarten, and the little girl was really sad to learn that Claire didn't live in Ohio and wouldn't be going to her school. I wish I could make friends so easily, just plop myself down next to someone on the sidewalk and declare we are best buds.


After the parade ended, we made our way back to the cars, dropped off the chairs and then headed out to the street fair. I really wish I had taken a picture of this. It was an enormous sea of moving humanity, crowded on a too narrow street. Thank God it was overcast and cool, or it would have been like a sweaty soup pot out there. Anyway, they had some really great free activities for kids, so both Ben and Claire got several prizes, and Claire walked away looking like this:


Dear God, may this be the only time she decides to color her hair red and orange. Amen.



The end of the day culminated in a fantastic fireworks show of which I have not a single photo. But I am super proud to report that, with the aid of some ear plugs, Claire watched the entire show with nary a flinch. She really, really enjoyed herself, and so did we.


Sunday was our last day there, and I have only the last two pictures from that day. We went to church at dad's church and then ate lunch at China Cottage - fondly referred to as China Fartage by my family because after you eat there, you . . . well, you know.

The evening was spent with mom and Dave and we finished off our stay in Ohio with a visit to Marion's pizza, the best pizza, ever.
We had a great trip. Thanks dad and SueAnne for letting us crash at your pad, dudes.



And now I'm off to determine the exact shade of the Virgin Mary's new coat, just in case I want to blog about it. :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nana's Fun Friday

Since my mom had to work several days and had prior commitments, we were unable to catch up with her until Friday. The weatherman predicted warmer weather than we had seen so far in the week, so we all geared up for a day at the pool enjoying the sunny skies and warm weather. Well . . .

The weatherman must have been smoking crack.

It was cloudy and cold the whole morning with only brief moments of sun to help highlight the kids' blue lips and chattering teeth. They didn't seem to mind, however, so we spent the morning watching them swim, ate some lunch and then headed back to mom's house for naps.

We also traveled all over southern Ohio to pick up Kayli so that she could enjoy some more time with her cousins. Seriously, the last time I was in Red Lion, Ohio, I was in high school and the father of one of my friends was chasing us off his front yard with a shotgun as we had attempted to TP him in the middle of the night (remember that, Rachel?) Oh, we were such rebels. So, while it was quite a car ride that morning, it was fun to re-live my days as a rebellious teen.

So, anyway, Kayli was with us too, and after a napping attempt for her and Claire, the kids headed outside for one of the kiddie attractions at Nana's house. Thinking back to my own experiences at my grandmother's houses, I fondly remember sliding across the wood floor in my tights and eating shelled sunflower seeds at one grandma's house, and drinking Hi-C fruit punch out of glasses that smelled like cigarette smoke and eating whole black olives off my fingers at the other grandma's house. Fun times.

But, no doubt, my kids' memories of their grandmother's house will be sure to include this:


And really, who can blame them? I used to LOVE those things when I was a kid, not that we ever had one. The kids have yet to visit at Nana's house without asking to ride "the car."

"The car" has always freaked Claire out a bit in years past, and she would usually refuse to drive it herself, opting instead to ride while Kayli drove. This year, however, she actually drove the car herself (though, alas, I have no pictures to prove it), and so did . . .

Look at Kayli's face. Scared? Excited? Nervous? I'm betting it's a combination of all three. She is always up for a little adventure. Actually, Ben couldn't decide which was more fun - driving the car or pretending to fill it with gas.
I've mentioned before about how well Claire and my niece, Kayli get along with each other. They spent each day they were together playing like they were sisters and using their imaginations to come up with some of the silliest games. One of these games, given the ever-so-creative name of "Doggy" involved one of them pretending to be the other's doggie. Yep, that's it. Sounds fun, huh? They thought so, and they played it for hours.
I asked them to show me a funny face, and this is what I got:

Pretty funny all right. Do you see the "dog tags" around Kayli's neck? Her uncle, David, has recently joined the army, and her dog tags were in honor of him. She never took them off, even at the pool.


Sweeties.

And, just in case you aren't sure where Claire gets her looks . . .

Nana and Claire




Nana and Claire again. I had to retake this picture because Claire insisted that the dog in her lap had to be visible.
After dinner, we loaded up the cars for a visit to Dairy Queen. This was a new experience for my kids, as we have no DQ near us. They were thrilled with the prospect of ice-cream cones with candy eyes and nose, and eating it out on the sidewalk even held its own attractions.



Never mind the cars driving past only a few feet away; this is cool, man.


And, just to make sure we knew that the weatherman wasn't totally wrong, the sun did decide to make its appearance.
Just in time to make us all look ridiculous in this picture.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Freezing, Fevers, and Fillys

Despite several requests that I unearth the aforementioned picture from my wedding reception, I am still deciding how much I want to put myself through the agony and embarrassment. Since I got married back in the days when not all photographers used digital cameras, and one actually had hard copies of photos instead of easy to view digital ones, the process of getting that photo up on the net is actually a bit difficult. I don't have a scanner at my disposal, so I would have to persuade my husband to take it to work with him, and the thought of that photo floating around his office, out of my control, is a bit much for me to fathom at this point.



So, all that to say - don't hold your breath.



Now, back at the ranch . . .

One of the oddest aspects of our trip to Ohio was how cold it was while we were there. Normal temperatures at that time of year are usually well into the 80's with sweltering humidity (think armpit). This is what we were expecting when packing our shorts and tank tops. I found, however, that I had a hard time finding clothes to wear as the temperatures stayed in the 70's, and some days were even in the 60's. This was lovely when I went running on the trails of the reserve in the morning (can I tell you how much I love trail running - so much more fun than running up and down and up and down the two streets in my neighborhood), but it wasn't so fun when the kids were planning on spending a lot of time swimming at Grandma's and Nana's pools.



I guess my kids were biologically hoping to balance out the cold temperatures because, for the first time in ages, both of them got sick with fevers and colds. Ben was the first to succumb on Monday, and Claire's fever hit on Thursday morning. Thankfully, the fever only seemed to last about 24 hours, but both of them were pretty miserable that first day. Never one to doubt the power of medication to alleviate all ills, I dosed Claire with Tylenol, and she was finally able to pick herself up off the floor to go visit a local horse farm owned by a family who attends dad's church.

This place was pretty amazing; actually, since I have never really gotten over my childhood obsession with all things equine, I was secretly hoping they would ask me to move in.




But, first, we had to see the big tractor.


And, we had to sit on the big tractor.





And pretend to drive the big tractor.




Now, little boy is happy.
Then, just because her brother thought it was so darn cool, Claire had to give it a try to see what the fuss was all about.


I don't think she was as quite impressed.

But, the horses? Oh, those beautiful horses were some kind of impressive. Three of them had colts in the stall with them, and three more were pregnant. There were also two stallions, but we were all a bit enthralled with those sweet baby horsies.


Don't you just want to put it in your pocket (ok, maybe your minivan) and take it home?





Here is Electra and her foal (try to ignore that blinding glare in the back of the picture). Electra was the sweet horse who gave Claire a ride - the highlight of Claire's week for sure.






As you can see, the foal didn't ever let her mama out of sight. She would run right with her, and every once and awhile, get a little crazy and kick up her heels at the excitement of being out of her stall. Just like a toddler. How sweet is that?

Here's a video of part of the ride:

video




Never one to allow his sister to do something without him, Ben immediately began his, not-so-nice screaming request to "ride the baby horse!" Since the horses can't be ridden until they are 3 (who knew?), he got to sit on Electra too.

As you can see, he got a little confused as to which end was the front, so I made the executive decision not to allow him to ride the horse. You can imagine the hell that broke loose after that proclamation. It wasn't pretty.


The owner, in an attempt to assuage Ben's screaming fit, and to let the kids have some more fun, suggested that they feed each of the horses a treat. Claire was all for it. Ben kept screaming, "the horsie will bite me." Seriously, from where does the drama come?


What's interesting about this picture is that Claire was not at all afraid to feed the horses and the fact that this horse had never accepted a treat from any one's hand before. The owner was bowled over that she took one from Claire.

My daughter, the horse whisperer. It was a proud moment for me.
But, since Ben's "horsie will bite me" and "You didn't let me ride a horse" screams were beginning to escalate, we decided to swing by to see the chickens and call it a day.
That evening we went to grandma's house for dinner. She made a serious amount of food including an orange, pineapple sheet cake. We were all so stuffed after dinner that no one had really started in on the many desserts that she had prepared, so the kids started playing with all the cool toys she has there. One of their favorites is a pretend grocery cart. They fight over that thing. I really cannot comprehend their love for "grocery shopping" as it is essentially the bane of my existence, but, whatever. (Do you see how my paragraphs keep running together? What the heck is up with this? I keep trying to space between them, but blogger won't let me. Why? oh Why???)
Ben was "shopping" - going into the kitchen, raiding grandma's lower shelves for cans and bringing them to me in the living room to check out. On one of his trips, the kitchen got eerily quiet, and, as all moms know, quiet = no good. I yelled for him to come into the living room, and when he did, his face was covered with white stuff. I freaked, thinking he had gotten into some cleaning product in the kitchen. We raced into the kitchen and found this:

I know it's a bit difficult to figure out what you are seeing there, but if you look closely, you will see grandma's ENTIRE orange, pineapple sheet cake dumped into the shopping cart. The white stuff on Ben's face was icing. Only at Grandma's house would a stunt like that get you kisses instead of some serious trouble. Just look at his face. He must have figured he scored a great deal at the "grocery store."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Slides and Baby Big Head

On the Wednesday of our week in Ohio, we met up with Seth again, so that Claire and Kayli could get in some more playtime. Watching these two play together when we visit only serves to increase my desire to eventually move back to Ohio. They are the best of buddies and seem to pick up right where they left off, even though months have passed since their last meeting.

We decided to take the kids to BounceU, the local indoor bouncing arena. Claire and Kayli took off, and we hardly saw them for the rest of the time, as they raced through the mazes and slid down the slides. Ben, on the other hand, was not very excited about doing much of anything but gently bouncing. To his credit, the poor kid was just getting over his fever, but we knew that after sliding down once, he would want to do it again.

Problem with this philosophy was that one of us had to go with him to help him climb up the slide "steps." If you've even been to one of these places, you know that despite how quickly the little kids seem to shimmy through the obstacles and race up the mountains and down the slides, for adults it is akin to field day for fat people. No matter your size and shape, these things simply aren't made for adults, so squeezing my body through the tunnels, climbing up the walls and sliding down the slides left me sweating like a beast.


But I prevailed.



Here we are at the top of the smallest slide. After he did this a couple times, he was all for trying out the bigger one.

Now, I need to prep you for the next picture. It may be the most embarrassing picture of my life . . . or at least one of the most (if you've seen the one from my wedding when I'm throwing the bouquet, then you know why I hesitate here). I'm not altogether sure why I look as though I'm about to slide into a vat of boiling oil, or why, as my brother was quick to tell me later, that I screamed louder than all the little kids in the place. Let's just say the slide was much faster than I bargained for, and I don't relish "slide burns."

Now, get ready. Here it comes . . .



I know, it's ridiculous. I cannot describe my shame.
And just to emphasize how completely ridiculous my reaction to the slide was, Shawn then proceeded to demonstrate how a sane parent takes his child down the slide.


Showoff.

I finally recovered and managed to go down that slide several more times with no problems and even helped Claire go down one much larger. So there.
After leaving BounceU, we picked up lunch at Steak and Shake, Claire's second favorite restaurant after McDonald's (what can I say? She has refined tastes), and returned to Papa Bill's house.
Jesse brought Zeke over to be babysat while he went to one of his classes, and we finally got to see Zach for the first time since we arrived (try to keep up with the Z names. I know it's confusing). Zach also brought his little boy, Noah. I haven't seen Noah since Christmas when he was only about 3 months old. We all know how much babies change in just a few short months, so I was looking forward to seeing him again. I had cleaned out some of Ben's drawers and found an adorable Ohio State fitted ball cap that no longer fit Ben. Figuring that it would be perfect for Noah, I brought it with us.
Well . . . let's just say, the hat didn't fit.

He is one of the cutest little babies I've seen, but this kid has a serious noggin.
Actually, big heads seem to run in our family. Claire's is pretty big.


And so is Zeke's.
We are all quite sure that big head = big brain. And who's going to argue with us? You've seen how big my brothers are, right? Scary.
How cute is that picture anyway? I love how Noah is holding onto Zeke's arm like that.



And really, who cares about a big head when he is so darn cute? Sweet, sweet baby. Holding him and kissing that cute face almost made me wish for another one myself. I said, almost.



Noah and dad, Zach. I love this picture.
And you better love it too, or I'll scream my sliding down the freaky-fast-slide scream at you.
I've been told it's ear-piercing. :-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

And it begins

It's been over a week since our trip to Ohio, so I guess I'm about right on my schedule to finally start posting some of the pictures. I think I'll start posting them by a few days at a time. Actually, this post only includes pictures from our second day there. Monday was spent at grandma's house, playing in the pool and eating far too much. We also got to see Papaw and Uncle Jeff and Aunt Allison. However, smart Naomi forgot her camera that day, so I have no pictures to prove it.

These pictures are from our second day in Ohio when my dad (Papa Bill) and SueAnne took us to visit Entertrainment (no, I didn't misspell it), the largest model train display and museum in the country. I know, I know... model trains. You can almost see the nerdiness through the computer screen. But, despite my desire to grab the nearest pocket protector and suspenders, it was actually a pretty interesting exhibit. I've already detailed Ben's train adoration, so this was just perfect for him. The display was pretty amazing, and the museum included a large play area - largely dedicated to Thomas - for the kids. Grandma, Seth, Jesse, Zeke and Kayli also joined us, and I think everyone really had a great time.




This is a pretty sad picture, but it's the only one I took of the trains themselves. The display was enormous, so getting it all in would have been impossible. But, I think you can see how detailed it all was.





Shawn pointing out Thomas "puffing down the track" for Ben. Also, notice Jesse in the background of the picture.


What is he doing?

Taking notes?

Talk about a NERD!

What a minute! That's the first time in my life I've been able to call him that.... MUUWAHAHAHAHAAA.

Ok, I'm done laughing. Sorry about that. Just a little sibling issue there.




My formerly pain-in-the-rear brother, who hated my guts, chased me with a knife (true story), and who hated school and all things associated with it, is now working on earning his nursing degree. He is currently enrolled in a Psychology class and had to write a report on child development.

Thus the note taking. Really, I'm quite proud of him . . . but he's still a nerd. :-)




Claire and Kayli





Ben, once again, playing with trains. What's actually interesting about this picture is that Ben woke up this morning with a 100.4 degree fever. It was the first day of a new cold, and he was absolutely miserable. Tylenol and the train museum were enough to soothe his misery. Yea, that's right, I took my sick child, with a fever no less, to a museum so he could infect all the other children. I'm a great mom.




Zeke and Ben riding the train.




Shoveling coal. He did this for forever. I wonder how long "work" will be a fun thing?






Zeke








Kayli and Claire waiting to ride the trains outside. They had individual trains which were operated by hand pedals. Think paddle boats for the hands.


And, just like those paddle boats that look like so much fun until you are stranded in the middle of the lake and your legs are burning from all that peddling, these trains were hard work! Look at Zeke's face.




"Ugh! This is hard, mom!"



Claire and Kayli taking their turn.




4 happy cousins



The play area also included a huge indoor play area with a rock-climbing wall. Here's Kayli/Spiderwoman.



And Claire, showing her mad climbing skills, still managing to look cute and stylish at the same time.




Not sure which train character this guy is.




Zeke and Ben. They both look a little out of it in this picture. It must be all that Entertrainment excitement.


And now, for your viewing pleasure, a video of my nephew Zeke displaying all his funky moves. This kid can swagga!

video

Whew, that's hilarious. Every time I watch it. Every. Single. Time.

Two of my three "little" brothers - Seth and Jesse - and me. Do you like how we are sitting on the bench, letting the grandparents take care of our kids? That's how we roll, man.



Papa Bill, Jesse, and Seth. Don't ask me what Jesse is doing with his face. Perhaps he is bemoaning his new state of nerdiness? hee, hee.


This along with a lunch trip to Chik-fil-A made for a very good day. The kids had a blast, and the adults enjoyed it too.
Plus, the kids took a SUPER long nap that afternoon. Bonus, for sure.