March Madness Kick-Off

My sister L and her family came up to kick off March Madness. It’s about a four hour hike from where they live and because Mizzou was playing on Friday afternoon, I left my key under the mat so they could come in as they please. Little did they know, they’d have to watch the game on a 19″ computer screen (thank you!) Papa J said that he placed his son W in front of the screen and then made W yell out what was going on. Apparently the screen was not big enough.

When we arrived home after work, it took zero minutes for J & R to make a beer run and then set up a mini ESPN-Zone. Three computers going, with different games on at once.

While this was taking place, we set up a TV that J brought and introduced our nieces and nephew to an oldie but goodie. Super Mario Bros 3. That’s right. Old school.
The next day, we took the little trio to a local state park (Devil’s Den State Park). We zig-zagged down the side of an Ozark mountain to reach the park, which gave us ample opportunities to find purple and white trees. At one point, we looked out the window and the side of the mountain went straight down. E politely asked R to not tumble the car down. She had read my mind apparently, but asked it in a much sweeter voice than I would. A park ranger was hosting a “Sensory Game”. Afterwards, there was a supposed to be a guided hike to the caves, but the weather had taken a turn for the worse and was sooooo cold. None of the kids complained though. I think I did though.
During the game, R paired up with W and I joined E. It involved sticking your hands into various pillow cases to feel items and listening to animal sounds. You had to guess what each thing/sound was. Oh yeah, you also had to smell something too. This was #8. I handed it over to E to guess what it was (vanilla essence). She looked me dead in the eye and said, “It’s permanent marker”. I laughed pretty hard and of course had to tell everyone around me.
Here’s me getting a kick out of E. She’s seriously witty. It’s scary. There’s W in the background sticking his hand into a pillowcase. They got almost everyone right (nerds alert!). E & I were the comedy relief.
Afterwards, we huddled up and ate a quick lunch outside. Watched K chase a duck around and made a pit stop at the waterfall to take family pictures. I forced them to sign a contract in blood stating they would come back when the weather was nicer and camp out with us. This park is so neat.

On the way home, we kidnapped W into our car and spent the ride back picking out chocolate morsels from the trail mix while gazing out the window. Well, some of us ate the trail mix. E konked out….
So W ate her share.
We divided the evening up between watching basketball and watching cookies bake.
The next morning, K and I were trying to enjoy our daily cup o’ joe, when we heard a dance party going on inside.

I think E won. All in all, a very fun weekend. Even though the weather was cold, the guys got a game of golf in and the girls (and W) watched Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. Neither L nor I had seen that movie in the longest time and laughed so hard during it. Too good!

Don’t forget about our camping trip guys. I will use force to bring you back down!


Tomorrow, R and I start up boot camp with a local ex-college football player turned drill-sergeant.

I’ve been slacking on the posts, but up for this week is family jaunt to a local state park and a trip to Eureka Springs for dinner with friends. Both were a lot fun.

P.S., the drill-sergeant said that if we’re late we have to do push-ups. I don’t do well with authority, so we’ll see how this goes.

Wind Farm

After our picnic, we took the roundabout way home and drove through a wind farm. They were gigantic and so impressive. The juxtaposition of old and new was so intriguing. Cattle also grazed right around them as well. Oh, no big deal, just a 180 foot blade swirling over my cow head. This grass sure tastes good.

Picnic Time!

We headed down to Wichita last Friday to attend one of R’s childhood friend’s wedding. The next turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous spring day. I’m fast becoming a spring fan and I won’t hide it. We decided to picnic it up, and R senior (my R does not have the same name as R senior, but just for clarification’s sake) took us to a lake in the absolute middle of nowhere.

The sky was blue, you could see for miles, and nature was to be breathed in by both our skin and our lungs. I closed my eyes, quickly reopened them, and then soaked it all in. We had been traveling in our car for the four weekends prior and so this was the first chance we had to stretch our legs in the open air.

This lake was interesting. It had peninsulas strung along the length of it, and so we parked & set up shop on one of them. If you look one way, you see the path to the middle of the lake. If you turned your head back towards the road, you were greeted with a horse eating in the sunlight. Peace and quiet.

We plopped down on a natural stone table, and laid out our spread. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies. After driving for 5 hours in a tight girdle and sharing a few glasses of champagne with the wedding party, this is exactly what a girl needed.

After lunch, we spent the next couple hours exploring. R senior scouted the area for eagles. We’ve come to realize how similar he is to my dad. They both enjoy bird-watching, they both like to tout their steak-grilling abilities, and there was one other one. For the life of me, I can’t remember the third one. It was eerie. But maybe this is just the retiree’s checklist. Is there some sort of initiation you have to go through? 1) Find a robin and try to imitate it’s call 2) Grill a medium-rare steak seasoned only with worcestershire and seasoning salt. Now compliment yourself. 3) Do something else, but Carolyn can’t remember it.

After leaving the waterfall, we walked to a fork in the path. Of course we should go the way we haven’t been yet, I yelled. It was nice for a while.

Until the trail ended and we had no clear way to get back.

like mother like son, no face allowed.
We rested for a bit after our “excursion” and watched the boys play frisbee. J found a little tree that had Christmas decorations scattered around it.

All in all, a great day. By the way, we made steaks that night when we got home…. and yes, they were go-od!

Step Right Down…

…. You’re the next contestant to get starry eyed by jazz hands and a “grrrrreat price!” For the record everyone, R and I are no longer allowed into Sams anymore. We just haven’t built up the appropriate resistant to “deal, deal, deals!!”.

As we were walking down the aisles, struggling to focus on the list we painstakingly wrote out the night before, we heard on the loudspeaker “Anyone who would like a free paring knife, please meet in front of the deli.” R and I looked at each other, and like any other freebie-grubbing American, …vrrrroooom – off we went. We stood sardine-like in a crowd of about 30 and watched the smoothest smooth-talker give a schpeal on the latest set of knives that “he is about to run out of, so hurry folks, get them while you can!!”


You only need to use the urgency scare-tactic on me and I’m done. I looked back at R and begged him with my eyes to tell me how dumb this purchase was. He started off strong, although I could see he was starting to break a sweat with the resistance. I turned back to the speaker and that’s when he brought out the grand prize. A food chopper — free!. I felt a hand squeeze my shoulder and knew that R had broken down. We were gonners.

…but man, will we be able to slice a tomato now!!

We were almost to the check-out line, when I think the upside down patio garden was strategically planted (no pun intended) in front of me. Somehow I managed to convince R that because he had not stayed strong during the knife presentation, I deserve this piece of plastic that will probably not last a season. I topped it off with the ole “but what tomatoes are you going to cut up with your knives??” line. It will only take about 300 tomato harvests to make up the price, but we were on cloud nine in the parking lot. We’ll see in a month if we regret it.

Spider Scare

I’ve got to hand it to him. He was patient. Never tried to lead me into the bathroom or suggested that since I’ve drunk so much water, I probably need to go the restroom.. No, he bided his time until the moment I went in on my own. It wasn’t a yell-scare, it was more of a my-whole-body-jumped-back-and-I-was-too-frightened-to-make-any-noise-scare. I’ll get you back, R.

Pre-Surprise Party

Neither I nor R checked the weather for the surprise party weekend. I was planning on wearing a short-sleeved top, and we barely tossed in our coats at the last second. It had ended up snowing all morning last Saturday. Nice.

My sister, A, came over for lunch at my parent’s house. Mom placed a very farm-esque meal on a very farm-esque table cloth. Roast and vegetables. I was so happy! Dad must have been excited too, because I caught him turning the pepper mill at a frightening speed.

That’s enough pepper, dad.

Earlier that day, I picked up R’s bday gift (cigars) and went to the shop my uncle suggested. It has a walk-in humidor and the moment you step into the shop, your nose fills with all sorts of wonderful smells. Loose tobacco leaves for pipes has to be one of my top ten smells.

I asked the worker some questions based off info from “Unc” and then my dad whispered to me to ask him where they keep their Cubans. I thought he was embarrassed to ask himself and so lifted my head high and decided to be my father’s champion. I will not let my dad get embarrassed! I walked over to the employee and a split second before the question came out of my mouth, I thought two things: 1) Does dad ever let on that he doesn’t know something? and then 2) why does the phrase “Cuban cigars” do a little ring-a-ling in my head?

I turned slowly to look at dad and he was slightly laughing in the corner. That didn’t stop him from asking the guy later “Hey — my daughter was wondering where you keep the cubans.” Whatever!

Later, he and R enjoyed one together in the below-freezing weather.
After our meal, we (surprise!) played a game. R taught us a new card game and it was decent. It would have been great if I didn’t have to sit across from R and watch him shove chocolate cake down his throat every two seconds. I can’t get that image out of my head. At one point, though, my mom just started throwing her cards out into the middle because she couldn’t reach, causing a huge ruckus. My sister retaliated and started throwing cards at her. We’re pretty wild and crazy.
Thanks for the pre-party, everyone!

Surprise Party

When little J saw the green shirt K put on, he said, “Mom! Your shirt’s too small!”. K said she should have worn her capris with it just to have really thrown him a curve ball.
There are certain people that can bring out the best in me. A couple of those people are my friends K & R. Most times when I enter into a group of people cold (and quite frankly, sometimes when it’s a warm situation too — there are times I never feel quite at ease) I tend to over-compensate in certain areas of my interaction. Either I stay pigeon-holed in my “role” within the group, or I end up having that one glass of wine too many due to nerves and sever any sort of meaningful memories. However, as long as I have K in the room, I always feel empowered and confident. Maybe it’s just because she laughs at all my jokes. I dunno..

But a good litmus test of a person is by the people with whom they surround themselves. And judging by the group I was sitting with, K & R apparently are witty, intelligent, gracious, and interesting people. (But I already knew that.) Before we showed up for R’s 30th birthday party, I asked K for a bit of information on some of the couples. I was bound and determined to not let my nerves get the best of me, and planned on being the resident reporter… using K’s biographies to question them with machine gun-speed. Turned out, it was unnecessary. They were all mini-replicas of K & R. Quick to laugh, tease, listen sincerely, and talk openly. At one point, K yelled “Why is the table of people that don’t know each other laughing the loudest? Remember that R and I are the common denominators!!!” It was such a good experience, and does nothing but compliment the people who brought us together.
R-squared have something in common: they don’t like their faces on my blog. I’ll respect their privacy, but I had to include part of the scared look on R’s face when his mother-in-law ordered a 5 liter bottle of red. A hush fell on the crowd as if we were paying last respects to our good sense.

I wasn’t the only one trying to document R’s night. He had his own personal entourage of paps watching his every move. If only they had all turned just slightly to their left, I would have been a bit happier.

We made the birthday boy walk around and pour everyone’s drink as well. He filled my glass way up because he must have known I had to sit next to the hottest picture of Sophia Loren in the joint. Seriously. I was jealous.

Afterwards we went to a couple more places while the grandparents babysat the kidlets in the hotel room. Ended up being a wonderful night. R was surprised and seemed to really enjoy himself and really, that was our goal. Consider it accomplished.