We got a six month subscription to one of those mail-order true crime/detective type thing as a way to have mini-dates after the girls go to bed. I am a complete airhead. Blaming it on fatigue though. If Ryan weren’t involved, I’d still be staring at that pocket watch into the early hours of the morning. Plus, I overanalyze every word to the point I collapse onto the couch in despair. Ironically I always thought I’d make a great detective. Maybe I’m more cut out for the sitting in my car on the street with a camera, reading my book until a bedroom light turns on kinda gig.
It was a nice long slow weekend for us. We went for a walk at crystal bridges and ate downtown. We set up our badminton net (yes – I kept it mom!) and Ruth really got into it. Annie tried to hit it once, missed, threw her racket down in frustration, and stormed inside. She later came out after drawing about it.
They all three played in the pool and we fed them their burritos in there as well, just so we didn’t have to deal with drying them off.
They ran around catching fireflies after dark and then Ryan held Gertie as he chased them through the house.
And to give you a taste of what motivates Gertie to side step…. apparently it’s witch laughter. (And books).
I always compliment Ryan on not allowing Gertie to become sensitive to loud noises. He and the girls do a stellar job at it. Stellar.
One day I’ll write more story-like posts again, but that’s not today.
It’s already been a week two weeks since Ruthie’s 3rd birthday and I can tell she’s already growing up. When I tell her the show is over and time to go to bed: “Mommy you have GOT to listen to me. There was still some show left. You’re just not listening to me.” Or justifying her poo-poo jokes by saying “You don’t think it’s funny, but I do.” Well, dang. How can I argue with that?! But then there are moments like tonight in our (non-existant) garden where she digs a hole, runs to bring water in the watering can, and pours it over her hole. I ask what she’s growing…. “A fairy god-mother.” I simultaneously go awwwww and then say Yeah, good luck with that one. The deer will eat her before you get a Bibbidy-Bobbidy.
Anyway, back to her birthday. I had what I was calling a glorified play date with her friends… because it’s time she learns, if she hasn’t already (we all remember the Mary Poppins shenanigans), that her mom is not creative in a crafty way. In my head I’m creative, it’s just hard to connect that thought to my fingers. My email to the moms started off with a goonies reference, which then spurred a mom to post a still from the movie.
Yep, I’m going for it. When was the last time kids played pin the tail on anything? I’m bringing it back!
I went to Staples and bought their $3 engineer print of that pic, and that night Ryan and I started coloring it. After watching him use 4 different colors to create a skin tone, I grabbed the dang peach pencil and went to town. Seriously. It’s 3 year olds, Ryan.
I decorated the backyard which to me means moving chairs around and plopping her easle nearby. Done. Here it is kids… don’t be scared.
Oh, hold up. I did do a pinterest activity. Fishing poles with magnets to catch fish with paperclips. Yeah, I think only one fish was caught, and that’s because the magnet was already attached. Whatever, I tried.
It was pretty low key. We sang to Ruthie immediately, during which she looked at me to sit next to her. I was just happy she stayed there and didn’t cry. She’s been regressing a little into a shyer version of her once outgoing self. But I get it. I’m one way with a group, and another one-on-one. I’ll sit next to ya, girl, don’t worry.
Then we just played and talked. Some of the boys were throwing pinecones on top of our detached garage/shed roof… when our mower-guy came that afternoon, he found a copperhead in that same area. I spent the rest of the night imagining everything that could’ve happened. I guess that’s where my creativeness comes into play: Imagining the worst of every situation until I can’t sleep at night. Stay away spider if you value your life. Annie was going nuts, so I asked Mandy to head up the baby ruth game. I really think it was a hit!
One mom commented on the bottles I used for the lemonade and asked if I made my own wine. Why, yes I do! Okay once I did (of dandelion wine) and have never since, but still. And randomly I had one tiny bottle in our fridge that we’ve lugged around for over 4 years. Why? I have no idea… it became sort of like a pet. So I broke it out for a quick taste test to which we all agreed that one tasting was plenting. I swear, don’t light matches next to that stuff, it’ll you’ll scorch your date. Out the rest was poured on the other dandelions in the yard. This is for my homie….
A few days prior we visted my brother’s house where Ruthie and Annie ate about 3 tons of grapes just because they could and because I wanted them to be quiet so the adults could talk. Think of all the crappy wine I could’ve made with those grapes.
We also had a family over that we hadn’t seen in about a year. They were in our birthing classes while I was pregnant with Ruthie, so it was fitting to see them so soon to her birth-day. This mama has 5 kids, homeschools, and still wears make-up. It all intrigues me. Ruthie was in heaven chasing her kids everywhere and making pinecone creations with them. Sometimes Ruthie pulls away shyly, and other times she is instantly someone’s shadow. Annie is the same way and they both just took to these kids so quickly. The parents talked until 10:30 (!!!) and it wasn’t until the last ten minutes when the kids started getting restless and over-tired.
So fun. When I see all her kids running around it makes me want to have a gaggle of my own. Ryan would at least like to try.
Woah. These introverts had two weekends in a row where (don’t say it too loudly) people stayed over. I guess we’re only semi-introverts, because we sure do love company.
First up was my sister. She arrived Valentines day, just in time for me to receive a chocolate-covered strawberry delivery from Ryan. It was sweet. I think it was a groupon too. He remembers, when we were dating, me saying, $5 LIMIT! Looking back, I should’ve milked that holiday.
In walked Amy and Wiley. Ruth loves dogs.. and took advantage of following Wiley around whenever she could. And both nights Wiley would lay under the table to hide from her.
That night we celebrated Amy and Des’ birthday. February is the gauntlet of birthdays in our family. Every day from Feb 11 to Feb 15 a birthday is had. Apparently May 7 to May 11 is a happening time between lovebirds.
I can see that. The birds are chirping, the breezes are blowing, the kids are still in school for a couple more weeks so let’s get it on before our energy is zapped all summer, yeah… I see the romance.
Anyway, we had the birthday girls over and celebrated with a sundae bar, complete with a bucket of ice cream and a candelabra.
If you haven’t heard (you must be living in a cave if you haven’t), this is my year for surviving. I was just happy candles were anywhere in the vicinity. I’m scared that Ryan may just get a Bic lighter stuck in a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats for his birthday coming up. I’ve only got three more months to use the Surviving excuse, so might as well get the most out of it.
Candles were blown, ice cream was eaten, and talks of the world;s end commenced. I had just gotten to a peaceful mental place not 2 weeks ago about that stuff. And then they started talking and now I’m trying to widdle every piece of stone I see into an arrowhead so I can “protect my babes.”
At some point we went to sleep and woke up to a cold, frigid day.
Ruthie wouldn’t eat her eggs. It was a stand off and mama always wins.
Ryan wouldn’t do a dare and eat some of Wiley’s buffalo jerky, so he was made to do three cartwheels in the front yard. The mailman didn’t even acknowledge him.
Snow was still on the ground, so we made a mini snowman.
And Ruthie felt compelled to eat the carrot nose. I was happy she was eating veggies.
After spending a bit of time outside, we laid around and watched movies, one of which was Watcher in the Woods. If you haven’t watched this gem of a thriller, please go do so now. I’ll wait for you.
Done? I know, wasn’t the main girl so annoying? Anywho…
We literally sat and relaxed until Amy left the next morning. It was a rare (and welcomed!) experience for me, but I needed that rest for the energy that was about to come the following day:
My sister Lisa and her two daughters!
There was a three minute window before toys were played with and coloring began. You know I loved it.
I cut up some oranges for them, but Ruthie hoarded them like it was her job.That night we had a very breathy game of “kicking and hitting a balloon in the air without letting it touch the ground.” Welcome to Arkansas, kids, this is your entertainment. It consisted of me and Lisa sitting our lazy bottoms on the couch while the little ‘uns ran around hitting the balloons to us. I pulled a muscle reaching my toe out to keep one from touching the ground. It was pathetic.
It’s my year of surviving. Next year I’ll dive for that sucker.Then we asked Uncle Ryan to read a story.
He pulled many accents out of his arsenal for his captive audience.
Then Elayna read a book and tried her hand at accents.This was the result:Before we went to bed, the girls asked if we could go bowling the next day. I said yes immediately, but then laid in bed wondering how I was going to survive. (It’s all about me this year.) My mind flipped through its mental pinterest and woke up with a suggestion.
Could we make our own bowling alley? It would be top-notch.
I braced myself for looks of disappointment, groans, and maybe an eye-roll, because I was sure they’d read my Mary Poppins crafts post, but apparently they don’t read my blog because they were both so excited! It made my heart happy.
We ate breakfast, cleaned up, and got to it.
Lisa and Kate were in charge of coloring the water bottle pins. Elayna tackled the scoreboard and Ruthie.. I don’t know what Ruth was doing. Just do something and don’t whine. Please!
After an hour or so of prep work, we were ready to go outside under our carport area. The part of the house that I was actually super excited about when we first viewed the home.
Welcome to Boom Bowling Alley!
Bowling on a sunny day? Yes, please. Ruthie whined only a little. Nothing a bag of popcorn couldn’t help stop. She robbed the concession stand even though we were all given fake money. Whatever.I was able to not wear make-up and nurse at ease.
Afterwards we ran around, played soccer, and got dirty. It was my favorite kind of day.
The neighbor boy who is Elayna’s age came over to throw a Frisbee and I’ve never seen Elayna run so quickly before. Inside she went, stating that she really just wanted to “finish this page/chapter/series and can’t come back out.” Ah, the flutters of nervousness around boys. Maybe next time.
Ruthie was all sorts of flutters around Lisa’s nail polish. Immediately when she saw them, she said, “I like your nails!” Lisa thanked her and then off Ruthie went to the other room where it became quiet. That’s never a good sign so I checked in on her.
Just wanted to be like her auntie. Can’t blame her.
Ruthie could have slept next to her cousin every night if I let her. And when they had to leave, she pulled out her makeshift violin (out of two sticks) and played a farewell tune.
That tune only had to last a few days though, because we invited a family over that following weekend for dinner. Somewhere along the line, dinner turned into a sleepover. They have six kids and if I were barely surviving with just two, I can’t imagine with six. So instead of making them come over and immediately pack the crew up a few hours later, I suggested they crash so the parents could have alone time longer.
Which ended up being 2:30am and in Carolyn time that was like pulling an all nighter. Whew!
But I was strangely perky the next day even without coffee, because it was the most beautiful day outside, ever. Mid-February and I rocked a tank top and my skin got pink.
More girls = more people for Ruthie to stalk. They dove into the dress up box and came out looking awesome.
And why shouldn’t they have? We had a picnic to get to people! Their dad broke out (our) guitar (that still hasn’t been played by Ryan, ahem) and sang songs for hours while we drank a beer in the sun. Probably the best combo on earth.I heard snapping in a Z-formation behind me and turned around to see Ruth making her entrance. Work it, girl.Magicians arrived pulling The Never-Ending Scarf out of the Hat trick. Afterwards we tried to strike it rich, but only came up with random pieces of metal.As we were lounging inside, something caught my eye and I ran to the window.
Forts were in the process of being made, supported by sticks and designed around areas of clover “to keep it comfortable.”
But the kicker was the book laying on the ground.
The Little Prince!
You have got to be kidding me. Does anyone remember when I wrote a whole post on that darn book? Of course you don’t, so let me link it here: The Little Prince post.
Sigh. When I picture Ruthie playing outside by herself, it’s like this. A random book tossed to the side while she climbs a tree wrapped in blankets. You had better be taking notes, young missy.
The family stayed for dinner the next night and then had to leave.
Ruthie never saw them go.
She was out.
But good thing she got some sleep because more visitors came the next afternoon! Jesyka and David! And even more music was played for us. I love these two!
And just because I want to brag on him, David is part of a bluegrassy band called Sons of Otis Malone. You can’t not feel good while listening to them. I dare ya to feel bad:
See? Ya can’t.
All of these caring, funny, talented, and interesting people in our life and we so love having each of them in it.
It’s nice to have a mother-in-law that’s also a preschool teacher. She brings you things that either she’s made or photocopied from her curriculum. I’ve yelled at her to follow her dream to retire and make literacy-based curriculum, she’s so creative! It also makes me feel good to know she thinks reading is one of the best ways to teach, since I fall back on books any chance I can. Mostly for the snuggles, though.
So when things spiral to the point that Ruth spends her evenings slaving away on the computer:
I break out the homemade toys from Jama.
First up is the Feely Cup Thingamaroo. It’s just a plastic cup with a sock around it, filled with various things… soft, hard, round, square, etc. Ruth isn’t to the point where I can ask her to pick out the soft ball, so we just discuss whatever comes out. And then it’s my turn to be creative…Uh, yeah. How about I just dump a bunch of colored gem stone thingies on a tray and let you scoop them up. Ta da!!!I don’t know what it taught her besides the fact that Walmart sells some hard to maneuver shovels, but this did also kill the time it took for Ryan to cook dinner.
Now back to Jama’s.
Her eye-spy game is still a hit. Ruth pulls it out every so often and goes back to find the camera.
Now back to my mine.
What? Colored gem stone things again? This time in WATER?
Ruth never saw that twist coming.
Neither did I, actually. In fact, I couldn’t see much of anything with this big ole belly in the way.So we go back to Jama’s creations where she actually learns something. You may remember her little flannelgram dress-up doll from a while back. Well, a Pete The Cat has been made as well. Mamas – go buy these books, they crack me up!
One book is all about his buttons, so she included some buttons to place on the cat.
I think Ruthie thought she was bedazzeling his shirt, which I fully approved of.
And of course Jama didn’t leave out his belly button, only the climax of the entire story!
The second book was about his shoes, so several pairs were included as well. Apparently we’re still trying to work out where shoes go on the body.
And I’ve been trying to get Ruthie to recognize numbers out of order, by asking her to place buttons on them randomly. It’s a hit or miss. I probably asked her to put this button on 3. She was more concerned with touching her nipple, I think. And of course, nipple is one of the words that comes out of her mouth perfectly. Lovely.
Anyway, don’t you think Jama should retire and follow this passion? I do. Or at least set up a blog and help us come up with ideas.
Have you ever seen The Red Balloon? It’s a silent French short film following a boy and his, well, red balloon. So sweet. Here’s a clip:
So when I asked Ruth to pull out a book to read, this is the one she chose. And guess what caught her eye. BUE. BAWOON. She can’t say her L’s yet and ends each word like there’s a period and pause. BUE (end of sentence) BAWOON.
So I went into my trusty hanging shoe holder thing inside the closet where I keep some crafts for her and scrummaged around for a balloon.
Here are some her some stills from her own sweet short film. If only we had some french in us. Well, I kinda was, you know. I remember my first midwife, while carrying Ruthie, said something to the effect of… Didn’t you know that the average weight gain for a woman in France is 50 lbs?
I was sooo french, people.
Anyway, onto Ruth’s mini photoshoot with her own friendly balloon.
I really was going for an artsy blurry look.
Go out and find a balloon, everyone! They bring so much joy.
I finally stopped researching, daydreaming, and talking about doing certain activities with Ruth and am starting to jump right in. I read a blog called 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1. She homeschools her three children but one of them is still a toddler, so she does ‘Tot School‘. It basically is just playing with your kid like you normally do, but being intentional on learning certain things: colors, shapes, how to not pick your nose. She tries to make it last an hour, but sometimes they aren’t having it. Ruth lasted five minutes the first day on circles and then wanted to run around with her vacuum. I don’t care if she never learns circles as long as she learns to help me clean.
After inundating her with every circle toy I could find and watching circle songs sung by Miss Tracy on youtube (Ryan’s preschool-teaching mom uses Miss Tracy for her own class), we walked around the house looking for others: the clock, the stove burners, a certain part of the female anatomy because she still wants to comfort nurse. Whatever, I’ll take what I can get.
And then I tried out our new DIY Light Box. I wish I could afford a real one, but that’s out of the question right now. This was discovered on the Play At Home Mom blog. These ladies really make me feel like a slacker, but man do they have good ideas.
So I finally made one.
And brought out a bag of clearance christmas items to use on it. God knows I tried in vain to talk circles to death on day two of Tot School, but Ruth was more interested in tearing up the gel pieces.
So I scoured Craigslist and found a teacher selling translucent manipulatives for projectors. They apparently don’t use projectors anymore in the classroom and she just wanted to get rid of them. It was crammed full of stuff: tangrams, money, clocks, as well as grammar manipulatives. She also threw in some literacy sheets for free.
We met at church after our Wed night bible study and literally 5 minutes before had studied the verses on Jesus throwing out all the people buying and selling wares in the temple. Then I walked right out the doors and exchanged cash for my new items.
Day 3 of Tot School and out came the tangrams.
I had decided that by day three we should really be starting on circles AND squares. This is literally how psycho I get. What timeline am I looking at? Is there a quiz at the end of the week? Will Ruth not get into college if she doesn’t know circles and squares by day three?
She went for the circle and as I started my schpeal on squares…
climbed aboard to distract me.
But I continued…
until she finally begged me in words (and not so many words) to stop.
We’re back to learning just about circles and in week two, people. You should be proud of me.
We’re sick of circles, but when her dad comes home, luckily she doesn’t have to be constantly pointing them out. Because he actually does interesting things.
Like making up a story about a duck being chased a snake being chased by a charging purple giraffe.
You know, fun stuff.
I’m sure there’s a circle in there somewhere. I’ll find it Ruth, don’t worry.
I love me a full day. Granted, ‘full’ could be also construed as watching a Survivor marathon 8 hours straight, so please feel free to define it any way you’d like.
But today I felt productive: both in chores and quality time.
Everyday we officially wake up to this little lady staring at us. I say officially because it’s only the last couple of hours that she’s in bed with us. Yes, I’m still breastfeeding. And yes, I have moments where I want to chop off my breast Amazon woman-style just to be done with it, but most other times I enjoy holding this growing girl in my arms.
So when she wakes up at 5:30 for her early morning feeding, I stumble back into bed with her and we sleep for a couple more hours, if we’re lucky. She wakes up, yells at both of us mamamamamadadadadada, then Boo (minus the K), and I reach down for a couple books for her to read as we close our eyes a little while longer.
Some days we have energy, others we don’t.
This day we did, so Ryan fixed us his homemade sausage, cheese, and egg mcmuffins. Protein points for this pregnant lady. I literally could eat those all day long, but controlled myself and managed to squeeze a day’s worth into a morning meal. I took over breakfast duty to let Ryan and Ruth watch Saturday morning cartoons, which consisted of (what else?) He-Man & She-Ra the movie.
Ruth just wanted to read. That’s all she wants to do now. She’ll pick a book from the shelf, hand it to you, then scoot backwards into your lap. No matter what I’m doing, I stop to read to her because if there’s one activity I want her to enjoy, it’s reading. No batteries, no electricity, no controllers needed. Just you, the printed page, and preferably something to eat. My mom remembers holing up eating buttered popcorn with a book in hand when she was younger. It will take me less than a nano second to continue that tradition. Because, really, the only qualification needed for a family tradition is buttered popcorn.
So while Ruthie read by the sunshine, I hung out laundry in the sunshine.
To be able to still hang out clothes in mid-November is wonderful.
I had vintage laundry cart that I’d wheel up and down the line. It looked like this:
But the cloth was coming apart and it was hard to transfer clothes easily from the dryer, across the living room, to the vintage hamper. So I’d have to use a regular platic hamper to make the transition. One thing I hate is having several different things that do the same job. So after searching online, I found this guy:
I want it if only to have an excuse to wear a jean on jean ensemble. Whomever has me as a secret santa, this is available for just $40 more than our max budget of ten bucks. Go ahead, splurge.
After I got a little sun on my face, I plopped chicken into the crockpot to cook for the day.
After it’s done, I use the bones and fat along with left over vegetables to make broth overnight. After straining it Sunday morning, I was able to get 10 cups out of the deal. Two birds, one stone. Lovely.
After a morning nap, the family drove to The Dollar Store because we were on a mission. I wanted to start a family tradition each Thanksgiving of volunteering, but Ruth is not old enough to scoop soup out without a baby spoon. And I can’t imagine the agony of being hungry only to have your food ladled 1 teaspoon at a time.
I thought we could do something else in the meantime. We chose to participate in Operation Christmas Child. You fill up a “shoebox” with toys, sanitary items, etc, attach a label with the age and sex of who you are buying for, and drop it off at various locations. The label also has a bar code that the company scans so you can track where your package is going.
Since there were three of us, we had three shoeboxes, one for each of our sexes and for the age range closest to us. 1 male: 10-14 years, 1 female: 10-14 years, and 1 female: 2-4 years.
Ruthie was a blur of excitement as we shopped for her girl.
I had absolutely no idea what to buy the boy. Ryan said, “Don’t worry, I got this.” And promptly came back with an armful of boy games. I nixed the snot rockets, but everything else was solid. Even though Ryan would be a perfect dad for girls, I still hope he gets a little boy someday. He would be so excited to build and destroy with a mini-him.
Ruthie, in the meantime, really only wants a green apple and she’s happy. Not quite into destruction… unless it involves spaghetti.
I’ll give you three seconds to spot my belly button. Go.
We arrived home after buying a ton of items only to have it total to much less than expected. Gotta love the dollar store. And gotta not love walking in and seeing that you never plugged in the crock pot. Ah, the trials of a homemaker.
It almost ruined my day. Almost.
But luckily we headed to the park and that always perks me up.
Ruthie thinks she’s a big girl playing on the slide by herself. Don’t you dare try to help her either. And Lord help us if another kid shows up, because then Little Miss Show Off comes out to play. A boy joined her in the playhouse and she at first stood there, repeating ‘Hi’ a thousand times. He didn’t notice. So as he hesitated at the slide entrance, she got a determined look on her face, basically pushed him out of the way, and slid down.
Do you like how we never take her out of her pj’s? I mean, if we’re all in pj’s then we’re just a really cute mitchy-matchy family, right?
Besides, after our park jaunt, we went home and immediately all took a nap. So basically we’re just super prepared.
When we woke up, dinner was made and kombucha was drunk. By Ryan, at least. It’s not advised to start drinking kombucha regularly if you’re pregnant. It’s really good for your digestive system, but it detoxes your body, so you don’t want the detox to think the foreign entity trying to grow in your uterus is not supposed to be there. If you’d already been drinking it regularly, I guess I’ve read it’s safe.
And since Ryan’s stomach was troubling him the past couple weeks, what better timing to force him to start!
I mean, look at this!! Doesn’t it look yummy???
Mmmmmmmm, pulling out the mother. Tasty!
You don’t eat the mother. Save it for your next batch. With each batch a new mother is grown. You can see in the first picture there are several mothers floating at the bottom. Pretty appetizing.
But for how much they’re going for in health food stores, it’s nice to see I can get a good batch out of only 4 bags of tea, water, and sugar. Amazing.
So after Ryan choked it down (although he did say it tasted like apple juice), we played with Ruthie, hiding Cookie Monster in various places for her to find.
Thankfully she’s a serious child. And finding cookie monster and pulling off his head was serious business indeed.
The day felt long, like mid-summer-it’ll-never-go-dark day. And we needed that, big time.
Hunkering down before the holiday storm. And I couldn’t ask for a better pair to spend it with.
It’s been a busy couple weeks, but let me catch you up in one area:
My sister and her family’s visit to The Shack. It was their kids’ Spring Break and the rest of the kids in their classes were off to beaches or other exotic places. I wish I were a fly on the wall when E told her classmates that she traipsed across the midwest to stay at a mobile home in Arkansas.
She’s still too young to leave out specific details like that.
So, what to do?
How about a picnic? The weather in early March was beautiful.
I threw some blankets and pillows down, set up an unused door as the table, and then got to work…
…but not without helpers.
The menu was extremely fancy: Peanut Butter & Nutella sandwiches, apples, popcorn, and trail mix.
Pretty sure E’s friends were eating the same delicacies.
Well, we tried though, making them special by wrapping them in wax paper & ribbon.
Others were relaxing while we put on the finishing touches.
The table was set.
Entertainment in the form of poetry was performed.
But that’s not all we did, even though I would’ve been happy with laying around in the sun.
The night they arrived, I mentioned to the kids that I had an activity for them to do. They immediately decided we were going to milk a cow.
And I immediately decided to never let a kid guess what we’re going to do again. I suggested they lower their standards a teeny bit and guess again, but they were determined to milk that cow.
So I waited until the last possible second to tell them we were only going on a mini-scavenger hunt around The Shack’s back roads.
Before doing so, I pulled ten year old W to the side and assured him that I knew this was too young of a game for him, but to just play along.
Actually, R asked me to do that.
He said that W would appreciate the nod towards his emerging maturity, even if it were something he would have liked anyway. And heck if I know what a young boy likes, so I followed R’s instructions to a T.
Halfway through the hunt, we stopped to take photos with our neighbors. They’re the only neighbors that wave at us. Usually it’s just to flick flies away with their tail, but we’ll take what we can get.
After the hunt, newspapers were read…
…the adults stayed up late around the chiminea after the kids went to bed, chit-chatted over a couple bottles of wine, and laughed at past dates gone wrong. I could share the story of my sister getting her legs hooked into a bar stool and falling over in the middle of one, but I don’t want to embarrass her.
It did make me double over and cry, though.
Then Woody Allen was read some stories.
Wait, that’s Ruth.
Oh well, I do like his movies even though he’s weird.
…and even more lounging was done before they left. It was quick trip and went by even quicker once they arrived. But it was a lot of fun. I do enjoy a slumber party.
And I highly doubt any of E’s friends discussed how cow chips were used on the Oregon trail.
But that’s okay. I’m proud of those cow chips.
And regular chips too.
Now I’m hungry and about to make my own scavenger hunt… in the fridge for food.
First off, everyone needs to wear deoderant. No ifs, ands, or buts, because this space is tight.
But it worked.
Secondly, just order pizza and be done with it. Don’t try to get fancy with hand-rolled sushi this time around. You’ll end up deciding to make and eat a wasabi bomb and hope that it explodes so you don’t have to finish rolling one more roll.
Deoderant, check. Pizza, check. Here’s the calm before the storm.
And here’s the storm. The fun storm, the funny storm, the comfortable-I-feel-like-we’ve-known-these-couples-for-a-long-time storm.
Before leaving the reunion we suggested that we have a game night. So the Shack was offered up as the first meeting point and accepted.
They arrived on a rainy cold night and we ushered them in to park their car seats. 5 babies, under 5 months.
A couple that was unable to make it to the reunion came as well. Little did we know that all the stars were aligned for them to possibly not make it to game night: a baby that strongly dislikes being in her car seat, not knowing how to get to our place, and no internet connection to figure out how to get to our place.
As luck would have it, they walked out of a coffee shop and saw our midwife across the street who gave them directions.
Yay! Here they are. I wish I had their baby girl’s hair:
And here’s the rest of the crew. Cozying up in our single-wide. You see that baby at 10 o’clock.
He weighs over 20 lbs. Guess how old he is.
3 flipping months.
That’s the mama that had him in 90 minutes in her living room. From first contraction to out-comes-baby. Let’s all take a moment of silence.
Another tidbit for housing a bigger group than normal? Open up every nook and cranny for use. With having 5 babies in the place, it really didn’t feel chaotic. Some people went into the guest room to nurse, others laid their baby in our room to nap. It seemed to work out.
Sweet little S. He and Ruth napped together in her room. Gone are the days (already!) that we can lay little miss rolly-poly on the middle of the bed. What a difference a few months makes.
In between nursings and naps, we did manage to play a game.
Catchphrase – Girls vs Boys
Which I still think was uneven because none of us women can remember our last name, let alone guess Pad Thai in 5 seconds. At one point, one mama stopped talking in the middle of a conversation. Two minutes later I asked, What were we just talking about?
I don’t know, she said. Literally, only 2 minutes had elapsed. It’s nice to be around others that understand.
So, even though we were at a disadvantage, and even though we lost….
…it was still a blast.
Look at little C in the green shirt.
He reminds me of a older man, shrunk down in size.
We’ve already agreed on the next location for game night. One of the mamas said she had asked our midwife if any other class kept in touch afterwards, and was disappointed to find out that yes, some other classes have. I’ll ask her again in 5 years, she said.
I hope we’ll still be playing games 5 years from now. Maybe by then I’ll be able to remember my name.
We will do anything to get a reaction out of her. It usually results in a quizzical and confused upward turn of her eyebrows, but occasionally, we do get that one big smile that makes up for feeling us feeling stupid the rest of the time.
Grandma, doing a dance.
Grandpa, blowing raspberries on her cheek.
She made us laugh so hard. Even before he touched her neck, she made a face.
I think she was pleading with Grandma here to intervene.
But Grandma was too busy laughing. So Ruthie gripped Grandpa’s shoulder and hung on until he was finished.
Or like on Groundhog’s day… R used Pilar the Gloworm as the makeshift groundhog and reenacted the event since Ruthie wasn’t able to attend.
Here she comes, ladies and gentlemen! Everybody’s favorite Gloworm – Pilar! She’s taking her time emerging from her bed…
[Ruth was not impressed at this point]
[Until she saw that Pilar was talking to her daddy.]
Everyone, shhhh.. Pilar is trying to tell me if she saw her shadow or not. Pilar said, “I definitely see a shadow.”
And she made her exit with a whistled goodbye song.
It’s fun having a captive audience.
I am so very lucky to be able to stay at home. It’s been a hard and easy adjustment at the same time. Hard in that I am now responsible for someone at all times, someone who has not yet got my sense of humor and, I’m assuming, is saving all of her laughs for one big explosive guffaw. And easy in that I have the time to make the adjustment. If today doesn’t go smoothly, tomorrow is right around the corner to try again.
But one aspect I’m especially enjoying is the flexibility. For instance, while R went on a business trip for 5 days, I visited my parents who live 4 hours away. Those times to connect are priceless for both me and Ruthie.
We started the week relaxing by the fire. I don’t really call that pose relaxing, but whatever floats your boat Ruth. One of us should at least have abs. And it sure ain’t gonna be me.
My sister came over later in the evening for a game of Scrabble. I used to hate that game, but now it’s one of our staples at mom and dad’s. Ruth did her obligatory “lunge and attack” welcome.
The next day aunts, uncles, and cousins came over to play Family Feud, eat pizza, and chit-chat. My favorite part of the day, actually, was us all cramming into the kitchen to talk. Ruthie met up with her third cousin, K. I’m so happy to have another little one around Ruth’s age.
Now I understand how my oldest sister felt, wanting her kids to grow up with cousins. Her youngest is about 4 years older than Ruth, which is no big deal when you’re out dancing in your mid-twenties… but right now the gap is extraordinary. At one point a few years ago, her husband tried to bribe us into having a kid so they would have others to play with.
The statute of limitations has apparently expired because he never paid up.
Look at those blue eyes! Just like her mama…
Snuggling with her oldest cousin, W. Poor W. He really needs some boy cousins. R wasn’t here to steal him away for a game of football unfortunately.
Before Family Feud began, we watched little K turn into a blur as she ran around the living room. Ruth studied her very intently. I was studying my mom’s white socks. She’s the President of Michael Jackson’s Over-55 Fan Club and takes the white socks/black shoes very seriously. It’s cute.
Then we plopped down into teams for Family Feud. Mom was the moderator. Well co-moderator. Her socks were also hosting.
See that empty seat? Yeah, there’s always an empty seat somewhere in my photos. Wanna know why? Because I’m always taking the photos. It kind of bites, actually.
So I asked my sister to take one of me.
And I used it as an excuse to see if there was anything up my nose.
Throughout the game, my mom made Ding Ding Ding and Buzz noises to indicate if our answer was correct. At one point, we were concerned that we’d have to call 911. She would say DingDingDinalupoding or Bivffff. And you could tell she was really trying to say the right thing. My future flashed before my eyes and I reassured her that they still had a spot in The Shack if need be.
D stepped in with the answer, thanks to his iPhone. If he hadn’t, we’d still be sitting there watching her try to get the right word out.
A family photo with Unc and K was simply not having it. Ruth avoided eye-contact so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed.
A couple other things happened over my trip which I’ll talk about later.
But first, check out the flea market where Ruth decided to have a blow out on our way home to Arkansas. Awe. Some. Ruth hadn’t gone boo snake (anyone else heard that phrase? My grandma would say it) for 5 days and when does she let loose? 90 minutes into our car ride. I even called it beforehand, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
After our walkthrough and clean up, we stopped for gas and, while there, saw someone who needed a Blessing Bag. Remember those that we made? I gave away two on this trip alone. It was great.
I sure did enjoy my time and am so thankful to have had it.
We had a whirlwind weekend, with family visiting, reunions to attend, and alma maters losing. I was worn out come Sunday night. But it really doesn’t take much to wear me out anymore. Just getting the mail is cause for a 2 hour nap. And don’t get me started about using the letter opener. Whew!
I did manage to squeeze in a game of scrabble with the parents, though. The weather was beautiful, so we opened up the windows and sipped on coffee. It felt like springtime and after years of denying it, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I am a Spring lover. More energy, more spunk, more liveliness. Can’t get enough.
I think they rigged the letters so that I’d come out with S N O B. Maybe I should quit teasing them about seeing my life flash before my eyes when they forget this or can’t remember that. Naw, I’ve convinced myself it keeps them young. They probably didn’t slip in O B O E, though, because they knew I’d subject them to a rendition of one of my favorite movie lines in Amadeus: And then high above, an oboe… or something like that, I can’t remember. Go rent it, now.
But don’t watch it with me, I’m warning ya.
I’m the mob boss of movies-that-i’ve-already-seen watching. If you so much as glance at the popcorn bowl and not look at the screen, you best be ready for the array of verbal bullets shot at you. Are you watching? Why aren’t you watching? You’re not watching. You need to see this part for the next part! Fine, hurry and take a sip of your coke, but your eyes better be glued to the screen, so help me.
I’m not proud of it, but can literally not stop myself. My mom likes to remind me of the time when we all watched Inception over Christmas last year. No one understood what was going on, but were afraid to turn to look at me and ask any questions for fear of my wrath. Then, when the movie was over, they did turn around to say something to me and saw I had left the room at some point during the film to go to bed. So the whole movie was them spending inordinate amounts of energy sitting still, facing the screen, and not uttering a sound.
Let’s see… what else did we do. Oh, I know.
We stared at Ruthie’s Chubby McChubberson’s legs.
She knew I was putting her on display for this photo. Lucky for her a circus performer hasn’t travelled through asking for her to join, because I think I could make some big bucks off of those rolls.
Come right up and see the newest attraction ~ The Thigh-Baby! This baby is literally turning into a thigh, folks… Watch the rolls take over her body in front of your very eyes!
Dolla Dolla Bills, yo.
Alrighty, what else. We did a two-stop extravaganza to watch KSU lose to UofA in the Cotton Bowl. Sigh. We do love our Wildcats. First, we popped into R’s brother’s place “Uncle Favorite”, as he calls himself, and listened to Ruth scream bloody murder for 45 minutes. She must have already seen this football game and was mad that I had gone to the bathroom in the middle of it. Just like her mama, I’m so proud.
We quickly bundled her up, stuck a pacifier in her mouth, and drove to my brother’s house. Remember the weather? Yeah, it was taken advantage of as we sat around a fire watching the game outside. I ran into the backyard and stopped short because, I don’t know if M noticed or not, but there was a homeless person that sat down to warm himself. That guy on the right, see him? I guess he wasn’t hungry, just needed a place to watch the game, so I went back inside.
But he followed me! I was about to run to the car for one of the Blessing Bags when I realized it was just my dad… in about every random piece of winter clothing he could find. I must get my style sense from him. Thanks, man.
All in all, a good solid weekend.
We did one more thing over the weekend that excited to talk about… a reunion of blossoming friendships. And blossoming babies. Too fun.
It was my family’s turn for Thanksgiving. R and I switch on and off for the big holidays. This year it is Thanksgiving with my side, Christmas with his and next year it will switch. We stole that idea from my sister, have jumped on their schedule, and have so far really liked it. No wondering about hurt feelings for missing a get together or trying to squeeze road trips to see everyone for everything. It has been a relaxing ride for sure. And it’s also nice that neither of our parents are so controlling that they throw a fit on our “off” years too. What a headache that would make. Thank you guys!
Speaking of thanks, was Thanksgiving not on the most spectacular gorgeous day of the year? We had the windows open during our meal and went outside for most of the afternoon. Perfect.
This is the one shot I took of us during the meal. The other opportunities came while I was shoving mashed potatoes in my mouth. Let’s not sugar coat this, it was a scary sight… as if I had morphed into T-Rex with a big mouth and short arms. And considering that my arms couldn’t reach from the table, around the corner, and into the kitchen to spoon out some more gravy, then yes, they were definitely too short.
After I rolled around for a few hours on the couch, clutching my now too taught stomach, we decided to go outside and enjoy the beautiful day…
…with a game of dodge ball. No one was spared.
Not even grandma. Her darling grandson wound his arm up….
and launched it at her.
We don’t discriminate, you have to give us that. I don’t care if you’ve just left after an extended trip to Shangri-La, you best get your agility on. (Did anyone get that reference? Lost Horizon is the first full book I’ve read since Ruthie joined me. It was an accomplishment.)
I felt like a kid again, playing dodgeball. In third grade, it was a daily staple, except we used soccer balls. So if you couldn’t dodge, you were in a world of hurt. The air was crisp and I lost track of time.
That is, until I heard a tap tap tapping on the window above. My mom was standing there holding Ruthie who had just gotten up from a nap.
Sigh. Okay, I can learn to have fun from this vantage point too.
PS. Things are slowly (and quickly) changing with little Ruthie. She is taking consistent naps throughout the day and I am feeling more and more like a normal human being… To the point that I am missing that chubby little face at my side all the time. I personally think she’s figured out this is how I can give her more kisses…because the first thing I do when she wakes up is smother her in them.
I had a really nice birthday. Even little Ruth slept well the night before. Wait, no, I take that back. No she didn’t.
I remember thinking, “Happy Birthday to me” at 3am and wondering if little miss fussiness would settle down so I could get some sleep. Those days are gone.. not the staying up late apparently, but definitely the crashing until lunch.
It was a hard night.
But around 7:30, I stumbled into the living room to lay on the couch for any zzz’s I could get and realized that R was fixing me breakfast. He had only a few minutes before going to work, so I grappled for some toothpicks to keep my eyelids open and shuffled to the table.
This is R’s dream breakfast. No color. I grabbed my nearest fake plant, blew off the dust, and took a shot. I cannot not have color on (or near, at least) my plate.
And then I saw the card that had “Yo necesito un Caroline” on it. This harkens back to my days working in the insurance industry, having file incoming claims. I was on the spanish-speaking queue. Remember when I made a complete and utter fool of myself on that queue with the spanish language, as well as telling my class in college how delicious penis pasta is? No? Read my blog post on it, here.
Well, I joined the company as they were just implementing that group of employees (side note: I accidentally wrote ‘groupo’), meaning there weren’t very many of us. Anyway, I was on a call with a nice older lady and we got disconnected. Later, a co-worker came up and said that he finished the claim, but she kept asking for ‘Caroline’. That she needed Caroline. I was the only Carolyn that spoke spanish there, so he figured it was me.
After telling R this, he starting saying it every now and then. He added ‘un’ which doesn’t really make sense, but I never corrected him because I thought it was cute.
Long story short, the card made me smile.
We made plans to meet up for lunch that afternoon. He originally offered to bring food home, but I reminded him of our pact. Our “we will not be prisoners of Ruth” pact, and decided to go out.
I have to get used to taking her places. I don’t want to be scared or anxious or stressed out. Just go with the flow and take your time, is what I tell myself. So far it’s worked pretty well.
We had a nice lunch and showed her off to his coworkers that were meeting at the local coffee shop. We didn’t stay long, because I needed to get home and clean. We were having company that night!
R , T and their two little ones came over with food (and drinks and plates and utensils and napkins – everything!) in hand.
I was taught how to use the Moby wrap and little S helped me blow out the candles. This wasn’t the last we’d see of his mom, though…
Because she was starring in the local production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors” that following night!
Again, I took a deep breath and said “I am not a prisoner. I am not a prisoner.” Now, this was a tricky decision for us. It’s almost like bringing a baby to the movie theatre (don’t worry, that won’t be us) and I won’t be hauling Ruth to a major production of Hair anytime soon, but I felt like this venture wasn’t going to leave me crying & depleted from disgruntled patron’s dirty looks.
We sat literally right next to the door for a quick exit and I made sure to leave (only twice!) before she started to get fussy. Success was had, my friends.
I did miss the first scene that R was in because Ruth was hungry, but caught the rest. The production was very funny and I was so proud of our little theatre.
Afterwards, Ruthie and I attacked the actors (mostly R) and got our photos with her. Ruth was really impressed as you can tell. She was just trying to act cool, I think. Don’t let this photo lie, though. Literally as soon as we got into the car, the cries started and only stopped after ten minutes of a particular Weezer song on repeat.
Saturday we slept on and off, forgoing the Apple Festival in favor of rest and relaxation. Next year, Ruth. Apples galore.
My brother-in-law and his wife asked us over Saturday night along with another couple to play dominoes. Lots, and I mean lots, of singing was sung, laughing was laughed, and jokes were joked.
A cake was brought out, and let’s all take a moment to see how bright that darn cake was. Seriously, how old am I??
I managed to blow them all out though. I attribute that ability to my labor breathing practice. I knew those 12 hours would come in handy!
Thank you all for a really nice birthday. Hopefully my wish will come true: getting a good night’s sleep.
Packing up the car for a couple nights at Beaver Lake with my siblings and sister’s friend
Making a pit-stop at Tontitown winery to listen to music with R’s friends
Within 2 minutes of meeting, asking one of the girls in the group if she’d take photos of my homebirth. (I couldn’t help it, she made the fatal mistake of showing me photos of her work: Aus10)
Accepting her polite refusal
Spending the next 20 minutes assuring her I’m not a weirdo.
When trying to make a great first impression, telling the group that because of my feminist/ women’s studies days in college, R doesn’t think a boy would survive in my womb. Therefore, he’s almost positive we’re having a girl.
Spending the next 20 minutes assuring everyone I’m not a weirdo nor a man-hater.
When introduced to the singer, who happens to be R’s boss’ brother, squealing like a groupie.
Spending the next 20 minutes assuring everyone I’m not a weirdo, man-hater, nor a groupie.
Leaving the winery and heading to Beaver Lake, singing Weezer songs at the top of our lungs.
Seeing our sweet cabin in the woods.
Thanking my brother and sister-in-law for saving the beds for us, instead of asking us to sleep on the couch.
Sharing the baby drama that no longer is, PTL!
Only getting up once in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Stumbling over everything in my path on the way to said restroom, and waking up everyone in the living room.
Hanging out in the lake on baby inner tubes because that was the only pool item available at Walmart. Wait. I take that back, we did find a small swimming pool that we debated on buying. We were pretty sure a hole in the middle of it would be perfect for this belly.
Getting a red forehead.
Grazing on all the food in the kitchen.
Getting described as “petite” by my sister, and realizing that it has taken me being almost 9 mos pregnant before anyone on the face of this planet has ever called me petite.
Playing spoons and getting out in the first round every time.
Dancing and singing to “I want you to want me”
Getting out of breath within 3 seconds of dancing.
Putting head between my legs so as not to faint.
Repeating this sequence for the duration of the song.
Crashing at 11:30 with sunburnt bodies and more wrinkles.
Using the bathroom only once again during the night.
Waking up the house again due to stumbles.
Early morning & quiet ride to church.
Talking pregnancy with the 3 billion other girls my age that are also due within the year. Do not drink the water, N & A.
Taking a two hour nap in between movies once we got home.
Not even looking at the laundry hamper until today.
Just looked at it, and deciding to forget about it.
From here on out, it will be current or semi-current updates. But this is what we get for me taking a small sabbatical.
Hands down, my favorite part of christmas this year was playing student in Miss E’s class. If this girl doesn’t do something where a crowd of eyes are staring at her, then there’s no hope for any of us. She’s a natural performer.
Setting up shop in front of the fireplace
Reviewing the class rules: 1) Be quiet while teacher is talking. 2) Raise your hand if you have a question. 3) Tell the teacher if you need to use the bathroom. 4) No interruptin’
I thought she added the accent on #4 for my benefit since I’m further south than she is. And when I did in fact interrupt, at least she didn’t try to please the Arkansas in me by saying “Oh C, you’re a mess.” You remember my disdain for that phrase… here.
K had #2 down pat, and R needed a tutor for this subject apparently.
My other favorite parts of the day? Here’s just a few:
Helping prep the food with mom in our aprons.
Gut laughs during our White Elephant party with the cousins, aunts, & uncles.
And last but certainly not least, passing around the sick baby doll and giving him shots in the rear.
This is literally what we do almost every night during the week. Don’t be jealous.
N sits on one couch, I sit on the other… and we watch R try to beat Mike Tyson in Nintendo’s Punch-Out. It has become a very sad event to witness, R coming so close and then getting knocked out every time. He turns into Million Dollar Baby and won’t move until time for bed, he becomes so distraught.
Was that an inappropriate joke?
Anyway, N & I want him to beat Tyson just so he’ll quit obsessing over it and *we* can play some games. Like Dr. Mario or Goal.
You will know when R wins. You’ll be able to hear him he’ll yell so loudly.
And, yes, we’ve finally hung those pictures leaning against the wall. The Shack is coming along.
I’m not feeling very wordy today. So just follow me through the last day on Catalina Island…
But first, the night before. We popped a few more advil and sat in front of the fire to watch the sunset. Later, we would all snuggle our way into the tent to play Taboo for a couple hours. Knowing it was cold outside and us warm and safe in our sleeping bags helped soothe our achy bodies.
But I couldn’t sleep. And neither could my brother.
So we spent most of the night staring at the moon and its reflection on the water, quietly thinking to ourselves. That’s the good thing about M. You don’t need to converse. You can just sit and drown yourself in thought.
Morning came almost too soon.
But, with morning came the sun. And oh how wonderful it felt on our faces.
So, let me take you on the hike back. I want you to imagine a slight breeze, crisp air, and warm sunshine. The ground was dry, but you could feel the moisture on everything green.
We hiked up hills, cut through the Others’ neighborhood, ducked under canopies of trees… All of this with a smile on our faces. We were happy.
We arrived a couple hours later and enjoyed a nice lunch at the restaurant and a game of speed on Tinkerbell playing cards. And no, they weren’t my cards. I had a falling out with Disney while working at an Equity Center in college. It was ugly. R had to endure the brunt of my anger so no one else would.
On the way back, I refused to sit inside. Instead, I wrapped myself up in a sleeping bag and sat on the top deck with eyes closed, just embracing the wind. I could live outdoors.
The next day we intended to hike up to the Hollywood sign, but we didn’t make it very far. Our legs hurt.
This is what happens when I ask the brothers-in-law to “get together”. R just stares at M’s outreached hand.
We had a really good time. M & D were great hosts and you could tell they really wanted us to enjoy ourselves. And we did. Thanks you two!
I hope so. I hope it also got CBS’s attention as well.
Because our small town was having auditions for the Amazing Race last Saturday. I mean, really? This teeny place? So I called my sister, who didn’t have much going on in the next few months, to make a quick roadtrip. She hadn’t seen our dorm room yet, anyway.
A piled up the car and trucked on down. On the way, she got lost, which was extremely appropriate for the occasion.
When she arrived we sat down and filled out the application. Things were going well until we got to this one: What is your biggest pet peeve about your teammate? Now if only the cameras were on during that segment. R sat wide-eyed and silent; trying to not be noticed. Because if he had been, we’d have eaten him alive.
Fine. You’re moody. THERE. Yeah, well you’re flaky. SO DOUBLE THERE.
and after we wrestled and pulled each other’s hair for a bit, everything settled down.
We made it to the casting place, conveniently located at a casino, and stared at our competition.
I mean, couldn’t we at least beat this guy?
And what the heck was I wearing? Isn’t this a casting call? Here I am with wet hair, a free t-shirt we won from a 5K race, my husband’s vest, and highwater pants. Every casting director’s dream.
So we sit down and kinda go over memories and other fun details about ourselves. You know, picturing the audition as someone throwing out questions really fast. Man, were we on it. Sitting in that room, waiting our turn… we were on fire.
And then a lady walked in and told everyone to listen up. This is how it’s gonna work. You walk in, give your applications to one of the guys and then you’ll have two minutes to do whatever you want. So get pumped up!
A and I looked at each other and I felt a little vomit come up my throat. Anything we want? [silent scream]. We were not prepared.
Luckily, A is in marketing/advertising and just naturally an outgoing character. So she patted my hand and said, “Carrie, just follow my lead, okay? You’ll be fine. I’ll carry us and you just pipe in whenever you want.” So loving. Such a leader.
“Team 14!!!!” someone yelled on the overhead. We took a deep breath and walked into the room. After we handed over the application, they positioned us in front of the camera and said, “Go!”
We managed to get the opening out which was basically our names and then…
I looked over at my leader A in desperation and she was standing there, with this weird downward smile I’d never seen on her, just looking up at me. So I panicked and started rambling. And if any of you ever heard me talk under pressure, this is the worst possible scenario. I don’t even remember what I said, but I do remember dropping the phrase Passive Aggressive hoping to get a little spark in the room.
We literally said nothing. A wrapped it up and they turned off the camera. It was extremely uncomfortable. No one looked at us. And we left.
So what did we do? We called up R to have some drinks with a couple Debbie Downers. We tried to convince ourselves that the show really was looking for two people who couldn’t spit out any coherent words and spoke in monotone voices followed by awkward silences. Right?
But R wouldn’t have any of it. He said, “Look. There is no line. Have some more food and liquid courage and GO BACK IN THERE.” It was like Hoosiers all over again.
He dragged us to the car and drove us back. When we walked in, the room had been cleared out for several hours and the cameramen were bored.
I left it up to single cute girl, A, to seal the deal. They said, sure why not and that they could splice the new audition over the old one. We asked R to stand on the sidelines this time because we knew he’d laugh at us. I don’t even care if it wouldn’t be with us, someone just laugh for goodness sake.
We stand in our appropriate spots for the second time and jumped in. Our hook? That we shared a bed for many years as kids, which is true and now all of you guys know. Oh well.
But that wasn’t it. Not only did we share a bed for many years, but I did once pee in the bed. After I realized what I had done, I sat on top of my pillow and watched it trickle down to A…watching in slow motion as she came unglued.
See? Teammates, right there.
In the middle of our two minutes, there came the same awkward pause. But instead of succumbing to it, I called it out. “Why is this so awkward, A? [Turning to the camera] I think it’s because we think we’re funnier than what we really are.” A disagreed and pointed out that all of the cameramen were laughing. And I argued further that “no they aren’t. They’re looking at the ground avoiding eye-contact.” And just that little riff instantly calmed us because that’s exactly how we would banter. Dry, yet with the same high nasaly voice. We continued with more descriptions of each other (mostly on how moody I am) and eventually got the “wrap-up” motion!
Oh happiness. Even if we don’t make it any further, just getting that hand motion made our night.
Well, that and the $2.50 I won on the slot machines.
Ah, day three at the grand canyon. We woke up extra early this morning to join a guided hike along the Cedar Ridge trail. One of the park rangers would walk us down and then give a schpeal on the wildlife as well as a brief history of Native Americans. My kind of thing!
Also my kind of thing? Forcing other people to come along with me. Sleep or no sleep, get up people.
When we hopped off the shuttle at the trailhead, we still had a few minutes to spare and wandered around. That’s when we found what is now considered R’s favorite photo, ever. He’s openly admitted to being enamored by it.
But you know I can’t let someone do something without me trying it too. Hello, that’s how I cracked my tailbone, remember?
So I mosied on out there and politely asked R to take my photo too.
This is where we get into the section of the post delicately named “I’m married to a non-photographer.” And by non-photographer, I don’t mean someone who doesn’t like taking photos. I mean someone who just doesn’t take photos.
Get this, he studied in Australia for 6 months and took exactly zero photos.
That still bugs me.
So I handed over the camera and waited the appropriate few minutes for him to find the power button.
I was scared out there on that ledge, my friends. And R managed to capture it.
He also managed to capture the fact that I was wearing granny panties.
Thank you, R.
Go back to not taking photos.
But man, was it a great view of the trees. I always think of the GC as all rock, no greenery. Nope. Not the case at all.
Little did I know, though, what was lurking in those trees. But I’d soon find out by the park ranger a bit later.
First, though, we had to walk down. And honestly, walking down was a lot harder on the knees than the way up.
Choose your poison: lungs or knees. I’ll choose lungs any day.
So I shoved the camera back into R’s hands and ran ahead so I could nonchalantly have an obviously unposed photo.
No really. I never knew he was taking my picture.
Not even here when I was waving at my brother-in-law while strategically facing into the sunshine for a better shot.
We made it to the checkpoint. It was a little plateau of land with overlooks galore. It was also where our park ranger sat us down for a history and nature lesson.
What he first wanted to talk about was the wildlife and what you might find if you took other trails close by. For instance, up along the rim of those pine trees, you would probably encounter mountain goats. But beware! It’s mating season, so you’ll want to stay clear of them.
And not any sooner after he said the word mating, I turned to look at R.
Settle down, R.
After soaking in the 180 degree view, we headed back up. Nothing too eventful happened..
Oh wait. Yeah, something did happen.
R almost tumbled to his death.
You see, this trail had been given a grant to fix it up. So along the way, you passed by workers moving stones here and there or even using a jack hammer to break up areas.
It was as we hiked past the jack hammer when it happened. R wanted to slip by as quickly as possible and so hopped onto a slightly slanted rock that hung over the edge of the trail.
It was slow motion. He lost his footing on that rock and slid over the edge, but managed to flip around and grab that same rock with his left pinky finger.
Okay, it wasn’t his pinky. But he wants people to think that. It was only his left hand though.
And it was scary enough for him to say, “Ask me in five minutes” when I asked him whether or not he’s freaking out.
The night ended with a marathon game of dominoes..
…while I marveled at how differently everyone set theirs up. I see four different patterns here. Well, five if you count the table cloth.
It was a great weekend. Lots of outdoor time and no hair-brushing time. My favorite way to spend the weekend.
So R and I spent the majority of the weekend getting our place sorted out. I could’ve sworn we sold a lot of things at our garage sale, but you wouldn’t know it to look at it last week. I’ll have some before/after shots sometime soon. This is by far the cutest (and smallest) place I’ve ever lived.
Although we were exhausted, I managed to scramble together a quick picnic and head out to our local fireworks display.
I had thought we brought a halfway healthy meal: grilled chicken salad, cheese, trail mix… but then R broke out the ranch and I was done for. If there’s one thing that can make me blow off a healthy intent, it’s ranch. I even elongate the word just to make the sound of ranch last longer. Ray-aaaaaanch.
I grabbed my mug of wine, a bit of cheese, and a dorky smile & was all set. Until I got a case of the lonlies. The 4th is such a social holiday and I kinda felt sad all of a sudden. R must have sensed it because while I was drowning myself in my mug, he texted a friend from work and heard back that they’d meet us out. Yes! Warm bodies!! Bwah-ha-ha.
Things were looking up, so that’s exactly what I did. And my gosh, it was a great sky. The clouds, the colors, the bomber jet dropping black things above us. Wait, what? You heard me.
I was leaned back, soaking in the clouds reflecting the sunset, when I noticed a plane fly overhead. I watched it for a bit and then mused to R about our chances of living if a bomb were dropped. Yes, these are the types of conversations I have. However, he assured me very sweetly, “We’d have zero chance. Start praying.” I laughed and looked back up. And I am not kidding, but four black bundles were shot out of the plane. I grabbed R’s arm and almost ripped the sleeve off his shirt I tugged so hard. You. have. got. to. be. kidding. me, I thought and literally held my breath for what seemed like days. Then I saw them… the parachutes popping up above their heads and I closed my eyes in embarrassment. (But only after I sighed in relief.)
After the fireworks display, we asked R’s friends back to our newly cleared-out apartment. I deliberately positioned myself by the door so they could not leave. No way was I going to shorten this treat of having company over. We had some good wine(I only buy wine based on the label and this one delivered), good conversation(at one point this was said: “She used a theological presupposition there, Carrie. Did you catch that?” Panicked and feeling like I was in Philosophy class all over again, I said the first thing that came to mind: “I don’t like multi-syllable words, sorry.”), and good games(Can’t beat Loaded Questions, my all-time favorite). It was by far the most laid back fourth, we’ve had.. but it was exactly what we needed.
With my tailbone medication in hand (chilled white wine), we ventured off to a local’s home for his annual party. Shangri-Lloyds. I want this property. Not just because there is an entire wing set up dormitory style for guests, that you have a great view of the lake, or even the three levels of deck space. No, it was all the games.
There’s Lloyd in the yellow. He’s in his 70s and still rockin’ it.
Let’s go through them. Well, we’ve got a volleyball net set up, or how about a little game of frisbee golf?
Not your cup of tea? Alright, then let’s head over to the landing for the zip-line. I’ll hang out on the tire swing while you do that.
Want more? There’s some washers and if you walk a little ways up, you have a full basketball court. Also, a batting cage with it’s own pitching machine over there if you’re interested.
And we were, by golly. We did *everything*. It was a blast and my sweaty shirt showed it.
For dinner, we had pork that had been roasting underground since the night prior. It even had an apple in it’s mouth. I felt like we were seriously on vacation to get this type of treatment. Hawaii, maybe?
As the sun went down, the lights turned on. So did the volume. We enjoyed background music of a local band playing on the deck. In between, various people would stand up and sing a song a capella. I don’t know about you, but stuff like that makes me cringe. I have to look away and it takes my whole being to watch. It’s the seriousness of it all, I guess.
So I convinced my two buddies (R & N) to go on the zip-line with me so I could avoid making eye-contact with the next singer. There was a seat on the zip-line at one point, but we didn’t mind just hanging on.
After a few games of HORSE and hitting baseballs, we left the party a bit early to go swimming off the dock. We took turns jumping off and trying to get mid-air pics. It was utterly summer vacation in that moment. Being silly with a twinge of danger… Wasn’t that in all of our childhoods?
I met up with my family for a camping excursion last weekend. The first day started off nice… we had a good chicken dinner and some cold drinks. Then all hell broke loose. In the form of weather. My parents stayed in their RV while my sister A and her dog slept in one tent and R & me in another. If someone had told me that we were actually sleeping in a thundercloud, I would’ve believed them. It was very scary. I felt bad for my sister who is a self -admitted non-tent camper. We were afraid she’d never come back.
When we ate breakfast the next morning, we each had gone through waves of panic through the storm. My mom thought a tornado would go through, my dad swore he heard a mud slide happening, and I waffled between lightening striking a tree onto our tents if a flash flood didn’t hit us first.
The next day, we braved the muddy paths and hiked around the area. At one point while waiting for us outside the visitor center, my mom (in her sunglasses) had both the hiking stick and the dog beside her. She laughed at herself wondering if people that passed by thought she was blind.
3 blind mice
A says her dog looks down in shame b/c of the type of leash she has to wear.
Midway through our hike, we ended up at a pond that offered paddleboat rides. We buddied up and spent the next half hour paddling around looking at turtles’ heads popping up and avoiding going over the waterfall’s edge. R swears we wouldn’t have gone over, but I’d rather not confirm that.
We took a little rest at our campsite for lunch and staring at other campers, when we decided to go for a horseback ride.
My friend K will be happy to know that I am completely over my horse-riding phobia. R and I would even hold our horses back every once in awhile to try and get them to trot. That’s how far along I’ve come. If you don’t remember, while studying in Spain with my then roommate K (back in 2002), we took a horseback ride through the Andalucian mountains. Little did we know that our horses were the only two that didn’t like each other. So as we were gingerly walking on the veeeeeeery edge of the mountain’s path, my horse got all up in K’s horse’s business if you know what I mean. Well she didn’t like that very much and tried to buck at me. My horse did the only logical thing possible — she ran down the side of the mountain. I can still remember ducking under a tree branch and zig-zagging between boulders. K will back me up on that. Eventually she stopped and one of the guides had to run down (on foot) to lead us back up. You can see a pic of me on that horse here. I was all smiles, so you know it was a “before” photo.
After that experience, R and I went to Park City, UT for our honeymoon and I took my first step in conquering this fear. I was stiff, but the overall experience was enjoyable. I’m now to the point where I’d like to ride bareback behind William Wallace in an open field. (Can you tell I just watched Braveheart last night?)
A had her own scary horse story way back from Girl Scouts. She did a good job considering she hasn’t ridden since Girl Scouts, but I don’t think she’ll be riding again for awhile.
Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a little steak and dominoes. Luckily the weather was not as bad Saturday night and we managed some good hours of sleep. It was so nice to be outside with my family all weekend. My type of outing.
J and T moved into their new home a few months ago and had their housewarming party last weekend. It was really nice. They had games for both kids and adults to play, but most of us just ate, drank, and chit-chatted.
Here’s our hostess. J. She’s a creative one in my life and I never ever feel like I can’t be my sometimes too day-dreamy self around her. We talk about traveling non-stop, but have yet to go on a (big) trip together. Something is in the works for next year, though. We’ll wait and see.
…with the mostest.
I want curly hair. Bad. But I don’t want to spend money on a perm, so I rolled my hair up the night before in spongy rollers like I was either 10 years old or 80. Take your pick. R would say 80 in looks and 10 in maturity. Had the worst sleep of my life due to said rollers and woke up to a frightening sight. I badgered R into giving me his “honest” opinion. (And when I say honest, I mean he better give me a compliment.) So when he lied and said that it looked scary, I glared at him.
I had texted J before getting to the party that I may look like a Glamourshot photo and to not be scared. So after she got a good laugh when I walked in, I started talking with B’s wife. She wore a big smile and asked whether I had dyed my hair a different color, clearly avoiding the fact that my curls were preventing me from moving through doorways. This, in turn, made me laugh.
…no, my hair has been brown for the past 28 years.
I made my rounds with the guests, but my favorite person to talk to was B’s son. He made me want to hug him, pinch his cheeks, high-five him, and tickle him all at the same time. He is such a mini-me of B, and made me giggle hard.
He was scared of my curls too. No smile.
The rest of the time was spent outdoors playing games. After washers, J pulled out some random (authentic) bowling pins from her garage. B & R tried their hand at juggling them.
Water balloons were next, and we all saw the outcome of that in the previous post.
Then followed some water gun vs hose fights along with a slip-n-slide. A must at any party.
Later in the evening, we sat around a fire and made smores. It was a beautiful evening.
The next day we hung out with R’s brother N. Went out to eat and watched Star Trek for the second time. Love that movie. Got a late start on the road and arrived even later then expected. We saw a storm a’brewin up ahead.
Then the next thing we know, hail is coming down with tornado alerts in the area.
But as soon as it came, it was gone again. And we were left with a little present, a rainbow. Is it just me, or is the pot o’ gold on this guy’s bumper?? Why didn’t we take down his tag?
I’m trying some new things at home and so far they are working out well. I’ll post with more info soon.
Yesterday was a hard day to get through. R and I woke up to an already dreary day in a funk. We have put so much effort in the past 6 months trying to attain some personal financial goals. Spreadsheets have been created, budgets have been tightened, and you know what, we’re tired. Tired of putting things back on the store shelf, of foregoing dinner & a movie, of making any sort of self-limiting decision period. It is a daily struggle to make smarter choices with our money. . And we’re only 6 months into a 3 year plan. To top it off, we’ve made the decision to not buy a car to replace the one that unofficially died a few days ago. We will share R’s car and make it work (as I try to channel Tim Gunn.) We’ve also decided to move into an even cheaper place in the next town over. These are self-inflicted choices. So even though I know that I have a limited number of “I feel tied to this Quicken spreadsheet and so want to complain” cards to play, yesterday was a good day to use at least one. I mean, even our very last Consumer Reports magazine showed up, that’s how much we were slapped in the face.
On the plus side, we hammered out the travel portion of the budget and I’m pleased to say that there is major wiggle room where that is concerned. Life started to look up.
…but that came later on in the evening. Beforehand, we were grumpy. So I made R pick out a game to play. He chose, what else?, LIFE.
..here’s me: tired of brushing my hair, of putting on make-up, of reaching across the board game. R was tired of taking photos.
And so if we could have lived another life, if even for a half-hour, we would’ve. So we did. And we laughed and smiled and joked and it was the brightest spot of the whole day.
We both started out side by side. I pretended I was from England and could only drive on the right-hand side of the car…. driving to my new college. Coincidentally, both times we played (we had a back-to-back Life session), I landed on the “Study Abroad” tile. It made me smile.
We both married and ended up at the stop sign next to each other. R said he didn’t like the way my husband was looking at him and wanted to fight.
R picked his salary card and did really well for himself. He ended up having two girls and yelled at them in the backseat throughout the game. But the clincher was when he came upon a fork in the road and had to choose between taking his family to see a physician for $5000 or buying a high-definition TV for the same amount.
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 CBS.com!) 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!
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.