Grandparents (again), Field Trips (again), and Walls (finally)

Quick Takes Friday!

1.

We had a lot of fun with my parents when they were here. We got to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in my very favorite way. With gifts from the Dollar Tree, of course! I let the girls each pick two things as gifts for my Mom. The two older girls really tried to choose things they thought their Grandma would like. I just love watching how proud they are to see their gifts opened and appreciated.

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Miss chose a fall-themed oven mitt and a water bottle (similar to the one my Mom uses for her coffee). Lass selected a six-pack of plastic hangers and a statue of a mother holding a baby, which she immediately thought to be Mary and Baby Jesus and decided my non-Catholic mother must have it.

Sis chose a snow globe with puppies in it and what she thought was a small “bouncy ball” that turned out to be a soccer-themed washcloth.

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I never get tired of the dollar store presents.

2.

The only time our little dolls and castle ever look like this:

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With every. single. one. posed at “The Ball,” is when my Mom is here.

3.

Grandparents are the best.

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4.

Two weeks ago, we read the book A Pair of Red Clogs (set in Japan). The Godmother brought me some real Japanese clogs and kimonos and an obi and other things from Japan, that her father had brought back after WWII. She told me to let my girls touch and feel and try on and play with these wonderful items!

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Somehow I only got really crummy photos, but the girls had such fun trying on the shoes and clothes and twirling and clomping around. I have such a thoughtful and generous Godmother.

5.

I had wanted to take the girls to a hibachi restaurant for a meal/field trip, but didn’t get around to it during the week that we read the Red Clogs book. So we went with my parents on Wednesday night. The older girls loved it.

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Sis didn’t want anything to do with it.

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6.

Speaking of field trips, this week we’re reading “A Glorious Flight” about how Louis Bleriot built an airplane and was the first person to fly a plane over the English Channel. We have an amazing aviation museum nearby, which was the perfect field trip this week.

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In case you’re wondering, that’s at least seven field trips for us already this year!

7.

Finally, I am very excited to show you this last photo:

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Walls! We have walls finally going up. We have such a long, long way to go, I know. But this, seeing something coming up from the ground for real, has just made my weekend.

For more Quick Takes, check out the link up at Conversion Diary.

 

7 Quick Takes, Damma and Tuppa Version

We are visiting my parents this week. Otherwise known as “Damma and Tuppa” by Sis.

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 ^^Every day, “Where my Tuppa?,” she says.

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Here’s what we’re up to:

1. My Mom recently hosted a big Lego event at her library. As a result, she has a gazillion Legos these days. I have a love-hate relationship with Legos. I love them because I think they must be a great toy for imagination and stuff. I hate them because, well, they’re Legos.

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My girls have had a blast with my Mom’s Legos. Which is great, because I won’t need to get any since they can play with them here. Or maybe it’s not great, because now they know they like them, and they’ll ask for them at all the birthdays.

2. My Mom is teaching Miss to sew. This brings back many memories:

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Makes me think of my Grandma teaching me stuff. And when my Mom taught me to sew. Oh the nostalgia.

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3. Happiness is playing outside without heavy coats. Or snow pants. Or mittens (otherwise known as my nemesis).

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Put on jacket. Slip on shoes. Go outside. Freeeeedom!!!

And my kids like it too.

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4. Sis is obsessed with flying things. Birds, planes, “coppers” (helicopters).

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Which is quite fun, since my parents live near an Army base where they have lots of “coppers.” “Where copper gooo?” and “Copper slow dooown!” were her favorite phrases yesterday.

5. My girls went to story time at my Mom’s library where she gave them these obnoxiously loud lovely flute things.

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These will be a great toy to keep at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Forever.

6. About once a year, when we come to visit my parents, my husband and I leave the girls with my Mom and Dad,

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and go to Nashville for an overnight date.

I really enjoy going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, but we have date nights at home fairly frequently, so that’s not the best part.

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^^ Miss asked me for a picture of me and her Daddy on date night for a frame she is painting. Soooo, camera timer ^^

The best part of the overnight date?

Date breakfast.

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And date morning lounging:

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I slept in until 7:15 this morning and still got to linger over my coffee and reading. Pure luxury.

For more Quick takes click HERE!

Untangling

Just like when I was a little girl, visiting my Gram still makes me happy. She is a one-of-a-kind special lady. And even better now, I get to see my girls love her too.

DSC_0602Visits to my Grandma’s house always involve good food, some sort of craftiness, making music, and playing with unconventional toys. My Gram doesn’t throw anything away. Ever. So she has tons of fun stuff for my girls, much of it things they wouldn’t otherwise think to play with (or more accurately, things I wouldn’t normally think to give them to play with). Plastic easter eggs, golf balls, styrofoam egg cartons, a bucket of random lids. And of course her piano. They had a blast.

DSC_0578 DSC_0586In her box of goodies for them, I found a God’s eye. I used to make them all the time with my Gram when I was a kid. Turns out the one in her box was one I had made as a girl. 30-ish years ago. Told you she saves everything.

DSC_0589Of course, my Gram got out her yarn and had me saw the pointed end off of some wooden skewers she dug up in her kitchen so she could make God’s eyes for my girls. I helped Miss make her own.

DSC_0598 DSC_0593My heart nearly burst from the nostalgia.

As always, I learned a thing or two (or ten) from my Gram during our visit.

See I have a tendency to get somewhat stressed out when we are traveling. Especially when we’re staying at someone else’s home. This comes from a combination of worry about inconveniencing or messing up something for our host, not having the ease of our own super-toddler-proofed space at home, and everyone being extra tired and cranky from travel (I really try to just chill out about this, but it still gets me sometimes).

So. I was getting all freaked because my girls were going nuts with my Gram’s yarn supply, trying to make God’s eyes and then unravelling and playing with it and tangling it all up. I crabbed at them a little bit about messing up Gram’s yarn.

After I got them set up for their naps, I went out to help my Gram get the yarn untangled. I was all set with multiple apologies and offers to untangle the yarn for her by myself. I felt awful that it was such a mess.

But my Gram was already sitting in her chair, peacefully untangling and re-winding up her yarn. The yellow was all over the room. The orange was in knots. The purple and green were hopelessly tangled together. She didn’t even care. Before I even started in with my prepared apologies, she began chatting about how she likes to have things to do with her hands to keep her busy.

I stopped in my tracks and stared at her, all sweet and calm and happily untangling, and I thought, “What the heck was I so stressed out about?? This is how I need to be about tangled yarn and other relatively minor stuff that isn’t worth getting upset over.”

I sat down and gathered up a pile of the yellow yarn and started to untangle and wind it. And I proceeded to have one of the most enjoyable hours I’ve had on this trip. I sat with my Gram and we untangled together and talked.

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She talked about her mother. She talked about my Papa. She talked about my Dad, her sister, other people she’s known, the church we went to when I was a little girl, and all sorts of other things. I was honestly sad when the yarn was all neatly wound up and ready to be put away.

I got a beautiful lesson in perspective from my Gram during that hour. I always leave a visit with her feeling amazed. She’s 91 years old and she usually gets more done in a day than I do in a week. But that hour of talking with her was extra special to me. We untangled her yarn, and she untangled me a little bit.

Thanks Gram.

Kentucky Family Fun

It’s that time of year again where I bring you the we’re-at-my-parents’-house-here-are-a-ton-of-photos post. This post will include all of the same elements that always make an appearance in those about Christmas with my family.

1. Silliness with Grandma (and playing with my old toys):

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^^The girls decided that Barney, my huge old teddy bear, was sick, and they were doctoring him in Grandma’s bed.

2. Watching our favorite Christmas movie, Heidi:

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^^Baby Sis was even enthralled by this, the best holiday movie ever.

3. Story time at the library with Grandma:

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^^She could not understand why she couldn’t just go get in Grandma’s lap for a story.

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4. And of course, a big holiday free-for-all with my brother’s family yesterday.

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We haven’t seen my brother and his family in a long time, and it made me so happy to see my kids and his kids jump right into cousin-ly camaraderie.

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It was awesome to have my whole family together. Six adults + Seven kids (two of which are toddlers) = Crazy and wonderful.

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The present opening was just as chaotic as ever, and just as fun.

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Everyone got pretty tired out by the festivities.
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More silliness with Grandma:

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After my brother and his clan left the girls got dressed in their new princess PJs, which Lass had been begging to put on from the moment she opened them.

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They danced around in their new finery, with Lass breathlessly proclaiming, “I’m Snow White! I am really and truly Snow White! All my dreams have come true!”

At the end of the evening last night, we put on a movie for tired girls (and tired parents).

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We have one more day at Grandma and Grandpa’s before hitting the road to go home on Saturday. We’re packing in as much quality time as we can.

7 Reasons I Love My Mother-In-Law

I don’t know much about raising a son. I know lots of people who have done or are doing an amazing job of it. My Mom did a pretty great job with my brother. My Auntie with my cousin. My sisters-in-law are raising terrific young men. I have many friends who are bringing up delightful little boys (you know who you are).

I think behind every good man there is, to some degree, a great mother.

So today, I want to talk about the woman who raised the most incredible, wonderful man I know. My Mother-in-law.

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Here are 7 reasons I adore my Mother-in-law (because I know the following things about my husband came, at least in part, from her):

1. My husband knows how to do stuff around the house. When I lived by myself I thought I was pretty handy. No. He is handy.

2. He is honorable. I never worry that he will lie to me or do anything lacking integrity.

3. He is freaking smart.

4. He is no pushover. I can rest assured that he will (figuratively) beat down anyone who tries to mess with me or him or our children.

Actually, come to think of it, he’d literally beat someone down too if necessary. When we lived in Durham I was cleaning an old junky hoosier cabinet I had just purchased. I didn’t realize the top wasn’t connected to the bottom and it started to fall over. A vase feel off the top and shattered and I yelled his name for him to come help me so the top of the cabinet wouldn’t crash to the floor. With the glass shattering and my scream, he thought someone was breaking into the house. He pretty much jumped down our stairs, breaking his toe in the process, and was all set to throw down with a would-be intruder.

5. He knows the importance of family. We come first, no doubt.

6. He works hard. He can and will do anything he puts his mind to.

And last but certainly not least:

7. He never, ever pees on the toilet rim/seat.

I am a lucky, lucky girl.

There’s lots of stuff out there depicting mothers-in-law as meddling, judgmental, conniving, whatever. Movies and books always seem to portray the mother-in-law as a witch or an idiot or both.

But I think mothers-in-law often get a raw deal. I have a wonderful relationship with mine. Of course there are many reasons I love her, besides the way my husband turned out. She is extremely accepting and supportive of me. She is a terrific grandmother, always taking time to do special things with my girls (Lass sobs every time we leave the Farm… Every. Time.) She is generous and loving and thoughtful. And she loves my kids to the moon and back. What’s not to love?

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So, thanks Baba. You are a treasure.

I Wonder if They’ll Remember This?

We are at the Farm this week. We’re wearing ourselves out, and having fun, and doing All The Things.

The other day I went for a ride on Great Big Mable with my older girls.

That’s this thing, if you’re not familiar:

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For some reason, as we were riding along, having a good old time, I got all nostalgic and started thinking, “I wonder if my girls are going to remember these times when they get older…”

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I was thinking about all the trips we take so they can spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and all the fun things we do.

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It got me thinking of my own childhood and my own memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

I had a major walk down memory lane while riding old Mable.

I got to thinking about when I was a kid, playing with cousins, pool parties at my aunt and uncle’s house, family gatherings at my other aunt and uncles house, watching Dukes of Hazard with my cousins at my other aunt and uncle’s house. I remember singing a lot with my Grandma B., rocking in the old chairs on my Grandma and Papa’s front porch, going up north with them. I remember playing in my Grandma C.’s jewelry box, sitting on my Grandpa’s lap naming all my aunts and uncles as I touched each of their birthstones on his tie clip, climbing the tree in their backyard.

I thought about all these things on the Big Mable. And I’ve been thinking about them since. I’ve gone on an extended search of my childhood memories accompanied by lots of thoughts about my own kids.

“Will my girls remember when we did this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Will Lass remember finding that cool caterpillar?”

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Some of my own memories are vague. Some are crystal clear.

Sometimes it’s just a sense memory. I remember smells, like my Grandma C.’s chicken cacciatore cooking. Sounds, like my Papa’s laughter. Tastes, like the sharp bitterness of martini (was this vodka? vermouth? I don’t know) on an olive out of my Grandpa’s drink, pancakes made more tasty because Grandma C. poured them in animal shapes, and the extra delicious grilled cheese my Grandma B. made. I can distinctly remember the feeling of rocking in those old rocking chairs on her porch.

I don’t know if I have many memories from when I was four or younger, as my kids are. Maybe a few around 4 or 5 years old. Being a flower girl in a wedding. Getting (accidentally) hit in the face with a baseball bat and needing stitches. Riding a carousel with my Dad.

My girls probably won’t remember much of what we’ve done this trip. They probably won’t remember today clearly. But maybe they’ll remember the smell of the fish they caught with their Dad. The sound of rocks plopping when tossed in the pond. The feel of the water and the sun.

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Who knows? Maybe Miss will remember a sense of some of the things we’ve done this week or this summer. Lass probably won’t and Sis certainly won’t.

It doesn’t really matter I guess, because we’ll keep doing all these things, spending time with family, going to cool places, doing fun activities together, as they grow. And eventually they will be old enough to remember.

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And happily, even if they don’t remember, they’ll know. Because it’s all documented here.

The Rest of the Week

I’m linking up with Conversion Diary again today.

My seven quick takes are pretty much all about what we’ve been doing this week with Grandma and Grandpa, in addition to the horseback riding and scavenger hunt that I’ve already posted about this week. That’s because I’m in the middle of nowhere and I have nothing else to talk about. But I do have a fabulous recipe for you that I’ve been meaning to share. So I’ll start with that.

1. Cauliflower crust pizza. Dee. Lish. Us. It is a great way to eat pizza if you don’t eat gluten or grains. You start by making cauli-rice (which itself is a good substitute for rice):

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Then add a few ingredients to make it into a crust (recipe here).

Before baking the crust:

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After:

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It’s surprisingly easy, and my kids LOVE it. Get the recipe here. It really is good. You can even pick up a slice and eat it like regular pizza.

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One tip – Don’t skimp on the step that stresses that you must get as much water out of the cauli-rice as possible before mixing in the other ingredients. I wrap it in a towel and squeeze the heck out of that stuff and still end up pressing a paper towel on it after shaping it into a crust (but before baking) to get out as much moisture as possible.

Try it. You’ll like it.

2. Okay, here’s where I’ll get into telling you all about what else we’ve been doing with G&G.

Swimming:

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This pool sits on a hill in my parents’ yard. One corner of it has no water. The opposite one, the “deep end,” has only about 8 inches. Still, you’d think it was the best thing ever.

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3. Another visit to the local nature center. This time we got to see all the animals.

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The snakes were still the favorite though.

IMG_2306My big girls both chose $2 rubber snakes as their souvenirs. They have been sleeping with them. Are my kids the only ones who like to sleep with fake rubbery snake toys?

Lass has even named a new snake species for hers – “Jumping, Flying, Camouflage Snake.”

4. The beach:

IMG_2335 IMG_2354 IMG_2359Chasing butterflies:

IMG_2367 IMG_2371 IMG_2383The beach was awesome until a work crew of half a dozen adolescent boys showed up on their lunch break and decided to go for a swim. In their underwear.

We got out of the water at that point, but we had already had a great morning.

5. I was just informing my husband that we are going out to dinner tonight with my parents and the girls. The conversation went like this:

Me: “We’re going out to dinner again tonight”

Him: “Okay.”

Me: “We’re going to try to get there at about 5, because it’s a sit down place where they bring food.”

Him: “You mean a restaurant?”

Ah motherhood, where every conversation is affected by thoughts of your kids and you feel the need to clarify that the eating establishment you will be attending has wait staff who will bring the food to you instead of a buffet or order-at-the-counter arrangement.

6. Because you know you were dying to see pics of our parade yesterday:

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7. And the grand finale:

My parents have some friends who were kind enough to invite us to watch the fireworks at their great lakefront house, which just happens to be right across the bay from the spot where they launch the show.

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No battling traffic. No porta potties. No crowds. Nice.

They even had some pre-show home fireworks in the yard.

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We tried to catch some fireflies, but it was too windy. We could only see them in the woods, and it was too freaking dark for me to go very far into the woods, even for fireflies for my kids. Plus Lass heard a boom from some fireworks and she turned around and took off running willy nilly into the dark and toward the water, so we had to abandon Operation Firefly promptly.

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But the girls forgot all about the fireflies when the big fireworks started.

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Singing In the Rain, Part 2

Many years ago, my Grandma embellished these umbrellas.

DSC_0511 She was in a performing group. They did all sorts of musical shows, and she made all her costumes for their acts. When the group stopped doing performances, she gave me many of her costumes and props. I’ve been holding on to them for years, just waiting for the time to pull them out.

These umbrellas were just right for us this week.

We used one for this little counting and number identification game:

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Cut off the “raindrop,” count the dots on it, find the right number, and stick it up.

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Even better, was how perfect they were to dance with while “Singing in the Rain” again.

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I mentioned in this post how Miss was asking me to sing rain songs while we played outside in the actual rain with their regular umbrellas, and all I could come up with was “Blame It On the Rain.”

This time, it was raining outside again, but it was cold and windy, so we opted to dance with our special umbrellas inside.

I pulled up some Gene Kelly on You Tube and we danced and sang.

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It makes me smile to see them dancing with my Grandma’s fancy umbrellas.

I think they have some of her musical talent too.

Thanks Gram.

Nashville, a Basement Flood, and Rainy Day Play

Well. I haven’t written a real post in over a week. Sorry.

I’ll spare you the details of why I haven’t written.

Like the fact that I’ve spent several evenings this week cleaning up the mess left behind from water than got into our basement while we were out of town.

Of the fact that I spent one evening filling out an application to adopt a puppy from a local shelter. He was the perfect puppy found on petfinders.com (a mixed lab, husky, and mastiff, blue-eyed little guy), and I was convinced that I had to fill out the application right away so we would be able to get him. Only to realize the next morning, through discussion with the husband, that this is really not a good time for us to get a PUPPY. Duh.

Or the fact that my youngest child is barely napping more than 30 minutes a day.

Or the fact that, becasue I finished weaning Sis last week, I spent all of last evening sitting with heating pads on my boobs, alternating sides with heat and kneading out knots from clogged ducts. Ouchie. I was sort of successful, as I ended up with two big wet circles on my shirt (clearly didn’t think that one through ahead of time), but I’m still trying to get it all worked out.

Anyway. I now have a little bit of napping from Sis, so I’m trying like heck to get this post done before she wakes up.

A quick catch-up on our happenings:

Last week, I spent the most awesome 24-hour period ever. In Nashville. Over night. With my husband. My mom watched the girls. We splurged on a fancy hotel.

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Did I mention it was awesome?

We relaxed and went out for a nice dinner. Unfortunately it was slightly marred by the fact that the cab driver who took us to the restaurant was a “Too Much Cologne Wearing Man” and had apparently not only doused himself but also the seat of his cab with his chosen scent. I ended up with Eau de Bad-Man-Smell in my hair and on my dress (all I did was sit on the seat, I swear!), and my husband and I kept catching whiffs of it throughout dinner, making “ew, that stinks” faces, and then smelling ourselves, our hands, sleeves, etc., to try to figure out why the smell from the cab was still lingering. We both noticed it on our hands and made trips to the bathroom to wash, but it didn’t help. It wasn’t until we got back to the hotel that I thought to smell my hair and realized that I reeked of this guy’s cologne. And then I found that the back of my dress did too. Weird. And gross. And oddly sort of funny.

It was okay, though, since we got back to the hotel to find this lovely turn down service, complete with chocolate cookies that we were both too stuffed from dinner to eat.

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I have to admit, though I love to stay in a fancy hotel sometimes, I always feel very awkward around the staff of such places. I never know when I’m supposed to tip, how much, and how to do it. I always end up averting my eyes and shoving some wadded up bills roughly in the direction of the person to whom I want to show appreciation while grumbling, “Uh, thanks a lot” or something like that. I think I was a little better this time than the last time we stayed at this place (mostly because I made my husband tip the valets and wrote all other tips on receipts), but I still always feel like a total hick in these situations.

The best part of the trip? We slept in and woke up to a room service breakfast and leisurely morning.

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No one yelled, “I’m huuuuungryyyyyy!” No one spilled her milk. No one complained about the breakfast food offerings. It was lovely.

We topped off the day with a walk around downtown Nashville, some visits to art galleries, and lunch at a place called the Back Alley Diner.

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It was a funky little place with a fun atmosphere and very good food. It made me feel young and hip again. Yes, I was once young and hip…

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Our little side trip was an amazing perk of the visit with my parents. The girls did great while we were gone, as I knew they would, and I had some wonderful QT with my man.

It was a great visit with my parents. The girls had a great time, and they came home saying new things like “Doink” and “Big Honkin,'” as in “I doinked my head” and “Don’t take big honkin’ dragon bites [of food].” If you know my Mom, this will make perfect sense to you.

We were all sad to leave my parents’ house, but glad to be getting home.

Our travel day turned out to be a long one, with a flat tire on the way home and water in the basement once we got here.

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But we’ve had a wonderful relaxing week at home.

Lass has been saving up her allowance money and finally got to order her “Rody” toy. It came in the mail the other day and she was so excited.

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She has barely stopped bouncing on it and has even asked to take it to bed with her. I’m pretty easygoing about letting them take books and toys to bed, but I’ve drawn the line at that one.

So she bounces during nearly all of her waking moments.

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We brought up Miss’s Rody from the basement, which she got for Christmas two years ago from my in-laws. The games they are playing with these guys and the stories they make up are priceless.

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They even hold them during their special time watching “animal shows” with their Dad in the evening.

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The weather is still awful here. It’s snowing as I type this, and yesterday it rained all day. I used the weather as a good excuse for a lazy jammy day. We didn’t get dressed. We didn’t go anywhere. We did school in our pajamas, which the girls think is hilarious.

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And they played and played and played.

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Getting back into our home routine and hoping for better weather soon.

Happy weekend!

A Wrestling Meet, a Birthday, Some Great-Grandparents, and Disney World

Warning: This post has a lot of photos in it.

I can’t help it. We are on vacation, and in the past week we’ve watched a cousin compete (and win 5th place!) in his HS State Wrestling tournament, had a birthday (and multiple parties), taken a plane ride, visited a great-grandpa and then a great-grandma (in different cities), and gone to Disney World. We’ve been in Iowa and all over the state of Florida. These events and their corresponding photos should have been put into several different posts, but we’ve been adventuring, and I haven’t wanted to stop to take the time to post before now. Here’s a little glimpse of the first half of our vacation.

Last Friday we got to watch part of the Iowa High School State wrestling tournament from a box. It was great for the girls to be able to watch their cousin’s semi-final qualifying match and then play cards or read or color at a table in the box the rest of the time. They really got into the excitement of cheering for their cousin, whose match was very exciting, and the other wrestlers from his team.

On the day we went to the tournament I asked Miss at bedtime, as I do every night, what her favorite part of the day was. She said it was watching her cousin wrestle.

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On Saturday we had a Snow White themed birthday party for this girl who turned four.

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It was a great party, with lots of family and fun, though I kind of spoiled the opening of her one present she has been asking for for weeks. She really wanted a Merida doll and I was so excited to give it to her. I kind of get into the present opening part of a birthday for my little ones, and I love watching their little faces light up and taking pictures as they exclaim over opening just what they wanted. Well, Miss went over and started opening her gifts while I was still feeding her baby sister and tending to Lass after her cupcake. When I realized it, mid-open, I hollered, “Honey, wait! Wait! WAIT!!” She didn’t wait. I didn’t get a photo of her opening the gift. I made an annoyed face at her when she didn’t listen to me. Though I recovered myself and told her “I was sorry for yelling but had wanted to be with her and take her picture while she opened her gift,” the moment was already spoiled. This is the photo I did get of her and her much-anticipated Merida doll. I felt like a total jerk.

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We regrouped though, and she has been enjoying her doll.

Note to self – a photo is never that important.

On Sunday we flew to Florida.

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I got headphones for the girls and packed their backpacks with their Leap Pads and Tag readers, books, puzzle books, coloring books, and crayons in a travel soap box. Lass thought the head phones were quite cool, though she wasn’t exactly sure how (or what) to plug them in.

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The flight was fairly painless. The girls did a great job.

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After we landed we got in our rental minivan and drove.

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First we drove two hours for a quick visit with Great-Grandpa C who lives in a veteran’s home. It was wonderful to see him, as well as my uncle and his wife, though sad to only be able to stay a short time.

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Next we got back in the minivan and drove two more hours to Great- Grandma B’s house. We spent the night and got up Monday morning (Miss’s birthday) to play with all sorts of fun stuff that my Gram had gathered and put out for the girls. Golf balls, plastic food container lids, baskets, and empty egg cartons were only a few of the things she pulled out to entertain my lovies for hours.

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They were in heaven with all the toys, and then she whipped up a “country breakfast” for us, complete with eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, and a huge bowl of cut fruit. Yum.

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She had tons of balloons that she blew up for the girls to play with and for Miss’s birthday celebration.

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Great-Grandma had a big to-do for Miss’s actual birthday with pizza and cake and ice cream.

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Baby sis got her first taste of ice cream.

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We really had a wonderful time with my Grandma and my aunt and uncle (who live next door to her). My Gram really went above and beyond for my girls, which meant so much to me.

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We had a too-short visit with her before hitting the road again for two more hours to head to Disney World.

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We checked into our hotel and played for a while before dinner. The “playground” at our resort was pathetic. It consisted of lots of fake rocks and coral and three small slides. The girls had fun sliding and running anyway.

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Then we headed out for a birthday dinner,

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and back in for an early bedtime.

Miss got this “nighttime gown” like Wendy’s from Peter Pan for her birthday. She loves it. I got it from Esty (I love Etsy) here.

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The girls watched the Disney bedtime story on the TV and we went to bed early to get ready for our big day at the Magic Kingdom.

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On Tuesday:

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We did the Magic Kingdom.

Tea Cups (one of my favorites):

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Casey Jones splash pad area, which was clearly the favorite of the girls:

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As an aside, I love these dresses, and so do the girls. They’re another Etsy find. You can get them here. They were perfect for wearing to Disney, and the girls also wore them to Miss’s party on Saturday. They were cool and comfy (I saw lots of little girls in big puffy dress-up dresses who looked hot and uncomfortable), washed up very easily, and my girls can wear them any day. The girls got drenched in them twice and they dried quickly and were no worse for wear.

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It’s a Small World:

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A few other rides, and then it was time for lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

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We had a nice lunch, with excellent food and service. The girls liked seeing the princesses. Each of them said Snow White was her favorite.

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My favorite was Ariel. She really tried to talked to them (though they were a bit shy), rather than just signing her autograph and posing for photos.

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She was even attentive to Sis.

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The girls got magic wands and made wishes during the “Wishing Ceremony.”

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And we had another little birthday celebration (she always plugs her ears during the Happy Birthday song!).

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Afterwards, all they really wanted to do was to go back to the splash pad. So we did that for a while, got a few souvenirs, and hit the road.

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It was only 3 when we took the ferry back to the parking lot, but the girls were totally worn out.

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I have to say, I was pitifully unprepared for all the little tricks of the Disney park experience. I had done a bit of Pinning, read up on a few things, and gotten a couple of apps on my phone, but was totally crushed by the huge crowds and immensity that is the Magic Kingdom. It was extremely crowded, which made it all the more overwhelming. In about five and a half hours we went on four rides (Prince Charming’s Magic Carousel, Dumbo, Mad Hatter, and Small World), played in the water, had lunch with the princesses, and picked out a few souvenirs. The rest of the time was spent wandering around trying to figure out where to get fast passes (most of them were not located right outside their rides, which seemed quite stupid to me), trying to find the rides that we wanted, or waiting in line. We got one fast pass for the Little Mermaid ride but then just missed our window to ride it while we were having lunch with the princesses. We never even made it out of Fantasyland! I learned a lot though and will be much better prepared next time.

One of the highlights of the Disney day for me was that we ran into some friends of ours from when we lived in North Carolina. We haven’t seen them in almost five years, and yet there they were, shuffling along next to us in the crush to get through the entrance to the park. I’m still marveling that we saw them at Disney World, of all places. How likely is it to “run into” someone on a busy day at the Magic Kingdom? Amazing, but we did. And it was so fun to see them, even if it was only for a few minutes as we were herded through security.

For the past two days we’ve been relaxing at my in law’s house. Lass, Sis, and I all have yucky colds (which means unfortunately we can’t visit some of my friends we had planned to see while we’re here, because one of them can’t be around sick people). We’re still enjoying the warmth and soaking in the Vitamin D. Eventually I’ll post about the rest of our adventures. Tomorrow we’re going to the beach. Saturday we’re going home.

“Vacation” isn’t relaxing anymore since having little ones. But it is so much more fun.