Tuesday, April 29, 2014

He Said/He Said

To tide you over until I have more than 5 minutes to write...

Conversation in the back of the van:
Cuckoo:  Mom wouldn't let me wear my boots, because they have holes in them.
Turken:  I don't have any boots.
Cuckoo:  She let me wear my raincoat, though.
Turken:  I don't have a raincoat.
Turken:  Rain is going to be a problem for me.


Another conversation in the van:

Cuckoo:  Where are we going now?
Me:  To the hospital so Turken can get an x-ray.
Turken:  They're taking a picture of my bone.
Turken:  Do I need to smile when they take it?


After doing this:

Cuckoo:  Do you know why I did that?
Me:  No clue.
Cuckoo:  To get the boogers off my nose.

So many blog posts in my head.  So little time to write them.

Until next time...

Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The House Is Filthy, I'm Sick, and Exhaustion Is Settling In, but Dagnabbit, I'm Thankful! TToT Week 45

If you ever think, "Life would be easier if everything was in one week, because, sure, that one week would be bad, but the rest of the year would be great!" slap yourself.  Hard.  It is a very bad, no good, horrible idea.

Part of me wants to simply write, "I am thankful that we survived this week." and be done with this post.  There are two problems with that idea.

1.  The week isn't quite over.  There is still a chance we won't actually survive.  There are still many activities in the next 2 days.  The lack of sleep has already caused me to get sick, and the kids are looking mighty ragged.
2.  Ya'll wouldn't get to hear about the things making this such a busy week.  And as we all know, there is nothing better than a blog post about how busy someone is.  :)

So, the thankfuls...

1.  I am thankful that I stocked up on toilet paper a few weeks ago.  I blew through every Kleenex we had in the house, in my purse, and in the van, but didn't have time to go to the store to get more until Thursday.  The roll of toilet paper I carried around the house with me got the job done.

2.  I am thankful that God had the foresight to create us with a Plan B for breathing.  As I lay in bed at night, doing some lip-drying, thirst-making mouth breathing, I was acutely aware of God's genius in this matter.

3.  I am thankful for all of those toothpaste samples from the dentist I found in the great bathroom cabinet clean-out.  I used the last of the toothpaste in the tube on Monday.  Each little sample tube could last us a day or so.   (See #1 about not having time to go to the store.)

4.  I am thankful for our posse who will help us with rides for our kids.  Regardless of how much I would like to be, I can't be at four different places at the same time.  We had at least one person driving at least one of our kids somewhere every single night this week.  Bless them all.

5.  I am thankful that Turken is only in kindergarten.  Several nights this week, we couldn't get the little kids home to bed before 9:00.  Their bedtime is normally 7:30.  I let Turken sleep in and miss school completely one day, and he went in late another.  As far as I'm concerned, sleep is way more important than kindergarten.  Too bad for the big kids, middle school and high school can't be skipped so easily.

6.  I am thankful for Phoenix's decision to be Confirmed.  (For non-Catholic readers, this is the third and final Sacrament of Initiation into the Catholic Church.)  He has gone through many classes and meetings and retreats and talks to make sure this is a step he truly wants to make.  Being Confirmed doesn't mean a person has finally arrived and can take it easy.  In fact, it means he has committed himself to continual learning and working to spread and live his faith in work and deed.  It's no small thing, and I'm proud to see him choosing this.  

Phoenix with his Confirmation sponsor and the archbishop

7.  I am thankful for our great seats at Phoenix's Confirmation.  The Mass was held downtown at the gorgeous cathedral (45 minutes from our house) at 7:00 on Wednesday night.  While the seats were OK for their proximity to the altar and all the "goings on", they were most appreciated for their proximity to an exit.  At 8:00, after Phoenix had been anointed, Bryan was able to scoot out with the exhausted little boys and get them home to bed.

8.  I am thankful for kind, generous folks.  Our grocery store of choice has a mechanical horse for the kids to ride, and it only costs a penny.  I have always used it as a reward for good behavior while I shop.  Oftentimes, when we get to the horse we find this:

Grandmas and grandpas are constantly leaving pennies for kids to use.

9.  I am thankful that in the 10 minutes I had for housework this week, I chose to clean the bathrooms instead of scrubbing the kitchen floor.  They both desperately needed cleaned, but I had to make a choice.  To illustrate the desperateness...At the doctor's office, Cuckoo needed to use the restroom.  As we walked in, he said, "This is the bathroom?  It's so clean!  Why is it so clean?  How do they get it so clean?"  On and on he went about the cleanliness of the bathroom.  Apparently, it has been so long since our bathroom was cleaned, he forgot what it was supposed to look like.  Anyway, I had 10 minutes while Cuckoo ate breakfast on Friday, and I chose to rectify the bathroom situation instead of the gross floor situation.  As I was finishing up, Cuckoo stood up from the table and spewed all over the kitchen floor.  I would have been mighty ticked off if that would have happened on a freshly scrubbed floor.

10.  I am thankful for our school's music teacher.  She is brilliant when it comes to getting kids to do things outside of their comfort zone.  This year, there are 73 kids performing "The Wizard of Oz" for the middle school musical.  The kids she chose for the main parts were shocking to most of us, but she was spot on.  The first show was Thursday night, and it was marvelous.  They have all worked terribly hard for the last couple of months, and it shows.  Buttercup and Star are in it, and they have had so much fun.

I suppose I should have included, "I'm thankful for our pigs," seeing as how we got them this week.  Maybe I'll say it next week.  This week, I just see it as one more thing to take care of several times each day.  They are cute, though.  We've never before gotten them when they were this small.

Alrighty, it's your turn.  What has you feeling grateful this week?

Have a lovely weekend!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Our Way. Peeps Were Harmed.

Happy Easter!

For the second year in a row, we have welcomed a good friend into full communion with the Catholic Church.  This meant our entire family once again went to the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

For those who are not Catholic, the Easter Vigil doesn't begin until sundown, which is 8:00 here in Indianapolis.  It is a Mass which can last up to three hours.  Those two reasons alone explain the absence of many families at this Mass.  For years, I refused to take our kids.  I would go alone, and enjoy the peace and quiet and beauty that is the Easter Vigil, then go to Mass again with the family on Easter morning.

Our friends becoming Catholic changed that routine.  We wanted the kids to be a part of these special nights.  This year, three of our kids were servers during the Mass.  (To be a part, but also to make sure they stayed awake.)  The other three were door holders/greeters as people entered the church.

I am so glad we overcame our hesitancy and brought the kids, especially the little ones.  I have stored up so many wonderful memories.  I took charge of Cuckoo most of Mass, and he had so many great questions throughout.  As each person had water poured over his head, we talked about baptism.  Cuckoo really wanted to be baptized and was quite perturbed to hear he was baptized as a baby and couldn't remember it.  He got to be a big, responsible boy and carry a lit candle from the fire outside aaaaaallll the way to the front pew where we were sitting.  It took him about 5 minutes at the pace he was going, but he was so proud of himself.  Both little boys stayed awake, and actually behaved very well.

To wrap up the Easter weekend and have some semblance of order for the miniature photo dump about to occur, I'm linking up with Kendra at Catholic All Year.  Each week she does an "Answer Me This" linkup, and this week is (almost) all about Easter.

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

I do believe we are the only family who did not take an Easter photo and post it on Facebook.  Bryan had two boys on the north side of Indy for soccer games and actually met the rest of us at church for the vigil.
I didn't see the boys until they were in their albs, but I hear Giant had black dress shoes, brown dress socks, and his khaki school shorts.  Note to self:  Don't forget to check exactly what the kids put in their bags when I tell them to pack clothes for church.

I have never, ever purchased special attire for Easter.  I have 5 boys.  They wear khaki pants and dress shirts.  Buttercup wears a dress already in her closet.  Same for me.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up, but barely.  We don't get photos taken on the Easter Bunny's lap.  We don't talk too much about him, but we do...

decorate eggs

and score Easter baskets from the Bunny.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else's house?

Easter is the one and only holiday we spend at home.  It is just us, celebrating any way we choose.  Regardless of which Mass we attend, there is always monkey bread and Easter eggs for breakfast.

This year, the weather was perfectly perfect in every way.

We celebrated God's gifts by getting our garden started.  Potatoes, onions, garlic, spinach, and carrot seeds were placed in their perfect rows.  We even had some grass clippings to put around them.  Some people may see gardening as work on this special Sunday.  We see it as a prayer of thanks.

Easter at our house always includes a bonfire and Peep roast.  Peep s'mores are optional.

If you ever try this with your kids, make sure they don't eat the Peeps as soon as they come off the fire.  The sugar caramelizes and gets really hot.  Wait a minute before shoving the Peep in your mouth.

Later, after the kids gorged themselves on creme bruPeep, they headed out to the corn field for some redneck fun.

Giant in the corn stalk/dirt clump toss

Buttercup in the old, dry weed javelin.

He found some corn.

Shorts and winter boots...He knows what weather in Indy is like!  Changes on a dime, I tell ya!

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

Butterfingers.  All the way.  At Halloween, I don't even have to ask anymore.  The kids hand over every one of their Butterfingers.  When I asked them a few days ago if they would be sharing any Butterfingers they get in their baskets, Buttercup replied, "I'm sure the bunny will leave any extras for you.  *wink*"

She was right!  There is almost a full bag in the cupboard!

5. Do you like video games?

Mostly, I can't stand them.  My kids are severely limited on the amount of time they get to play.  However, on Easter, the entire family had a great time getting our groove on and working up a sweat by doing some Just Dance on the Wii.

6. Do you speak another language?

No habla Espanol, but...

My dad made us kids learn how to count to 10 in German.  Most parents would have their kids play a piano or sing for dinner guests.  My dad had kids who knew "eins, zwei, drei" (Side note, I did not know how to spell those numbers.  I just now looked them up.) and could tell you who Sisyphus was.

I also took some sign language classes when I was a preteen.  I can sign the alphabet, the words "kids" and "french fries".  When I was in fifth grade, our class signed a song for an all-school Mass, so I also know how to sign every word of "You Light Up My Life".

Does any of that count?

Feel free to head over to Kendra's to read some more or link up your own.

For my non-blogging readers, I'd ask you to answer the questions in the comments, but you never talk to me.  :)

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I'm Running the Gamut in This Week's TToT, Week #44

I'm a little tired, but I seem to recall a beatitude that says, "Blessed are the run-ragged, for they will find sleep and relaxation."

Surely that's a beatitude.

(Short pause for my mom to say, "It isn't, and quit calling me Shirley!")

If you read my last post, you will know that my brain is on overload and can't hold on to any new information, partly because of the children's coaches' and teachers' conspiracy to put all of The Things on the same nights at the same times.

This thankful list comes to you from the notes app on my phone.  I have thumbed things down all week so as not to forget.  I even wrote full sentences.  In the past I have jotted down a word like "lunch box" in order to remind myself of a post idea, only to read "lunch box" a few days later and think, "Why in the world did I write "lunch box" down?"

Don't laugh too hard.

You know you've done it, too.

On to the thankfuls...


1.  that the Dixie Chopper started right up.  We haven't even tried to start it since November, so I was a bit doubtful of my success when I got the idea to try and mow in the 45 minutes I had between coming home and leaving again.

Oh, how I enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass.  And weeds.  We have a lot of weeds.  They smell the same as  grass when cut.

2.  for the ability to renew library books online.  It's especially handy when one doesn't remember the books are due until 4:30pm on the day the books are due.  I managed to dodge that $40 bullet!

3.  for my safe travels to the wedding last weekend.  Delicious food was eaten, the ocean was seen, cards were played, laughs were had.  When growing up, I only saw my sister for a couple of weeks each summer.  As adults, we're lucky to see each other every couple of years.  (This is the sister which I took Turken to visit for his one-on-one trip to Hilton Head.) I am so glad I was able to be there to be a part of her wedding day.

My dad trying to take a selfie at the beach.  My brother being his usual, goobery, hilarious, photo-bombing self.
 I gotta say, it was a bit odd taking a trip with just my brother and divorced-for-over-30-years parents.

 I kinda felt like a kid again.

It took us 10 tries to get a photo in which we both jumped at the same time.
4.  for the buses the high school has available for sports teams.  Sure, I had to get up at 4:55am to get Phoenix to that bus, but it really helps on days when we have 4 kids who have games at the same general time.

5.  for the rain and snow we received earlier this week.  I can say this because we didn't get the 10 inches of snow folks a bit farther north received, and the snow was only here for a day.  It was enough, though, for practices to be canceled, thus easing up our schedules on Monday and Tuesday.

6.  for the new discovery of wi-fi in the high school parking lot.  On a whim, waiting for Phoenix to get out of practice, I tried to get online with my iPad. It worked!  I have a bit more time now to read my friends' blogs and catch up on the facebook.  (Don't expect many comments, though.  That is still a pain to do on an iPad.)

7.  for a long driveway.  Sometimes, the boys are just really squirrelly after school, making the drive home loud and active and headache-inducing.   On those days, I let them out of the van at the bottom of the driveway, so they can run and burn some energy on the 1/3 of a mile back to the house.  Plus, I get 3 minutes of peace and quiet.  That's a long time in this house!

Cuckoo stopped to pick some "flowers" on his way.  Phoenix helped.
8.  for meals I can start in the crockpot in the morning and others I can throw together quickly as needed for evenings I have limited time to get dinner on the table.  We've had lots of those these days.

9.  for our children's Catholic schools.  I know I've had this in other lists, but each week there is something else for which to be thankful.  This week being Holy Week, there were plenty to choose from.  The 6th grade teachers who arrange to have a rabbi come in and walk the students through a Seder meal.  For the 8th grade teachers and students who help us focus ourselves by presenting a Living Stations of the Cross.  For all of the staff who encourage good manners in the students.  (For example, the Living Stations draws quite a crowd.  The church is standing room only, and those standing are the 7th grade boys.)

10.  for Lent and Holy Week.  Throughout the year I am mindful and appreciative of Jesus's sacrifice and the love that God has for me.  It is good, though, to have this time to really focus on it.  To make my own sacrifices, to dedicate extra time to learning and praying and meditating.  This year in particular, I made some good changes that will carry me on through the rest of the year.  I am also grateful that I have the freedom to do so.

Alrighty folks.  It's your turn.  What fills your heart with gratitude this week?

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sure, You Can Trust Me With Your Child. What Are the Chances It Will Happen Twice?*

As I was driving home from play practice yesterday, chatting away with my three oldest children, a horrible realization hit me.  I slammed on my brakes and yelled out one word.

That word would be the name of the child I was supposed to bring home from play practice.  The child of the man who faithfully and generously drove Phoenix to school for months, even though he no longer had to drive his daughter.  (She got her drivers license.)  

I had forgotten that I had offered to bring him home. 

I immediately called his mom, told her what had happened, and flew back to school to retrieve him.


But it's not my fault.

Apparently, my brain is full.  The storage capacity has been reached, and I need to delete some info to make room for new facts and data and important information.  It would really be helpful to remember things like practice times, so I don't drop a child off at the end of soccer practice instead of the beginning.  (Buttercup, last Thursday)

Problem is, I don't know how to erase the old, unnecessary information, and there aren't any IT guys to help me.  I don't think there are enough Geeks in Pink to solve this one.

I'm going to have to start giving my kids explanations for my poor memory.  

I'm sorry, Cuckoo.  I can't remember the year of your birth, because I can't forget the name of the boy in my kindergarten class who has the same birthday as me.

I'm sorry, Phoenix.  I can't remember the conversation we had about the boy who sits next to you in biology class, thus making you repeat the entire conversation a couple of weeks later, because I can't seem to forget the time I plucked my friend's hair out of her head for the biology experiment I had to do 26 years ago.


The memory problem is only made worse by the volume of facts and information I am needing my brain to organize recently.

We are in the middle of a three week explosion of things to do.  I will not bore you with the details.  For one, most everyone I know is busy.  For two, I am not about to get into a "woe is me, I'm so busy" attitude.   

Let's just say AAAAAHHHHH!!

And move on, shall we?

We shall.

For the next three days, we are putting the busy on hold.

For three days, we'll be praying and listening and reflecting and discussing. We will immerse ourselves in the reality of the suffering Jesus endured for us.  And in the end, of course, we'll be celebrating.  We'll celebrate the miracle of his resurrection.  We'll welcome the newly baptized into the Catholic church.  We'll partake in all of those things we gave up for Lent.

And we'll roast Peeps.

Apparently, my brain dumped my bank password in order to make room for the Peeps.  I never forget the Peeps.

* Chances are pretty good, actually.  Just ask Giant.

See you Saturday for the Ten Things of Thankful!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Can't Come Up With a Witty Title. TToT Week 43

This post is an illusion.

I'm not really here.

After being home for 6 days, I decided that all of this staying in one place is for the hermits!  I need to be on the road!

For this weekend's road trip, no kids are involved.  There will be no stopping at fun places.  It is a 10 hour race to Virginia for my older sister's wedding.  I will be stopping in Kentucky to pick up my mom and youngest brother.  My dad will meet us there.

I can't tell you how happy it makes me that my mom is coming with us.  The sister getting married is not my mom's daughter, but the daughter of my dad and a woman he knew before my mom.  The weekend is a perfect example of a "water under the bridge, life is too short for grudges, forgiveness is the best way to live" attitude my parents and sister have embraced.  We're going to have so much fun.

So, I'm not here.  While you read this, I may be in the middle of a 10 hour drive to Virginia.  I may be at a wedding.  I may be playing cards with my mom, dad, and brother.  I may be sleeping in the backseat while my brother drives the 10 hours home.  Regardless, I'm not here.

Doesn't mean I haven't been thankful this week!

1.  I am thankful for the dozen roses which greeted me when the kids and I got home from our trip.  Bryan missed me.

2.  I am thankful for new sheets for my bed.  It seems that when I sleep, I kick a lot.  So much so that the area by my feet always wears thin.  The other night, I actually put my foot through the thinning sheet.  New sheets for me!

3.  I am thankful for opportunities for my kids to grow.  The kindergarteners were in charge of presenting the all-school Mass this week, and Turken led the way by reading an introduction.  I was a bit nervous for him, seeing as how he is one of the most shy of my children.  I needn't have worried.  He stood tall (you could actually see the top of his head over the lectern), spoke loudly, and paced himself nicely.

When kindergarten is in charge of the Mass, a couple of 8th graders are in charge of helping the 5 and 6 year olds to their proper positions at the right time.  Buttercup was asked to help, and after Mass, the other kindergarten teacher proclaimed that she wanted Buttercup to help her class when it was their turn.

Proud Mama right here.

4.  I am thankful to have had some time to get a haircut.  Finally! Another related thankful... Except for the incident where he loudly and repeatedly exclaimed, "Look at him!  He's getting a mohawk!" and pointed at the poor older woman getting her haircut behind me while I tried to shush him and call him over to me and my wet, half-cut hair, Cuckoo behaved quite well.

5.  I am thankful for the great weather in which the three youngest can play while we wait many hours over the course of the week for middle school play practices to end.  (The show is in 2 weeks, so rehearsals are in full swing.)

6.  I am thankful that we had both the weather and the time to get a bunch of outside work done last weekend.  Basically, we cleaned up the messes last year's pigs created and got a good start on cleaning up the mess the winter created.

7.  I am thankful for my new doctor. I like the guy so far, despite the fact he kept comparing me and my ailments to an 82 year old woman.  He has a good plan and new ideas for getting a diagnosis and managing the pain of whatever this is I have.  Bonus points for getting me out of there in less than one hour and for the fantastic phlebotomist who managed to get 5 vials out of me with no trouble at all.

8.  I am thankful for the opportunities to meet and get to know more of the kindergarten parents.  Most of my friends have kids in grades 6 and up.  That means most of these friends will be leaving me behind when their kids head off to high school.  With Turken and Cuckoo, I am basically at square one at this school.  It would behoove me to get to know the younger parents with the younger kids.  With the weather being so nice, I have actually run into several moms at different playgrounds and have had some nice talks with them.

9.  I am thankful for generous friends.  A few things popped up to add to the calendar this weekend, and there is no way Bryan could have done them all without help.  A couple friends have agreed to help with a bit of the driving our kids to or from an event, so I can still go to the wedding.

10.  I am thankful for everyone who continues to read my blog, especially when I spend 3 days talking about our one vacation.  I'm also terribly grateful for those bloggers who read, despite my inability to read their writing much these past couple of weeks.

So, I left town and forgot to ask Lizzi for the code to put in my post before I left.  Without the code, I have no way for you to link up.  I'm so sorry.

If you have written a post, please go to Lizzi's and link up there.

If you don't have a post, tell me in the comments what got you smiling this week.

Have a lovely weekend!

Ten Things of Thankful

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Final Vacation Post!! 19 Things We Learned While on the Road

Because an even number just isn't quirky enough.

1.  Cuckoo is a "slow chewer".  We know this because every single day, as the kids begged and pleaded with him to "just finish eating so we can leave already", Cuckoo would get frustrated and holler, "I'm a slow chewer!"
2.  But apparently a fast blower.  Every time a hot meal was placed in front of him, there would be a flurry of activity as he used the entire top half of his body in an attempt to bring the temperature of his food down.

3.  My kids can be bought with an indoor pool and a couch.  When we were looking for hotels, we chose to stay in the ones which were mid-priced.  With my need to rent 2 rooms each night, we wanted to avoid the pricier hotels.  However, we didn't want to go too cheap and risk finding a gigantic knife stuck in a wall and filth all over the bathroom.  On our 4th night, we tried a Comfort Inn, which happens to be suites instead of single rooms.   The kids were completely impressed.  When they found out it had an indoor pool, they lost their minds.  (No other hotel had one.)  Swimming after breakfast was in order.  As was getting another Comfort Inn for the next night.

Apparently, he was trying to swim underwater, because when he surfaced he asked, "Could you see me?"

4.  Hotel bathroom lights are brutally honest.  Always bring tweezers to take care of those now-noticeable facial hairs.

5.  State park trash cans are both animal- and child-proof.

It took an uncomfortable amount of time for the boys to figure this out.

6.  It takes complete concentration for boys to simply walk along a path.  Staircase banisters cry out to them, "Slide down me!"  Rock walls beg of them, "Climb up here and walk on me!"  Barrier poles taunt them, "I bet you can't jump over me!"  A mother of boys must constantly be on the lookout for danger.

Notice Star jumping off of the cement wall.  Phoenix is about to run up it.  Giant just landed.
7.  She must also keep an eye out for elderly people.  Boys don't seem to notice when others are around them when they are jumping/running/climbing/rolling/falling/skipping/anything but walking in a straight line.

8.  Cups "make" cool sounds.

Don't ask me how Phoenix discovered this phenomenon, but he convinced everyone to put their ears to their cups and listen.

Poor Cuckoo, with his plastic, lidded cup, didn't know what was so interesting.
9.  Dollar General is taking over the world.  I am not exaggerating when I say that every single town big enough for a stop light had a Dollar General.  Some towns that weren't big enough to have a stop light had one, too.

Of the hundred Dollar Generals we saw, I don't know why I chose to take a photo during the only 30 minute block of time the entire vacation that we had rain.
10.  Surprisingly, Sonic was a close second in the take over the world race.

11.  Children are easily amused by things we as kids considered normal.

Bet you can't guess what has them all so enthralled.  It is the one and only thing they actually fought over this entire trip.

12.  Museums can be found in the oddest of places.

When Nascar driver Mark Martin decided to go into the car sales business and built a Ford dealership, he included a largish museum all about himself.  I have to admit, seeing the cars and trophies were pretty nifty.  The gift shop, not so much.
13.  Never take your eyes off of a goat.

They may just try to climb into your golf cart to get the food you have in your hand.  I watched that goat walk all the way up, never telling Phoenix what was about to happen.  The poor kid jumped a mile when he felt the fur on his hands.  Unfortunately, I was sitting too close to him to get a photo.  Thankfully, Buttercup was at the ready behind us.
14.  Small towns still have the playground equipment of our generation.

15.  Cherry bumps and the premature jumping off of the teeter-totter by one's teeter-tottering partner still cause pain and injury.

Soon after this, both Star and Giant were down with teeter totter injuries.

16.  Phoenix cannot be trusted with reconnaissance. We decided to hike up a hill in Hot Springs to the look-out tower.  My mom chose to drive up instead, so abandoned us at the bottom.  After she left us, we came to a sign for the trail

and some construction on the trail.  I sent Phoenix up ahead to scope it out for us.  He came back to report that the construction seemed to end just ahead, so we carried on.

It never ended.

17.  Park rangers/workers should really assume that hikers in their park have no common sense.  When we got to the top of the trail, we found this:

The top of the trail was blocked off.  We can only guess they didn't do the same to the bottom, because from the bottom, the construction was clearly visible.

18.  Small towns are very proud of the famous people who were born in them.  We know this, because they all have signs telling passerby which famous person was born there.  The most shocking to us was this one:

We even did a u-turn to go back and take a photo of the sign.  Giant took the photo from across 3 lanes.  Going 45 miles/hour.  In the far side of the van.  Give him a break.
It says, "Kennett:  Birthplace of Sheryl Crow".  She was born in the middle of nowhere!

19.  And lastly, the strict TV and video game limits I have always had for the children are paying off.  Regardless of where we were, without my help, the kids came up with games to entertain themselves.  Even in a plain, boring shelter at the top of a hill, waiting for my mom to drive the van up, the kids saw a chance to play a new version of hide-n-seek.

While the seekers counted,, the hiders found spots on the outside, looking through a hole in the wall.  Cuckoo is "hiding".

The seekers were on the inside, trying to find everyone's faces.  Cuckoo, as a seeker, just found someone.

Phoenix was his usual silly self, calling "Try to find me!"  
You trooper, You!  You made it through the last of the vacation posts!  Give yourself a round of applause!

We will now return to our rarely scheduled posting.

Just in time, too.  The new pigs are coming soon!

Every week, Julie hosts a "What I Learned This Week" link up.  I'm joining in!

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Finding the Funny When Traveling

This trip was a blast for all of us.

That wasn't an accident.

The entire purpose was to have fun, and when trying to please 8 people, that takes some planning.

We may not have known where we were going, but we most certainly had a plan of how the fun was going to happen.

The rules of this trip:

1.  Even if the chosen activity isn't one of your choosing, you will not pout.  You will look for a way to have fun in a situation you don't think will be fun.

2.  When we stop for a photo, you do not have to be in the photo if you don't want to be. (One way to get kids to want to be in the photos is to let them come up with funny poses to do.)

3.  We will not take any boring tours or learn any history for learning history's sake.  (That was the kids' rule.  They vetoed tours of historical houses before we even found a historical house to tour.)

4.   We will not mourn our inability to do an activity.  (For example, we were going to go horseback riding, but the stables were closed for the week.)

Now, to explain, part of our family tradition is to stop and take impromptu photos of places we won't go in.   This tradition started before we ever had kids when Bryan and I took these "no planning" vacations.  We once drove 40 minutes to go to the house of Davey Crockett or some such pioneer.  Unfortunately, it was late and the admission a bit pricey, so we chose not to go in.  Instead, Bryan sat on the rock circling the house, I took a photo, and off we drove to find a hotel.

I look forward to the day when the kids are all grown and they go through the photo albums.  I will be watching them from afar.  I envision them having great debates about which activities we actually did and which ones we simply posed in front of.

The impromptu photos and funny quotes of the week:

Notice the boys on either side pretending to be the cement lions.

As we were driving out of town, we noticed this caboose in the middle of the intersection.  It practically begged us to pull over and take a photo.

As we were driving on yet another back road, out in the middle of nowhere, one of the kids asked if we were lost.  Another child answered, "How can we be lost?  We don't know where we're going!"

The kids are pretending to escape before being eaten by the pterodactyl.  This would be an example of a photo being taken without actually going into the place.
We must have 20 "Help me!  I'm falling off a cliff!" photos from around the country. 

The kids are up on that grassy hill I showed you in the last post.  My mom is asking, "Where did the kids go?"

The one problem we had was getting to the Hillbilly Garden.  While in our hotel, my mom put the address for it in her GPS.  Unfortunately, it took us to someone's farm out in the middle of nowhere.  I called the Hillbilly Gardens to see where we went wrong.  As she got to the end of the directions, she said something that reinforced our idea that this was a must-see attraction.  She said, "When you begin to see things nailed to trees, you have found us."

In a bathhouse "locker room" in Hot Springs.

As we walked through the bathhouse, we saw all sorts of old tubs and showers.  At one point, Turken pointed to this sign

and asked, "Is that a real bathroom?  Because I really need to go."

We saw "Goobertown" on the map and decided to head that way.  Apparently, Phoenix is trying to look like a goober.

Turken suggested we stop at the cemetery and look around.  He wanted to find the oldest date he could.  Most of the kids got out and helped him in the search.  Cuckoo was one of them until he found dandelions and other weeds to pick for me.  At one point, I turned around to see him handing me "real" fake flowers.  From a grave.  The oldest date search was changed to a "Where the hell did he get these flowers?" search.  

Didn't go in.

Reason #294 for driving back roads.  You won't see a sign like this on the freeway!

The day we went to "The Big Dam Bridge", the kids (OK, Mom and I, too) fully took advantage of their day of pretending to swear.  "Is there a dam store around here?"  "How long is this dam bridge?"  That sort of thing.  Cuckoo has no idea what "bad words" are or that the big kids were doing anything amusing.  He just knew that going to a bridge didn't sound like much fun.  His question, "Why do we have to go to the dam bridge?" sent everyone into hysterical laughter.

All week long, the big kids were trying to get their selfie duck faces in the photos I took.  (I can't stand the duck face.  They know it, so annoying me with them is a game.)  At our last vacation dinner, the kids told Cuckoo to do a duck face for them.  This duck face I like.  :)

One night we went to Dairy Queen for some blizzards.  A couple kids were trading bites to sample different flavors.  This conversation was a part of it.

Cuckoo (who had mint Oreo):  Nana, do you want to trade bites?
My mom:  No, I don't like mint.  You can just have a bite of mine, though.

(a minute later)

Cuckoo:  Here Nana.  How about you just take an Oreo?
Mom:  Oh, thank you!

(after popping it in her mouth, chewing, and swallowing)

Mom:  That didn't taste anything like mint.
Cuckoo:  Oh, I know.  I sucked the mint off for you!

Reenacting his mad sucking the mint off skills
Don't worry, only one more vacation post is planned.  :)

Have a lovely day!