Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1,731 Miles

After a years of talking about it and planning, along with a couple of date changes, Bryan and I finally loaded our family in the car on a Sunday morning and headed out to visit his sister and her family. Conveniently enough, we waited until the Maynards had made the move from Germany to Ft.Rucker AL, which happens to be less than two hours from Destin FL. We put 1,731 miles on my car and spent 33 hours driving, but it was way easier than trying to drive to Ansbach.
Lilly and Jack did great in the car and we planned on taking our time and making long stops, even one over night. So, the trip wasn't bad, just long. But, we had lots of fun. So much that I can't even tell you about it all, all I can do is share some of the 109 pictures that I took.
We started the trip at about 11am on Sunday, September 18. The first leg of the trip went really well and we made it till just south of Louisville KY. We stopped there for a quick lunch and then got back in the car. Everyone was in a great mood and traveling well and we decided not to push our luck. We stopped again at Mike's Rock Shop and Fun House near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Bryan and Lilly took advantage of the bargain price of $1 to tour the fun house while I fed Jack. Bryan said the fun house was actually overpriced, but Lilly enjoyed it.
For another $.25 Lilly even got to ride a ride.

And, visit with 'Mighty Mike'.

After another couple of hours in the car led us just south of Nashville TN to a Country Inn & Suites. The kids were so excited to be out of the car that they thought the cheap hotel was the vacation. They were wild in the hotel room and loved playing with the air conditioner!

The next day we made it all the way to Enterprise AL in record time. We
welcomed at the Maynards' with dinner from the grill. Then, back to the hotel for the night. Lilly took advantage of Bryan's Tuesday morning conference call to relax in the hotel room with a cup of Cheerios and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She looked so cute in the big hotel bed with all of her pillows and companions that I couldn't help taking a picture. After a tour of Ft.Rucker and Enterprise we returned to the Maynards' for a brief rest before Morgan, and later Matthew, came home from school. Lilly and Morgan made a cake for dessert. It was their favorite flavor. Pink...with pink icing.

Later that night Jack and Mika did a little bonding.
Strangely, whether it was a baby toy or a dog toy, Jack and Mika always seemed to be interested in the same thing at the same time.

Bryan and Ed used their after dinner family time to play on their smart phones.

On Wednesday while Ed worked, and Matthew and Morgan were at school, Cammie, Bryan, Lilly, Jack and I went bowling on base. I didn't bring socks for Lilly from the hotel, so we had to buy her some. These were the smallest they had.

Bowling, along with no naps and constantly being on the go was little too much for Jack and he fell asleep.

But, he (and Lilly) both perked up when Morgan produced a small chihuahua puppy that she was puppy sitting for. Jack stiff arming the puppy when it was climbing on him.

But, the puppy turned the tables later by corning poor Jack away from the adults.

Lilly, Jack and Gracie ganging up on Matthew.

Morgan, Lilly and Gracie. Lilly was very excited about the puppy. When she woke up from her nap and we introduced her she smiled from ear to ear and shrieked, "My very own puppy?!"

After the tour of Enterprise and Ft.Rucker the only thing left to do was pile back into the car and head to Destin FL. Cammie, Bryan, Lilly, Jack and I drove down on Thursday morning while Ed worked and Matthew and Morgan went to school. After checking in and going out to lunch we put the kids down for a nap and Cam and I went to the store. After that we lounged pool side for the rest of the day and sent Bryan out to bring home dinner.

The pool was awesome, and perfect for my little swimmers. It was enormous, but had a gradual entrance on one end, like a beach. Jack loved it.

Until he crawled into deeper water and realized that his rear tires floated.

Bryan by the pool. Lilly loved the waterfall. There were several, but this one was near the shallow end and she could play in it.

Here's Jack on Friday morning when Bryan took Lilly to the pool, and later the beach, without him.

Lilly loved the beach and even made a friend. Apparently, when your dad brings you to the beach without any planning or forethought other moms and kids will take pity on you and share their toys.

Jack wasn't a huge fan of the ocean at first. I think the sound of the waves scared him a little. But, after digging him his own private sea and allowing him to play in there for a while he got a little braver.

Jack rocking his beach body.

Matthew, Bryan and Ed rocking theirs. Bryan bought his tank top for the beach (I'm still not sure if it was meant as a joke or not) and then Ed and Matthew bought theirs to make fun of Bryan.

Jack didn't get a tank top, but he did wear his old man hat and Colts shirt. I also think he is trying to break into the cooler while his dad and uncle aren't looking.

This is one of two crabs that we (Bryan) caught while we were on the beach. This crab was much harder to catch, though. Probably because, upon inspection, the first one was actually dead.

Back at the house and ready for dinner. Jack got a little tired of waiting on the girls so he played a solo game of hide and seek.

Best. Dinner. Ever. I don't even remember the name of the restaurant but, when you think of sea food, this meal is what you picture. Lobster, king crab, snow crab, dungeness crab, shrimp, mussels, and clams. All steamed and served with lemon, drawn butter, potatoes and corn. Oh yeah, and a bib and trash bucket.

Near the restaurant there was a train for kids running up and down the board walk. Lilly was desperate to ride. After hearing how far the train went Matthew decided Lilly might need a chaperone. And, with his big cousin going along we thought Jack might enjoy the trip too.

Bryan's major purchase of the week (other than gas and the above mentioned dinner). He just had to buy this UK headband for Lilly.

Last day and everyone is in the pool. Please note: Cammie and I were on this vacation too. Again, you would never know it from the pictures that a mother gets to do things with the family too.

We just told Lilly that we were leaving after her bath.

All week the kids were exhausted, but never so much as the ride home. Lilly rarely sleeps in the car, but she passed out cold when Bryan carried her into the oldest Best Western ever north of Birmingham AL. She remained asleep when I put her jammies on her, but did wake up enough to apologize for not helping, "I'm just so tired." she said as she grabbed for her blankie and rolled over.

We made it home the next day at about 8:30pm after a meager 10 hour drive. All four of us were ready to be out of the car. But, we had a great time with the Maynards and can't wait to go back. The rental house was really nice, the beach was perfect and the weather was great. I think we'll make it an annual trip. But, eventually we'll have to find someplace for Jack to sleep other than the walk in closet in Bryan and I's bedroom. And, I think we'll fly.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

School Daze

Those of you that know me know that I like things like plans, schedules, calendars and lists. I don't enjoy surprises and 'spontaneous' is not something I completely understand. So, it's no shocker that I was the first in line on January 24 to sign Lilly up for preschool at The Ginger Bread House. I signed her up, paid the fees and marked my calendar for the first day of school and the parent meeting the night before. I even made a note of it on my mom's calendar because I knew she would need to babysit. Then, something prompted me to realize that I had made an error and I changed, on all three calendars (mine, my pocket calendar, and my mom's), the date for the parent meeting to Wednesday night, the night before school starts.

Wednesday Lilly and I picked out several new dresses, I ironed them, got Lilly a haircut and prepared her for school. Then, we met my parents for dinner. That way we could all eat, and the kids could go home with them and get their bathes on time while Bryan and I attending the parent meeting. A well thought out plan, right? This is where things started to fall apart. As we eagerly walked into The Ginger Bread House lobby for the meeting we were stunned to see that it was empty except for a table of four ladies. Teachers, I assumed. They weren't. But, they were kind enough to inform me that the parent meeting was the night before. I felt like the worst mother ever and I knew I had just blown any chance Lilly ever had to succeed in school.

I was determined to get the first day right and not be 'that mom'. Lilly got up at about 7:15 and she was as excited as could be for her first day of school. I made muffins the day before so her favorite breakfast would be all ready to go, with the addition of a scrambled egg, of course. I got dressed, dressed Lilly and Jack and offered Jack some Cheerios (that he ate for the first time...which was not in the schedule). I took a couple of pictures and went to load Jack in the car before taking a couple outside shots, complementing myself on being ahead of the schedule. That's the exact moment that I realized I had left his car seat in my mother's car the night before. Lilly was to be at school at 9am, it was a quarter till. In about a half a second a debated all of my options (which included calling Bryan out of a meeting, dragging Kristy and a newborn out in the rain and asking a stranger who happened to be jogging by to please watch Jack for ten minutes ), but instead I called my mom in a near panic. The conversation went something like this; Mom:"Hello?" Me:"You have Jack's car seat". Mom:"I'm on my way". Me:"Hurry hurry hurry!" Click Me:"Hello?" About four minutes and thirty seconds later my mom pulled in my driveway and I all but threw Jack at her as she tried to get out of her car.

No worries though, I got Lilly to school on time, just before the doors opened and found out that the parent meeting is optional and evidently a lot bigger deal to me than anyone else. Whew.

Lilly's first day of school breakfast and her lucky jammies. Picture with Daddy.

Brand new school dress.
"Mom, you're embarrassing me."

Coming out of class in a line with her new friends.

Showing off her bucket. At GBH the kids carry buckets to and from class instead of backpacks. I think most of the class time today was spent decorating the buckets.

Lilly was a little nervous going into the school for the first time, but seemed more at ease once we went into the classroom. Her teachers, Mrs.Numminen and Mrs.Snider are very friendly and Lilly was eager to check out all of the toys in the classroom. We said a quick good bye and she turned to play at the kitchen with another little girl without looking back. I took this as my cue to leave. Today was unique in that half the class met for and hour and 15 minutes and the other half met for the other hour and 15 minutes. On Tuesday all eleven kids will be there for the full time. So today, I just enough time to go home and get Jack and do some grocery shopping. I dropped off the groceries and went back for Lilly. I didn't expect how proud I would feel when I saw her walking out with her class, in a line, carrying her bucket. We waved to the teacher and climbed in the car. I was anxious to hear every detail of her first day of school, but Lilly disappointed me when I asked her to tell me about school by saying, "Maybe tomorrow." So, I tried a different route and I asked specific questions about what I knew they did. "No questions", she said. Seriously?!

I know she had a good day and Mrs. Snider filled me on a couple of details, but I guess we'll all have to wait until tomorrow to see what Lilly thought.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Labyrinth

Early this morning Bryan tried to leave the house to golf with a friend. After going with him once last weekend, Lilly assumed that she would forever be Bryan's only golf partner. Needless to say, she was devastated when he left without her and she cried and cried. I promised that we would find something much more fun than golfing. After a little bit of thought and research we decided on Stuckey Farms and headed north for a corn maze and some apple picking.
We...well, I decided that we'd get the corn maze out of the way and then pick our apples. You know, that way we...well, I wouldn't have to carry a bag of apples through the maze. Wow, what wouldn't I have given for an apple after nearly an hour in the maze with no end in sight?
We rode the tractor shuttle through the apple orchard, past the pumpkin fields and over to the corn maze. The old man that dropped us off laughed and said, "If I don't see you by dark I'll come in after ya'." I thought he was kidding.
The corn maze was ten acres, professionally designed and carved out with GPS technology. The corn had been planted so that the double rows intersected diagonally and you couldn't see through them very far. We...again, I marched in arrogantly thinking that we would hit all nine checkpoints and be out in less than the hour they predict. I quickly realized that this maze was not what I expected. It was very difficult. Jack was getting fussy, Lilly was getting tired and asking to be carried and I had to pee. After about a half hour I was starting to get nervous and decided to just head back the way we had come. That wasn't as easy as I thought it would be either. I was starting to wonder if the old man that drove the tractor would actually come looking for us like he promised. I eventually cheated and cut through the corn to get to a place that I recognized and then we easily headed out.

Obviously, we made it out. And, before you judge me take a look at the map. Please note: This map was located at the entrance/exit and was the ONLY map I saw the entire time. There was a map on the back side of the paper that they gave us to make a rubbing at each of the check points, but you had to find the red clear plastic checkpoints to view the map. You needed a map to find those checkpoints. I took this picture of the map with one of my two cameras on the way OUT of the maze. Sure do wish I had thought of that on the way in.

Finally picking apples.

We were both very hungry and Lilly ate two apples all by herself after the whole corn maze situation.

Even though we got lost in the maze and skipped lunch Lilly admitted that she had more fun at Stuckey Farms than she did golfing with Dadddy. Yeah Mommy!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Panda Bare

Early last fall my uncles, Tom and Irwin, took a trip to China. So, I was not at all surprised when, upon Jack's birth, this adorable stuffed panda arrived from the Build A Bear Workshop from them. I was, however, quite shocked when, two weeks later, a package arrived containing these traditional Chinese pants for babies.
Um...thanks guys. You'll get my carpet cleaning bill.