Tuesday, March 31, 2009

An unexpected trip to the farm

This morning, Ron and I decided to go on a jog since it wasn't too cold for Evi to be in the stroller. He had to be in a class from 12:30-1:45 so we planned to run to campus, he'd go to class and Evi and I would hang out, then we'd run home. As we were running to his building, we went past the fields where the cows graze and Evi pointed them out. I thought that maybe it would be fun to take her by the fence while we waited for Ron. So once we came back out, Evi and I walked around the other side of the area to pass the sheep and horses first. It turns out, there's a driveway/parking lot that was not fenced off, so we cautiously walked in, wondering if we were trespassing. A few steps past the first barn, there was a sign posted on the fence implying that it was ok that we were there. It said don't feed the horses and stay on your side of the fence. After seeing that, and double checking with a student worker we saw, we set off to explore! There was a friendly horse who walked over to us and sniffed us and let both of us pet him. Next we saw lots of sheep, including several lambs. They would "baaa", and then Evi would repeat! The were too far away so we couldn't touch them, but it was really fun to be there and see so many of them running around and seemingly having fun. Then there was the loose dirt that she couldn't pass up playing in (possibly the best attraction for her?). Next came the cows. Still trying to respect the possibility of rules about outsiders in the barns, we just walked along the outside of the barn to see the cows. That was until I saw 3 other people (who looked like visiting agriculture students) walk into the barn. We followed and got to watch the cows eat from the trough right in front of us. We could reach out and pet them while they ate. Evi seemed to really enjoy being there and seeing the animals, and I loved it! I'm sad I didn't have the camera. Who knew that I should've taken the camera with me on my run! In all the years I've been on that campus, I never even knew that driveway existed, and really never thought that you (the average person, rather than an employee or animal science student) could walk around the inside of the farm. It was a fun and unexpected trip and also a little reminder that Maryland did actually start as an agricultural college!
We spent the whole time running around in the farm, greeting animals, going in and out of barns, and met Ron after his class to run home. I'm not sure if this farm would be open any time I would want to head over there, but it's certainly nice to have so close and FREE :) !
I'm so glad to be getting a glimpse of warm weather, and I hope it stays! I love to be outside (Evi is pretty fond of it as well, as I often hear: "outsieed???")!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pat on the Back

I've been filling in for a water aerobics class this week (and the week before last also), because their regular instructor would be gone for 3 weeks. First of all, I love this class. They're mostly seniors and they (well, most of them :) ) come to class ready to work. Almost all of them have been in the class for years so they know eachother and have fun together, and sometimes chat a bit much and miss the next move cause they're stuck in their conversation (which I can joke with them about now since they're pretty familiar with me these days!). So although the class is at 8am, and I AM NOT much of an early riser because I stay up way too late, I always love going to see them.
Now that the background is written, I can write my one comment that made me smile. On Wednesday before class, one woman (who usually is the one who sort of does her own thing and hops from group to group chatting) asked me, "is the other woman coming back?" I told her that yes, the regular teacher would be back on Monday. Her response: "hmph. I like you better."
:) Very simple, but still made me smile. Especially because she is the one who I never see doing what I'm doing!
Another funny water aerobics story is from 2 weeks ago. I had them do a "mind exersise" during the cool down, and see if they could individually come up with all 50 states. Once we finished and I asked them how they did, I admitted to them that this was an easy challenge for me to give, since I knew all the 50-Nifty United States, in alphabetical order, thanks to 5th grade chorus and geography! So as I'm leading exercises with the noodles, they asked me to sing them my song, and I had a solo in the 3 feet! I've learned two different songs of the states and will forever remember them, I'm sure. I also remember the helping verbs that I learned in 4th grade (and then again in 7th grade, to the tune of "Hail To the Redskins"). Mrs. Rothman said, "I promise you if you learn them now, you'll never forget them." Man, was she right. Ok, enough of the side note on what we remember from elementary school!

KOOZA = AMAZING

**Update: I added my own commentary on the pictures about what the performers were doing. So if you are going to see the show, and don't want to spoil any of what you might see, then don't read what I wrote!! **
The reason why we needed to leave South Carolina on Thursday, was because we had tickets to KOOZA (a Cirque du Soleil show) on Friday afternoon in Baltimore. Neither of us had ever been, and I had really really been wanting to see a performance. After we had the tickets (which were a generous birthday gift to Ron from his Mom), I started hearing mixed reviews about the show, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Well, we LOVED it. I found some pictures from their rehearsals to include. I didn’t want to give away cool details about what they do in the show, but I figured I could at least put some of the stuff from their website! The first picture (that I took) is the tent they built for the performance. We weren't quite sure where we were headed, because the directions took us to "Lot O" by the Ravens stadium. Well, we figured out why, because they built their own arena in lot O. I didn't take my camera in, so took a picture from the car.
The Tight Rope: there were 4 men and two ropes. One low and one high, with two men on each rope doing tricks in unison. They didn't even use a net for the first half of their show. Once they started jumping and flipping over eachother and riding a bike across, a net was put up underneath them. One of the jumps over another one of the guys almost resulted in using the next underneath when the jumper lost his balance. He caught caught the rope with is hands as he fell off, and pulled himself back up. Then, got up and repeated the trick flawlessly. Amazing.
See-saw acrobatics: I'm not actually sure what this is called, but that's my spin on it. Two big guys jumped on one end, while the acrobat (most of them were tiny), was awaiting the lift off. Then then did amazing flips in the air, and had some sort of spectacular landing. One girl landed on the shoulders of a guy, who was on the shoulders of another guy. Another acrobat had stilts strapped to his feet and he flipped many times in the air and landed on a pad, on his stilts! AMAZING. This was one of my favorites :).
Unicycle Man: Just imagine this girl being wrapped around his neck like an inner tube or hula hoop, and then he was just twirling it around! All while balancing on one wheel.
Circle of Death: Really, I don't know what to call this, but these guys could do serious harm if they fell off of these cages. They get their momentum going and spin this contraption around and around. They start off 'simple' by just jumping from one side of their cage to the other, and letting the momentum of the spin carry them. But THEN, the guy who you see on the right, get on the outside and scares everyone in the audience! The guy on the left keeps the momentum going so the whole apparatus spins, and once they have their desired speed, the guy on the right starts JUMPING and getting propelled forward, landing on the cage again. I don't know how to really describe this, but I think almost every time I was convinced that he was going to fall to the ground. The next picture shows him in the air and waiting for the cage to come up and around for him to land on. The only safety net they had was sort of a plastic slide at an angle on both sides of the apparatus. So I guess if he DID fall off, he would get propelled at an angle? Not sure, but fortunately none of that was needed. Dare I even use the words death defying to describe this. Unbelievable and again, AMAZING!
Note: This really isn't camera angle trickery (or "trickeration" as you might hear on ESPN); this man was REALLY that high in the air, and THAT high above the hard stage below.
This will probably sound odd, but one thing I appreciated about the show was that it wasn’t perfect. Silly that I would appreciate that, maybe, but this is why. They work so hard at what they do and make it look effortless--even when you know it's not. So to see them slip up, and then fix it, is sort of a reminder that, "hey, this is really difficult and we're human too." During the performance, the landing of two tricks was a bit off, and rather than move past it, they re-did the entire thing, flawlessly. They are people with amazing talents, and I appreciate their effort! What they do is an art, and as long as there is an audience, they will continue to train to be the best they can, in order to be a part of an amazing show like this. I'm really glad I had the opportunity to see the performance, I was in awe at what I was seeing, and I wasn't ready for it to end! It got me to thinking about the fact that it is still a business, and how I hope they are rewarded handsomely for what they do. I think part of what Ron studies has rubbed off onto me, and I have a new outlook on events, such as how they're all about making money. So while I loved the performance, I really hope that the PERFORMERS make a good amount of money, not just the show owners and producers. But that's just my 2 cents on that.

Anyway....I guess the Cirque du Soleil shows are all different, but I highly recommend Kooza! I think it's in Baltimore till mid April if you get a chance to go!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Break

Last week we took a short family trip to Myrtle Beach during Ron's spring break. We hadn't planned on doing anything, but the week or so before we found out about some great deals, so our plan went into action! We got a room with a fridge and a microwave, so we took all of our breakfast and lunch food with plans to only spend money on dinner, so it actually ended up to be quite an affordable vacation.
Unfortunately, Ron hurt his back the Wednesday before, and made an appointment with a chiropractor for the Monday of Spring Break. The good news was that his back was much better by Monday, he had his appointment and we left that afternoon for our oceanfront super cheap hotel room.
Our first day there, Tuesday, was pretty chilly, so we played in the indoor pool for awhile to start out the day. From our balcony we could see the outdoor pool, so when Evi was out there she would ask for the pool, thinking that was where we'd swim. I brought two swim suits for her and when she saw them that morning, she INSISTED on putting them both on. She was so excited to go to the pool. When it was time to leave the room to go down to the pool, she tried to go out through the balcony since that's what she could see. Here’s a picture of her in both suits waiting on mom and dad to take her to the pool, and then one of her enjoying the view (dreaming about being in the pool maybe).

In the afternoon, we donned our sweats and headed to the beach to play in the sand. The cool weather didn’t faze Evi a bit; she had a ball playing out there. We dug in the sand and got as far as a bucket worth of sand towards a castle, but she thought knocking it over was pretty fun. We also enjoyed watching the seagulls, blowing bubbles and looking at the sea shells! Unfortunately for Ron and me, she rediscovered how much she enjoys eating sand (see this post). Really, she tries to eat everything, so I don’t know why this surprised me. But what do I do? Let her eat sand and see how it all plays out, or continue to try to stop her?? She wants to eat everything!!

We enjoyed a yummy pizza dinner that night at Ultimate California Pizza (I think that was the name at least. I know it wasn’t California pizza kitchen though.), with the best Thai pizza that I’ve tasted. Mmmm, I already want to go back for more. There was a super yummy ice cream place next door to the pizza place so we went for dessert. There’s something about being on vacation that makes it seem ok to go out for ice cream.
On Wednesday the sun was out and we took a jog together through the town. I have really enjoyed the perspective that jogging gives me that I just don’t get from sitting in a car. I’ve learned more about our own area through travelling on foot, and I felt the same way in Myrtle Beach, so that was a nice new experience. We went right out to the beach after the run and again enjoyed playing in the sand. I actually put my feet in the surf that day, which was enough to chill my entire body, but at least I touched it! The beach is so calming for me, I love to hear the water, feel the breeze with my feet dug into the sand, and smell the ocean smell. I’m glad my little Evi enjoyed it too. She thought it was hilarious to cover her feet with sand then flick it as high as she could. Ron got a couple of great pictures of our little game. After awihle, Ron and I sort of camped out and let her run around.

She dug an apple out of our bag and decided that Daddy would make the best seat while enjoying it. The picture below with Ron and Evi has our hotel in the background. The name is the Sandcastle.

In terms of photography, I have a regular camera and no training. I see things in my head and how they would make an excellent photograph, and then it never quite turns out how I invisioned it to! The two pictures below are an attempt of nice photography, from my untrained eye and point and shoot camera :). That being said though, I at least really like the shots!

Since we were outside most of the day, there wasn’t much time for the pool. Evi (and her parents) took a late nap after our fun day in the sun and once she woke up (at 7pm!) it was time for dinner. In all of Ron’s years, he’s never been to a Planet Hollywood, so we went there for dinner that night. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the food (not the service), since I’ve never been super keen on the food I’ve had there. Evi was acting her age and wouldn't eat anything but french fries at dinner. She enjoyed some pita bread before bed and again, thought daddy made the best seat. Day two was quite enjoyable.

Thursday morning we checked out of our hotel room and headed to the beach to enjoy our last little bit before we had to leave. Thursday brought the nicest weather of the trip and although the idea of leaving when it was so nice was a bit of a bummer, we at least go to bask in the warmth for a short while before the long day in the car. We had a bit of a struggle over eating sand again. Really, Evi would just sit down, take the shovel and scoop sand into her mouth like a spoon. I guess it tastes good.

We had a wonderful trip and we were so glad to be able to go. One last picture of the journey is Evi asking for "one more" "m-an-m-an-m" (m&m) at a stop. She'll continually ask for "one more" the exact same way. Cute girl.
OH! And I can't forget the Cheerwine! A few years ago when we went to Myrtle Beach with friends, we saw a drink called cheerwine offered at Wendy's. I asked them what it was and they told me it tasted like Dr. Pepper with cherry flavor. I ordered it then and loved it, but that was it for cheerwine until we went back the following summer (when I bought some to take home), because I've never seen it anywhere BUT Myrtle Beach. So in planning this trip, of course we had to go the store to get some more cheerwine (which, by the way, you WILL find at Food Lion and WILL NOT find it at WalMart). Although, now Dr. Pepper has a cherry flavored option, so it probably tastes the same for all I know. But for the sake of an enjoyable memory, I'm gonna stick with cheerwine, since that trip to Myrtle Beach with Ubong, Evin, Steve, and Ron was SOOOO MUCH FUN, cheerwine will always bring a smile to my face. Now I'm finished!

Picture woes

I'm not quite sure how to work all the picture options with blogging. I included this picture on my last post, but it won't enlarge when you click on it there. Apparently, on a new post, it will. So in case you wanted to click on it and actually see anyone's face, here it is. If there's some trick I'm not getting, feel free to share :).

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Promise

Last week I ran into my old neighbor in the grocery store. She lives across the street from my childhood home and I remember her being there most of my life. We had a nice time catching up for a few minutes and she said something that really impacted me. When talking about family activities, she said, “Your family never missed a beat.” She made a comment that many families don’t take advantage of the time they have when the kids are small, and try to make up for lost time later down the road. She pointed out that our family was always doing things together, whether at home or taking trips and outings together. It just meant a lot to me because 1) she was right and we DID have great family time (of course with NO fighting from any of the kids—especially not the youngest two girls :)) and family is the most important thing to me, and 2) because she was our neighbor, our friend, who observed this and knew how important family was to us, or I should say our parents for doing all they did for us. So maybe this instance seems small to an onlooker, but to me it was a big deal. I love my family and have wonderful memories. I’m glad that my parents worked hard to give us new experiences and teach us all they could. As a result, I have a close bond with everyone in my family and wouldn't trade that for anything.

The reason for my subject of “I promise” relates to family trips. Ok, so I referred to no fighting from the kids above. In reality, I’m sure we fought entirely too much and drove my parents bonkers. Before long car trips, my Dad would gather us all in a huddle and have us all put our arms in. He would say a phrase that we had to repeat, and it would start with, “I promise…” and he’d fill in with things like, “to not fight with my sisters”, “to listen to my parents” and other fun and comical things for us to promise before we sat in the car for hours on end. It became a tradition for us before every trip, even as our numbers reduced, we still did it. It ended with raising our hands up in cheers. I’m not sure if it actually worked; maybe my older sisters can remember the details better. But I thought it was fitting to share that story here, since my neighbor helped me to reminisce about the past.
One other story I want to share is about treasure hunts. My parents did such a great job of making us feel special and loved. I remember coming home from elementary school one day to see string all over the yard—in and out of the house, through the trees, everywhere. I’m pretty sure it was Valentine’s Day. At the front steps, we each had our name on a card at the end of a string and we had to roll up our string if we wanted our goodies. So we followed it inside, upstairs, downstairs, in the back yard and the front through the trees (before the tornado so we had lots of trees all over the yard!) on the quest for the Valentine’s Day treat. I believe that time my Dad used an entire roll of string for each of us and it was at least 3 of us, if not 4. What a mess and what fun for a bunch of kids. Other times, we had clues to follow that took us all over the place. I have some great memories and hope to do fun things for my own kids too.
I’m glad I ran into my neighbor, and I’m glad that she noticed that our family “didn’t miss a beat.” No family is perfect and we certainly weren’t in bliss all the time. But my parents worked hard to build togetherness and lasting memories and I’m so happy they did.

This is a family picture in August 2007 at Douglass Lake in Dandridge, Tennessee and it was extremely hot at picture time, if you couldn't tell by the expression on some of the kids' faces :). This was our last family reunion with EVERYONE, but it was before the addition of Christian and Merynne and Jessica. So below is a picture of Amy's family at their wedding in April 2008.I'm not advanced enough with photo editing to put these two pictures together. But here is our family at Amy's wedding.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

addendum

This picture was taken the day after my last post. I guess I posted about the sleeping patterns one day too early! I think it was that night that she was asleep on the bean bag again (no picture though)!
Since then, she's been good about staying in her bed, however, we were also out of town so she wasn't in her room or her own bed. Hopefully we can remind her how comfortable her bed is, as opposed to the floor. But I'll take what I can get, a nap is a nap :).
We've had a ton of stuff going on this week and lots to post about it. I hope to get that done today or tomorrow!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The sleeping habits of a (my) 2 year old

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I thought I'd include several of our sleeping fun photos from the past few months.

Some of Evi's most comfortable positions:


When left alone too long (the shirt has buttons, but she stretched it enough to get one of her arms out of the neck):
The next 3 are from a few weeks ago, once she figured out how she could climb out of the crib. The problem for me? The fact that she couldn't climb back in! These pictures reflect her productivity from the short time until she opened the door and came out of her room. I had the diaper things on the table, she got the container down and, well, you see what she did with it. My oh my did she have an eventful naptime. By the way, the first one with the crib shows the crib pushed away from the wall--she did that before she jumped out.
I took the bars off one side to turn the bed into a toddler bed, so at least she had the option of getting back in bed once she got out. She loves her new found freedom. This picture is from her first day that I left the room before she was asleep in bed. She figured out the "child proof" door knob covers almost right away. First she could open the door with it on, then she figured out how to just get the cover off all togethter. Thanks Target. So, I bought a hook for the outside of the door, and now the door stays shut! Once she discovered that she couldn't get out, she sat on the bean bag chair to read. This is how I found her.

One last picture that ignited my disire to post about the sleeping habits of my two year old. Most days she plays a bit after I leave the room, and will generally get in to bed for her nap. Usually, there will be at least one book in bed with her because apparently she likes to sleep with her "boks". Well, after hearing her play for awhile today, eventually it was silent and I knew she had fallen asleep. I was going to check on her, but I didn't want to risk waking her up so I let her be. After a nice good nap, I heard her making noise so I went to peek in to see if she was awake or just stirring and I didn't see her in the bed. Then I didn't see her on the bean bag. This is where I found her, and I could not resist running to get the camera. If you're wondering about sleeping with a book, don't worry. There was one UNDER her head!

Well, that's a report of some of our adventures of the last couple of weeks! Sure there's stuff going on with Ron and me that I could write about, but right now, Evi is more entertaining :).

Monday, March 2, 2009

My little lifeguard

A few weeks ago, Evi motioned to put on my swimsuit. I'm not sure if she thought if she was wearing it then we had to go to the pool, or if she just wanted to play in it, but I obliged either way. Mind you, it's a red lifeguard swim suit, so I went and got her a whistle and clipped a lifeguard visor to fit her as well. I tried to teach her to point as she was whistling, then say, "walk", and of course, I found it adorable.
Today, she picked up the whistle and we started playing around with it again. This time, I blew the whistle, pointed to the imaginary person on the other side of the room and said, "walk", so she went where I was pointing and said "walk" as she was walking! Then she pointed to daddy and told him to walk, and when he didn't get up, she pulled his hands and pointed him in the right direction to walk across the room. Then it was my turn.
So it's not the biggest deal, but I was laughing so hard as I was following my instructions to walk! I thought I'd post about it to have the memory recorded.