Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Surprise Like No Other!

I love a good surprise.

Last week, with the help of my friend Jody, we pulled off a fantastic surprise for our kids. I'm still in shock over the fact that we did in fact get the job done without ruining it ourselves, but we DID it! Yay! (patting self on the back)

A couple of months ago, Jody told me that she and the kids would be visiting her parents early in the summer. That visit would bring them about half the distance between us and where they currently live. My mind raced-surely there could be a way for a mini-reunion with some planning. When I broached the idea with her, she jumped on board and loved the idea of keeping it a secret from all the kids-hers and mine.

Last Thursday morning, I put bags that I had packed in the middle of the night in the car, pulled pillows out from underneath their heads (seriously!) and added them to the trunk as well. I woke my sleeping children, urged them to hurry and get ready-that I had a surprise for them.

At last we were on the road. The girls were completely stumped as to where we might be going. I was loving it!

Jody and I had agreed ahead of time to meet at a Chik-fil-A just off of our final exit. The girls and I arrived first and having talked to Jody, I knew that they were on their way.

Figuring that with my luck, I'd be in the middle of paying for our lunch while Jody and the kids walked in and miss out on seeing their faces and getting photos. I decided to delay ordering anything and stalled . . . trying to anticipate how excited the girls would be when they saw their friends. I took the girls to the restroom. I perused the menu. I commented on the weather as I continued wandering towards the windows in search of Jody's vehicle. I even asked the girls if they'd like to play in the indoor playground for awhile, to which Cassidy's immediate response was a vehement "NO!" The girls told me that they simply wanted to order food and get back on the road so that they could reach their surprise destination. I panicked. Surely Jody would be here soon.

I feigned a headache . . . wandering around Chik-fil-A with my head in my hands, peeking out every so often to glance at the door. I got up, debating (out loud) whether we should go to the car for ibuprofin or to put something in my stomach first. Finally, I saw the familiar vehicle pull into the lot. I watched our friends get out and I grabbed the girls, telling them I'd decided to go to the car after all. As we all pulled on doors from opposite directions, we met in the entryway. Cassidy and Rachel were the first to realize what was happening, followed by the younger girls. I will never forget it for as long as I live!

BFF's . . . Rachel and Cassidy share a hug!

Mackenzie made sure to show Miss Jody the new gap in her mouth. I didn't realize until seeing this photo, that Jody was snapping a photo of it as well.

Once we got back to Jody's dad's house, the kids started to put up tents for the evening's camp out to take place in the back yard. Rachel's Girl Scout skills were put to the test. (Sadly, the camp out only ended up lasting about an hour or so before the girls traded their tent for beds indoors that night.)

After setting up camp, Jody's dad treated us to a night at the ball game. The local minor league team was playing and we headed for the ballpark. Here, the kids pose for yet another photo for us.

Poor Hannah was so tired by all of the excitement, that she fell asleep-even though it looks like she is awake. It would seem that Mackenzie's young friend is one to sleep with her eyes partially open. What I like best about this photo is the remains of her dinner on her lap. Jody and I were cracking up.

The next day, Jody drove us around her old stomping grounds. As her friend, it was great to be able to put things together in my mind from past references to the house she grew up in to where her grandmother currently lives. She also drove down the famous "Double Dip" in town-two very steep hills that come one right after another. I pity the people who live in that area during wintertime. In a snow storm, there's no driving on the Double Dip. Period.

In usual fashion, our kids started telling us that they were hungry not long after we left the house that morning. We stopped for lunch here . . .

I (heart) you, Sonic!!!

Of course, we always love a good playdate at the park, so we took our food to go and set up a picnic here . . .

had a great time on the playground for a few minutes and finally decided to head back so that we could get on the road to go home.

After getting the car loaded up, we had another round of hugs and headed for home. A great time was had by all!

Gregg and I had been in touch during our lunch and he informed me that we were heading into bad weather. (Oh goody!) He rerouted me, putting me on course to perhaps get home a bit sooner rather than later. With storms ahead, I was grateful for the possibility of getting home a little earlier. We made it 2/3 home before we hit anything too severe. As the sky continued to get darker and the lighting began appearing in the darkness, I turned on the radio. Severe weather was forecast for the area we were currently traveling in, specifically for travelers between mile marker 161 to 199.

We were at marker number 163.

As a quivery voice asked from the backseat "when are getting home, Mommy?" I decided to kill two birds with one stone. Cassidy could bury herself in the map and (hopefully be too distracted to look out the windows) get the hang of it enough to let me know how many more exits until the one that would ultimately lead us home. As the lightning was touching down in the fields next to us, Mackenzie would comment here and there. "Ooh . . . that one was bright!" and "Wow, Mommy . . . it's so close to us!" Yes indeed, it was close. Too close for comfort. We finally made it to mile marker 200 and I sent up another silent prayer.

Finally, after an agonizing wait for a rest area in the midst of traffic being at a standstill due to road construction, ANOTHER re-route home and rain coming down sideways for the last 20 miles of our trip, we made it to our back door. The girls were exhausted, as was I. Gregg and I tucked them into bed after which I wandered into the den and burst into tears from the sheer relief of getting home safely. Praise the Lord.

In spite of all the detours, delays, and bad weather, it was great to see these faces all together again!

Thank you Lord, for safe travel and for good friends. Amen!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another First . . . Come and Gone

It happened.

Another milestone.

Have I mentioned how much I have a love/hate relationship with these moments in the lives of Thing 1 and Thing 2? I love 'em because these monumental events keep life exciting, new and usually bring about big smiles from the girls. I hate 'em because they serve to remind me that yet another "first" has come and gone.

And although I knew this moment was just around the corner, it still took me by surprise.

Mackenzie was beyond excited. It was a big day for my "baby."

Welcome to our home, tooth fairy. We've been waiting for you!

P.S. At 6:15 this morning, I bumped into a very sleepy Mackenzie wandering out of her bedroom. She was holding her tooth fairy pillow, but looking quite glum. Here is how our conversation went:

Me: (Excitedly) Hi sweetie!!! Did the tooth fairy come????
Mackenzie: (Very subdued) Yeah.
Me: What did she bring you?
Mackenzie: A dollar (No enthusiasm in her voice whatsoever. I'm wondering which of her little friends may have told her that the tooth fairy brought them heaps of cash, candy, their own water park or a trip to Disney World for losing their first tooth.)
Me: What's wrong? You seem sad.
Mackenzie: (silence)
Me: (Getting down to look her in the eye) What's wrong?
Mackenzie: The tooth fairy forgot to bring my new tooth for me and now I don't have any tooth for that spot anymore.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Few Reasons To Love the Start of Summer . . .

The strawberries this year ROCK!! I nearly ate an entire pint yesterday by myself. And don't EVEN get me started on how they taste when you turn them into jam . . .

Here, Nanna gives a few pointers to Thing 2. Gotta love an afternoon at Nanna and Papa Dean's house!

Notice how Cassidy looks excited and ready for action. (kidding) I'm thinking that Mackenzie needs a few tips on how to pitch the ball.

I love the yearly reappearance of the roses on the bushes that once lived in Poppop's yard. Every time I look at the "D.K. Meyer" sign that once hung outside of his home, I wonder if he's shaking his head-thinking how crazy we were to dig the bushes up in the first place.

I'm so glad that we did.

Some days, it's a good reminder of the blessings that come with new seasons in life.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Today's Blog Post Features a Guest Writer . . . Brought To You By Cassidy!

Hey!!!!! Yeah it is true!!!! I am writing today because it's already the last day of school. I just can not believe how shocked I am about this. The reason also is because my teacher this year was like an uncle to me. He is just a fun guy. His name to me is Mr.K or Mr.Karas. As you can see in the picture, it looks like he is yelling at me into his favorite toy- the bullhorn. Of course he would never do that. Now that I am done with 4th grade (almost, 3 more hours) I will be at the top of the school. That will be a hard job. I know that I will probably be fine. Well some of the awesome stuff that we did this year was Camp Tecumseh, Friday Night Live (Sorry you missed it Rachel) and much more. Oh well, I guess I am done. Bye!!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Broken Eggs, Hula Hoops and Elephants . . . It All Starts With a Dream

Now that the raccoons are safely back in the Disney movies, I feel so alive . . . able to enjoy life again-without the worries of rabies-infested monsters dropping out of the ceiling.

Life is good.

So, it was with great excitement and a renewed energy that I sent Cassidy off to school last week and wished her luck in "The Great Egg Drop" event for science class.

Ah, I can sense a future in physics . . .

Or not.

Thankfully, she is keeping an open mind to her future career plans. Nanna treated us to a night at the circus last week and Thing 1 even mentioned an interest in joining the circus. I smiled as she bubbled with enthusiasm-wondering what it would be like to be a circus person, all while I sat and watched the female ringmaster put a coat on over her costume at intermission and sell pictures of people holding a snake.

Following our night under the Big Top, Cassidy went off to school to participate in "Field Day." I volunteered to help out and caught some photos of Thing 1.

As she attempted to keep several hula hoops going at once, I flashed back to the memory of the previous evening's circus and the hula-hooping girl who looked like a human version of a slinky. If Thing 1 plans on joining the circus, she's got her work cut out for her.

Designing cushioned contraptions for fragile eggs and taking part in stuff like scuba relay and the over-under-wet-sponge game deserves a break, so we took the Things to the drive-in movie theater on Friday night. Thing 2 seemed to enjoy the previews the best, begging Gregg to honk the horn along to "The Beep Beep Song" and then laughing hysterically at the ad persuading the movie-going audience to purchase mosquito repellant contraptions.

In beween outings during the weekend, Mackenzie spent some time in her bedroom. It would seem that our youngest child hasn't found her ideal medium yet . . . that expressing herself through crayon and marker on the stuffed dog, table and chairs in her room, the coffee table in our den or the kitchen table hasn't quite suited her. Therefore, she took to her bedroom walls with a blue crayon. Seriously. Upon discovering it, I expressed myself in a very passionate way and then guided her to the joys of scrubbing walls with a damp rag. Oddly enough, the mere dampness alone isn't doing a whole lot to get the crayon off so it has meant doing A LOT of time in her room. Alone. With a rag. Hmmm . . .

And so, to conclude today's post, I give you a piece of expression from our young Picasso. She has titled her piece, "The Monster."

And I anxiously await the results of my own science experiment called "Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser Meets The Monster."

Stay tuned.