Sunday, July 31, 2011

All about Dad

Some days it's all about Mom. Some days it's all about Dad.

Take a look at these photos and guess what yesterday was ...

All through the night

Nary a peep. That's what we heard from Biscuit last night in his big boy bed.

Well, I take that back. At 7 a.m., I heard him over the monitor saying, "No. I don't want THAT one. THIS one." I'd love to know what he was dreaming about.

We tucked him in last night and put a baby gate in his door. With his room being upstairs and ours downstairs, we didn't want to run the risk of him using his new-found freedom of getting out of his bed as a chance to hurl himself down the stairs!

He didn't look too sur
e about the whole bed situation when we tucked him in last night.

I went up to check on him when I wok
e up this morning. It brought tears to my eyes to see that baby in a real bed. I'm guessing it'll be like that with many things to come, that I'll have a harder time than he does.

Biscuit did a great job, and I think a big fuss is in order. This calls for pancakes!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Big boy bed

Biscuit is not shy about telling you he is not a little boy anymore. He is a big boy.

So we're moving him into a big boy bed. It's actually a toddler bed, but if calling it a big boy bed helps Biscuit get used to the idea of sleeping somewhere different, big boy bed it is.

Jeff's parents bought the bed for Biscuit's Christmas present, but we just haven't felt he was ready until now.

So tonight will be the night. We'll see how it goes.

Here's the bed:

Friday, July 29, 2011


Back in May, I put the first two years of this blog in a book. I thought it would be a nice keepsake for Biscuit's grandmothers and other members of the family.

I couldn't buy copies for everybody, so on the website where the book was published (, I put the status of the book as public, so anyone who wanted a copy could buy it. It's $6.20 + shipping. Not too bad, I think.

But imagine my surprise when I learned that someone was asking $130.05 for the book!

Jeff's aunt saw a copy of the book at his parents' house. Her daughter decided to order a copy for her, and she just assumed that, like everything else, the book could be had at Amazon. Somehow or another, the book is listed on Amazon with me as the author. It says it's sold through a broker I've never even heard of for ONE HUNDRED THIRTY DOLLARS AND FIVE CENTS!!!

I tell you what, if anybody wants a copy of the book, go to Lulu and spend less than 10 bucks. Then subtract that from $130.05 and send me the difference. I'll put the money in a college fund for Biscuit ... or maybe just buy a pair of cute shoes!

Letters from home

A friend of mine took as job as a chaplain at a summer camp for the month of July. I went to summer camp every year from the third grade through my senior year, and I have some wonderful memories. So I thought it would be fun to share some of those memories with my friend through letters. Mail call was always a favorite time of the day for me at camp because Mama always made sure I had mail coming.

My friend had to leave her husband, pets an
d the rest of us for the whole month of July, so I told Biscuit that we were going to work on a project for her. I took some scrap paper and drew letters to spell out a message to her. Then, with Jeff's help, we put Biscuit in the swing in the backyard and took pictures of him holding each letter sign.

I started each letter with the date, her name and this: "How are you? I am fine. Here's the next lett
er in your message."

I love getting hand-written notes from
people, but one thing I love about typing letters on the computer is that I can inset photos. So in each letter I wrote, I included one of the Biscuit photos I took, then, amazingly enough, I was able to find some photos online of two of the summer camps I went to as a kid. One of those camps doesn't even exist anymore, yet I did one simple Google search and found a woman who had created a website for people to share their memories of summers spent at the camp.

I hope my friend enjoyed her letters. Oh, and I'll blame her for my infrequent posting lately. It takes a long time to put all those memories into words!

Anyway, my friend should get the last of the letters this week. The last letter included a collage of her name.

Here's a sample of what we did (with a couple of extra photos throw in for good measure):

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Which one will it be?

Sometimes I feel like Jeff and I live with two completely different children -- our lovable Biscuit baby and his evil twin brother. Ah, the joys of the terrible twos.

The laidback part of Biscuit is definitely from Jeff. The go-with-the-flow, whatever-happens-happens little boy who isn't ruffled easily.

But Biscuit is also very routine oriented, and he likes things the way he likes them. He got that from me.

The Jeff parts of him and the me parts of him combine nicely to make a great little boy who is personable, organized and just generally nice to be around.

But sometimes, the evil twin appears, and laidback turns into stubborn. And whatever-happens-happens turns into Biscuit flopping down on the floor in a whiny heap. And his routines turn into demands. And liking things the way he likes them turns into "no, no, no!"

We've seen a lot of the evil twin this week. There's no particular reason that I can think of. He's been sleeping fine. He's feeling okay. Jeff and I have spent as much time with him as we usually do. But Biscuit has just had a bad week.

I got Biscuit out of the bathtub this evening, and Jeff got him combed and brushed and dressed. He had grabbed the basketball pajamas. This apparently was not a good thing.


In the most calm voice you've ever heard, Jeff said, "Well, these are the ones I grabbed, so these are the ones you're wearing."

Biscuit started crying and whining harder. "Why are you crying?" Jeff asked him.

"Um, 'cause I didn't get my way," Biscuit said.

"Sometimes it happens that way," Jeff said. And that was the end of that.

When I came out of the bathroom, I thought I'd play good cop. "Hey. You're wearing basketball jammies. Cool!"

"No, Mom. Basketball jammies aren't cool. Baseball is my game," Biscuit said. "Not basketball. Not basketball."

One night earlier this week, I let Biscuit eat his dinner in the living room at his little table. His sippy cup was sitting dangerously close to the edge of the table. So I reached over and slid the cup closer to the center of the table. You would've thought I just chopped his head off.

"NOOOOOOOOOO!" he screamed and reached for the cup. Really? I moved the cup about 3 or 4 inches, and it required a yell of that magnitude?

"Biscuit, you do not yell at Mama. Do you hear me?" I said to him. I can't believe I added the "do you hear me" part. My Mama always said that to me, and I never liked hearing it. But as a parent now, I understand why she used it. She needed me to assure her that I was listening. "Your cup was sitting too close to the edge of the table. It needs to be closer to the center," I told Biscuit.

"O-kay," he said. Then he reached over and moved the cup to the left about half an inch to get it exactly where he wanted it. I just stared at him. I wanted to laugh because that's so something I would've done as a kid, but I just stared at him for a few seconds until he said, "I'm sorry, Mom. I'm sorry I yelled." I thanked him, and that was that.

I love that Biscuit is pushing the boundaries a little bit. It means that he wants to be independent and learn to do things himself, but sometimes it feels like he's doing it just to push my buttons! Maybe if I work hard enough, I can get him to stretch his limits in a non-whiny kinda way. Yeah, I know, good luck with that!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This food is TOO hot!

Jeff had to work late again yesterday, so I decided to take Biscuit out for dinner.

We went to a local Chinese restaurant where they serve the food family style. Most of the Chinese restaurants around here are really casual with takeout and delivery. But the place Biscuit and I went to is a little nicer.

Let me interrupt myself for a minute and get up on my soapbox ...

I've been reading lately about a movement to ban children from certain restaurants, movie theaters, stores and even some grocery stores. I understand that people get frustrated when kids are allowed to run through department stores, crawl under clothes racks and peek under dressing room doors, or when kids scream in restaurants and throw food on the floor. I get frustrated with that stuff, too. But guess what, that's more the parents' fault than the kids. The kids don't know any better. It's the parents job to teach them how to behave. And clearly that's not happening enough.

But my question is, how can children be taught those things if they're not allowed to be in those places? If you go to a movie and are disturbed by someone with a cell phone, you report him or her to the theater personnel, and they'll be asked to leave. Why not try that approach? Give the kids and parents the benefit of the doubt, and then take action only if you need to.

Jeff and I have worked really hard to teach Biscuit how to act in public and eat in restaurants. I took Biscuit to see the Winnie the Pooh movie last week, and he acted way better than the two teen girls who kept giggling out loud and running in and out of the theater. I don't usually get too up-in-arms about issues, but I tell you what, I might have something not nice to say to the first place that tells me I can't come in with my well-behaved son.

Back to the story ...

The server Biscuit and I had last night looked so young. And she was really awkward with Biscuit. I'm betting she hasn't been around too many kids for an extended period of time. Biscuit tried to talk to her, but every time he said something to her, she just looked at me. It was almost like he was speaking French, and I was his translator.

Anyway, she asked what we'd like to drink. I told her what I wanted, then Biscuit and I looked at each other, and I nodded my head at him. That's the go-ahead signal for him to order what he wants. "I want chocolate milk," he said. The server looked at me again, and I told her chocolate milk was fine.

When she brought his chocolate milk, he said thank you without my prompting him, then I ordered our food.

She brought our food out on a big platter. When she set it down, you could see the steam rising from it. It was really hot. Biscuit looked at the platter, then at me, then at the server.

"You have to blow this. This too hot," Biscuit said. "I can't eat this. It's too hot. Can you blow this for me?"

The server looked truly panicked. She stared at him for a second then looked at me and opened her mouth like she wanted to say something but couldn't think of anything.

"We can blow it ourselves, okay?" I said to Biscuit.

"Okay," Biscuit said, then he looked at the server. "We blow it ourselves."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Yep, that's my boy

The sports department got the sweetest intern this summer. I should've started by saying she's really bright and good at her job ... but she's really sweet.

The intern was with Jeff at a football kickoff event, and they ran into one of the girl's college friends, who is an intern for a website.

Everybody introduced everybody to everybody else. Then Jeff said a lightbulb went off over the second intern's head.

"Wait, are you Biscuit's dad?" she asked.

Jeff said his intern's face turned beet red. I guess she was embarrassed that Jeff found out she had been talking about our baby. She shouldn't have worried. Jeff was so proud.

"Yes, I am," Jeff said. "Biscuit is my boy."

Bed time for Biscuit

We can't complain about Biscuit's sleeping. He started out sleeping 18 hours a day like most newborns, then he moved on to waking up every four hours or so to eat, then he went right into sleeping through the night.

We've had some bumps in the road ... teething, colds and bad dreams ... but for the most part, Biscuit is a great sleeper.

We've never really had a strict bedtime for Biscuit. Our time with him is so limited that I told Jeff that until Biscuit started school, we could just play it by ear. He gets a nap every day at day care, and we do put him down for a nap on the weekends, but as for a set nightly bedtime, we just don't worry about it.

Sometimes, if it's getting late, and Biscuit is showing signs of b
eing tired or if he starts to get grumpy, we make him go to bed. But even then, we put him down and leave him, and he lies there until he goes to sleep.

Sometimes, we don't realize how tired he is until this happens ...

This picture actually tells you a lot about the state of things for us right now.

Do you see the bruise above Biscuit's right ankle? Well, it's rare that you can only see one of those. Usually, between his ankles and knees, there are 8 to 10 of those.

See the red spot above his left ankle? Mosquito bite. He usually has a handful of those, too.

See the assorted cars to his left and right and the black ball by his left shoulder? We find those types of things ALL OVER OUR HOUSE. I would actually bet money that at least one of those vehicles is under one of the couch cushions right now!

I have no idea how he can be comfortable enough in that position to go to sleep, but he does that quite often. The sad thing is that I remember when his legs wouldn't hang off the edge like that. He's getting so big!

Sometimes, Biscuit has bad dreams. That started right around the time he turned 2. I asked his doctor about it when he had his 2-year-old checkup, and he said it's perfectly normal. As Biscuit's imagination develops, his thoughts don't stick to his waking hours, they move into his dreams as well. Every once in a while when he has one of these dreams, he'll scream for us to come get him. Most of the time, we go up to his room, hold him for a little while, then he'll go back to sleep.

Occasionally, it's so bad, he practically begs us to come downstairs. We try to be very careful when we give in to that request because we don't want it to become a habit. But when you get to the doorway of his room, and he's standing up and reaching for you and yelling "Get me, Mama, get me," or "Hold me, pease, Mama," there is nothing you can do but squeeze him tight and make sure he knows that nothing will get him.

On those nights, he gets to join us in our bed.

If I'm being perfectly honest, though, part of the reason we try to limit his trips down to our room is that he is a terrible bedmate. Sometimes he sleeps in the shape of a letter "L." That means his feet are in my back or Jeff's. And sometimes, he tosses and turns so much that you get smacked in the face with his flailing hands and arms. And sometimes, he turns himself across the bed, and I head to the couch.

Like he did one night last week. Can you see the sliver of sleeping space Jeff has?

This morning, Jeff went to wake up Biscuit. He said Biscuit was lying with his head toward the window. He usually sleeps with his head toward his closet.

"Good morning, Biscuit," Jeff said while rubbing Biscuit's back. "It's time to wake up."

Biscuit opened his eyes, looked around and realized he was lying the wrong way.

"Don't pick me up yet. I'm sleeping the wrong way," Biscuit said.

For real. Can you believe that?

So Jeff gave Biscuit a minute to turn himself around, then he scooped him up and brought him down to start the morning.

We're getting ready to put Biscuit in a toddler bed. Jeff's parents bought it for Biscuit for his birthday. Luckily, the crib mattress will fit on his new bed, so fingers crossed, he'll keep on sleeping!

Portrait of a swing set

If I were to have a gallery show, I would call this photo ...

"Portrait of the @#$% swingset after a morning rain"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few funny things Biscuit is saying these days:

Mr. Negativity: When something doesn't sit well with Biscuit, he frowns, purses his lips and says, "That not be fine, Mom."

Last week, we were on the way home from day care, and Biscuit asked for chocolate milk. I told him we didn't have any, but that next time he and his dad went out for dinner, he could get some. Apparently, that answer was unsatisfactory. "That not be fine, Mom. I want chocolate milk now." Anyone want to lay odds about whether the boy got chocolate milk or not?!? Mama ain't a pushover!

Loud noises: Biscuit is learning about volume control and what's appropriate in different situations. I didn't even realize I was doing it, but when I would tell him he was being too loud, I would say, "You're being too loud in the store," or "You're being too loud in the office." I guess he picked up on me adding the place at the end, so now, when I call him down, he'll say,
"I'm too loud in the restaurant, Mom?" or "I'm too loud in the store, Mom?"

Gotta wear shades: Biscuit doesn't like bright sunlight. We have a pair of sunglasses for him in each of our cars. I try to remember to put them on him before we leave, but sometimes I forget, and he doesn't remind me until we're on the way to wherever we're going. And once we're in motion, I can't reach him or his sunglasses. On the way home yesterday evening, Biscuit said, "Mom, I need to go to my house. The bright can't come in the house." He wanted to be inside so the sun wouldn't shine in his eyes. That bright can be rough sometimes.

Words: I think it's funny to try to figure out which words Biscuit will pick up on from Jeff and me. We have all kinds of differences in how we talk, so it's really funny to hear some of each of us in a sentence.

A few of his latest include ...
  • Toss instead of throw: Biscuit tosses his toys into the bucket. He tosses the ball into the net. That one came from Jeff.
  • Tissue: I think this one actually came from day care, but Biscuit doesn't wipe his nose on a Kleenex. He uses a tissue. Technically, he's right. Tissue is the generic word. But it just sounds funny to me, since I've spent my whole life saying "Kleenex," no matter what namebrand I'm using.
  • Fireflies: This one just has to be fixed. Our sweet baby boy walks around pointing out fireflies. No, no, no, baby. They're lightning bugs. This one is non-negotiable!

Rhyming: We found out on the way home tonight that Biscuit doesn't quite understand rhyming words. I mad some comment about something Jeff had done, and I said, "Bad, dad." So I told Biscuit that "bad" and "dad" are rhyming words.

"What about 'mom' and 'bad,' do they rhyme?" I asked him.

"No, Mom. Those not rhyme."

"Can you tell me some rhyming words?" I asked him.

"Yeah. 'Bad' and 'horse.' Those rhyme words, Mom," he said.

We'll keep working on it.

Story time: Biscuit loves stories. He loves for us to read books to him. He loves for us to make up stories. And he loves for us to tell him stories about when we were little. He's recently started telling us stories.

"Listen to a story," he told us tonight on the way home. "Once upon a time, there was a horse and a bear. The bear, he roar the horse, and the horse run. And the bear chase the horse. And the horse run. And the bear roar the horse. And the horse hide. The End."

Then he told us another one ... "Once upon a time were two farmers and a bear. The bear, he roar the farmers. And the farmers run."

Are you sensing a theme here? There's always a bear, there's always chasing, and there's usually hiding. It also tickles me how he uses "roar." Instead of saying "the bear roared AT the horse," he just says "the bear roared the horse."

But his stories are starting to get a lot more details and plot points. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How lucky we are

I've been trying to decide whether to write about this or not, but since I don't name names or places in this blog, I think it will be okay.

Here goes ...

I was crying when I pulled into the parking lot at work today. It had nothing to do with me or my family or my job. But I just couldn't let it go.

When I dropped Biscuit off at day care this morning, I sensed tension even as I walked into the lobby. The summer campers were lining up to get on the bus for their field trip, and the chaperones seemed to be hurrying them along.

Biscuit and I shimmied through the crowd of kids and started down the main hallway. That's when I saw a teacher holding a 4-year-old around his chest. She had his arms pinned down in a bear hug. I honestly thought they were playing at first, but as I looked farther down the hall at another teacher, I knew something was wrong.

Biscuit and I made our way past the 4-year-old and the first teacher. I looked at the second teacher, who looked very upset.

"Are you okay?" I asked her.

She said the little boy had flipped over a table, which hit a chair, which hit her leg. I wasn't trying to be nosy, but she usually smiles and says "good morning" to Biscuit and me, and right then, she looked like she might cry. Apparently, the incident wasn't the first serious problem they'd had with this little boy, and for the safety of the other children, they were going to have to expel him.

I stood beside her for a minute while we watched the first teacher still holding the boy. He finally calmed down, and she sent him to the bathroom to wash his face.

"What's it like for him at home?" I asked the second teacher.

She looked at me and just shook her head. "It's a mess," she said.

I told her I was sorry and that I hoped her day got better, but what I really wanted to do was grab that little boy and run far away. He's 4 years old. FOUR YEARS OLD! What has he seen and experienced and heard in four years that could cause such anger issues in him?

A couple of weeks ago, I got to day care, and Biscuit's teacher told me that he had struggled with keeping his hands to himself that day. I asked for a more direct translation of her statement, and she told me that he had hit one of his little friends.

"Did you hit one of your friends?" I asked him. He nodded his head. "What happened when you hit her?"

"Um, she cried," Biscuit said while frowning and looking at the floor.

"Do you think she was sad?" I asked him. "Do you think it hurt when you hit her?"

"Yeaaaaaah," Biscuit said as he started to cry. He knew that it was wrong for him to hit his friend, and he felt bad about it.

But this other little boy, does he have anyone helping him learn right and wrong? Does he have anyone explaining the consequences of his actions and how they affect other people? Does he have somebody telling him that he's loved and that he's a worthwhile and valuable person?

We're so very lucky that with the support of our family and friends, Biscuit should have a fighting chance out in the world. He's a smart little boy. He's personable. He has so many people who love him and want to see him succeed.

But what about that other little boy?

So that's why I was crying when I got to work.

I felt kinda dumb about it because it doesn't have anything to do with me. Part of it was that I wanted to fix things for that little boy. Part of it was that I felt guilty and maybe not quite worthy of the great life I have. Part of it was that if this little boy has this many problems now, what kind of future can he possibly have?

I called Mama this morning to tell her what had happened. She was a receptionist at a high school, so I knew she'd understand. She had told me before that she would see kids who were smart and funny and loving, but they never learned how to deal with anger or frustration. Or they came from abusive homes. Or they just weren't loved like they should've been. She said it always hurt her because there was nothing she could do about it.

But she DID do something about it. She loved them. And she talked to them. And she showed an interest in them as people.

Today was the first day I had ever seen that little boy. And I guess I won't see him again. But I hope that someone somewhere sometime can make a difference for him.

And now, I'm going to hug my son!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A night at the movies

Jeff was working tonight, so I decided to take Biscuit on a date.

We started with dinner. It involved chicken nuggets, fries and chocolate milk, so my boy was a wee bit excited. Then we headed to the movies. The new "Winnie the Pooh" movie is out, and it's only about an hour long, so I figured it was short enough to fit within his attention span.

We sat through about 15 minutes of previews and commercials. Remember that short attention span I was talking about? I was worried that Biscuit would be done and ready to go before the movie even started.

One of the previews was a movie about chimpanzees. Biscuit went nuts! "Look, Mom! Goriwahs! Goriwahs! We like goriwahs!"

Between the previews and Pooh, they showed a cartoon short film about the Loch Ness monster. It was really cute, and Biscuit liked it. Although, he did keep referring to Nessie as "that dragon."

"That dragon finally find a home, Mom," he said. "That dragon and his duck finally find a home."

The theater we went to is a bit older. It doesn't have stadium seating, so it's not usually as crowded as the other theaters. One thing I didn't consider, though, was the seats. They're the kind that flip down and stay down from your weight. Guess who doesn't weigh enough to keep one down?!?

I had meant to grab a booster seat, but I had popcorn, a drink, my pocketbook, Biscuit's racecars (that I forgot to make him leave in the car) and our ticket stubs.

As we walked down the hall, I told Biscuit we were looking for the No. 9 theater. "Let's look for a door with a No. 9 on it," I told him. He seemed to enjoy the hunt.

We made it to our theater, and I sat down and put all my stuff in the seat to my left. I lifted Biscuit into the seat on my right. I let him go, and he started folding up like a pocket knife.

"MOM! MAMA! MAMA!!!" he yelled.

The booster seats were all the way back in the lobby, which would've meant me scooping up all my stuff, along with Biscuit and heading out of the theater, down the hall and into the lobby. I figured I'd just put him back in the seat and prop my leg on the edge to hold it down.

Nope. The armrests were fixed, so that wouldn't work, either.

I sat Biscuit up on my lap, but he wanted to lean back. And if he leaned back, he wasn't tall enough to see over the seat in front of us.

So I put my arm on the armrest and propped him up there. Then my hand went to sleep.

Needless to say, I couldn't reach my popcorn or drink in any of these scenarios. And I had a really light dinner because I love movie popcorn.

I don't know if I can exactly explain how we worked out the seating. Biscuit was sitting partially on the armrest and partially on my arm, leaning on my shoulder and chest. That lasted through about half the movie, then we did the same positioning on the other side.

Finally, the Pooh movie started.

I think overall, Biscuit enjoyed the experience. He did say twice during the Pooh movie, "I'm done with this bear movie, Mom." I told him we'd stay for just a little while longer, and both times, it was just long enough for him to get interested in the movie again.

I enjoyed my date night with Biscuit, but I think I'll make it a three-person date next time ... Biscuit, me AND Jeff.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

At the car wash

As I was leavin work this evening and walking to my car in the parking lot, I noticed that the bottom part of the car was terribly dirty. We had a good bit of rain while we were in the mountains, and I had a line of dirt and mud along the bottom of my car. We usually wash our cars at home, but as hot as it's been here, I decided that I would splurge and make someone else do it.

Biscuit and I drove up to the car wash place, and as I rolled down my window, the
machinery that pulls your car through was making quite a fuss. I was trying to tell the girl that I just wanted a basic exterior wash, but I was distracted by Biscuit, who had decided that he wanted no part of that loud noise.

"BACK UP, MOM! I DON'T WANT TO GO IN THERE!" he yelled from the back seat.

I tried to reassure him and explain the car wash, but he didn't want to hear it.


I rolled up my window, put the car in neutral and we started getting pulled through.

"Ohhhhhhhh!" Biscuit yelled. But then when he saw what was happening, he calmed

When we got to the end of the wash, the car rolled off the tracks, and you feel a
bit of a jerk. I was putting the car in drive when Biscuit yelled, "LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!"

We pulled up to the drying area. "He has towel, Mom. What he doing?"

Biscuit is constantly asking questions. And quite frankly, sometimes my first
response is frustration at having to explain every little thing. But I try to remind myself that every time I explain something to him, he's learning. So I start explaining.

"He dry my window, Mom," Biscuit said. "Now he dry your window, Mom. ... Now he dry
that window. ... Now he dry that window. ... Now he dry the car. ... He done now, Mom?"

"Yep. He's done now," I told him. Then we brought our shiny clean car home.

Annual family trip

Wow. Has it been a week already since I posted anything?

Last Thursday, we went to the N.C. mountains with my side of the family. There were 10 of us. My parents, my brother and his wife, two nieces and a nephew, Jeff, Biscuit and me.

We rented a nice house that was on a gravel road off of a twisty-turny-curvy two-lane mountain road. There was a creek that ran through the side yard, a fire pit down beside the creek, a foot bridge the kids thought was great, a big ol' gas grill, a big porch with chairs and a swing ... and that was just the outside.

Inside, we had three bedrooms, a living
room with leather furniture, a dining table that sat 8 of us, a huge kitchen and two bathrooms. The place was stocked with dishes, pots and pans, linens, everything we needed. We took a bunch of food and ate all but one of our meals there at the house.

My Mama had to have a chat with me because I was getting all freaked out about our plans while we were there. I always find the house we stay in, so I guess I feel like I should make plans for all the outings, too.

I found a free concert in the yard of a historic house for Friday evening. I called, and the woman I talked to said we could bring a picnic dinner to eat while the music was going on. I figured we could buy burgers or pizza or chicken or something to take with us instead of having to deal with making and packing sandwiches and stuff. The concert was 20 minutes from the house we were staying in. We loaded up two vehicles with people and chairs and headed out.

We started to see sprinkles of rain about halfway to our destination, and by the time we got to the site of the concert, the streets were flooding with water gushing out of manhole covers. Plans for Friday were ruined.

I had forgotten to pack a pair of long pants for Biscuit, so we ran by to get some. I found a cute pair of khaki cargo pants marked down to $3, then I figured while we were there I'd pick up a few essentials we'd forgotten -- namely band-aids and marshmallows. Then just before we got ready to leave the store, I thought, "All the kids have been drinking milk, so I'm going to buy more."

That sounds perfectly reasonable, but as I was pushing my buggy toward the door, I realized that we were heading to a restaurant next. And it was 9,000 degrees outside. And the milk wouldn't last until we had dinner and drove 20 minutes back to our house. We had mad
e our dinner plans less than 20 minutes earlier.

I'm not sure why, but I got so mad and frustrated. The plan was to hear music while we had dinner, then hit a grocery story. But there I was with a half gallon of milk and nowhere to store it until we went back to our house probably an hour and a half or so later.

Being eve
r the practical one, Mama grabbed the bag and my receipt, and we headed over to the customer service desk. Mama said, "My daughter just bought this milk and didn't remember that we're not going straight home. Can we get a refund?" The customer service lady was really nice about it. She gave me a refund with no problem at all.

I don't know which feeling was stronger -- embarrassment that my Mama took me to the return desk and handled the situation for me or relief that she was there and could help me realize that it SO wasn't a big deal to get the problem fixed.

The next day, I had planned for us to go shopping in a little town near our house. We got to the general store and decided to get ice cream for the kids. It was a little after 4 p.m., and everybody was sitting on a screened-in back porch when the owner came out and said
, "I'm sorry folks. I'm leaving for the day, and I need you to move to the front porch." Everybody looked at everybody else, got up and headed for the front porch. We looked at the sign on the door. It said the store's hours were 9 a.m. to 5-ish p.m. I never was good at math, but it seems to me that if you tell people you close at 5 p.m., it's probably not good business to run your customers out at 4:10.

And somehow, that seemed like my fault, too.

I have no idea why I was feeling guilt over all of this stuff that
wasn't anywhere near being in my control, but Mama finally put a stop to it.

While everybody was standing around in the kitchen and living room that evening, she said, "Okay, everybody. Next year, Kim is going to find the house we'll stay in. Then she'll look on the Internet and find a list of possible things to do. Then when we get to the house, we'll all decide as a group what we're going to do. She is not responsible for making sure everybody has a good time. Everybody can handle that for themselves."

The funny part is that I was the only one holding me up to such high expectations!

Here are a few pictures of where we stayed:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Night owl

My son has inherited my night owl gene. It's 10:56 p.m., and he's saying he's not ready to go to bed. He's not even showing signs of being sleepy.

Remember that song about the farmer who had a dog named Bingo? Well, he's making up his own version of it.

"There was a farmer who had a race car, and Mopar was his name-o."

What's really frustrating is that I was ready to go to bed about a half hour ago.

Maybe we can play a new game. I'll tell him that we'll race to see who can go to sleep fastest. I think I know who will win ... and it ain't the little man!

@#$% swingset

It's taken me a few days to figure out how to write this post without using all swear words!

We wanted to get some sort of swingset for Biscuit, but we couldn't decide what to do. My brother built one for his kids, but he put a lot more money into it than we wanted to spend right now. Plus, he lives 2 1/2 hours away and has a demanding job, so we weren't sure when he might be able to get here and built it for us.

I shopped around town and online for prices and styles. I found a few that I really liked, but it always came down to the money. The ones we loved were too expensive. The ones we could afford were cheaply made.

Finally, I told Jeff, "The metal swingset my brother and I had when we were kids is still standing at Mama and Daddy's house. The swings and slide are gone, but Mama
uses the A-frame as a hanging flower pot stand."

So we decided that's the way we'd go.

Here's the picture from the website:

Here's what we saw when we opened up the box:

And within 10 minutes, the swingset had d
rawn first blood.