Saturday, June 30, 2012

Family Trip, Part 4

One of the traditions on our family trips is building campfires. Having a fire pit is a requirement for the house we stay in.

Marshmallows roasted over a fire is one of my favorite vacation treats. I like them brown and crispy on the outside and soft and smushy on the inside. There's an art to cooking a good marshmallow, and I've had plenty of years of practice to get it right!

My brother is always in charge of building the fire. He is usually a good fire builder. And like my marshmallow skills, he's figured out some tried-and-true routines over the years.

I have to share, though, that one time before either of us was married, he and I went tent camping, and all his fire skills put together barely got a flame started.

We got to our campsite and had a couple of hours until dinnertime. We decided we'd go on a hike. I got out the brochure that showed the trails and figured out one that would take us by a pretty little waterfall and back around by the lake. It should've taken us 45 minutes at the most.

We started walking. We were following colored tags on trees to make sure we were still on the right trail. But it started drizzling rain. We kept walking, thinking we'd be at the waterfall soon, then we could head back to camp.

Then the rain started pouring. Then we got lost. We were still on a trail, but somehow, we were following blue dots on trees instead of the red dots we were supposed to be following.The humidity kept fogging up my glasses so I couldn't see, and it was starting to get dark.

We finally found our way to a paved parking lot, complete with a park ranger sitting in his truck. We told the ranger what had happened, and he offered to drive us back to our campsite. We were very tired and very relieved by his offer. Based on what we told him, the ranger said over the course of 2 1/2 hours, we had hiked a little over 6 miles, most of it uphill.

When we got back to our campsite, we realized that all our wood was wet, and we had planned to have hot dogs cooked on the fire for dinner. We had supplies to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but for some reason we were bound and determined to get the fire started.

My brother, who runs a heating and air company, had a 300-page black-and-white catalog in his truck that he didn't need anymore, and although it took the entire catalog as kindling, he got the fire going. We had hot dogs and roasted marshmallows for dinner. And I think it was the best hot dog and marshmallows either of us has ever had!

On our family trip, the fire didn't present anywhere near that kind of challenge. We had dry fire wood and nice weather. My brother started the flame about an hour before dinner, so by the time we were done eating, the coals were perfect for my marshmallows.

In addition to our treats, we all sat around talking. We tend to have our best conversations around the fire. We share memories. We laugh. We sing songs.

And speaking of singing songs ... the conversation hit a lull, and out of nowhere, my Daddy sang the first line of a song.

"There's a little girl, in our neighborhood," Daddy sang.

Then Mama sang, "Her name is Charlotte Johnson, and she's really lookin' good."

Then I sang, "I had to go and see her, so I called her on the phone."

Then Jeff sang, "I walked over to her house, and this was goin' on."

Then my brother took over.

"Her brother was on the sofa, eatin' chocolate pie.
Mama was in the kitchen, cuttin' chicken up to fry.
Daddy was in the backyard, rollin' up a garden hose.
I was on the porch with Charlotte, feelin' love down to my toes.
and we were swingin' ... yes we were swingin'."

I hated that song when it came out in the early 80s, but for some reason, sitting around the fire with us all singing and laughing like idiots, I enjoyed it.

Another tradition of our trips is random dog visitors. For some reason, we find that dogs are attracted to our clan, and they just show up at the most random times.

The fire was starting to die down, when we hear a jingling noise on the main floor deck. The house was built into the side of the mountain, so the fire pit was actually off the basement, and the main floor deck was one floor up. 

We looked up to see a pretty black and white dog strolling along the deck. We spoke to him, and his tail started wagging. He figured out how to get out off the deck into the driveway, then he headed down to our fire.

The dog (we later learned his name was Riley) wandered around to greet each person, then he just laid down by the fire like he was part of the group.

I reached down to look at his tags, and his owner's phone number was listed. We called Riley's owner, and he said he had been looking for him all evening. We waited until Riley's owner came to get him, then we put out our fire and headed inside.

Our fire was a nice way to spend the last night of our trip.

Here are a few pictures:

Biscuit kept getting distracted and rubbing his marshmallows on the rocks.

That's okay. Biscuit's marshmallows didn't turn out too well, but mine did. And I shared.

"Mom. I luuuuuv marshmallows," Biscuit said.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Family Trip, Part 3

When Jeff, Griffin and I go to the mountains, we basically get on a nice four-lane highway and head west. My parents and my brother and his family (who live 5 minutes away from my parents) travel northwest, mostly on an interstate.

There's a town near the intersection of these two roads that has become our annual meeting place. There's a restaurant there that has something for everyone. The kids can stretch their legs, and it leaves us with just another half-hour drive to get to our destination.

There's always a sense of excitement when we leave the restaurant. We're in a three-car follow-the-leader for the last part of the trip, and that has become sort of the official beginning of our vacation together.

Once we get to the house, it's usually pretty chaotic. We figure out who's going to sleep where, then we start getting the stuff out of the cars.

On the first night, we make homemade pizzas at the house. It's easy to make, everybody loves it, and we don't have to get everybody piled back into the cars to go out.

Actually, we eat most of our meals at the house. We divvy up the grocery-buying and cooking responsibilities. We've got a pretty good rhythm down.

As far as keeping busy, we try not to. Some of us have a hard time not getting antsy (namely my brother and me), but we try to force ourselves to relax and not be on a schedule.

We found out that a community center in the closest town has free Friday evening concerts during the summer, so we decided to check it out this year. The band sets up on the front porch of a historic house, and audience members bring their own chairs and sit in the yard.

As we listened to the first band, we saw some storm clouds drifting by. We were a little concerned, but no rain came, so we stayed for the next band. After they had sung about three songs, my Mama leaned toward us and said, "We need to go."

We've always said that Mama has some witch-y tendencies. She often knows things before the rest of us. So we didn't question it when she said we needed to leave.

We were parked about three blocks from the community center, so we started walking. We got into the car and had time to buckle our seatbelts, and I kid you not, the heavens opened. It came a monsoon.

And what do I hear from the backseat of my car? "I told you we needed to leave," Mama said.

We decided to get some dinner, so we headed to a restaurant we enjoyed last year. We could barely see the road for the rain, then the hail started.

We got to the restaurant only to find that it had closed, and a chain restaurant had moved in. We pulled into a parking lot to check out our other food options on the GPS. Our restaurant rule is that we don't eat at chains while we're on vacation. But we couldn't see where we were going, and we didn't know anything about many of the other restaurants. So we settled on a chain buffet restaurant. I have to admit that it turned out to be really good.

A quick sidenote ... as we were leaving town Sunday, our plan was to stop somewhere and have lunch together before we headed to our respective homes. As we turned at an intersection, we saw a couple of people on the sidewalk holding signs advertising that restaurant that we liked last year. It hadn't closed after all; it just moved. So we went in and had a nice lunch together.

When we were at the house, we usually clustered into small groups. A couple of people would watch TV. A couple would sit on the deck. A couple would shoot pool on the pool table in the rec room.

One night, my 8-year-old nephew and I were sitting in the living room alone. We were talking about whatever topics came up. Then he asked me something about Biscuit. I answered him, and he just nodded his head and looked around like he was thinking.

In a quiet voice, he said, "Aunt Kim, I sure am glad you had him."

I just smiled at him. "I sure am glad I had him, too," I said.

We always have a good time together ... the 10 of us, but some of those little moments are just the icing on the cake.

Here are a few more pictures from the trip:

Jeff relaxing in the glider on the deck.

The view from the deck.

Our neighbor.

The view from the deck just before sunrise.

Biscuit standing on the bridge that did not offer river access like the website said it would.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Family Trip, Part 2

Let's talk about puke.

No, it's not a polite topic. And I wasn't very polite as Jeff and I spent an hour in a fastfood restaurant parking lot cleaning throw-up out of our car.

I'm not super-strict about what Biscuit eats. He gets snacks and has ice cream every once in a while. He had a lollipop just yesterday ... right before dinner!

But while we were on our family trip, my little man ate the equivalent of a month's worth of junk food. He had store-bought cookies. He had Kool-Aid. He had crackers and chips. Any of these things in small amounts is fine, but Biscuit just isn't used to tons of that stuff in his belly. And being the sneaky 3-year-old that he is, he would ask my Mama for a cookie, and she'd give him one. Then he'd ask his aunt for a cookie, and she'd give him one. Then he'd ask his oldest cousin for a cookie, and she'd give him one.

And all of that led to a spewing event at the halfway point of our trip home from the mountains.

We pulled into the restaurant to get some ice cream or a milkshake, but just as we rounded the back of the building, it started.

We swerved into a parking spot, and I jumped out and ran around the car to get Biscuit. I fumbled with his car seat straps and finally got them unbuckled. I grabbed him under his arms and pulled him out of the backseat. He was still throwing up as I dragged him into the parking lot.

As soon as his feet hit the pavement, though, he was done (of COURSE he was). He looked up at me and said in a quiet voice, "Mom, I slobbered on your shirt ... and in the car ... and on my clothes."

"It's okay, baby," I said. "We'll get everything cleaned up. You don't worry about a thing."

Luckily, I still keep a box of wipes in the car. By the time we were done with the cleanup, we had used half the box. I grabbed a change of clothes from Biscuit's suitcase, and we stripped him down, right there in the parking lot. Biscuit didn't seem to mind. He was just happy to have clean clothes on.

We had his DVD player in the car, so I set him up in the front passenger seat to watch a movie.

Then the moment of truth ... I went to the back door and looked inside the car.

Honestly, when I leaned into the car, I thought I might add to the mess Biscuit had made. And that's unusual for me, especially after working at the hospital and seeing that kind of stuff on a daily basis.

But it was EVERYWHERE!!!

It was all over the carseat, the seat protector that goes under the car seat, the back seat of the car, the side of my pocketbook, the top and inside of the camera bag (a really nice $60 camera bag) and the bag that holds Biscuit's DVD player and movies.

Seeing as we had handled a similar situation in May, we were able to come up with a game plan pretty quickly.

I took extra paper goods in case we needed them at our rental house, so I dug out a large trash bag. We removed the cover from Biscuit's car seat and shoved it in the bag. We added his clothes, the DVD player bag and a few other things and tied it up. We took the car seat out of the car and did our best to clean it in the parking lot.

The car seat has nooks and crannies like you wouldn't believe. And there are straps and fasteners that are affixed to the bottom of the seat that come through in assorted slits and slots. Well, when something that's mostly liquid pours over all those slits and slots, it leaks through. I was using toothpicks wrapped in baby wipes to clean as best I could. It might sound like I was being too fussy with it, but imagine having to deal with the smell while you were shut up in the car for another hour and a half.

Jeff and I spied a superstore across the street. We looked at each other, and for a moment, we considered ditching the vomit-covered car seat in the restaurant's dumpster and going to buy a new one. The $150 price tag was the only thing that stood in the way.

After we got back on the road, Biscuit started thinking about everything that had happened.

"Mom, what was that stuff that came out of my mouth?" Biscuit asked.

"That was throw-up," I said.

"What did throw-up come out of my mouth?" Biscuit asked.

"Well, you know how you put food in your mouth and then it goes to your belly?" I said. "Well sometimes your belly doesn't like the food you put in the there. So your belly makes the food come right back out your mouth. You can also throw up when you're sick. But what happened to you today was because of stuff you ate."

"Oh, okay," Biscuit said. And that was all he needed to know.

The good news is that this incident was the only bad thing that happened on our trip. I'll share more (better) stories and photos about our trip soon.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Biscuit on the deck at our rental house:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Family Trip, Part 1

Jeff, Griffin and I were in the mountains this past weekend with my side of the family. There were 10 of us ... my Mama and Daddy, Jeff, Griffin and me and my brother, his wife and their three kids.

We do this trip every year from a Thursday to Sunday. It's always during the summer, but the dates just sort of vary depending on what everybody has going on.

I think this was the last year we could play it by ear, though. I had a really hard time finding a house for us. The houses we've rented before now require a 5-day minimum rental, and we just can't stay that long. And as I started searching some other rental house websites, I was running into the same problem.

In my search, I found a house I really like in a different mountain town than we usually go to. I was going to book it this year, but it was already booked for the weekend we had available. I told my family how much trouble I had finding the house, and we all agreed that for next year, I'm just going to pick some dates, and we'll work around them. It's a little scary to have to book so far in advance, but I guess that's what you have to do to get the place you want.

Anyway, our requirements for our house are as follows: at least three bedrooms, at least two bathrooms, a living room big enough for all of us, a kitchen equipped for cooking (as we eat most meals at the house), a firepit and some kind of water (preferably a river or creek).

The house I found met all our needs and exceeded some. It had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, a game room, a well-equipped kitchen, a firepit, and according to the house's website, a short, pleasant walk to take you to an easy river access.

The website lied. It was a long, long, LONG walk straight down hill to the river. Then when we got there, we found an overgrown staircase that stopped about 4 feet above the river. That in itself wasn't terrible because we could've jumped, but it looked like someone had put a big metal box into the river as a last step, but it had been there so long, it had warped and rusted. No river access and a straight-uphill walk back to the house.

It wasn't a huge deal, but we did feel a little deceived.

Other than that, everything was really nice. The mattresses on the beds were the nicest rental-house mattresses I've ever slept on. 

The house was 2,300 square feet, which is a good bit bigger than any of the other houses we've rented. But it was really nice that there was a living room and game room where we could spend time together. And there were also two wraparound decks, a small yard, a loft area and other places where each of us could also spend some time alone.

Here are a few pictures from the house's website:

The room where Jeff, Biscuit and I slept. Biscuit has this cool little cot that we can set up almost anywhere.

My brother and sister-in-law's bedroom.

Obviously we didn't visit when there was snow, but you can
see the house better in this photo than in the summer one.

The living room. The doors go out onto the deck.

The loft area. My nephew slept on the futon in the loft.

The bedroom where my parents slept. It was the only bedroom on the main floor.

The game room in the basement. There was also a bedroom and bathroom
down there, and a deck that wraps around the whole bottom floor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Out of the mouth of my babe

Here are a few things Biscuit has been saying lately:

Wait for it: Jeff took Biscuit to day care the other morning, and as Jeff was getting ready to leave, Biscuit said, "Dad, I won't miss you today."

But before Jeff could get offended, Biscuit said, "I won't miss you because I know you'll come back to me."

How much?: We had chicken for dinner tonight, and Biscuit chowed down. He finished his chicken and asked for more.

"Eat your beans, and if you still want more chicken, you can have more," I said to him.

He finished his beans and asked Jeff if he would get him more chicken.

"How many pieces do you want?" Jeff asked.

"Um, TEN THOUSAND!" Biscuit said.

Jeff scooped up two strips and cut them into 10 bite-size pieces.

"Would 10 pieces be okay?" Jeff asked.

"Yeah," Biscuit said. "10 is my favorite number."

I'm glad he settled for 10. If he had eaten 10,000 pieces, I might've had to buy him new clothes.

It's contagious: I had a headache this evening, so I laid down on the couch for a few minutes.

"Mom, why are you laying down on the couch?" Biscuit asked.

"I don't feel well, baby," I said.

"I don't feel well, either, Mama," Biscuit said. "My stomach feels horrible. It's just horrible. Can I get on the couch with you?"

"Yep," I said. "Climb up here with me."

Biscuit snuggled in for all of about a minute.

"Okay, Mom," he said. "I feel better now."

Word play: We went to a restaurant over the weekend that served a fruit cup with the chicken strips kid's meal. My Mama asked what kinds of fruit were in the fruit cup, and the server listed off the ingredients.

"Cantaloupe?" Biscuit said with his voice going up about eight octaves. "She said 'cantaloupe,' Mom. I thought it was 'ANTelope.'"

"They're both right," I said. "Cantaloupe is fruit, and antelopes are animals."

Then Biscuit started singing, "Oh, give m a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the cantaloupe play ..."

I pretty sure Biscuit thinks he's the first person to ever make that connection. And I'm perfectly willing to play along. My boy was grinning from ear to ear with his discovery.

Out of the blue: Jeff was changing a light bulb in the china cabinet, when Biscuit started calling him.

"Dad! Dad!" Biscuit yelled. "Come here. Come in here, Dad." 

Jeff walked into the bedroom where Biscuit was watching TV. "Dad, when I'm fast asleep, the Tooth Fairy is going to come take all my baby teeth," Biscuit said out of the blue.

"Is that so?" Jeff said.

"Yep," Biscuit said. And that was the end of that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fat lip update

We're still in the process of unpacking and doing laundry after our mountain trip. I'll share more about our trip, but for now, here's an update picture of poor Biscuit's fat lip.

(I just noticed that you can almost see the reflection of the waterfall in those beautiful blue eyes of his.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fat lip

Biscuit fought the picnic table, and the picnic table won!

We're in the mountains with my side of the family through Sunday. We picked a great house to stay in. It's HUGE (pictures to come later, of course)! Everyone has plenty of room to roam without getting in anyone else's way.

Today's outing included a picnic lunch and playtime at a park/playground. After we ate lunch, Biscuit turned to run back toward the play equipment, caught his foot and fell. His mouth went straight down on a metal picnic table bench. There was a good bit of blood but nowhere near as much crying as I thought there would be. 

He bumped and cut his chin. He cut the inside of his lip on a bottom tooth. And he busted his lip. Biscuit said it hurt a lot, but once we got the bleeding stopped, he was ready to go again.

Here are some pictures of poor Biscuit's fat lip.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not much to write about

Our house has been full of whining, crying and grumpiness for the past several days. (And some of it has been Biscuit!)

We're getting ready to go on our annual family trip (with my side of the family), so our house is a mess. It's not even a long trip, but it just seems that we have piles of stuff on every flat surface in our house. And that drives me NUTS!

Throw in some work stress, a million errands to run and a to-do list that just keeps getting longer, and you'll understand the mood at our house.

We're also dealing with the fact that our boy has been whining nonstop for days. His teacher even commented on it yesterday afternoon when we picked up Biscuit from day care. She said he wasn't being bad, he just wasn't listening well, and he was whining. She said there are three kids in their class who will have new siblings soon, and they're not dealing well with it. And upon hearing those kids whine, the others usually follow suit. So poor Biscuit's teacher has been hearing the same whining we've been hearing, but she's hearing it from 12 kids!

I guess if I consider that, one whining kid isn't so bad. Hopefully, time away from home, and time with my family will help refresh all three of us.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Out of the mouth of my babe

Some funny things Biscuit has been saying lately:

Story time: Biscuit doesn't get the difference between "read" and "tell." So when he wants you to tell him a story, he'll say, "Dad, can you read me 'The Three Billy Goats Gruff'?"

It doesn't sound that odd when you're sitting in the living room with a vast library of kid books on the bottom shelf of the coffee table. But it's a little disconcerting to hear the request as you're driving down the road.

The Big Apple: Biscuit walked by the TV as a city skyline appeared on the screen. 

"Hey. Is that New York City?" he asked. It was actually Chicago, but at this age, I didn't really see the point in arguing about it.

"Yep," I said. "It's a big, big city."

I'm not sure where he heard about New York City, but seeing as he's said it more than once, I'm guessing he thinks all large city skylines are NYC.

A new song: "MOM! MOM! My friend Darius taught me a new song about dogs!" Biscuit yelled.

"Can you sing it for me?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said. "It goes like this ... 'Who let the dogs out, roof, roof, roof, roof, roof."

Wait until I see Darius again!

Twisted fairy tale: Biscuit asked Jeff if he would "read" him the story about Jack and the Beanstalk. Jeff said he would, then he launched into the story.

Jeff decided to skip the part where it talks about "the blood of an Englishman." Biscuit doesn't miss much, and he's pretty in tune with language. So if he hears something that catches his attention, he will ask about it. I think it's cool that he understands as much as he does, but it can be exhausting answering all the questions he comes up with during any regular conversation.

Allow me to interrupt myself by saying that we've taught Biscuit to say "excuse me" if he wants to say something while we're talking. He's really good about doing it, but he doesn't quite understand that he should say "excuse me" once then wait for us to see what he wants. Right now, he just says "excuse me" over and over again, usually getting a little louder each time. Good manners take time, I guess.

Anyway, Jeff said he thought the "blood of an Englishman" part might require an explanation, and he just didn't want to go there. But Biscuit knew something was missing.

"The giant said 'Fee, fie, foe, fum,'" Jeff said.

"Excuse me, Dad. You missed a part," Biscuit said. "You're supposed to say, 'Fee, fie, foe, fum, I smell a bowl of Englishman.'"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Random stuff

Some random stuff Biscuit has been doing:

Lock the door: I got up this morning, and as I walked toward the living room, I realized that the front door was unlocked. I was the first one up.

Jeff used to have a bad habit of not locking the door when he comes home, but I thought I had finally broken him of it.

I walked into the bedroom and yelled at Jeff, "Jeff! You have GOT to start locking the front door! We don't live in some tiny, little crimeless town!"

Jeff didn't say anything. I just figured he was ignoring me because I yelled at him. Actually, he was trying not to rat out his son.

When I walked back into the living room, guess who I found standing there locking and unlocking the front door?!? Biscuit had gone behind us and unlocked the door last night. I'm normally pretty good about checking, but from now on, I'll be even more diligent about it.

Plus, we had a little chat with Biscuit about when he can and can't mess with the door locks.

We ate what?!? Jeff, Biscuit and I went out for a nice dinner recently, and Biscuit couldn't decide how he felt about what we ate.

Biscuit and I shared an appetizer of wontons stars with crab and cream cheese, then we shared an order of honey chicken. Jeff ordered the dinner special, which was broiled lobster and shrimp.

When Jeff's food came out, the lobster was resting on top of the tail it came from. Biscuit looked at it and said, "Dad, what in the WORLD is that?"

"That's lobster, boy," Jeff said.

"But not like lobster that you find on the beach," Biscuit said.

"Well, yeah, it's that kind of lobster," Jeff said.

"LOBSTER?!?" Biscuit said with his head tilted to the side.

"You know those crunchy things you and I ate earlier?" I asked Biscuit. "They had crab in them."

"But not the kind of crab you see on the beach," Biscuit said.

"Yep. It's that kind of crab," I said.

I'm fearing conversations about chicken, pigs and shrimp will be soon to come.

Busted: Biscuit and I were driving home this evening on a four-lane highway.

"Mom, how many miles per hour are we driving?" Biscuit asked.

"We're driving 58 miles per hour," I answered.

"What's the speed limit, Mom?" Biscuit asked.

"The speed limit is 55 miles per hour," I said.

"Mom, is 58 more than 55?" Biscuit asked.

"Yes. 58 is more than 55," I said.

"So you need to slow down, right?" Biscuit asked.

"Yeah, I guess I do," I told him.

Maybe next time he asks, I'll fudge it a little!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

His happy place

A post from The Daddy Man:

A weather front was heading over our house last night, and I got all stuffed up and had a headache. I took a decongestant and laid down on my bed to relax for a few minutes. Biscuit was there watching cartoons at the same time.

"Dad, will you read me a story?" Biscuit asked.

"I will in a few minutes, boy. I don't feel good right now," I said to him.

"I don't feel good when people don't listen to me," Biscuit said.

"Who doesn't listen to you?" I asked him.

"Sometimes people don't listen to me," Biscuit said. "But I think about firetrucks, and that makes me happy."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Out of the mouth of my babe

Some fun things Biscuit has been saying recently:

Toppings: "Mom, what is this called that's on my pizza?" Biscuit asked.

"Don't you remember?" I asked. "It's pepperoni." Biscuit had been calling it red cheese.

"I remember now," Biscuit said. "It's pepperoni. Not macaroni. Pepperoni."

"That's right," I said. "So what's on your pizza?"

"Um, I don't remember," Biscuit said.

"Is it fettuccine?" I asked, and Biscuit shook his head no. 

"Is it whatchamacallit?" I asked, and Biscuit shook his head no.

"Is it abracadabra?" I asked, and Biscuit's eyes got really big.

"MOM! Abracadabra will appear you something!" Biscuit said (a little too loudly for a restaurant). "When I have my magic stick and say 'abracadabra' it will appear something. Like a cow!"

'Cause what you really need in a pizza restaurant is a cow that was "appeared" by a magic stick.

Language: We were sitting at the table, and out of nowhere, Biscuit said, "Mom, I'm sorry I said 'farted.'" Then he immediately went back to eating.

First of all, Biscuit hadn't said 'farted.' Second of all, I'm not real sure why he would apologize for it without some sort of explanation. Third of all, is that really table-appropriate talk?

We completely ignored what he said, mainly for fear that he would latch on to that word and repeat it often.

I'll admit that I did put my hand over my mouth and giggle silently, though.

The name game: Biscuit is very interested in learning people's first, second and third names. He knows his own first, second and third names. He can spell "Griffin," and he knows what his other two names start with. So I guess the next step is to figure out that information about everybody else.

We were all sitting around the dining room table at my parents' house this past weekend, when I asked Biscuit, "What's my other name?"

"Your other name is Kim," Biscuit said.

"What Dad's other name?" I asked.

"Um, his name is Jeff," Biscuit said.

"What's Papa's other name?" I asked.

"Papa's other name is Jerry," Biscuit said.

"What's Grandmama's other name?" I asked.

Biscuit was stumped. He has no idea what Grandmama's other name is.

"Grandmama's other name is just Grandmama," Biscuit said.

"Grandmama's first and second names are Linda Marjorie," I said. "Can you say that?"

"Yep. Linda Marmorie," Biscuit said. And everybody had a good laugh. "Was that funny, Mom?"

"Yes, it was," I said.

"Being funny is a good thing because it makes people laugh," Biscuit said.

"That's right, baby," I said. "You made everybody happy, and that's a good thing."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Family history

When my brother and I were little, we would spend two weeks with our maternal grandparents every summer. They would make the 5 1/2-hour trip to our parents' house, then we would ride back home with them. A couple of weeks later, our parents would drive down to pick us up.

I have some great memories of those summer trips.

Some of those memories are little things, like the fact that one of the cereals my brother and I liked had a coupon on the back of each box for a free small ice cream sundae from Dairy Queen, which was in walking distance from our grandparents' house. We spent the whole year collecting enough coupons so we could each have a sundae every other night for our whole trip.

Then there are some bigger things I remember, like the family history that I learned. Granny somehow became the keeper of the cemeteries. She made sure the headstones were clean and in tact. She also made sure everybody had season-appropriate flowers. My brother and I accompanied her on these cemetery trips when we were younger. I can tell you where almost all of my relatives on that side of the family are buried.

I didn't realize what a big deal that was until this year's reunion.

After Granny died, Mama and her brother took on the cemetery duties. Mama is a great shopper, so she finds good deals on flowers all the time. She buys the flowers and puts them together in arrangements. Then on her trips down that way (she usually goes down a few times a year), she makes rounds and replaces all the old flowers.

This past year, she and her brother were placing flowers at my great-grandparents' grave and some of the other family plots, and they noticed that the headstones were stained pretty badly. It's a pricey endeavor to clean headstones, so they decided to ask for donations at the reunion.

You would not believe how many people at the reunion had no idea that Granny had taken care of the graves all those years. And they had no idea that my Mama and uncle had taken over. Then I found out that most of the people at the reunion don't even know where the graves were.

I love good stories, and when I was a kid, that's how I saw our family history. Granny would tell me all about relatives (close and distant), and although I don't remember all of them, I do still remember a lot of the tales she told. I love knowing family history. So I couldn't imagine not knowing where my past lies.

As a matter of fact, I took my personal motto from my great-great-great-grandmother Margaret's grave stone. It says "She hath done what she could." It's from the book of Mark in the Bible. I just love what it says. "She hath done what she could." You can't ask anybody for more than that.

Anyway, I felt lucky when I realized how much I know about our family's past. It's something I'll be able to share with Biscuit when he gets older. And I can also take him to the cemeteries and show him names and dates and messages on gravestones.

Here are some before and after photos of my great-grandparents' grave. Mama and my uncle did a great job cleaning it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our weekend

My niece and sister-in-law both had birthdays this weekend, so we headed down to Mama's house (2 1/2 hours away from home) for the weekend.

We left after work Friday evening and got there about 9:30 p.m. The frustrating thing about the ride down is that sometimes Biscuit gets sleepy in the car, which means he could sleep for 15 minutes or he could sleep the entire 2 1/2 hours. Naps aren't innately bad, but when the nap happens about 7 p.m., all bets are off for the rest of the night.

What usually happens is that we get to Mama's, and Biscuit is wide open. Then it takes us until midnight to call him down enough to sleep. Then, since he isn't sleeping in his own bed, he wakes up early. 

Then Saturday, we spend the day with my parents, my brother and his wife and three kids, which often means no nap for Biscuit. Then he gets overly tired and hard to deal with on Saturday night, which means he sleeps restlessly and talks in his sleep. 

Then we go to church with Mama on Sunday morning, have lunch with everybody, hang out for a while, then we come home. Usually, Biscuit is so tired from his off-kilter sleep schedule and from playing with his cousins, he crashes on the way home. He usually sleeps away most of the trip, then by the time we get home, he's rested and wide open. 

It sounds like the trips are terrible, but compared to some of the stories I've heard from other parents, Biscuit seems to handle the weird sleep schedule pretty well.

Plus, he's just so excited about being at my parents' house and my brother's house. My parents live in the woods. My Daddy has a tractor, a riding lawn mower and a dune buggy, all greatly appealing to Biscuit. The dune buggy is a 60s-model Bug that Daddy rigged up with roll bars. My brother and I both learned to drive on that thing when we were about 7 or 8. It's a stick-shift, so after learning to drive on it, I was really confused the first time I got into a car with an automatic transmission.

My 8-year-old nephew is learning to drive it. He drove Daddy and Biscuit around the field in front of my parents' house. It's funny to me how relaxed my Daddy is about the whole thing. He just sits in the passenger seat and rides, occasionally throwing out some instructions.

My niece's birthday party was Saturday afternoon. The theme was flip-flops, and I made her cake after finding a cute example to follow online.

I made the top of the cake look like it was covered in sand (crushed vanilla wafers). I also made some candy sea shells in lavender and white with sprinkles.

My brother and sister-in-law have birthday parties down to a science. My brother cut a piece of plywood a little bit smaller than those rectangle table cloths you can buy. He sets it up on sawhorses in the garage, and that's where the cake, plates, napkins and presents go. Another table is set up with a cooler under it for drinks. Then they set up a fold-up camping picnic table and a small picnic table my brother built for his kids. 

The kids arrive and immediately go out to play. My brother has built a playground in his back yard. Actually, that's what Biscuit calls is ... the playground. There's a playset that has three swings, two slides, a fort, a sandbox, a trapeze and monkey bars. There's a seesaw. There's a trampoline. And there's a tree house that has a club house door in the bottom and a fireman's pole that you get to by climbing out one of the windows.

After the kids play, they come in for food. We light candles and sing. Then everybody gets cake, ice cream and chips. After they eat, the kids go back out to play some more.

When it's time to open presents, the gift giver sits in a chair beside the birthday kid. That way, you get a picture of everybody there, plus if presents get mixed up, you can look at the pictures and tell who gave what.

I went inside my brother's house at one point, and I saw the photo collage I made him for his surprise 40th birthday party. I was happy he had it hanging up somewhere. He's pretty stoic about most things, but he really enjoyed that party, and I think this collage with everybody's signatures will be a good reminder of that night.

So despite missing a good bit of sleep, we all had a good time. It's always good to get our whole group together. When we're all at my parents' house, we tend to split up into small groups. The kids play together in the living room or outside. My Mama, sister-in-law and I often sit at the dining room table or on the front porch and talk. Jeff, my Daddy and my brother go to my Daddy's shop and shoot pool. But even when we're scattered about, we're still all there together.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gray area

Most of the things Biscuit has learned so far in his 3 1/2 years of life have been pretty black and white, but as he's getting older (and smarter), we're struggling with trying to teach him about gray area.

Biscuit knows that red light means stop, yellow light (despite what his father says) means slow down, and green light means go. But I did the unthinkable yesterday. I turned right on red, and Biscuit realized it.

"MOM! MOM!" Biscuit yelled from the back seat. "YOU CAN'T GO! THE LIGHT IS RED!!" 

He was very concerned about the fact that the light was red, but I went anyway.

"If you're turning right, and no cars are coming, you can turn even when the light is red," I tried to explain to him.

"So those other cars can turn, too?" Biscuit asked. 

The other cars were in the left lane, so of course they couldn't turn until the light turned green. 

Gray area.

He also doesn't quite get stop signs. He can spell "stop." And he knows that when you see one, you stop. But he asked me recently, "Mom, you stop at stop signs. Will it turn green when it's time to go?"

So I explained that when it's a stop sign, you stop and look to see if any cars are coming. If you see cars coming, you wait. If no cars are coming, you can go.

"Like at the red light when you turned?" Biscuit asked.

Ugh! This stuff is hard to explain!

Biscuit loves music. He often requests specific songs, mainly when we're in the car. If we happen to have the CD with us, no problem. But he can't seem to get that the radio won't just play whatever song you want.

Another example: Biscuit got two new pairs of pajamas the other day, and of course he wanted to wear a pair of them that very night. I explained to him that the jammies had to be washed before he could wear them. I bet he asked five times if we could wash his new jammies so he could wear them.

"Dude!" I said. "We can't run the washing machine just for one pair of jammies. We have to wait until there are lots of dirty clothes to go in there."

Biscuit needs an explanation. He needs us to answer the "why" question for him. One of the many things I love about Biscuit is that if you explain to him why things are the way they are, he usually says, "okay," then he's ready to move on.

But he has moments. Sometimes when you've answered every question he can throw at you, and he's still not satisfied with your answer, that's when the hard parenting comes in. If you think it's hard trying to explain difficult concepts to him, try keeping your composure and patience when your explanation just isn't enough. That's when I have to pull out the "because I'm the mama and I said so" answer. That answer trumps anything he can throw at me.

There are some things I heard growing up that I swore I'd never repeat. But now that I have a 3 1/2-year-old in my house, all bets are off.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pancake nouveau

A post from The Daddy Man:

I picked up Biscuit from day care yesterday, and since we were on our own, I asked him what he wanted for dinner.

"Um, I think I'd like honey chicken, Dad," Biscuit said.

"We don't really have any honey chicken, boy," I said. "Is there something else you'd like?"

"Can we have pancakes but from a different pancake restaurant?" Biscuit asked.

"Yeah, we can do that," I said.

We're lucky enough to have several good diners near our house, so Biscuit and I headed to the one we haven't tried yet.

Biscuit and I walked in to find that all the booths were full.

"Where do you want to sit?" I asked him, thinking he would pick one of the tables.

"Let's sit in those chairs that spin around," Biscuit said. He was talking about the bar stools at the counter. They had backs on them, so I wasn't worried about Biscuit falling off his seat.

Biscuit said he wanted pancakes, of course, so I placed our order then took him to the bathroom to get his hands washed up. When we got back to our seats, there was a woman sitting next to Biscuit. I wondered how he would react to that, but in less than 20 seconds, he had struck up a conversation with her.

"I have a firetruck and a police car," he said to her. She talked to him about the cars and told him that she has a son who likes cars and trucks, too. Then he noticed that they both had red straws.

"My straw is red, and your straw is red. They match!" Biscuit said. "And my shirt is red, and the ketchup is red. Red is my favorite color."

The server brought our food. Biscuit's pancake was shaped like Mickey Mouse. He recognized it right away. "Dad! It's Mickey Mouse!" Biscuit said.

Biscuit cleaned his plate, then I had to take him back to the bathroom to get all the syrup off him. I told him he should tell the lady who sat beside us that he enjoyed talking to her.

As we walked out of the bathroom, Biscuit headed over to the lady. "Excuse me. It was nice talking to you," he said.

"It was nice talking to you, too," the woman said and smiled at him.

Biscuit and I rode around for a while after dinner. He asked if he could have fresh air, so I rolled down the windows. We took the long way home on some country roads, so Biscuit could feel the wind in his face.

"Where's my Mom?" Biscuit asked.

"She's having dinner with a friend," I told him.

"So she'll be home when she's done playing with her friend?" Biscuit asked.

"Yep," I said. "She'll be home later.

Instead of going in the front door like usual, Biscuit and I went through the fence into the backyard. We played baseball until it was too dark to see. He had to take turns swinging all three of his bats to hit the ball.

After it got dark, we picked up our stuff and went inside. Not five minutes later, Kimmy came home. Biscuit had to tell her all about our evening together.

It was a nice time with my boy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


As I was walking through the store the other day, I spied a toy from my childhood that I decided Biscuit had to have. And guess what, they even had it in his favorite color.

I wasn't sure if he'd like it or not, but I got my answer this evening when we got home, and I showed him how it worked.

Check him out:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Biscuit and me

Jeff had to go to a work thing tonight, so when I picked up Biscuit from day care, I thought he and I should have a date.

I got the boy some chicken nuggets and fries, and we headed to a local park. It's actually more garden than park, but they have picnic tables, and there are usually plenty of people and dogs wandering around.

We sat down at a picnic table, and I spread out our food. There were some really tall pine trees around us, and since they don't have low branches, we had a good view of people walking around. 

"Mom, look at these tall trees," Biscuit said. "They're so tall that you and me and Dad can't even climb them. We would have to get a helicopter to take us to the top of the trees."
We also had a straight-up view of the blue sky with big, white puffy clouds.

"Mom, can we look for shapes in the clouds?" Biscuit asked.

"Yeah," I said. "What do you see?"

"Look! There's a cowboy on a giraffe," Biscuit said. I can't say that I saw a cowboy on a giraffe, but I did see one that looked like a butterfly.

After we ate, I asked Biscuit if he wanted to walk around for a while. And boy did he take up on my offer.

We threw away our trash and headed to the closest sidewalk.

"Left or right?" I asked Biscuit.

He looked both ways then said, "Um, left. Definitely left."

We walked on that sidewalk until it forked. Biscuit stood at the fork and looked over his shoulder at me, as if to ask which way we should go.

"You're the leader," I said. "You pick which way we go."

Every time we got to a fork, I told him he could choose. He seemed to really enjoy getting to be in charge of where we were going. If he got too far ahead of me, I would either have to call him back or either he would stop, turn around and say, "Vamanos, Mom," which is Spanish for "let's go." 

At one point, Biscuit started to gallop on his imaginary horse. When he would get to a part of the sidewalk that was uneven, he'd stop and say, "Mom, say 'salta' so I can get over this ridge." "Salta" is Spanish for "jump."

After about 40 minutes of walking, I had to cut short his stint as navigator. My leg and foot problems were saying it was time to head for the car, and of course we were on the opposite side of the place from where the car was.

I saw a dog heading down the sidewalk that went toward our car. "Hey, you wanna follow that dog?" I asked.

"Ooo! A dog!" Biscuit said. "Let's go that way."

Success! We got back to the car and headed home.

Our date was spur of the moment, so I didn't have my camera, but here are a few pictures from the garden's website: