Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Growing, growing, grown

There's more to come about our vacation trip, but Jeff had an evening assignment tonight, so Biscuit and I are busy playing super spy cowboys.

Biscuit was wearing his vest and one of his play cowboy hats (yes, he has more than one play cowboy hat, and he also has a real one), and as I started to really look at him, it made me smile.

I didn't realize quite how long Biscuit has had his cowboy vest and chaps.

I remembered when he first got it from his grandparents, and it was actually too big for him. After he grew into it a little more, we took him to a horse farm just down the road and took some fun pictures.

Check out the difference:

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Starting our vacation

I realize that I'm sharing things out of order, but let's go back to the beginning of our vacation.

We left on a Saturday morning and drove to Hagerstown, Md. That wasn't our final destination, but Jeff wanted to go to a car show on the way to his parents' house. The car show is a national event, so the hotel prices close to there are ridiculous. So I basically started from the car show site and moved south until the room rates dropped. And that landed us in Hagerstown.

We arrived at our hotel, and as soon as we walked in, I thought it looked nicer than a hotel should for the low price we were paying. And apparently, Biscuit did, too.

"Wow, Mom," he said. "This is a really nice place."

We got checked in and headed up to our room. And as soon as we walked in, I realized that Biscuit has absorbed WAY too much HGTV. 

I enjoy watching the shows where an agent shows the couple several houses and they have to choose which one they want. They air several shows with that theme - some about regular houses, some about beach houses and some about log cabins. 

Biscuit is usually playing when it's on, so I figured he was ignoring it. But I was wrong.

We walked into our room at the hotel, and he looked around. And then his commentary started.

"Mom, you did a really good job picking this place," he said. "Just look at it. It's a really nice space."

He started walking around the room.

"We have two beds, and they have all the covers," he said, motioning toward the bed. "And look over here, there are drawers and a nice TV."

The room had a long furniture unit that was a TV stand on one end with drawers under it, a dressing area with a mirror above it in the middle. It also had drawers under it. Then on the end of the unit in the corner, there was a tall closet with double doors.

"And check this out, Mom," he said as he opened the closet doors. "There's plenty of closet space."

Then he walked over to the window and pulled back the curtain.

"And Mom, there's a great view," he said, waving his hand in front of the window.

We were literally looking at the back side of a chain restaurant and its parking lot.

The view.

"Oh, and look. We have one of these," he said, pointing to the suitcase rack. "I'm not sure what it is, but it looks nice."

"The bathroom has a green wall," he said. "It's a really nice color."

Biscuit must have used up all of his HGTV terminology at the first hotel because by the time we got to the one near Lake George and Fort William Henry, he didn't have much to say.

It had Adirondack-style furniture, which I thought was fun, especially since we were in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

Biscuit definitely pays attention to his surroundings. And it's a reminder to me to make sure what's playing in the background is Biscuit-appropriate.

And I have to say that if nothing else, it was nice to hear that I had done a good job on our vacation spaces.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Soldier boy

As soon as we walked into the fort, I immediately found the perfect place for Biscuit and Jeff.

TO THE PILLORY for them!!!

We walked to the middle of the fort to take a guided tour. Part of the tour at Fort William Henry is a demonstration on how a musket works, including hearing it fire. 

She explained how muskets worked, and Biscuit
soaked in every single word. So when we got home and
he was playing soldier, he had to take a day off
because it was raining, and his gun powder got wet.

From there, you move on to a bigger boom ... a cannon. We walked up to the top of the fort, and Biscuit was saying the whole way, "I think this is going to be too loud."

They explained that on the battlefield, these canons would be handled
by six soldiers, each with his own specific job. For demonstration purposes,
the canon was prepared by just two people. But they did fire it. It was so
loud that they told us to stand with our feet offset and our mouths
open to prevent jarring. The floor vibrated when it went off.

Biscuit closed his eyes and ears when it went off. And even so, he could feel it.

After the cannon demonstration, they said that if we walked back downstairs, the kids could be enlisted in the King's Army.

"Cool," I said. "Let's go down there."

"But Mom," Biscuit said with a worried look on his face. "I don't think I want to be in the army. I'm just a kid."

"Dude!" I said to him. "It's just pretend. They just show you what it was like for the soldiers."

"Mom, I'm just not sure," Biscuit said.

"Well, let's just walk down there to see what they're doing," I said.

As soon as he saw what was going on, he was all in.

They had the kids go into a room to get suited up in long vests that looked like the coats the soldiers would've worn. Then the kids grabbed hats and toy muskets.

"FALL IN!" said the officer. Then he explained to the kids that they needed to line up in the middle of the grounds.

After they lined up, he taught them what to do with their muskets.

Then he taught them how to march.

Once they got to the end of the field, they all aimed their muskets and fired. When they practiced, the were ordered to yell "Bang!" when they fired. But when the kids fired their muskets at the end of the field, they didn't realize that their commanding officer was carrying a loaded musket. At the same time the kids all yelled, "Bang!" The officer fired his musket.

All the kids jumped, but there were actually a few deserters. Several little girls ran off to their parents.

But not Biscuit and a few of the other brave kids. They marched right back to where they came from. 

See how the line got a lot shorter? Some deserters ran off to their parents.

Being a soldier is serious business.

After their field maneuvers, the soldiers had to go make it official.

He used a feather pen to sign his name on his muster papers.

This document certifies your enlistment as a private in His Majesty's
35th of Foot at Fort William Henry. As a soldier joining 35th of Foot
at the Fort, you are to receive your pay, uniform and munitions and
immediately report to your post. Rate of pay .08 cents per day.
Deduction of .06 cents per day for uniform and food costs.

After Biscuit had signed his name on the dotted line, he was sad about having to give up his coat, hat and musket. 

So I said, "Hey, was that YOUR musket that went off out there?"

I thought I would get the drawn-out "Moooom" of exasperation. But he answered me quite seriously.

"No, that wasn't mine. Mine is just a toy," he explained. "The real shot came from the big guy. The one with the REAL musket."

Remember how I've said that Biscuit's eyes
will always find my camera? Here you go!
Even after having doubts about enlisting in the King's Army, Biscuit said it was his favorite thing at the fort.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Let the vacation begin

Jeff, Biscuit and I took a nice long trip last week to see Jeff's parents. Jeff wanted to take Biscuit to a couple of the touristy places he went as a kid.

So we went to a lake and a couple of forts.

At one of the forts, they enlisted my boy in the army. The King's Army!

Fort William Henry is in upstate New York. And I learned from Jeff that anything north and west of the Hudson River is considered upstate. It's almost like there's New York City ... and then everything else.

I really enjoyed seeing the landscape in that part of the state. I bet when people think about New York, they don't picture the lushness of the non-city part. There are lots of rolling hills and mountains, lakes, rivers and brooks, farms, red barns and old farm houses. It's very scenic.

When we got to the fort, we took a guided tour. The fort was used during the French and Indian War in the mid-1700s. Since I grew up in the South, I had heard of the war, but I knew virtually nothing about it. The cause of the war was basically waterways. The fort is built on the southern tip of Lake George. North of Lake George is Lake Champlain. South of Lake George is the Hudson River. And in a time when boats were the main transportation, those waterways were very important.

The original fort was burned in 1757, but it was
rebuilt in the 1950s using the original plans.

Biscuit hangs out with Grandpa and Grandma.

Jeff at the flogging post. You have no idea what
restraint it took for me not to follow through!

Grandma and Biscuit shoot arrows at the target.

A small garden in the middle of the fort.

Biscuit walks up to the top of the fort.

The top of the fort overlooks Lake George.

The lake has several types of boats for cruises
around the lake, including the Minne Ha Ha riverboat.

Biscuit gets ready to fire his cannon.

Grandpa and Biscuit talk about how cannons work.

Pretty stonework around a fireplace in the barracks.

Jeff reads every sign at every site we visit. Every time!

Biscuit walks out of the armory, where they store gun
powder, cannon balls and other ammunition. They stored
it underground so it couldn't be blown up by the enemy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Vacation is underway

You know what's frustrating? Having to work twice as hard as usual just to get ready to take some time off. By the time you're done with a week of pre-vacation prep, you need your vacation more than ever!

That's what was going on this past week. But Saturday morning, Jeff, Biscuit and I hit the road for a long-awaited vacation.

Jeff grew up in the mountains, and I grew up going to the beach. So when we got married, I decided I would take him to some of my favorite coastal towns to mark our anniversaries. He was amazed by the ocean and the history of the towns, and I enjoyed sharing childhood memories with him.

For our first anniversary, I took him to Savannah and Tybee Island. Then we hit Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. Then we did Wilmington and Carolina Beach. We covered the Outer Banks. Our hotel was centrally located in Nags Head, so we spent a couple of days going north, then a couple of days going south. 

I also took him to Myrtle Beach one time. I don't like it there anymore, but I had told him so many stories about going there as a child, I just really wanted him to be there at least once. I spent most of the trip saying, "And right here where all these stores are, there used to be a ..." and "Over there, where those hotels are now, there was a ..." It is definitely not the place it was when I was a kid.

North Myrtle is a little better. It's not quite as commercialized and crowded. So we spent a couple of anniversaries there.

Altogether, we had 11 anniversary trips. And then Biscuit went to school.

And school ruined EVERYTHING!!!

Jeff and I got married the first week of May, so we technically should've had a week of vacation by now. There's a lot of stuff going on at work, and I think not having my usual vacation time this year added to the stress.

So even though last week was crazy busy and stressful, this week, I'm spending time with my boys.

We decided to take a trip up to see Jeff's parents, and we left Saturday morning.

A friend had just given us a funny sticker to put on our cooler. 

So we slapped the sticker on, filled it up with water and drinks and headed out the door.

Well, someone somewhere alerted the snakes that we were making fun of them because when we opened the front door, this is what we saw!

Can you see him? He's a non-venomous black rat snake.

When Jeff and I bought our house, the home inspector told us that he saw a black snake under the house. He said, "As long as it doesn't freak you out too much, I'd just leave him be. You won't have rats or other pests." We didn't mind sharing space, especially for something that was harmless and would keep mice and rats away! But being under the house is one thing and seeing him in the front yard is another.

The snake's head was pointing away from the house, so Jeff stepped down onto the sidewalk. He stopped and the snake picked up his head, aware that something was near him. Jeff stood still, and the snake lay still. It was like a showdown!

Jeff moved to the front edge of the sidewalk and told Biscuit to walk down the sidewalk, cross behind him and go to the car. Biscuit thought the snake was really pretty. And he was. He had black iridescent stripes that shone in the sunlight.

By the time we had the rest of our stuff in the car and were ready to head out, the snake had made its way to the flower bed at the edge of the yard.

I would be fine knowing that he's still around when we get home, but I would prefer it if he would keep himself hidden!

Anyway, we got our trip underway and drove about halfway to Jeff's parents' house and stopped for the night. The trip is 10 1/2 hours, and we usually drive it in one day, but we stopped about halfway for a car show, spent the night in a hotel, then finished our journey Sunday, which happened to be my birthday.

I was surprised and touched when we arrived at Jeff's parents' house and there was birthday cake waiting for me. Biscuit and Jeff had already made a fuss with cards and presents, but it was nice to blow out some candles and have some cake.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mi amigo and me

A post from The Daddy Man:

I was kind enough to share a stomach bug with Kimmy, so she worked from home today. She has a birthday coming up, so I decided to take Biscuit shopping. I figured we could get her a gift and give her more recuperation time at home.

There's a restaurant Biscuit has been asking to go to, but it isn't one of Kimmy's favorites. So when I picked him up from summer camp, we drove over and had dinner.

On the way over, Biscuit was telling me that part of the reason he wanted to go there was that he had learned a lot of Spanish recently, and he wanted to go try it out, He called me "amigo" all the way to the restaurant.

I thought I would help him out a little and said, "Dude, 'me gusta' means you like something, and 'no me gusta' means you don't."

"Dad, you know what me gusta?" Biscuit asked. "Me gusta black frijoles." (frijoles is beans)

"Do you know how to say that all in Spanish?" I asked. "In Spanish, they would be 'frijoles negros.'" (pronounced free-hole-ace nay-groes)

Biscuit was very excited to try it out.

The restaurant is a build-your-own burrito/quesadilla/taco place where you walk down the line as the employees add all your toppings. So Biscuit stepped up, and the petite, very blonde, very pale girl took his order.

"Can I please have a kids meal with a frijoles negros quesadilla?" Biscuit asked.

And she stared at him blankly.

The girl looked at me, and I told her that he wanted a quesadilla with black beans, and she got to work making it.

I guess Biscuit thinks that if you work at a Mexican restaurant, you're supposed to speak Spanish.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Fourth of July

The Eagle has landed. I repeat, the Eagle has landed.

Biscuit is back in the house.

Jeff and I met my parents at the halfway point and had lunch today. And that boy was all over me! Kisses and hugs and leaning and hand-holding and lap-sitting and more.

And then there was the talking. He talked non-stop for the entire meal. He told me all about what he did with Grandmama and Papa. He talked about spending time with his cousins (although it was mainly his boy cousin). He told me about spending time in the treehouse and singing and playing for my Daddy's friend (who comes to play music with Daddy on most Friday nights). He talked about fishing and the fact that he had chocolate milk sometimes for breakfast AND lunch. (Poor thing can only have it once a day at home.) He showed me where he busted his lip playing. And he somehow came home with a new baseball cap.

And then he told us all about the Fourth of July parade he went to. There were floats and tractors and four-wheelers and firetrucks and horses and even Uncle Sam.

July 4th is also Grandma's birthday. Grandmama called Grandma on speakerphone so Biscuit could sing "Happy Birthday." And Biscuit decided that not only would he sing, but he would put on a five-song piano concert. Good thing Grandma and Grandmama both had some free time!

Jeff and I stayed home all day on the Fourth. I did something pretty stupid and didn't feel like doing much after that.

I was cooking lunch and burned my arm. And it was a really stupid mistake! I've been cooking since I was a kid, and I can count on one hand the times I've burned myself. But boy, I made up for it yesterday.

I made Jeff a homemade pizza for lunch. I stuck it in the oven, then opened the fridge to see what I wanted. I decided on leftover fried rice, so I dumped it in a pan and started heating it. After the rice was warmed up, I put it in a bowl and set it on the counter. With about 5 minutes left on the time for Jeff's pizza, I started going through some mail and paperwork. And I got distracted.

I walked over to the stove and thought to myself, "What are those splatters on the stove?"

In my distraction, it never even crossed my mind that the splatters were from me warming up my rice. So I wet a paper towel and reached over to wipe off the stove.

And that's when I laid the inside of my forearm on the hot burner. It had only been a few minutes. How could I possibly have forgotten in that amount of time that I had JUST used that burner?!

Pretty stupid, right?

It hurt like crazy! I ran over to the sink and stuck my arm under the cold faucet. I hollered for Jeff, and he must've heard the distress in my voice. Jeff moves pretty slow under normal circumstances, but he picked up the pace a little getting to the kitchen.

My Granny and my Mama have always had aloe plants to use for burns, but I, sadly, don't. I do, however, have lots and lots of concoctions for sunburn. I grabbed a bottle that had a combination of aloe and lidocaine and spritzed some on my arm. The combo of the two things working together gave me some immediate relief. But it didn't last very long.

The whole burned area was about the size of a dollar bill. Red and irritated, and I couldn't tell if it was going to blister or not. I alternated between cold compresses and the aloe blend until the heat eased off. But because it was in such an awkward place, I had to sit with my arm at a 90-degree angle for the rest of the afternoon.

Luckily, by the end of the day, the red part had mostly turned back to normal skin color, but the middle area was blistered. It's hard for me to see it unless I look at it a mirror. Jeff said it's about 3 inches long and about an inch wide.

It doesn't hurt anymore unless I bump it, so I'm trying to still be aware of it.

Jeff and I had talked about different plans for that evening, but the more I thought about having to get dressed and be out around people (especially the possibility of bumping it, breaking the blister and getting an infection of some kind), the more I just wanted to stay home.

And luckily, Jeff was okay with that plan, too.

We did watch a patriotic program on TV, which ended with some fireworks. So let's just count that as celebrating.

And speaking of patriotic, Mama (aka Grandmama) sent me a picture of Biscuit at the parade. You can tell by his surroundings that the area isn't a booming metropolis.

Mama said they sat next to a lady she used to work with, and Biscuit latched right on to her husband. They talked throughout the entire parade. And when they started throwing candy off the floats, Biscuit gave him all the peppermints. (You might think he was being nice, but really, he just doesn't like peppermint!) I don't know if that couple has grandkids or not, but I bet they got their fill that day.

Here's the picture of Biscuit that Mama sent:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Biscuit's vacation

Can someone please explain to me why there comes a moment in most days when I think to myself, "I wish I could have one hour to myself," yet when I have an entire day off work, and Biscuit is out of town, I'm as bored as bored can be?

We met my parents Saturday and swapped out Biscuit. He's been splitting time between my parents and my brother and his family. I've heard that there has been playing in the treehouse, fishing, general horseplay and some four-wheeler riding (long after Biscuit should've been in bed!).

My Mama ran a tight ship when we were at home. We knew what we could and couldn't do. We knew our bedtime. And we knew that "sleeping in" meant no later than 9 a.m.

But when we were at Granny's, it was a whole other story.

Mama's parents lived about 5 1/2 hours away from us. During the summer, they would come up to our house for a weekend, then my brother and I would go back home with them. We would stay for two weeks, then our parents would drive down to pick us up.

We always had a lot of fun while we were down there. There were things we did year after year. Routines we created for our time there. Like every night after supper, we'd sit on the front porch watching the people and cars go by. There were some characters that frequented the store beside their house. We never knew their real names, but we gave them nicknames. 

The seating on the front porch was a glider big enough for two people and several of what they call motel chairs (see photo below). Granny's chairs were mint green and white. They had a lattice pattern on the seat, so when you were wearing shorts, you'd stand up and have a waffle print on the back of your legs.

When I was a baby and I was fussy, my grandaddy would hold me on his chest and bounce me in one of those chairs. He called it "bumping me," and he would keep doing it until I was asleep. So during those summers, I would sit in those chairs and automatically start bouncing. It was almost like muscle memory. But I would get so, so sleepy that I would have to get up and walk around a little while.

We have many memories of sitting on that porch. 

One summer night, it was about dusk dark, and we were talking about calling it a night. We watched this teenager ride his bike around the parking lot and then right into the front window of the store! Wham! We didn't know whether to laugh or call an ambulance. The boy was fine, so we figured it was okay to let out a giggle. Every summer after that, someone at some point while we were sitting on the porch would say, "Hey, do you remember that time that the boy rode his bike into the front of the store?"

There were also certain foods that we ate while we were there. Granny always made tea cakes for us. She put them in a cut-glass cookie jar on the kitchen counter. Their house had a back porch, too, complete with a swing. Because of where the sun rose and set, we used the back porch during the day and the front porch at night.

Anyway, my brother and I would sneak into the kitchen to get a tea cake (or two ... or three ...). I was older and taller (at that time ... now he's 9 inches taller than me!), so I would reach over and ease the lid off the cookie jar. And then we'd hear Granny on the back porch, "Get out of those tea cakes!" We never could figure out how she knew what we were doing. Of course, if you've ever tried to replace a glass lid on a glass container, you know exactly how she knew what we were up to!

I hope that Biscuit is building these kind of memories. And I hope that he enjoys being there enough to keep going back for years and years.

Earlier this week, Biscuit's conversations with me on the phone were 10 or fewer seconds. I'd get a quick report on what he did that day, what he had for at least one meal, then he'd say something like, "Mom, would it be okay if I got back to playing?"

I'd say, "Yes."

And he'd say, "Okay. I love you. Bye."

And that was that.

I called him this morning, and he seemed to be in a good mood. Then this evening, Mama called me. "I think somebody is a little homesick," she said.

My nephew texted me a picture saying that Biscuit had been carrying around one of my wedding pictures.

He wrote, "Your boy is missing u so much he has been staring at this picture."

Earlier in the week, I was a little sad that Biscuit wasn't missing me. Then when he did start to miss me, I was sad about that, too.

Monday evening, Jeff said, "You know that him not missing you means that he's independent and ..."

I cut him off. "I know, I know," I said, with a lot of attitude. "It means he's confident and independent, and he knows that we're coming back for him. Yadda, yadda, yadda. He could at least PRETEND to miss me."

Jeff laughed and said, "Just wait until we pick him up and he's stuck like glue to you for several hours."

I told Biscuit this morning that he needs to have all the fun he can today and tomorrow because I'm coming to get him Sunday.

"I'll do my best," Biscuit said.