Sunday, August 30, 2015

I'm not a fan

One evening a couple of months ago, I walked upstairs and into Biscuit's room. And guess where I found him?

He was standing (teetering would be more accurate) on the footboard of his bed, reaching for the chain on the ceiling fan.

The first thing most of the interior designers on the home decorating shows do is rip out ceiling fans. But Jeff and I love them and have them in almost every room of our house, including the kitchen.

The living room and all three bedrooms had fans when we moved into our house (12 years ago, can you believe it?), but they weren't quite our style (picture mid-1980s). So we started in the living room and our bedroom and picked out and installed fans we liked. The loft area (aka Jeff's movie room) didn't have a ceiling box, but we wanted a fan up there. So my brother did what he does and put an electrical box in the ceiling. After that, we put up a new fan in the nursery (which wasn't a nursery yet at that point).

Biscuit's room, which used to be the guest room, wasn't a priority because that room wasn't used that often. But even after we fixed it up for Biscuit, we just never got around to replacing the ceiling fan.

So back to Biscuit.

The fan in that room had a light kit attached, and the light and fan were operated by pull chains. During the summer, we would leave the fan running with the lights off. A switch on the wall operated the whole unit. So if you wanted one running with the other off, you had to use the chains.

Biscuit was playing in his room, and apparently, his lamp and the window weren't providing enough light. So he climbed up on the footboard and stretched onto his tiptoes to reach the chain to turn on the light.

My first instinct was to yell at him to get down from there! But he didn't know I was behind him, so I was afraid if I yelled, he might fall.

So I said quietly, "I'm behind you, and you need to get down right now."

"But Mom," Biscuit said. "I need more light."

"I understand that," I said. "But what you're doing is very, very dangerous. If you fell from there, you could get hurt really badly."

I told Jeff that I was going to the home improvement store to buy a longer chain. I was hoping a longer chain would prevent our only son from killing himself just to get some light.

Jeff still doesn't believe me, but the rack where the chains should have been was completely empty. Not one chain there.

So I took a stroll through the fan aisles. You know, just to take a look. And of course, I saw the perfect fan. The right metal finish, the right wood finish on the blades, remote control operated, LED light kit built in. I took a picture of it and texted it to Jeff.

As I said, he didn't believe me that there were no chains. He was convinced that I just wanted a new fan. And although I did, I wouldn't have lied about the chains being gone. I would've just said, "Hey, I want this new fan."

So I bought the fan and brought it home. It was too late to install it, so we put it on the to-do list for the next evening.

Jeff and I don't work well together when we're building something or installing something. We have to craft a plan of who's going to do what and stick to it. Otherwise, we snap at each other and argue about who's doing it right or wrong.

So we laid out all the pieces of the fan and made our claims about the assorted installation jobs. I won't go into all the details because despite choosing our respective jobs, there were still a couple of accusations and arguments.

We finally got everything done, and I grabbed the batteries and remote. I looked at the little diagram that tells you which way the batteries go in, and I installed them.

Jeff and I stood back and stared at the ceiling as I pushed the button to start the fan.

Nothing happened.

"You are KIDDING me!" I said. "If we have to take that stupid thing apart, I'm going to scream!"

"Let me see the remote," Jeff said.

Really? Did he just all but say that I can't even install batteries properly? Ugh!

He popped the back off the remote, flipped the batteries around, hit the button and watched as the fan started turning.

"Fine!" I said and stormed out of the room.

It might not have been the most mature thing to do, but it certainly made me feel better!

They included a little remote holster that could be mounted on the wall. Jeff put it right beside the light switch, so it's easily accessible for Biscuit. And he loves it!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Snuggle Biscuit

The Saturday before school started, Biscuit and I were home by ourselves. Jeff was still covering the golf tournament. 

Biscuit and I had been doing things around the house all morning - getting school supplies ready and picking out outfits for the first week of school.

I decided to take a break and sat down in my rocking chair in the living room. Biscuit grabbed a blanket and crawled up into my lap and fell asleep. Biscuit has always been a snuggly boy, but his snuggle time with me gotten less frequent in the past few months. So I was not about to disrupt our time together by telling him that we had more stuff to do.

Biscuit stayed that way for a long time. I dozed a little myself, but when I felt tingles in my arm and realized that it was going to sleep, I figured I better put him down.

Just as I shifted to get up, Biscuit opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Do you want to get on the couch so you can stretch out?" I asked him. 

He nodded, and I helped him take the three steps to the couch, put his head on a pillow and covered him with a blanket.

I was still sleepy myself, so I went into my bedroom to lie down on the bed. I turned on the TV, but I didn't watch very long until I fell asleep. It felt so indulgent to doze off, snuggled up in my bed in the middle of the afternoon.

It seemed like two minutes went by (really it was about eight minutes) before I heard, "Mom? I would like some water, but I can't reach a cup. Can you help me?"

There are few things I wanted to do less than get up and help him get water. But I'm required by law not to let him get dehydrated.

I climbed out of my cocoon and stumbled into the kitchen, feeling much bitterness!

Once I was awake, Biscuit and I got a few more things done. Then we spent the rest of the evening playing and watching TV. A nice, relaxing evening.

Just before I put Biscuit to bed, I decided to let him in on a secret.

"I know you're not a baby, but I really enjoyed you sleeping in my lap like you used to when you were a baby," I told Biscuit.

"Well, Mom," he said. "I liked it, too, I just didn't want to say it."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently:

Business on TV: Jeff was helping Biscuit in the shower the other night, and things were pretty quiet. That silence usually means that Biscuit is pondering something, and a hard-to-answer question is coming.

"Hey, Dad," Biscuit said. "Have you ever noticed that nobody on TV ever has to go to the bathroom?"

"What do you mean?" Jeff asked.

"Well, like the Power Rangers," Biscuit said. "They never go to the bathroom. ... I don't even know if they HAVE a bathroom."

Captain Obvious: Biscuit and I were horseplaying the other afternoon. I was lying on his bed, and he tried to scoot past me. I reached out to grab his arm and ended up slapping him pretty hard right on the side of his neck.

I apologized, and we laughed about it. And I said, "Dude! You cannot tell Dad that I slapped you in the neck."

"Why, Mom?" Biscuit asked.

"Because I'll get in trouble for being mean to you!" I said.

A few minutes later, Jeff walked in the front door. 

Biscuit ran to the top of the stairs and yelled, "Good evening, Dad! Mama didn't slap me in the neck or anything while you were gone."

Thanks for the subtlety, dude!

To bed or not to bed: Jeff and I were talking in the living room, and last we knew, Biscuit was playing.

Then Biscuit walks into the living room and asks (with much attitude), "Is someone gonna take me to bed or what?"

The natural way: While Jeff was covering the golf tournament, Biscuit and I went out to dinner with one of my friends.

She asked Biscuit if he had made any friends during summer day camp.

"Yes, yes I have," Biscuit said. "One of my new friends, you know what he does?"

"What?" she asked him.

"He gets everybody's attention in our room, and then, get this," BIscuit said. "He uses his armpit to fart!"

"Really?" she said with pretend disgust, but really trying not to laugh.

"Hey, your uncle knows how to do that," I told him. "Do you want him to teach you?"

"Um, no, Mom!" Biscuit said, in a deadly serious tone. "I only want to fart with my butt!"

Monday, August 24, 2015

First day of first grade

Biscuit got off to a good start this morning. He woke up EARLY but in a good mood.

He performed his usual routine of getting dressed from smallest to largest - socks, underwear, shorts, shirt. Then he had breakfast, and he was ready to go.

He said he was excited but that he was also a little nervous.

"I just think first grade is going to be really hard," he said.

I didn't have the heart to tell him, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Spending time in the woods

Biscuit spent another week with his grandparents, and by all accounts, a good time was had by all.

Biscuit's time at his grandparents is spent differently than his time at home. I think I've posted pictures before, but my parents live in the woods. You can't hear cars on the highway, and when an airplane goes over, everybody looks up because it's such a rarity to see one there.

Biscuit gets to be a country boy there. He gets to fish and ride tractors. He rides four-wheelers and messes with the horses and goats. Everybody at my parents' church knows him and calls him by name when he visits. They take care of him and make sure that he gets where he's supposed to be. And my brother and his family live only about five minutes away, so he gets to spend time with them, too.

And Biscuit has figured out that the way they talk is not the way he talks. Last time Biscuit was down there, my Mama asked my nephew if he had remembered to get his pocket knife. And Biscuit mimicked her perfectly. I can't think of a way to spell the word "knife" so you can know how she says it. But everybody in the house started laughing about it. He thought for a minute that he was in trouble, but Mama assured him that they just thought it was funny how he picked it up so well.

Jeff and I were in the mountains from Thursday to Saturday. After we checked out of the inn and spent a little more time in some of the shops, we headed down to my parents' house. The plan was to get up Sunday morning and leave when my parents went to church. But Biscuit said he wanted to go to Mama's church again, so we stayed.

Since we thought we would be leaving early Sunday morning, Jeff and I didn't have any church-appropriate clothes, so we stayed home. We stopped to get some apples in the mountains, so I spent my morning making an apple pie. It was nice to be baking in Mama's kitchen.

After lunch (and apple pie!), we loaded up the car to head home. Then Biscuit decided he wasn't quite ready.

"Mom, can Dada and Papa and I shoot one more game of pool?" Biscuit asked.

"One game," I said.

I put the rest of the stuff in the car, then looked up to see my brother and nephew coming down the road with a boat on the back of the truck. I gave up right then thinking that we were going to get home at a decent hour.

My brother and nephew drove the truck into field by the pond and unloaded the boat. As soon as Biscuit realized they were there, he took off running to the pond.

The boat is just a little jon boat, perfectly sized for the ponds at my parents' house and for the one at my brother's house. A few years ago, not long after my brother first got his boat, Jeff drew his name for Christmas. Being his usual funny self, Jeff bought stick-on letters to spell out "Pond Yacht." He also went to a kitschy beach store and bought him a captain's hat. And guess what the name of the boat is? My brother put the name on the side of the boat the day after Jeff gave him the letters!

Well, as soon as Biscuit saw the boat, he started yelling, "Can you take me out? Can you take me out? Please tell me you have a life jacket and can take me out."

"Well," my brother said. "The thing is, we don't have any gas." 

"Awwww," Biscuit said.

I leaned down and whispered into Biscuit's ear, "Ask him why he needs gas when the boat doesn't have a motor, and he has two arms and oars."

"Yeah," Biscuit said. "You don't even need gas!"

My brother threw Biscuit a life jacket, and the three of them (Biscuit, my brother and nephew) climbed into the boat and floated away.

They had fishing rods and for about 10 minutes before they launched the boat, they pawed around in the grass catching crickets for bait. Fishing in Papa's pond is usually catch and release. Grandmama doesn't like the smell of fish in her kitchen, so Papa has to clean them and fry them in an outdoor cooker. But on Sunday, they didn't want to keep anything they caught.

Sometimes I figure out that Biscuit has learned something that I didn't teach him. That's weird enough, but to realize that he has learned something new, and it's clearly been a while since he learned it - well, that's really weird.

The boys circled the pond, then came to rest at a spot on the side. My brother baited a hook and handed the rod to Biscuit. Biscuit grabbed it, slowly pulled it around to the side, then whipped it out into the pond. He looked like he had done it a thousand times.

I wasn't prepared the first time he did it, but when he reeled the hook back in, I grabbed my camera and put it on video.

I love that Biscuit gets to spend time where I grew up. I love that he gets to have some of the same experiences I had as a kid and that he gets to run around the same yard I ran around. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Jeff and I have some non-kid time together, too. 

It's always hard to hand Biscuit off and drive away without him, but knowing how much fun he'll have makes it a bit easier. And then I get to pick him up and get lots of hugs and kisses.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A getaway for Mom and Dad

Biscuit spent another week at his grandparents' house recently, and Jeff and I saw two - count 'em - two movies!

That Thursday through Sunday was supposed to be my annual girls' weekend away, but one of the girls had a family emergency, and we had to postpone it. Luckily, the people who own the condo we rented were willing to change the dates for us. So we have a prepaid trip just waiting for us to set the dates.

But I had been looking forward to being away from home, and I already had the days off. And one of the other girls felt the same way. So we decided to do a couples' trip. Jeff and the other husband got the days off, and I started looking at hotels at the beach. Ugh! Do you know how expensive it is to get a room at the beach right now?!

I was disappointed, especially since we had the boys get the days off, too. 

Then Jeff said, "Does it have to be the beach?"

I immediately thought about a place Jeff and I stayed about eight years ago. It's an old, pretty inn in the mountains. It was built in 1923, and there are no TVs or phones in the rooms. And there's no air conditioning. For Southern people, that's a scary thing to say. And even though it was hotter this trip than it was the last time Jeff and I went, it was still nice with the windows open and ceiling fan running.

The things I like about this place are numerous. Here are just a few:

1. There's a big front porch with rocking chairs and a mountain view. So even though it rained the first day, we could still sit outside and enjoy the view.

2. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of your room. So for less than one night at the beach, we got a room, dinner and breakfast at this place in the mountains. The way the menu works is that you get soup, then a salad, then you pick your meat (roast beef, prime rib, sirloin, NY strip, trout six different ways, country ham or Virginia ham). The side dishes are brought out and served family style. The side dishes change each night, but they included green beans and almonds, veggie jambalaya, macaroni and cheese and others. Then you get your choice of desserts. The dessert change each night, too, but while we were there, they included blueberry pound cake with glaze, peanut butter pie, Tollhouse pie, hot fudge cake, lemon chess pie, cherry pie and others. Breakfast was good, too. Grits, eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes, French toast, omelets and lots of other good stuff.

These are pictures of the dining room from the
inn's website. Everything there is very rustic-looking.

3. Because there aren't TVs in the room, people who would normally be propped up in bed watching go to the lobby to socialize and play games. There is a TV in the lobby, but the only time I saw people watching it was during the news. There are four sitting areas with upholstered chairs. There's a round table with chairs for playing games. And there's a long table with eight chairs, also for game-playing. Both times we've been, there has been a partially assembled jigsaw puzzle on the big table. They have games and cards, magazines and local newspapers, and everybody just hangs out. It was really nice because I think we often depend on the TV just for background noise.

A picture of the lobby that I grabbed from the inn's website.

4. The grounds are so pretty. The building is made of wood with a stone foundation and stone accents. Many of the sidewalks are just big slabs of stone. And many of them have bright green moss crawling along them. The grounds have tons of trees and flowers.

5. Mine and Jeff's bed had a covered wagon on the headboard. It didn't really do anything for us, but I took a picture of it and showed it to Biscuit, and he was all excited. "Mom, did anything else have a covered wagon on it?" "No. Sorry," I told him.

6. The inn is on the outskirts of town, but the downtown area is close by and filled with fun little shops. And because it hasn't been as hot there as it's been here, their flowers are still in full bloom. They had these beautiful arrangements around town, but the ones that I liked the best were the ones on the bridge. There's a river that runs right through town. Half the shops are on one side, and half are on the other side.

Jeff's mom loves bears, so when we saw
this bench, Jeff had to get his picture taken.

One funny thing about the trip was that eight years ago when Jeff and I went the first time, we sat down in the rocking chairs on the porch. We were there for about 10 minutes, and I said to Jeff, "Okay, let's go do something. I'm ready to go," I said.

"Don't you want to just sit here for a while?" Jeff asked.

"I can't sit still," I said. "I'm ready to go somewhere."

But that trip was pre-Biscuit and pre-kindergarten. On THIS trip, it was all different. I parked my butt on the porch and told Jeff and the other couple that I wasn't budging until it was absolutely necessary! And that's what I did. It was a nice trip, and the inn is definitely on our list of places to visit again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vacation leftovers

Remember that song ... This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend ...

Well, these are the vacation posts that never end!

But this is the last one. I ended up with bunch of random photos, so I'll just explain what needs explaining in the photo captions.

As soon as we reached the water front at Lake George, Biscuit spotted
a fire boat and police boat. And of course has asked for pictures of both.

The water in the lake was cold, and I expected
Biscuit to hesitate. But he didn't. He walked right in.

As usual, Biscuit found a new friend right away. Jeff had changed into
his bathing suit so he could go in with Biscuit. But when he saw that
wouldn't be necessary, he found a not-so-cold spot at the top of the beach.

My little ham wanted to pose for me. He loved the camera when he was
really little. Then he started to shy away. And now he's back to loving it again.

Sometimes you see a sign and wonder,
"Shouldn't some things be common sense?"

I'm not sure who Thaddeus Kosciuszko is, but I really like his bridge.

This sign was in the bathroom at an outdoor restaurant
in a touristy area. I think their sign is pretty clear.

There were bears, and there was a camera.

In an effort to relive his childhood, Jeff took Biscuit to the same
gift shop, Gift World, and bought him the same thing he got
as a kid - a cedar treasure chest and a wooden rifle. Biscuit says
his is a Winchester because those are the rifles cowboys use.

I walked into this bathroom and thought I had turned into a
vampire! I couldn't see my reflection in the mirror! It took me a
good five or so seconds to realize there wasn't a mirror there.

After dinner with some family, we stopped by the Tastee Freez where
my in-laws went on dates. It was fun to have ice cream there all
these years later. Biscuit said, "Mom, I know I'm too big for these
kinds of things now, but could you just take my picture anyway?"
Griffin and Grandpa go for a ride in Grandpa's convertible. Grandpa
gave the keys to Jeff and me our last day up there. Biscuit stayed
with them, and Jeff drove me around to a bunch of his old haunts,
including his first paper. We stopped in and found people who
remembered him. They took us on a tour and showed
me some of the stories Jeff wrote while he was there.

Jeff tries to look mean on our convertible outing. 
Jeff engaged in the most New York conversation I've heard that afternoon. We wanted to mail a post card, so as we were cruising slowly down a city street, Jeff spotted a young man walking down the side walk. 

Jeff yelled out, "Post office?" 

The guy said, "U-turn, first left, on your right." 

"Thanks!" Jeff said. The guy waved. And that was it. 

I said to Jeff, "Do you have any idea how long that would've taken in the South?"

It would've gone something like this:

"Excuse me, can you tell me where the post office is?"

"Well sure. First you'll need to do a u-turn. You can do it in that funeral home parking lot right over there. We were just there last night for calling hours. Anyway, once you get turned around, drive down the block until you get to that white brick building. It used to be a furniture store, but once Old Man Smith passed, and his children didn't want to take over, they turned it into a secondhand store. So you take a left right there and go about half a block, and the post office will be on the right. Are you from around here? ..."


So that was our trip. It was a lot of fun, and we saw places from Jeff's childhood and past that were really nice to see. And it's always good to catch up with family. Biscuit finds it really odd that all these people know so much about him, and he's not quite as familiar with them.

But as he gets older, he'll get it. And I hope he finds family as important as I do.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

One more fort

We went to two forts on our trip. The second is called Fort Ticonderoga. Imagine how fun it was teaching Biscuit to say Ticonderoga.

And when I was buying school supplies last week, I found Ticonderoga pencils. Biscuit was SO excited.

This fort was a different than the other one. It was made of stones. The first one was made of wood. They both sit on pretty lakes, so the views from the top were great.

The view from the path leading to the fort.

The view of the lake from the top of the fort.

I think Biscuit liked the other fort better because of the whole army enlistment thing. But this one had music. And you know Biscuit and music.

There was a drum and fife band made up of high school and college age kids. Our guide explained that the music wasn't for entertainment. It was actually for instruction. There was a song they played when it was time to eat. A song for bedtime. A song for soldier's shift changes and more.

Here's an example:

The buildings inside the fort looked different from each other. Our guide explained that the original fort was torn down once it wasn't needed anymore, and when it was rebuilt, the information they had about the buildings wasn't as complete as it should've been. Now, with the Internet and in-depth research, they know exactly what the buildings were supposed to look like and what they would've been made of. So as the place was rebuilt, the place became more and more historically accurate.

This is the most historically accurate building in the fort.

There was a shoemaker (Not a cobbler I learned. Cobblers only repair shoes.), a blacksmith shop and other workers who would've kept the soldiers in clothes, shoes and food. There were also displays of era-specific weapons - swords, muskets, bayonets, powder horns and more.

One thing that was interesting to me was how decorative some of the weapons were. The powder horns had elaborate and personal carvings. The metal on many of the guns had etchings. And even the cannons had words, decorations and even faces on them.

Here are some other pictures from the fort: