Monday, August 30, 2010

Birthday Improvement

My first 29th birthday was a little...creative. If you need a reminder, click here.

What I didn't post on the blog was that after I put the kids to bed last August 25th, I sat down to write thank you cards to all the people who had done so much for us prior to our move to Virginia. All the good memories and goodbyes, coupled with loneliness and another birthday, resulted in hysterical sobbing.

All the bitter of last year made this birthday even sweeter. I mean, how many times do you turn 29 again?

We celebrated my birthday early because August 25th is the worst work day of the year for Jamie. My sweet Grandma sent money to order a real cake this year. I promised to post a picture of it.

Can you say delicious? Dairy Queen's ice cream cakes are to die for! It had two layers of ice cream (vanilla and cookies and cream) with a fat layer of fudge in the middle. It was topped with crumbled cookies and whip cream. It took four days to eat. YUM!!! Thanks Grandma!

Gav loves to help blow out the candles.

My birthday was great. No tears this year. I still miss all my friends and family in Texas (and everywhere else, of course). I love Virginia, but I will never be able to replace all ya'll!

Thanks for the birthday thoughts and wishes! We love you guys!

When you have nothing to do...

Goof around at the Air and Space Museum.

You can pilot a Cessna.

Look out the windows at huge bugs.

Pose for pictures against a rainy backdrop.

Become a traffic obstacle (but only if you sit on the floor in the air control tower).

Obey your mother ("Look at me with your eyes!" See how well they listen).

And watch a clip from Transformers over and over and over.

It's been a long summer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gavin's One Liners

Gavin is the definition of juxtaposition. One moment he's wild, running through the house like his clothes are on fire. The next, he's sitting quietly reading a story to himself.

He loves to antagonize Laynie. Gav's become a master at making her scream without laying a finger on her. Sometimes he'll sneak up behind her and growl in her ear. Or reach out like he's going to take her toy, but stop a centimeter before actually touching it. Fifty times each day I have to say, "Gavin! If you're making her scream you're doing something wrong." I'll probably be deaf before I'm 35 because her shriek is so shrill and piercing.

Gavin's also her greatest defender. You mess with his sister and you are dead meat. He comforts her when she sad or hurt, and loves to recruit her for his "armies." The moments they play together nicely are delightful.

Today, Gavin alternated between sitting in time out and making me laugh hysterically.

The Taylor Swift CD was playing. The lyrics to "You Belong to Me" rip on the Cheer Captain. Gavin's listening quietly and then he says, "Mom, how come everyone hates the cheer captain?"

I reply, "I don't know sweetie."

He grins mischievously, "Weren't you the cheer captain?"

"Yes." I'm suddenly concerned where this conversation is going.

"Well, that's why you have no friends." He pointed it out like it was as obvious as gravity. I didn't even bother telling him that I do have friends...just not many in Virginia.

At bed time, we're snuggling. He smiles kindly, "Mom, you're breath really stinks." Love you to Gav.

As I'm giving him a good night hug, he quoted one of our favorite books Runaway Mummy. It's a parody of Runaway Bunny. He mimicked the lilt of my voice perfectly, "You can let go now, Mommy."

No Gav, I don't think I will.

I'm grateful for a little boy who keeps me on my toes. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out and scream in frustration, but I live for the moments when he wants to climb on my lap and cuddle.

Being a mom is awesome.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Mt. Vernon Disaster

Wouldn't the The Mt. Vernon Disaster make a catchy title for historical fiction novel? Too bad no publishing companies are buying that genre right now. Maybe if it was a true story about a mother's attempts to provide enjoyable, educational activities for her children but who fails at every turn, then some publisher would look at it with interest? Maybe?

Good thing it IS a true story. It's my personal disaster story. I will summarize the whole affair succinctly:
  1. Putting the RIGHT address into the GPS would have been helpful. We got a lovely tour of the DC ghetto.
  2. Gavin broke the stroller the instant we entered the visitor's center, which would have been fine had I two functioning knees.
  3. It was 92 degrees and a billion percent humidity. My new purple purse - lovingly called "Barney" by my family - actually dyed my white t-shirt. The combination of sweat and friction will cause the color transfer (not just hot water in the washer).
  4. Packed a huge lunch and a huge diaper bag, which my mom and I had to haul around since the stroller met it's demise. My poor mom got to haul Laynie around for a while too.
  5. Stopped at a cupcake place on the way home. They only had four flavors of cupcakes and none of them were good. Bummer.

So on a happier note, I learned a TON about George Washington and his home. If you want some quick facts to use in your next battle of wits (or for the historical fiction novel you probably won't write), read on. If not, scroll to the bottom and glance at the lovely pics.

George Washington was a GIANT. At six-foot-four, he was eight-inches taller than the average man of that era. He died at age 67 of suffocation caused by a throat infection. Nasty.

This model of the Mt. Vernon Mansion is on hydraulics. The facade lowers to show the interior of the major rooms.

George Washington built a greenhouse on the grounds to house tropical plants and citrus trees.

The Upper Garden was a showpiece and many of the plants currently in bloom were the same types of flowers in GWs day.

And Laynie is cute.

Butterflies and bumblebees flitted all over the garden. We had to convince Gavin not to touch them.

Mt. Vernon is built of wood, not stone. Sand was mixed with the paint to give the exterior texture. The cupola on the roof was the last edifice Washington added. In the summer, they opened the windows to let the heat in the house out.

Laynie's cute again...this time on the ferry.

In three to four weeks each spring, Washington's slaves caught one million fish then salted and shipped them.

That's Ft. Washington. It was abandoned during the War of 1812. The commander only had 49 men to protect it from the British. He decided to blow up the armory, rendering the base useless, and vacate. After the war he was convicted of abandoning his post and executed.
In 1798, Mt. Vernon hosted 677 overnight guests. I don't know how Martha Washington managed. She must have been really organized and had an army of slaves....oh wait, she did. Nearly 200 slaves are interred in a small burial ground a few hundred yards from Washington's tomb.

The American Chestnut tree is nearly extinct. In Washington's time, it made up a third of the wilderness on his property. The Passenger Pigeon is extinct. The last one died in the New York Zoo in 1914. The bird was common at Mt. Vernon in the president's time.

Here Gav is separating the chaff from the wheat. This wheat was crushed in the two-story 16-sided barn Washington invented as a wheat mill of sorts. Apparently, horses won't defecate unless they have a corner to stop in. Because the barn is essentially a colonial indoor track, the horses circle continuouslycrushing wheat beneath their hooves. The workers load everything that falls through the floor to the lower level in the into a small wagon. One person picks out all the stalks (see picture below), and then another removes the chaff.

Wheat was a much more lucrative crop than corn. In Washington's day, each stalk only produced two cobs.
I have a whole head full of other random bits but if you REALLY want to know you will A) come visit me and we'll go to Mt. Vernon together or B) call and ask.
Any takers?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Oh Shenandoah!

We took Grandma Ardy to see the Blue Ridge Mountains. They sure live up to their name. The range is nestled in fog making the surrounding peaks always look

Laynie's been glued to her daddy's side since we returned to Virginia.

Thought we better get at least one mother-daughter picture.

I'm a little jealous of the owners of this beautiful little ranch. It's nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

Skyline Drive is a 150 mile long drive that follows the hugs the mountain range. Since we knew the kids weren't going to look out the window for that long, we picked a rest spot along the road and stopped for potty breaks and treats. I LOVE that it had one pump at the gas station.

We entertained the kids by taking pictures in the back seat.

These are the binoculars that Gav got at the rest stop. He "saw" a black bear, deer, fox, and squirrels through them. Notice that he has them backwards...totally the best way to use them.

I LOVED this tree! How cool is that against the background?

More mountains....if you can call them that. We were a whopping 3,000 feet above sea level.

One more shot of that cool tree.