Monday, July 26, 2010

Vacation - part 2

This is Part 2 of our vacation to Oklahoma in June 2010. Follow here if you would like to read Part 1, which was our time in Saint Louis, MO. The series continues with parts 3 and part 4.

As we were leaving St. Louis, we discovered a crack in our windshield and our air conditioning was working intermittently. Upon closer investigation, we found where a rock must have hit the windshield and it was a curved crack extending down to the base and up several inches. (Jumping ahead just a bit, over the course of the rest of our trip, we will find the crack curving and getting longer. The air conditioner will also continue to work intermittently. A few days before we plan to head home, the check engine light will come on. With all of this we are thankful that the windshield didn't shatter, the a/c will work at times rather than not at all, and who knows why the engine light is on, but it continues to function!)

OK, back to the way from St. Louis to Tulsa... This is the road trip where we are taking time to stop and see those things on billboards that we see and say, "One of these days, we should stop and see that." So, when we saw the billboard for the World's Largest Rocking Chair in Cuba, Missouri, we decided to follow the signs and see it. We left I-44 and ventured onto Route 66, where we found this neat little shop, the Route 66 Outpost. Inside, we found all things taxidermy - every critter imaginable - and wood carvings and gadgets.

The kind folks in the shop gave us a recommendation for dinner (Missouri Hick Barbeque), which involved back-tracking a few miles, so we decided to plan our trip home around stopping there for dinner. Hubby also had a nice chat about geocaching with them. He loves this hobby and even found one around the rocking chair! This was a great stop to make and a good time to stretch our legs.

Just off the parking lot was this mammoth rocking chair. They weren't kidding. I really do think it's the World's Largest Rocking Chair. If there is one bigger, I cannot imagine it.

Here is my 6' husband standing on it:
{Sorry, hubby, you're not being a very good influence.}

Arg, Blogger isn't cooperating and this picture won't import in it's rotated form.
Sorry for the sideways reading!

We continued driving and stayed overnight in Springfield, MO. Then on Tuesday, drove on in to the Tulsa-area. We didn't make any more nifty stops other than a huge candy shop where the only other customers seemed to be very radical campers who may or may not have been hallucinating by choice and had a sweet tooth. We didn't stick around very long.

We arrived at our destination on our third day and were blessed to be staying with some long-time Christian friends who we haven't seen in a very long time. On Wednesday, it rained, which through off our plans a bit, so we went out to lunch with my sister-in-law and nephew and then played at Bass Pro Shop. Who would've thought that four kids (5 if you include my husband) would have so much fun at Bass Pro Shop? (Of course, then the rain stopped and it was sweltering!)

My aunt and grandmother drove in from Kansas with a nice surprise - they brought my cousin's daughter. My girls receive a lot of hand-me-downs from her and they have only met once, so it was a very nice surprise and good time visiting with them.

Here is a picture of Child C and my nephew:

Child C enjoying some time with my younger brother, her Uncle Andrew:

We brought a bag of giant marshmallows.
Have you seen them?
They are almost as big as those giant
fuzzy dice from the 70s & 80s; marshmallows a full 2"x2".
What fun!
My nephew had never even had a marshmallow before,
so we had to get a picture of him eating one of these:
(This was actually the only good picture I got of him eating it because he actually wasn't impressed. He has a good momma who doesn't feed him a lot of sweets, so this was very foreign to him!)

Thursday and Friday were reserved for hubby to spend with the kids while my brothers and I went through my mom's household items that were packed up 11 years ago when she passed away. Can I just say that it was not something I was looking forward to. My mom was a collector, meaning she kept a lot of stuff that she thought would one day be worth something. I wasn't sure what to expect and anticipated a lot of stress. I prayed for joy. God is so good. I think I laughed more in those two days than in a long time. Now, I'll be honest and say I was stressed a bit as time started closing in on Friday and then again on Sunday when we weren't quite done, but as we went through the boxes and boxes and boxes, I laughed a lot.

Most of the laughs came from such items that most people would never in a lifetime come across. Things that bring on a "What the..." or "Why would someone keep this???"
Here, let me show you:
Is it a crocodile or an alligator? WHY is it dressed like batman?
Who would do this to a crock or a gator???
Here, enjoy some more angles of this poor defenseless creature:
How 'bout a close-up?
Uncle Andrew in a California Raisin costume meant for a toddler:

A cute little container, just right for storing... hair? Ew, ick. WHY?!?

Some miscellaneous things that she collected from family vacations and, well, because she could. Like flex-straws!
Quite possibly one of the first packages of tampons ever made. Toxic shock syndrome, anyone?

Remember Woodsy the Owl? Give a hoot, don't pollute!
He should come back, really. I just can't stand it when the car in front of me throws out a bag of trash onto the road. With 3 kids in the car, I can't just stop and give it back to them, telling them they dropped something!

And Smokey the Bear... Only YOU can prevent forest fires!

This is not all we sorted through, but it gives you an idea of how we ended up laughing so much. While some of these things really might be worth something, we found that others, like the entire Del Monte collection of stuffed fruits and veggies really aren't. Maybe someday they will be, but that day is not today and someone else will have the chance to hold onto them until that day. It was fun. We had a lot of laughs. And if anyone else in my family dies and leaves behind a bunch of "collectibles", well, we'll let an estate sale company go through it and decide. (My dad is also a collector and has a lot more than my mom did!) I'm also eager to clean out my house because I don't want someone going through my things thinking the same things I thought about my mom's. What an experience. And I am so thankful for God's grace and joy!

(Mom also kept all my stuff from my bedroom when I moved to Chicago the day after my 18th birthday. It was very interesting going through boxes of posters that were on my wall and notes that were passed during class in high school - all during the same week as my 20-year reunion!)

During our stay, my older brother, sister-in-law and our very good friends who offered their house to use were so very hospitable. We were blessed and had such a good time. Thank you to those who read my blog who were also involved in our trip!

In the final part of this series, I will be posting about my 20-year reunion and our trip home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Works For Me Wednesday - Utensils in the Dishwasher

Kids go through a lot of dishes and utensils. We try to assign one cup per day and each kid is responsible for washing it out if she chooses to change her beverage, but they usually drink water and often share a cup. Something must be getting past me though, because we go through a lot of cups. We also go through a lot of utensils.

I realized a few weeks ago that it takes a few minutes to put away all the clean utensils and turn them the right way for storing in the drawer. I'm all for saving time and being efficient, so I started loading the utensils in the dishwasher according to type. You know how the utensil holder has different compartments? Well, spoons go one section, forks go in another, knives in yet another, and serving utensils or larger ones go in yet another. If I have too many of something to fit in one compartment, then I may have one compartment that is mixed. Everything sharp goes in sharp-end down and everything else goes in handle down. I don't like emergency room and urgent care visits and just know someone would get hurt with a sharp pointing up.

This makes unloading and putting away so much faster! I take one or two types of utensils out at a time and I just have to sort them by size, not by type. It works for me!

To read up on what else works, visit Kristen at WeAreTHATFamily.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vacation - part 1

Woo-hoo! Finally, the computer recognized my camera and I got pictures!!! Thank you for hanging in there with me. Here is my first post about our vacation. You can read Part 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 concludes the series here.

We recently drove to Oklahoma to attend my 20-year high school reunion. I can't believe it's been 20 years. When I first moved away, I'd return every few months for a weekend here and there. However, after a few years that became more and more difficult to do and the visits became less and less frequent. It's been 6 years since we've been back. Wow.

Our vacations usually involve a 5 or 6 hour drive to my in-laws for a long weekend. We don't usually do much of anything planned and just relax with family. We try to make an annual winter weekend trip to a major river that freezes so we can see the bald eagles up close and personal. Both types of trips are nice and relaxing, for the most part. However, they are always the same. But going somewhere new and seeing things we haven't seen before and learning about things we don't know doesn't usually happen on these trips. We always see billboards for places we'd like to spend more time one of these days. So, we decided that during this trip, we'd like to do those things.

We already knew that once in Oklahoma, 1 day would be set aside for my reunion and I would be spending 2 days with one or both of my brothers to sort through my mom's belongings that have been in storage for the past 11 years. I like to be emotionally prepared for events and had no idea what to expect for any of these 3 days. So, the rest of the trip had better be fun! I also wanted to be sure that we'd spend some time together as a family because those 3 days would have us going in different directions.

What would be a 10-11 hour drive with mature travelers turns into, well... a much longer drive when you add children to the mix. We planned 3 days to get there so we would have time to enjoy it. And it's a good thing, because Child C had to go to the bathroom about every 45 minutes! The joys of potty-training (and better late than never!)

On our first day, we drove to St. Louis and spent a little over 24 hours there. The zoo is free and parking was reasonable considering no admission cost. We don't usually take a train or tram or trolley, but decided to spend the money to see more of the zoo in the time we had. It was a very nice zoo and I recommend it to those passing through.

This isn't a review of the St. Louis zoo, so I'm going to move right along. We also spent a significant amount of time wandering around the riverfront and the arch.

Across the street from the zoo is Turtle Park. Concrete turtle structures of various sizes, from toddler tackle-able to giant. The kids were tired and hungry after trekking through the zoo, but they still wanted to romp, climb, and be eaten by giant turtles. This would have been a great place to eat a picnic dinner, had we been prepared for that.

We finished the day with a quick bite to eat from some local fast-food joint that we wanted to remember because they had 30-cent ice-cream cones. What was the name of that place? Sorry. I don't remember. Then it was off to our hotel for the night. Tomorrow, we'll see the World's Largest Rocking Chair, which I'll share with you in a few days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who's your momma?

Back when Child C was only a year or two, (now 4-1/2), Child B convinced her that she was C's mommy. Yep, C would call her mommy, curl up on her lap, walk holding her hand, and when I would ask C if she was playing she would sweetly say, "yes." Then I would ask her who was her real mommy? She would sweetly reply that B was her real mommy.

Child B and I talked about how important it is for a child to know who their mom and dad are, not only by appearance, but by name. We talked about how it's OK to play and pretend, but that she shouldn't confuse C and be sure that C knows they are playing and that I am their real mommy.

Now and then they will still pretend that B is mommy. But it's pretend and C understands that.

Today, as we were walking through the grocery store, the kids kept calling me Grandma. You read that right. I wasn't sure I heard it right the first time. So I asked what they were talking about. B addressed me with "Grandma". So I asked why they were calling me Grandma. B firmly explained to me that she is C's mom which makes me the Grandma (B is 7!) and C was in total agreement. I really hadn't planned on becoming a grandma this way. I certainly was getting some strange looks in the store as they continued to call me Grandma.

Sometimes I wonder if they really realize it's pretend or if they believe it.

Oh, and this morning we were talking about the distinguishing characteristics of mammals and that we are mammals. We talked about how God made people different than animals, but people are mammals. It was so cute when C asked if we have mammal seeds. Uh, yeah, sort of.