Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Off to Texas, Day 2

That first night we had crashed with my Dad's Cousin Judy in  Bella Vista, Arkansas. Cousin Judy and I stayed up chatting until after midnight.  It was great.  There was some Butler basketball and Wine.  Jake wasn't sleeping well without me, so I eventually caved and went to bed with him.  He only woke up twice in the night.  It felt like a record, and I slept really well.  When we got up in the morning, we were surrounded by trees, and it was shady, and dark.  I'd done the boys a favor, by waking up earlier than they, I tried to download Big Hero Six onto my ipad for a treat to watch.   I'd tried at home the day before, but it hadn't worked.  They couldn't even wait for it to finish downloading, they had to start watching it right away.  

Like they hadn't had enough screens already, they wanted to watch Big Hero Six right away! 
So, while Cousin Judy made breakfast, the boys played.  They fought with the puppy, and just were crazy.  So, as breakfast was finishing and the sun was up, they wanted to take a look around.  Since we'd arrived after dark, we knew we were in the woods, but hadn't been able to see a thing.  So the boys wanted to explore, a little bit of Judy's place.  She has a condo, with not much yard, but surrounded by trees.  

I wouldn't let Jacob go exploring, so he got to watch from the window.  

Cousin Judy shows Jake and Sam her back patio.  
It was Beautiful.  Spring was just beginning the trees waking, and birds chirping.  She had a pair of cardinals making a nest just out her back porch window.   And she said there were some bluebirds too, but we didn't see them. 

This was Sam's "collection".  He wanted to bring these acorns home with us.  Somehow I managed to convince him that if we took a picture of his collection, then we could put them back for the squirrels to eat, and not take them.  And that was enough for him.  (Whew!)  After we all got dressed, we got the full tour of Cousin Judy's downstairs ceramic studio, and the lot. 

The boys all wanted to swing. 
They were pretty sweet here.  

I couldn't get Jacob to smile to save my life. 
But at least they all look sweet with Cousin Judy. 

As we were loading up, we took one more picture from the top of the hill.  

Some of the daffodils were starting to peek out down the hill.  But mostly there was still a lot of brown. And the kids wanted to just run around and play on it.  But really, we had to get going. 

Cousin Judy took this with her phone.  She was the only one to get a pic of Jacob smiling.   The big boys were getting all revved up as we finished loading up to hit the road.  They went a little crazy.  No, a lot.   And I felt like by the time we pulled out of her driveway, she was probably glad to see us go.  I felt like I'd yelled at them all morning - don't fight with the dog, don't run out of her yard, put that stick down.  By the time we drove down the hill, I was still yelling.  Chris was arguing with me at every turn.  I still had 2 more days travel to go before we got to Lisa's, and this was the first moment that I felt overwhelmed.  I screamed at Chris, he slapped his head, I screamed more.  Before I knew it, I was crying.  This was the one and only time I lost it too.  What was I thinking?!    I put them off screens for 2 hours. That was rough on them.  But we kept driving.  

The hills of Arkansas.  
Very pretty.  I found beauty of being in the hills, as the green was starting to poke through.  I was born in Arkansas, and given how it helped me to calm down, being in the hills and woods, I guess this is My Country.  

Oklahoma.  We kept driving, and the dirt started turning red.  There was more green, but we lose real trees.  There really isn't much in Oklahoma.  

Oklahoma is rather a sea of flat.  But at least we can still see a lot of the sky.  There were cattle, and sparse trees.  But that was about it.

We stop at the McD's in Tulsa, just next to the Hard Rock Casino Resort. They were awful when I tried ordering at the counter to take it to go after pottying.   So I put them in the car and went back in for supplies.   They needed to just run around a bit.  I'd love to have let them run around, it just wasn't a safe spot to do so.  So I was all kinds of frazzled as we were leaving and Chris looked up.  Chris thought this place looked "like fun" so I'm making note, so maybe sometime after he's 21...  I told him about the 'grownup gambling games' they play at casinos and that we have to be 21, or it just wouldn't be much fun for him.  But hey, once he is 21, maybe it might be the kind of thing he likes.  

And we drove on.   They cuddled up into their screens, and all I wanted to do was get out of Oklahoma.  

This is the Red River, the border of Oklahoma and Texas.  Woohoo! 
We made it to Texas.  

I called Eric, and he booked us an evening at the Comfort Inn in Wichita Falls, about 15 minutes into Texas.  The boys were so good that last couple hours, I felt like the earned a swim in the pool.  And they were So Helpful.  I think they realized how close I'd come to my wits' end earlier in the day.  They helped unload, they stayed together.  I felt like the most withit mom ever as we rolled our cart upstairs, Chris taking one half of the luggage filled cart, while I carried Jake, and Sam pushed the elevator buttons.  I went downstairs and asked the clerk what the hours were on the pool, knowing we needed dinner before a swim, but hoping they'd be open late.  He looked at me, like I was crazy.  He said the Pool is closed, it's winter.  What?!  It's Texas!  But turns out they only had an outdoor pool, and not indoor, and it hadn't been opened.  It was like 70 degrees at 6 pm, but there was no swimming.  I got teary as I had to tell them.  Then I suggested we just jump on the beds for a while and drown out our sorrow with cheeseburgers from Whataburger across the street and watch trashy TV.  

They were cool with that.  
So they played.  

They hid in the dresser cabinet. 

They jumped on the beds.  

And they curled up to watch some trashy Disney channel, Jessie or something like that.  

Once laying flat didn't hold their attention anymore.  
We took a walk and got dinner.  

And Mommy got a Whataburger.  
So Good.  Not exactly In & Out burger, but for this area of the country, it's pretty stinky good! 

Off to Texas, Day 1

 We like to start every trip singing, "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...." Sometimes we're riding high into the sun, sometimes we're not.  This trip -we were.  This trip started later than I intended because my back just doesn't want me to pack and load like I want to do.  But we finally got moving.  We hit the road about 10:30.

Daddy did me a favor and snagged this picture as we headed out.  
Well, he did a lot of favors helping us get on the road.  I imagine it was weirdly quiet, after we left.  
Weird for a Saturday.  

Our first stop was Casey, IL - site of the World's Largest Wind Chime.  
And apparently, they are building the "World's Largest Rocking Chair" right across the street, and somewhere in town is the "World's Largest Golf Tee".  So you see, we had to stop.   The kids liked it, and we watched as some young adults pulled a rope, and rang the chime.  We stopped to powder our noses, really the kids had done quite well, making it almost 2 hours before we hit the road. We'd had snack bars as soon as we got on the highway.  Then they played with all their screen paraphernalia.  

I had made little goodie bags for the boys.  They didn't even look inside them until we stopped.   
There were brand new sunglasses in each boy's bag.  And they couldn't wait to put them on.   After the stop.  I know, a little weird.  But they loved them.  And keeping them happy, kept me happy.  

But of course, we can't be happy forever.  
So I'm very Thankful that I packed THIS.  
It's my Travel Diffuser.  I loaded it up with Stress Away and blasted it on the windshield as I mowed down the highway.  They started getting really ootsy, so I thought, when in doubt, feed them.  

We stopped for a late lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Effingham, IL.  
Because Effingham is just fun to say.  
The kids really just wanted to go to Cracker Barrel so they could play checkers.  But Chris and Sam broke out in a fight at the inside table, so we had a little 'discussion', and things perked up by the time we left, they approached it better, so round 2 of checkers went better, with the exception of Sticky Fingers McJakers stealing all Sam's game chips.  

Sweetboys playing games in the sun. 
I think that's one of the major problems with road trips in this era.   The kids are so buckled in, they miss out on a lot of the fun by only being able to play with screens in their laps.   We're lucky that Chris and Sam are old enough now to unbuckle if they drop something instead of just being s.o.l for the rest of the trip.   But I think it helps to stop and let them have a little fun.   

I had wanted to stop here. 
The Arch.  
The Gateway to the West.  
Chris had ridden it once, in 2007.  But he took one look at it, and said, "No.  I can't do that, I'm afraid of heights."  Oh man!  But then there was also the fact that it was 2 o'clock when we crossed into Missouri, and we still needed to get across the whole blinking state before we could stop and crash for the night.  

We stop for Gas in Missouri, just outside St. Louis.  
Since Jake sits behind me, and that's the side the gas tank is, normally, Jake gets locked in when we stop for gas.  By mid-afternoon this was bugging him.  He wanted out.  So I let him out while we filled up.  Chris was my special helper in filling up, and Sam helped with doing windows.   But really, Sam could only do the back windows.   Still, every stop became a family effort to get the car ready for another leg of the journey.  

And the sun went down after we finally turned off I-70.  
We crossed Missouri, and then at Joplin, the last city, we turned south to go into Arkansas. 
My Dad's cousin Judy lives just across the border, and we invited ourselves to visit, and crash with her for the night.  And we watched the sun set as we geared up to find her place.  

It was 8:30 pm local time by the time we found her place.
The boys were so happy to get out of the car.
Cousin Judy had prepared a spaghetti dinner for us to enjoy as soon as we got in. I was so Thankful for that, a nice hot meal that wasn't deep fried, I'm sure we'll be doing plenty of that.  We sat and ate, then got the kids ready for bed before the Butler Game started.  

Though I'd said the big boys would share this bed, Jacob climbed in too, declaring it was bedtime. Chris had been so excited to start ready the 5th Harry Potter, but he didn't start it until I brought it inside for his flush the next morning.  Then he decides at bedtime he wants to read.  For some reason, I didn't get any pics of Cousin Judy with the kids when we got in, but the boys were cute, cute and exhausted.  They didn't fight me much on bedtime.  Chris had had an accident, he said before we left home, Grr.. so he got a shower, and we did our first load of laundry.  How Handy to stop at a home!    

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lego Club

 On the first Friday of the month, our library has Lego Club.  And this month was the first time that a. I remembered, and b. Chris had behaved well enough for me to take him over.  But Eric wasn't home in time for me to just take Chris, so all the boys went.  And all the boys were welcome.  My friend Amy and her boys were there too!  It wasn't too crowded,  so we hung out and chatted, and watched the boys play.  For some crazy reason, I didn't have my camera, so I was lucky  that Amy caught these pics for me. :) 

Even though we were there for Chris, both little brothers felt they needed to play Legos too. 

I was worried about Jacob putting Legos in his mouth.  But he didn't.  It was Sam that I busted putting toys in his mouth, not either one of the ones that I thought would be eating them.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Luau

Friday night was the First Annual Brown Family Luau.  An Elementary School Dance.  My first.

So I signed up to work it.  And it was 20 degrees when the time finally came. 
Who's crazy enough to wear a muumuu when it's 20 degrees outside?  Me.  

Like it?  It's autumn sunrise.  

I was working hard at the ticket table when these sweetboys arrived to help me out.  
I got to take tickets.  Good thing, because as I was doing so, I learned that siblings were not invited.  So I had to call Eric and tell him that Jacob wasn't welcome.  :(  So Eric offered to stay home with Jake while I continued and he sent the boys in.  They helped me take tickets for a while, but they'd also run to the gym to dance and grab snacks.   All the kids were given leis and sunglasses for the luau.  It was so much fun, and I had barely made it into the gym for the dancing.  

But oh yeah, it's a good time.  Chris and I got in line for the Limbo.  This was his practice move.  


Chris was actually doing really great in the Limbo, he made it through 3 rounds before falling to his his hands.  I was really proud of him.  

I got a great opportunity to dance with Sam too.  He's such a lightweight, he loved spinning around, or having me twist him while we danced.  

The only thing that would have made it better is if I'd had a 'drinkie' before I'd arrived.  
It was like the most fun wedding reception, but with more kids! 

Here are my special Luau dates and I after we arrived home.  

When I stopped moving, I learned, I need to be in better shape before next year's dance.  

Silly Sunday

Last Sunday, we got Snow, a lot of Snow.  
They said we'd get 3-6 inches.  I think we got more like 8! 

But it sure was pretty.  

Even though it wasn't the first snow of the season, it was the first good snowman making snow.  
And it made the dog happy, all kinds of fun to watch it fall.  

It was the kind of snow to make a little dog bound and leap. 

And it was the kind of snow to finally build that snowman!  

The boys went outside and built this guy during our naptime, so I didn't see it until we were leaving the house and got this pic.   We would've stayed inside all day, but we needed to get to church for the boys' First Communion class.   And we would've just chilled out enjoying a lazy sunday, but it was Jeremiah's Birthday Party!  So, we were the only silly ones venturing out into the snow. 

He loves Daniel Tiger, so we got him one that talks and does stuff. 


And we all got to sing to Jeremiah! 
When our family gets together to sing, the music is always so nice.  

This was as close as I got to a closeup of the almost Birthday boy.  
Can't believe he's 2!  His birthday was actually Monday, but you know, we've got to celebrate the good stuff all month long. :) 

My kids are goofy.  As goofy as their new dog Hazel.   And they all were being so silly at the party. 
We couldn't stay late though, it was a school night.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Crazy Notions

Have you ever done something crazy for a friend?  
Taken your life in your hands for a friend? 
It's a rare thing.  And I am not usually disappointed.  
I did one of those things tonight.
My friend Catalina had been taking guitar lessons.  She and I met through the church choir, so I know the girl can sing.  And she was set up to join her teacher and his band to play the open mic night at the Stone's Throw, a bar downtown.  Downtown B'burg, I should specify.  Lest you think I'm really bonkers and tootled into Indy in a snowstorm.  Anyway, there was a snowstorm.  C wasn't due on until 10, and by 9, we'd gotten the boys down, I wanted to take off my bra and put on my pajamas.  I sat down at the computer instead.  She'd cancelled the event, because she didn't want to see all the former Yeses turning into Nos.  It was making her Nervous.  Well, I couldn't have that.  So I decided to go.  I even put on makeup.  I tell, Crazy Stuff! I left the house at 9:30, leaving plenty of time to crawl across town in a snowstorm.   It felt so weird to go out that late.  I'm pretty sure it's been like college since I went to a bar, let alone left after dark.  Well, wait, no, Kathleen and I went to that dueling piano bar, but this was Different.  This was a Bar's Bar, all smokey and everything.  I am just not the drinker that I used to be.  And I was not going to touch anything that might impair my driving, when it was already icky.   I had to drive   Eric's car 2 fisted just to get there, it was snowing.  When I stopped to turn left, I fishtailed a bit, just getting there.   I did see a snowplow, but he was coming from Pittsboro and going south, not any of the roads I needed.   But I made it.  And I got to see my friend sing.  

She was a bit nervous.  I didn't know the song she chose for her first, Miranda Lambert thing, but the west wing of the bar was singing along.  I took it as a good sign.  Then she did Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.  Why yes, we do!   So that got a lot more of us singing along, and even some folks (who'd had a drinkie or two) waving their arms all around.  I didn't drink anything but water.  Bars aren't quite as fun if you aren't drinking.  The music was good.  And they were playing some things that if I'd been a little bit tipsier I'd have gotten up to Dance.  But I didn't.  I did go support my friend, and scream as we tried to talk to each other.  Man, I'm practically an old fuddy duddy.  I don't like smoke, I don't like screaming.  What kind of bar hopper am I?  I cut out at 11:30 - like Cinderella, I couldn't risk turning into a pumpkin at midnight. ;)  
I was glad I left when I did.  God was watching to make sure I made it home safe.  The roads were bad.   And I wiggled at the first light, luckily no one was around.  I Prayed Unceasingly all the way home.  I was so worried I'd lose control of that little car on the rest of the way home, but God was With Me.  He made sure the lights all stayed green, so I could just keep on plowing through.  No cars were out in my neighborhood, so there was no trying to pull over to get past.  I made it home in one piece, and had to hose myself down to wash all the smoky smell off.  I'd forgotten how it permeates everything.  Whew!  
But I'm glad I went.  Obviously, I was Meant to go and support my friend.  I'm glad I did.  She did a Great job!  I can sing at church, it's an easy audience, they all love me, and aren't inclined to throw tomatoes or bottles.  But singing at a bar, with a band, in public.  No.  I don't think so.  She's a better, braver, man than I.  And she did Wonderfully!  

Friday, February 27, 2015


Getting back in to the groove.  We had Piper for a week before Valentine's Day.  Then I got a week off.  Then we got her back for a few days this past week.  She really fits in well around here.

Tuesday, we went to our BAM playdate, Butler Alumni Moms, at my friend K's house.  
She obviously has girls.  How fun it was to take a girl to girlapalooza!  She had fun playing Doc McStuffins and Dress Up.  And Jake joined her.  He'd never been interested in dress up before.  Then again, he's not a girl.   It was an entirely new kind of playdate for him.  Plus there were Pitty Desses, as Lisa would call them.  It was fun to have a little girl around.  

This was a snap on our way home that day.  
"Snazzy Piper"  That's what she called herself when I put these glasses on her, I had given them to her to play with so she wouldn't fall asleep on the way home.  Snazzy Piper stayed awake.  
Jake didn't. 

For the most part, Pipes does not watch tv.  Or at least, not with us.  But Jacob likes to watch Yo Gabba Gabba and Octonauts.  She decided this week, that she likes Mickey Mouse, she saw him on something in Jake's room.  So, in an effort to bring the littles up to a level of cool, I popped some of my old school Mickey Mouse cartoons in to watch.   Piper was hysterical as we watched the episode where Mickey directs the Band during a tornado.  Pipes starts yelling at the TV, "It's OK Mickey!" and "It's Just an Accident! I help you!"   So sweet, and she makes me smile.  

It's nice to have a little girl around.