Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Monkey's Many Talents

The monkey has invented an ingenious way of letting us know he's done eating. It doesn't involve sign language, or a special word, or even a unique sound. Instead, when he's in his high chair and has decided he's done eating, whether it's cereal, or chili, or a cup of juice, he simply holds it up in the air and throws it across the room. The other day he got the dregs of his soup bowl to shoot halfway across the kitchen, casting splatters six feet up the wall. Today I caught a half eaten bowl of eggs just as he began to wind up for a throw. We tell him and tell him to let us know when he's done, and he even knows to use the sign "down" when he wants to get out of his chair, but if we don't watch him like a hawk, we end up on our knees wiping pineapple and cottage cheese, or yogurt and bananas, or a half eaten hamburger up off the carpet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mr. Baseball's first t-ball game (sorry no cool music)

With the rainy season over, Mr. Baseball has finally gotten a chance to play a little T-ball. He missed three games because of rain, but here, at his first full game, the sky was blue and the bats were humming.
Mr. Baseball's league is a participation league, which means everybody bats, they don't keep track of outs, and they don't keep score, and we like it just fine. Most of the kids stare at their feet, kick dust, play with their hats, or stand stiff legged in the dirt and twist their torsos wildly. Still, even with the distractions and limitations that come with being four or five years old, there were a few executed plays, including one man double play by a boy on Callan's team who caught the batted ball and then tagged a runner. Mr. Baseball couldn't be more excited.

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Big Diggers at COSI

Last Wednesday we made another marathon trip to Columbus. I donated plasma at 6:15 am and then taught class from 8-10am. Then the QB picked me up at my building and we drove to Columbus. We dropped the QB off for 12:00 pm session at the Temple and the boys and I went to Trader Joe's to stock up on all the good stuff we either can't get in Athens, or don't want to pay double for in Athens--rice milk, raw nuts, granola, whole wheat hot dog and hamburger buns, and organic yogurt, among other things. Then we swung by Whole Foods Market, stopped in at a gas station for a lemonade and dashed back to the temple by 2pm to pick up the QB, who was waiting outside under a tree for us when we pulled up. Next stop, the Columbus Science Museum, COSI.

We'd already changed the Monkey twice, but by the time we arrived at COSI in downtown Columbus, he needed to be changed again. In fact, just as we pulled into the parking lot, he pulled his hand out of his diaper to show us the mess he'd made. Together, the QB and I picked the monkey up out of his seat, stood him on some old newspapers in the parking lot beside the car, and cleaned him up as best we could. His clothes were soiled and all we had were pajamas for back up, so the Monkey spent the rest of the day in his pajamas. There was also only one diaper left, which Nolan needed at the Museum about an hour later.

more about diapers later...

One of the reasons we went to COSI this time, was to see their annual Big Digger exhibit. Every summer dozens of heavy construction machines come to the museum and kids can climb on, climb in, and even attempt to operate them (with proper adult supervision, of course).

Mr. Baseball, getting instructions from the operator.

Mr. Baseball, looking very serious as he operates the arm and bucket...

The Monkey, looking anything but serious as he and Mom operate the bucket...

I don't know if you can see it here, but this is a "Franklin" machine...

The Monkey, in construction yellow heaven...

After the museum we stopped at Fizoli's for dinner and then the QB dropped me off at the temple for a six pm session. She was going to head home and I was going to get a ride from some people in our branch who would be attending the temple at the same time. Everything went according to plan on my end and I arrived at home about ten pm, expecting to find the boys asleep and the QB reading on the couch, or watching a little television. Instead, I walked in the door and was greeted by a chorus of "Daddy," from the boys and a tired but cheerful looking mom.

the QB tells me that on their way home she and the boys stopped at JC Penney to look at Dresses and while she had both boys with her in the dressing room trying on an outfit, the Monkey filled his diaper for a third time that day. She had to get all of her clothes back on and head across the store to the restrooms to change him. But when she got there she realized she didn't have any diapers. She set all of her things down and took both boys out to the car to look for a diaper, but she couldn't find one. Finally, in desperation she asked a dad in a minivan full of children if she could have a diaper and she was able to get the monkey changed. They didn't get home until 9:30pm. "I half expected you to beat us home," she told me. The upside--The QB got two fine dresses for super cheap and she's feeling very pleased with her self and her cool summer dresses. And the moral, don't feed your twenty-month old a quarter of a watermelon the night before you go out of town, (and, always bring more diapers than you think you'll need.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A parade, a hike, some "fireworks," a burger, and a lazy summer day

The fourth of July Parade this year in Athens was like trick-or-treating in reverse. Instead of going from door to door to collect candy, Mr. Baseball just stood on the street and the "doors" came to him--everybody was giving out candy and we came home with several handfuls. The parade was on Court street in uptown Athens just north of Campus, about a ten minute walk from our apartment. We got a nice spot on the curb just as it started but we'd only just settled in to watch when the parade ended. There were a few police and emergency vehicles, a tractor or two, a few politicians, and even our realtor, but that was it--no bands, no horses, no boy scouts with flags, no cheerleaders, not even a single clown. The word on the street was that weather had kept the parade small, which was too bad for the several hundred people who'd come out to celebrate the Fourth. There has been so much rain this season that its been difficult to do a lot of normal summer things. We've been rained out of several T-ball events, swimming lessons, and almost fireworks.

And speaking of Fireworks...Ohio has to have one of the silliest fireworks laws on the books. This is how it reads:
"Sparklers, trick noisemakers & novelties are exempt under Ohio law. Other consumer fireworks may be sold to Ohio residents upon execution of a form agreeing to take the items out of the state within 48 hours, or to out-of state residents upon execution of a form agreeing to take the items out the state within 72 hours."

And this is what it means in reality:

On the afternoon of the Fourth, after promising my four-year-old that we would do fireworks before he went to bed, without knowing the above statute, I made a quick trip to Walmart to buy some fireworks. All I found in the large display labeled "Fireworks" was a bunch of overpriced economy packs of smoke bombs, Pop-its, and sparklers--sparklers sold by the hundreds, as if I needed 15o sparklers, as if anybody needs 15o sparklers. The only other stores in town that might have had fireworks were either closed or only had the same wanna-be fireworks that Walmart was selling. I found out later that the nearest fireworks stand was more than forty-five minutes up the road. In the end I bought seven dollars worth of noise makers and took them home. Mr. Baseball was okay with the noisemakers, especially the two shaped like pistols, but the QB and I were pretty bummed. What is the Fourth without ground-bloom flowers, Killer Bees, Piccolo Petes, and California Candles?

And what is with Ohio's law anyway? Everyone I talk to buys all of their fireworks out of town, signs the form that says they'll leave the state to discharge them, and then disregards the law and lights off the fireworks out on their property, or out in the country. What's the point of a law that no one wants, no one obeys, and no one enforces? ahhh bureaucracy...gotta love it.

Anyway, back to the parade....
Even though the parade was short, Mr. Baseball had a blast. He didn't stop jumping the entire time and he and a friend were the only ones on their corner to collect candy, so they came home with a ton.

Then on Saturday morning after the Fourth fiasco, we decided to go to Lake Hope State Park for a short hike, and while we were getting ready in the parking lot at the trail head, up pulled our neighbors, John and Pualani (Pooh-uh-la-ni), in their 198? Ford cruise liner. They didn't know we were going to be there, and we didn't know they were going to be there, but since they were, and we were, we all decided to hike part of the day together. They were set up for a ten mile hike (they're both big hikers), and we were planning on more like 1.5 miles, so we just hiked for a little while together, and then went our separate ways, but it was nice to hike with them for a while (they took this lovely photo for us). John is getting an M.A. in picking moss (plant biology) so he kept us informed about all the amazing plants that we passed (which were all so new and different than the Oregon and Utah flora we're used to), and Mr. Baseball set the pace so he kept us moving. The monkey enjoyed the view from his perch on my back and he stayed awake the whole time.

This Meso-American-looking pyramid in the background is actually a 150-year-old iron furnace, which was fueled by much of the forest surrounding Lake Hope State Park. All that green pictured here behind the QB, and most of the green we hiked through that day is second-growth forest, which makes me wonder what the forest must have looked like before it was cleared almost entirely to feed the iron industry. There are about 60 furnaces like this that stretch up and down Eastern Ohio, Kentucky and other parts of the region, and they are the reason for local towns like Scioto Furnace, Franklin Furnace, and the Hope Furnace, named for the furnace pictured here.

On Thursday night Melissa made Garam Masala Turkey Burgers that tasted like an Indian buffet between whole wheat buns (I cooked them, but she mixed the patty concoction together--a process that she completed so quickly and so off-handedly that I barely had time to notice she'd gotten out of her chair, whipped it together, and sat back down. She's that good.) We decided that next time we would top them with mango chutney, a little raita, and serve them on slices of warm naan--then if we master the recipe we might enter it in THIS. Well, okay, maybe we'll just feed them to honored guests, but it would be cool to enter the contest.

I've been staying home a few hours each day with the boys so that the QB can work on her childbirth educator certification, and between swimming lessons, T-ball, the garden, and life in general, we've been really busy, but the other day we had a quiet morning with a lot of book reading, block building, and about a half-hour of uninterrupted dirt digging out in front. At this point the boys do better if they dig in their own holes, rather then work together. If the monkey tries to "help" Mr. Baseball, we usually have a nuclear meltdown in patience in about three minutes.

by the way, the most disappointing thing about working on a blog late at night in the darkness of your living room while eating the last of the ice cream from the carton is when you finish off the ice cream without realizing it and reach your spoon in one last time and come up with nothing at all.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Trails Part 2

Green! Just like we like it

The storm a few weeks ago hit Stroud's Run State Park harder than I thought. Here's where the bridge was over the creek last time we went hiking as a family.

And here's where we found it downstream. Visible from it's original place but quite a ways down. luckily the creek had gone down enough to jump over in a spot nearby.

Happy Trails

When we moved back to the US from Japan we nearly decided do away with the car and try to get by on just our bikes and public transportation. We decided against it, especially because I was 7 months pregnant then and with gas prices as cheap as they were a few years ago it didn't look like we would save all that much money.

Enter the new bike trailer! It gets us here, it gets us there, it gets us everywhere. Well except church which we could get to on the bike path but it would mean being sweaty before the meeting even started and leaving WAY earlier to get there on time. As any mormon mom with 9am church knows, that's NOT going to happen! We have no plans to ditch the car, we just try to leave it parked in it's spot as long as possible.

The last two weeks we've hauled kids, library books, gardening tools, lots of water, swimming suits and the wee ones along with their friends in it. This week we'll try tennis racquets, T-ball gloves and maybe even groceries!

"We love the bike trailer!"

"Ok, that's enough."