Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What is it They Say about Necessity and Invention?

Maybe in my case today it wasn't so much necessity as laziness.  I'll go with necessity and thinking outside the box though.

I have been working since we got home from 30 Days of Mayhem to get the new to me car titled and registered in Texas.  Today, I finally had all the documents and signatures needed to make it happen.  About the time I walked in the Tax Assessors office it occurred to me that I planned to mail the NC plates currently on the car back to my mom on my way home.  I did not bring a screw driver along to change said plates.  I decided to have a Scarlet moment and worry about it once I had the plates in my hand as I half expected to find out there was some hoop I had not jumped through that would prevent me from getting them today.

I only had to wait about 15 minutes to see the nice lady who could grant my wish of making my car a Texan.  Shockingly, I had everything needed and I walked out with Texas plates.  I still had no screw driver.  I stood in the parking lot and debated my options, for all of about 15 seconds.  I could drive home, change the plates and drive back to the post office that is maybe a half a mile from where I was currently standing.  I could run in the drug store across the street an buy a cheap screw driver that I would never use again.  I could go to the post office and hope I could use a coin or key to get the plates changed.  I chose option three.

You get lots of comments, offers of help and strange looks when you sit on the ground in a dress in the parking lot at the post office changing license plates on your car with a quarter.  I did have multiple people ask if I needed help.  I'll choose to believe they meant with changing the plates and not mental help.  The good news is it worked!  The NC plates are now on their way back to, well NC. They should even arrive a couple of days before they expire at the end of the month.

Note to self.  It might not be a bad idea to put a screw driver in the car.  You never know when you might need it.  But in a pinch a quarter isn't a bad substitute.

Jenn - the Improviser

Monday, July 25, 2016

Movie Day with the Kids

Today I took the kiddos to see Finding Dori.  We don't have Charlotte with us this week.  She is at the beach with friends of ours, helping out with their daughter.  I know she is having a blast.  I'm starting to miss her.  I felt a bit guilty for going to see the movie without her.  Then I realized she was at the beach without us and got over my guilt.

All four of us loved the movie.  It was especially awesome to watch my oldest enjoy the movie.  He likes to act like he is too old for things like Disney/Pixar movies these days but he laughed his way through the whole movie.

I remember taking him to see Finding Nemo.  I'm thinking it was his first Disney movie in the theater. I was very pregnant with Charlotte at the time.  Michael and I both accompanied him to see it.  I was in that stage where I was feeling very guilty about impending arrival of his sibling (we did not know her gender at that point - we wanted to be surprised).  I was realizing how many things were not going to revolve around my cute, chubby, blond, blue-eyed baby boy.  He was so excited about the baby in Mommy's tummy and blissfully unaware.  He loved the movie.  He has always loved everything about the ocean.  When it was over we went directly to the Disney store and bought him a Finding Nemo lunch box and matching back pack for preschool.  I don' t think they were even on sale yet!  Yep!  Total guilt.  It made me feel a tiny bit better about rocking his world.

Today, we did not buy him or even his sisters Finding Dori school supplies, but we did enjoy the movie and I loved the memories that came with it.

I was just looking for some pictures of toddler Rehm to add to the post.  My Winkflash account is completely and totally empty!  I have all of the pictures on a thumb drive somewhere and maybe a external harddrive but Winkflash wasn't supposed to delete photos and they did.  Ugh!  Oh well.  I guess toddler Rehm pictures will have to wait.  And I guess that means when I get them uploaded again I need to print them somewhere to be on the safe side.  You know, I really needed another thing to add to my to do list.  Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!  For the time being you'll just have to believe me that he was really cute.


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Day 30 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Trip Home

First and foremost, the math geeks didn't count their days properly and technically there will be 31 Days of Mayhem since we don't arrive home until tomorrow.  I can already tell you which of my friends and family will have something to say about the miscount.  I'm not sure how much I count today and tomorrow as they are just straight up travel days with no sight seeing.  But they count as you have to have them to get home.  At least one of of my kids has wished that we had a teleporter to get us home as the two full days of driving are not anyone's favorite.  At least they are at the end of the trip and were preceded by a week at the beach.  It makes it easier to stomach.

Yesterday's activities

We are going home in two cars instead of one.  Mom purchased a new car.  She's talked about it for a while.  I didn't think she was actually going to do it.  I thought she would talk about it a while longer but she did.  It is a cute cross over that she has named Ruby as it is red.  So we are now the proud owners of a 2001 (?) PT Cruiser.  Of course, that means getting the Cruiser to Texas, which means two drivers, which means Michael was not the only one with a long day of driving today. We split into a boy car and girl car today.

It was amazing how much less drama there was with everyone having more room in the car.  Eliza Claire took the back row, Ruby the middle, and Charlotte rode shotgun.  I expected Charlotte to get bored at some point.  She did nap for a couple of hours, I think through South Carolina, otherwise she did a great job of keeping me company and getting things when needed.  She got very tired of my constant requests for chapstick, or lip balm as Ruby calls it.  I'm pretty sure my lips are sunburned.  They hurt!  I was applying chapstick at least every 30 minutes, when Charlotte was awake.

Today's activities

We listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack.  I asked lots of questions.  Charlotte patiently answered all of them, even the ones I know I've asked before.  We also discussed George Washington at length as she is currently reading his almost 1000 page biography!  We talked about some of the inappropriate lyrics and topics in Hamilton (cuss words, affairs).  We did a bit of a retrospective of 30 Days of Mayhem.

Some of the questions asked:

  1. What was your favorite place we visited?
  2. What was your least favorite place?
  3. What is something unexpected you liked about the trip?
  4. What was your favorite thing about the trip?
  5. What is something you learned about yourself on the trip?
  6. Would you want to do a trip like this again?
  7. If, so where would you want to go next time?
I want to get all six of us to answer these questions and probably a few more before I share the answers.  Hopefully that will happen sometime this coming week.

I was dreading the drive today but it really was not bad.  Here's hoping tomorrow goes as smoothly as today.  

States visited so far:  19, I think.  Even with the map out I'm not sure I've counted right.

I'm off to get some sleep before our 11+ hour drive tomorrow.  Here's hoping we get a nice early start. 
Jenn - AKA Reveille Driver

Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 29 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Still at the Beach

Wow!  How is it already Day 29?  I'm not ready for 30 Days of Mayhem to be over.  What at the onset seemed like a crazy, undoable, insane plan is coming to an end and I'm not ready.  I guess that means it was a good vacation and planned well.  If we were ready for it to end it would be a bad thing.

We are all excited about getting home to our own rooms.  Everyone has pretty much said they are not leaving their rooms for at least a week.  As of yesterday, I found myself reengaging and starting to think about what needs to get done when I get home, what appointments need to be made, what errands need to be run.  I don't like that part of vacation, it makes vacation feel over before it is.  

I'm sure I'll write more later but right now I'm going to head outside and enjoy our last day at my favorite place on earth with my favorite people on earth.


PS.  Did you notice the new header?

Friday, July 08, 2016

I Don't Know What to Say or How to Help

Y'all I am just sick and heartbroken at what is going on in our country.  I do not understand.  It is not OK that African American men keep getting killed by police officers.  Its not OK that minorities are stopped more and treated differently during those stops.  Its not OK that when charged with the same crimes that minorities get stiffer sentences.  It is not OK!  Its not!  What do we do?  What do I do as a white woman raising white children?  How can I be part of the solution, not part of the problem?

My heart is heavy and it hurts.  I have tried to raise my children to know that everyone is equal, that race, skin color, sexual orientation do not matter or change a person in any way. But it is not enough.  It was a start, but it is not enough. So I'm reaching out, I'm asking the question.  How do we do better?  How do we make change?  How do we stop the violence?  How can we all come together and help each other?


Day 21 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Walkertown

Today was another low key day.  We went out for breakfast.  Then split up.  Mom, Sherri and I ran a few errands while Michael, Dad and the kids headed home (or so I thought). One of the errands on the ladies list was to get a pedicure.  Traveling has completely wrecked havoc on my feet.  I will spare you the detail and just say the pedicure was a must and overdue.

While waiting for our toes to dry I received the following text and pictures from Michael.

If you look really closely you can see the"fish" in the crack between Rehm's two hands

So they did not go straight home. They took a detour to Fourth of July Park, which is an awesome local park that we have to visit at least once while we are here.  The funny thing is after all that work, Michael did not take them to get ice cream cones because they didn't actually catch fish.  He did tell them he would get a container of ice cream and they could have some for dessert after dinner.

After dinner another crazy game of dominoes ensued.  Capped off with a game of Greenie Weenie.  For those unfamiliar with this, it is basically a game to get all the dominoes back in the box and is very similar to Old Maid.  The double blank is the greenie weenie.  For some reason I can never remember the name of the game and call it the Stinky Pickle.  Eliza Claire who is an excellent game player has managed to get stuck with the greenie weenie every time we have played this game.  I know it is a game of luck.  For my very competitive child she has taken it surprisingly well.

Ice cream was finally had by all and everyone was sent to bed.  We had some who is sleeping where drama.  This has happened about once a week on the trip.  It is actually surprising it has not happened more.  Last night Ruby and Eliza were deciding who go the air mattress and who was sharing the bed with Charlotte.  Their bargaining chip was who got to share a bed with me next week at the beach.  It took about 30 minutes and a private talk with each of them to get it all worked out and everyone settled for the night. It is never a dull moment.


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Day 19 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Washing DC to Walkertown, NC

Travel day! Yippee!  The kids so look forward to these days.  I wish I was telling the truth.  Travel days are dreaded days.  The only good thing about them is they are somewhat rest days, well once all the packing and loading is done.  But given that there are six of us the packing and loading is no small chore.

We all slept in as we had a full, if somewhat disappointing previous day.  No, no one is still bitter or holding a grudge.  While we were getting ready, eating breakfast and packing up Cathi and Griffin were nice and drove over to visit with us and keep us company.

We so enjoyed spending time with our Chicago Maham family.  We love spending time with them.  It worked out great that Griffin finished up at the Summit Boy Scout Camp right before we hit DC and gave us an excuse to all meet up and hang out for a few days.  I wanted to get to the Chicago area as part of 30 Days of Mayhem but there were too many stops and not enough days and Chicago was too far west.  Hmmm.  We will have to figure out a time to get up there soon.  February break might not be long enough to drive up, visit and get back without missing a few days of school.  We'll have to give that some thought.  Though the Chicago Mahams may not want the Maniacs to descend on them and if not, I can understand.  We are kind of a whole lot of crazy.

Oh where was I?  Packing up, tired, travel day, disappointed still from Firework Fiasco of 2016 - ok that might be a little dramatic, I'm starting to sound like one or two of my daughters.  Anyway.  We get in the car and Michael and I quietly have a conversation about possibly altering the plan and going straight to my parents' house and skipping Monticello and UVA.  I had seen both before, Michael had not.  After discussion, we decided to see what the kids thought.  Two really wanted to go, two did not.  They were not really any help.  Actually that is not true.

Guess which two wanted to go and why?  Eliza Claire was a definite "Yes!" and so was Charlotte.  Eliza Claire always wants to do anything and everything and never miss out on any opportunity.  Her answer is always "yes."  The only thing I can think of off the top of my head she would say "no" to is zip lining.  She thinks it sounds too dangerous.  But typically she is up for any outing. Charlotte wanted to go because she is currently reading a Thomas Jefferson biography.  Why? Because she has already read Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and George Washington ones. So of course, she is reading Jefferson's.  Actually, I just asked which ones she had read so far and she has now finished Jefferson's and is on to Madison's!  This is my child that does not like history!  And in the last few months has read all these biographies! All because of the Hamilton musical.

The final decision was to proceed as planned.  We didn't want to regret being so close and not going once we had had some rest.  First we had to make a stop at Walmart to purchase new air mattresses.  Remember we had one spring a leak on our first night in Arkansas (Ar- Kansas  as Charlotte says)?  Well, the other one sprung a leak our last night in DC.  I was fed up with the kids ruining air mattresses so I bought the absolute cheapest ones I could find and a separate air pump.

It seemed to take for ever to get to Monticello.  It was around 3:00 when we finally got there.  Ruby decided she did NOT want to do the tour/visit.  She was determined and there was going to be no changing her mind.  I agreed to stay with her as I had been there 20+ years before.  That way everyone who wanted to see it and had not done so previously would be able to do so.

Michael went to purchase tickets and learned that the next tour was at 4:40.  He came back sans tickets as he did not think anyone wanted to wait that long.  He, Rehm, Charlotte and Eliza Claire decided to walk up to the house to see the outside but just skip the tour.  Ruby and I decided to check out the gift shop.

While hanging out in the gift shop, I decided I could go ahead and buy a Christmas ornament from there so we would not have to take time to do it after the rest of the family returned.  That has been our go to souvenir on this trip.  Actually that tradition started long before this trip.  It started on our honeymoon.  Most places we go that we decided we would like to have a souvenir from, we get an ornament.  It is nice because every year at Christmas we get the reminder of all the fun places we've been.

About an hour later Michael and the kids came back.  They were hot and sweaty.  I asked how it was.  They had not seen anything yet!  They took a wrong turn and had been on a nice, hot hike through the woods.  They left again.  Ruby and I went back in the gift shop and found a cool place to sit and wait.  About 10 minutes later everyone was back again.

You can't even get up the hill to where you can see the house from the outside with out a ticket!  So now the four of them had walked a bunch, gotten sweaty and tired and not seen anything.  We had driven out of our way and we had a great souvenir of a house, they never saw.  Yes, it is hilarious.  And we will get to talk about it all every time we put that ornament on the Christmas tree every year.  Eliza Claire will get to lament about two back to back days of disappointment and disillusionment.  Won't it be awesome?

We did go drive around UVA.  It was beautiful.  Everyone was duly impressed. I don't think Rehm said he could/would consider going to school there, but he was impressed with the sports facilities.  Though the law buildings underwhelmed him as they all looked like they were built in the 70s.

At dinner time Michael informed the kids we were stopping to get dinner.

Charlotte:  What do you mean 'stopping?' You mean like we are stopping at a grocery store and Mom is going in to get stuff?

Michael:  No, we are stopping at a restaurant and buying food that has already been cooked!

Charlotte:  Seriously?  Are you sure?  Is this a joke?  This better not be a joke!

We stopped at Bo 'Jangles, a Rehm favorite.  He had already informed me when we left Charlottesville that we were in Bo 'Jangles territory.

We got to Walkertown around 9:00 pm.  Yippee!  Nowhere to be for a few days.  Just time to visit and relax.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Day 18 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Washington DC Thrice

Cool, wet, rainy.  This pretty much sums up the day.  The positives are that it did not storm, it was not hot, it was not as crowded as it could have been.

Today we took the Metro in to DC.  All of us were a bit gun shy after the near-fiasco in NYC.  But DC in general is pastoral compared to NYC.  Planning wise having DC right on the heels of NYC was not the best choice due to the amount of walking and site seeing we did/were planning for each city.  However, having them back to back was perfect as it made DC feel spacious and sparsely populated after a couple of days in NYC.  I was much more relaxed with the kids, crowds and city in DC thanks to the training/experience of NYC.  I'm babbling, but I don't feel like I'm adequately conveying what a blessing this was.  If we had just come to DC, we would have thought it crowded but we didn't because of our stop in NYC first.

The Metro was easy to use and everyone did great.  When we got to our stop, Michael told everyone it was time to get off the train.  All four of the the children stopped in their tracks and did not move.  He repeated that we needed to get off.  They did not move.  I said, "I'll go first" and stepped off the train, they all fell in line behind me.  None of them were going to step foot off of a train without a parent on the landing. NYC made an impression.

We walked out of the Metro station, got to the corner and encountered a parade.  We watched it for a bit and then headed for the Mall to scope out the crowds and a spot for the day.

Watching the parade
There were very few people set up on the mall so we picked a great spot and set up our stuff.  We brought a couple of chairs and several backpacks with all of our food, water and beach blanket.

When it was time to eat lunch we discovered the bacon, broccoli ranch pasta salad had been left in the fridge.  We made do with sandwich fixings and snacks.

I sat with our stuff while everyone came and went to different museums.  Parts of the day it drizzled, parts it misted, there were a few heavy rains - those were pretty miserable, and parts there was nothing falling from the sky.

Rehm and Charlotte went to the Newseum with Cathi, Marc and Griffin.  Michael, Ruby and Eliza Claire went back to the American History Museum to explore more.  Griffin and Rehm walked to the Capitol and a few other places,

The kids joined in dancing with a group of strangers to YMCA, and the Cha-Cha Slide.  The are now ready to attend wedding receptions for the next 10 years.

Finally, it stopped raining and it was getting close to firework time.  About 15 minutes before the fireworks started, some low clouds rolled in and blocked the view of the top of the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, the clouds did not roll out.

The firework show happened.  We had perfect seats.  The low fireworks were gorgeous.  The high ones, made the clouds pretty colors...It was frustrating.  Having seen the DC fireworks on TV in years past, I knew what we were missing.  I kept thinking, I can't believe they are spending all this money on fireworks we can't see!  It was very anti-climatic, but better than sitting in the rain all day to have them cancelled.

We headed to the Metro station.  On the walk back to the Metro poor Eliza Claire cried and cried.  She is not a fan of fireworks due to the noise they make.  They scare her as she can not always anticipate when the noises will happen.  She had gotten prepared for a major firework show and endured the noise of it, without the reward of an awe inspiring display. All the anxiety and frustration came out over the course of the walk.

 It was crowded walking back to the Metro but not crazy.  The first train on our route was full but the second one we got on with no problem - with all of our kids.  And yes, they made a parent get on first and last with them sandwiched in between.

We got back to Jennifer and Bill's around 11:00, maybe 11:30.

Happy Independence Day!

Day 20 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Papa and Cici's House

Today has been a pretty low key day.  There was nowhere we had to be, no time we had to be anywhere, nowhere we had to drive, it was awesome!

We could not go to the normal breakfast spot because it is closed the week of Independence Day every year.

After breakfast we came home and everyone vegged.  My kids didn't want to talk to anyone, play with anyone, they just wanted to spread out and be.

I caught up on a couple of blogs since I am woefully behind.  Mom mentioned that today was Quilt Bee day.  So I wrapped up a post and found my embroidery bag and she and I headed out to Bee.

After Bee we hit Costco for a few things we need for our trip to the beach and gas.  You have to get gas if you go to Costco.  The NC Costco does not have the Artichoke Jalapeno dip that our Texas one does.  This made me very sad.  I do not like the Artichoke Spinach dip, but the Artichoke Jalapeno is the bomb!  I guess we are not supposed to have it for happy hour at the beach.

When we got home, I'm not sure anyone had moved from when we left.  They were all still getting their veg on.

After dinner we came home and had some outside time.  Eliza Claire practiced pitching, Ruby gymnasticked, Charlotte Hamiltoned, Rehm sat, Zander played catch, the adults watched.

Zander has coined a new nick name for Charlotte that is just plain awesome - Char Char Binks, Ms. Binks, or just plain Binks.  Have I told you about Charlotte's other nick name she earned on this trip?  Ruby gave her this one, it is Mothership.  It is for when she is bossing people around.  Again, I love it.

At some point today, Charlotte was telling Cici and Aunt Sherri about DC and seeing the White House.  She was telling them all about seeing the President's moped.  She talked about all of the black vehicles surrounding him and driving by and how the it was all around the President's moped.  Both were surprised that the President had a moped and that they had never heard about it before.  Then they realized that Charlotte had the wrong term and was talking about the motorcade!  When Cici came home from the grocery store tonight she told Charlotte she saw a motorcade while she was there.

There was a very rousing game of dominoes tonight.  Oh my word!  It was LOUD!  I'm not sure who won, but I know they had lots of fun.  At one point Charlotte said she had a "slimmer of hope" at winning.  I asked if she meant "glimmer," she informed me "no, she meant slimmer because it was even smaller than a glimmer."


Day 17 of 30 Days of Mayhem: Washington DC Again

Day Two in DC.  We got a much earlier start today.  Can I just say Jennifer and Bill are spoiling us with some good food!  It has been fabulous and breakfast this morning did not disappoint.

Again we headed into DC and parked in a garage.  Today we were meeting Cathi, Griffin and Marc as well as Linda and her girls.

We started out at the American History Museum.  We did not see anywhere near all of this museum and I really enjoyed it.  The First Lady and Presidential exhibits were my favorite.  The interesting fact I noticed here is that while Barack Obama is our 44th president we have only had 43 actual presidents. This is because Grover Cleveland served non-consecutive terms and counts as the 22nd and 24th president, but since he is only one person the numbers are off in my opinion.

After the American History Museum we headed to the monuments.

Our first stop was the Washington Monument.  We did not get tickets to go up in it so we enjoyed it from its base.

 Next up was the World War II Memorial.  It was really pretty.  It may have been my favorite of the day.

Then we walked over to the Jefferson and Vietnam Memorials.  By this point I was tired of walking.

All of the Canadian geese were hanging out on the grass. One of them decided they needed to be in the pond and then they all went.  It was fun to watch.

I waited in the shade while the rest of the family checked out  the Jefferson Memorial.  I decided seeing it from a distance.

Linda and her oldest Brenna caught up with us between the Jefferson and the Vietnam memorials.  We were so happy to get to spend more time with them.  It was nice of the locals to come play tourist with us!  I always love getting to spend time with Linda.  It was lovely to get to meet her girls finally.  I feel like I know them as I've known Linda since Brenna was a baby.

Rehm in front of the Federal Reserve

 We got to the back of the White House and were far away.  Linda suggested we walk around to the front for a closer view.  Suddenly there was a bicycle cop in front of us telling us we had to turn around and go back the other direction that we could not go the way we were trying to, even though it was not blocked off.  Someone, probably Linda, asked why but the cop would not say anything.

We walked back to the back of the White House, far, far away from the building just in time to see the presidential motorcade drive by and into the back drive of the White House.  We proceeded to watch everyone disembark and disappear into the White House.

That face!

Rehm, Brenna, Ruby, Eliza Claire, Charlotte, and Griffin

At that point, we called it a day. Linda and Brenna headed home and we headed back to Jennifer and Bill's  with Marc, Griffin and Cathi for dinner.

Bill is a yo yo fan.  He showed my kids all kinds of cool tricks and got them interested in learning to do more than just make a yo yo go up and down.  I have now ordered a couple of decent yo yo's for them to practice with.  They should arrive while we are at my parents' house.