Monday, October 27, 2008

Kyla and Kitteh

Somehow I feel like Kyla was enjoying this a lot more than Tagger was.

Tagger is such a good kitty; she puts up with so much, but is still so sweet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Our Vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains

I could think of no better way to describe our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains than in pictures. It was gorgeous! We drove through the mountains, hiked up to a waterfall, played in the streams, and explored the Tuckaleechee Caverns - all this in addition to some wonderful meals at the Old Mill Restaurant and the Apple Barn. Now there was quite a lot of the super-touristy type stuff, but we just pretty much avoided it. If you can handle lots of women with big hair and thick make up, phrases such as 'hootenanny', and the main attraction (amongst hundreds) being Dollywood and the Dixie Stampede, then you can handle Tennessee.

Amidst all the beauty, there were some extremely comical sightings and experiences. The first came the morning after we checked in (at 2 AM). We stepped onto our porch to observe our surroundings and could hear the faint sounds of heavy diesel machinery. And then we noticed 'it'. . . Just across the parking lot was a small mountain which we discovered was a dump. Granted, it was largely hidden by a thin row of pine trees and some shrubbery, but nevertheless, our view was of the parking lot and a dump. When we went down to the front desk to request a different room (with the excuses of noise from diesel machinery at the dump, a leaky toilet and a dim fireplace - which were real, but not the real reason for our desire of a room change) we mentioned that it would sure be nice to have a room not overlooking the dump. "A dump?" the clerk responded quizzically. "I don't think I've ever noticed a dump. . " I had been helping the kids, and upon hearing the clerks answer, I couldn't even look at her; I mean, who did she think she was fooling? (We later discovered that from the main road, the dump across from our hotel was clearly visible.) Then another clerk, likely the manager, stepped in to 'handle' our observation. "I can see your hearing machinery from this side of the building," she commented in a thick twangy accent which almost didn't even seem believable as she pointed to the opposite side of the hotel, "because there's a new building going up, but there's nothing going on over there. . I've never heard anything about a dump. . We'll have to get back with you later on your room change." Fortunately, we were able to get a different room not overseeing the dump.

That same day, we made a trip to Wal-Mart so I could pick up a few things we needed. I found the general atmosphere to be totally unique from any other Wal-Mart I'd ever visited. First off, it was obvious that most people were not locals; they were vacationers. But they weren't distant vacationers; in general most people seemed to be deep south vacationers - as in, they weren't necessarily from Florida, but might be from the Carolinas, Georgia or just another city in Tennessee. This was where the big hair coupled with uber thick makeup was first really noted. Although that was by far the most common style, there were several individuals noted who were sporting mullets (yes, I did a double take just to be sure). But the real kicker of my Wal-Mart shopping experience came as I stood in line with my milk and cereal listening to the accents surrounding me and observing the decor of this Wal-Mart in particular. Up on some sort of shelf above the bathrooms and the hair salon were some white washed, faceless mannequins portrayed camping in the great outdoors with a tent and maybe a fishing rod. But next to the mannequins was a larg black bear. I then noticed that the main faceless mannequin was missing an arm. It struck me as a rather odd advertisement for the city and camping in the mountains.

Despite the fabulous trip we experienced, I feel we didn't really get the full experience of the area because we didn't go to Dollywood. Granted, I had no desire to make a visit there, but it seemed almost expected of us as tourists. Everyplace we went the sentiments of the locals echoed the theme of "Did you go to Dollywood?", "'R' you going to the Dixie Stampede today?". We didn't go to any real shows, but that's not to say we weren't tempted. There was a magic show, a Ripley's Believe It or Not, and various country dinner shows with singers and dancers - much like I-Drive but with a greater southern emphasis. One show we saw advertised in a large tv type sign on the road was "The Miracle." As you might guess, it was story of Jesus as portrayed by these folks. Jim and I noted on the tv sign a women whom we believe was supposed to be Mary, but by her dress, had she actually lived in Jesus time, would've more likely been a harlequin. Well, maybe we'll convince ourselves of these little bits of entertainment the next time we come back, but I kind of doubt it. No, we'll be back, I'm sure of that, but we'll spend our time in the same fashion we did on this trip - playing in the mountains and eating at the Apple Barn. If you have any interest in visiting the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reading Rules

The following was a real conversation between little Jimmy and myself several days ago during the ride home from school:

Jimmy: Mrs. Thompson says 'no farting on the reading rug.'

Me: You're not allowed to fart on the reading rug? (trying to hide my shock and awe that this was actually a real conversation that occurred at school between the teacher and her students.)

Jimmy: Nope. Mrs. Thompson says she doesn't want to smell all of our stinky.

Me: Well what do you do if you have to fart?

Jimmy: We just go over to the bathroom if we have to fart.

Me: (maintaining a purely curious tone) So you go into the bathroom every time you have to fart?

Jimmy: No, you don't actually go in the bathroom; you just go over to the bathroom door.

Me: So you stand by the bathroom and fart.

Jimmy: You fart on the door. The door is dirty anyway - it already has germs on it, so it's OK to fart on it - right, Mommy?

Me: (unable to maintain my composure at this point) Yes, I'm sure the bathroom door has germs on it, so it'd be fine to fart on it.

Jimmy: It's not funny, Mommy! This is serious! We have to fart on the bathroom door.

Me: Oh, I completely understand. This is serious. I mean reading time on the reading rug could really become a stinky affair if everyone in the class was just sitting there farting. Yes, good idea to go fart on the bathroom door.

This conversation just killed me. I actually laughed until I cried. Just the fact that this conversation occurred and that the teacher had to lay down the law on where farting was and was not acceptable - obviously it had become an issue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Flying with Kids

Our trip to the Smoky Mountains was a wonderful family trip that was both fun and relaxing in every way, but there were a few hiccups along the way in the beginning with our flight. For example, our plane was initially an hour or so late arriving (no big deal), and then there was a two hour flight delay on the runway (a bit more annoying). The point at which it began to get rather stressful was when they pressurized the cabin before take off; that's when Kyla began screaming. She had tubes put in her ears at six months old, and one of them had already fallen out while the other one was clogged. I knew the possibility of there being problems existed (OK - a strong possibility), but I was naively hoping Tylenol and a bottle would do the trick. Unfortunately for me and her, the bottle was consumed in the three hours in which we should have been on and off the plane and driving in our rental car, but were still waiting in the wrong city - Orlando. Kyla continued her top notch screaming - which is truly deafening - until about 20 minutes before we landed. Can we just say the flight was incredibly stressful. It's hard enough for a parent to hear their child crying in agony, but that anguish was only further compounded by the surrounding passengers who were over her volume. I tried everything conceivable to console her or relieve her pain, but to no avail; and in between my efforts, I had the privilege of glancing around to see passengers physically plugging their ears with their fingers or glaring back at me (as though I could just tell her to be quiet and resolve this whole little disturbance for them), or even twitching somewhat violently as they tried to cope with the blaring distress my daughter was gracing the entire plane with. At one point, my husband and I switched seats (as he had previously been across the aisle from Jimmy and myself and Kyla) so he could take over with Kyla. It was in that moment that I stood, having just passed off my daughter, and observed the surrounding passengers for a moment; I did my best to convey the scolding mother look of "How dare you express such annoyance! You're not even the one having to deal with it!". I even stated to my husband in a clear and loud voice that "If anyone else on this plane feels like they can do a better job, more power to 'em! Pass 'em the baby!" I watched as the man whom I'd be moving next to discreetly removed his fingers from his ears, and another passenger who had been maniacally glancing back at us between violently stretching and scratching his head eased into a less aggressive posture. I felt bad for them (sort of); I mean, I wouldn't want to be on a plane with a child screaming the way mine was, but on the same note, I certainly wouldn't be perturbed with them; instead, I'd hope I'd feel a measure of compassion and a desire to be helpful - not accusing. Eventually the flight ended and we piled our sleeping children on top of each other into our waiting stroller. We then began the process known as baggage claim in the Atlanta airport. All of our bags were accounted for, but after an hour of waiting and searching, we were still missing a car seat. Finally, upon looking in the lost baggage section, we spotted our carseat and headed to get our rental car. I might add this was at 10:00 at night, and we still had a four hour drive ahead of us (don't even ask about why the flight was booked to Atlanta with a drive then to Gatlinberg - that's a whole nother long and boring story). Had our Delta flight taken off on time, it wouldn't have been so late. . Nevertheless, the issue with the two hour wait on the runway was supposedly weather related, so I guess I can't fault them too much on that (though it sure would've been nice to have waited in the airport instead of crammed in a plane). All that to say, the trip began pretty bumpy, but it did get much better from there.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Yesterday Jimmy informed me he had a headache. "Do you even know what a headache is?" I asked curiously as Jimmy had never expressed this particular complaint before. "YES!" he answered me exasperatedly. "It's when you're crabby and mad and don't want anyone to ask you anything." Wow. I guess Jimmy had a headache.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm a grown up!

I've just had an experience, the second of it's kind in the last three days, and I'd like to publicly set the record straight. What exactly do I need to set straight? My age and maturity. I'm a grown and fully functioning woman. I've completed all four years of high school, and a year or so of college around 10 years ago. I've assisted with running a company bearing my own last name, and I've been married for 9 years (next week) with two children for whom I am responsible. Why then, is it so hard for some people to give me this simple credit of being a real life grown up.

For 20 of the last24 hours, I've had a full on migraine. Thus, after getting Kyla down for a nap, I showered (Hooray for me!) and went to bed with an ice pack on my head. Not long ago Kyla woke up, and I was forced to get up and begin preparing lunch. I hadn't bothered with any effort towards my appearance, and I guess it showed when the doorbell rang. Well, actually there was a friendly little overly peppy knock on the door followed up by the doorbell ringing twice (all this as I'm walking toward the door). I assumed it was the neighbor kids who had likely skipped school feigning an illness hoping to drop by for an icy pop - especially when I saw the individual cupping their hands around their eyes in order to peer through the glass on the side of the door. What I was horrified to come across as I got closer was that it was not the neighbor kids, but rather a young woman. "I don't have a key to this door, so you'll have to meet me around by the garage" I hollered to her (Jim has the key today for the sole purpose of making some duplicates). Assuming it was something related to the recent purchase of our home I went around to meet her, and that's when her abruptness hit me upside the head like a flying cow patty. "Are you the lady of the home?" she asked through squinted eyes and a rather demeaning tone. Refusing to up my anti and play her little game by suddenly acting really mature, I instead went the other direction with it. I paused for a moment looking at her squarely with a slight hint of annoyance and disgust seeping through my eyes. "Ya" I responded curtly. She then proceeded with her sales pitch for some new carpet cleaning company in town and attempted to sell me on having my brand new carpets cleaned so that her boss would help her pay for her college tuition. . . I was altogether too happy to end the conversation with a brief "No thanks" before heading inside. Did she really think I was some teeny-bopper home with my baby sister for the day?

The other situation, even more annoying than the one I just mentioned, occurred on Monday at the airport in Atlanta. We had managed to check our luggage after great confusion and struggle and were heading towards security following the signs and direction of all the airport staff. I was pushing Kyla in her stroller with several carry on items stuffed underneath her seat, and little Jimmy was skipping along with Jim nearby. When we reached the security checkpoint, an airport personnel woman barked out "Are you planning on taking that stroller on the plane?". "Yeeess. . " I answered slowly. "Well the check in for strollers is the other direction" she eagerly informed me; it was almost like she'd been waiting for someone to correct in her harsh little power-trip sort of tone. "It SURE would be nice if everyone around here had the same story because those people right over there told us to come here, and I didn't see any signs for strollers to go another direction" I replied in my best perturbed teacher's voice. "Young lady, you need to turn around and go the other way!" she yelled as I'd already begun walking away. Her ego trip was getting to be a bit much - especially after all I'd gone through just to get to this point - no thanks to the amazing demonstration of chaos and difficulty presented by the Atlanta Airport and Delta. "If ANYone else references me as a 'Young Lady' today, I will not hesitate to punch them. What do I look like? Am I sixteen or something??!" I commented to my husband rather loudly so that all the airport personnel in the area could hear - including her supervisor whom having observed the ensuing drama had proceeded to walk with us where we needed to go; he briefly reamed out the people who misdirected us, and I'm really hoping he gave that maniacal woman more than an earful once he returned.

Maybe it's not so much that people mistake me for being younger than I am as it is that there are just too many rude people in the world who take abnormal delight in looking down on others. Either way, it's annoying. I'm pondering placing a sign out front informing people that there are no teenagers in this house, and not to ring the doorbell OR knock more than once. As for random encounters with high and mighty persons, well, I guess there's not much I can do about that - except to make sure their supervisors know which subordinates of theirs are offending their client base.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Apple Barn

Last week we left for a brief vacation to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. The trip was wonderful. I'd like to share bits and pieces of our experience over the course of a blog or two, and for today I'd like to focus all of my attention on a notable and infamous restaurant - The Apple Barn (more properly titled the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant). Over the years, I've heard tell of the Apple Barn, tasted their apple butter, and even seen various food items of theirs sold in specialty stores. Last week we were just a scant 7 to 8 minutes from there, and were fortunate enough to get there twice for breakfast. Let me tell you, it was good! It very definitely lived up to my expectations (which were quite high) and even exceeded them. The atmosphere was relaxing and quaint, and the food was of the highest quality of the good old southern sort. Both times we visited, we actually sat at the same table in a room with a large bird cage housing a variety of small and unique birds (good entertainment).

We were definitely the most disruptive group in the place as we anticipated and then savored every morsel of our meal. While we all were quite fond of the food, Kyla seemed to truly relish her food - not only for the superb flavor, but also for the opportunity to concoct her own little science experiments at the table (apple butter, eggs, sausage, grits, bacon and orange). Every meal was begun with a cup of the restaurant's infamous apple julep and apple fritters. YU-MMY! (said like the old Sonny's commercials used to say it). While it was all extraordinary in every way, somehow I found myself and my daughter to be quite sticky by the end of each meal. My hands were sticky, my arms were sticky, my face was sticky, and even my neck was sticky. It seemed that anything I happened to touch would somehow be covered in the sugar and dough that was built into breakfast. Kyla, with her little science experiments and taste testing, and the disinterest for cleanliness and appearance typical of any baby, was far beyond sticky at the end of each meal. Really, she needed a bath in the sink, but we somehow managed to get her cleaned up with mere wet wipes.

I definitely plan to visit the Apple Barn the next time we're in the area, and I've already planned to request the tables with swings for seats to add a bit of a challenge to the meal!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Continuation of 'Dirty'

I've come to the conclusion that I'm quite comfortable in my newly acquired role of "dirty." When I say newly acquired, I mean within the last year or more. You see, prior to Kyla's birth I can recall getting a shower every day with complete consistency, but since then, things just haven't been the same. I remember in the several months following when she was born thinking to myself, "Well, this is just part of having a newborn and a preschooler." And then I remember thinking in the few months following that, "Well, as soon as my hair quits falling out (someday I'll blog on this one!), I'll have more frequent opportunity to rid myself of the stench of my own BO with which I've become altogether way too accustomed to." And then, when the 6 month post-birth date arrived(literally to the day, when my hair quit falling out) I remember thinking, "Now I can actually shower regularly," and I did -for a week or two. But eventually the desire for sleep overwhelmed me and I resorted back to my old ways of uncleanliness. This vicious addiction for sleep (at least 5 hours) coupled with an extraordinary busyness (sick children, running and selling a business, moving, the death of a loved one, and moving again) brings me to today. Dirty. . I'm just a dirty individual; I've made peace with it.

Unfortunately, my husband hasn't. The other day he commented to me quite politely that "maybe I should take a shower" and questioned when the last time was that I'd gotten one. I thought about it for a few minutes, and came to the conclusion that it had been at least THREE days! Now that is gross. . . Truly gross. But what's more gross than that is the fact that I didn't bother to shower that evening. No, I was too tired, so I snuggled into bed comfortably. When I awoke in the morning, after dropping off my son at school, I went to an hour long workout class followed up by a good bit of hard work in the yard in the noonday sun. That evening, when my husband got home, he again commented "maybe you should shower." By the time he said this, I was already in my PJs and in a state of near REM sleep as I crawled into bed. Surprisingly, I fell asleep in an extraordinarily unconcerned manner. However, when I awoke in the morning and was putting on my clothes and packing my gym bag, it was then that it dawned on me how long it had been since I'd showered. I put on extra deodarant hoping not to offend the other gym members, and packed a towel and soap and even a raisor (don't ask how long the lack of shaving had gone on) to shower at the gym. I never thought I'd consider a shower anywhere - home or abroad - so refreshing, but it was. Since then, I've vowed to shower at least every other day, and so far, I think I've kept up my promise to myself. I fully believe it'll take some hard work and a lot of focus to get back into the good hygiene routine, but I intend to give it a good go - at least for a few weeks.