Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen:
Thirteen Things About Snow Days
(via Melessa)

1. I think I only had one official "snow day" before moving to Oklahoma. Before that I attended school in Wisconsin and Iowa where snow was just a fact of winter life and cities were well-equipped with snow removal equipment. However, one year in Iowa the snow was so deep many people could not get out of their homes! We had to wait for neighbors to dig us out! When we emerged, we took some fun photos standing next to the street signs, which were next to our ankles! Now, that's deep!

2. One day in Iowa I got to home after school with a friend on the bus! She lived out in the country (it seemed like it took an hour to get there, but it was probably 15 minutes). She had a pond on her property and I remember walking down to the pond from her house and skating out there surrounded by trees and falling snow. When we got back to the house, her mom made us grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was a really fantastic day!

3. I can remember snowy recesses in Wisconsin. We never stayed inside for recess unless it was raining. During winter we put on our boots, mittens, hats, coats and rabbit fur muffs to go out and play. To keep warm, we huddled in small groups and jumped up and down until recess was over.

4. Speaking of the muff, I sure do miss mine! It was made of white rabbit fur and had a silk lining and a silk ribbon that went around my neck to hold it in place. I usually held it in front of my face to keep warm and it was oh, so soft.

5. I mentioned this a few years ago, but several of my neighbors in Iowa had small ice rinks in their backyards during the winter. Those were great fun!

6. And, also, in Wisconsin we lived in Neenah, which is basically surrounded by water. I remember my dad taking me ice skating at the local park on the pond. My mom had made me one of those long stocking caps with colorful stripes and I loved the way it blew behind me when I skated. There is nothing quite like skating outdoors on a pond. Usually you could buy a cup of hot chocolate to keep warm at a little stand in the park, too. MMmmmmmm.

7. I'm pretty sure this meme is supposed to be about things I did on days school was cancelled for snow, but it just isn't working out that way. I'm also apparently stuck in my childhood, but you've got to understand, that was where the most snow accumulated!

8. Sledding! I had one of those wooden red-runner sleds with a rope for steering. In Iowa we had a very big hill at a nearby park where tons of people would gather to sled. Unlike Oklahoma hills, we could sled all day and not destroy the snow, and did we ever sled. I seem to remember lots of trees on that hill, which in today's world would be a huge liability issue.

9. I used to do donuts with my Volkswagen Superbeetle. Even my friends thought that was stupid. Probably was, but I learned the trick from my dad....

10. Did you know when you work at the mall, you don't get snow days? In fact, they are usually very busy days as the mall. Makes you wonder, really.]

11. When I was single and lived in an apartment, I used to get up on snowy days and go out to the parking lot to help people clean off their cars and to give them a push if they needed it. I just loved the snow. Still do, although my aging body is starting to have some trouble with being cold.

12. My dad lived in Denver for a decade or so and was the president of an Austrian company that built fancy-schmancy ski lifts. He loved to take me to the resorts to see his lifts and to go skiing. He was not very good at skiing himself, and eventually we discovered it was because he was in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease.

13. Once I went to visit my dad for fall break and I took a friend of mine with me. Colorado experienced a strangely huge October snowstorm and the highway out of state was closed! The airport was closed! My friend had an exam the Monday following the break and he called his professor to tell him he was stranded in Colorado, but the prof. did not believe him and would not give him a make-up exam!!! (This was before PCs and, obviously, before the internet).

Oh. I guess that is 13. What a strange way to end. Oh, well, I'm too cold to make any changes now.


The Most Wonderful Time
I've got to say, today was one of my most favorite days ever. Rarely in Oklahoma does it snow all day, but today was one of those days. It takes me back to my childhood in Wisconsin and Iowa and I was just thrilled that my children could experience it!

We stayed home in our pajamas all morning and assembled our Christmas tree. At first we listened to Christmas music, but then the boys sang so we didn't need the CDs. We stopped for lunch and then each did our own thing for a bit. Dinner was bubbling in the crock pot.

Friends came by in the afternoon and took the boys over to the school for some sledding. They returned red-faced and covered in snow, clearly exhausted but happy. We all had cocoa with marshmallows and some graham crackers.

After a dinner of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes and corn bread, we are all happily snuggled in for the evening. Outside the snow is falling steadily, the lamplight glows yellow and our Christmas lights glimmer even brighter against the white crystal blanket of snow.

Who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Last night we had our pictures taken at the Meinder's Garden downtown, hoping to find something good for our Christmas card. The boys did very well, really, but we let them loose to be silly at the end.
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O' Christmas Tree! by Colin

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Purple Mountains Majesty by Colin

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Tie Dye by Colin

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24 hours ago I was driving around with my windows down contemplating using the AC. Now? Heater on, wrapped in a blanket and generally hoping to stay inside for at least 2 days.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"CHICAGO (AP) - ... Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians."


Go read the story...I'll wait.

This is great news! It seems we may be able to remove all offensive material from the public arena! Think about it! Ads for 'gentlemen's clubs'? Gone. Billboards for cigarettes? Gone. Scary Halloween decorations? Gone!

You know, downtown Oklahoma City should reconsider the Braum's Ice Skating could be offending Vegans!

Let no man be offended.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

James and I took the boys to see Happy Feet this afternoon. It is a movie about a cute little penquin who can tap dance, but can't sing. The animation is great. The penquin is adorable.


The movie is a two-hour environmentalist propaganda film that scares the children, makes fun of authority (seemingly religious authority), teaches us that man is evil, and generally lacks in consistent entertainment. My children each asked four times if we could just leave. Frankly, I'm not sure why we didn't. I was ready to leave after an hour because I was getting bored.


The End.
"William Wilberforce (1759-1833) led the twenty-year fight to end the British slave trade, a victory now regarded as He finally succeeded in March 1807 and continued to fight for abolition until, days before his death in 1833, he saw the institution of slavery abolished throughout the British colonies."

The movie will be out in February 2007! I'll be there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scarlett Johansson says, "We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our President had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all. "Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions."


Ms. Johannson, who is twice yearly tested for HIV due to her "social awareness," has made this statement against President Bush and his ideas about teaching that abstinence is the only sure way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and his belief that abortion is wrong.

So, her argument seems to be that if children are taught the very best method for avoiding disease, the only thing left for them to do is ignore the advice and have six dreadful children.

I know the argument is supposed to be that children who are taught abstinence is a good choice can't possibly be expected to abstain and so we do them a disservice by not teaching other methods of birth control (and disease control), but can we get real here? The truth of the matter is children can be taught about sex and barrier methods AND be taught about abstaining from sex.

I think what I find most disturbing, however, is the proposition that those of us who make prudent choices to keep sexual relations within marriage - and those of us who choose to have children - are somehow not liberated. Or educated. It seems to me I am living a life of freedom far greater than a woman who worries about HIV testing twice a year. I must be more educated than a woman who needs an abortion because she couldn't (or wouldn't) control herself.* Where is the freedom in the life of such a woman?

Honestly, I'm offended by Ms. Johannson's comments. She is a beautiful and talented woman, but I am now off the fan list.

* I am aware that circumstances that lead to abortion are sometimes more complicated than this, but because of Ms. Johansson's flip comments, I am assuming this is the sort of situation about which she speaks.
The Spencerator

This morning I was awakened by a gentle pat on my head and a whispered announcement that it was time to wake up. I squinted at the little boy beside me, who was fully dressed for school, and said, "Okay." He made his way over to his daddy and did the same with a promise to walk on daddy's back. I asked if he would walk on my back, too. "Yes," he replied, "after my good morning hug."

So, I got a hug and then he walked on my back. He knows just the right spots: upper middle. Daddy gets lower middle. It is the most perfect way to awaken that I can imagine.

That's my Spencer. He is an amazing little boy.

Last week I walked Spencer into his kindergarten class. He put his folder in its place, signed himself into class and then walked over and pulled his entire allowance out of his pocket. "Mommy, will you put this in the compassion jar for me?" (The children are sponsoring a child in Equador). I asked if he meant to give me his entire allowance and he nodded yes. He stuck his hands back in his pocket and walked over to greet his best friend.

This is a boy who occassionally finds a rag, gets it wet and starts cleaning walls in our house...just to help out.

This is a boy who, after getting two staples in his head, was offered a lollipop and took it so he could offer it to the boy who knocked him into the wall which caused the injury.

Spencer's gentle and generous nature has won him countless friends. Indeed, I am quite sure he has no enemies. Even animals respond to him. I am so blessed to be in his family.

I love this boy.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

I thought I'd go online tonight and look around for photo cards. You know, see what's new. Get ideas. Browse around. I came across this family. The posers.

They are possibly Christians. But, they are ambiguous about it. They simply proclaim "Joy, Love, Peace." Nice enough.

Now. . . Jewish! Pass the lox.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Hip and groovy atheists?



1) If there is a middle lane with arrows...a lane where nobody seems to may just be a TURN LANE. If you wish to turn left, you may want to use said TURN LANE. This is only a suggestion.

2) If your children are, say, on a field trip and they are supposed to be quiet and listen to the speaker...well, let's just say, the parents may want to STOP TALKING, TOO. ugh!

3) Two different cashiers have shorted my change by five cents this week. What is up with that? Is this some sort of conspiracy? I told the first clerk his drawer would be off by five cents (because, you know, you can get in trouble for that sort of thing), and he said, "Oh, that's can just keep it." Um...shouldn't he get in even more trouble for THAT? Or not? I don't know. Now I'M confused. The second cashier handed me a penny, shut the door and walked away, so I decided not to wait until she returned to ask for a measley nickle.

4) I really don't know how to spell "measley." I'm not lookin' it up, either.

5) Well, yes, I suppose I am a little grouchy today, now that you mention it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Celebrating 300,000,000 With a Party and Some Cocaine

Tonight was little Ruth's big night. Ruth recently became an American citizen. Very soon after, the government announced America has 300,000,000 citizens. It doesn't take much to figure Ruth must have been number 300,000,000. So, tonight we celebrated with hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, apple crisp, chocolate cake and Coca Cola. What could be more American than that? We joined Ruth in her first Pledge of Allegiance as an American citizen and the children played as if it was the best party ever.

As a few of us stood in the kitchen watching the Rwandan coffee brewing, Spencer arrived in the kitchen with blood streaming down his face. With a quick scan, I could see that he had a cut that required staples. The other moms surrounded us and helped us make a quick plan for the remainder of the evening, and Spencer and I left for the all-night clinic.

Spencer never cried and he said it didn't really hurt. He was just as calm as he could be, which was astonishing since he often cries when we go to his yearly checkup! The only things that scared him during our visit were the blood pressure cuff and the stapler. Seems reasonable to me.

Before they stapled Spencer, they had me hold a cotton ball on his wound for 15 minutes. It was soaked with cocaine and some other stuff (gin and tonic?). The nurse told me to wear gloves so it wouldn't get in my blood system through my fingers. I thought it was odd since it was going straight into a 6-year-old's blood system through his actual blood system. The nurse assured me that it would not be harmful to him. If he had told me I should be concerned because I would be driving, I may have understood more clearly. His reasoning, however, was that Spencer would not be subject to random blood testing any time soon.


While we waited and held the cocaine on Spencer's head, Spencer gave me some big ole sad eyes and said, "Can I get some fish?" It seems he remembered Colin got a treat after his head injury, and Spencer certainly wasn't going to let his opportunity pass him by!

Spencer left the clinic with two bright and shiny staples, a sticker and a lollipop (which he gave to a friend when we returned to the party).

Colin and Spencer compared notes later about who endured the greater hardship and who displayed the superior bravery. I heard Colin confess to having cried when it happened to him. Then he asked if daddy had gotten Spencer a present yet.

I suspect we're going shopping in the morning.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dwayne is, quite possibly, spending more time working on my blog than his, but that is okay with me! I need some help with content and he...well...he just needs help. Here is his version of Shipoopi, written especially for me. Thank you Dwayne!

Well a woman who happily writes thank you notes
Can be found on any ol' street.
And a woman who scraps and makes her own cards
Is most surely a rare treat.
But a woman who blogs jus' ain't never been seen
Pics on the net, words on the screen!
She's the girl he's glad he's found--she's his
Jan-Poo-Pi! Jan-Poo-Pi! Jan-Poo-Pi! Jan-Poo-Pi!

The girl who wants comments!


But you can link her yet.

Comment once & your blog she's readin'
Comment twice & her head is reelin'
HTML in what you say?
She will beg for more
If you 'member her birthday

C S S & H T M L
L M T H & S S C

Best to link her & not John Gatti,
If you get a link back, thank Technorati,
Tho she's firmly anchored in Christdom
She's Highest Being in the Ecosystem.

C S S & H T M L
L M T H & S S C


The girl who wants comments.


But you can link her yet.

Jan-Poo-Pi, Jan-Poo-Pi, Jan-Poo-Pi!
The girl who wants comments.
Jan-Poo-Pi, Jan-Poo-Pi, but you can link her yet.
You can link her yet!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You asked for it,

You got it....

Toy Yoda.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So, some of you may have noticed that I have been addressed as "Poop" in the comments section. Perhaps your jaw dropped to the floor. Maybe you shed a tear for me. No doubt, you are speechless.

Well, don't you worry your little head. It is all harmless and is, surprisingly, a term of endearment from an old friend.

Long, long ago in a little town far away, I was active in our town's community theater. One fine summer (I think it was 83?) I was a chorus girl in "The Music Man." Apparently, my friends decided the song "Shipoopi" was written about me, so they took to calling me "Janpoopi." Sometimes they would even break into a little song and dance. This has continued for some 23 years, if you can believe it. Occassionally, they abbreviate it to "Poop" and nobody blinks an eye because we all know the meaning.

But, from time to time, the little term of endearment appears in public and shocks the conscience of my more tender-hearted friends. So, I just wanted to put your fears to rest and thank you for your concern. Do not, however, attempt to call me Janpoopi or Poop unless you are already one of the chosen few. DO NOT.

Here are the lyrics:

Well a woman who'll kiss on the very first date
Is usually a hussy.
And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out
Is anything but fussy.
But a woman who waits 'til the third time around,
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground!
She's the girl he's glad he's found--she's his
Shi-Poo-Pi! Shi-Poo-Pi! Shi-Poo-Pi! Shi-Poo-Pi!

The girl who's hard to get!


But you can win her yet.

Walk her once just to raise the curtain,
Walk around twice and you make for certain.
Once more in the flower garden,
She will never get sore
If you beg her pardon.

Do re me fa so la si
Do si la sol fa mi re do

Squeeze her once when she isn't lookin',
If you get a squeeze back, that's fancy cookin',
Once more for a pepper-upper,
She will never get sore on her way to supper.

Do re me fa sol la si
Do si do


The girl who's hard to get.


But you can win her yet.

Shi-Poo-Pi, Shi-Poo-Pi, Shi-Poo-Pi!
The girl who's hard to get.
Shi-Poo-Pi, Shi-Poo-Pi, but you can win her yet.
You can win her yet!

Here's a little unconventional version for you.
From Today's Reading:

[Plaintiff] never worked again in any capacity because he "just didn't want to work."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Counting Blessings

Toni is counting her blessings as she turns 35. I'm inspired to do the same, but oh my heavens, I have so much to be thankful for I don't know if I have the time to record all of them! Rather than just walk away from the task, though, I think I'll just give it a good start. Maybe I can add more from time to time. There is JUST SO MUCH!

I am thankful for:
1) Jesus.
2) My family's love of God.
3) My family's health.
4) My husband's job.
5) My job.
6) Our school and teachers.
7) My girlfriends and their amazing talents.
8) Music.
9) Cool, crisp fall days.
10) Heaters and air conditioners.
11) Handmade quilts.
12) My education.
13) BSF.
14) Freedom.
15) Flowers.
16) Cheesecake.
17) Photography.
18) International travel.
19) Beaches.
20) Mountains.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This was the cake on the top of the card Colin made for me.
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Colin made me this snowflake and added texture to it with white out. The texture represents the mountains in Colorado.
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This is one of three cards Spencer made for me. He was sitting next to me waiting to show me each drawing before I even got out of bed. As he sat on my lap pointing to each thing, his little bed-head hair tickled my cheek. It was pure heaven.
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Friday, November 10, 2006

A Night to Remember

Tonight was unexpectedly awesome. We went to a friend's house for dinner with the international students from a local college. The Japanese girls were cooking curry and the hostess made chili. Some Chinese students made eggrolls and mussels and another friend brought a birthday cake FOR ME!!!

The cake alone was a surprise and, look, it was quite lovely (Italian cream)! After dinner (which was DELICIOUS, by the way), they all sang Happy Birthday to me. THEN the Rwandan students sang to me in Kinyarwandan. THEN the Japanese students sang to me in Japanese. The Rwandans sang in French. The Chinese sang. The Albanians sang. The Canadian (Hi John!) sang! SEVEN SONGS!

It was truly the most wonderful thing. Unexpected. Unplanned. Perfect.
Something you don't expect to see in your school parking lot in the middle of the city:
A rabid fox!

Harn Homestead

It is hard to believe an entire week has passed since we visited the Harn Homestead. I did promise to tell you about it, though, so here it is!

Our school's second graders went to the Harn Homestead for the day last Thursday. The homestead is very near the capitol tucked away in a neighborhood. Mr. Harn was designated the land commissioner in charge of settling disputes created during the landrun. He moved to the property in 1891. Much of the property has been preserved and serves as an educational museum. The women who were working there Thursday told me they take people around on tours and teach them how things were done near the turn of the century. When they aren't leading tours, they are actively engaged in the upkeep of the property, including working the vegetable garden!

The setting, which is right in the middle of the city, was quite peaceful. The grounds were simply kept and tidy. The garden was recently tilled with long, straight mounds of rich brown dirt. Wood was stacked neatly next to the barn, and the houses were clean, neat and sparse. In the school house we learned which punishments went with which transgressions and the children were shocked to learn that boys would get a lashing if they were found playing in the girl's area of the playground.

We ate picnic lunches on blankets in a large barn. After the children finished eating, they started square dancing!!! Can you imagine? I don't think any adult told them to do it, they just started doing it. They had no toys and no playground, and they made their own fun. We had truly stepped back in time.

If you haven't been to the Harn Homestead, I recommend you go. It is fascinating and it is peaceful. It is also a testament to how many luxuries we really have.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Colin didn't get all his spelling words correct on today's exam,
but he had a cool sig.

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Excerpts from Today's Work:

"Thus, we believe that Justice [Blanketyblank's] "concurrence" more closely resembles this opinion than the lead opinion. We therefore concur with his concurrence insofar as it concludes that there can be more than one specialty germane to establishing the appropriate standard of care, and also insofar as it implicitly stands for the conclusion that multiple experts may be utilized in establishing a breach of the appropriate standard of care. "

(Note: Justice Blanketyblank wrote the lead opinion and a concurrence. The passage above comes from yet another special concurrence. I know you really wanted to know that.)

And then we have this bizarre rant taken from a case brought by a woman against her doctor. The doctor claims the woman contributed to her injuries because she did not take the medicine prescribed to her, which was meant to prevent her injuries. The majority of the court agreed. The following is from the dissent:

"I refuse to take part in the judicial determination of what is and is not socially acceptable behavior. Smokers, couch potatoes, and fast food connoisseurs pick your doctors carefully because after today, no matter how negligent a doctor is in treating you, the jury will be able to consider your poor health habits when deciding whether to hold the doctor liable."

I'm having a difficult time understanding how taking one's actions into account when determining causation is the same as judicial legislation of social behavior. I'm equally unsure how choosing a doctor carefully would help one's case.
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

From my window here at my desk I can feel a cool breeze and hear the gentle tingling of Colin's windchime.

The sky is a clear blue.

The Fig Tree is bare, but beyond that I can see the red Maples, the orange Crape Myrtle, the brown Chinese Elm, and the red-orange Bradford Pear. The giant pecan tree at the edge of the yard is releasing its big yellow leaves today, and they are falling steadily like giant snowflakes.





Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dwayne (the Canoe Guy) sets the bar high for birthday comments:

Jan, Oh Jan,
you write on your blog
cutting up prose
like a 'Jack cuts a log.

We get to read
of your wonderous life
(but you still can't beat
my Lovely Wife)

Tales of your fam'
words from your boys
most make us laugh
all bring much joys

Your hubby does great
as only he can
No Man of Steel
but an Iron Man!

Your desire for comments
may never slake
but did you have to resort
to a dunk in a lake?

Pleasing sweet Jan
is the latest rage
you all might try
a sackful of sage

When comments are few
a salty tear forms
so this comment tries
to surpass all the norms

I read this aloud
to my Lovely Wife
and she rolls her eyes
and tries not hurl.

I thought for a moment
and then took some time
be aware that truth
doesn't always rhyme

You put out the call
you bang your tom-tom
but you do get more input than

Thanks, Dwayne! I love it! And my story about my canoeing mishap wouldn't be complete without input from the Canoe Guy himself!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Okay, I'm bummed.

See, I really love to get comments on my blog. LOVE it. I even like snark. But comments. Or at least, very few.

Well, Sunday I knew I had the story that would illicit comments. I mean...I fell in a lake! What better story was that? I stayed up late writing all the lurid details of my humiliation and went to bed with visions of comments dancing in my head.

"Oh, poor thing. I hope you're okay."

" are such a goof. But we love you anyway."


"Wow. You're weird."

"Oh, I just love persimmons, too. My grandmother always made persimmon cookies for thanksgiving.
It was worth the humiliation to be sure."

"Oh, Jan. I used to love the QC Report, but from now on I'm coming here first."

You know that sort of thing. It was a night of good dreaming.

Alas, not ONE comment.

So, here's the deal. My birthday is Friday. Yes, FRIDAY. There is no need to rush to the stores, though. All I really want is a ton of comments on Friday. PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PRETTY PLEASE????


(***Ahem. It seems my birthday is Saturday! Thanks, Michael, for being the first to notice. What a friend I have in Michael. You know, let's all leave Michael a zillion comments on Saturday, too. After all, he and I are both celebrating number 43 that day!)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just when you thought all light sabers were alike...

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You know when you visit your grandmother and her house is so blasted hot you feel as if you may suffocate? Your grandmother is wearing a sweater and has an afghan across her lap and you're sticking your head out the window and breathing deep?

I'm turning into that grandmother.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

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Big Time

Last week was insanely busy busy busy busy. Spencer's birthday (6!) was Monday, which included a class party and lunch out with dear old mom. Halloween was Tuesday. Bible study was Tuesday. Colin's parent-teacher conference was Tuesday. Work was Wednesday. Colin's class birthday party was Wednesday. The second-grade field trip was Thursday (Harn Homestead! More later!). Spencer's teacher conference was Thursday. Colin's birthday (8!) was Friday.

Friday we left for vacation.

I'm too tired to write about the entire week, good as it was, but I'd like to give you the details about our weekend because it sure was a fun weekend.

We visit Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri once a year and we just love it. This year we asked the boys if they would rather have a birthday party or take one family with us to Big Cedar Lodge. They chose Big Cedar. (Yay for us!). We took some of our dearest friends who also have two boys, one of which is Colin's best friend.

We left early Friday morning and stopped in Branson around lunch time to do a little shopping at the outlet mall there. We mainly shopped at the Polo Shop and Harry and David. We didn't spend much time in Branson because we wanted to get to Big Cedar quickly, but we also had a few Christmas gift to buy each other, so we did some hinting and then split up.

That evening we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and ate in our condo with our friends, then we went out to play hide and seek on the grounds IN THE DARK! We hid under trees, in trees, on the putt-putt course and even in the tennis court. It was exciting and thrilling for the boys. After that we went back to our condo and had our birthday celebration with cake and gifts. They boys stayed up late playing Jedi knights and generally being boys.

Saturday we slept late (for us) and made quiche, sausages and cream cheese rolls for breakfast. We went out on the great lawn beside our building and played soccer. Marcia and I got to be the goalies. It was drizzling, but we played anyway, and it was a tough game. My team won 7 - 5. I laughed so hard watching Marcia jumping around and screaming when the ball came near her goal. She was actually pretty good, but she played like a girl! ; ) At one point James took over the goalie job and Marcia suddenly became a soccer pro!!! When she started bringing that ball toward my goal I said there was no way I'd let a girl score against me. . . and then she scored! TWICE!! argh.
After the game we had to go back to the condo and dry our clothes before we headed out again for a hike down to the lake. The hike was beautiful. The trees were really showing their colors that afternoon and they reflected so nicely on the lake. We made the boys go with us to canoe so we could teach them what they needed to know for their scout badges. They were surprisingly grumpy about it! After that, we hiked up to the restaurant for lunch, and Byron found some wild persimmons on the way, which he picked for our dessert. They were delicious! We visited the gift shop and had a contest to get the golf ball on the tee. Byron promised a dollar to the first person to succeed. Byron was the first. None of the rest of us ever got it. It was, by far, the most frustrating game EVER!

After lunch, Marcia and I continued hiking while the boys went to play putt-putt. Marcia made us a delicious and colorful dinner of chicken and rice, salad, fresh fruits and hot bread and then we headed off to play another game of outdoor hide and seek IN THE DARK! I didn't plan to be found, so I chose a very special hiding place that happened to require me to lie on my side next the a little roadway. I don't think there was much traffic until I got there, and then it seemed as if it were a very busy little city. As the cars drove by, I wondered if they saw me there, with my pink hoody pulled up over my head "sleeping" in the grass by the side of the road. Would they stop to help? Would they call the police? The horse and buggy clip-clopped by several times and one family even walked by. I had my head covered so I couldn't see them, and I don't think they saw me. But there I was, lying in the grass in the middle of a resort IN THE DARK. Then it started to rain. Now, my clothes were really too thin for the cool air, but the rain - oh, the rain - it was frightfully cold. Still, there I was, lying in the grass in the middle of a resort in the dark IN THE RAIN.

Let's just say, I won that game.

After a trip back to the condo to change clothes, we went to the indoor swimming pool. The boys swam while the men sat in the hot tub and Marcia and I drank hot chocolate. After that, we went back the room and the boys spent the evening building their new Lego toys. I have no idea when they went to bed. I had already been asleep a long time, I'm sure!

Today we got up even later (for us) and had Marcia's delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls and melon. We packed up and checked out, then headed down for more canoeing (since the boys LOVED it so much the day before) (not) (we just like to torture them). I forgot to mention that the day before I had arrived at the canoes first and chose 8 of my most favorite orange lifejackets for us to use. I put them on the dock next the the four canoes we planned to take. Before we all got our gear, a youngish couple came to the dock and took two of my most favorite orange lifejackets for themselves...and then started to take one of the canoes! We thought we should share so we didn't say anything. Then, they didn't have a paddle, so they came to take one of ours. Byron is SO nice, he gave them our two best paddles. If I had been a cartoon, I would have had black smoke above my head, but I didn't say anything.

So, anyway, when we got in that canoe this morning, Marcia noticed a small jewelry box and a little gold ribbon. She guessed he had proposed to her the night before in that very canoe. My little black cloud blew away as I guessed he must have been pretty flustered to find he almost had no canoe and then he had no paddle, so maybe that's why he wasn't his usual fine self that I'm just sure he must be.

But wait a minute. Why were they at a lodge together if they aren't even married?

Oh, whatever. Back to my story.
I took Spencer and Ben in my canoe and Ben was scaring me with the turning around to look this way and the turning around to look that way. I told him if we capsized he wouldn't be getting that canoe badge! OH!!! And on the way to canoe, we saw a live deer running toward the lake. So, we were canoeing quietly in hopes of spotting him again. We went all the way down to a cove so the boys could get out and look for "sea" shells and so I could look for more wild persimmons. We saw Colin across the cove walking on the rocks and I decided to canoe over to him and bring him to our side. When I got there, he decided he didn't want to get in the canoe, but there behind him was the most glorious persimmon tree I had ever seen. It was dripping with fruit. I decided to pull over and fill up my boat with persimmons.

Now, Big Cedar is on Table Rock Lake, which is named for the large tables of limestone rock that surround the perimeter of the lake. There are few beachy areas, so stopping to get out isn't as easy as it is in most lakes. I found a large table, though, and surmised I might rest my boat up on that rock and climb out to the rocky shore. As I was pushing my oar against the rock, it slipped on the slime and fell right out of my hand. As it was falling, I reached for it.

It was really cold down there. And deep. And wet. And did I mention really cold? REALLY cold! As I dog paddled my way to the top and climbed over the slimy table rocks on to the rocky shore, I was breathing fast and heavy. It was just plain SHOCKING! My boat was upright, but had several inches of water in it. Thankfully, I was able to reach the oar. And you know what? I was really cold. As I stood there weighing my options (nobody else was in view), Marcia came rowing around the bend and saw me standing there. (She told me later I looked like a crazy statue). Suddenly everyone was yelling, "Mrs. [Happy Homemaker] fell in!! Mrs. [Happy Homemaker] fell in!!"

And, thus my humiliation seemed complete.

Not wanting to succumb to the humiliation (or scare the children), I said I was fine and I would row myself in as soon as I caught my breath. And, that's what I did. James came running down the shore and got in the boat with me to help me get back to the dock (which suddenly seemed miles away). When I discovered he had moved our car from the dock to the restaurant, I had him let me off to walk to the car. He said I looked a fright, and he was correct there.

My hair had a comb-over part and some of it was plastered to my face. There may have been snails in there, for all I know. My clothes were hanging off me with the heaviness of the total drenching, and my shoes squished when I walked.

As I got out of the boat I saw a dead snake. I decided the boys would LOVE to see a dead snake, so I found some leaves and picked it up to carry back for them. Then I saw it: glorious persimmon tree number two, as if it was a get-well gift from God himself! I picked a few branches and laced them through my fingers on my right hand and carried the dead snake in the other. As I approached the lodge, I realized I may not be welcome carrying a dead snake, so I left it next to a tree for another boys to find and I kept walking.
I had hoped James had parked at the edge of the lot, but my hopes were dashed. The parking lot that was normally sparsely occupied was now completely full and humming with activity. It was as if every guest at Big Cedar had turned out to see the crazy lady who sleeps by the side of the road in the rain and bathes in the lake come walking through the parking lot all drenched, lost and toting branches covered with a strange orange mystery fruit. "Don't stare, children...she deserves our sympathy." "Poor lady. She doesn't even have a place to sleep or bathe, and here we are vacationing. Poor lady." There I was. Standing in the middle of it all in my wet, pink hoody and my no-doubt-illegal persimmon booty, just looking for my car.

Once I found my car, I drove over tothe indoor pool and walked up to the lady at the guest services desk. I was sure that with th0usands of guests every day, falling in the lake was probably a common occurrence. Apparently no. "Excuse me, ma'am," I said, ""I have just fallen in the lake and since I've already checked out I was wondering if you might have a dryer?."

The look of shock and horror on her face told me I might possible be the first EVER guest to fall in the lake. At a minimum I was the first to admit it.

All ended well, however. I got dry clothes and I even got a hot tub soak to take off the chill. Now I'm home, all cozy and warm. And you know what? I'm giving Ben the canoe badge.

(Oh, yeah...I saw a wild turkey on the way home. Cool!)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006