Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

We went to the PUMPKIN PATCH as a family!  "Nana" (aka Christina, or sometimes ChristinaBobina) came to Indiana to visit, so a festive trip to the local pumpkin patch was in order.

Actually, it was a pumpkin FARM.

Well, actually, it was a CUCURBIT farm.  I had to ask my mom what that was, and then I looked it up just to confirm.  Just so you know, it's "a member of the gourd family."  So, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and watermelons would count.  But there were no watermelons.  Just a whole buncha pumpkins.  Not sure how often anybody needs to know how to use the word "cucurbit," but it's certainly a good conversation starter.  Or stumper!!  Tee heeeeee!

(P.S.  Mom was totally right on about the definition.  How do moms always know this stuff?  Kudos to you, Mom!!)

Both of the boys were almost as excited about the wheelbarrow as they were about the pumpkins.  Although I think Mason would have liked to take one of these 400 pound beauties home!

Sadly, while we each chose a pumpkin, we never managed to get them carved.  I was SO excited about my three cute little white pumpkins. . .I had big plans to paint them.  But somehow, we juuuuuuust couldn't get around to it.  Maybe we'll make pies out of them for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus

We talked Mason into riding the bus!!!

This may not seem like a large accomplishment, but it certainly was.  Mason was adament that he was not riding that bus.  End of discussion.  The first time we tried, everything was going great up until the bus actually pulled up.  When I stepped toward the bus to introduce myself and Mason to the bus driver, he spun 180 degrees and sprinted back up the driveway before I knew what happened!  We waited about a week before trying again, and he almost bolted at the last minute, but our sweet little neighbor Emma (a fellow Kindergartener) grabbed his hand and said "let's go, Mason."  And he went!!!  Ooooh, what a relief. . .Brody can sleep in instead of me dragging him out of his sweet slumber every morning, and I can go back to sleep for a few hours totally get up and be super-productive right away!

I sure do love that bus!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Country Music & Honky Tonks

A few weekends ago, Rip and I took our own road trip adventure!  My gracious parents agreed to watch our kiddos for three days, and we were off!

First, we had a DATE NIGHT in Nashville. . .we saw the LAST EVER Brooks & Dunn concert!  Rip got lucky and had two suite tickets offerred to him through work, PLUS a delightful dinner before the concert. 

The concert was so awesome, and I was surprised at how many of the old songs I knew.  The best one?  Red Dirt Road.

The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn, rented a U-Haul trailer, and hit the road for Dallas.  Just my handsome hubby, his big ol' truck, me with my stack of gossip magazines, our iPod loaded with fun sing-along music, and an empty trailer in tow.  And we had an absolute blast!  We talked, sang, and laughed for the whole 11 hour drive.

We were driving as fast as we could to make it in time for Christina's birthday dinner. . .and we made it!  We went straight to one of our old haunts, Papi's, for yummy food and beers. . .

And then we went to the Pickerings for cheesecake, singing, and of course, PRESENTS! 

After all our celebrating, Rip and I headed to our house two doors down for a good night of sleep.  We had to spend the whole next day loading our U-Haul full of furniture and stuff for Rip to take back to his apartment in Nashville, and toys and coats and Christmas stuff for me to take back to Indiana for the kiddos.  NOT the most fun part of our trip!  However, we completed the task in record time, and managed to squeeze in an hour of swimming before having to get ready for the BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY!

The birthday girl had a country music style party. . .complete with Mason Jar luminaries, a dance floor coated with sawdust, and attendees in boots!

We had a great weekend, and surprisingly, we managed to do everything we wanted to back at "home" (meaning our house in Texas!), spend some great quality time together as a couple, AND we got all of our tasks done.  A successful trip to Nashville, Dallas, back to Nashville, then Indiana.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Team Yellow

Upon sending out the email that the boys and I were staying in Indiana for awhile, my childhood friend, Lauren, replied with an invitation for Mason to play soccer on the youth league in her hometown.  It's one county over from where she and I grew up, and she lives in an adorable little town.  Even though our lives were in total chaos and upheaval (this was the SECOND DAY of us living here), I really thought it was a great idea.  Mason could spend time with Lauren's children, make new friends, burn up some energy, and do something that felt "normal."  So, I threw caution to the wind and said that we'd absolutely play soccer.

Note to self:  add soccer cleats, socks, and shin guards to list of things we need but do not have in Indiana.  Why not?!?!

The first game (match?  event?) took place in a downpour.  Awesome.  But, I have to say, it was a blast.   The kiddos could have cared less that it was raining, and it was warm enough out that it was far from unpleasant.  And just like that, we were becoming members of the community, complete with friends and a team! 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Where the GREAT ROAD TRIP OF 2010 ends

Rather than retell the story of how our road trip adventure ended, I thought it appropriate to post the email I sent to my friends in Dallas. 

Hi, my friends.

So, my plans have changed drastically. . .

With Rip in Nashville, the kiddos and I embarked on a lengthy road trip a few weeks ago to end our summer. Being stuck inside with the insanely-hot temperatures in Texas was making us stir-crazy, not to mention the fact that we were missing Rip like crazy, AND I was losing my mind trying to keep the house clean so it would be ready for any showings. Since we had nothing on the calendar (I stopped tutoring at the beginning of August), we decided to take an adventure.

We took two memorable days and drove to Nashville (via our old stomping grounds of Little Rock), spent a week with Rip in his apartment, then drove north to Indiana to visit my parents. The plan was to stay with them 6 or 7 days. drive back to Nashville to see Rip for a long weekend (and go to the Titans game tonight!!), head to St. Louis to see Jacqueline for a few days, then get back to get Mason into school. He would have been a week late, but that was our plan.

Over a glass of wine last Saturday, my mom was asking me about our plans for the next weeks and months (with Rip being in Nashville, us being in Dallas, him trying to come back and forth, house hunting, etc.), and she threw out the question that would change my plans: "have you considered staying here?" she asked. No, I had not, but I started to right away. . .

And after careful deliberation, a phone "meeting" with Ripper, and an Excel spreadsheet to compare all our options, we decided to in fact stay in Indiana and enroll Mason in Kindergarten here. We'll be living with my parents while our house is on the market, and Rip will stay in an apartment in Nashville. The biggest plus to this situation is that the boys and I are only 5 hours from Rip as opposed to 10, which means he can make the drive up and see us (mostly them!) every weekend. Being separated from him has been hard on all of us, and this will ease that a lot. Additionally, having the support of my parents will be such a nice change from me being alone with the kiddos more often than not!

It was a hard and sad decision because it obviously means we left town without knowing we were leaving for good, and we didn't really get to prepare emotionally for it. We'll be back at least a few times. . .Rip and I are coming Labor Day for sweet Christina's birthday, then we'll return once or twice before eventually moving.

I miss my "life," but know that this was a really good decision for our family. I am very much looking forward to coming back next weekend and hopefully seeing you.

Here are a few pictures of Mason's first day of Kindergarten. He is going to the same elementary school I attended 30+ years ago, and believe it or not, he has one of my old teachers for his morning class, and one of my old babysitters for the afternoon class. :) Not a lot changes in small-town Indiana, and that's a nice comfort right now.

Hugs and love to all. See you next week!

So there is the update!  One day I was making plans to drive back to Texas, and the next day I was frantically looking for a backpack, a lunchbox, school supplies, and Mason's medical records.  We moved into my childhood home, and are enjoying so many facets of life in Indiana.  The small-town feel of community, the leaves on the trees turning amazing hues of red, orange, and yellow, the smell of corn being harvested from the fields, the freedom to let our five year old play outside for hours on end without fear of something happening, spending so much quality time with my parents and having them really get to know our kids, the sounds of the locusts and the creek as we fall asleep at night, running into old acquaintances and reconnecting with dear friends. . .the list goes on and on.  We are happy, healthy, and as well-adjusted as possible, considering Rip and I are still living in different states, BOTH of which are different than the state in which we own a home.  Chaotic, but temporary.  


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Hoosier State

By day nine of the Great Road Trip Adventure of 2010, we were in my home state of Indiana.  It had been two years since I'd visited, and I was SO EXCITED.  And I think it's safe to say that the kiddos were excited to get out of the car!

Once we got to my parents' house, the real fun began!  "Grammie and Grandpa" were ready to play all weekend, and we had BIG plans!  First thing on the list?  A trip to Arni's, the BEST pizza joint ever, then to my dad's high school for a Friday night football game.

Next, a relaxing day swimming and playing in the pool.  To be out of the ridiculous Texas heat and instead in "normal" heat (90 instead of 105) was a great change!  I'm proud to report that Mason finally learned to swim by himself over the weekend, which was awesome!  Go, Mason!

Of course, we couldn't imagine leaving Indiana without a stop by the Frozen Custard for a fruit drink.  I'm sure that place also has delicious custard, but I can never bring myself to order anything other than a good ole' fruit drink.  Yum!  While we drank the refreshing delights, we walked around the little zoo at Columbian Park, which was free, clean, and a great way to end our day!  Although Brody Boo wasn't too thrilled about the petting zoo. . .

The last thing we HAD to do before leaving Indiana was go to Barb and Eric's.  They have been family friends for 25 years, and Barb has always been a special person to me. . .kind of like a bonus mom.  They live on a farm, so there's a ton of fun stuff for the kiddos to do there.  Eric took us all for a ride on the Ranger, and Barb made her "famous" Cowboy Cookies.  MMMMMMMmmmm.  My favorite for the last 25 years. 

At the end of our first four days in Indiana, we started thinking about leaving on our return trip.  Ugh.  We were almost two weeks into our big road trip adventure, and the next leg of the trip was all about getting back to Texas.  Via Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, and then home to Dallas.  I hated the idea, and kind of dreaded returning to an empty "husband-less" home, but Mason needed to start Kindergarten, so we had to get on the road soon.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

According to the State of Tennessee. . .

According to the slogan of the State of Tennessee, the state represents "America at its Finest."  I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue with that.  We arrived here on the second day of our big road trip adventure, and here's what "they" had that we liked. . .

For one, "they have" Daddy.  AKA Mr. Rip Ray, husband and father extraordinaire.  He had been living in a corporate apartment since June while we were back in Texas. The kiddos were missing him so much by the time we arrived in Nashville, they were literally hanging over the balcony rail, waiting for him to come home from work.

"They" also have the Tennessee Titans!  And because Rip's Aunt Sharon is Jeff Fisher's assistant, the boys got to go to training camp and play around with the players and their kids on the practice field.  Fun stuff!

Because there were four of us in a little corporate apartment designed for just one person, we had to get out and about fairly often to keep ourselves sane.  So here's what else we got into during our week in Nashville:
Krispy Kreme!

family pizza night

the Williamson County Fair

the petting zoo

At the end of our week in Nashville, we were a little sad to leave Rip, but we had a plan:  one week in Indiana visiting my parents, a few days in St. Louis to see our friends The Whites, then BACK to Nashville for a long weekend before heading back to Texas in time for Mason to start Kindergarten.  Oh, how I love a good plan!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Great Road Trip Adventure of 2010

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I've posted, but life has been CA-RAAAAAY-ZEEEEE for the last few months.  A quick summary of what's been going on:

1.  we were on vacation for 10 days

2. while we were gone, Rip got a job after being unemployed for 7 months

3. a week after returning from vacation, our house was on the market and Rip moved to TN

4. I stopped tutoring and turned my beloved business over to someone else

5. it was like 106 DAILY and I was alone with the kids in TX trying to keep the house clean for showings. OH, AND BY THE WAY, I was losing my mind in the process.

Seriously. No husband around, no adult company, no job, no childcare, no ability to take the kiddos outside because of the heat. Not a lot of fun. So I hatched a plan. . .


Since we had nothing else to do, I planned a month long road trip.  People, you have to be a little messed-up-in-the-head (if you know what I mean) to take two small children on a cross-country road trip by yourself.  But I've always been a bit wacko, so it seemed like a great idea. . .and in all honesty, it was a blast.  It was planned meticulously, so that we'd have well-timed and pre-selected places to stop, eat, use the facilities, etc.  Here's what we did on the first few days:
  had a picnic lunch at a lovely park in Texarkana, TX,

arrived in Little Rock, AR in time to see the famed March of the Ducks,

trashed hung out in our room at the Peabody Hotel

 stopped by our old house in Little Rock, and even managed to WALK THROUGH the house!

 get BACK to the Peabody in time to see the ducks one more time

and stop at the Casey Jones Railway Museum in Jackson, TN for an afternoon

I was so happy we had embarked on the insanity of the trip. . .the time I was spending with my little boys was so priceless.  Up next?  Nashville, Tennessee!