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A Visit From The H-Men (part 4: the final chapter)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Christopher and his Dad aren't very close. Or, weren't very close. Or, aren't. Or... well its not my relationship so I really can't say. I have watched it go from what it was to what it is though, and I can see that the two have gotten closer as time has gone on. And especially lately, since they now have a common ground.


Now I know that Christopher's bike isn't technically a motorcycle, its a scooter, but- with all of the custom work that hes done to it, we call it "Daddy's motorcycle". It might as well be. It totally counts.

Anyways, so him and his dad have that to talk about. To bond over. To- whatever. And while Dave was in town, they spent plenty of time out in our mess of a garage putting pieces together and pulling them apart. He helped Christopher put together his new handlebars, and blah blah blah bike bike bikebikebike.

The babies were out there helping, of course. They love to "build things" with Daddy. ...ya know, hitting the ground with a screw driver, or sticking something plastic inside of the motorcycle when nobody is looking? Its no wonder the dang thing isn't running right now.

And I took a picture of mine and Evelyn's feet. Because I felt like it :)

Later that night, after the guys had tinkered around with tools for long enough, we took another trip down to the basketball courts, where the men trampled all over each other awkwardly, and played silly brotherly games of who can jump higher to touch the rim of the net. The kids stomped around in puddles that had formed in the center of the court from a brief burst of rain earlier in the day, and I stood back, camera free for once, taking it all in.

After their friendly game of ball, we all packed up and headed off for dinner at Red Robin, the one place in town that we feel safe eating out at. I wish I would have taken pictures during dinner, but it was somewhat chaotic with the hungry children bouncing about, and a camera crew filming our every move (well, only in the beginning, and- more about that later).

Once our bellies were filled with all sorts of warm and yummy foods, we headed home, and as soon as the babies were in bed, the H-men got to work putting together the greatest of great surprises.

Christopher and his Dad had taken off to Sams Club, got there just as they were closing, and brought home a giant box of awesomeness...

They put the base of the trampoline together in the front driveway, while I made a batch of biscuit-like chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. All of the good light was in the front, which is why they did it there, so putting it together was soon followed by tilting the trampoline up on its giant side, and rolling it through the tiny gate in our fence, into the back.

If anybody was watching from a window, it was probably pretty entertaining.

Once it got into the back, the guys spent awhile putting the net up in the dark. There isn't any light back there, so they all talked about how handy it would be if they had headlamps (Christopher has been bugging me to let him get one for years), but instead made do with handhelds. And when it was all over with and finalized- we jumped.

And then said goodnight.

The kids had gotten balloons the night before, at Red Robin, and Eleanore and hers instantly bonded as best friends. While Grandpa Dave drank his morning coffee, and Elie sat beside him at the breakfast table, they had a little bit of a balloon fight.

It was adorable.

This was their last morning with us though, so while watching Grandpa hit Elie over the head with a yellow ball of air was fun, it was also kind of sad.

The guys sat together and ate their bacon and potatoes. I tried to weasel my way in long enough to take a picture, before the crowd broke for refills of coffee.

I caught a glimpse of Eleanore sitting on the ground beside the couch, reading a book just like her uncle Josh.

She loves to be loved. She made a connection with him when they played memory together. And then when he showed her how to play the guitar. And when they looked at fish together at the zoo. I could tell that she'd miss him. If only her balloon hadn't blown away in the wind just minutes before they had to leave, maybe he would have gotten a better goodbye from her.

The farewell was kind of short. We took some instax pictures, gave some hugs, and at the very last minute, Eleanore ran out of the house, just as they were getting into their car to drive to Dallas, and hugged them whole heartedly, realizing that they weren't just going to the store, but instead they were going home.

The visit was nice. It was nice having family here. It was nice having a full house. It was nice cooking big meals and baking banana breads and watching movies together. It was all just, nice.

And when they left, our house seemed empty for a day or two. Extra quiet, and bigger than it had been before they came. So until next time....

The End.

A Visit From The H-Men (part 3)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In case anybody was wondering (because I know my Grammy certainly was, tee hee), I skipped a day or two of blogging because of an insane allergic reaction to an antibiotice that was prescribed to me last week. I'll spare you the personally horrifying details, but if anyone ever has any questions about the drug Macrobid and pyscotic tendencies, don't hesitate to ask.

Now on with the show-


Something that we have to do whenever somebody comes to town, is go to the zoo. Abilene is a small town, with like 3 things to do. 1) Eat. 2). Sleep. 3) Go to the zoo.

One of the days that Christopher's family was here, Christopher had to work. Something went sour with his leave, so he had to go in for a day, leaving me and the in laws alone to fend for ourselves.

Well it was a really nice day, maybe too nice, so we decided to go downtown to see the animals. However- I had completely forgotten that it was the last day of spring break, and with the weather being 90 degrees and gorgeous, of course everyone and their grandpa was there, including us.

Between the water stand not taking debit cards, and Charlie having skipped his nap (which he does regularly now), the kids and I ended up taking off early while Dave, Josh, and Christl stayed behind. But before we left, with tantruming toddlers in tow, of course some fun was had!

I was hoping to get a picture or two of the Lioness with her baby cubs, but none of them turned out. To be fair, I was taking pictures with a 7 month old strapped to my chest. I bet the Lions were just loving the sunshine though. At least they sure looked like they were.

Dave really helped me out with the stroller. Well, with Charlie, really. Those two were best buddies, the whole time we were there. And it was really awesome, to just stand back and watch them interact. I was keeping a pretty good distance from the two, so I don't know what kind of man to man conversations they were having, but I could tell that Charlie was loving every minute of it.

I took a picture of them taking a quick break in the shade...

By this point, Charlie's cheeks were bright red, and I had been dumping water over his head to cool him off. He didn't like that so much, which you might be able to see based on the look that hes glaring at me, but- a Mom's gotta do what a Mom's gotta do.

I always wonder if we'll ever live closer to family, and if we do, who will it be and how close will our family's become. Right now, with the way it is, the kids really don't know anybody. They've had a few visitors over the years, but never really bonded with anyone. Not bonds that lasted, at least.

So I wonder, will these pictures be as special to them as I hope they will?

Will these pictures spark memories that might otherwise be forgotten?


The giraffe exhibit at the Abilene zoo is pretty amazing when it comes to getting up close and personal. They used to have it so that you could feed them rye crackers day and night, but- they've since done away with that. Crackers in the bed or not though, you can still climb the sky bridge to be face to face with a spotted long neck, and maybe if you're lucky, get licked by one of their long purple-ish tongues.

Eleanore marched right on up there, with Uncle Josh and Christl. They all loved it. And I loved it, because I got to just stand behind in the shadows, a tired baby resting her sweaty head on my tattoos, and watch the story of "nice to meet you, Mr. Giraffe" unfold in front of my squinting eyes.

And there were fish.

And there were leopards.

But soon the heat got to us, so we made our dashing exit that I had previously mentioned. No shame in calling in quits, when you've got hot tired babies to take care of.

...and I doubt that anybody will be surprised to hear about the part 4 to this series thats coming tomorrow. Thats the final chapter though, I promise.

To be continued...

Flashback Friday- Happy Birthday, Dad

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I forgot what day it was. I woke up thinking it was Wednesday, and then spent the rest of the day thinking that it was Friday. Just now, I was sitting over on the couch watching an episode of That 70's Show, all relaxed and enjoying the lightning that I could see off in the distance, when I realized- "Wait, its Thursday".

My mind is a little bit absent.

Between the non stop heartburn that I've had for the past 3 days, and my husband working 1pm-3am every night, I'm on the edge of insanity.

But a bright light thats been shining down through my gloomy stress cloud, is that this week, my Dad turned 50.

Remember when 50 seemed old? When you thought that being 50 meant grey hair and going to bed early? ...well its all true. He does have grey hair, and he does go to bed early, but- being old isn't as scary as it used to be. Being old is just being.

Aging is beautiful.

On Wednesday morning, I pulled Eleanore aside for a sing along phone call. And do you know what she said to me, when I asked her "Hey Elie, want to call Gpa and sing him Happy Birthday"? ...she goes, "no Mommy, I want to skype with him".

Pffft. So grown up, little Miss!

So we called him up, asked what our chances of getting a skype date were, and 5 minutes later we were singing Happy Birthday to him, face to face. Just the same way that I used to sing to him when I was a little girl. Like he was right here in the room with us. Because he was.

When I told Eleanore how old he was, she said "thats a lot of numbers". And he laughed. And I laughed.

His laugh, was because he thought what she said was funny. My laugh, was because I was nervous, in realizing that my Dad had really hit his mid life mark.
And then I stared deep into his eyes, because I knew he couldn't tell that I was. I looked over every inch of his creased face. It was the same face that I grew up with. The same face that protected me. The same face that loved me, when I felt like nobody else did.

And I missed him.

He said he was going to spend the day with my Mom on the Oregon coast. I asked him to pick up some sea shells for the babies, and maybe a post card or two. What I really wanted to ask though, was "Pick up sea shells for me? Send them to me? Walk on the beach with me". ...it was all very selfish. But in that moment, all I could think about was when he was the only man in my life, and I was his only little girl.

One year, when I was 19 or 20, I was working late on my Dad's birthday, and couldn't stand the idea of letting it pass us by without getting a chance to let him know how much I cared about him. So the moment I punched out, I went to the store, picked up his favorite pie (which later turned out to be the wrong kind, my tired eyes grabbed banana instead of coconut cream), and I drove 40 minutes out to his house, getting there just before midnight, so that he knew- I love you Dad. Happy Birthday. All of the lights were off in the house. Both him and my Mom had already gone to bed. I woke him up, gave him the pie, hugged him goodnight, got back in the car and headed home to Portland. It was short, and sweet.

Happy 50th Birthday, Dad!

Hes kind of amazing. To me at least. Always.

So heres what we do. Every week we dig through our memories- old cell phone pictures, polaroids from 1986, something that you pulled out of a dirty shoe box- and we flashback to it. We show it off, and we write about it. We take ourselves back to that place, with as little or as much detail as our hearts are willing to share. Scan it, upload it, copy and paste it from your livejournal (remember those?)- display your memories in whatever way works for you. And then grab out button way down at the bottom of the page there (or link back old fashioned text style), add it to your flashback, add your link to our flashback, and if you've got an extra minute- maybe browse around and read some of the flashbacks left by others. Its just for fun. And really- memories are too precious to be left in an old dirty shoe box.

This is a comment-free blog. Thank you.

A Visit From The H-Men (part 2)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There are certain things that we, as parents, just kind of can't stand to do with our children. And its different for everyone, I'm sure. For me, its teaching my daughter how to play games.

Eleanore loves to play games. Duh. What 4 year old doesn't? And I love to play games with her. I just... hate to teach her how to play games. Partially because I know that once I get through all of the telling and retelling and retelling and retelling of the rules, and after I pretend to lose and then have to hear her rub it in my face how awesome she is- shes going to want to play that game all the time, everyday, from now until the world ends.

She'll ask me if we can play Silly Sentences, and no matter what my answer is, even if I'm literally walking to the closet to pull it down off of the shelf for her, she'll ask me again. If I tell her no, if I tell her yes, if I tell her that the ice cream man suddenly carries sugar free soy ice cream and is driving down the street throwing them at little girls with cute short haircuts... she'll still ask me again.

Something awesome though, about having family come to visit, is thats the kind of stuff that they love to do. Thats the kind of stuff that my family used to do with me, and thats the kind of stuff that our family seems to be loving to do with her.

Elie was begging to play something, anything, and then out of nowhere Uncle Josh says "sure, I'll play a game with you, whatdya want to play?".

Oh God, stars lit up in her eyes, fireworks went off between her and the ceiling.

Game on.

After he taught her how to play Old Maid with a deck of Dora cards that had been hidden away on the shelf above the DVDs in the downstairs closet, they busted out some Memory. And seriously, when you're four years old, Memory is a way of life.

And of course, 5 minutes after they were finished, she was asking to play again.

While that was going on, I was working my toddler free tail off in the kitchen, frying up an entire mountain of catfish for everyone to feast upon.

Random fact: I had fried catfish for the first time just a few months ago. My life will never be the same again. Batter, fry, repeat.

After we filled our bellies with cornmeal dusted seafood, we all wandered outside for some fresh air, toe touching, and beard growing. The kids loved having people to climb on and chase, and before we knew it, we were racing the sunset to the basketball courts...

Eleanore fell in love with Miss Christl. She wanted to walk beside her, hold her hand, sit in her lap and purr like a kitten.

While the ladies were hanging out on the sidelines, the H-men tore up the court.

It was pretty awesome, to see them out there tripping over themselves, all with the same matching awkward sasquatch-like movements. Baskets were rarely made, but when they were, it was a big deal.

They would have stayed out there much longer had the sun not ducked out of sight, but leftover cookies from the night before were calling their last name from the fridge, so like sweaty zombies, they marched back to the house, and we all settled down in front of the television for a movie.

Oh, Me and Evelyn were there too. Christopher captured proof on the walk over. This is the only picture of me from the whole trip.

By the way. That one movie, about the robot airplanes rocket ship arc... sky captain and the world of tomorrow, or something? ...I don't so much recommend it.

To be continued...

A Visit From the H-men (part 1)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

People don't come to see us very often. They're always saying that they're going to- they ask us if we're doing anything on this date or mention in a conversation that they were thinking about flying out during that week, but- they never do. The last time we had out of town guests, was in December 2009. ...and we can't really blame people, because we are kind of way out here in the middle of nowhere.

But nobody came when Evelyn was born.
And nobody came after Evelyn was born.

And it was really kind of depressing. Especially when we see that the same people who said that they were going to come, at one time or another, go other places instead.

But again. We are pretty far off the beaten path, and can't let our hearts get too sore over our lack of company. We understand. We don't' like it, but, we understand.

Finally though, somebody said they were coming, and then they actually came!

Somewhere around ten pm on Wednesday night, Christopher's Dad, Brother, and Brother's girlfriend, walked into our home just in time for freshly made chocolate chip cookies. I didn't want the house to smell like diapers, and I needed something to keep my impatience at bay.

Josh and Crystl went down to Ventura to meet up with Grandpa Dave, and then they all flew to Dallas, and drove from there to Abilene.

The first ones to meet Miss Evelyn.

The older two were asleep when they arrived, so they didn't get to meet them until the next morning. Which was nice, it gave us all a chance to greet each other, snack on cookies, and play a game or two of wii, before heading to bed.

It was so nice to see Dave holding the baby. She wasn't quite sure of who he was, or why someone other than Mommy was holding her, but she didn't cry or fuss (not then, at least), she just kinda went with it.

And he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit as well. When you go from living on a boat by yourself, to holding a 7 month old in a faraway state, its got to be a little bit awkward, but- it was a nice change for the both of them.

The cat insists that anyone thats here, is here visiting her. So while Christopher and Josh started making an avatar for wii sword fighting (or whatever it was that they ended up playing), Bomber got as many good pets out of Crystl as she could.

They were tired, from their journeys. It was obvious. Yet nobody wanted to go to sleep, because what fun is that? First one to turn in is a rotten egg.

Alright so we didn't end up staying up too late, the excitement wore off quickly, once we started passing around yawns.

The next morning sure was interesting. Eleanore spent the first half and hour hiding from everyone, crouching under baby bouncers, leaning behind Daddy's legs. Charlie seemed to warm up to everyone extremely quickly, which was the opposite of how he used to handle unfamiliar faces (we welcomed this change of character). And Evelyn, as seen in the pictures above, got along with everyone just fine.

We made a big breakfast of potatoes, pancakes, bacon and eggs, and then later on in the day, went down to Christopher's work for a tour, and then played around by the airplanes.

The boys walked around the planes, talking engines and wings, while us girls (and Charlie) played in the shade of a B-52, occasionally ducking from a hornet as it doubled checked us out to make sure we weren't packing pollen.

It wasn't really my thing, ya know? I just kinda stood back and observed most of it through my lens, capturing it on record for everyone else, the way that I typically do, and the way that I'd wish someone would do for me.

I did however, have to dive in and check inside of little mouths, looking for broken teeth, after a nose dive or two off of the tip of a bomb. I've still got the green and brown bruised shins to prove my loyalty.

It didn't take long for the baby to start getting hungry, and the hornets became more unfriendly by the minute.

We hopped into our cars and headed for home.

To Be Continued...