Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

As of right now (3:50 Monday afternoon) I can see it's been a wonderful holiday weekend!  We've been busy, had lots of fun and there's just so much to tell I decided to start with today and work my way back.

As with most pools, ours opened this weekend.  I told my girls we could go to the pool today if they finished their chores before noon. 

They did. 

Crud. 

I knew that was going to be come c-c-c-cold water, but figured we should check it out because swim practice for summer swim team starts tomorrow.  :o)

It was delightful!  One of the best things about having a pool membership is I don't feel like we have to stay ALL DAY to get our money's worth.  The way I figure it, we'd be paying $5/person/day to go to the local pool, and by the time we'd gone 22 days we make up what we pay to join the pool.  That, and VPSU rules state swimmers must be members of the pool for whom they swim. 

So, we go for a couple of hours, enjoy the sunshine and the refreshing water and come home.


The girls played hard the first 50 minutes (before adult swim).

 We rested during adult swim, reapplied sunscreen (I really am trying to be better about that this year.  The girls are so dark complected they really don't burn so I don't think about it.  I know sun protection is about more than burning, so I MUST reapply!), and then got back in the water.  At that point, Ellie decided she was simply too cold to play any longer.  We finished out the next 50 minute free swim period and headed for home. 

It was a good start to the summer swim season. :o)  I'm truly looking forward to our long, hot, lazy afternoons at the pool. :o)

Yesterday, B and I decided we needed to take a Sunday ride and see where the road led us.  We set out knowing we didn't want to drive on any major highways if we could help it (especially I64 and I95/295) and wanted to head in the general direction of the mountains.  If we reached an intersection I'd ask "left, right, or straight?" and off we'd go.

We wound up NOT west and the mountains, but north!  We headed up 301 and I actually drove a stretch of it I can't recall having driven before.  Surely I'd remember Two Frogs on a Bike Antiques! :o)

We drove through Ft. AP Hill (on 301, it's crazy just how massive AP Hill is!) and on along until we connected with Rt. 3 just south of the MD line.

I'm SOOOOOOO happy we did!

Look what we found!  It's a National Park!  I had NO idea!!

I knew Ferry Farm was his childhood home, and I guess I assumed he was born there.  Nope!

We got there late--almost 4:00 and they close at 5:00--so didn't have as much time to explore as we wanted.  Oh well.  We'll just have to come back!

I recognized these cattle as they look like the oxen at CW.

And, here's the house.

Only, not really.  That's not really the house he was born in.

We were fortunate to make the last "tour" of the day.  The park ranger gave us the history of the site--tl;dr version, the original house was destroyed somehow, they had no idea where it was, nor what it looked like, but the charitable ladies who found out about this historic site knew they MUST have a house to commemorate the house, so they had that one built. 

The original foundation has been found, and the footprint is there on site to see. :o)

Pretty garden, but not at all historically accurate, according to the park ranger.


The house.  You can see the ranger in the lower right.

She unlocked the door to the house, gave a little more info, and then we were on our own to explore.

 The kitchen.  Much fancier than the original kitchen would have been--again, from the mouth of the ranger.

There is a farm here, complete with farm animals.  I saw no chickens.  :o(


Tobacco drying.



There ARE hogs in here, I just couldn't see them.  I asked another ranger if they had hogs, and he started hog calling.  It was so COOL!  I could see some ears and a snot poking from the back of the pen.

Colonial scarecrow, anyone?

I took photos of my little park rangers.

And, need to remember to get park passports for the girls.  We have discussed trying to visit as many National Parks in Virginia as we can this summer. :o)

We drove a bit further down the road and found Westmoreland State Park. Holy smokes!  It's amazing! They let us drive in so we could drive around and explore and see what there was to be had.  It's along the Potomac River and there's a beach, a pool, a fossil beach, cabins, tent camping, and more!  I saw dogs and people and bikes and general happiness all around! :o)

We'll definitely be exploring that more as well!

From there it was along to check out Belle Isle State Park.  B had heard a lot about the camping there and wanted to see what the amenities looked like.

Then, back on Rt. 3 through Richmond County (I had NO idea we had a Richmond County) and onto Killmarnock, and then White Stone.  I picked up a road there, and drove and drove and drove until the road ended...
...here.  :o)

We were on the Northern Neck and there was the Chesapeake Bay.

Beautiful, no?


I could have filmed this forever, it was so lovely. :o)  This was around 8:00 or so last night.

I love this going out to explore that B and I do.  We were out for hours yesterday, close to 8 hours to be exact.  There's so much to see and explore and we miss it all because we're in too much of a hurry to get to our destination.  The journey there is the adventure. :o)

And, I'm always happy to fill in more of my mental map.  Do you guys have mental maps?  I know SW Virginia fairly well.  I learned NOVA when I moved to college, and Hampton Roads and Southside Virginia (the eastern part of VA "southside", not the South Boston/Danville "southside") when I moved here.  We've explored the Middle Peninsula and now the Northern Neck.  I love getting to know my state!  There's so much to see and do here--beauty, history, activities, adventure and more!

Saturday was less eventful, but still lovely.

We released our painted ladies.

So beautiful!

We have discovered the boys (the black furry variety) find the butterflies an unbearable temptation and they knocked the pavilion off the sideboard and swatted and batted and we went from five butterflies to three.  :o( 

That evening we had our SCG dinner with our friends.  I was in charge of bringing baked beans and dessert. 

For dessert I made a lemon pound cake and macerated a bowl of strawberries.
I'm fairly certain I've shared this before, but it bears re-sharing.  If you do this, excellent, if not, it's rather life changing.  No, it is!

Use your egg slicer to slice a perfect bowl of strawberries. 

I cut the tops off (feeding them to the bunnies) and then use the slicer.

This is the result!

I brought my ice cream freezer and the fixings for vanilla ice cream as well and we had strawberry shortcakes (sort of...) for dessert.  Yum! 

Well, that, and K provided a key lime pie too.  We know what's important at these dinners. :oP

As always, dinner was a fun event with us barely seeing the kiddos as we solved all the world's problems. ;o)

But, back to today, it's now 8:56.  I took a break to make bean and cole slaw and we had a lovely meal with Nana and Pop and GG and Bill.  The kitchen now needs cleaning and the girls are up way too late and need tucking in and so I'd best be off.

***************************
Sparklies:

1.  Our adventures this weekend.  Yesterday we saw so many amazing things I can't even remember them all.  I know we saw a red tailed hawk rise up out of a field with some mammal dangling from his talons and we saw an indigo bunting.  We saw butterflies and so much nature.  :o)

2.
Speaking of nature, we found this guy hanging out on the fence at the pool.

3.
And, Lil found this brown snake skin in the sandbox. 

4. 
Okay, y'all, this is probably the first time I've ever taken a photo of a toilet.  Can you see why?  You flush with your FOOT!  I've never seen such a thing before!

5. 
I transitioned to a larger pool bag this weekend.  This is how I knew summer was upon us.  The smaller bag will live in the van and has extra swimsuits, dry clothes and undies, towels, sunblock, bug spray and more.  The bigger bag is for daily trips to the pool.  Whew.

6.  Dinner tonight with family. 

7.  Lissie has been sending the funniest Bear stories for the girls! :o)


No milestones

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Five Year Check-Up

Beanie Baby had her five year well-child visit today.  It was postponed by two weeks when we had to convert her last well-child visit into a sick-child visit.  She was feeling miserable and her temp had spiked to 102 by the time we got to the office.  It was strep. 

We were all quite happy she was well today. :o)

I love my doctor's office.  I know I've said that before.  Many times, in fact, but it's true and bears repeating.

Miss Bean is 33 or 34 pounds and 42" tall, putting her BMI at around 5 or so. ;oP  Yup, she's a really big one, our Bean.  She's in the 36th percentile for height and I think the 10th or so for weight...?  I can't remember.  Oh, the joys of being the third child--mama can't remember anything about you. :oP

Dr. Jen was looking at the growth charts and how Bean was plotted on them and said, "She's the one that fits right in between Lil and Hannah size-wise."  She said it very matter of factly, just as if we were having a normal conversation--which we were.  There was no hesitation, no stumbling, no wincing or holding back.  She just talked about Hannah the was we talk about Hannah.

Do you know how refreshing that is?  Do you have any idea how much that means to me?  To know that our pediatrician not only remembers Miss Monkey, but that she gets it.

I know she lost an older sister when they were both girls.  I met her mother at the FM once, and even though we had never met before, embraced each other and took comfort from one another.  We knew.  It was still early days after Hannah, and this sweet woman was such a comfort to me. 

I've never seen her again (she lives in foreign lands), but can so clearly remember our meeting, the way we hugged each other and cried for each other and ourselves, the way she looked at me with eyes that knew, the way she let me know--without saying so--it was going to be okay...somehow.

I think because Dr. Jen was raised by this remarkable woman, and remembered losing her sister, she's far more attuned to the situation and she knows too.

There's comfort there.

We moved on and I asked if she could please help me explain to my carboholic (I'm one, I know of which I speak) why she needed to eat her protein and can't just live on carbs alone.  :oP  El wasn't thrilled at the conversation, but acknowledged she understood and would be better about eating her protein.  :oP

She received a finger prick (we had hoped we would avoid it, nope) and I asked her if her finger had a heartbeat.  I thought Patricia (the nurse) was going to fall through the floor with laughter. :oP

When it came time for her immunizations--I had told her ahead of time she would be having them--she cried and Patricia was a bit teary.  :o(  It was all over and I said, "Hooray!  Now you won't get chicken pox or measles or whooping cough or polio! Those shots will keep you from getting really really sick!"  She stopped crying and smiled and asked if those sicknesses were worse than the strep she had had two weeks prior.  Y'all, she was a pretty sick Beanie.  Medicated her temp was at 101 and unmedicated up to 104.  She was listless and so so sick.  I told her she'd be even sicker than that and I think that made the shots seem SO much better.

It was a quick visit, one that ascertained my girlie is growing like a weed and is fully ready to begin Kindergarten in the fall.  :o)

*********************
Sparklies:

1.  Rainy spring days.  I didn't have to do a lick of watering today. :o)

2.  Doctor's offices that are wonderful.

3.  A good Merlot.

4.  Making sparklies lists again.  I'd stopped trying to find the good in my day because I wasn't writing about it.  Foolish me.

5.  Bitty's smile and laugh. :o)


No milestones.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Swimmer

This little girl is fearless.  She always has been.  At least, with regards to her personal safety at any rate.  Sure, she's afraid of the typical things--flying stinging insects, thunder (although yesterday she informed me she was no longer afraid of thunder), shampoo in her eyes, etc.--but, when it comes to a sense of self-preservation she has NONE.  She never has.

I remember taking her to the beach at Assateague when she was 15 or 16 months old.  We crested the dunes, she saw the ocean, and began running headlong for it!  She'd never been on that much sand before, but she couldn't be bothered to check it out.  Nope.  Heeeeeelloooooo, water!

We've had the same experience with the pool.  She was but a wee thing when Lil started swim team four years ago, yet she was ready to be in the water.  Right now!  Things were no different the second year either.  In fact, that's the year I had to be sure I was always watching her because she would just jump in the pool willy nilly.  Water in the face?  Water up the nose?  No problem. 

Unlike her bigger sister who was afraid of water, and only grudgingly learned to swim (now she's quite happy to be able to swim, and to do swim team every summer), Miss Bean seems to have water flowing in her veins. 

Watching Ellie in the water is like watching a playful otter pup.  She's at home and she loves it and she looks like she belongs, like she's just a part of that environment. 

I never would have seen it, if I hadn't taken the job teaching swimming this spring.  Because I was there for two hours twice a week when she was with me, she got to spend two hours in the pool twice a week. 

She has truly thrived and I do believe that once summer swim is over, B and I will be finding some way to keep her swimming year 'round.  She loves it, she has fun doing it, I love that she's learning and burning energy. 

Here are some videos I took the last couple weeks of lessons:


Lissie had asked for video of Miss Bean, and this was the best I could do between my lessons.


She was so tired here.  So tired.  It was the end of lessons for the day and she had already cried because she was so tuckered out.  Coach Harold told her she would go one last time. 

The last day of lessons was a make-up day from when we had all that snow and ice.  I had no one for my first class besides Ellie.  I was essentially paid to play with my girlie.  So, I took her to the deep end (10') and turned her loose.



I like that she's practicing her side breathing here. 


She asked me to take a slow-mo video.  Sure, why not?


And, last but not least, the "Ellie Turn Around" (her name for it) in slow motion.  :oP  She loves slow-mo. :oP

I know there are a lot of videos here, but she asked, and I wanted to be able to share with family what she's been up to.  B hadn't seen her swim, and neither had Lil or Liss or Nana and Pop. We all agree she's a sleek little pup who has way too much fun.

The thing I have to keep reminding myself is, she only just turned five.  I want her to perfect all these skills--side breathing, kicking and pulling herself through the water with big arms--and I need to remember she's doing beautifully just as she is. :o)

And, because it's my blog, and because she's my girl, I'm going to brag just a moment here, they were teaching her butterfly.  'Fly.  When she wasn't five yet.  Unbelievable!  (To me, who has never been into swimming or anything outside of watching the Olympics. I know nothing of swimming, but I think I might be learning here in the near future. ;oP)

We have a one week break from the pool and we're back in it next week when summer swim starts.  I'm rather excited.  Bean?  She's beside herself.  She's going to get ribbons this year.  Just ask her. :o)

**********************
Sparklies:

1.  Dani was in town with the kiddos and we got together to walk in CW this morning. :o)

2. 
 Lil left this note.  Bean found the nut and said it's a "heart nut" and the heart is there to show us God's love.  She gave the nut to Lil who then wrote the note. I have sweet girls.

3.  Photos from CW:





4.  Cooler temps today.

5.  I have signed up with Chatbooks for my IG account!  (I'm not being paid by them or anything, I just think they're pretty nifty.) When digital photography came along, we stopped leaving rolls of film hidden in drawers and cabinets waiting to be processed.  We stopped having photos printed and putting them in albums.  At least, I did.  Chatbooks is cool because for $6 (and free shipping), they'll take your IG photos and print them and put them in a book.  Every 60 photos you post they'll create a new book and send it to you.  They're working on catching me up because I have two years' worth of IG to go through.  You can deselect those photos you don't wish to include, select your photo book cover, and other customizations.  They will also include your captions, so it's a great way to create a quick and easy mini-scrapbook of your life.  I can't wait for my first ones to arrive!

Once I'm caught up on the private IG account, I plan on setting up Chatbooks for the CW account as well. :o)

Again, I'm getting nothing from this, just sharing because I think it's pretty cool.  (And, yes, I'm behind the times on this because it's been around for awhile.  I'm sharing for those who were in the dark like I was.)


No milestones. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

I know

I promised

I failed. I didn't write this up and post it yesterday. I got my photos loaded, and then...my only excuse is busyness.

But, here it is.  My Mother's Day. :o)

As I've written so many times, we are lovers of exploring back roads.  In fact, it's written in our family motto.  (Yes, we have one.  I know, I know, we're weirdos. :oP)

I've been following a lady on Instagram who lives in and posts photos from Brownsburg, VA.  Well, being from Blacksburg, I decided I needed to see just where Brownsburg was. That, and I was utterly enchanted by all her beautiful photos. 

And, with that, we were off to Brownsburg.  :o) 

We moseyed on over off of Rt. 11 and found ourselves wending our way along unlined back roads--my favorite kind! 

We rounded a bend in the road and I might possibly have gasped a bit when this came into view.  :o)  I mean, look at it!  Isn't it gorgeous?? (insert heart shaped eyeballed emoji here)
I quickly turned around and entered the parking lot.  I felt a bit uncertain and odd, but B insisted it was a business and we should get out and explore.  Taking a deep breath, I did. 

This is the historic Wade's Mill in Raphine, VA. 

We've always driven by Raphine without any idea how absolutely beautiful it was.  Silly us!

I snapped photo after photo, deleting apps on my phone so I'd have room for even MORE photos. ;o)  Can you see the water pouring forth there?

This farmhouse is adjacent to the mill and has the most beautiful front porch and lawn.  :o)

This is the barn behind the house.  So beautiful!  Look at that blue sky and those puffy clouds. :o)

Here's  a little history for you.

I was sorely disappointed the store was closed and found myself with my phone pressed up against the window so I could snap a couple of pics.

I wanna go iiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!

I WILL be making another trip to this mill when it's open, you can guarantee it!

Loved the lawn mower.
The mill sign isn't quite as faded from this side.

How lovely.

Look!  Pretty purple flowers growing along the wall.



This is the house next door to the other side.  I was enchanted with the birdhouse and the tree and the view and the green and everything.  I swear, I could have stayed here all day.  We didn't because we had a dinner date with Nana and GG that evening.

Y'all, this is flour!  How cool is that?

There's sheeps in them thar fields!

B scolded me for this shot because I was trespassing at this point.  But, come on!  Look at the carriage!!


We loaded up and headed on down the road and decided it might be a good idea to feed the girls...

We wound up at a pit stop off I81 that I was quite familiar with, one full of truckers and big rigs and lots and lots of traffic.  I drove by without thought and B said we had better turn around. 

I agreed, but said I just wanted to take a peek and see where the "Cyrus McCormick Center Road" led. 

I'll be darned if it didn't lead to the Cyrus McCormick Farm and Workshop"

If you've ever traveled across the state of Virginia along I81 you've most likely seen the brown sign for the "Cyrus McCormick Farm".  I've seen it so often and have always said to myself, "I need to stop by there some time."  After all, Cyrus McCormick (as we all learned in history class as a kid), revolutionized harvesting with his mechanical reaper. 

I feared there was most likely nothing there beyond a historical marker, and really never made much of an effort. 

Foolish me! 

There's a beautiful park and grounds, a mill pond, tons and tons (and TONS) of historical information to be had in those two buildings. 

Seriously.  TONS

We wasted no time hopping out and exploring. 


There was what appeared to be a family reunion being held on the grounds, and soon we had others joining us with, "I had no idea you could go inside!"

Well, there ya go. 

(Virginia) Tech has a farm across the road and an interpretive trail. 

So lovely.



We decided to take a walk along the trail and learned the McCormick Center (the Tech farm) is trying to rehab the mill pond and reintroduce native plants to the area.


By the time we finished the loop and came back around, Bean was spent and ready for lunch.

So, we headed back to the parking lot and the mill and workshop.

I can honestly say I spent my Mother's Day doing exactly what I love--exploring, taking the roads less traveled, discovering new things, and spending time with my family. 

It was a beautiful Mother's Day. :o)

****************************
Sparklies:

1.  DEET.  We've been having a miserable time with ticks this spring.  B sprayed the yard, and the girls have still had three ticks between them--two dog ticks and a deer tick.  The latest to be removed was last night at 4 am.  You can't just tell your child to go back to bed when the come to you with an embedded tick.  UGH.

2.  Friends who you can play with at big warehouse type stores. 

3.  Big warehouse-type store memberships. 

4.  Thunder storms.  What used to scare me no remind me so strongly of my little Monkey-girl.

5.  Bean is no longer scared of thunder.  She just said so. ;o)

6.  Blog readers who are happy you're back even when you feel as if everything you write anymore is drivel. ;oP  Thank you all so much! :o)

No milestones.