Friday, August 31, 2012

Santa's Land in Cherokee, North Carolina

The girls had such an amazing time at Idlewild, earlier this summer, that I've been looking into other kiddie parks within a reasonable driving distance. (This has been my primary resource.) I read about Santa's Land Family Theme Park & Zoo in Cherokee, North Carolina and, with very little effort, talked my good sport of a husband into checking it out as part of our trip south to visit the parents.

Interestingly, I lived two-three hours away from Santa's Land from the time I was eleven until I graduated from college, but, until recently, I'd never heard of it. Likewise, Jim lived about two hours away until adulthood, but he'd never heard of it. In the process of trying to nail down when the park was built (I think I read 1966.), I learned, since visiting: the park is on PETA's radar because of its black-bear enclosures. Don't judge, but I didn't pay much attention to the bears. We have zoo memberships here in Richmond, and I was totally sucked in by all things vintage and tacky.

My eyes could scarce take it all in.

Even the trashcans amazed and delighted:

This friendly elf made the girls rings out of "deershoe" nails:

Clementine fed some deer:

And loved on Santa (Charleigh waved and expressed love from across the room, which was huge for her, so each girl was given a Certificate of Good Conduct):

 The girls rode rides:

We watched a magic show in the Jingle Bell Theater. Clementine was actually called on stage to be a helper!

Santa's Land is, obviously, a park for little kids or lovers of kitsch. It does offer a ferris wheel and one roller coaster, neither of which we rode. We didn't take the opportunity for a paddle boat ride, either, fearing that our water bug would jump overboard.

We saw a total of, maybe, ten kids all day. We never waited in line. And we loved that the park was interspersed with playground areas that gave the adults an opportunity to rest...or play, themselves!

Jim's Sweet Mom

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Charleigh Turns 2

Charleigh woke up, this morning of her second birthday, crying: "I'm sick. My throat hurts," and she was running a little fever. I messaged the other mommies and told them best not to come over, but it's all good; we've been celebrating her birthday for over a week.

A week ago Tuesday, she celebrated with her besties at the Children's Museum of Richmond and Johnny Rockets.

Sunday, in Knoxville, Tennessee, she blew out candles at Mamaw's (Jim's mom's) with her uncle Terry (Jim's brother), who shares her birthday.

Later that same day, she had a second birthday cake in Scott County, Tennessee, at Nana's and Papaw's (my parents').

Incredible Cake by Our Friend Lisa Russ
In Her Birthday Outfit from My Parents

On Monday, she took a trip to Santa's Land in Cherokee, North Carolina. (More on this, later.)

With Mamaw

And her daddy says there will be ice cream, tonight, also the Snow White baby doll she asks for every time we go to Target.

Charleigh, we're so thankful that God sent you to our family. We had no idea just how much we needed a red-headed ninja. You squeeze us hard and bite your sister hard, but we don't have to talk about that second thing. You shower us with kisses and sing at the top of your lungs, and let's just say your future in church choir is iffy at best, but we don't have to talk about that, either. You're defiant and mischievous and fiesty, but I get you, Girl, and I love how you're afraid of neither the highest slide nor a good spankin' for climbing out of bed six times in one night. You're a water bug and a cuddle bug, and I can't wait to see just what the Lord has in store for you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bigger Rooms

Andrew Wyeth's Big Room, 1948

I feel crowded. The good news? My rooms seem bigger when I put less in them.

Less clutter. Fewer activities. Less sugar. And caffeine. Fewer late nights. Fewer of my own words. Fewer of other people's words and ideas. Fewer phone calls, e-mails, and texts. Less Internet and television.

Less. Fewer. If you're feeling hypersensitive, overstimulated, overwhelmed, crowded: I recommend it.

**Linking up with friends at The Mag.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Movie Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Jim was wondering aloud if he needed to undergo surgery, again, in order for us to have some alone time. Fortunately, our friend Jymmi came to the rescue. (She's a grown-up, but she's one of the girls' very best friends.)

Jim and I went to McAlister's. I ate a grilled sandwich (Smoky Pepper Jack Turkey). He had a spud with chili...or part of one, anyway. I didn't take photos.

Then we went to the movies to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green. We loved it!

This film includes fantastic elements, but what it offers is not only beautiful but also believable, relatable, even universal: for adults. I'm thinking it will go over your children's heads unless they're at least thirteen, and--if they're teenagers--they'll appreciate a different movie more, so leave them at home.

Do, however, take Kleenex. I was sobbing by the end of the movie, and in my efforts not to frighten the children in front of me by making horrible gasping noises, I missed, at first, the fact that my beloved was mopping his face with his shirt. "It got me a little, Brandee," he said.

But look: there's a difference between a movie that's worth an emotional investment and one that (like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) isn't. The Odd Life of Timothy Green will probably get you a little if you're a parent. It might get you a lot if you're not a parent but desperately want to be, but you may well appreciate its message ("Never give up!"), regardless.

It's hard work to build a family, and it's hard work to grow that family once it's complete. The parents in The Odd Life of Timothy Green (like many parents I know in real life) struggle in getting their son, and--once they have him--worry too much about some things and not enough about others. They love big, and they make mistakes. You'll just adore them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What's Up

We've been living quietly and close to home, lately. I feel like we've been pretty durn happy, especially considering that we've been a little boring and extremely messy.

Jim's recovering well. He was released, this week, to drive and eat mush (tuna, mashed beans, etc.), and--since he's sleeping better--he's returned to work: for now, from home.

I'm waiting for the results of a one-hour glucose test. I tolerated it better with Cade and Charleigh and much worse with Clementine. Times have changed: I was permitted to take the test in the afternoon after eating a couple hotdogs, so I may well have passed. Regardless, as I enter my third trimester, I've learned the hard way: eggs and water (or a sugar-free drink) are pretty much my only safe bets for breakfast.

Temptation got the better of me, the other morning, and I ate a Toast'em Pop Up with purple icing. It took me six hours to recover. Let's just say: I think there's something not quite right about a non-drinker getting so up close and personal with the porcelain goddess, also about a grown woman having pee pants.

The girls had a summer cold (courtesy of Cade) last week. It slowed our roll, a little, and they got bored. Clementine snuck off with my camera, again. Here are some of her latest shots:

Cade's dad. The girls LOVE him.

Charleigh will turn two later this month. She's in the middle of one of those fascinating phases of development; seems like, every day, she's knocking me down with a feather. She sings her ABC's (minus only the "K") and rolls her shoulders when she runs. When I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she says: "Firefighter."

Here's a photo of the girls' new chore and behavior chart:

Today, each girl earned stars for picking up all the toys in the living room; putting dirty clothes in a laundry basket; and going down, easily, for nap. In addition, Clementine earned stars for feeding the cats; putting trash in the trash can and dirty dishes in the sink; and being mommy's helper (by emptying and cleaning Charleigh's potty). Charleigh earned extra stars for putting shoes in the wooden box where we keep them; peeing in the potty; and not biting, hitting, kicking, or pulling hair all day.

So today went extremely well, but I'll be honest: I could use a little bit of prayer for sticktoitiveness. I've started things like this several times, with Cade, only to drop the ball. It didn't seem like such a big deal when I had only one child; now, it seems like a very big deal.

All these years of my being a slacker, and I find it challenging to get Cade to do his part. He's super sweet, but he's back and forth between houses, and he's simply accustomed to being a disorganized mess like his mom. I really want to do a better job of training the girls from young ages, and I need their help around the house. I've floundered, my entire adult life, in the housekeeping department. I know I'll never be Martha Stewart, and I'm ok with that because, well, I don't want to be.

But here's to controlled chaos, also to a potty-trained Charleigh before Baby Chip comes along.