Monday, July 27, 2009

Mountainside, NJ

While a comparison to Iowa may not seem a compliment to some, for me, it is. Mountainside is for my children what Iowa was for me. It's where their father grew up. I experienced that sense of history and place only on my father's side, and because of that, Iowa is what I think of when I think of my own roots. It's the same for my children - the only place with history they will know is the one where Brian was raised.

But it's more than that. It's what we do while we're there that seems so familar. Sitting on folding chairs watching the kids play in the driveway, taking a walk to the playground, kids playing with their dad's old toys (check out that truck!), and eating homemade treats that Nana (or in the case of donuts and ice cream, Grandpop) shares - all of these things remind me of Iowa. Not to mention the corn cob pipe, although, in my memory, it was my grandfather smoking, not a granchild!

Granted, Mountainside is within 30 minutes of NYC, not exactly bucolic, but that's exactly what makes it so special. You wouldn't know the city was anywhere near this place, and from where I stand, that's quite a good thing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gone Fishing

Eric and Sarah had their first fishing lesson, thanks very much to Grandpop, with Daddy along to help. We took them to Moccasin Pond, within walking distance from Nana and Grandpop's and one that is full of sunfish. Within a minute of throwing out each line, they caught a fish. As you might imagine, this is quite exciting for little kids. What was even more entertaining was Grandpop's description of each fish. Adjectives like huge, enormous, big, and gigantic were describing tiny little fish. No surprise here - the kids loved it and Sarah has told us that we need to go fishing here. She even pointed out a Barbie fishing rod at the store the other day. I told we'd need to talk to Daddy about that, considering he'll be the one baiting the lines and taking the fish off of them. I'll happily watch - I'm just not so sure about active participation . . .

Evolution of Head Butting

When we visited Nana and Grandpop this weekend, we took the kids to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. We saw the dinosaurs first, and I found the sign explaining dinosaurs' head butting behavior quite funny. I couldn't help but imagine another sign, this one explaining how the behavior continues today. Goats, rams, and sheep would be included, as they all butt heads to show dominance over one another. And then at the very end of this imagined sign would be Eric, who gleefully butts his head on legs, heads, bellies, butts . . . anything within range. His head is hard, I must say. Much harder than my own. He wins every time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Santeetlah, NC

My idea of a perfect summer vacation . . .

boat rides,

blueberry picking,

visiting a goat farm,

swimming in a lake,

resting in the sun,

walking in the woods.

Thank you, Mom and Dad. I think you've found my favorite place to be in July.

Baby Birds

So we had eggs in the fern out front, and I've tried to be careful when watering. I had hoped that the mama bird could still take care of her babies while I took care of my plant. Today, when I took the fern down to water it, I was rewarded with tiny, furry looking baby birds. There are four of them - all of the eggs hatched. Sarah, Eric, and I were able to see them open their mouths for food, and then tuck their heads down again when no worms were supplied. I guess watering will be a bit trickier now. I'm picturing chasing a frantic, hopping baby bird back into its nest . . .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Durham Bulls

They've done it again. My children have shown me what fun something can be. Something that I wrote off as boring. When I think of the three major spectator sports - football, basketball, and baseball - baseball is the least interesting to me. (I apologize to the Yankee fans reading this - no offense is meant!) It's just a slow game.

Having been at Florida State (Go 'Noles!) when Charlie Ward won the Heisman and when we (note I say "we") won a national championship, my preference is college football. Basketball comes second. March Madness is fun and I enjoy rooting for my other school, UNC (Go Tar Heels!), who happen to have a pretty good team most years. (Once again, no offense to the Duke fans reading this - I promise, it'll be my only "sports" post.) Here's the thing, baseball's just never been at the center of my sports-watching. Maybe it's because I've never made a personal connection, like the other two.

Well, here I am, with my family at a minor league stadium, watching baseball. And I love it. I love how excited and interested Sarah gets, all the questions she asks, her constant focus on the game. Eric's not quite as intent on the game, but he does a really good job, given his constant energy. It may be the popcorn, hot dogs, and snowcones, but still. Could I be a baseball fan? Hey, if my kids like it, then so do I. Go Bulls!


On the way home from my parents' house yesterday, we stopped at a rest area. After using the facilities and getting snacks, we headed back to the car. Sitting on a bench near the main building was a man. He had a close-shaved mohawk, a thick goatee, wore leather pants and a leather vest, with a black Harley Davidson shirt underneath. No brainer here - he obviously rode a motorcycle. In fact, I guessed which was his as I glanced at the parking spaces in front of me.

Back to the man - and the image that made me question my preconceived notions. Not that I question the fact of the motorcycle, but rather the nature of the man riding it. His companion was a very small dog, with a neon pink skirt and a bow in her hair, yipping at people who walked past. The pratical part - she wore a harness, rather than a collar, which (I'm assuming) would help her to stay on the motorcycle while riding. When I got in the car, Brian asked if I noticed the pair. Uh, yeah. I told him I should take a picture, and he told me that he could get the camera. I'm still regretting my decision not to impose on the stranger. What a picture it was.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

No Evidence

A skink just ran under the porch table at my parents' house. I put my book down and watched him for awhile. The kids were taking a nap, but they would have loved to see him. So I tried to get a photo of him. No luck. Despite my best attempt at going unnoticed, he's gone. And, like all skinks, he was really fast. I guess this time the pleasure is all mine.