Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 Chickasaw Vacation Wrap-up

Last week we spent our annual week at Chickasaw State Park up near Henderson.

As always, we had a great time with Val's family (Glenn, Carol, her sister Cheryl, nephew Cody and his wife Katie, and brother Ken and his girlfriend Yuan came up for the weekend).

It's easier to break it down with a list, so here are the Top 5 Things About Our 2013 Chickasaw Vacation

1. Cooper and Penny love to swim - All but one day we went down to the lake to swim and let the kids play in the sand. The kiddies took to the water like baby seals, paddling around wearing their army floaties and trying to refuse assistance, especially when we would hold them to keep from tiring out.

2. Rest, relax, repeat - Time in the water meant that the kids took good naps in the afternoons, and we either napped or went into Henderson to use the free Wi-Fi for the Kindle Fire at Jack's Restaurant. This was a good time to enjoy their selection of Blue Bell ice cream milkshakes, of course.

3. Good eatin' - Every morning Val's mom made a big meaty breakfast of awesomeness, with plenty of bacon, sausage, biscuits, fried ham, eggs and pancakes. For dinners we hopped around, from Mexican to a new place in town called Greens, Beans and Taters (that took over the spot we used to eat at called Arnold's). A couple of nights Val and I would go eat first while her family watched the kiddies, then a few nights I watched Penny while everyone else went out. Trying to take Penny to a restaurant is a disaster and I end up walking around with her outside so everyone else can eat, and then Val's mom scarfs down her food to take over so I can eat. Even then Penny is such a handful it's just not worth it.

4. Games - I fit in one game of Scrabble, but Val and her fam were able to indulge in plenty of card games like pinochle and cribbage. Cooper enjoyed that one, too, since he got to move the pegs.

5. Playtime - We tried to take the kids down to the park's playground as much as we could, when it wasn't 95 degrees and blazingly sunny. The kids enjoyed it no matter the weather.

2013 Chickasaw Vacation Pictures, pt. 3

We tried a tactic of buying a new favorite toy to open at Chickasaw. It worked, the Octopod from "Octonauts" was a hit all week:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 Chickasaw Vacation Pictures, pt. 2

Mommy and Daddy like to get in on the playground action, too ...

I call this Cooper's "smoldering Streetcar Named Desire" look:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Toy Story Without a Father

My latest contribution to ...

I admit, when I'm too tired to go outside in the afternoons and keep the kids occupied and Darling Valerie is at work, I will turn on the DVR and let them watch Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 if necessary, even if it means I'm going to cry in front of my children.

Don't look at me like that! You can't judge me!

I'm quite happy that they are big fans of the animated films, because I am as well.

Although, by the 50th time watching each of the trilogy I started to analyze and nitpick every little tidbit and trivia.

While I was initially too busy wondering why Andy's mom would change his entire bedspread less than a week before moving, I started to wonder exactly where his father was in this whole story.

Andy's dad isn't even mentioned in an aside, like before they go to Pizza Palace the mom could've said, "Your father is packing, so let's go eat!" In the second Story it's Andy's mom taking him to cowboy camp. Andy heads off to college in the third movie and there are no hugs from dad.

When I googled the idea I realized I was only the 100 millionth person to wonder the same thing, and according to the Toy Story creators it was a no-brainer.

One of Pixar's team, Matthew Luhn, said that, “If there was a dad in Toy Story, the boy would not have had such a need for a doll who represents a kind of authority figure, like Buzz,” he says, adding that “we never even brought it up.”

You could read something deep into it, like Woody and Buzz helping Andy deal with abandonment issues, but there's no evidence of that.

All kids love their toys. When I watch my boy Cooper playing with his rubber critters I'm not thinking he's overcompensating for my hatred of spiders. Nor do I figure that when Penny slobbers on her little Pooh that she's really wishing that her mommy would sing "Jesus Loves Me" one more time each day before nap time.

Disney is certainly not afraid to do away with parents. Their movies are notorious for killing off a mother (Bambi) or father (The Lion King).

If I had a week to add 10,000 words about crappy pappys I would add it here, but I don't so I won't. Sometimes it's out of the father's control, sometimes it's not.

For those deadbeat dads I will just note that during his writings on supporting widows, Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:8 that "if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Online surveys are surely always correct (*cough*), but if true one online dating survey shows that 33 percent of single men with kids don't even want to admit they have them lest it hurt their mojo when trying to make moves on the ladies.

I'm not mad at Toy Story for what could be perceived as a slight against dads and the importance of fatherhood; all three are still great films, frequently hilarious and simultaneously touching.

If you're looking for a movie with a father doing all he can for his kid, stick with Over the Top. If you're looking to get embarrassingly weepy when thinking about your favorite childhood toys, any of the Toy Story movies will do the trick.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to get my favorite stuffed tiger from childhood, Tippy, out of Cooper's closet and hide him under my pillow before bedtime.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cooper and Penny day-to-day

I haven't had a post about the kids' daily schedule in a while. I like to post these if only because it's fun to look back in a few years and see what life was like at a certain point in their development.

It's also important because if I don't post it, I will have forgotten it. Seriously, I cannot remember what our schedule was like, what the kids were like or what Val and I went through just six months ago.

1:30 a.m. - I wake up, put on my gym clothes, get my lunch together, grab my gym bag and head to ATC Fitness. I work out, shower and get to work at 3:30.

Middle of the night - Cooper climbs into bed with Val. He waits until I get up since Val's too tired to turn him away. Not that she wants to. Even though we said we'd never let our kids sleep overnight with us, it's so nice to snuggle up. Of course, when Penny's old enough to get out of her bed that may be two too many kids in bed!

7ish - Penny wakes up somewhere between 6 and 7:30, waking Cooper and Val up as well. The kids wake up with strawberry Nesquik-flavored milk and watch a show.

The current favorite shows include:

Toy Story - They really enjoy all three movies. Hey, so do I! If they want to watch them for the 100th time in a week, let's do it!

"Octonauts" - Cooper is a big fan right now of Captain Barnacles the polar bear and his intrepid crew that includes Quasi the pirate cat and others, including vegetables (which, yeah, is a little weird; not that talking starfish isn't).

"Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" - Cooper used to really like Mickey and the gang, and Penny does now.

"Winnie the Pooh" - Any of the shows and movies are a pleasure, and both kids have stuffed Pooh bears and fight over Cooper's Piglet. We need to get back to the Disney Store to get Penny her own Piglet, although she'd probably still try to get both hers and Cooper's!

9-10 - Once Val's coffee from her Keurig has kicked in it is breakfast time, usually strawberry Eggo waffles.

Noon - Daddy's home! Val tries to go to the gym while I play with the kids and then feed them lunch.

1 p.m. - Nap time! Penny goes down with her four bears and me and Cooper head to my bed. If Val's not working she crashes on the couch, otherwise she goes to work at Chick-fil-A at 2 o'clock.

Cooper rarely actually naps nowadays, but I have to nap to stay sane and alive, so while I sleep he sits next to me in bed and either plays games on the Kindle Fire or watches a show. I don't let him out of the bedroom lest he wake up Penny by playing loudly.

3 p.m. - Up from naps, we eat snacks and watch shows while the kids sit in my lap, Penny still holding all four of her bears that she grabs when I get her out of the crib.

4 p.m. - The kids are hopefully playing and not watching "Toy Story" yet again depending on my level of tiredness, and depending on the weather we'll go outside to play in the backyard.

5 p.m. - Dinner, which alternates between chicken and fries, frozen spaghetti dinner, rice and beans from Mezcal, mac and cheese, or pizza. Or if they won't eat, they get a plate full of grapes and strawberries, or a couple of granola bars and some goldfish crackers.

6 p.m. - Bathtime. Penny splashes until we get two inches of water on the floor, then she gets out and lotioned up. Cooper then plays for a while in the bath. We alternate many days between using bleach or oatmeal in the bath as prescribed by the allergy doctor.

7 p.m. - Penny goes to bed. On nights Val is working I try to do this right before Val gets home, even though Penny jibber-jabbers in her bed for another half-hour.

8 p.m. - Time to unwind. Cooper takes his medicines, then we sit on the big chair watching a show while he eats snacks. He doesn't really sit in my lap, though. He requests that I stretch my legs out on the coffee table so he can lay on them, hang off them, do calisthenics.

8:30 p.m. - Bedtime! Val picks up Cooper for "sack of potatoes time" as they call it, to go to bed. Seriously, it's so cute. When his show ends he knows it's time, so he giggles excitedly and runs up to Val and says, "Sack of potatoes!"

Val and I get on our knees to lean over his race car bed to say prayers and sing songs. He always argues against the praying, but I think that's because to a 3 1/2 year old the idea of closing your eyes and sitting still is anathema to everything he believes. So we pray for him, then we sing - in order - "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

We give him kisses and walk out, but he spends the next half-hour "going to the bathroom," which really means he keeps asking us to leave his door cracked properly, playing in the bathroom or sitting in the hallway making sure we're really going to sleep.

9 p.m. - Bedtime for Mommy and Daddy. Well, Daddy at least. Val is on the Fire, reading and playing games, until she can't keep her eyes open anymore.

Cooper and Penny visit Chickasaw, pt. 3

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Penny loves her bears!

Penny has four bears she loves, loves, loves, and sleeps with every nap and bedtime: Pooh, Little Pooh, Teddy and Big Brown Cuddly Bear.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Cooper and Penny at Chickasaw

Our vacation to Chickasaw isn't for a little longer, but some of Val's family is already there so she drove up with the kiddies and my dad-in-law Monday to visit ...