Thursday, October 30, 2008
We've been taking an evening walk after dinner. This evening, I was paying attention to the people we saw as we cruised our block.
A woman and her husband, each carrying a plate with slices of pizza balanced on them. The woman carried a guitar case. She seemed genuinely happy to see Teagan. Teagan barely noticed her- Teagan was far too busy pumping her legs on her tricycle. But I could see that seeing my daughter and my dog seemed to really bring this woman joy.
We round the corner.
A man and his teen son are crossing the street towards their car. The man is carrying a small, open corrugated box. The son is carrying roller blades, one in each hand. They are in a hurry. The man glances our way, catches my eye, we exchange pleasantries. The son makes no eye contact. They quickly get in the car.
I notice the old woman, standing behind the storm door of the house they've just left. I can't clearly see her face and I wonder if she is happy or sad... is she glad to have seen the man I assume is her son, the teen that I assume is her grandson... but sad that they have had to hurry off to their lives, their busy-ness?
We keep walking. I turn my focus on my daughter, to her joy at racing ahead on her Red Rider trike. My son, watching his big sister, dreaming of the day he can ride his own trike. I wonder who will walk by my house when I am standing in the door way, watching my own children go off to attend to their own busy-ness?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
And Teagan, displaying just how closely she has been paying attention, gets excited and says "Look! It's what he was building when he made that mess, Mommy!" So we all snuggled up on the floor- Mommy, Daddy, Teagan, and Zach- and watched the rest of the movie. We answered all of Teagan's questions... about the music playing, about the aliens and why they look weird... we did our best to put things into terms she would understand. I compared the aliens to animals like cats and dogs. We watched as the aliens selected Richard Dreyfuss to come aboard the ship and join them. Teagan delighted as the little child like greys held his hands and gathered around to touch and embrace him. We watched the hand signals. We explained the people coming back, the little boy returning to his mom. Then the credits rolled. And the spaceship lifted back into the sky. And it lifted up into the stars, getting smaller and smaller until it... *blip*... vanished into the starry night sky. I turn off the TV (it is now bedtime) and turn around to a very sad faced Teagan. In my head, I'm thinking she is upset because she wants to keep watching TV. Nope. Any sci-fi fans are about to swell with pride and fully understand what an incredible moment this is for her sci-fi geek dad... I say "Honey, why are you so sad? What's wrong?" Teagan: "I want the aliens to come back. I miss them!" So Teagan has decided that if the aliens ever come back, we need to invite them to stay with us. She even bundled up a blanket at the foot of her bed last night so that if any aliens came to Earth, they would have a cozy spot in her bed. She also decided that if the spaceship comes to out house and they want to talk to her, we would all go on the spaceship, the whole family, so that we could all be together and so the aliens would have someone to talk to who understood them. You know... part of me is so excited for Jeff because this is an opportunity to open the door to all things sci-fi (at a careful and slow pace, of course). But for me, this goes beyond sci-fi. This was a demonstration in my daughter's compassion, in her connection to other living beings (even if they were made up), in her ability to feel what something or someone else was feeling. Aliens showed me my daughter's humanity.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Here are pictures taken after he nursed. Daddy was getting ready to run to Target to pick up some Motrin (we had just run out this afternoon). And Zappy wanted his Daddy. The tears are in reaction to Zach reaching up to rub his eyes and nose. Daddy sushed and snuggled and calmed him down in the way only Daddy can. And Zappy felt better.
It was a team effort. I, alone, did not calm the baby. In the midst of Daddy running around grabbing the needed supplies as I held and cleaned Zach's face, Teagan was by my side, patting Zach's leg, calling him honey, shushing him and comforting him. She even brought him HER blankie. While Daddy went to Target, Teagan and I took Zach for a walk. Teagan gathered fall leaves and shared them with Zach. He loved watching his sister and his dog- we brought Sassy along.
A teaser... More on this picture tomorrow... I want to give my readers (all, what, 6 of you?) a chance to answer... leave your answer in the comments!! Fantastic prizes for the first correct answer! OK, not really. But we can pretend!
What movie is Teagan watching?
TondueBut true joy comes from being an airplane. Flying with arms spread wide, flying as fast as possible with the music, zipping back to the "airport" when the music stops. Drum time is also fun. Miss Katie plays different rhythms. Each sound means a different type of movement- tip toeing or running or marching or sliding or skipping. Sliding is fun because you face the mirror and what little girl doesn't love seeing herself in her leotard, dancing, sliding, gliding? But it isn't always total fun. Sometimes, there is disappointment. Like when each girl gets to skip to the drum, across the room, solo. Teagan is always eager for her turn. There was one girl in front of her. She was excited and asked if she could go next. Miss Katie, being fair and honorable to all the girls, told her she would be next. The joyful smile fell. My girl held back embarrassment, disappointment, tears. But you always get a turn. The disappointment quickly turned and a smile escaped when Miss Katie said Teagan's name. And there is nothing but joy when skipping! Perhaps that is a life lesson. When you feel disappointed, embarrassed, frustrated, sad... let it all go and skip!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
And he snuggled. Because the face injury really changed the day for him. My super happy guy was a little happy. He was enjoying being outside. But he had just learned that outside can really hurt and he seemed a little down. A little more focused. A little less Zappy. So he snuggled. Because snuggling makes everything better!Teagan help Zach open presents. Even though she was hugely excited, she didn't jump in and take over the present opening. She was very focused on teaching Zach how to open the present, how to tear the paper, showing him what was inside. He is very lucky to have his big sister there to guide him through these important milestones.
And what would a birthday party be without cake? This cake is special. Again, that relationship between big sis and little bro shines through. We have a family tradition of going out for ice cream on Sunday. We go to an ice cream shop that is in a little strip mall and part of the enjoyment for Teagan is walking the length of the mall and seeing in the windows of the other shops. Of particular excitement and interest on each visit is Taylor's Bakery. There is a room full of wedding cakes that you can see on display from the sidewalk- including a cake that seems to reach to the ceiling. Teagan decided a while back that Zach's birthday cake needed to come from Taylor's. And she has been carefully watching the window displays and making observations about different cakes and decorations. So we took his party invitation in and asked them to create a small cake that would be similar to the design on the invite.
In addition, Zach got his very own "smash cake," designed like the number 1 and decorated to compliment the main cake.
Teagan refused to even touch her cake at her first birthday party. Zach touched the cake but wasn't too excited about eating it. Instead, he was very interested in exploring the "buttons" on his cake and seemed confused as to why the buttons didn't produce light or sound of some sort.
So it was a good day from the most important perspective- that of my kids. And especially of Zach. He got to experience presents and cake. He was surrounded by people who love him- even if it wasn't everyone who loves him. And by the end of the party, he was back to being his smiley self. Tomorrow is his first birthday. One year ago today, at this time, I was certain that I would be pregnant forever. They were talking about having to consider induction. There were minimal signs of my body approaching labor and no progress over the past 2 weeks. And yet... here he is... impacting our lives in ways we never imagined. Our blessing, our surprise, our Happy Zappy!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
All remaining guests (ok, Dan and Tim) had plans to leave Gatlinburg by Monday morning. We had invited Brian and Christy to stay with us Monday night so that we could caravan back to Indiana together. The four of us also thought it would be nice to have Monday be a Girlfriends/Guy friends day.
Christy and I planned a few hour hike in the morning and then intended to hit the arts and crafts community (located north of downtown Gatlinburg). Jeff and Brian were going to head to the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and the Haunted Adventure and then spend the day working on computer things for an upcoming weekend event.
Christy and I headed out to the Smoky Mountains National Park Visitors Center and picked up a guide to the hiking trails. Since we have plans for the afternoon, we decided on a shorter hike (5 total miles) to Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls has a sheer 80’ drop so we figure it will be very pretty. We pull into the parking lot of the area where the trail starts. We are amazed at how packed it is and are concerned that there will be too many people on the trail. But we decide to forge ahead and see what happens. We start on the trail at a pretty good pace- trying to pass up the hikers who stroll and find a spot without a lot of other people around. We are enjoying the creek running nearby and the trees and hearing the leaves fall from time to time. We stop on occasion to listen for wildlife.
Unfortunately, we are both in worse physical shape than we had thought. We both start to wonder when we will ever see a waterfall! We eventually came across a small waterfall and decided to stop for a rest. We were inspired to hear that we were only about 10 minutes or so from Rainbow Falls! Eager to reach our destination, we headed on up the trail. We came to another waterfall. This one cascaded down a series of boulders and large rocks- very pretty- and was fed by a farther away sheer drop waterfall. There was a sign stating that it wasn’t safe to climb on the rocks. We admire it briefly and continue on. I think we both assumed that the trail would take us to the base of the waterfall. What we didn’t fully realize was that the falls we were passing was Rainbow Falls!
We had hiked 2.6 miles to that point. We trek on and the conversation is flowing and we are simply enjoying each other’s company. Eventually we realize that we are no longer seeing other people on the trail- we had previously been running into other hikers (coming back down the trail) very consistently. We are no longer hearing running water from the falls or creeks. The trail has gotten thinner and steeper and rockier. We are constantly hiking switchbacks and have convinced ourselves that something has to be right around the next corner. We stop for a rest and another hiker comes up behind us (from Rainbow Falls). We had chatted earlier with him and his wife and hadn’t even realized that we were past them! His wife was waiting for him back at the falls (this is our first realization that where we had been was all there was) and he was just going to hike ahead about 10 minutes to see how far he could get. We decide that we will continue to hike until he comes back down the trail- just 10 minutes, right? HA! We had to hike another 30 minutes before he comes back. We ask what he found up ahead and are told that it is just more of the same. Our hearts are sinking. He tries to brighten our spirits by telling us that Leconte Lodge, at the top of Leconte Mountain, is just 2 miles ahead. ACK! We didn’t know anything about a lodge! We climb on top of a nearby boulder at the edge of the trail to rest and get some pictures- hoping to demonstrate how high we had climbed this mountain. Then we began the LONG journey back down.
Getting back into the truck was the best feeling in the entire world- next to getting back to the cabin and getting into that hot tub! Our plan went out the window. We had intended to meet the guys back at the cabin at 5 (after shopping at the arts and crafts shops- remember) to make plans for dinner. By the time we got back to the truck, it was 4:45. We had spent almost 7 hours hiking up and down a mountain.
After returning home to Indiana, I did some research on Leconte Lodge. From the point where we started our hike, the lodge is an almost 7 mile hike. If we truly were 2 miles away from the lodge, we hiked 5 miles up the mountain. And, as we all know, what goes up, must come down- we hiked 5 miles back down the mountain. WHEW! We went into town on Monday to grab some dinner (a rather crummy Mexican place called No Way Jose’s wound up being our dining selection- none of us were impressed) and spent the evening watching a movie. And I took a few more trips into that hot tub!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
By Sunday, our family members had departed from Gatlinburg, as had a few friends. Those of us still around got together for a fun afternoon in downtown Gatlinburg! Christy, Dan, Tim, Jim, and Dave met up with us and we headed for the main drag. Dan and Tim had gotten a rave review for a restaurant so we all decided to head there for lunch (Cherokee Grill). We all enjoyed our dining experience- especially the company- and then headed out onto the strip for some strolling!
The shops in Gatlinburg range from quaint to extremely touristy. People watching can’t be beat! There were lodge shops and quilt shops and candy shops galore! Since Jeff and I were enjoying the weekend sans diet, we treated ourselves to some salt water taffy and turtles- yummy!
Christy, Dave, Jim and Liz took a trip on the Gatlinburg Skylift. The Skylift has been running since it was built in 1967. When we reached the top, we took some time to visit the giftshop as well as enjoy the view. On the trip up, there is a spot where your picture is taken. Outside the gift shop is a display of people who have come to Gatlinburg every year and taken a ride on the Skylift (the pictures are date stamped). We really enjoyed the series of a young girl with her father growing up to become a young woman with her husband and a child of her own. It was very touching.
After the Skylift, the time had come for Jim and Dave to head back home. We said our goodbyes and the remaining friends continued strolling.
Soon, the afternoon had become long enough. Dan and Tim needed a little nap before the day continued. Brian had finally woken up at their cabin. So we called it a day and headed out of downtown Gatlinburg and back towards our cabins! The group decided to take a quiet evening on Sunday. We had originally planned to dine at a steakhouse called The Alamo. However, the wait was long and the prices were high. So we decided frozen pizza from a local grocery store would suit us just fine! Christy and I headed to the store while Brian and Jeff headed back to our cabin. Then we spent a relaxing evening in the company of 2 of our closest friends, enjoyed our pizza (which we almost burned- oops!), and watched a movie.