Monday, August 31, 2009

Go Cards!

Saturday night's game against the Nationals was our last of three Cards games this season, and it was a great game! This was actually Jace's first St. Louis Cards game, and he had a blast. He has been to several of our local double A Cardinal games here in Springpatch, but I guess we haven't made it to a St. Louis one until now. This is the first year that we have bought tickets to games, although Dave did get four tix through work and took Neil, Paige and me to a game a couple of years ago.

Jace and Neil have been so busy with their own baseball practice and games here in Springfield this summer; they couldn't go with us to the June game that we had planned on, and we ended up taking my dad and brother instead. So I was very glad that this weekend's game worked out for both of them to be able to go.

We arrived at Busch Stadium almost two hours early, hoping to see team batting practice, but Saturday night was photo night with the players. While we didn't get there nearly early enough to get down on the field and get photos, Neil and Jace did walk around some beforehand. They were interviewed by the Team Fredbird girls while out walking around - Dave happened to look up at the tv screen near our seats and there they were!

The game was terrific, and the Cards were goin' crazy with the hits (this time it was Holliday and Rasmus, and not Pujols). The game was a blowout, with the Cards winning 9-2. Jace took a ton of pics of the field, trying to get a shot of one of the big hitters as they came up to the plate.

After the game we headed to stay at my parents' on Saturday night. While Dave and Neil slept in on Sunday morning, Jace was up early to see if he could score a ride on one of the horses when his Mimi went to feed them. Grandpa Nick put the lead on Cinco, their calm 10-year-old horse, and Jace took a few turns around the corral.

It was a great weekend, and Jace was hoping we'd be back for another Cards game this year. I'm hoping we will see the Cards go all the way to the World Series again; if they do, though, we will be watching it on the TV here at home. But we will definitely plan on going to see some games next year with the boys, in between their crazy summer schedule of baseball games and other activities here at home.

Moving Day

Whew... Heading back to work almost felt like a break,compared to the whirlwind we've been in the last four days! I wanted to get this posted last night, but instead needed to get some domestic duties done - figured laundry, dishes and cleaning were more important than blogging!

Here was one big part of the weekend, loading up the car and taking Paige to where she will be spending the next four years immersed in higher education:

But more on that in a minute. First, we kicked off our crazy weekend on Wednesday night with a celebration of Jace's birthday and Paige's transition to college. Dave fixed dinner for the five of us and our friends Dan, Gail and their kids. It was great to have all the kids together the night before Paige left for college; we know we'll still see her often, of course, but it is still somewhat sad to know that she won't be just 15 minutes away anymore.

As for Jace, he is now officially one year closer to being a teenager and, as he likes to remind me, one year closer to having that cell phone glued to his ear (or more likely glued to his fingers, thanks to texting). That's his big thing-- can't wait to be old enough to have his own phone. (Here he is with his buddy, Connor, who also has the meanest parents ever, just like me, and won't let him have his own cell phone yet either!)

On Thursday, Dave had a work project that was 2 hours southeast of Springfield, and would not be home until 7pm. So I worked most of the day on Thursday and then met Paige at our house about 4:30 to ride with her to KC. We are so lucky that our good friends Garry and Heather live about 15 minutes away from the WJC campus, so they will be right there if Paige needs anything. And, we will be lucky to have a place to stay when we visit Paige, just like we did on Thursday night. It was great to catch up with them, and enjoy some dessert and drinks with them before Dave arrived about 10:30 that night. Then it was off to bed shortly thereafter, since we had to be at the campus at 7AM.

Jewell is an absolutely beautiful campus, and it was so interesting to me to see the obviously long-standing traditions at the college, and how intimate the entire college experience will be for Paige. With only 300+ incoming freshmen, and 1200 students total, it will be a very individualized experience for her and totally different from the college experience at a big university like Missouri State, where her dad, mom and I all attended. I found myself so excited for her, for all of the people she will meet and the things she will experience over the next four years.

One of the traditions for incoming freshmen is the walk around the quad; they will do this again in cap and gown when they graduate in four years, as well. The walk started with a group (gaggle? chorus?) of bagpipers, followed by the faculty, and then the students, who were all hyped up about their first day.

This took place at 3pm, after we had spent eight hours getting Paige moved into her room (you will notice there are no pictures of the dorm room - it was rather old and nondescript, although it was one of the bigger rooms on her floor), going to lunch with her and her mom/stepdad, and generally just enjoying the campus and all of the activity. The walk and the welcoming ceremony were the last two things of the day before we left, and her dad was in pretty good spirits, considering he was saying goodbye to his little girl.

After the walk around the quad, we all crowded into the chapel to watch the matriculation (I type that like I knew what the heck it meant before last Friday- nope, I didn't, but to bring you up to speed it means "to enroll or begin at a university") ceremony of welcoming the freshmen class of 2013 to William Jewell.

The speaker giving the address will be Paige's Arts and Literature professor in her Oxbridge program, and he was such an interesting individual. I don't if I've ever been so captivated by an address at a program like this- most of the time one just listens, waiting for the address and, quite truthfully, the entire ceremony to be over. But this professor was just so interesting, with a quiet and eloquent diction, a dry sense of humor, and a absolutely fascinating and insightful manner. Paige had already met him when she enrolled, and I look forward to hearing about her classes with him. I have no doubt that he will be one of her favorites, because he will challenge her and expect top notch performance from her and all of his students.

After the ceremony, we headed back to Paige's dorm to say goodbye and let her get acclimated to her new surroundings. The orientation was an all-weekend event, designed to get the students ready to start school on Monday and to keep them busy and not give them enough time to think about missing their families. I know Paige will be fine, and will jump in with both feet, as she does with everything in life. Her dad has already talked to her a couple of times since Friday, and I talked to her last night. It has been non-stop activity and she has already made a ton of new friends. We can't wait to see her in October for Parents' Weekend, and hear all about her first six weeks.

The rest of our weekend was just as busy, with a trip to my folks and to St. Louis to see the Cards play on Saturday night. Jace and Neil had a great time, it was Jace's first St. Louis Cardinals game! More pics on the rest of the weekend very soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

11 Years Ago Today

Ok, make that 11 years ago yesterday, since I didn't finish this last night... guess that doesn't make me Mother of the Year, since I couldn't even finish the post about Jace's birthday ON his birthday! But the day was so long, and the sofa was so comfortable, I fell asleep without finishing several things that I meant to do. And, Jace was not here with me last night to celebrate, since he and his dad share the same birthday. They had their plans last night, and he and I are celebrating his big day today, in addition to his first day in 5th grade.

Happy birthday to my son, Jace Nicholas, who so often just makes my day with his sweetness, his humor and his thoughtfulness. He spends some of his time with his dad each week, so I don't get to see him every single day; that's something I never planned on, when I held him in my arms as a baby and thought of him growing up. But life doesn't always turn out like we plan, and we have to make the best of what we do have.

And what I have is an awesome boy... someone who is growing up so fast but still wants to kiss and hug me each day... who is on the verge of liking all the cool music, tv shows, clothing styles and all those pre-adolescent things, but still has some stuffed animals (including a couple of mine from childhood) that he sleeps with at night... who can drive me CRAZY some days but still makes me want to hug him to pieces at bedtime as I kiss him good night and we say our prayers.

Happy birthday, honey. Looking forward to another great year for you, one that will fly by way too fast, just like the past 11 have... I love you!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Heeeere's Johnny! (Uh, who?)

As I was surfing the web via blackberry in bed this AM while hubby was already up and getting ready for work, an article caught my eye: For Class of '13, Times are a changin'.

If you've never seen the "College Freshman Mindset List" put out by Beloit College, it is very entertaining. Most students entering college for the first time in just a few weeks were born in the year 1991. Two Beloit professors have put out this annual list since 1998, as a cultural touchstone of just how quickly frames of reference change from generation to generation.

A quote from the MSNBC article: "This is not scientific research we're doing here, and some of the most important research you get is the blank stare," said Ron Nief, emeritus public affairs director and one of the co-creators of the list. "My favorite one, when you say 'Here's Johnny,' and they didn't know who Johnny Carson was."

For these incoming college freshman, (which includes my stepdaughter Paige), many of the following are a reality:
  1. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  2. They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.
  3. Miles Davis, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Gene Roddenberry and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
  4. Mike Tyson has always been a felon.
  5. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
  6. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves, and Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball. (I personally have no idea about these, just wanted to include them for my husband, my BILs and any other sports fans who might read my blog.)
  7. Ozzy Osborne has always been coming back.
  8. Keving Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
  9. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
  10. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
  11. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
  12. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P. (caveat: I would argue that this is not the case for all college freshman (including Paige!); only those who have not been well-raised by their parents!)
  13. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect. (I don't remember that, either, but I know it was the case when I was younger... But not in the last several years, for certain!)
  14. We have always watched wars, coups and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
  15. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.

Check out the article here, and it will give you a link to the full list of 75 items. Some of those are unbelievable, to think that this is the only reality these 18-year-olds have ever known. Is anyone besides me feelin' darn OLD!? The times, they ARE a-changin'.

Two of my faves were the one about the Green Giant/Shrek (remember the TV jingle? "Ho ho ho, Green Giant"), and the one about Freddie Mercury, et al. It reminded me of my youngest brother (age 22) this summer, when he had just heard Queen and Freddie Mercury for the first time, and thought that the classic music was "so cool".

Take a look at the full list and let me know...what were some of your favorites?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Guess What We're Doing This Weekend?

Nothing, nada, the big fat goose egg, zip, zilch, zero. And I'm ding dang darn excited about it, people!

Looking forward to enjoying some downtime with the kids, and watching Neil play in a baseball tournament Saturday night. Cleaning out the garage and doing some yard work are also on the agenda, but that's so low key, comparatively, to the last month's flurry of activities, it will actually be relaxing to do those chores. Cheers and TGIF to all!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boston, Cont'd: Fried Dough, Steamers and a Birthday Bash

We spent the second half of our trip to New England with Dave's family; we planned this trip around being there for his stepmother's 70th birthday party on Saturday, August 8th. On Friday we enjoyed a great day with Paige, as the three of us headed up the coast about an hour to Hampton Beach, Mass. Friday's trip also brought two New England traditions; now, if you already know about steamers and fried dough, then hey -- you are MILES ahead of me. If you aren't familiar with them, then stay tuned.

Before we headed up to Hampton, Paige and I had lunch with my Aunt Theresa, who lives in Chelmsford, Mass. It was wonderful to see her again, and to see my Uncle James as well. Aunt Theresa was the only sibling in my mother's family that moved far away from the midwest, and it has been nice to reconnect with her since Dave's family lives so close to her. (Of course I know my Aunt Mary, who regularly reads this blog, will remind me that I have now seen Aunt Theresa twice in just a few years - I definitely owe HER a visit in Iowa, soon!)

It was a beautiful day for the beach, the sky was filled with puffy white clouds and the breeze on the beach was balmy and not too hot. We walked up and down the beach in the surf, and enjoyed the weather and the people-watching.

Ah, see the jetty below, a trail of rocks that juts out several hundred yards out into the ocean? Looks like it would be so easy to get out where Paige and I are standing below, doesn't it? Like it would just a "hop, skip and a jump" out on these large boulders, all the way to the end.

Well, for some sure-footed people it probably would be. And that was the case with Paige, but NOT me. Good freakin' grief, this was not one of my more graceful adventures. Luckily I was sandwiched between her and Dave, so that they could help me navigate the large crevices between some of the rocks. See this below? Me, laboriously climbing down into the gaps? Not so much with Paige, who has been in cheer and tumbling for the last several years. She easily leapt from rock to rock like a little mountain goat (that's a compliment, Paige) and then would turn around to make sure I was doing ok, God love her. :)

Dave asked about halfway through if we wanted to turn around and go back, and I assured him that NO, this was like mountain climbing, you don't just stop halfway -- we were going for the summit. And, considering this was the most exercise we had on this vacation, it was probably a good thing that we did exert the energy to go all the way out to the end and back.

Before we left the beach and the boardwalk on Hampton, Dave said we just had to try the fried dough. Well, actually it was the "fried doe" or "fried dogh" as a couple of signs read; I was glad that the one we ended up at spelled it correctly, and Paige agreed. Dave just rolled his eyes at my spelling Nazi-ism.

Fried dough is what it sounds like -- think funnel cakes here in the Ozarks, but this is one big dinner plate-sized piece of dough that is deep fried and then covered with your choice of toppings - carmel, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar and several others. We all three split one, and it was yummy.

Dave's last stop down memory lane was at Brown's, a little restaurant on the beach that has been there for almost 60 years and is famous for its fried seafood and steamers. Steamers, or steamed clams, were what Dave was craving; he said he couldn't leave Mass without having some, and Brown's was "the" place to have them.

They were $12 for a quart (I think; it was about 30 of them) and it was quite the process. First you open the shell, peel the clam out and take off the membrane at the top of the neck. Then you dip it in steaming hot water to clean it off, and then finally in a cup of butter before popping it into your mouth.

I tried one, and that was all I needed. They must be an acquired taste; while I do like fried clams, this was just way too much texture for me, to put it politely. Paige was a trooper and ate about seven or eight, and I think she actually liked them fairly well.
We headed back to Dave's sister's house that evening, and spent the next few days with all of the family. It was especially nice for Paige to be there, since it has been three years since she has been to Boston, and her next few years will be very busy with college. She enjoyed spending time with Gail and Jr, Dave's parents, pictured below.

Dave's sisters worked very hard to put on a great party for Gail, with about 40 people in attendance. Several of Gail and Jr's friends from Florida (where they spend the winter) came to the party, as did some relatives from NY and NJ. It was a fun evening, with some great food and a yummy cake, as you can see from the picture of Paige and Dave below (nice blue frosting, guys!)

Now we're home, and while it was an awesome trip, I'm glad to be back. It was the longest time I've ever been gone from Jace, and I missed him lots. He had a good time with his dad and stepmom, and stayed busy with all his summertime activities, but I know he was glad for me to be home as well. I picked him up after dinner last night and we went for Andy's frozen custard and got caught up on everything.

I'm also back to work and getting caught up here; finishing typing this over my lunch hour, and now must get back to reading and following up on all the emails that came in while I was on vacation. I'll close with a big "Thank you!" to all of Dave's family, his friend Scott and other EMC friends, and my Aunt Theresa for showing us a great time while we were in New England, it was a blast!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Boston Trip: Day Five... well, Five, Six, Seven, blah blah blah.

I had to give up on my hope of being all organized and posting daily or even every other day -- just too much to do and not enough time to get the laptop out. The week has flown by, and now we're at Dave's sister's home in Leominster, MA. After spending Monday on Martha's Vineyard we then headed to Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape, on Tuesday. It was about 60 miles from where we were staying, and a nice mid-day ride in the convertible.

P-town, as it is called, is very quaint, and is well-known for the alternative lifestyle, kind of a Eureka Springs on the east coast. Lots of beautiful cottages, and neat stores, art galleries, and trendy eateries. We had lunch on the back porch of a restaurant, right on the beach. It certainly hasn't been a cheap trip as far as eating goes -- I think we have spent $40-50 on most evening meals, and even some lunches. Ack!

The Cape Cod beaches were beautiful, but the water was COLD! There were lots of people swimming, but we just walked in the water each time, no getting all the way in.

On Wednesday we left the Cape and headed to the waterfront in Boston, where we were staying Wednesday night. We spent the afternoon walking around the waterfront, went to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where we bought some t-shirts (and a green Boston ball cap with a red clover for me) to take home to the kids.

Then we ended the afternoon at the New England Aquarium which was absolutely beautiful and very interesting. I hope we will bring back Jace and Neil in the next few years to visit some of the city and surrounding areas.

Wednesday night we met up for drinks and dinner with Scott, a work colleague of Dave's, who lives in the Boston area. Dave and Scott have worked together via email and phone for the last few years but haven't met until now. They caught up over a few beers (and wine for me, of course) and we enjoyed a fun evening.

Paige was flying into Boston on Thursday afternoon, so we took a short half-day trip north of Boston to visit Salem and Gloucester. We didn't stay long in either place, but did see a few of the sights in both; I really wanted to see Gloucester and the memorial to the fishermen. First we drove through Salem; the picture below is one of the original houses that was there during the time of the Salem Witch Hunt. It was neat to see many of these buildings and know that they have been there for hundreds of years. The city hall in Salem is the second oldest city hall in the nation.

I remembered Gloucester from the movie The Perfect Storm, depicting the true story of a ship that went down in 1991. And now with the popularity of the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch series, we all have the opportunity to see the harrowing jobs of the fishermen on the crab boats.

But to be there in Gloucester and see the memorial itself was so touching, and really sobering, to see the thousands of fishermen who have lost their lives... some of the stats on the memorial behind Dave:

  • Men known to be lost at sea and honored here: 5,368
  • Of the nearly 1,000 ships lost, those lost with all hands: 265
  • Thousands of widows sturggled to survive and raise their children. Many of those fatherless children entered the trade of their lost fathers.
  • Between 1860-1906, a staggering 660 ships sank. Many of the fishermen were saved, 3,880 men were lost.
  • A single storm in 1862 claimed 15 schooners and 120 men, while another devastating storm in 1879 took the lives of 159 men.

On the bottom of the memorial is a verse from Psalms: They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. Psalms 107, 23-24.

This was one of my favorite places we have visited on our trip; I would've liked to have spent more time in Gloucester, but we had to head back to the city and get Paige, and start the second half of our vacation with Dave's family. We've already been here a couple of days, but I'll have to post more on that later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day Three Boston Trip: "Mah-tha's Vineyard"

Day Two and Three have flown by and I will tell about them in a bit, but just had to title today's post as such, since I've been kidding Dave about it for the last few weeks.

He's lived in the Ozarks for 25 years, and most of the time you really can't tell that he is from Boston. Occasionally a word will creep in here and there, but overall he really doesn't have his "Bah-ston" accent anymore. However this is one word where you can just tell he is from the Northeast. He's tired of me ribbing him about it whenever we have been talking to friends about our upcoming trip: "C'mon, just tell them where we're going while we're on Cape Cod, just tell them!"...

Anyway, our trip to Martha's Vineyard was yesterday, and it was neat to see but we didn't end up spending all day there - headed back on the 3:45pm ferry. Here are a few pics:

We took the ferry over to MV and landed in Oak Bluffs, one of the four main towns on the island. We had to laugh when we saw the Nancy's restaurant - we asked someone who worked at the bar outside when the actual restaurant opened and her reply was "Oh, we usually open around 11ish"... sounds like the concept of "island time" isn't just in the tropics, huh?

Here's a shirt we saw while in Oak Bluffs... liked it enough to get a pic of it, but didn't really think I needed another T-shirt.

The annoying part of the day was the bus transportation all over the island. It was hot, sticky, crammed full of people and just plain uncomfortable. Especially when we really would've liked to rent a Jeep or a motorcycle for the day. But that would've meant spending $100-$180, and we had agreed that we are going to stay within our budget on this trip. The old Dave/Nancy would've just plunked that $$ down and enjoyed the heck out of the day. But we have been "acting our wage" (with Dave Ramsey, for those of you who know about him... I will post more on it after vacation) and to spend an additional $100+ was not something we were going to allow ourselves to do.

We both agreed after a few hours that we were ready to head back to the Cape, even though our original plan had been to eat dinner on MV and catch the 7pm ferry back. As we arrived on the bus back to Oak Bluffs, the driver pointed out the big white tents that were set up on the beautiful lawn area near the ferry. She said it was a "Celebrity Dream Auction" that started at 4pm, and there would be all kinds of celebs there - Michael J Fox and family, Ted Danson and Mary Steemburgen, and a few more she mentioned. I considered for a second if we should stay, since I had mused to Dave on our way there that "maybe we would see some famous people". But it just wasn't worth the wait, I was ready to get back to our B&B and a nice shower and comfy bed for a late afternoon nap.

I will have to post the Day Two pics and write more later. I've been on the computer for three hours, and the first two were on the pesky budget. It is amazing- no matter WHEN I take vacation in the summer, it seems that more often than not that is the week that budget adjustments are due!

More soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Boston Trip: Day One

We are here in Cape Cod, Mass and are already on Vacation, Day Two. But I have to catch the blog up on all the pre-vacay stuff first!

I was very surprised and happy that Jace did have a ballgame on Thursday night, despite the rain we had Wednesday night and Thursday morning. So I was able to be at their game, and it was an awesome one to see. I arrived a bit late, and Jace's team, the Dodgers, was up to bat but already feeling stressed, as the other team, the Rockies, had led off batting and were up five runs already. The Dodgers didn't fare so well on batting, either, and all of us parents commented that we could really tell they were stressed and tense. This was the game that would determine if the Dodgers would go to the World Series of their baseball league, so it wasn't surprising that they were stressed.

When the Dodgers went back to the field, the same pitcher started the second inning, but was just having a bad night, and kept walking the Rockies batters. So Coach Tom put Jace in to pitch. As a mom, I was worried for him, because sometimes he can really let the stress get to him even in the normal games, much less one like this game. But he was AWESOME! Calm and focused, he pitched the rest of the game, and after a nail-biting extra (fifth)inning, the Dodgers came back to WIN! I was so proud of Jace and their whole team! I missed the World Series game on Friday night, but he called me afterwards, and they won the World Series too. Yay!

After Jace's game was over, we hurried home to hang out with Dave, Paige and Paige's friend Taylor, who was in visiting for a few days from Dallas, TX. He is a sweetie, and I can see why he and Paige get along so well. We all just sat and talked for awhile after dinner for a couple of hours. Then they headed back to Paige's house, to continue on with their busy four days. She had a lot planned for them to do, I know she was happy to have him visit and meet her family and friends.

Dave and I started our trip out right on Friday night, with our friends Garry and Heather in KC. Our flight left out of KC Saturday morning at 6AM, so we were glad to stay with them Friday night and only have a ten minute trip to the airport in the morning. I brought the spaghetti sauce Dave had fixed for our dinner with Paige on Thursday night, so we treated Garry and Heather to a bruschetta appetizer and pasta dinner on Friday night, as a thank-you for letting us crash with them.

We are excited that we will be seeing more of them over the next few years, since Paige will be going to college just 20 minutes away from their home. It will make the visits to see Paige twice as nice, with friends there as well!

Our flight on Saturday was early, but the upside to that was that we arrived in Boston by 10 AM. As our luggage came off the carousel, Dave joked that we won the prize because our big suitcase was the very first one out. Then we waited, and waited, and waited for our second suitcase with all of our toiletries in it. When they turned the carousel off and it hadn't showed up, I knew we were in trouble. One of the luggage guys came in to the area and said that there were five pieces of luggage that hadn't made it on our flight, and they would be on a later flight. Well, crap. We made arrangements for it to be delivered to our B&B on Cape Cod, and just hoped for the best.

We left Boston and headed south in our rental car, which is a Mustang convertible -- what a sweet car!!

Traffic was crazy, and it took about two hours to get to the Cape, but it was an enjoyable ride, although not so good on the hairstyle:

We stopped in Plymouth, Mass on the way to Cape Cod, to see Plymouth Rock and the harbor. Plymouth Rock is, well, just a rock. Although what more would one expect, I guess -- the Pilgrims used it as a step off of the Mayflower, so I guess it wouldn't be anything spectacular. The harbor was beautiful, and there was a replica of the Mayflower there; it was the actual size of the original boat, and much smaller than you would think, for the number of Pilgrims that made the voyage on it from England to America. We didn't go on the tour inside the boat, I hope that we can come back with Jace in a couple years and take him to see some of these same things.

We made it to Cape and our B&B about 4pm yesterday, and are preparing to start Day Two today. Will post more tonight, time to go enjoy the beautiful weather and a walk on the beach.