Dinosaurs, Nature and Myths, Oh, My! – WW

Today I am participating in Wordful / Wordless Wednesday with ParentingBYDummies.

We just got back from vacation – sort of.

The Ranger had meetings in Atlanta last week. The girls had Spring Break. We all went to Atlanta. ROAD TRIP!

The girls and I had a vacation. The Ranger had to work.

We’ve done this before. It is rather bittersweet. It would be great, if not for the fact that the Ranger has scruples and won’t play hookey. He goes to work, and we go to play. It’s not quite fair, but we played anyways!

One of the reasons we were fabulously happy with our hotel was because in addition to a free continental breakfast, they offered a free shuttle to their guests (aka, ME!). They would drive us anywhere we wanted to go within 3 miles of the hotel in downtown Atlanta (aka, pretty much everywhere we wanted to go!). This made the Ranger very happy. My driving is the stuff of urban legend (I did pay for that hole I put in the DMV building) and he was more than a little concerned over the idea of me driving the progeny around an unfamiliar city.

Except they didn’t go quite everywhere we wanted / NEEDED to go. They didn’t go to the place Big just HAD to go! They didn’t go to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. You see, Big wants to be either a Paleontologist or Archeologist. This has been her goal in life for about as long as I can remember (except those couple of months when she wanted to be a comedian pizza maker). They wouldn’t drive us to the joint with the dinosaurs.

I called my Daddy.

“You could have just called her phone,” he said. He assumed I was calling his phone to talk to my Mama. He was mistaken.

“She would have told me to stay put and I need an enabler here,” I told him. I was planning to make this trek across the wilds of Atlanta and I needed someone to push me out of the nest. Daddy probably wasn’t the best choice…he knows my driving record…but he’s always supportive. He suggested a cab. He suggested a bus. He finally gave me that push I needed to gather my courage and my Google map, children, camera and head out the door for Suki my Suzuki.

It was only 4.2 miles, but it might as well have been the other side of the moon! I drove toward uptown, turned onto Ponce de Leon. I’m not thinking that I would have gone walking after dark on parts of Ponce de Leon, but it eventually turned to large lawns and green spaces as we approached the Fernbank Museum.

That place was well worth the guts and drive.

They had some pretty cool dinosaurs.

There was an exhibit on Mythology.

There was a new exhibit to expose children to nature in a hands-on “play” environment.

There was a “Science as Nature” exhibit that allowed children to do small experiments to help them understand phenomena in nature.

There was a Dippin’ Dots machine. (Sorry, no picture).

Then, there was the drive back! ACK! I not only managed to get us back to the hotel (without even having to circle a block to go back to the street I needed to turn onto), I managed to get us back to the hotel before the Ranger got back from his meetings! Yeah, Me!

If you are ever in Atlanta, I highly recommend that you make the trip to the Fernbank (even if your hotel shuttle doesn’t take you there).

Thanks for enabling me, Daddy!

And, look, Ranger, Honey, not even a scratch on the car!


Road Trip!

So I learned how to road trip from the pro’s – my Mama and Daddy.

As long as I can remember we were packing up several times a year for camping trips, at first in tents and later with the camper du jour. I don’t remember much of the tent camping years other than being damp. Did I mention I grew up in WESTERN Washington? It rains a LOT in Western Washington.

Baker Lake was a tent camping place I remember. Do you know what I remember? ROAD TRIP! Ross Lake – ROAD TRIP!

Then came the camping trailer years; do you know what I remember? ROAD TRIP! Alta Lake – ROAD TRIP! Sun Lakes – ROAD TRIP! Yellowstone – ROAD TRIP! Glacier National Park – ROAD TRIP! Edmonton, Alberta – ROAD TRIP! Oregon Coast – ROAD TRIP! Disneyland – Magical ROAD TRIP! You get the idea.

My Daddy could easily have been a long haul driver if he hadn’t been an engineer.

We would spend all evening helping Mama pack up the camper / car while Daddy went to bed to sleep. After we finished packing, usually around 2 a.m. we would climb in the car and go to sleep. We would wake up somewhere down I-5. We would stop somewhere for a bathroom break. We would stop for the night sometime around dark (if we were heading out of the state). I seem to recall a rest stop just inside the Montana border once.

Now, the Ranger would probably say I take after my Daddy. I have made the 14 hour drive from PA to TN without blinking. (Okay, I’m willing to admit I was soooo tired the next day).

So how do I road trip?

Well, I plan. SURPRISE!

I plan out every turn, every rest area; every gas station.

I plan a snack bag, kid entertainment, music / audio books.

I plan EXACTLY how long it is going to take me to get from Point A to Point B. And, you better get out of my way!

I plan it out, but it doesn’t always happen that way. You see, I’m a “Gotta get where I’m going…NOW, NOW, NOW!” The Ranger is a, “Don’t worry, we’ll get there. It’s not going anywhere.”

We balance each other out fairly well.

In the last two years we have traveled as a 2-car caravan several times.

I can still picture my Daddy talking to his friends Mike and Dave on the CB – “This is Front Door, Back Door you got your ears on?” Front Door, Back Door and Rocking Chair driving in between. ROAD TRIP! (sorry, I digress)…

In our little caravan, I AM Front Door. I HAVE to be Front Door! Did I mention I am a control freak?

The Ranger follows behind as I navigate through Lexington, KY. He follows behind, shaking his head, while I have us turn around in a parking lot to go back a few blocks to the turn we should have taken. I have an uncanny ability to get us wherever we are going; we just usually have to turn around once.

The Ranger follows behind as I navigate down whatever freeway / parkway we are on. He follows behind, shaking his head while I slow down long enough to pass the police officer watching for speeders. I don’t Really speed. But he likes to point out that the speed limit is NOT a suggestion. (My driving abilities or lack thereof, are not the subject here, so I’ll put that story off for another day).

We didn’t road trip much in PA, but I foresee many road trips ahead in our future.

How do you road trip?

p.s. Hey, Daddy…go that way!

Something Looks Fishy – WW

Today I am participating with Wordful / Wordless Wednesday with Parenting BY Dummies. This particular post is a bit of both – maybe not as wordy as most of my wordfuls, but definitely not wordless.

The other day we got the chance to visit the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. (Atlanta is a WHOLE other story that I’ll get into on a different post.)

Anywho, to put it bluntly, it was FABULOUS! The aquarium was open extended hours to the public the week we were visiting because they were previewing a new dolphin show for members (we didn’t get to see it). We decided to wait for the Ranger to finish his training for the day so we could all go together. It was well worth the wait. There was a definite build up of anticipation from the kids, “We’re going when Daddy gets back, right?”

By the time we got to the aquarium it was 6 p.m. and all the school field trips had departed for the day. It was really nice. The place was almost empty, except for the couple hundred people hanging out in a que-ing area waiting for the dolphin show.

Our own private aquarium.

There was no pushing or “I can’t see” from the peanut gallery. There was no hurry up so someone else gets a turn. There was no shoving, and no screeching. It was nice. It was peaceful. It was awe inspiring. I’m going to try to give you some peace while looking at the pictures.

“Who lives in the pineapple under the sea?” Ummm, Sissy, SpongeBob isn’t real and this isn’t a real sea.

I love this picture – The future scientist showing off her fish knowledge to her Baby Sissy.

What the view of the Amazon River would be from below.

The Ranger’s favorite “guest” in this aquarium. No matter where we stood in this exhibit, and it was huge, this fish would find him.

“Hey, Mama, how do they put saddles on Sea Horses?”

Honey, I think this Japanese Spider Crab is missing a leg. “Oh, Poor Crab! I hope you feel better soon!” Baby.

“You know there isn’t really any Jelly or peanut butter in Jelly Fish, right Mama?” Big.


Dang if that fish didn’t find us one last time before we left!

Jello-shot Epiphanies

So, in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been posting as much in the last couple of weeks. I’ve got lots of excuses, but in general the problem has been that I’ve just gotten really busy. SOOOOO, I asked a friend if she’d like to help me out with a post. She doesn’t have her own blog, so I can’t give you a link.

But, this is a person who can always make me laugh and smile. She makes me WANT to shake of those Goody-Two Shoes that are perpetually glued to my feet and get into trouble! I have good influence friends and not-so-good influence friends and Denise is definitely a not-so-good influence friend. But she’s soooo much fun!

I met Denise years ago when I was working for the local newspapers and she’s been a great friend over the years. She’s also a wonderful writer. She usually writes fiction, but is going non-fiction just for me!

Thanks, Chica!

BTW, I’ve always wanted to try Jello-shots…maybe I will sometime…

Let me know if you like what you are reading, ’cause I’m trying to talk her into starting a blog of her own! So, without further ado…

Jello-shot epiphanies

I must have one of those quirky metabolisms that can not only fuel itself with alcohol, but actually craves it. I mean, I thrive on the stuff. Now, that’s not to say that I’m one bender away from joining AA, but suffice it to say, when I’m on a tear, things get torn.

I also like to think that I come to some really profound conclusions while giving my body Vitamin “A”lcohol. Some that I’d like to share with in in the most un-Charlie Sheen-ish way possible:

  1. Ingesting whiskey with Jello is just good nutrition. Even if it does turn your tongue green, it’s like having dinner with a drink. So you’re running about equal parts dinner and drink, but that’s called balance.


  2. In March, there’s a little Irish in all of us. Or else we want a little Irish in us…that’s always confused me. Regardless, I am a little Irish, birthed from the Vikings who took Irish lasses as wives, and I was raised to be fierce. So whatever works for you in that little scenario, feel free to use.


  3. Just because I can’t turn away from the train wreck, doesn’t mean I want to get involved with it. This one is pretty self-explanatory. By all means, give me the dirt, tell me where to look and what I should be seeing when I do. Tell me all the gruesome details…the more the better. However, don’t ask me to get involved. I’m not the one to be the peacemaker or (God forbid!) the Moral Compass. No, I’m no one’s moral compass. I shudder even thinking that. I’m merely an observer of the stage. Not. A. Participant.


  4. Hot girls most certainly do wear glasses. And if you’re hot and not wearing glasses, you’re just selling yourself short. I don’t care, get a pair of readers, steal a pair of the try-ons at the WalMart Vision Center. Get yourself a pair of glasses and live to your hotness potential.


  5. I am way smarter than I give myself credit for. This is a good epiphany to end on. Alcohol gives me leave to realize my full potential. It liberates me and makes me understand that I am, without a doubt, nothing short of genius. My genius flows through in wit and sarcasm and humor beyond compare. I am effervescent in my charm and coyness.

So there you have it. Jello shot epiphanies. Use the knowledge, don’t abuse the alcohol and for god’s sake, use your toothbrush on your tongue the next morning!

Why I’m a Mean Mama

I’m a mean Mama. I’m a really mean Mama.

Either that of Baby is REALLY gullible.

Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

Why am I so mean? Why is Baby so gullible?

I’m going to blame my Bubba. When I was growing up in a double-wide mobile home my Bubba told me that my parents were going to put a bookshelf or closet where the door to my bedroom was. When I asked how I was supposed to get in and out of my room he replied, “Through the window.” I believed him. I sobbed. My parents were going to make me climb in and out of my bedroom through a window! I was a teenager. I should have known better. They still get me every now and again. I’m a bit gullible. I have since learned to play the game.

So, here we are in Tennessee and I’ve been a bit bored Abigail was asking about her cat, Hazel.

Hazel is an outside cat. She is an idiot lives on our back porch and back yard. When we first brought Hazel to this house she would disappear during the day to explore the neighborhood. I would see her in the morning when I would feed her; she would be gone exploring when the kids got home from school. After a week of this Abigail was getting worried. She wanted to be sure Hazel was okay.

So, one day I saw this cat eating at Hazel’s dish …

… and I called, “Baby, come quick! Hazel’s outside eating!”

Baby came running, saw this other cat and burst into tears!

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“My cat got all fat and fuzzy!”

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

“I don’t want my cat to get all fat and fuzzy!”

Never in a million years did I think she would believe this cat…

… was this cat.

It took me a bit to convince her that I was teasing. I got lucky and Hazel decided to stop by her own porch again right at that moment.

“Why did you do that, Mama? Did you just want to make me cry!”

Yes. I’m a mean, mean Mama. Gimme a break!

Is gullible hereditary?

How I Deal with Hormonal Hannah

The world was quiet; then we had Big. The world got a bit louder.

Big was the sweetest baby! Not really fussy. Not really cranky.

Then she hit 2 and we were ready for those Terrible 2’s! They just didn’t happen.

Big was still a sweet, sweet little girl-child.

We were warned about the 2’s, but someone forgot to mention the 3’s and what came after!

Oh, my the 3’s! A bit louder, got a whole lot LOUDER!

“We” started to cop and attitude. “We” started to get demanding. “We” developed a definite temper! “We” were still kinda sweet, but in a temperamental kind of way.

Today I was dreaming of those sweet days as we were standing in the middle of a store where my now 10-yr old Big was throwing a temper tantrum. Big has a new name – Hormonal Hannah. The temper flares, the tears start, the stubbornness becomes unbearable. I swear she starts growling, her eyes start glowing  and her head starts spinning! Then about 10-15 minutes later she’s in tears and trying to love up to you with apologies. I just hold her close and tell her that I love her.

I’ll swear I was never that bad, but I’m sure my parents will disagree. So, here’s my top 10 ideas on how to deal with Hormonal Hannah over the next couple of years:

  1. Send her to live with her grandparents! (I figure if they’ve lived through this stage once, they can do it again! And, they are the ones who put the “Mother’s Curse” on me – they both hoped I had children who were just like I was at that age. They failed to take into consideration my poor husband).
  2. Send her to live with any number of aunts and uncles who have all survived kids in their pre-teen years! (They’ve done it once, they can do it again).
  3. Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. (For me! I might share if she’s lucky).
  4. Ear plugs. (Maybe if I can’t hear her screeching, I can imagine she’s still that sweet little baby girl).
  5. More ear plugs. (This time for the Ranger. If he can’t hear Big screech at me and me holler back, he can imagine his family is still sane).
  6. Arts and crafts supplies. (Maybe I can channel that frustration into art that she can sell to pay for college).
  7. Teach her to bake. (Same idea as #6, except we’ll eat better).
  8. Convent life. (This is probably the Ranger’s favorite idea. Send her to the nuns until she’s ready for college).
  9. Love her even when her head spins, eyes glow and she’s growling ’cause she’s the victim of the “Mother’s Curse” which when I think about it really isn’t all that bad after all, I’m FABULOUS! Just ask me!
  10.  Brace myself for Round 2. Did you remember that I have 2 – girl children? I did.

Providence Man, Divine Providence

Today I am participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop with the topic of “What would it take for you to pick up and move?”

What would it take for me to pick up and move? One word – LOVE!

I have, in fact, done this not once but twice! (Same person both times)

Most of you know that I have recently picked up and moved with my family to Tennessee? Why? Because the Ranger’s job brought us here; and I LOVE him so I decided to go with him (and the kids).

But do you know how I ended up picking up my life and moving to Pennsylvania in the first place? No? Well you will if you keep reading!

I am a firm believer in Divine Providence. Things happen for a reason. When a door closes a window opens – the whole SHEBANG!

So, there I am getting ready to graduate from college, fresh out of a long term relationship and just needing to get the HE-double hockey sticks out of Dodge and there it was – a flyer for an internship program in Pennsylvania. What the heck! I applied! The next week I took a friend into the department to show her the flyer and it was gone. Huh? Providence man, Divine Providence.

So, certain things needed to happen for this internship to work for me –

 1. I needed to come up with airfare to Pennsylvania and

2. I needed somewhere to live – FREE!

I was interviewed for one or two positions, then on the final day of interviews I got lucky and got a call that offered not only the internship but this particular location had a person who volunteered free room and board. This wonderful woman not only provided me with a place to live for the summer, but she also provided me with meals and drove me to and from work every day! Providence man, Divine Providence.

My parents provided me with the plane ticket as a graduation gift on the condition that I didn’t fall in love, get married and move to Pennsylvania. I figure I was a bit of a goody, two-shoes as a teenager and my parents got off easy, so I was bound to rebel eventually and my mid-20’s seemed as good a time as any!

The first weekend I was in Pennsylvania I ended up doing visitor surveys at the top of the Johnstown Inclined Plane. This duty was not in the original job description I had been given; I found out that it was a part of the overall internship program. Providence man, Divine Providence.

It was at the top of this local attraction that I noticed a cutie pie in a Smokey hat. He was cruisin’ with a bus. He was giving National Park Service tours of the Grandview Cemetery. His pick-up line was, “Hey, Baby, wanna go on a tour of a graveyard?” (Not really, but pretty close). He was cute. I was tempted. But, ever the goody, two-shoes I stayed to finish my surveys. I really regretted that.

The next weekend my roommate was doing similar surveys at a local national park and sees him! Providence man, Divine Providence. She gave MY phone number to the bookstore clerk to pass on to this guy! I was MORTIFIED! I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship. I was only there for 3 months. I’m just not a fling kind of girl! (Please see definition of goody, two-shoes).

He called! ACK! I thought he was awful cute in that uniform. He brought me lunch at work and looked awful cute in his street clothes. He was awful smart. He had wire rimmed glasses. He had the most beautiful eyes. He had a killer sense of humor. He brought me flowers. I was hooked. We dated all summer.

In September I went home to Washington to start graduate school. My parents knew trouble was in the air when I stepped on the airplane holding a bridal magazine I had picked up on a layover in Pittsburgh.

The Ranger called me every night at 8 p.m. I was living at home and my parents had to get call waiting. My brother called every night at 8:03 ’cause he knew I would get in trouble if I skipped a call waiting beep. The poor Ranger had a horrific phone bill!

We planned for him to visit at Christmas. The world plotted against us. His dad had a heart attack just before the holidays and Western Washington had “Snowmageddon 1996”. He barely made it to the airport to take off and we barely made it to the airport to pick him up. But, Providence man, Divine Providence!

We were engaged on New Year’ Eve 1996 (somewhere around midnight while watching Shag). We were married Easter Saturday 1998. A long-ish engagement I know, but my Daddy had requested at least a 1 year engagement and since he was the one with the checkbook I said, “Okay!” After the wedding I packed up my cat, my hope chest and my knickknacks and moved to Pennsylvania. It’s been nearly 15 years since we met, and I don’t regret anything! I would do it again in a heartbeat! I would follow this man to the ends of the earth.

I sure LOVE my Ranger Man!

I spent the entire summer of 1996 cataloging 26,486 shards of glass, broken pottery pieces and rusty nails that had been dug out of a garden in Cambria City for the Johnstown Area Heritage Association, and all I got for it was $300 and a husband!

*Not a lot of pictures I know, but, hey, the Ranger is kinda shy.