We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

You Know I Like My Chicken Fried...

I've blogged on more than one occasion about my great-Aunt's house in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
And how my mom's side of the family loves a get together-- so we have reunions at least every other year. Most of our reunions are here-- in the backyard of my great-Aunt's house. We come from all over-- Ohio, Tennessee, South Carolina, other parts of Kentucky. We park on the grass.
We eat lots of fried chicken (thanks to my mom's cousin who owns a Lee's franchise). We eat lots of other food too. We laugh.
We sit on porch swings.
We rock babies on porch swings.
We quietly remember the one no longer with us who should be sitting right in the middle.
We blow bubbles.
We still find entertainment on the big tricycle.
We welcome back family that's been living in New Zealand for the past year.
We crowd onto that big ol' porch for a picture because goshdarnit that rain will NOT stop us from that big family photo.
And we still look like this after 8+ hours of fried food and cheesy food and chocolate-y food and rain showers and wet kids and sticky babies and messiness and conversations about everything and conversations about nothing.

We leave with a "Y'all come back now," plans for the next reunion (Myrtle Beach, next summer, that's the rumor anyway), and a renewed sense of what it is to be "family."

One generation melts smoothly into the next (I've been coming to this house for reunions since I was kid). The same stories are repeated and new ones are added. Sweet tea is consumed in mass quantities. All because over 8 decades ago, Great-Grandma Nellie gave birth to three beautiful girls (each 2 years apart) who turned into wonderful women who shared the value of family and who make the reunion possible each time.
(Nellie Meimann-- my great grandmother, with her three daughters circa late 1980s)

~Melody :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Come Fly With Me!

Believe it or not, in the 7 years I've lived in Cincinnati (+ the 4 I spent in Oxford at Miami), I've never made the trek to the Air Force Museum in nearby Dayton. It's not that I haven't wanted to go-- I have. I've just never planned the trip. So when some friends called us and asked if we wanted to join them for the day, we decided to go.

So...there's an Air Force base in Dayton. And there's an Air Force Museum there. With free admission. It's housed in 3 large hangars and there are literally dozens of planes to see. Most of them are military planes. I was a little apprehensive when we first got there and feared that Cate would be overwhelmed and/or bored. Thankfully, she had fun running around from plane to plane with the other kids. I realize her face above is not one of happiness, but she didn't want me to take her picture. Even Brennan enjoyed having so much to look at. With Cate bouncing around from plane to plane, there wasn't a whole lot of time to actually stop and read about them. And there are several planes whose histories I'd like to read up on. The museum houses the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, for example. One of the planes (from the Korean war, I think) was open so that you could walk through it. Cate loved that!
My favorite part was the small exhibit they had about the Holocaust. I teach the novel, Night, every year and throw in quite a bit of Holocaust/WW2 history with it. This section at the museum primarily focused on the concentration camps being liberated by American soldiers, but they had some interesting artifacts, like one of the Star of David patches that Jewish Germans had to sew on their clothing. Eric's favorite part was the space section, where they house several old Nasa rockets. He's kind of a space geek and went to space camp as a kid. He had fun telling Cate about the different rockets and lunar modules. With the recent end to the shuttle program, we're both very curious to see where the space program goes in the coming years.

It's pretty safe to say we'll be going back. I saw quite a few little boys that were enamored by the planes and I'm sure Brennan will be too in a few years. I'd like to spend a little more time reading about the different displays too. Somehow I missed the B-17 bomber they have there. My grandfather worked on them in Italy and Africa during WW2, so I definitely want to go back to see that.

If you're ever in the area, check it out! It's a great place to spend a day. And since it's air-conditioned, we were able to beat the heat!

~Melody :-)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Children's Museum-- Now Twice As Fun

Someone started sitting up on Tuesday. All by himself.
It's been wicked hot here. Like 95-100 degrees (add in the humidity and the head index reads at 110). Cate does okay in the heat if we're out swimming or if she's got a big bottle of water. Brennan is a different story. For his safety, we've only been outside with him for 90 minutes or less at a time (that's consecutive time spent outside, like at the pool or park or something). My mom works for the school district I graduated from and is on summer vacation, so she's been spending a lot of time down here. To beat the heat one day this week, we headed to the Children's Museum. My mom hadn't been there before. Cate was excited to show her how she plays vet in the animal hospital playroom. We were at the museum pretty much all day. Now that Brennan can sit unassisted, he has a lot more fun there. There are so many more things for him to play with now.
We also discovered a sand play area that I never knew existed. Our Children's Museum is housed in a building with two other museums (a history of Cincinnati Museum and a Natural History Museum) and an Omnimax Theater. The sand play area is actually tucked away in the Natural History Museum.
It's much better than the sand table in the Children's Museum. I have to say, it was nice to stick my toes in the sand for a little while-- even if it was only play sand indoors and not beach sand. We're already plotting our beach vacation next year and we're hoping to spend two wonderful weeks there.

~Melody :-)

PS...Today, my little man is 7 months old! The pictures above are all from Tuesday. A 7 month picture will be coming soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Don't Blink

I remember when my cousin, Stephen, was born. It was the summer in between 4th and 5th grade. Babies fascinated me and I grabbed any chance I could to hold anyone's baby. This weekend, that baby boy that fascinated me 19 years ago held my baby boy as we celebrated Stephen's graduation from high school. And 18 years from now, when we celebrate Brennan's high school graduation and Stephen has kids of his own, I'll look back on this weekend and wonder where the time went. In fact, on Sunday, we celebrated the opposite end of the schooling spectrum when we went to Cate's preschool to meet her teachers and classmates for this coming school year.

The Kenny Chesney song, Don't Blink, appropriately comes to mind.
Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your "better half"
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you're praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend, a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink
I've really been making a conscious effort lately to be "in the moment" or simply "present." I used to be one who analyzed the past in order to better my future. And while it's important to learn from past mistakes lest you repeat them, I also think it's important to not dwell on moments gone by or yet to come so much that your focus on the present gets blurred.

Because spending too much time in any time but the present one might mean you'll blink and miss it all. And I don't want to miss it. ~Melody :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lucky 7

Sunday marked our 7th wedding anniversary. And can I just say, I really, really do love my husband more with each year we are married. He is an amazing man!

Last Thursday, we decided that since we were coming up on 7 years of marriage, it was high time that we bought a real dining room table (one that could seat more people and on which you could keep the food being served-- y'know, passing the dishes and all). We also decided it was high time to buy something to display the china in that we got 7 years ago for our wedding. So we headed to Ikea. And after a little bit of sweat, but no blood or tears, we now have this:

The table seats 8 right now, but has two leaves and could comfortably seat 12. One side is a bench, which Cate loves. I love the china cabinet and the fact that our china is actually out of the boxes!

On Saturday, we spent some time as a family at the City Flea (a once a month summer flea market downtown). Calling it a flea market really isn't fair as flea market sometimes denotes "crap" or "junk." There were vendors selling vintage and new goods as well as handmade items. Cate got a pair of Son of Gustav moccasins (she LOVES them) and a little hand-sewn bird. She picked a pair to match Brennan's, which means Brennan will inherit them in a few years. We found Brennan a vintage shirt for next summer (can't wait to pair it with khakis) and his own moccasins.

Saturday night, Eric's parents watched the kids so Eric and I could head to dinner at The Melting Pot. I'd never been, but my IRL friend, Mama Marchand, talks about it a lot and goes there with her husband to celebrate special things, so we thought we'd give it a try. It. Was. Amazing. We had a four-course fondue meal and I came home STUFFED. Eric even mentioned it was our anniversary when he made the reservations and they put flowers on our table that I got to take home.

We picked Brennan up since I wasn't quite ready to leave him overnight yet, and Cate stayed with her grandparents. Sunday, our actual anniversary, was pretty lazy. Eric got donuts and coffee and a Sunday times and we lounged around on the back patio before going to get Cate.
Cate went to bed early and Eric cooked a great shrimp/pasta dish which we ate on our china.
It was a dish he made for me on our first Valentine's Day together. We were in college and on our way to what I thought was a restaurant. Halfway there, Eric said "Oh, crap, I forgot my wallet at home." I offered to pay so we could keep going, but he insisted on turning around to get it. Little did I know that dinner was waiting for me back at his apartment and his awesome roommate had lit about 100 candles in the short time we'd been driving and then vacated the apartment while we ate. So the dish brought back memories.

And I have to mention this too:
This is Eric's anniversary gift-- a leather cuff bracelet from Lisa Leonard designs with our kids' birthdates on it. I love it. He loves it. I don't have a picture, but I got Brennan's fingerprint on a silver heart to match one I have for Cate. So now I have a necklace with two heart charms-- one with each kids' fingerprint.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate seven years. We also did a little bit of dreaming and decided that we'll celebrate years 8 and 9 quietly because barring a major financial crisis, we plan to spend our 10th anniversary here. Hopefully, in one of the awesome swim-up rooms. We've started saving for it already.

I can only hope we have so many more years together. These first seven have been great. We've had our share of ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

~Melody :-)
PS... Some of my formatting got messed up. Sorry. Don't know why some stuff is underlined and everything and I don't have the time to mess around with it to fix it. :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Alpaca Encounter

When we visited my parents over the 4th of July weekend, my sister took Cate on a fun expedition. Catherine's friend from high school lives on an alpaca farm. Hudson isn't a rural community, but there are a few farms still thriving.Cate loved getting to see the alpacas and feeding them treats.
She thought it especially funny when "Aunt C" kissed a llama. Domino, the one and only llama on the farm, is a close cousin to the alpacas.
The family that owns the farm raises them for their wool-- which makes great yarn (I even got a couple of balls of alpaca yarn while visiting, which I intend to use to make a winter hat for Brennan). They had recently been sheared.
We're hoping to go back to see the alpacas next time we visit Hudson. The day we were there, there were several mama alpacas within a week or so of giving birth. So we want to go back and check out those babies. This four month old one was pretty cute though:
My animal-lovin' girl loved those alpacas. I think she'd be in heaven if we ever moved to a farm-- which we'd never do because keeping up with our small house, small yard, 2 children, dog, cat, and fish is quite enough thank you.
But we can visit often. Cate made another friend at the farm too-- Ravenna, the barn cat. Thanks to Sam and family for letting us visit with your alpacas! You made Cate's day!

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Red, White, and Cute-Ness

A few weeks ago, we were planning to stay in town for the fourth because Eric was scheduled to staff a workout on Saturday, July 2nd. But since, y'know, he's not working now and all, we decided to go ahead and slip away to my parents' house for the weekend.

My hometown shoots off fireworks a couple of days before the actual 4th (since the bigger cities of Akron and Cleveland both have firework displays on the holiday). A park less than half a mile from my parents' house plays host to the display, so Saturday night we walked up the street and sat and watched fireworks. I thought Brennan would be freaked out, but he just sat and watched them, mesmerized.Bonus-- we ran into my IRL friend, Ms. Rose, whose parents live a street away from mine. They had walked up to the fireworks too! Ms. Rose has been kickin' some weight-loss butt and looked fabulous!

The rest of our weekend was spent being lazy, going on a date with my husband, doing a little shopping at Ann Taylor Loft (they were having a great sale and my dairy cow duties for Brennan have necessitated a few more forgiving tops to start the school year next month), and just being together. Bonus 2-- we took a walk one night and stopped by another friend from high school's parents' house. She was visiting with her just-turned-one daughter. It was great to see Katie and meet Alexandra. I don't think I've seen Katie since one of the summers we were both home from college.

Anyway, on the actual fourth, we donned our red, white, and blue and walked around downtown Hudson. Most of the shops were closed, but I happened to have my camera with me and an impromptu photo shoot ensued. I'm not a pro by any means, but I think these turned out quite well. In fact, the one of our whole family is getting blown up for our living room (hopefully I can Photoshop the people out of the background, but if not, no big deal). Enjoy the cute-ness!

~Melody :-)