We were so busy this weekend that I actually thought to myself "if we can just survive 'til Monday...." which is all sorts of ridiculous, as when has May ever been a respite of calm in this house? HA. Ready, set....
Saturn V rocket engines at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL
As is custom here, I like to make a list of All the Things That Happened in May for future reference and comparison... the rocket thruster thingies seem like a wildly appropriate metaphor. I honestly don't know how 31 days can always be so packed full of stuff, but the evidence doesn't lie. As usual, it's mostly fun stuff! Enough fun stuff to distract from the less fun stuff, at least most of the time. Here's the list:
+ The month began and ended with a mad dash to Huntsville for an overnight stay (first visit to stay with my copy editor Jenny Webb and her family/pick up Angie and Keira who stayed there for a few days prior and the second visit to see our first Air Force friends from Malmstrom some 20 years ago)
+ Very fast visit to Nashville (and Franklin!) with Angie, Keira, and Wendy
+ Hosting Angie, Keira, and Wendy in Montgomery for three days which included some swimming, some attending Southern Makers, some sightseeing in and around Montgomery, some solving the world's problems
+ swimming birthday party for Bridget with girls from school
+ Mother's Day/Bridget's birthday (one and the same this year)
+ Mad dash to Birmingham with dog and typewriter (there were a lot of mad dashes this month)
+ Bridget went to the McWane Center in Birmingham (not on same day)
+ chaperoned a Bridget field trip in town
+ field day, which I wasn't able to attend but still had to fill way too many water balloons in the dark the night before to send with Gracie for the 4th grade water balloon stations
+ Gracie's 4th grade art show
+ National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony for Maddie at Baldwin
+ Honors assemblies for Gracie and Bridget at Forest Avenue (not on same day)(but Bridget's conflicted with Matt's)
+ Awards ceremony and graduation for Matt (there was a day where I needed to be three places at the same time)
+ ripped apart almost every tub/cabinet/storage bag in craft room for first phase of school papers organization while searching for missing school photos (found them, but created terrible mess in wake)
+ Maddie's 13th birthday
+ two days of gymnastics camp to learn next season's routines
+ various sleepovers and swimming dates
+ Matt went to see Rush in Atlanta with a friend from school
+ organized a huge donation of no-longer-needed scrapbook supplies (don't worry, I still have PLENTY) for a charity organization in NW Alabama
+ inordinate amount of packages sent (i.e. birthday gifts sent months in advance, Mother's Day gifts sent three weeks late, random surprise gifts to faraway friends, hand-me-down clothes boxes, etc.)
+ farewell breakfast/dinner dates with friends
+ Tomorrowland in the theater (we liked it!)
+ trip to U.S. Space and Rocket center (Gracie has her heart set on Space Camp after her second visit here—and if the planets align, it actually isn't out of the question when she is old enough (see first item on list)
And we didn't miss a single Cavs playoff game. I can hardly breathe I'm so excited about the possibility of an NBA Championship. DO YOU HEAR ME, CAVS?
This of course doesn't include the other stuff like driving so much the van rolled 100,000 miles (fitting), regular gymnastics practices, car repairs x 2 in preparation for the cross-country move, a terrible allergic reaction to something that threatened to unhinge me once and for all, moving prep/Goodwill runs, consoling some Very Sad Girls about leaving their schools/friends this year, continuing to try to have this house ready for realtor showings (to include one on the afternoon of May 10)(UGH), all while spending most of the month without air conditioning (broken, but finally fixed as of yesterday).
In other news, the packers don't arrive until June 16 so we have a little extra time to work on the Moving List of Doom. In theory.
May is here, and that means—as usual—we're just trying to tread water in the Dillow House. You know when chaperoning a five-day science camping trip on the top of a mountain with a bunch of fifth graders sounds like the most relaxing thing that will happen in the next two months you're probably in trouble.
Here are some things we've been up to...
1. Matt has been stealing away a few minutes in the evenings to browse his new favorite site, Retronaut. I have not yet had time to browse yet, but I am very much enjoying some of his finds. I think I will frame these two pictures for Gracie's bedroom, because HELLO, Indian woman and Pablo Picasso. HOLDING OWLS.
2.We have had a whole lot of extra time in the evenings with the girls (a story for another day) and there has been some very fun baseball (er, wiffleball) playing at night with all five of us. Bridget is a fearsome hitter, though you couldn't tell by her Justice sweater dress and princess bat. She rarely misses, though.
We have taken to calling Ellie the "disgrace to dingos everywhere" dog.
4. This is the funniest picture I have taken in a very long time. Last weekend when they went fishing she was happy to help with bait and catch fish, but wouldn't hold her catch for a picture. She was determined to be braver this time around. Hee.
Maddie just stuck her finger right through the mouth like she was born on the Columbia River or something. [shudder]
Bridget didn't go this time around because she was totally worn out from a birthday party, but her sisters decided they'd let her hold a fish for a picture. Poor fish wasn't going anywhere. Ha.
Hee hee. I got out the old iMac DV this weekend with the intention of scrubbing it for recycling and Matt—the one without a packrat gene in his body—convinced me that we should keep it. It is kind of like a time capsule... "is that a TV, mama?"
I enjoyed a few rounds of my old favorite Tetris Max much to the girls' amusement. Oh, how I loved to play Tetris after I got home from a long day of teaching in Great Falls. (No really)(I am not making that up) What's especially funny about this picture (you know, beyond the fact that we're going to keep a 20th century computer for posterity) is that Marie apparently felt the need to add an exclamation point to her move into 10th place on the all-time record list. : )
6. Two of the seven of Gracie's hyacinths have been chomped by antelope but the rest are very nearly ready to bloom. The little owls are standing guard for her. If we can just get one of them to bloom before being chomped it will be a huge victory.
7. No photo yet... but stop back tomorrow because I have some BIG NEWS to share! : )
It's really a trick question, because the answer is all of them. Here are ten, to illustrate the point:
1. The Clara Barton Project
Maddie's huge Clara Barton project was due two days after we returned from Florida, and while it was mostly done, it was not completely done, and anyone with a fourth-grader knows that the parts remanining until completion are the hardest. And in this case, required a lot of grown-up assistance (i.e. asking huge favors of friends to open up costume closets, plunking down cash for the presentation board and corn husks and first aid supplies to demonstrate Civil War bandaging techniques vs. modern techniques, printing photographs, etc.). Bottom line: it would have been awesome to have had this project 100% complete before we left for Hogwarts, but sadly, fires are prioritized in this house and only the ones that are burning hottest get handled.
The blog version of some of the photos Maddie selected to use in her presentation about the life of Clara Barton : )
2. Preschool Graduation
We've been with the same preschool for the last three years, and it is hard to express how wonderful it's been for all three girls (though Maddie never went as a student, she has been made to feel very welcome as the big sister and occasional volunteer). The big performance and graduation festivities were the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend; Bridget could not WAIT to be on stage performing all the songs they learned. That child is the hammiest ham we have. She remembers the lyrics to just about every song she's ever heard—she even taught her teachers one of the songs they performed, which was actually one Maddie learned at her school—and she was definitely the... strongest singer of the bunch. Gracie couldn't make it through one song at her preschool graduation before she dissolved into inconsolable tears because she had to leave Ms. Kay and Ms. Deb. Bridget is equally sad to be leaving her beloved teachers but on performance day, the show had to go on. There were songs to be sung! Loudly!
3. Crawfish Boil
Shortly after graduation, our neighbors held a huge crawfish boil. The crawfish were flown in from Louisiana and expertly prepared by native Mississippians. Zydeco music filled the air as the bride (not associated with the crawfish boil) at the old chapel came out post-wedding wearing a gold Phantom of the Opera mask. Weird. Ohioans, avert your eyes or else you'll see Maddie expertly sucking the heads of crawfish to get the last drops of juice out, just like a pro.
To answer your question, no, Gracie and Bridget did not care to try them.
4. Graduation Party for our Beloved Babysitter
We hotfooted it from the crawfish boil to the graduation party circuit to wish our loyal and brave babysitter of three years a happy graduation. Because you really have to be loyal and brave to continue babysitting Dillow monkeys for three years. We are hiring her as a part-time nanny (more on that later) in July, and after she leaves for college in August we don't know what we'll do.
Her uncle took this one. We love it!
5. Myringotomy, Tympanostomy, Adenoidectomy, a.k.a. If It's May, There Must Be a Dillow at the Audiologist and ENT
Bridget had surgery last Thursday to repair a problem with one of her ear tubes, restore her conductive hearing, and remove her adenoids. These are all common procedures, but I wouldn't wish general anesthesia on any child, ever. It is pretty awful : ( We have an excellent ENT, though, and are hoping this will mark the end of four long years of ear problems for Bridget. We joke that Maddie and Bridget might invite both our ENT and audiologist to their weddings, and Gracie won't have any idea who they are because she's never once seen them. Because Gracie can hear within a 100 mile radius, we're pretty sure.
6. Harry Potter Birthday Party at the Cheyenne Country Club Swimming Pool
Maddie's friend O, of Christmastime Gingerbread House Party fame, also throws a great birthday party the first weekend of June (I missed it last year because I was teaching at GASC in Texas). This year the party was Harry Potter themed; they dove for golden snitches at the bottom of the pool, swam with baselisks, and toasted with dragon milk among other things. The party was cut a little short by the official kick off of June weather in Wyoming; I had to split time between this party and the one across the street at the Children's Village for Bridget's little bestie C while Matt and Grandpa were at Work Day at Frontier Park. Because if there's one thing Dillows do well, it's overlapping activities!
7. The Elizabeth Stampede
So, it's hard to even explain how in the world the following happened, but Matt is now the stand-in Military Committee Chair for Cheyenne Frontier Days. There are a lot of responsibilities (and by a lot I mean kind of akin to a full-time job) for him in this gig, and for me? Well, there's a whole lot, too. When we first moved to Cheyenne we really didn't have even the tiniest bit of idea how huge CFD is, and now, especially after two years of Lead experience, we have a completely different perspective on the whole thing. We flew Grandpa in last week to help Grandpananny for a few things, including taking care of the girls from 7:30 am - 10:00 pm on Sunday while Matt and I attended The Elizabeth Stampede in Elizabeth, CO with the rest of the CFD General Committee.
I know. The Elizabeth Stampede. Hee hee hee. How fitting that it should be the first weekend after May, when all I've been doing is stampeding around for the past month.
The general committee chairman and his wife have been extremely welcoming to us, and want to ensure we have a great time with this unexpected change of events; Col Hottle made sure to get me down to the fence by the chute so I could take pictures to my heart's content. He also promised me to get me down to the pit during one of the days of competition at CFD (!!!!) and I might even rent a giant lens to celebrate. If you had asked me twenty years ago how many rodeos I would have photographed before I turned 40 the answer would have been zero. Funny how things turn out. : ) I have been told no less than four times by four separate people that hiring a nanny for the month of July is a really good idea. (!!!!) There has been a lot of that (the !!!!! stuff) going on here in the last two weeks.
8. Acquiring a Rental French Horn
After attending the school district's music open house night last week, Maddie settled on French horn as her instrument of choice. So, French horn it is! There's nothing more disparate than rodeo and French horn.
Er, wait. What? From a picture spotted at the CFD Old West Museum tonight at the Board of Directors/General Committee dinner.
9. The Transit of Venus
On Wednesday we called up our friends and invited them to drive down to Fort Collins to check out the transit of Venus on the ginormous telescopes the Northern Colorado Astronomical Society had set up for the few hours of viewing available. We luckily arrived at the right time, because shortly after we got there the clouds rolled in and the sun disappeared. It was very cool, though. I happened to catch the last few minutes of the live webcast on Wednesday night when the astronomers narrating it were a little sniffly about the historical significance, thereby making me a little sniffly, too. And I'm not even an astronomer. Good grief.
10. A Little Summer Storm-Chasing
Last night Maddie and I jumped in the car about 8:30 pm to do a little wholesome mother-daughter storm-chasing. June weather is both erratic and dramatic around here, and we didn't have to go far to see some very impressive and angry storm clouds off in the distance to take some pictures of. Our favorite:
Bonus: Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines
In between all the other disparate activities I've been squeezing in as much time as possible (which in the last week, hasn't been nearly enough) to meet this summer's crafty deadlines: a new class at Big Picture (Photo Challenges, registration opens in a few weeks!) and a new eBook from Ella Publishing Co., on sale mid-August! I'm very excited about both. I am also excited about the nap I'm going to take in August.