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What Makes a Handful?

"You sure have your hands full!" said the older woman in Target, watching me try to corral four independent-thinking and adventur...

Monday, July 28, 2008

An Experiment

This is an experiment to try to upload a 20-second video to the blog. If this works, though, you'll have to view it with your head tilted 90 degrees to the left. I took the video vertically and can't figure out how to rotate it in the view.

Anyhoo, here's Miriam jumping rope. Or jumping with rope, if you prefer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Suburbia in Bizarro World

This post otherwise known as "My neighbor's friends are a bunch of turkeys."

It's a normal Sunday afternoon. Someone's at the door. Emma runs breathlessly to tell me there's a bunch of turkeys out there. I thought maybe the mischievous teenage boys from two doors down were setting off firecrackers under our car again.

She insists it's stranger than that.


Our next door neighbor had a big hen and several young "goblettes" in his yard.

As we sat in the grass and watched, two more of the noisy ruffians sneaked past us in our own front yard! There are 9 altogether, and they are going up to actual doorsteps and peering in windows. If it wasn't a hen, I guess we'd have to report a Peeping Tom.

This neighborhood is just going to the birds.

Know Your Place in Life

Jane finally lost her top front tooth.

It had been dangling for weeks.

Before and after.

Why is this so cute at 7, but not at 70?

Some High Points--Very High Points

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain, July 2008.

Our "stay-cation" may have reached its peak, very literally, in mid to late July. We've been exploring our home and close-to-home spots, and I think everyone will say that staying close to home this summer has had more peaks than valleys. Living in the Appalachian Mountains has to help with that.

We visited our favorite blueberry farm in Marion, NC, in mid-July. It was really too early--there were a lot of berries, but we really had to work to get this haul. In another two weeks, our labors would have been much more fruitful. Maybe we'll go again before August gets here, but even if we don't, we had a nice time, enough berries to put some away in our freezer and share a couple of quarts, and four decidedly purple tongues.

Miriam is a diligent berry picker. She filled half a bucket on her own. I was surpised that a 3-year-old could produce as much as she did. Jane really put her all into it also, producing about half a gallon all on her own. Emma is our resident consumer. She had a great time. Jill thought it was hot and was only happy if being fed continously.

That was a high point, but not high enough. While watching the birds from the back deck one morning, Miriam announced "I want to go into the sky!" I understand. I do too.

It became a mantra for her. On the swing: "Push me really high! I want to go into the sky!" When wrestling with her dad: "Pick me up! I want to go into the sky!" And when we took a drive up to Roan Mountain for a day hike and picnic: "Go to the mountain! I want to go into the sky!

So we did. Here are Emma, Jane, and Miriam sitting on the rock wall of an overlook at the former site of the Victorian-era Cloudland Hotel. The 3-story luxury hotel straddled the NC/TN state line and was a popular vacation spot for the affluent from the 1880s to about 1900. People lost interest in the Cloudland Hotel in the early 1900s, though, and it was dismantled. Nothing remains now except a historical marker and this more recently constructed rock wall. It is inhabited by a small brown field mouse.

Bill packing Jill at the Cloudland meadow--a nice picnic spot.

Among the "Ferns" on the Appalachian Trail, Roan Mountain.

And we went "into the sky" at the top of the Cloudland Trail, Roan Mountain. The view from the top is panoramic and dizzying. It is truly unbelievable just how far you can see and how high up you really are. I believe the markers said it was over 6,000 feet. But Miriam was still disappointed. She raised herself up on tiptoes, lifted her little hands toward heaven, and declared, "I want to go INTO THE SKY!"

Thanks to Nathan Brinkerhoff, a friend from church who is also a pilot preparing to take his skills (and his new wife Julia and soon-to-be-born baby son) into the mission field in South America, each of us (except for Jill) were able to go "into the sky" this past Wednesday.

Here's the plane with Bill, Emma, Jane, Miriam, and our "other daughter" Nell before boarding. Nathan offered free plane rides to our church community at a small, private airport in Hendersonville. We all took along picnics, played ball on the grass, and got a bird's-eye view of a good portion of Henderson and Buncombe counties.

Jane and Nell buckled up and ready to go.

Bill, Jane, and Nell are aboard this flight.

Here I am with Miriam in the cockpit, preparing for take-off.

Emma and her friend Alice rode in the back on our flight.

And here's Miriam. Note the view from the window. She truly did get to go
"into the sky!"

Now that's a high point of the summer.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

SAFETY: A Six-Letter Word that Works Seven Days a Week!

Who doesn't love the Fourth of July? The festivity, the fireworks, the chance to do permanent damage to your person... What fun!

Of course, this is from a girl who grew up with bottle rockets threatening to pierce my ears in a few extra places because of all those BOY things going on. I was shocked--again, I say SHOCKED--to find out just how terrifying even holding a little sparkler could be to my safety-conscious 7- and 9-year-old daughters.

In keeping with her personality, Miriam wasn't afraid. She jumped right in (as expected) and even tried to see what it would feel like to light herself with the sparks. (Whoa there, girl!)

Jane warmed up pretty quickly to all the fun. Glad OSHA wasn't around, though. Emma might have reported us for improper handling.

Speaking of OSHA, our backyard has been a hard-hat zone for a few days as Bill has been working on building a new, bigger, better, stronger, faster swingset for the girls. We were unreasonably limited with our 3-seat swingset, and so we used some birthday gift money to expand on the original design. Here are a few pics of the construction and development:

She can drive a firetruck. She can drive a tractor. There's just no telling what this little lady will be capable of. Out came the old set, and the handy contraption attached to the back of the tractor let us auger some massive holes to sink our new 6"x6" posts a good 3 feet into the ground. This swingset just might see our children's children's children.

Setting the posts. (Note the bare feet, upturned shovel waiting to be stepped on, and the booby-trap trip line Bill's about to get caught on.) Checking for plumb and level. Making a few adjustments. (Look at that face--that's the look of love, girls! Click on an image to see it bigger. Be sure to inhale a lungful of toxic sawdust!)

And before you know it, we've got an operating swingset with room for the whole family.
But wait--what was the title of this post? Easy there, Emma--remember what Officer Buckle would say! Yes, I'm sad to say that THIS (above), all too sadly leads to


No, it isn't broken. After 3 doctors appointments and a set of X-rays, we determined that it was just a mild sprain. A few days in a wrap, a lower gear on the swingset, no monkey bars or baseball for a couple of weeks, and she'll be just fine.

All this safety talk, paired with the lead found in herbal supplements and teas packaged in China (where they run over plant materials with trucks on the factory floor to dry them out, apparently, and the fumes from the leaded gas they use contaminate the "health" products) and salmonella in tomatoes, has me reading a few more labels lately. Tell me what you'd make of this:
Can you read that line right on the middle of the bag? It says "A premium quality raw shrimp, cooked ready to serve." Hmmmmm. So just what do I do with that?! About the only thing I can think of that's worse than overcooked shrimp would be tainted, poisonous RAW shrimp. Should I send this one to Jay Leno?

Oh well, what can you do? We can't stop living in order to try to keep living.

Enjoy your days!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Three Years With Miss Firecracker!

Miriam--July 2005

Miriam--July 2008

You've come a long way, baby! And what a ride!

This child is non-stop--a climbing, running, chatting, giggling, wiggling, twirling, dancing firecracker! And we love every minute of it. (At least most of the time. I admit to being tired--read, wiped out--often by her bedtime.) She is so very full of life, and what a blessing that is!

Miriam turned three today. In her own words, "I am big now. Now I can have gum!" So her sisters gave her some. She swallowed two pieces and spit a third out in the yard where it will inevitably find its way to the bottom of someone's shoe or bare foot, or worse, into someone's hair while somersaulting. We may wait a little while longer on the gum.

The day was full for little Miriam. She got to go out for breakfast alone with her daddy. She got a balloon at the restaurant and learned (the hard way) about helium and gravity. Her balloon is now on its way to the moon.

Then there were a few presents to open. She loved this hobby horse. I got it through a friend about 2 months ago and hid it away in my closet. I mean, I thought it was well hidden. It was behind my luggage with my wedding dress hanging in front to cover it up.

She unwrapped it, rode it around awhile, and then met me in the kitchen. "Look, Mom! Now I have a horse like yours!" she said. "Like mine? Where's mine?" I asked, a little absent-mindedly. "In your closet!" she informed me. So much for my great attempts to conceal anything from this toddler-sleuth. Boy, are we gonna be in trouble later...

After that, we visited the fire station and she got to drive the truck.

The firefighters at Station 8 ROCK! These guys are awesome. We had such a great time! We learned about fire safety, and what the different trucks and tools are for. We saw the full gear of the firefighter and heard him talk through his mask. And we got to sit in and on some really big, shiny trucks. Thanks, Station 8!

After lunch and naps, we took our Elmo cake to the park for lots more fun.

Our friends, the Jacksons, met us there for some
cake and fun play time. Miriam has a special friendship with "Doc-Doc," and it has been so sweet to watch that grow over the last 3 years.

Miriam with her cake. Miriam and Jane hiding in the boat.

Zac, Emma, and Amber at the tire swing. Miriam climbing up. Miriam jumping on the bridge.

Somersault race begins (even Jill's in it!) Jill on the "grass." The end of the somersault race. Kendall won.

As the sun sets, we all tire out. I think Kenna's pretty wiped out.

Miriam with "Doc-Doc" 2008. Looking back to 2005.

Didn't I tell you she'd come a long way?

Happy Birthday, beloved Miriam!