Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

There were no market visits, unless you count Webkinz Extravaganza, and I am not sure we even ate any pork, but that rhyme has been in my head so there you go.

We had a great trip to Michigan. It's the first time I've been to the lower peninsula in about 3 years, I think. If I recall correctly, I was there last for my sister-in-law's baby shower. We've been to the Upper Peninsula, where my parents live, and Todd and the girls have been to Glennie, where Todd's parents have their cottage, but since my folks moved away from the Lansing area, we just haven't been back that way.

It was so good to be there, and so hard, too. I didn't realize how much I missed it, and how very strange it is to go home but have no home to visit. Since my parents moved, and sold their house, there isn't any place for us to go, you know?

We were able to spend a night at my grandmother's farm. Well, it's really my Uncle Jerry and Aunt BJ's farm now, but you know what I mean. It was fun to stay there and have the girls spend a little time where I grew up. They were not very happy with my for taking them away from Grammy and Papa in Dearborn, but I really needed to go up there. Unfortunately, Aunt BJ was out of town, but we got to hang out with Uncle Jerry, and saw my Uncle John, too, and my cousin Mike. You just never know who will turn up at the farm!

Here is a picture of Uncle Jerry holding the Snort, who is wearing the outfit Aunt BJ got for him:

Here is a picture of Grandma's multi-colored cabinets. The peanut clusters always lived over on the left. Aunt BJ very kindly still keeps some there.


Here's the dining room, with the farm table. I can't tell you how many hours I spent there, talking with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, cousins, and various other relatives who might have been there at any given time. The farm was, and still is, a central gathering place for us.

Here is my grandmother's bird feeder. My aunt and uncle keep the birds fed. We've seen some pretty cool birds at the farm, including sandhill cranes in the corn fields.

Here are some of grandma's grape hyacinths. Does anything say "Grandma Rosen" like the smell of grape hyacinths?

Well, maybe the red tulips. :-)

Here is an aerial picture of the farm, taken in 1999, the year my grandmother passed away.

My aunt and uncle keep my grandparents' coffee cups in the kitchen window. For some reason, the sight of them made me cry.

Here is the pond, also affectionately known as the Tractor Wash. My family loves to have hot dog cookouts by the pond with a bonfire. A small, impromptu gathering of whoever can show up is often around 40 people, so it's good to have an outdoor venue.

Look! Science! Anyone know what kind of critter made this mound?

And here are the girlies, talking to the cows.

Believe it or not, I used to go up in the haymow and stack hay bales! We had to wear long sleeves and jeans because hay is quite prickly. I remember sneezing hay gunk for a week after a day in the mow. Ah, good times.

Once we left the farm, I cried, and we drove to Aunt Donna's house for lunch. She works from home, so we were able to hang out with her for a little while. After that, we went over to the LeBarons' house. They have been friends of my family since we moved to Laingsburg when I was getting ready to go into 2nd grade. Jim & Luann are my parents' best friends. Their daughter, Camille, was staying with them while her husband was in Iraq. Her daughter, Alia, is just beautiful. She was born a couple of months after Isaac. I made sure to get pictures of the babies together (you know, for their wedding reception someday - ha).

We had a lovely visit with the LeBarons, and then we headed back to Ann Arbor for dinner with Todd's family. ON our way, we drove down our old road to see our first house. Here it is:

Beautiful, isn't it? Well, as beautiful as a brick ranch built in the 60's with wonky windows can be. We loved living there. Every year, we've driven by our old house, thinking that if it were ever up for sale, that would be our sign to buy it and move back home. It's never happened, and I'm pretty sure it has new owners again. I guess we missed our window. Drat.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing Hollmann things. We had a family picture taken, which was fun, and went to Webkinz Extravaganza in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Here are all the cousins together:

And here is a picture of Emma, the Snort and me in the airport, waiting to go home:

Here's Abbie, hanging upside down in a chair at the airport. No clue why she's doing that.

I know I should have more pictures of the rest of the weekend, but I don't have them ready right now. Really, I just wanted to reminisce about the farm. I posted a lot of pictures, eh? Let me just tell you - not NEARLY as many as I was going to post. Consider yourself fortunate. And thanks for remembering with me.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Today has been a good day!

Today, I got to get my hair cut and highlighted, my eyebrows waxed, and the girls' hair cut. We are, after all, having a family portait done with Todd's parents this weekend while we are in Michigan, and I felt a need to be blond. So now I am! Woo hoo!

Also, between Tonna and me, we figured out how to get the Ergo carrier on my hip for Schmooey. It was not nearly as complicated as the video made it seem, although I don't really think it's a one-person operation. The instructional video showed the demonstrator doing it all by herself, but I think it was done with mirrors. I am pretty sure I could not do it myself. It was amazingly comfortable once I got the baby in it on my hip. Good to know, because we're going to Michigan, you know, and I think we might not need the stroller. It would be lovely not to take it on the plane. (Don't worry, Susan - I will still be done with it before you need to fetch Baby Ethiopia.)

In this, my own little corner of cyberspace, I would like to offer a book review. My very good friend Jenny told me about a book called Llama Llama Mad At Mama by Anna Dewdney. She said it's her two year old daughter's favorite book, and she was delighted that her husband surprised them with it the other night when he came home from work. I stopped by the book store last night to take a peek at it.

The story is about a little llama who goes shopping with his Mama Llama. Mama promises him a treat when they are done, but in the meantime, he has to try on clothes, shoes, and socks, and sit through grocery shopping at Shop-)-Rama (think Super WalMart). Somewhere in the middle of the grocery aisle, the little llama loses his patience and throws a fit. Not just any fit, either. He throws juice out of the cart and it explodes on the floor. He throws the pasta out and the bag bursts and it flies everywhere. Mama Llama, a fine example of the virtue of patience for mothers everywhere, tells Llama Llama that she isn't excited to be shopping, either, but they have to do it, and she is happy because at least she is with her baby. Then they clean up there mess, and the little one agrees to shop with Mama, so they can get their errands done.

I have to tell you, I was not terribly impressed. If I were the Mama in the story, the ending would have read something like this:

"Mama Llama smacks that Llama
With this book for all the drama."

I don't think I like reading about toddlers throwing fits. It didn't do much for me. I can see how the rhyming text and pictures would appeal to little ones, but I'd rather read about Sheep in a Jeep any day.

Now that I've had my little llama rant, I would like to end this post on a positive note and say that I've spoken with everyone I wanted to see in Michigan and we're going to see lots of fun family and friends while we're there. (Do you like my use of alliteration?) We get to stay at my grandmother's farm, where I grew up, and then see my Aunt Donna and our very good family friends, the LeBarons. I am so excited. I will be sure to post pictures when we get back!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pirate Translator

Over on the right, you really must try out the Pirate Translator Widget. It's a lot of fun. I have been laughing myself silly over some of the things it says. It's good preparation for National Talk Like A Pirate Day, which is September 19. I know, I know, it's only April, but I do like to plan ahead!

See there, that was hysterically funny!

In order to participate in National Talk Like a Pirate Day, you will need your official Pirate Name. Try this name generator.

Here's mine:

My pirate name is:

Captain Bess Cash

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Once you have your official Pirate Name, you will want to name your Pirate Ship. I liked "Hades' Baleful Barnacle," probably for the alliteration.

I don't know why I find all this so entertaining tonight. I think I need to go to bed. I would like to point out, though, that as I'm typing, Todd is giggling his way through his own Pirate Name Generation and he's Dirty Todd Cash - the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean to get rid of the smell. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak!!!

There was a ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK at my bird feeder today! Why am I shouting, you ask? It's the first time I've seen one since I moved to North Carolina nearly 10 years ago, that's why! I looked in my bird book, and he really shouldn't be here - the range for these lovely birds extends from the western-most part of North Carolina, in the mountains, and northward. I don't know if he will stay here, or not. I'd be inclined to say he's just visiting on his way to parts northerly, but it IS the middle of April, so shouldn't he be getting ready to hatch some babies?

Could be that spring is later up north and that he was just taking a break from migrating to his spring home. That's fine with me! I was delighted to see him at the feeder, and would welcome him for however long he'd like to stay. If the missus would like to join him, and they'd like to raise a family nearby, that would be lovely!

Another fun discovery we've made recently was that the blue jays in our yard! I haven't seen them come to the feeder yet, even though I bought one especially for them, but we see them quite often in the trees, and that's enough. I know blue jays can be mean, but they are a little touch of Michigan for me and I like them.

A few weeks ago, I heard a bird song that's been driving me nuts in attempting to identify it. It starts with a lower tone, then a high trill. It reminds me of someone trying to say "tant pis!" which means "too bad" in French. While I was out walking the dog, I heard the song in my neighbor's tree, just above my head. I got a good look at the bird, and went back to the house to pull out my bird book, and voila - I learned that it was an Eastern Towhee.

I love birds. Well, the outdoor kind, that is. I don't want one in the house. I hated my grandmother's zebra finches and am not sorry they are no longer with us, the noisy little beasts. We have a nice setup for our feeders, so that we can see them from our kitchen window while we're sitting at the table. We have a pretty good variety, too, and everyone in the family likes to look at them. Do you like to watch birds at your house too?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Look Mom, Two Teeth!

When my parents were here for the girls' birthdays, Abbie lost her first tooth, and Isaac got two! We didn't even know he was teething. I put my finger in his mouth one day, and there was a tooth! Then, two days later, I felt the other one. I nearly cried. I am in such denial that my baby is getting bigger every day. Never mind the fact that he's pretty much outgrown his infant car seat - the new, improved version that was supposed to hold him until his first birthday. Never mind that I had to buy him 24 month clothes for his 7 month old self. Sigh.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ballet for Tots

Recently, Emma has been teaching Isaac ballet with renewed fervor. I hear things like this:

"Tendu, piqué, piqué, close." (He giggles a lot when they do piqués. I think it's the high-pitched tone Emma uses, and also the way she bonks his foot on the floor.]

"Plié, Zacky. Keep your arms down. Perfect!"

"Whatever makes you hold on to the barre is fine. Even if you need to shake it." [We have a Bella Dancerella barre. If you've not experienced a Bella Dancerella video, count your blessings. That annoying song gets stuck in my head every time I even glimpse the barre. There it goes again...... ack.]

Isaac, of course, adores his sisters, and anything they want to do with (to) him at this point is just ducky with him. Below, please see pictures of these educational sessions.

Here he is in his "bridal" outfit:

Dancing with Emma Sister:

Did you know you can learn ballet before you can walk?

Look, Mom, aren't I lovely?

Now that we're done, I believe I shall eat my skirt.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tagged... Again

My very good friend Susan has tagged me for another meme. This time you get to learn 10 things about me, you lucky, lucky reader!

Here are the rules: You have to tag 5 people and you can't tag the person that tagged you. You leave them a comment on their blog letting them know you are tagging them and why. Also, direct them to your blog for instructions. It is also asked that you notify the tagger when you post your list so that they can enjoy reading the responses.

Here are the 10 facts about Beth:

1. I am from Michigan, and never lived anywhere else until I moved to North Carolina.
2. You might have known I was from Michigan, but did you know that I argued adamantly with my 5th grade teacher against the existence of North Carolina? I was quite sure that since there were Virginia and West Virginia, that there were also Carolina and South Carolina. She showed me the map. I told her the map was wrong. And now I live in NC. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?
3. I was the drum major of my high school band as a senior.
4. I was a member of the Michigan Marching Band for 3 years while I was in college and twirled a flag. I performed in the Gator Bowl and in the Rose Bowl (national TV - now aren't you impressed?). I used to be able to show you which tiny dot I was in the block M picture but I don't remember anymore. (I still have a flag in my garage.)
5. I majored in linguistics in college. I can explain to you many fascinating things about language that you never wanted to know (but you really should - want to know, that is). About schwa [/ə/], for example. Unlike Susan, I never used my degree to get a job. (Most people don't know what linguistics is.)
6. I ran track and cross country in high school - I was a passable distance runner. Not so much with the sprinting. I tried short sprints because, well, they were short and I was lazy, but learned that I do much better with endurance running.
7. I am very good with spontaneous song. Abbie has inherited this gift from me.
8. I want to be a speech pathologist when I grow up.
9. I have more Webkinz than my children. I name most of them after characters from children's literature. The exception is my family of Googles, which all have names beginning with I - Imogen and Ichabod, the little ones; Ivanhoe (the dad); and the mom will be the pink Googles, due out in June, I think, and her name will be Isolde.
10. I am an excellent speller. I used to like to think of it as my spiritual gift, until someone told me I'm probably a visual learner.

There you have it! Let's see, who to tag... Audrey, Aubrey, Jessica, Sarah, and Stacey. Have fun!