Sunday, July 31, 2016

County Fair

After reading "Charlotte's Web" (where a fair is quite significant to the plot), I thought Josie should perhaps experience a county fair in person... also, she really likes rides, and I had misread the website and thought we just paid a flat fee to get in and all the rides were included. That was not the case, so I'm feeling even more gouged than normal, but ah well.

[Doing what I can to protect her scalp from the sun]
So we went to our county fair, which was supposed to be a whole family outing but then dwindled down to just Josie and me. Audra is going through an especially volatile time lately, and so we thought it might be better if she sat this one out (also, we had to abandon going out to lunch earlier that day because she was screaming so much just trying to get her in the car, so our appetite for screaming was already depleted by the time we were leaving for the fair).

Our first stop was the petting zoo, where Josie pet a tortoise, llama, camel, and bunny, but I was probably most excited about the cavies, since I've never seen one in person before.
We then walked through the beef barn on our way to the midway, where Josie decided to cash in her one allotted sweet early, and she chose ($4 each) sno-cones. It was still pretty hot out at that point -- and the sno-cones so refreshing and cool -- that I complimented Josie enough on her selection that she hazarded an attempt at a second sweet when she asked if we could each get another sno-cone. Nice try, kid.

It was starting to cloud over (with thunderstorms in the forecast), so we couldn't go up in the Ferris wheel, which is what Josie had been most excited about. She rode a little ladybug ride instead, though, which she claimed was her favorite for the day, so it all worked out anyway.
Next up was a fun house, then... bumper cars. This is what I think was actually her favorite, given the squeals of delight that were coming from next to me each time we hit another car. Then she went through another fun house, and that was the end of our tickets. Amazing how quickly they go!

I was still on the search for horses, so we then continued our way through the fairgrounds, including going through the pig barn. Josie was fascinated by all the pigs, even though she thought they were all dirty since they had some shavings on them. Meanwhile, I don't think I had ever seen such clean pigs in my life. We found a faintly glowing pink one that reminded us of Wilbur (after he had been scrubbed clean in a buttermilk bath), so that was exciting.

We finally found the "horse barn", which was really just eight stalls with what I'm guessing were just representative horses. There wasn't a big enough ring for a horse show at the fairgrounds, so I imagine that was (or will be) done elsewhere. But we took a peek at all the horses, and then I fell in love with one of the yearlings that were there, and I fawned over it and rhapsodized to Josie about how horses are the best smell in the world (as she looked rather doubtful about that opinion).

It had started to rain by that time, so we started heading back to the car, except I thought we should probably take a detour to a port-a-potty just to be on the safe side before we got back on the road. So Josie had her first experience in a port-a-potty, and while I won't get into the details of that, it was also notable that it starting pouring while we were in there. So then I had the fun experience of trying to decide if it would be worse waiting out the worst of the storm while stuck in a port-a-potty, or going for a (long) run back to the car in a downpour. Luckily, I was doing this thinking out loud, and Josie piped up that she wanted to make a run for it, so we did. We ran most of the way back to the parking lot, with both of us laughing and shrieking as we jumped over the puddles. We then caught a ride in a (mostly) covered wagon through the parking lot, so we were only mildly drenched by time we got back to the car. All in all (except for the price gouging), we had a great time at the fair, and Josie has already put in her request to go back next year :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Lake Anna

We did our annual vacation to a lake a little differently this year: a month earlier than normal, for only four days instead of the usual seven, to a new (to us) lake, and with just my mom for company for part of it. Everything worked out really well, though, and we had a really nice vacation!

We tried out Lake Anna this year, which was just perfect for us with the girls the ages they are right now. Two hours each way made for much easier travel than the usual four+ hours (well, except for poor Josie, who got sick on the way home), and the house we rented was really nice with great amenities.

[The first bunkbed that Josie ever got to sleep in]

As soon as we got there, we let the girls loose to run around in the yard to stretch their legs and get their sillies out. It was dinnertime when we got there so we couldn't go swimming straightaway, but we at least went down to the dock and stuck our hands in the water.

My vacation goals were to: 1) go in the water every day, and 2) not get in the car again until it was time to leave. Although we briefly thought about going out to get ice cream at one point, we managed to hold out and meet both goals ;)

Lake Anna is known for being pretty warm, and while it seemed like (almost too warm) bath water when we stuck our hands in the first night, it turned out to just be a perfect temperature when we actually got in: none of the normal shock from the cold water, but not so warm that it felt gross on a hot day. And going in June probably helped with that too, since while it was definitely hot out, it wasn't sweltering enough to make the water even warmer.

Our rental house was at the end of a cove, and the water was so shallow that the girls could basically play in the entire cove without too much danger of them going under with minimal floaties on. So with Audra, we experimented with a lifejacket, swimsuit with floaties built in, and a puddle jumper. She handled everything well, swam by herself a bit with the puddle jumper on, and even consented to wear a sun hat... most of the time ;)

Meanwhile, Josie was able to go without floaties as long as she was in the super shallow water, but she tooled around on a boogie board and/or some noodles when she went into the deeper water (where she could still touch, just not flat-footed). She apparently remembered her time at the pool from April well enough, since she was able to swim around on her own some too, although the big deal for the week was Josie jumping off the dock. So while most of the time she talked herself right out of jumping, she did manage to jump off several times into Ryan's or my arms, with us edging out a bit more each time ;)

As I mentioned, the amenities were really great at this house. We took the kayaks and paddle boat out on the lake, although I just realized we didn't use the canoe at all. I especially liked the double row of lifejackets of different sizes that were available, all neatly numbered so that they could be hung up on the appropriately-numbered hook (the owners of the house were very organized. I loved it.). Watching the beautiful sunsets every night was great though too, particularly from nestled within a hammock with a passel of children piled on top of oneself. I'd imagine, at least.

We also made use of the firepit to make s'mores one night, which (as expected) was a big hit ;)

Really, the biggest disappointment for me was... Chinese acrobatics. There was a basket full of DVDs there, and for whatever reason, I was absolutely intrigued by the "Best of Chinese Acrobatics" DVD, and touted it all that day as our special after-dinner treat. And then? IT WASN'T IN THE CASE. I was gutted, and after checking just about all of the other cases in the basket, I eventually had to admit defeat and we watched "Wall-E" instead... and reminisced about the time Ryan and I first watched it and made it about 20 minutes in before we released we were watching the French version. There isn't that much talking in the movie anyway, and I had somehow convinced myself that perhaps the humans of the future had come up with a different language in the intervening 800 years, although I didn't understand why this made-up language wasn't subtitled. Sigh.

[Josie's TV-watching face; I'm pretty sure she did not blink or breathe the entire movie]

Anyway! Vacation was great, and we got to spend lots of quality time together. I think we'll do it again sometime :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Josie is FIVE!

Five years ago, on another rainy afternoon, this crazy, silly, wonderful child entered our lives. I'm glad we get to be her parents - she makes the world a better place. Happy birthday to my favorite daughter named Josie :)
[Hugging one of her super-exciting birthday presents: a towel]