Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Grandma's visit and Annie's birthday party

Tim's mom came to town on Thursday and left just yesterday afternoon.  It was a short visit but very eventful and a lot of fun.
We always go downtown at least one evening to eat dinner, get ice cream, walk around, blah blah.  It's always a nice time when we go, but Carolyn and I have to agree that this particular outing downtown was the best ever.  It started with the weather being perfect, and then finding a parking spot right in front of Captain Ratty's.  We ate dinner at a table right in front of the window, where Timmy pointed and exclaimed loudly at every motorcycle, truck, or convertible that drove by.  
After dinner we walked down the street maybe a quarter-mile to Cow Cafe, like always.  We window-shopped along the way.
Not pictured:  When we encountered a great dane (on a leash) and Annie panicked and literally climbed up the body of her grandmother, who said, "I'm the last person to protect you from a dog."  I would have picked Annie up myself, but I felt I needed to be over by the great dane where both Delaney and Timmy were.  They have no fear of any dog, even one who is almost the size of a horse.
At Cow Cafe, Delaney had a bellyache from drinking too much orange juice with dinner.  She didn't even want an ice cream cone.  That made Grandma feel bad, so she told Delaney and her siblings that they could pick out one of the many stuffed cows that are on the shelves, that I always tell them are just for looking.  She perked right up and even ate Timmy's ice cream cone which he had abandoned in favor of the rocking cow and John Deere tractor at the back of the restaurant.
A girl can never have too many stuffed animals.
But the best part came when we left Cow Cafe and started walking back down the street to our car.  A horse pulling a 'Cinderella' carriage stopped at the side of the road and its passengers got off.  Carolyn approached the driver and asked how we go about getting a ride.  The girl shrugged and said, "You just ask."  And with those magic words (and $35, thank you Grandma), we had ourselves a ride on the Cinderella coach.

It was lovely.  Timmy relaxed on my lap and sucked his thumb (it was starting to get late), and we sat there watching the girls laugh and giggle and have a ball.  I said later that it was more fun watching them have fun than actual fun ever was.
Not pictured:  When Annie freaked out at the sight of the horse and refused to have anything to do with it OR the princess carriage.  I did not think any of us would set foot in it and I'm still not quite sure how we got her to go in voluntarily, but my mother-in-law said, "Sometimes you've got to just give them a nudge."  Once she was finally on and she couldn't see the horse, she never stopped smiling!  Then as we were leaving, she said goodbye to the horse.  Funny girl.

The next day was the day of the long-anticipated and long fretted-over day of Annie's birthday party at the pool.  I have got to talk that kid into an indoor party next year.  All I did was check the weather forecast every day for 10 days!  It changed every day.  Partly cloudy, scattered t-storms, isolated t-storms, scattered.. I spent the whole first half of Saturday tidying up in case we had to have the party at the house.  I prayed, and then I asked my mom to pray, figuring her prayers carry more weight than mine.  I wanted Annie to have such a great day.  And of course I checked the forecast once an hour.  Outside, it would be sunny one minute, looking like an impending storm the next, back and forth all day long.  All the hours of waiting and worrying made me wish I'd scheduled the party for noon instead of 3.  At around 1, I decided we would take our chances with the pool.  The last forecast I'd seen said that it wouldn't start storming until 5 p.m., around the time the party would end.  Perfect!
We got a rare FaceTime call from Tim, but Annie couldn't be bothered to talk to him.  Stinker.
We left at a little after 2 to go to Harris Teeter to get the food and cake.  Almost as soon as we left the neighborhood, the clouds opened up and there was lightning and thunder.  Then the phone rang and it was the Y saying we could either reschedule the pool party or use the after-school room.  I said, "We'll take the after-school room."  Once we'd gotten all  our stuff inside, we rushed around like crazy trying to take their stuff down and put birthday banners and garlands up, all the while wondering what we were going to do with all the kids inside this room for two hours.  I hadn't finished blowing up the first balloon (at around 5 of 3 because I'm not the best at time management) when the girl who worked there told us that they were opening the pool after all, and we could move over there.  I looked out the door and sure enough, the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  It was fortunate that our first guests had arrived and could help us move to the outdoor pool, because none of the lifeguards who were supposed to help ever materialized.  We worked Grandma to the bone, she who had gotten off the plane not even knowing there was going to be a real party, let alone a pool party.  Sorry I forgot to mention that!

We did what we could to get the birthday stuff all set up, but we were crunched for time and the kids just wanted to swim.  I had to accept that it wasn't going to look "perfect" the way it did at Delaney's party, with a balloon tied to every chair and every decoration in its proper place.  It was kind of thrown together and wind-blown at that.  (The storm went away but there was still a pretty good breeze.)  Oh well.  Nobody cares about that stuff but me anyway.  Annie had a great time and so did everyone else, and that's all that matters.  It was a success and I was grateful -- and oh-so-happy to just be done with it by the end of the day.
Annie was generous enough to let Delaney help open presents.  Delaney kept asking, "Are you going to share it?"  I said, "Let her look at it first!"
In our downtime, when kids were either in bed, napping or in school, I enjoyed the funny stories my mother-in-law had to tell.  My favorite was about the family dog that they had for a short time when the kids were little, a cocker spaniel.  The kids had begged for it but predictably it was she who was responsible for caring for it most of the time.  One day during her lunch break she came home to let it out and it wouldn't come back.  It was a short distance away.  It wasn't running but it wouldn't come back in the house, and she had to go back to work.  A man who knew the family said, "Just walk over and get him."  She told him, "I can't," because as she now told me, "I couldn't touch the dog at all, I'd get sick."  She cringed like just thinking about it made her sick.  I don't even think that was the point of the story.  She was only mentioning that part in passing and would have kept going, but I was like, "Hold on a second!  You owned the dog but you couldn't even touch it?"  She nodded.  "That's hysterical!"  I said.  I mean, for most families, wouldn't this preclude having a dog in the first place?  If Mom can't even bring herself to touch the animal, and she's the only one available to care for it during the day?  This family is crazier than I thought!  

That's the last visit from family we'll get for awhile.  On the way back from the airport, Delaney asked, "Who's coming next?"  and I said, "Daddy, in about 3 months!"

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