Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Veteran's Day weekend and Karen's visit

Our Veteran's Day weekend was made extra special by a visit from Tim's sister Karen.  She makes a point of visiting us at least a couple times a year, and for that we are always so grateful.  She left this morning (sniff).

We didn't do too much while she was here, meaning no big outings.  For one thing, we are kind of homebodies anyway.  For another, there isn't a whole lot around here to do, even if we were so inclined.  We would have to drive an hour or more to see any major attractions.  On Tuesday when Tim and Delaney went back to work and school and I had a doctor's appointment that ended up taking the whole morning (due to a wreck that had happened earlier and then swarms of people at the Naval Health Clinic, the likes of which I've never seen before), I ended up apologizing for how boring it was around here.  She made it clear that she does not expect to be entertained when she comes here, particularly on a work/school day.  And now that I think about it, I'm not sure that any of her other visits to us in the past have been all that exciting -- at least not any of the ones that have taken place since we moved here from Quantico.  Why would I start apologizing now for us being boring?

Before she came, she sent a box filled with crafts for her to do with the kids, and requested that it not be opened until she got there.  They were so excited about that box that they didn't even let her get her other foot in the door before they begged her to open it.  In that box were all kinds of things to do -- Thanksgiving aprons to be colored, foam stickers galore, pompoms in every color of the rainbow.. All the things that make our girls' eyes light up.  They spent many happy hours at the kitchen table just making stuff.  That's what our kids look forward to most about a visit from Auntie Karen -- just having her undivided attention and making things and doing things together.  They also played games like Memory and Uno.  A couple nights we popped popcorn and put on a movie.  Barbie movies have been the favorites lately.  You know, if I didn't know better, I'd think a Barbie movie must be the most obnoxious thing ever.  But since I've watched a few, I think they're pretty cute.  They have good songs in them and cute little animal characters that always get a good laugh out of the girls.  And last night before bed, we put on an episode of America's Funniest Videos and we all laughed at all the people making fools of themselves.  Tim's been DVRing them ever since our Emerald Isle vacation when we didn't have too many channels and we wanted to let the kids watch something before bed.  I have a whole new appreciation for that show.  It's kind of funny when you're watching it by yourself or with other adults.  But try watching it with a 4- or a 6-year-old and it is hysterical.
Auntie Karen is here -- let the crafting begin!
On Monday we took a tour of Tryon Palace and the North Carolina History Center.  It was nice, but I think all the history was a little much for the kids.  Delaney and Timmy behaved well, except for Timmy trying to duck under velvet ropes in the palace and touch things.  Annie started to unravel as the morning went on, and asked several times if we could go home.  She really didn't like being in the history center.  I think that the dim lighting and closed spaces of the museum freaked her out.  I think the kids' favorite part of the tour was the shuttle ride from the history center to the palace.  It was a golf cart with four rows, and Auntie Karen perched on the rear seat facing backwards.  I would like to come back in the spring when the flowers bloom, because the gardens weren't much to look at this time of year.  The three kids ran joyfully in the wide open space behind Tryon Palace.  Delaney called it the "field of dreams."  Oh, and for anyone who watches Sleepy Hollow, a few episodes were filmed at Tryon Palace recently.  After that we went home and had lunch and naps.  We went out for Mexican food that night, and that's about as much activity in a day as we ever do.  It was fun.

This morning we woke up to a little dusting of snow in the yard.  Eventually I let the girls go out even though I was worried they'd get their shoes -- which happen to be their only shoes at the moment -- wet.  I gave in because how can I really say no when it comes to snow?  I did my best to be a big grump about it, though.  Then I went out and took a couple pictures even though I still disapproved.  (I do get uptight about things like this because right before she needs to go to school is when she would come up to me with sopping wet pants and shoes, and be like, "I'mmmm cooooollllddd."  You moms understand!)
Finally I dragged everybody outside and make them pose for pictures.   I realized I hadn't yet gotten any photos of Karen and the kids from this visit, and it was the last morning.  And it was so pretty outside.  The reason Annie is not wearing shoes is because she had already decided to come in and I'd made her take them off.  When I made her go back out for the pictures, two minutes later we got in the car to take Delaney to school.  So shoes were not necessary for her or Timmy.  It turns out that I hadn't needed to worry so much about their shoes getting wet.  The ground was too cold and there wasn't enough snow.
After I dropped Annie off at preschool and came back here, I suddenly worried that Delaney didn't know that Karen would be leaving while she was at school.  I emailed Tim and the two of us quickly came up with a plan for us to swing by her school on the way to the airport and catch her right before lunch so that they could say goodbye.  I emailed Tim before I talked to Karen because I was worried that if Karen hadn't talked to her either, then she would be upset.  (Also because if he'd said that he'd talked to her, I could just be like, 'Oh, good.')  And I didn't want to make her upset.  I try to be so careful with people's feelings!  But I was relieved when I finally did bring it up that she had had a conversation with Delaney the night before about how she was leaving today.  So somebody had mentioned it to her.  Phew.  Delaney is turning into a sensitive kid, and when she cries I feel terrible.  As an added measure, she left this note.
When both the girls were at school she and Timmy enjoyed some one-on-one time before it was time to go to the airport.  Timmy, of course, changed the most of all the kids between her April visit and now.  I'm glad she got to see the funny little things he says and does firsthand -- for example, the way he lines up his cars just so.  Or how he says "show me" when we tell him that the mozzarella in the caprese salad is all gone.  Or how he asks so nicely to see what's behind the cabinet doors that contain his favorite snacks.  And cutest of all, how he says sorry to the sister he was mean to and gives her a hug and a kiss.  Karen got her own wet smooch from him every night before he went to bed.  Nothing better than a slobbery kiss from a sweet little boy.  Then there's the charming way that he sucks his thumb and picks his nose at the same time, who could forget that?
Delaney just got home from school a little while ago, and I should be supervising her getting started on her homework.  But I just want to mention that she was very sad (but I don't think surprised) when she first got off the bus and Karen wasn't here.  She cried for two minutes and then started to tell me about her day, and how Brian was being bad and got a "yellow" for behavior.  Goodbye never gets easier but life goes on.

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