Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Visit to My Girls: Brandy and Mikayla

I really hadn't planned a trip to Las Vegas this fall.  But then my life is often not quite planned.  I've been lucky that way.  Unexpected blessings.  And this was just such blessing. 
Brandy, Will and Mikayla will be moving to Niceville.  I know- you don't know where that is- I didn't either- and you're probably going- "Niceville, what the heck?"- kinda sounds like a TV show- Like Pleasantville. 

Well, Will has already started his new job the first of October (Will still works for the same company- but was given a promotion and transferred from Las Vegas) and since his new job is in Florida he is mostly not in Las Vegas. So I made a trip to keep my girls company for a long weekend.  I had SO MUCH FUN!  I mean SO MUCH FUN!  There is nothing like a GIRLS WEEKEND!

Now Brandy likes to impress, so she and Mikayla met me at the airport-

with Mikayla wearing the dress that I almost knitted.  I got off to a great start- a really great start, but then I got up to the armholes I couldn't figure out what to do next. 

Lucky for me (and Mikayla) Mary Ezra didn't have any trouble finishing the dress.  Mary really, really, really knows how to knit. I'm mostly doing scarves now.  Simpler. Works for me.

Now I've heard about GIRLS WEEKENDS before- though can't say I've ever been on a GIRLS WEEKEND.  I'm kinda thinking that most GIRLS WEEKENDS don't quite spend so much time at the park- or "painting" on the patio.  But then in the end all successful GIRLS WEEKENDS are the same- the pleasure of just "hanging out" with girls you love!  And this on was really, really, really successful!

I'm going to share the highlights with you- just the highlights, just the highlights with the pics and you gotta believe I was there with my camera.

Well of course there was the bath:

And there were walks:

This was my view on the walk:

And there was ART on the patio!

And sometimes in the morning we'd just "visit" on the patio:

And I must mention the absolute pleasure of starting your day with my angel- with her morning halo!

I must tell you that Brandy has been busy, real busy!  In addition to a busy life as Mommy to Mikayla, she's finishing her student teaching as a high school science teacher.  She'll soon get both her certificate to teach as well as her masters degree in education.  (She already has a masters degree in history!) Now if this isn't enough- and apparently for Brandy it wasn't quite- she is training- and competing in Triathelons!  So while I was there she did the training necessary!

The weekend after our GIRLS WEEKEND, Brandy competed in her third Triathelon of this season.  She came in 2nd in her age group- and 8th over all.  IMPRESSIVE!

And much time was spent at the park:

And of course we went down the slide (well I have to admit I was more of an "observer"...)

And we logged real time on the swing!

And I was really, really, really busy before my visit!  I made a puppy dog costume for Mikayla's first Halloween Costume!

Brandy tried on the hat- and is holding "Puppy"!

PS: Amber tried the hat on when she came for a visit in Cincinnati earlier in October!

And notice that there are "dog tags" that say "MIKAYLA" and "PUPPY"!

 And now presenting GRAMA'S PUPPY MIKAYLA!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Summer and Baseball

Max and I are not great sports fans.  We never watch pro football, although we will on rare occasion watch the super? bowl- I don't ever remember watching the super bowl with Don- so if we did I was definately not paying attention!  And given the experiences of our college days, we will sometimes watch Oklahoma University play football, especially if our son Clint is around.  I do love my Sooners!  Why the last time I ever cried because my team lost was at an OU football game.  And that was a long, long, long time ago- and I suppose I cried about a lot of things then that wouldn't even make me misty eyed now! And watching an OU game (Don and I share a total of 5 degrees from OU)- plus our very own OU legacy with our son Clint - has to be one of the highlights of any year for me!

But bottom line is that I love BASEBALL!  It was love at first "visit".  I didn't "grow up" with baseball- and think I must have been in my late 20s/early 30s before I saw my very first game in OKC at the minor league team- the 89er's- a AAA farm team for the Texas Rangers.  From that very first summer evening at the ballpark I somehow knew that a summer night spent at a baseball game was a "perfect" way to experience summer!  Why the kids and I even went to a couple of major league games in Dallas (we always cheered against Texas- that "anything but Texas" lasts a long, long time if you graduate from OU!) back in the old days- the really old days- pre Cincinnati!  
And then I hit paydirt!  I married into the Cincinnati Reds "family"!  From that very first visit to watch the Reds I was a fan- win or lose!  I do love my "boys". 
We never watch pro or even college basketball, but we do enjoy baseball, especially Cincinnati Reds baseball.  The Reds haven't been to the playoffs since 1995, but this year they won the NL Central.  Now I did arrive in Cincinnati in 1994- but I'm afraid the sharing of a home with 6 often very unruly children (I might mention that 4 were teenagers- I didn't notice that there was any life outside of the chaos that was my life!) So I have absolutely no memories of that 1995 success story. By the time the Reds entered my life they had securely established their reputation as a race for the bottom- not the top. But I loved them win or lose! 
We enjoy baseball for the pure enjoyment of going to a game, eating Big Red Smokies (hot dogs) on a bun with lots of mustard and saurkraut, eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the ground, and drinking a beer while watching the game go by. 

For the last few years Cincinnati Reds have been so far out of contention that there was never any hope of making the playoffs.  But we went anyway because we just enjoyed being in the stands with the slow pace of the game, our peanuts, hot dogs, and beverages. 
I must admit this year when they played so very poorly in the play-offs, I did worry that "my boys" would be too hard on themselves. They should have played better- not sure how they all fell apart so completely- so together- but they did. I'm sorry - but I hope they know how proud I am- and that next year I'll be back- again.
Most sports you actually have to watch with no time to catch your breath, but baseball gives you time to relax while the pitcher spits, scratches, and adjusts his equipment, then just as he is ready, the batter steps out to tighten his "batting gloves" and adjust his batting helmet.  At a baseball game you have time to look at the crowd, eat, drink and still not miss anything. Baseball is as lazy as any summer night might be.
But this year the Reds are in the playoffs but before that we enjoyed going to a few games and watching a whole lot more on TV.  I don't think I even noticed that the Reds were usually winning- instead of usually losing- until late in the season. Baseball is that way- it has a way of lulling you quietly- Even the worst teams win some- and the best lose some... Even better we got to see some games from some great seats (thank you Amber and Evan) and even from different stadiums ( thanks again Amber and Evan).

This is the view when we buy our tickets!

But when Amber and Evan treat us for a night of baseball this is our view!

And we had an absolutely wonderful weekend in Chicago with a trip to Wrigley!  It was like living a dream! Notice the rooftop seats!  So unique to Chicago!

And of course in addition to the baseball we had a wonderful time spending time with Amber and Evan.  They even cooked us dinner in their new condo!  We loved it!

We haven't been to very many ball parks in MLB.  Though I think an exciting "retirement" goal might be to see how many balls parks we can visit during the season. And for a bit I thought that spending a spring "working" the spring training season in Florida might be the perfect way to spend a spring (but the Reds moved to Arizona!). We went to games in Oakland and San Francisco when we were living out there, and this year we went to Wrigley in Chicago. Thank you, thank you, thank you Amber and Evan- you do spoil us!  
But the ball park in Cincinnati remains our favorite.  And even better it has a sponsor name that isn't embarrassing.  We don't have to go to PetCo Park, or Minute Maid Park, or Tropicana Park.  We get to go to Great American Park.  For the first few years I just thought it was called that because it is a great American park, but Great American is an insurance company here in Cincinnati, but I'll just keep thinking it is named correctly regardless of the source. 

The Reds have a great history ( Reds History ) given that they were the first all professional team in 1869 and were charter members of the original National League, and that they played the very first night game under lights.  But in Cincinnati going to a game is a real family event.  It is one of the few team sports that the opposing players often have cordial conversations during the game or congratulate one another after making a great play.  The game is non-violent, players rarely get hurt by another player, and fans will often cheer a great play by an opposing player. I do need to mention that these very "family" friendly behaviors can be noticed in Chicago at Wrigley- you can sit anywhere and be treated very nicely- or San Francisco- or Cincinnati.  But these "family" friendly behaviors are not often noticed in Oakland- and especially not in Philadelphia!

Consequently, baseball is one of our favorite activities in the summer.

But one of the best things about going to Great American is the aforementioned ball park food.  We always buy peanuts in the shell on the way into the park (cheaper than inside).   And at the ball park you can eat the peanuts and just throw the shells on the floor.  We used to try different foods but have now settled into our routine.  Going to a games means having a Big Red Smoky (well sometimes two Big Red Smokys) with mustard and saurkraut on a bun.  Some may call that a hot dog, but it is so much more.  I think I could eat them several times a week if I were to ignore the artery clogging attribute.  Max takes great pleasure in making "runs" to the consessions for our food, and she enjoys even more loading the bun with significant amounts of mustard, hoping that I will once again squeeze the mustard out of the bun and onto my face and/or clothes.