Best (Daddy) Staycation Ever: Lynchburg Edition

Five nights from now I’ll be sleeping in a tent at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  My brother, Dad, and I will be hiking the 10+ miles to Havasu Falls, and I am beyond excited.

I’m super thankful for both my mom and Jay who are making this trip possible by watching Chica and Bubba for the week that we are gone.  That’s some big time love right there.

In preparation for Jay’s days with the kiddos in Lynchburg, I sat down and typed out every possible fun thing I could think of for him to do with them while I’m gone.  I fully realize that survival mode may kick in, and they’ll spend 95% of the time watching Elmo’s World and escaping to Nana’s house.  And I am totally great with that…I get it.

But sometimes the biggest barrier to doing something fun is just not having a fresh idea or all the info.  It’s not so easy to come up with the ideas when someone’s throwing a tantrum in the floor and you realize that NOW is the time to move on to the next thing…preferably  out of the house.  So thus the Best Daddy Staycation Ever: Lynchburg Edition list was born.

And after I finished typing it, I realized that I might just be pulling out this list again in those desperate tantrum-on-the-floor moments when I return home for to the remainder of the summer. So maybe there’s one or two of you that would like the list as well.  At least it might save you the time it takes to look up the hours of operation for some of the spots you don’t visit often.

So feel free to download the document below.  I edited the one I gave to Jay because, well, you don’t really need to know where we keep the sidewalk chalk or the phone numbers of friends to call to send out an S.O.S.  (Friends…you know who you are….feel free to call and check on them ’round about Wednesday or Thursday!)  I left off some obvious toddler activities that are just a given, like reading.  I’m pretty sure Bubba could do that all day, but one daddy can only read Barnyard Dance so many times in a 24 hour period. There were a few Lynchburg spots I didn’t include because I knew Jay wouldn’t be interested.  Ex. He doesn’t do pools.  Oh, and he’s going to have them Tuesday through Friday, so I only included activities that were scheduled for those days.

Finally, if you live somewhere other than Lynchburg, maybe you’ll be inspired to edit this list to include the best ideas and times for your own city.  Feel free to share it here if you want.

Happy Staycation!

Lynchburg Staycation  <—-Download here!

P.S.  I had totally intended to add links for many of these places, but the rumored storm is here and in full swing.  I expect we may lose power shortly, so I’m just going to post as-is.  I’m praying this summer’s derecho is nothing like last year’s!

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Deep (and Not So Deep) Thoughts on a Saturday

In no particular order…

All funny stories that begin with a hard-boiled egg usually end with an egg that wasn’t hard-boiled after all.

Grandmas are the only people that you can ask to watch your sick kids without a guilty conscience.

Well written eulogies for funny people (and most people, probably) require a delicate balance of humor and sincerity.  All three nailed it today.

If your kid calls you “Princess Demand-y Pants,” you should probably start calling her “Queen Sassy Britches.”

At some point bath time transitioned from a necessary chore to an easy way to keep the crazies entertained that doesn’t involve chasing anyone.  Why didn’t I figure this out sooner?

I’m not quite ready for the extra dose of potty humor that comes with having a boy.  Bubba giggles every time he finds his you-know-what while in the tub.  

“It’s okay for things to be good just for a time.”  I sounded like an old person today when I reminisced with a friend about the way things were before she moved away.  This was her eyeopening response.  

I really like the saying, “Shut the front door!”  I, apparently, need to take it quite literally, though.  Today I left for a walk to the park and came back to discover I had left the front door wide open.  Wednesday, after Chica’s dance class, I came back to my van (on 5th Street, no less) to find the sliding side door wide open.  Ah!

Kate Campbell was right.  Funeral food really does fill you up down to your toes.  I haven’t been hungry all evening.  Until now.

And one more borrowed deep thought (Thanks, David)….Many people teach us how to live.  Only a few people get to teach us how to die.  I have learned so much.

Planks, Specks, Teeth, and Bathroom Floors

Have you had any good plank and speck moments lately?  You know, the kind of moment where you work so hard at correcting the faults in others, only to realize you have the exact same problem.

This happened recently to my good friend, Ruth, as she was teaching her class of sixth graders about these guys. She literally stopped in the middle of her lesson and said to her room full of unexpecting eleven and twelve year olds, “Woah….I’m being convicted right now guys,” when she caught a glimpse of her own plank.  (I won’t tell her whole story, though, because I hope to one day talk her into blogging about it here.  Stay tuned.)

Well, I had my most recent moment like this in the shower yesterday.  (All great thinking happens in the shower, right?)  Here I am carrying on a quite lively rant with myself about my parents’ bathroom floor.  You see, they have some water damage in their upstairs bathroom.  The area under the toilet is feeling quite spongy, but they keep putting off getting it fixed.  There are probably many reasons why they haven’t fixed it yet….time, money, denial that it’s a big problem, or maybe even embarrassment that it got that way in the first place.  As I’m thinking of all this, I’m saying to myself, “They need to get it fixed now.  This small spongy spot would be one thing to fix, but if they let it turn into a real hole, it will become a huge project.”

And then it hit me.  I have the exact same problem happening in my own head.  Literally.

You see a few months ago I was enjoying a hot turkey sandwich, so expertly cooked by Jay on his Panini grill, when I bit down on something crunchy hard.  My mind immediately knew it was a tooth, but I tried to convince myself that it was instead a seed or nut from the super hearty bread Jay had chosen.  Of course my first guess was right, and I now had a pretty gaping hole on the side of a lower, right tooth.  I admit I shed a few tears at the impending pain I knew this would cause both my mouth and my wallet, and I vowed to call the dentist in the morning.

Except I never did.  I blamed it on the fact that I forgot or that I was too busy during any school day (when the dentist is open) to make the call.  But that is so not true.  I just, plain and simple, avoided it.  Time, money, denial, embarassment…all the exact same reasons why I’m sure my parents are avoiding their needed repairs.

So right there in the shower my plank came into full view.  Why hadn’t I made that connection before?

So I’m done avoiding it.  Tomorrow I’m going to suck up all of my fears and just call the blasted dentist.  And if he happens to be closed because of the holiday, I’m going to call every day until I get him.  No more excuses…especially now that I have you holding me to it.

Plank removal is hard work.  Ugh.

Got any planks you’ve been working on lately?

Dreams Come True

Chica’s nana has one of those jobs where she has to make conversation with her clients all day to fill the silent space.  I would be miserable at this type of job, but she’s pretty excellent at it.  People are her thing.

I’ve come to learn that there is a bit of strategy involve in the art of making small talk with lots of people every week.  She collects a few good stories and then just tells them over and over until the next good one comes along.  Chica regularly provides excellent story telling material for Nana, and I think this snapshot yesterday is no exception…

Nana called at the very last minute last night and invited Chica to spend the night with her.  When Chica came out of choir last night, we told her the good news.

“Oh, my dream has come true!” she exclaimed in her most glorious, dramatic way.  You have to picture it complete with eyes squinted, fists pumping, and lots of twirling.  “I can’t believe it!  My dream has come true!  Yes!”

Well, Daddy of course had to join in the action.  “My dream has come true too…I don’t have to pack your lunch!”  He avoided the twirling, I think, but looked just like her in all other ways.

The excitement was infectious, and I couldn’t hold back.  “My dream has come true too!!  I’ll have a few moments of quiet in the morning at school.   Yes!”

Doesn’t take much in the Proffitt house to get us excited.  I hope a dream or two of yours came true today too.

Record and Replay

So I randomly have these ideas for impossibly fantastic inventions that I know could make me rich if only I could figure out how to create them.  Like the Front Seat to Back Seat Nursing Funnel.  Or the Fully Automatic Paper Grader/Commenter/Recorder/Sorter.  Tonight it’s the TiVo For Life.

I so wish I could TiVo days like today and play them back when life is a little less joy-full.  I’m not talking about just seeing pictures from this day or video even.  TiVo For Life would let you completely relive a day…feelings, smells, tastes and all.

Here are the parts I would fast forward to from today…and then live back in slow motion…

  • 6:45  That moment right after Bubba has had his fill but isn’t quite his wiggly, awake self yet.  For about 4.5 seconds he’s relaxed in my arms, and I am relaxed in the moment.  Don’t expect that relaxed feeling again, though, for another 15 or so hours.
  • 9:35  Not enough time to start a new lesson, but too much time to just waste.  I pull out a math trade book that has the potential to cause the “I’m too cool” reaction in some of my fourth graders.  Instead they all seem to be loving it, laughing right along with me.
  • 11:45  I’m carrying on a conversation about running over lunch with one of my students.  We share similar stories about winning an age group category in a race due not to great skill but to lack of great competition.  It’s fun to remember they are people too.
  • 12:30  I walk out of my classroom filled with the quiet buzz that comes from 23 bodies really working.  I’ve left my room in completely capable hands so that I can take Bubba to his nine month checkup.  Some kid from another class brought me a homemade cookie that I munch on as I walk out to my car.
  • 3:30  The doctor is late, as always, but we make the best of it.  Bubba laughs his belly laugh over and over at that other kid in the mirror.  I whisper prayers for a friend who is looking forward to meeting her own baby boy any time now.
  • 5:00  We stop at Mema and Wilson’s house for a quick visit with the great-grandparents.  Bubba can’t take his eyes off of Wilson, but seems to ignore Mema at all costs.  Figures.
  • 6:30  Dinner is cleaned up, and Jay suggests we take a family walk.  After fetching the stroller from the attic and pumping up the tires, the tiniest sputter of rain begins.  We decide against the walk and instead just watch the rain from the front porch.  Bubba sticks his pointer finger out over and over to feel it.  Chica walks down the sidewalk and waits for me to say, “Ready, set, go,” as her cue to run back up it.  Then she gets creative and makes me say things like, “One, zero point ninety, on your mark, get set, go.”  Chica’s hair is dripping, and my pants legs are soaked, and I think I’ll play back this moment an extra time or two.  Especially that moment where the sun is shining and the rain is still falling…so cool.
  • 8:15  Both kids are in bed.  My friend’s baby boy has arrived, and her Facebook is hopping with messages.  I try to tell myself that four hours after the baby is born is just too soon to visit someone that’s not family, but I just can’t seem to think of anything other than just going to peek at his brand new face.  I scrounge up a few hospital survival items so that I have something that I can drop and run, and I just go.  He is sleeping and snuggly and creamy and perfect and surrounded by a whole room of people that already love him.  On the way home I try to craft some insightful words for her I wish I had heard nine and a half months ago.  I have none worth more than just love him.
  • 10:00  Jay wisely suggested I plan for tomorrow before writing this post.  I begrudgingly agreed and got busy on odd & even numbers and the planets.  He was a willing guinea pig and helped me try out a new card game for tomorrow.  He even said it was fun.  I sure like that guy.

So I’ll let you know once I have all the particulars of my TiVo contraption figured out.  Until then, I guess rereading this will just have to do.

Our Day in Numbers

1  The number of flying blue My Little Ponies rescued from the post office.  It’s also the number of genuinely thankful four year olds.

$1.75  The amount of money we spent on today’s yard sale adventure.  So worth it.

2.4 and 31  The number of miles and minutes I ran in my brand new running shoes this morning.  Thanks Mom & Dad!

3  The number of cupcakes I bought from here in attempt to knock one more thing off of my summer bucket list.

3.5  The amount of teeth I see when Bubba grins at me.

 The number of times I thought, “What a bizarre sport!” while watching Olympic race walking.

 The number of empty water bottles sitting within arm’s reach of the chair where I nurse Bubba.  And yet I sit here typing wishing somebody would bring me another one.

 The number of Chica’s old Facebook videos Jay and I watched while marveling at just how much, yet how little, she has changed.

9  The number of empty Hot Tamales boxes I found as I sorted the recycling.  All mine.

18  The number of Cheerios and bite size pieces of food littered in and around the highchair after lunch.

34  The number of times Bubba must have squealed his eardrum piercing squeal while we were eating.  I hope we’re over this stage soon.

57  The number of times I’ve probably checked Facebook, WordPress, and e-mail already today.  Embarrassing.

250  The important number in a funny story Jay told me this morning about a parent of one of my students.  Ask him…it’s a good one.

Not enough.  The number of times I thanked the Provider for each of these blessings.

Image:  numbers © procsilas | Flickr Creative Commons

Super Why

“Mom, are all questions good questions?”

I didn’t have to give that (good) question much thought today.  I know the pat teacher answer of, “The only dumb question is the one you are too afraid to ask.”  But since fear of asking a question has never entered Chica’s oh-so-curious head, I knew that was a lesson for another time.

“The only questions that aren’t good are the ones you already know the answer to,” I told her quickly and confidently.

I’ve been pondering my answer today since I gave it.  Pondering answers….that’s the kind of thing you can do on vacation when your to-do list consists of feed your children, feed yourself, rest, and repeat…and you have Grandma there to help you get a childfree moment or two.

I can pinpoint the event that sparked both her question and my answer.  It’s one of those crazy-mom moments that I sorely wish I could relive and do differently.  At the beginning of the summer, Chica had learned how to write her last name, and we were headed to the library to get her very own library card.  We had been building up the excitement of this for several hours, yet she still asked on the way there, “Mom, where are we going?”

At first I assumed she was kidding and teasing me in her quirky, four year old way.  “You know where we are going,” I teased her back.  Well, apparently either she really didn’t know or she was really holding tightly to this joke of hers.  She kept repeating that she didn’t know, and I just kept insisting that she did.  If I could hit the replay button, here’s where I would just say, “The library,” and be done with it.  Instead some crazy woman took over my body and I found myself screaming down 5th Street, “YOU KNOW where we are going.  Tell me RIGHT NOW or I’m turning this car around and we are going NOWHERE.”  Sheesh.  What was that all about?  I definitely didn’t choose my battles wisely that day.

So I still have no idea whether or not she actually knew where we were going, but I took that opportunity, once I had calmed down about 20 notches to talk about how annoying it is to people to ask questions you already know the answer to.  I had no idea when it was all finished if she understood what I was saying, but seizing the teachable moment helped me resume an attitude appropriate for an occasion as momentous as getting one’s own library card.  Crazy woman went back into hiding, and cool and calm mom carried on with normal life.

So when she asked the question that she did today and quickly accepted my answer, I knew her little brain had in fact internalized at least a bit of our conversation that day on the way to the library.  With any luck, she internalized more of the “how not to be annoying” lesson and less of the “my mom’s a wacko” lesson.

So here I am back to pondering my answer.  If you’ve ever had a four year old or you’ve even just spent four minutes with a four year old, you know that the questions are incessant.  Do I, in fact, believe in the value of her curiosity enough to give her permission to ask freely?   I think I do, so I guess I need to start working on my response when the river starts flowing.  Often after the fifth or sixth why question in a row, I snap back, “Why do you ask so many questions?!?!”  That doesn’t exactly send the message that all questions are good questions, huh?

Then what about the questions that you already know the answer to?  Is there ever a time when these questions are actually good?  Maybe there’s value in hearing another person’s explanation if the listener is truly open.  Maybe there are times we have to ask ourselves honest questions that we already know the answer to, just so we can hear the answer.  I’m not sure I can translate all that into four year old speak, so I’ll save those edits to my answer for another time and place.

I leave you with a reminder that questions aren’t always as they seem…

For Chica’s 73rd question of the day, she randomly asked, “Mom, what does cut mean?”  Really, Chica?  Really?  I nearly launched into my rant about being annoying, when something made me decide to give her a chance.  I answered her question with a question.  “Where did you hear it?”

“Last night, when you were reading me that Pinkalicious School Rules book, it said the unicorn couldn’t cut the line with the other kids.”  Brilliant question, Chica.  Good for you.

Now…just try answering that one without using the word butt.  : )