Posts filed under ‘Ann’

Belly Dancing

On Monday, Ann and I had our very first belly dancing class courtesy of the YMCA Open University.  I expected to go through a period of humilation and awkwardness to get to the fun, but the atmosphere was instantly relaxing and free.  I had a very good time and look forward to the coming weeks. 

There were some less than stellar moments, however.  They had everything to do with my communications skills and very little to do with my ability to isolate motion in different body parts.

Since it was the first class, the instructor had us go around the room to introduce ourselves and tell the class why we were there.  The very first girl went and she spoke for some time on all the advantages she expected to see from belly dancing– exposure to other cultures, boosted self-esteem, exercise, all very good reasons.  As I listened to her well-articulated answers, I thought about my eventual answer in my head.  And suddenly I felt the urge to laugh.

I have Sawyer blood in me and inopportune laughter is one of our “features”.  My siblings and I demonstrated we inherited this trait early on, laughing at the word “naked” in church.  At my cousin Adam’s wedding in 2000, nearly our whole pew struggled to stiffle laughter during part of the ceremony (it was the antics of my father that were so hilarious– not the actual ceremony).  At least nine of us, representing two seperate branches of the family and two seperate generations, burst out laughing waiting at a funeral once. 

So as soon as my own thoughts struck me as amusing, I could feel the urge to laugh.  My belly dancing classmate was still elaborating on her variety of reasons for being there.  I hung my head and cracked a smile.  Thank goodness I still have all that Locks of Love hair to obscure my face.  Just when I thought I had fought back the urge to laugh, it came back with a vengence.  I tried, I really tried, but I couldn’t hold it in.

I laughed.

Now, this wasn’t a very large class and I was very audible to everyone present.  Worse– it looked like I was laughing at this poor girl.

“I’m sorry,” I said (still laughing!), “I’m just thinking about how LAME my answer is going to sound next to yours!!!”

The others seemed satisfied with my explanation and the teacher gave an understanding smile.

“Any answer is good,” the teacher told the class and then looked at me, “So it’s okay if you want to say, ‘I like the glittery costumes'”.

Oh, if only she knew.

One thing about my timing is good.  I’m glad I laughed during the first girl’s spiel.  The second girl was supposed to be in one of the rooms in Norris Hall on April 16th, but didn’t make it to class that day.  She said that event made her take an inventory of her life and she realized how much stuff she wanted to do in life that she had never tried. 

“And belly dancing is one of those things,” she said, “So here I am.”

Can you imagine if I laughed during that?!?!

Anyway, we go around the room and everyone has all these great answers as to why they were there.  Then the teacher calls on Ann.

“Uh……….” Ann got a glazed, deer-in-the-headlights look on her face.

“So… yeah…” I busted in, “Uh…we were drinking wine…”

I did go on to share some of positives draws of the class that peaked our interest, but when you get down to it, that’s the root cause in a nutshell.  Wine.  🙂

Regardless of the initial reason, the class is super fun and not bad exercise at all.  I checked in on my pulse at one point and it was elevated (far from “Angel Rest ascent” elevated, but an improvement over “sitting at a computer”).  And I could definitely feel somes muscles in action that normally remain idle.  I expect very, very good things to come.

August 29, 2007 at 9:40 am 8 comments

Château Morrisette

Today in celebration of Ann’s birthday, a group of us went to Château Morrisette off the Blue Ridge Parkway for brunch.  This was my first time at this winery and I was very impressed.  The food was delicious, particularly the vegetarian quiche.  I think I had four slices of quiche alone.  The crust was divine!

Our crew invested in two bottles of wine– the Chambourcin and the Blushing Dog.  I was fond of both, but the Chambourcin was more my style.  However, I would have to say the quiche outshined both wines! 🙂

Me and the Birthday Girl!

Ann is a fan of pink and it is well known by her birthday supporters.  She got a bouquet of pink roses and a series of pink Pampered Chef products – pink cake slicer, pink measuring cups, the works.  As for me, I wore a pink skirt, pink shoes, pink pearls, pink lipstick and hidden underneath it all, pink underwear (I’m a committed friend).

After our delicious meal, we returned to Blacksburg for cake and ice cream. 

Ann about to blow out her cake.  Look at little Gwyn trying to see!

Gwyn enjoying the cake and ice cream

More pictures of Ann’s Birthday Celebration can be found on my Flickr site.

June 24, 2007 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

Sicky Sawyer and the Kiddie Meals

Well I guess I decided I was jealous of Christina’s 32nd birthday.  So I went ahead and secured a case of strep throat for myself.  I’m on the appropriate antibiotics now, but given that I recently got up for the day and am about ready for bedtime, I think my birthday hike will be hindered (if not cancelled) tomorrow.

On side news, my Uncle Mark talked me into having chicken noodle soup for supper last night (a Friday during Lent).  Uncle Mark said if G.I. Sawyer (my grandfather) were around he would say it was an acceptable exception because it wasn’t out of selfishness and I have an obligation to nourish my body back to health.  I think it might have actually made me happier to spend a few moments remembering my grandfather than it was to hear I could have Campbell’s Double Noodle Soup for supper.

Ann stopped by the store for me and picked up a can of the Double Noodle Soup before heading over to our house for March Madness.  She arrived with the bounty and shared an embarrassing observation.  When she was at the store and she got to the Campbell’s section of the soup aisle, she couldn’t find the Double Noodle Soup right away.  “It was in the kid’s section!” she revealed. 

That isn’t the only childlike facet of my diet–  I’ve been eating a lot of popsicles.  Normally, I probably would have written them off as a dessert without a second glance.  But you know what?  They really aren’t that bad for you.  They are only 40 calories a piece and are just water and fruit juice.  In fact, you get a good dose of vitamin C with each chilly pop.  I never would have noticed that if I hadn’t fallen ill.  And boy, that icy texture feels so good on my sick throat. 

I guess if I don’t get better soon, I’ll have to invest in a lot of chicken nuggets, tatertots and Capri Suns….oh, and some Cheerios.  🙂

March 17, 2007 at 8:17 pm 8 comments

The Sacrifice of Lent

Yesterday Mike E called me up for lunch.

“Sure,” I said, “But I can’t eat meat.”

Mike hesitated and said, “I thought that was cheese?”

“Well, that too!” I laughed and went on the explain the Friday meat restriction.

Patient Mike ended up picking a good lunch place– Sushi Factory at University Mall! He brought along a co-worker who was also observing Lent. As we enjoyed our meals, Mike’s co-worker pointed out that often on Fridays he ends up eating more extravagantly than usual, because he splurges on seafood.

I never really thought much about it, but that guy sure did hit the nail on the head yesterday! Last night for supper, Ann and I took her kids to Kabuki Japanese Steakhouse. Kabuki turned out to be the perfect place for my Lenten diet. It has plenty of fish and seafood to choose from, lots of veggies, not a single slice of cheese to be found…AND at Kabuki, one is always too stuffed to even think about dessert! 🙂

Kabuki was also the perfect place for the kids. We had a wait for our table, but they had plenty of aquariums to keep Penn and Gwyn occupied:

Penn enthralled with the Kabuki fish

The chef’s cooking performance mesmorized the children while the food is prepared:

Penn and Gwyn are too interested in the onion volcano to look at the camera.

Finally, the staff really seemed to take to the kids. The chef, in particular, was very Penn-friendly. He let Penn play with his spatula. He let Penn try to catch a shrimp with his mouth like the adults (Penn missed…twice). He encouraged Penn to show off his Tae-Kwon-Do moves to the entire table. Finally, when Penn annonced, “I LIKE RICE!”, the chef responded by giving Penn a whole plate full of rice!

Penn and his plate full of rice

So here I am at the beginning of my season of sacrifice and I had sushi for lunch and then Kabuki for dinner.

Yeah, I’m not quite living a deprived life at the moment! 🙂

P.S. Watch out Cafe de Bangkok. I have my sights set on you and your divine tofu for next Friday!

February 24, 2007 at 11:54 pm 1 comment

Chuck E. Cheese

On Sunday morning, Ann and I took three kids to Chuck E. Cheese in Roanoke.  When Ann called to invite me, she was preparing for a hard-sell.  Little did she know, I love Chuck E. Cheese!  Brian Nenninger and I are fully grown, but will still make a visit when we are both in the Northern Virginia area to play skeeball.  So as soon as I heard the venue name, I was in.  I was so in, in fact, that I woke up early on a weekend– an honor usually reserved for long hikes.  Going to Chuck E. Cheese with children is a different experience, that’s for sure, but I found it just as fulfilling.  Some snippets from our visit:

It’s a Miracle!
All three kids (Penn, his friend Ana and his little sister Gwyn) had never been to Chuck E. Cheese before.  Yet, they all seemed to know whole-heartedly that they wanted to go.  When we arrived, the two five year olds ran up to the building and pressed their heads against the window to get a sneak peak of what was inside.  Instantly, they both turned around and started to jump up and down out of pure joy. 

They quickly pressed their heads back against the window again and soon Penn turned around to call to his mother, “Mama, mama, hurry up!  It’s a MIRACLE!”

Penn declares a miracle while Ana still looks inside

I sure have been seeing a lot of loose interpretations of what constitutes a miracle this year!

Friendship vs. Fun
Ana and Penn fell in love with a 4WD truck ride.  Basically you put the token in and the truck jiggles around like it is on a rough road and then it culminates with the truck bucking up on its rear wheels. 

Ana and Penn enjoy the truck ride

Penn grew tired of the ride before Ana.  After he wandered off wide-eyed at all the sites and sounds, Ana asked me to ride with her.  I declined but she begged.  “Come on, please, please, pllllleeeeeeeeezzz!” 

Earlier this year, I was enjoying a moon bounce with Penn at a local skating rink when suddenly an announcement bellowed over the loud speaker, “Just as reminder to our guests, adults are not permitted on the moon bounce.”  I looked around and realized that it was all little kids jumping around… and Vicky

I certainly didn’t want a repeat of that humilation, so I checked the truck ride for any kind of restrictions.  There weren’t any so I complied with Ana’s wishes.  She and I got into the truck and inserted our token.  The truck bounced around, but never reared up on its wheels.

“I wonder what’s wrong,” I said, “Do you think I’m too heavy?”

Suddenly my presence was no longer important to little Ana.

“Yes,” she said matter-of-factly, “Get out!”

Token Thief
Ann and I ordered our pizza, got everyone’s drinks and secured what we thought was an ample supply of 100 tokens.  Ultimately, we spent 180 tokens– so our initial estimate was about as accurate as my programming time estimates. 🙂  We gathered up shoes and coats and were taking claim to a table.  As we were getting settled, an older boy, perhaps 8 or 9, undeterred by the adult presence ran up and STOLE a token right out of our cup.

“Hey!” Ann and I simultaneously yelled, but he didn’t even flinch.

We exchanged appalled glances.  The nerve of this boy!

Ann needed to change Gwyn, so I was left as the guardian of the tokens.  Could you believe it?  This kid aggressively approached me on two different occassions and tried to take tokens right out of my hands!!!  I suspect my animal experience assisted me in changing poopy diapers.  I found the animal experience to come in handy in this situation as well.  Just as if I was arriving home with fresh french fries, I instinctively held the precious goods high up, rose a knee and let out a harsh, “Ah! ah! ah!” 

Later Ann and I discovered that this particular boy did have some kind of mental impairment…which is actually a bit relieving.  It was very easy to forgive his actions.  Later he was under the constant supervision of his father.  The boy still occassionally stole things from us, but the father returned them within seconds.

Friction at the Skeeball Machines
There is someone I encountered at Chuck E. Cheese that I’m having a harder time forgiving.  While the kids were running around through pipes and playing games, Ann and I decided to earn some tickets playing skeeball.  It was still early at that time (11ish) so no one else was playing.  Ann and I were the only occupied machines.

At one point, Ann had to go check on Gwyn, so she momentarily left her machine unattended.  She left her tokens, her phone and her drink at her spot.  Almost immediately a little boy came up and started to put a token in Ann’s machine.

I used a soft apologetic tone (I imagine it to be very similiar to the tone I sometimes use when I ask a waitress for half sweet and half unsweetened tea) and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, do you mind moving over one machine?  My friend is using that one and she’ll be right back.”

Apparently the boy’s mother was in earshot.  She did not use a soft apologetic tone.

“My son can use any machine in here just like you and everyone else!” she snapped at me.

Now it wasn’t like all the machines were occupied and I was hoarding a precious commodity here.  EVERY other machine was empty.  And it wasn’t like I was ordering her son around.  I was asked him if he minded moving over.  I still do not believe my request was unreasonable. 

I explained further to the mother, but there was no winning her over.  She’s going to continue to hate me until the day she dies.  I did get to keep the machine though.

“Well, it’s Sunday, so we’re just going to be nice and let you have it,” she said in a decidedly unnice tone and stormed off.

Suddenly for the first time in my life, Skeeball held no appeal for me. 

Luckily, I rebounded.  Later, when that mean lady was spotted far from the Skeeball machines, I joined Ann, Ana (who abandoned her original technique of chucking the ball overhand) and Penn for some final games.  Even little Gwyn rolled a few balls.

Penn plays Skeeball.  Ann and little Gwyn are on the very right.

My scores sucked, but it was still Skeeball and hey, I wasn’t getting yelled at by irate mothers, so bonus!

All my pictures from our visit to Chuck E. Cheese are available on my Flickr site.

February 6, 2007 at 5:16 pm 2 comments

A Thank You to Good Friends

As I mentioned, Sean and I are getting hardwood floors installed next week and we have to move everything off the first floor. Last night Sean added a finger to his injury inventory. Between that and the broken foot, he isn’t quite a key contributer to the moving efforts. And there are some things that just one able-bodied person is not able to move.

In August, a few of us drove up to Moneta to help friends paint their house. We had a great time and teamwork allowed the task to be completed quickly. Today, was a very similiar experience. Only this time I was on the receiving end of the efforts! Ledman, Mike E, Larry, Lindsay and even little Penn Jones showed up to help move. Ann couldn’t help with the lifting, but she still found a way to contribute. She made a delicious chili (with mushrooms– I’m starting to believe mushrooms compliment everything– they are delicious little sponges that soak up the flavor of whatever dish they are in. A concentrated version of the meal in one chewy bite) and her trademark brownies and brought them over to feed all the volunteers.

Together, the first floor was vacated of large items in a little more than an hour. We finished up so quickly, in fact, by the time Bill C arrived– we were all done for the day!!! 🙂

Without these people’s assistance, this would have been an impossible task. So, a lot of gratefulness is felt today. Sean and I are very lucky to have such good friends.

Now… we just need to manage to keep said friends for about another week or so. 😉

January 28, 2007 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Jasper “J.B.” Bowman

On Wednesday, Bill C and I traveled to Richmond to attend the funeral of Jasper, “J.B.” Bowman.    Some thoughts from our trip:

J.B. Fosters a Friendship
Although I only met him in person once, it’s possible I owe my entire friendship to Larry to this man.  (This musing is sort of a “lite” version of Clint’s I Should Not Be Alive thoughts).  You see, Jasper Bowman was a pathfinder during WWII, including the D-Day invasion.  Pathfinders would typically drop before the rest of the paratroopers to set up lights and markers for the landing areas.  So Larry’s father actually landed in St. Mere Eglise (which Larry, Sean, Stacy and I visited in 2004) the night before D-Day, preparing the way for the paratroopers the next night. 

Larry’s Dad is two heads to the left of the black X. 

When Larry first started working at QualTrax, I didn’t really converse with him that much.  He was just this weird man who Mike Miller and I suspected had a crush on another co-worker of ours (turned out Larry didn’t).  Then one day I found about Larry’s father.  This was of great interest to me.  I was reading D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climatic Battle of WWII by Stephen Ambrose and I was full into my Saving Private Ryan craze.  Saving Private Ryan is the movie I’ve seen by far the most in the theatre (I believe I went 4-6 times).  It turns out Larry had not seen it.  I described that movie passionately and made a decision right then and there that Larry had to see it.  It was still playing at the dollar theatre, so he and I picked a date and went to see the film. 

If it weren’t for Larry’s father, I am not sure if Larry and I would have befriended each other.  It would be a shame, because we were destined to be great friends.  It would have taken a toll on my professional life as well.  It was listening to Larry on the phone that taught me how to converse with customers.  It was Larry’s encouragement that sent me to Michigan, Kentucky and Europe in 2001 to perform my first speaking engagements (QualTrax trainings).  Without Larry, I may not have developed the communication skills that differentiate me a bit from other programmers. 

J.B.’s Broad Influence
At the funeral, J.B.’s “grandson” (his step-daughter’s step-son) told a story that showed you didn’t have to meet J.B. to be influenced by him.  The grandson was a history teacher and one year he videotaped J.B. recounting his WWII experiences and he’d show it each year to his students.  The grandson just recently ran into a past student at a conference.  In high school, the student was a troublemaker and far from focused.  After high school the student’s life changed dramatically.  He joined the army, fought in Afghanistan, was honorably discharged and now…. now he’s a history teacher.  Although he never met him, the student cited J.B. as his inspiration for how he lives his life.  He also requested a copy of the video tape of J.B.’s account to start to show his students.  Perhaps those students will also find influence in a man they’ve never met.

I was also struck by the admiration for J.B. in St. Mere Eglise during our visit in 2004.  When eating lunch, Larry, Sean, Stacy and I ran into some contemporary paratroopers.  They were in town for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and they were going to do a drop of their own to commemorate the event.  When they found out Larry’s father was a pathfinder, word spread fast.  Soon every soldier in the building was lined up single file….for the honor of shaking Larry’s hand!  They all wanted to thank Larry for what his father had done.

Blood Does Not Make a Family
J.B.’s “grandson” pointed out that he was J.B’s step-daughter’s step-son but “to J.B. you do not have to be blood to be family.  I was honored for him to call me ‘grandson’ and I was honored to call him my ‘grandfather'”  That sentiment struck home to me. 

I subscribe to Kurt Vonnegut’s claim that our society lacks in the support of a large extended family. In this day in age with distances between us, we often don’t have the same connection with our relatives as we would have in the days where generation after generation would remain in the same town.  As much as we love them, our extended family is typically not on the front lines and not our immediate support system.  But…. I look around and I do have the role of an extended family filled here in Blacksburg– a surrogate extended family (like the Daffodil-10’s in Vonnegut’s Slapstick).  These people are not related by blood, but through their caring and understanding, they are every bit of family to me.  And the Bowman/Jones clan are the backbone of my surrogate extended family.  It was neat to hear their patriarch believed that you did not have to be blood to be family, that the closeness that I feel towards his blood would have been approved of.

How Great Thou Art
During the service an older gentleman performed a solo of “How Great Thou Art”.  This guy rocked the house (well as much as one could with a hymn).   He was extremely talented and for a man whose body appeared to be feeble, he had such a strong and unwavering voice.  I was very moved by his rendition and the quality of his voice. 

I think that is one thing I am fond about with church– the ability for the local community to showcase their talents.  With a majority of our entertainment coming from national networks or world-renowed recording artists, the everyday performers have much to compete against to get an audience.  We miss out on knowing that Bob across the street can sing and Delores from down the road is a delightful dancer because we are too busy being tuned into American Idol. 

I think church provides a great forum for local performers.  These people may not have world-class talent, but they still have gifts to share with others.  The members of the choir can sing; budding actors and actresses and wanna be directors can participate in Christmas pageants; the man with a solid, but not quite radio-worthy, speaking voice can read passages of the Old Testament; the painters can work on scenery for plays or murals in the hallways; the athletes may never play professionally or get an athletic scholarship, but they can be crucial to the church’s team in the intramural league; the cooks can knock our socks off at pot-lucks; and finally the seamstresses can work on seasonal sashes or like my grandmother does, Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls to sell at the church bazaar. 

That man at the funeral and his solid delivery of “How Great Thou Art” served as a reminder that there is talent in this world which does not involve best-selling novels, dominating ratings during sweeps week, Grammys, Oscars or even a People’s Choice Award.  It’s a good reminder to get every once and a while.

Importance of Kids at the Funeral
Penn and Gwyn came along to attend their great-grandfather’s funeral.  At one point when I saw a frazzled Ann rush her two year old daughter with a soiled diaper to a Burger King bathroom, I wondered if it was “worth it” for Ann to have the children with her.   I certainly knew the children’s presence was worth it for me– afterall, I got to see my buddy Penn with no strings attached.  But for Ann, she had to juggle her own grief and her own emotion of the day with keeping tabs on the kids and the constant threat of a bored child acting up at an inopportune time.  Would it had been easier for her to grieve if the children were home??

Well, later that day, my own question was answered.  Absolutely the children needed to attend the funeral.  Their presence was important.  After all the services were done, the family gathered outside and the finality of it all it continued to sink in.  But then you see the children– Penn, Gwyn and Baby Jack playing and running and laughing and singing and just looking so joyous.  And you see the adults looking on with amusement and a flicker of joy returns to their weary, red eyes.  Life will indeed continue on.  These children are the proof.

Ann’s aunt said it the best.  She was chasing after Baby Jack (her grandson) amoung the pews and playing games.

“It’s hard to be sad,” she said, “When he is so happy.”

I do hope when I have children, I’ll remember this lesson.  That despite the inconveniences of travel and the promise of added stress, I realize– kids add value to funerals.

Additional Links
Full J.B. Bowman Obituary in Richmond Times-Dispatch

January 21, 2007 at 6:29 pm 3 comments

Gwyn’s Birthday Party

Today was Gwyn’s Birthday party.  It was a modest event– pizza, parmesan chicken, close family and friends.  There was one exception to the modesty which was a fancy Penguin Igloo Ice Cream Cake Ann and I made over the course of the last two days.  Ann had found the recipe in an issue of Martha Stewart Living:


Yesterday, we made the chocolate cake lining and then put in alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and then put it in the freezer to set overnight.  All we had to do today was to decorate it and add the penguins.  Easy, huh?   Well, last night I was perusing the internet for some pictures to include in my blog.  I should have known we were in for some trouble when one of the search results included the phrase, “Damn you Martha Stewart.”  It turns out the white chocolate butter cream icing recommended by the magazine was very runny and would not hold its shape.  So after some struggles with that, Ann made her own batch of regular butter cream icing and which behaved significantly better.   Still, with that delay, we finished the cake literally two minutes before the guests arrived!

We had to improvise without marzipan, so we made the penguins out of leftover butter cream frosting.  For the most part, the icing worked well, but it had trouble supporting a lot of verticle weight.  As a result, the penguins ended up being a bit pudgy.

“Those are some well-fed penguins,” Larry observed.

Apparently, Penn feels the penguins aren’t the only things that are well-fed.  Penn named some of the penguins.  The most plump blue one, Penn dubbed, “Fat Grandpa.” 

Incidentally, the other blue penguin Penn named, “Penn.”  Penn kept waving to his butter cream counterpart and greeting it, “Hi Penn!  Hi Penn!”  The two Penns seemed to have a good friendship going.  But then just a few minutes later, real Penn had no qualms of biting little Penn’s head off.

It took some coaxing to show Gwyn what to do with the candles.  Both Ann and Penn demonstrated the act:

I think it was a group effort, but both candles were successfully extinguished.  So I suppose little Gwyn’s wish will come true.  She’s too young to article her wish outloud.  But I suspect food is involved. 🙂

More pictures from Gwyn’s Birthday Party are available on my Flickr site.

December 10, 2006 at 8:26 pm 1 comment

Christmas Cookies

Earlier this week, my mother-in-law wrote:

Traditions are wonderful things to share, whether you combine some of your family’s and some of Sean’s family’s traditions or start your own.

Today, I was able to revise a tradition and share it with my friend Ann.  Every year, my family spends the day after Thanksgiving baking and decorating cookies.  It started when we were young.  We’re all grown up now, but that doesn’t stop us and our equally grown friends from participating in the yearly cookie decorating.  

A group of adults decorating cookies certainly brings forth new themes.  For example, a broken cookie is no longer a means for tears.  It is now an opportunity to get creative with red icing and make bloody stumps and appendages.  A Christmas tree elegantly decorated with the word “BEOTCH” is another design decision we didn’t quite capitalize on as children.  Here is a shot of last year’s effort.  I believe the Jackass cookie is the work of Aaron Evans, whose proven to be one of the best cookie decorators over the years.

Xmas Cookies 1995

This year, I wasn’t home for Thanksgiving and the timing was different, but cookie making and decorating was still done.   This year the participants were myself, Ann, Penn and little Gwyn (though Gwyn was more of a taste tester than a decorator).  We baked all day!  At times, Ann and I had two mixers going at once and three baking sheets were in constant circulation.  We made:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Sugar Cookies in the form of Snowmen, Candy Canes and Christmas Trees.  Penn and I used a variety of sprinkles and a delicious homemade butter cream icing Ann made.  Penn was especially good at embellishing the Christmas Trees and Candy Canes with the heart shaped sprinkles.
  • Peanut Butter Cookies with a Mini-Reeses Peanut Butter Cup in the middle.
  • Phifer’s Oreo Truffles which had a crushed Oreo and cream cheese filling and a milk chocolate outside with a white chocolate drizzle.  Penn was integral in mixing the filling!  After kids went to bed, Ann and I had a good time coating the goodies in chocolate.
  • Most importantly– we worked on a Penguin Igloo Ice Cream Cake for Gwyn’s birthday tomorrow.

Xmas Cookies 2006

It was a fun day and I’ll have to agree with my mother-in-law.  Traditions are wonderful things to share– especially with young children like Gwyn and Penn.

…even if it means an absence of bloody stumps and words such as “BEOTCH” and “JACKASS” 😉

December 10, 2006 at 12:47 am 6 comments

You Must Assimilate to My Hobbies

A few weeks ago, my work had a celebration at Adventure World.  It’s a facility that hosts a rollerskating rink, laser tag, moon bounces and an arcade.  I needed a date, so I invited four-year old Penn, two-year old Gwyn and Ann.  

About a year ago, I saw Penn put his feet in two toy dump trucks and used them to skate around a kitchen.  When skating most little kids viciously move their feet back and forth in a straight line and as a result, have very little forward progress.  But Penn was instinctively moved his feet at an angle and was able to get a lot of traction and movement out of those toy trucks.  A natural, right?

Well at Adventure World, we strapped the skates on Penn and took him out on to the floor.  I took a firm grasp on his chest under each arm to “spot” him and off we went.  It was…. a disaster.  Suddenly it was as if Penn was suffering from some kind of lower body seizures.  His feet were going everywhere.  There was constant movement in sporadic directions.  So I was pretty much holding up a frantic kid with bizarre tap dancing feet.  I tried my best to coach.

“Hold on.  Wait…. Wait… stay still a second.   Stop– stop– stop…Okay… Alright, now make your feet into a ‘V’…. A ‘V’ like in Vicky….Look at my feet….  Okay there,  now push forward with your right leg.  Wait.  Wait, what are you doing?  No, one leg at a time.  Stop kicking.  Put your feet back under your body.   Put them on the ground.  Hold on– Hold on, stay still.”

It’s quite a bit of exercise skating, supporting a squirming child and protecting the both of us from gravity taking its course.  At one point, noticing the ache in my back, I said, “Okay, let’s stop and take a break.”

“But I don’t need a break!” Penn whined.

So I had to rephrase and cite that it was *I* who needed a break.

Ann took a shot of assisting Penn but with similiar frustrations.  After a whole quarter of the rink, we had successfully tired ourselves out and almost brought the boy to tears.  We aborted and I took Penn to the carpet.   At that point, the kid suddenly regained control over his feet and I once again witnessed movement that resembled actual skating.

I think it was safe to say he was terrified on the rink.  Nonetheless at the end of the evening, Penn gasped and said, “I have an idea!  You are coming to my birthday party, right?  You can get me rollerblades!”

That was actually a welcomed idea– it was much easier than the alternative.  One day when his mother explained that I was a software engineer and I wrote computer programs, Penn had another brilliant idea. 

“I know!” he said, “She can write me a computer game for my birthday!!!!”

“Uh….I think Vicky’s too busy for that right now,” Ann said.

“That’s okay, Mama.  She can give it to me for Christmas if she wants.”

Nice of Penn to extend me the extra 21 days. 🙂 

Anyway, last night I went to Target to secure the more obtainable of the two birthday requests.  I got him some cute little rollerskates that will actually adjust between four different shoe sizes.  So they will grow with him. 

As I put my new bounty into the shopping basket, I realized– this is the fourth pair of skates I’ve purchased in the last few years.  And none of those skates have been for myself.  They’ve all been gifts!

  • I got my cousin Samantha rollerblades for Christmas one year.
  • I got my cousin Frank rollerblades for Christmas one year.
  • I got my sister new rollerblades for her 30th birthday last year.
  • I got Penn his first pair of rollerskates for his 5th birthday this year.

It seems I go out of my way to insure others can partake in my hobbies!

Does that make me the drug pusher of skating?

December 3, 2006 at 1:51 pm 4 comments

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