Posts filed under ‘Gwyn’

Gwyn vs. the Volcano

I was cleaning off one of my SanDisk cards for my camera and I ran across some pictures I never processed. These are from February 22nd, when Ann, Larry, Sean and I took Penn and Gwyn to Kabuki for supper.

For the most part, the evening progressed normally. The kids oohed and ahhed at the fish tank while we waited for a table and after that they oohed and ahhed at the chef preparing the meal. Then it came time for the ONION VOLCANO!!!

Both children lean in with great expectations:

Let’s take a closer look at Gwyn’s face:

Gwyn excited about the volcano

BUT… when the volcano was actually lit, Gwyn was no longer happy:

And let’s take a closer look at that face:

Terrified Gwyn

Once the terror subsided, she watched the flames with worry:

Gwyn worried

Finally she just covered her eyes:

Know what the best part about the picture above is? That kid in the background (a stranger) is laughing at her!

Sympathetic Stranger

And in the end, it was Mama to the rescue:

Ann consoles Gwyn. Brother doesn’t look so concerned, does he?

March 28, 2008 at 7:24 pm 4 comments

Practice Makes Perfect

There is a saying that “Practice Makes Perfect”, but there should be a caveat that the practice needs to be meaningful.  I think this was displayed quite adeptly last Wednesday at Gwyn’s 3rd Birthday Party.

Gwyn’s mother was on a business trip, so that left Grandpa (aka Larry) in charge.  Almost immediately Larry encountered an obstacle.  Dairy Queen forgot to decorate the festive ice cream cake with Gwyn’s name.  And it turns out the teenage males manning the store never pursued on-the-job training in cake decoration.  Larry decided to personalize the cake himself.  He stopped by the store and picked up some pink icing.

Now, Larry also lacks cake decorating experience, so he got out a piece of bread to practice.  He worked on his whole wheat canvas briefly and then announced, “Enough practice, I’m ready!”

He squeezed icing over the cake and proceeded to scrawl blobs that were only slightly reminiscent of letters. 

Grandpa’s Cake Decoration Services

Here is a picture of the cake’s first letter.  Now I didn’t notice this until I was already home.  Look at the practice bread in the background. 

What is supposed to be a G on the cake.  The practice bread is in the background.

Larry felt confident to proceed after THAT?  🙂 

The cake quickly became a group project.  A knife was used to try to shift icing around and consultants were brought in to supervise.

Three generations try to figure out how to fix the cake

Even with everyone’s involvement and advice, the “GWYN” looked like it was written by Gwyn herself.

Good thing we had that practice bread!

Luckily, there a little known secret about decorating cakes for three-year olds.  Exclusively just for you, I’ll share.  

Three-year olds are not concerned with legibility of icing.  They just want to ingest it! 

Gwyn was as pleased as she could be with the pink scribbles.  And unlike last year, she knew exactly what to do when the candles were lit.

Gwyn blows out candles

December 17, 2007 at 1:06 am 5 comments

Quick Keys To Kids’ Hearts

Yesterday, Sean and I babysat Penn and Gwyn.  I picked them up at day care where Penn tried to convince me it was just me and him.

“My mommy said you do not have to pick my sister up.”

Nice try.

After a quick stop at Wendy’s we headed over to the house.  Ignoring the huge collection of Simpsons collectibles, there really aren’t many toys to offer children.  Nonetheless, both children find plenty of fun in our house.  It shouldn’t be surprising since once they did entertain themselves for 45 minutes with brussel sprouts.  Still I find it fascinating what features they find fun.  Some examples from last night:

Okay, this one was probably more fun for me.  I got to get another hairnet photo opportunity! 😉

Gwyn in a pink (of course!) hairnet

BOSU Balance Ball
This has been a Penn and Gwyn favorite for a while now.  Both kids love standing and hopping on the BOSU Balance Ball.  One time, a fight started to break out over who had the right to stand on the ball.  Last night, however, they did a great job of sharing. 

Gwyn comes in for a landing

Penn dismounts the balance ball

I have hammock in the backyard which is another common favorite, even if they can’t remember the name.  In June when Penn and Ann were dropping Gwyn off with me, Penn told his sister, “Gwynie you are going to have so much fun!  You get to ride in the hamster!”

Penn and Gwyn enjoy the hammock

XTerra First Aid Kit
One of the “features” of an XTerra is the First Aid Kit mounted to the rear cargo door.  Whenever I drive the kids around, it’s been of great interest and speculation.  

XTerra First Aid Kit 

Without their inquiries, I never thought twice about it (though it apparently it costs over $70!) and I had never used the kit until last month.  Little Gwyn pinched her finger in a door.  She performed some legitimate crying, but as soon as I suggested we get a Band-Aid from the XTerra, tears stopped and suddenly it was an adventure. 

Yesterday, we had another boo boo en route to a playground.  A skinned knee.  Once again, all crying ceased when the XTerra was mentioned.  The XTerra bandaids are plain and brown.  No princesses, no ponies, no Scooby Doo.  I guess the Band-Aids are special because they come from the car.

R.I.P. Waterbed
My house has lost a fan favorite.  On the way to the playground, Penn requested we lay on the waterbed when we get back.  I had to report the sad news– I drained and disassembled that waterbed as part of my home repairs.  At that point, Penn dazzled me with his intellect.

“There’s water in the waterbed?!?”  🙂

August 21, 2007 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Poop in the Woods Club

A quote from Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods:

When guys in camouflage pants and hunting hats sat around in the Four Aces Diner talking about fearsome things done out-of-doors, I would no longer have to feel like such a cupcake.  I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, “Yeah, I’ve shit in the woods.”

I can understand that swagger.  During my early hiking and camping outings that was a scenario I tried to avoid with every ounce of my being.  I managed moderate success for some time and then the dreaded day finally arrived where there was no other choice.  Turns out, it wasn’t the horrible experience I expected.  Actually, I believe I would describe it as…. empowering. 

Today, a young lad has joined the ranks of people who’ve pooped in the woods.

If there was an official Poop in the Woods Club, I propose a patch similiar to this rough design.

This afternoon I put myself up for some more blows to my ego and watched Penn and Gwyn.  After supper, I took them on an adventure outside.  We were having a good old time running through a field when all of a sudden a shout from Penn.

“Oohh!  Ohhh!  I’ve got to go to the baaaathroom and I can’t hold it!”

“Oh okay– let’s find a tree,” I said.  No biggie. 

 “Nooooooo….” the boy looked up at me and hushed his voice, “I have to poop.”

I went through due diligence and asked if he could hold it to the car.  From the car, we had a short drive to a toilet.

“Noo,” he clutched his stomach, “I hafta go really, really bad.  I can’t hold it!”

Luckily, we had the woods.  I explained the game plan and the three of us ran to the forest, towards Penn’s sweet relief.  But, we had a weak link in our mix.  Two and a half year old Gwyn is easily distracted and near the forest edge she stopped.

“I Nee Elp” she said.  (“I need help”)

I turned for a moment to see what she was trying to accomplish (she was pointing at some grass).  When I turned back I could see Penn had reached the woods.  Still in motion, his little hands were poised to pull down his pants and he was heading straight for– POISON IVY!!!!!

If my life was a movie, here is where the slow motion kicks in.

“NOOOOOoooooooooooOOOOooooOOOOoooOOOoooooo!” I yelled and all four limbs propelled my body to intercept disaster.

The boy stopped stunned and I reached him in time (Take that, John McClane).  I scouted out locations and found a spot that had briar bushes, but was definitely poison ivy free. 

By that time, Gwyn had caught up with us and Penn quickly pulled down his pants and immediately went to the bathroom (Apologies all, we did not have time to dig a cathole.  I’ll teach him that in less dire circumstances).  Gwyn played with some nearby grass and I had the important job of holding back the thorny bushes.

“Oh, oh!” He exclaimed, “It’s diarrhea.”

I looked down and saw a familiar sight, “Oh no, poop in the woods looks like that,” I said with knowledge and assurance in my tone.

Just then his next effort emerged.

“Oh…uh….” I mumbled.  Once again, the boy knew better than I.

When he was done, we had another issue.  We had no toilet paper.  While still holding briar bushes back with one hand, I grabbed all the nearby leaves I could reach.  When that supply dried up, I needed a recruit.

“Gwynie, can you get brother some leaves?” I asked.  Gwyn didn’t hesitate to help– it was a fun little game to her.  Even when everything was wiped and buried (well… the best we could do), little Gwyn was still fetching leaves.  🙂  For me it was an operation to be closely supervised.  We were, afterall, in established poison ivy territory.  I personally inspected the leaves for quality control. 

Penn was more concerned with quantity, not quality, periodically announcing, “We need more leaves here.”

When it was all over, neither child complained when we headed back to the car.  We stopped by my house for some more conventional cleanup and then it was home to see Grandpa and Mommy.

The last couple of months, Penn has been asking me to take him camping.

“Well Penn,” I told him, “Today you learned a part of camping.”

He seemed quite pleased with that… though he suggested when we do camp, we try Grandpa’s backyard so “we’re close to a potty.”

Sounds good to me!

July 9, 2007 at 11:51 pm 13 comments

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Keeping Up with Penn
Almost two years ago, I played my very first game of golf with Larry, Ann and young Penn (three years old at the time).  My first tee shot was a nightmare.  I had a number of swings that completely missed the ball altogether.  Once I succeeded in just barely brushing the ball off the tee.  Finally, I made contact with the ball… albeit, not very good.  My ball rolled perhaps 20 feet in front of me in the grass.

At that point, Penn grew impatient.

“MY TURN!” He yelled. 

He dropped his ball in the grass next to my tee and gave it a solid and effortless wack with his tiny driver.  His ball made a nice arc and went well past mine on the fairway.

Reenactment– Penn hitting a golf ball in his yard.

As if that humilation wasn’t enough, Penn made an announcement (paraphrased).

“WOW, my ball went a lot further than yours, Bicky!!!”

Keeping Up with Gwyn
Friday night, I joined Ann and Gwyn for a dinner at Kabuki’s.  When they brought out our salads, they asked me if I wanted chopsticks.  I declined— I am not very good at chopsticks.  I can hold my own when it comes to sushi (though I have had some nigiri accidents), but forget about it for anything else.

The waiter moved to the next person at the table which was 2 1/2 year old Gwyn.  He gave her a pair of chopsticks to play with.  Just when I thought I had some added entertainment for the evening, that little girl picked up those chopsticks and started eating her salad like she had been doing it for years.

Gwyn picks up a piece of lettuce with chopsticks.

I guess I need to focus on the talents I do excel in.  Unlike Penn, I can eat squash without vomitting and although I’m a messy eater, I’m still a heck of a lot cleaner than Gwyn.

Gwyn is a messy eater

July 9, 2007 at 8:19 am Leave a comment

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

Duck Pond with Gwyn

Friday afternoon, I got to babysit little two and a half year old Gwyn.  After dinner, I took her to the Virginia Tech Duck Pond.  Here are some highlights and pictures from our adventure.

I brought some old bread with us and Gwyn used it to feed a fleet of mallards.  At first she threw out a whole slice of bread out there (the ducks could not believe their eyes), but after that, she was very good at tearing off little pieces.  Once she got than hang of it, Gwyn promoted herself supervisor of the operation.  “More,” she’d tell me when she was out of bread.  And just in case the ducks could not figure out their role, after she threw the bread little Gwyn would order, “EAT! EAT!”

A duck waits for Gwyn to part with the bread

Gwyn gets ready to ration off another piece of bread

Hungry ducks keep their eyes on the prize

“Another One”
Most of what Gwyn says, I can’t quite decipher, so I fake it at times.  “Uh huh”, “Cool”, “Yeah, nice!”, “Neat!”.  At one point she pointed to a wall and kept repeating a phrase.  I ran through all my generic responses before I realized- she was saying, “I need help.”  She wanted to be lifted up so she could see over the wall.  Well, there was one moment where what she said was very clear.  We ran across a weird duck. 

“Wow, look at that weird duck!” I said, “I’m going to take a picture.” 

And so I did:

Weird Duck #1

As I fiddled with auto-focus and took the picture, Gwyn very clearly said, “Another one!” and pointed.  Sure enough, there was another very weird duck.

Weird Duck #2

“I Did It!”
Earlier in the evening, Gwyn had a successful visit to the potty!  At the duck pond, I notice her squating.

“What are you doing?” I said,  “Are you going to the bathroom?!?”

“Yeah!” she said with a sly smile on her face.

We were just 40 feet away from the restroom.  “Can you hold it?” I asked, “The potty is right over there.”

“Yeah!” she said with a sly smile on her face.

So we walked over to the potty.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to report to Mommy that we had two successful potty trips?  We got to the restroom.  I pulled her pants and pull-ups down and discovered that she had not, in fact, held it.  But we were already there, so I held her over the toilet.  She sat idle for a few moments, grabbed some toilet paper, wiped herself and then despite the poop in her pull-ups she got a huge smile on her face and proudly exclaimed, “I did it!!!!”  🙂

Baby Ducks and Willow Trees
After the duck feeding, Gwyn had lots of fun picking clovers, running through willow trees and exploring a nearby tent.  We also saw a number of adoreable duck families.

A mama and her babies

Gwyn plays in a willow tree

Before we knew it, it was bedtime for both the ducks and Gwyn.  All our pictures from the Virginia Tech Duck Pond visit are on my Flickr site.

June 24, 2007 at 10:55 pm 4 comments

Fun with Brussel Sprouts

On Sunday, I was sitting on the front stoop getting some fresh brussel sprouts ready to steam.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with brussel sprout preparation, you peel off the outer leaves, you trim the stem and you cut an “X” on the bottom of the trimmed stem.  I was putting all the scraps in a nearby flower pot (sort of designated as my mini compost pile– it only gets used when I prepare vegetables on the stoop).

While I was working, Ann and the kids came over.

“What’s that?” Penn looked into my colander.

“Brussel sprouts,” I said.

“Can I eat one?” he asked.

That’s a hilarious question.  Penn’s not exactly a vegetable person.  He once announced at the dinner table that his mother’s salad, “tastes like trash.” Need more proof?  Tonight while trying to choke down squash, he threw up.

“They aren’t cooked yet,” I said and easily circumvented what was destined to be a failed endeavor.

But I did give him one unappetizing sprout to play with.  He tossed it around like a ball and chased it around the yard.  Suddenly his sister was jealous.  Jealous over…a brussel sprout!  So I gave her one too.  This activity kept them busy for some time.

When the two children tired of chasing their sprouts around the yard, their attention moved to the peeled outer leaves.  They would each grab a handful, run into the yard and then yell, “Hip Hip Hooray!” and throw the leaves above them like confetti.  It actually looked quite neat.  Brides to be, don’t spend money on rose petals– brussel sprout petals would be a thifty replacement (plus they’re green, a far superior color).

After that, Penn put the leaves to a different purpose– ammunition.  He and I had a brussel sprout fight.  I’m pretty confident he won.  I remained seated on the stoop, so I was a stationary target.  He, on the other hand, was very active on the evasive maneuver front.  I still got a fair share of hits on the boy, but he seemed to be more successful than I.  The leaves proved to be much more aerodynamical than one would expect.

When it was all said and done, 45 minutes had gone by.  No Scooby Doo.  No fancy toys.  The children were entertained for 45 minutes straight with nothing more than brussel sprouts. 

Not bad for a cruciferous vegetable.

June 20, 2007 at 11:14 pm 22 comments

Lessons from Birthday #1

Back from our full weekend.  Saturday was Ali’s first birthday party.  We had a really good time, but the experience proved to be educational as well.  Time is scarce, so here a few of the lessons from the party.

Some Instincts Humans Are Born Without…
For example- the love of birthday cake.  My love of sweets is so ingrained, I just assumed it was innate.  Little Ali proved otherwise.  She didn’t realize what a wonderful treat cake was at first.

Ali scared of the mysterious object

Eventually Ali got the hang of it.

Eating with her mother

Before we know it, Ali will a full-blown sweet master like little Gwyn

Gwyn has long mastered the art of endulging on sweets

…But We Do Have Some Animal-Like Tendencies Afterall
When a pinata broke, the kids swarmed and looked very much like a pack of hyenas.

Children descend on the bounty

Bubbles Enchant Kids…
A bubble generating machine entertained the kids for hours.

Marissa closes in on a bubble

Gwyn enchanted by all the bubbles

Penn teaches an apprentice how to punch bubbles

…Adults Not So Much
Lud and Sean were able to carry on a seemingly somber conversation, despite being surrounded by bubbles.

Sean and Lud do not even acknowledge the magical bubbles around them.

Even Grandpas Love Turtles…
Ali’s paternal grandfather braved a sporadic stream of defensive pee for a picture of a turtle next to his turtle tattoo.
Chuck Vandervort’s turtle tattoo… and an actual turtle

…And Even Grownups Like Toys
Many of the adults could not resist playing with some of the toys set out for the kids.

Andy masters multi-tasking by bouncing a ball on a racquet and holding his beer

Being a Supervisor is Tough Work…
While Brian and Jodi struggled to move the swing for pinata play, Lud kept a watchful managerial eye.

Lud looks skeptical of Jodi and Brian’s strategy

…But Elmo Takes the Cake (Somewhat Literally)
A stuffed Elmo appeared to have the toughest job of the day.  Here he poses at the end of the event, littered with icing.

This Elmo has seen better days.

Everyone else, including Brian and Jodi, made it through the day without looking nearly as frazzled as Elmo.  It proved to be a wonderful party and quite a treat to attend. 

All my pictures from Ali’s First Birthday Party are available on my Flickr site.

June 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm 2 comments

Sean’s Hidden Talent

Last night, Sean and I joined Larry and Ann for a cookout.  While we were waiting for supper, we played with the kids.  I started kicking a pink ball around and feeling pretty darn accomplished with how easily I could wow the children with my skills.  And then Sean took a turn.  Suddenly, I was chopped liver!

Together, Sean and the kids developed a game.  It worked like this:

1) Both kids would run out into the yard and lay down in the grass. 

2) While the kids laid in the yard, Sean kicked the ball super high.

Sean kicks to the two kids who are laying in the grass

A sense of how high the ball went.  Look directly above Sean, the ball is almost out of the frame.

3) When the ball finally landed both, kids would scramble up. 

Penn and Gwyn scrambling to get up to retrieve the ball.

 4) The kids would race to and retrieve the ball

Gwyn retrieves the ball

The kids freaking loved that game.  They could not get enough of it.

Penn and Gwyn laughing and loving the ball.

The game was educational… at least to me.  I knew during high school my husband was the V-Sit Champion for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Apparently, he still possesses a lot of that flexibility.

Good Lord, that’s a high kick.  He’s even on his tippie toe too.

Alas, all good things must come to an end.  Sean eventually had to call time out and tell the kids he needed a break.

Look at the faces of the children as Sean tells them he’s taking a time out.

At that point, Penn did try his leg out at kicking.   That wasn’t quite the same.

Penn has a ways until he matches Sean

There was one last option that remained.  Penn grabbed the pink ball and ran after me.

“VICKY’S HIRED!!!!” he screamed, “VICKY’S HIRED!!!”

May 13, 2007 at 10:41 am 4 comments

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