1. Where we live in Florida, the kids actually get a day off of school to go to the state fair. They get free tickets at school. Since the little ones are free too, I decided to temporarily set my sanity aside and take all four Little Explorers, by myself, to the State Fair. I told them up front that there would be no rides, no games, and no junk. I strapped Laura Ingalls Wilder to my front in the Ergo carrier. (How does anyone with more than two kids survive without a baby carrier?) Amelia Earhart wore a small backpack with a few necessities in it, and was in charge of being Arthur Dent’s “buddy.” Gertrude Bell was in charge of herself because she is the Little Explorer most in tune to “stranger danger” and with the most natural fear of getting separated from us. The whole thing went amazingly well. The Little Explorers had a ball in “Cracker Country,” which is one of those pioneer day living history museums. They even got to make a candle by dipping it in beeswax. The Little Explorers also loved looking at all the exhibits. They got to meet Smokey Bear. They oohed and ahhed over the blue ribbon needlepoint and art. Their primary objective was to see animals. After petting a rabbit and milking a cow, as well as seeing some livestock being shown by young 4-H kids, they were probably the happiest kids at the fair. I treated them to their first funnel cake. They were skeptical, mostly because The Little Explorers pretty much live for cotton candy, and I could tell they were really hoping for some. Once they were convinced of the deliciousness of funnel cake and understood its importance to fair culture, they were sold. I did tell them we’d get cotton candy on the walk back to the car. That walk was probably the only somewhat negative part of the day. By that point we’d probably stayed at the fair about 45 minutes longer than was wise. The Little Explorers were exhausted, and my feet and hips ached from having an extra 25 or 30 pounds strapped to my front. Arthur Dent fared the worst. He got his cotton candy and immediately started squeezing the bag. The cotton candy got deflated and he was then convinced he didn’t get as much as his sisters. He proceeded to begin crying and repeating “My candy!” over and over. Then, he stepped in a mud puddle as we traversed the parking lot looking for the car. He promptly slipped his feet out of his shoes and tried to leave them behind. He then began to alternate the cries of “My candy!” with “My wet shoes!” All in all, that portion of the day was a hot mess. We survived, though, and made some awesome memories.
2. I just started reading “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming” by Henri Nouwen. I don’t know if it’s just where I’m at right now, but it is really touching my heart. I’ve already gotten a bit misty eyed, and I’m only on chapter one.
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder is almost 15 months old and has entered a really ridiculously adorable stage. She’s got The International Man of Intrigue wrapped around her finger. Her first word was “Dada,” and much to her amusement, she still refuses to say “Mama,” although if she’s feeling particularly magnanimous, she’ll call me “BopBop.” When The International Man of Intrigue gets home, Laura Ingalls Wilder squeals with delight and toddles over to give him a hug. If he doesn’t pick her up and take her along after the hug, she follows him to the kitchen, walking with her tiny hands in the air, waiting to be carried. It’s really heart meltingly sweet.
4. I have this amazing coffee maker. It has a pot for making a large quantity of coffee, like on weekends when The International Man of Intrigue and I require a warm beverage to jump start another ridiculously early Saturday morning with the Little Explorers, but it also has another side that allows me to use either K-cups or my own coffee to make a single cup. When we first got it, I bought a box of mixed flavors of coffee K-cups from Amazon. I don’t use them much, but I find it a really hit or miss thing. Some are amazing, like this coconut one that tasted exactly like a Mounds candy bar. Then there was this morning- I decided to treat myself to a flavored K-cup and chose an apple pie a la mode flavor. I made it and it smelled amazing. It tasted like…wait for it…coffee. So disappointing.
5. This weekend, Gertrude Bell was skyping with my mom and my mom was telling Gertrude Bell how, earlier in the week, a deer had hit my mom’s car. My mom asked Gertrude Bell if she’d ever seen a deer when she was in the car. Gertrude Bell perked up and said, “No, but we've seen an elephant!” We all laughed, then realized that, yes, once when we lived in Sri Lanka, our car almost got hit by a wild elephant. In the elephant’s defense, we owned a large, gray Jeep Commander. It would be easy to be curious about the shiny looking motorized elephant, I suppose, if one was a real elephant. This, Fellow Adventurers, is how I’m raising weird kids.