Monday, December 30, 2013

Our First Wrestling Tournament

The kids' entering the wrestling world is really my first exposure to the whole thing too. And Saturday, we went to our first tournament. Let's cover the good first. It was in town so we didn't have to drive anywhere. Also, Mom and Dad are here so they got to see the kids in action. Maggie was quite excited, Eion, not as much.

Maggie bolstered Eion's spirit as we waited for warmups to end. But alas, he and his opponent were either in tears or nearly so as we approached their match. Hard work on the part of both mothers got the nervous boys on the mat.

This ended up being the highlight of the day. Eion tied his opponent and they were very well matched. In addition to being in the same weight class, they also had similar levels of experience. 

The rest of the day was less positive, with his next two matches ending with Eion being pinned. But that tie, and the shallow field, allowed him to win a 4th place medal. He ended the day all smiles.

Then there was Maggie's day. Oh, poor Maggie.

She had four matches, each of which ended with her getting pinned. 

She was the cutest wrestler out there.

She took the first one in relative stride. It was match two where it all went off the rails. Now naturally, I realize that this is a physical sport. But I don't think I was anywhere near ready to see some boy pick Maggie up and throw her to the ground. After which, he attempted, and succeed, in pinning her as she struggled to get away. 

She was bereft. The fact that he was one of the toughest competitors on that team and had years of experience did nothing to mitigate the situation. She sat and sobbed. Mags was able to pull it together for round three, but while not quite as brutal as the last encounter, she was again the loser. The last match loomed but she rallied and was feeling positive. She and her coaches watched as the other boy wrestled the boy who threw her down, incidentally, he cried after that match too, and came up with a game plan. This time, she was sure she could win.

Only she didn't and cried all the way home.

She was in good company. There were tears all over the place. But in spite of all the drama, they are both all in for next week. Word on the streets is that there will be a deeper field which should mean they are paired with similarly skilled competitors. 

I'll just take a deep breath and mentally steel myself to watch my kids get pummeled, which seems to happen win or lose.

Just When You Thought She Couldn't Get Any Happier

Maggie greeted the news of her pending pet with unbridled excitement. We continued to bust her looking longingly at the picture of the guinea pig. Luckily for her, we drove home the day after Christmas. Our arrival was too late for any pig shopping but I promised, Friday was the day.

Now Friday also had no shortage of things for me to do as we had piles of laundry and my parents were flying in that night. But true to my word, we were going. First we had to assemble the cage. There was a moment of panic when it seemed we were missing a few bolts, but after a call to the company, we realized we were just inept at reading directions. This is what happens when I have to build things alone.

With the cage waiting for its new resident, we started making calls to pet stores. Normally, I love my town but when you want to shop for anything not via the internet, it can suck. Like Friday. The few stores who carried guinea pigs had no long haired ones in stock. (In my humble, they are much cuter than their short hair counterparts.) We perused Craigslist but I couldn't commit to a used pig. Thinking a two day wait was no biggie, I said, "We'll just go on Sunday when the next shipment comes in."

And Maggie burst into tears.

Not wanting to have the best gift ever turn into a nightmare, we then course corrected and went to the shop that had one short hair in stock. Knowing that she was going to want this pig even if it had three eyes, I unilaterally ruled out an albino but said anything else was fine.

You know she fell in love instantly.

Meet Fluffy McFlufferson.

Fluffy came home to a full afternoon of love. My only concern is she is going to rub the fur off the thing. She carries it around all the time and doesn't even get upset when she leaves her "presents."

She came down this morning having been awoken by Fluffy at the side of her cage squeaking for attention. Looks like the love is mutual!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas!

On Christmas Eve, the children were put to bed with warnings that Christmas did not start until 8am. And even then, their parents had to be up and drinking coffee. As I lay in bed the next morning, awake at 7am, I considered torturing them and waiting until the appointed time to start the chaos. But my inner Grinch lost out and we got rolling early.

Christmas, Florida style.

In comparison to years past, the present opening actually took quite a while. I'd say nearly 45 minutes. It was quite relaxing compared to getting up before dawn and ripping everything open in 6 minutes flat.

With Santa out of the picture, we took requests for presents. Surprises were few but satisfaction ran high.

The big surprise of the day, other than Tim's wrecking ball ornament,

was for Maggie. The poor kid wanted a pet so badly. But with her sister's asthma, most big pets are right out. It took a little convincing, but Tim agreed we could get her a guinea pig. If you've never had one, while they are technically rodents, they have personality and can be quite sweet. They will cuddle and purr. I figured it was loving enough but would not make Morrigan sick. 

Since we were away from home, a live pet was out of the question. So we wrapped up a picture of a pig with a note that told her she would get one when we returned home. As she opened the package, she had no idea what it was. She let out a squeal and couldn't stop smiling. We knew it was a home run when we kept catching her hugging the picture.

We spent the balance of the beautiful day together, hanging out, cooking and watching the golfers go by. It was great. Hope your Christmas was a merry one too.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just a Few More Outings Before Christmas

With the weather continuing to be just about perfect, it seemed a shame to waste the next day inside. We loaded up the whole family and went to a nearby animal rescue/preserve, Homosassa Springs. We've actually taken the kids there before but as none of them remembered the previous visits, it was all new to them!

While they had gators, a hippo and lovely birds, I was a bit disappointed that the manatee feedings had moved to a tank rather than by the spring. Apparently, the spring had been blocked off to wild manatees and after a particularly cold winter, some federal bureaucracy said they had to open access. While this was undoubtedly a plus for the wild manatees, the captive/rescue ones now had their turf limited and by unsightly chain link fences to boot. 

But government interference aside, it was a great morning.

On Christmas Eve (day,) we went out for one last touristy adventure. There is an aquarium in Tampa that seemed promising and not too far away. En route, we read Trip Advisor reviews, most of which were positive. But…there were a few disconcerting ones calling it a cramped place and a rip off. Having already set our course and committed, we soldiered on. Fortunately, the same review led us to check for a groupon, which we bought on the way and saved $30. Go bargains!

Luckily, we found it great! While not huge, there was two solid hours of fun there. And at that point, we were all aquariumed out anyway. 

There was an excellent exhibit with a high ceiling and a man made river running through. The sides were Plexiglas and you could watch the fish as they swam by. There were all sorts of birds flying (relatively) free throughout.

How do I know Maggie needs a pet? She let this spoonbill bite her face three times.

There were large tanks with sharks and sea turtles and smaller ones with things I had never seen - like this sea horse.

In the defense of the aquarium critics, we were there on a low traffic day. This was located right by the cruise ship port. If you had a bunch of cruisers or a few school groups, this could have been much less pleasant. But as this was a Parker Lewis can't lose vacation, we had all the space we needed.

After lunch, which we managed not to have in the aquarium cafeteria, we wanted to do just a bit more. Luckily, we found a Museum of Science and Industry that has a reciprocal relationship with our own science museum. Woohoo! Free admission!

Truth be told, I didn't find it all that compelling. But it was packed with hands on gear and we pretty much had to drag the kids out of there so we could make it home for dinner. And the price was right.

Maggie was the only one brave enough to try the tightrope bicycle. She said in spite of the net, it was still pretty scary.

I don't know if I would send a Tampa visitor there, but it worked out great for us! 

Now all that is left from the trip, Christmas!

Friday, December 27, 2013


As we were staying in Florida for five days, we figured it would be best for everyone if we got the kids out of the house some. Hence, the Legoland excursion! We invited Doug and Nancy to come but for some reason, dragging three kids around the funpark didn't appeal to them. Chickens.

Legoland was perfect. It was sunny and 84 degrees. The kids all loved it. Morrigan was on the upper end of the age group who would find it fun but she was still happy with the rides. It helps that she is not a huge coaster girl. Eion was in heaven.

Everywhere you looked, there were incredible lego structures. From the Christmas tree (above) to scaled replicas of Las Vegas. 

The rides were scaled just right for our three. There was a series of roads with cars they could drive. It was a bit unnerving since they were set loose and there was no track or rail holding them in place. But mostly they all followed the traffic signals and only a few minor collisions ensued.

I think E would have just done that ride on a loop if we had let him. But we needed to get to the roller coasters! They were all relatively tame, no upside-down action, making them ideal for our whole family. We bought the unlimited digital downloads from the coaster cams and had quite a time coming up with poses.

Worth every penny.

After much funparking, we took an ice cream break. With seats in short supply, Eion sidled up to a couple of little boys and started chatting them up. Their mother was amazed he was so comfortable with strangers. Free range victory.

By the end of the day we were beat but it was great fun. Highly recommended. 

Portraits of a Young Girl Skulking

Whew. We survived the parties, Santa brunches and questionable holiday parties. The scheduling gods smiled upon us and, for the first time in forever, we had a long enough block at Christmas to travel. So we headed south to visit Tim's parents in Florida.

Our first outing was a classic car show in the downtown of The Villages. [If you've never heard of The Villages, it is worth a google. It is like a Disneyland retirement village.] This was highly anticipated by Morrigan, lover of cars. By her siblings, notsomuch. She, and the other family members happy to be there, all wove in and out of the fine selection of cars. I, on the other hand, was stuck with the sourpuss twins, who wanted to leave more than anything.

It didn't seem I could make Mags or E happy, so I started antagonizing them. I made Maggie pose in front of all sorts of cars, looking miserable.

But in a turn of events unforeseen by all, this started to be a joke and she skipped from car to car, looking murderous, when she could hold it together, that is.

And the afternoon was saved! 

Soon we met up with everyone else, though I think our joke may have been lost on them.

Coming soon….more Florida!

December Weekend Recap

Hi y'all! I thought I'd better let you know I was still out here as my last post left my MIL fearing for my safety. We had a great Christmas in Florida but before we go through all that, I realized that I had a whole set of pictures ready for a post I never wrote. It was either lovely holiday tales or ranting, I could only get one in before we left!

Eion's Boy Scout troop participated in the Dickens of a Christmas parade a few weeks back. In spite of being in this town since 1999, we had never made it to any of the Dickens events. As the kids got older, I felt this was a shortcoming on my part and was really looking forward to the parade.

This is entitled: Here Comes Trouble.

Turns out, I was not missing much. Maggie and I made a tactical error and were eating dinner during much of the parade while waiting for E. Just as we finished, his group came through. After that, no one wanted to watch the parade. Then is was going around to vendors. Here and there were street performers, we saw a fire eater who was a crowd pleaser, but mostly, E complained he wanted to go home. Oh well, at least I don't have to feel guilt if we don't go next year!

In spite of a house full of non believers, we went to the Santa brunch. We were having a party that night and while the Big Man was not much of a draw, we needed to use our minimum and it let us eat lunch without messing up the kitchen.

He says he doesn't believe, but he rattled off 
a list of desired toys just in case.

Unwilling to pose with Santa but happy to pose with a friend!

We spent the balance of the day getting ready for the party that night. The girls were excited to be our helpers. They dutifully answered the door, took coats, and, as the night wore on, refilled wine glasses. It is fun to have "big" girls.

Eion showed no interest in the event and happily played xbox all night. Really, it was best for us all.

The next day we continued a tradition of decorating gingerbread houses with our friends Christy and Andrew. The girls put work into theirs while Eion decorated just enough to justify having taken part. He munched on as much candy as he could and eagerly anticipated getting the whole thing home so he could start eating the house itself. Mmm, stale Target gingerbread.

Then we collapsed and got ready for the home stretch of the school days, looking forward to Christmas in Florida (which is up next on tonight's speed blogging session!)