Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Car top carrier's loaded, but it appears we have a couple of stowaways.


Tic Tac Trauma

It's no secret that my children live for Tic Tac Time.

Movie Juno Tic Tacs Bleeker

As soon as Papa Kay appears, they break out in choruses of "TTT!!!"  There have been times when Talia has been running ahead, not responding as we call after her.  Jiggle the tic tac box, and just like Pavlov's dog, she comes sprinting back toward the sound.  When Brooklyn and Talia found out they weren't coming to Denver, one of their main complaints was that they would miss out on Tic Tacs.

For the most part, Tic Tac Time is pretty innocuous.  When doled out two or three at a time, this one-calorie treat is a much better alternative than many sugary sweets.  NomiAnn may sigh as my children beg, but the truth is that we would all be sad if Papa Kay suddenly gave up his Tic Tac Trademark.

Driving back from Denver, however, the Tic Tacs got their revenge.  Eli was complaining (again) about the cows and their stinky smells.  "It hurts my nose!"  Unsure how to help the boy with the sensitive sniffer, we offered him a Tic Tac and told him it might help.  A moment later the wails grew pained and intense.  It took us a while to decipher any words through the wails, but we finally caught a few snippets  like "stuck" and "won't come out."

Eli, not understanding how a Tic Tac could help with the yucky smell, had stuck the candy up his nose.  All the way up.  It was so sad watching him cry in pain, but there was little we could do since the candy had gone all the way in.   We did our best to comfort the poor boy as he wailed, coughed and sneezed.  Just as we were trying to figure out where the nearest ER might be, Eli took a sip of water and announced that he felt better.  My guess is that the offending Tic Tac had finally gone all the way through and dissolved.

Afterward, ice cream helped assuage our PTTTD--Post Traumatic Tic Tac Disorder.  As we were sitting down together, Papa Kay kindly explained to Eli that Tic Tacs were meant for our mouths, not our noses.  Tasting a tic tac can help with a bad smell; not snorting it.  Eli looked up at us with big, wide eyes still red and puffy from crying.  "But I didn't knowed that!"

Well, for better or worse, he definitely knows now.  Admittedly, there's a sort of guffawing hilarity about a tic tac being stuck up anybody's nose.  But when "anybody" turns out to be your own son, it's just not that funny anymore.  We can chuckle about it now, but it's caused me to reflect on the complete trust and faith of a child.  His nose hurt, and he believed us when we said a Tic Tac could help.  While this was a literal misunderstanding, I better recognize the great import of never abusing a child's trust.

So who's up for a Tic Tac?  :)

Denver Diversions

In roughly twenty-eight hours, my mother, the kids, and I will begin the trek to New York.  While I'm thrilled to spend the month of July with my hubby and extended family, I'm less excited about the road trip there.  Normal people would spend the weekend before such a venture resting.  Me, I drove to Denver.

Denver?  Isn't that an eight hour drive in the wrong direction?  Why yes, yes it is.  So why would I do such a thing?  To spend a bit of time with Jason, of course.  (Jason was presenting at a conference for the AIA.)  But wasn't I going to see him in less than a week anyway?  Yes, but love is rarely rational.

My wonderful father took a couple days off of work to make the trip with Annika, Eli and I while my courageous mother entertained the big girls.  On the way out, Annika handled the trip like a champ, smiling sweetly as she slumbered in her car seat.

I didn't photograph Annika's mood on the way home, probably because I was hoping to block it from my memory completely.  Let's just say that out of the 500 mile trip, Annie Mae probably screamed for 175 of them.

Thankfully, Eli's ears didn't seem too bothered by his sister's deafening noise.  His nose, however, was seriously offended by the scent of the feed lots, resulting in a minor catastrophe that was both heart-wrenching and hilarious.  I'll post more about it tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some photos from Denver:

Papa Kay, modeling the essense of grandparental love.

We arrived in Denver just in time to watch Jason present on his experience as an Enterprise Rose fellow at the downtown conference center.  Saturday morning, however, we skipped the conference to play by the ponds near Longmont.

The Denver sun made Annika sneeze.

Jason taught Eli how to chase the geese.

Eli's a quick learner.

It made my heart happy to see this father and son reunited.


Colorado: where the prairie meets the mountains.

Even small bridges are beautiful, both aesthetically and symbolically.

Here's Papa Kay with Eli during our trolley ride from the Children's museum to REI.

Denver was holding a river fest at the confluence.  Kayaking right downtown--that's something I could learn to love!

Papa Kay with his drumstick.  Don't let the bare bone fool you--Eli ate at least half.

Back on the train, Annie gave Jason some special smiles reserved just for Daddy.

On the way home, we stopped by Red Rocks.  Papa Kay demonstrated his excellent command of the football hold on the way up to the amphitheater.

Eli wonders if he'll ever grow as tall as this CCC worker.

Even though we couldn't actually see the amphitheater because they were doing sound checks for a concert that evening, it was well worth the trip for the beautiful scenery.  I certainly miss being surrounded by red rock!

On Sunday we went to church with a good friend of ours from France, Laurie Ann.  Even though our visit was a surprise, she treated us to a lovely lunch while our boys played.  Her life, like many of ours, has taken some unexpected twists, but she still continues on with faith and courage.  Laurie, your boys are wonderful, and I think you're amazing.
As I snuggled next to Jason in church, my eyes suddenly filled with tears as I realized that I would sit next to him next Sunday too.  Even though the weekend flew by, saying goodbye was easy knowing that we will meet again soon.
And then the howling began.  Stay tuned for the saga of Tic Tac Time gone awry...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Fun in Omaha and Kansas City

While in some ways being separated from Dad makes this summer difficult, there are some serious advantages to spending your vacation with grandparents who love you. Like, going to the Zoo!

Here are Eli, Brooklyn, and Talia with Papa "K" at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.

Brooklyn and Talia watch the penguins from their aquarium bubble.

Eli was enthralled with the sharks, rays, and sea turtles

The jellyfish are my personal favorite.

Candy sticks or magic wands?  You decide.

NomiAnn and Annika Mae on their butterfly bench.

Papa Kay takes his turn with his newest granddaughter.

Oh no!  This baby girl can go from happy to sad in an instant.

Rainbow candy for a rainbow dress.

They wouldn't let us ride any of the live pachiderms so this rhino had to do.  What a bunch of monkeys!

Back on the homefront, the kids enjoyed helping Papa Kay with some projects, like painting the rocking chair in both miniature and full scale.

So the little rocking chair was "practice."  The wee ones had lost interest by the end of the practice session, so Papa Kay didn't have quite as much "help" while painting the full-scale version.  I don't think he minded.  :)

We've had all sorts of other fun in Omaha that I didn't photograph, whether exploring the Children's Museum, playing on the giant slides at Gene Leahy Mall, or bike riding around Lake Zorinsky.  And of course, let's not forget our fun evening at the Barnum and Bailey Circus!

As if Omaha didn't have enough to offer (it certainly does), we then escaped to Kansas City for two nights of luxury at the Hyatt Regency.  (Okay, you can all start to chuckle now.  No matter how nice the accommodations, sharing a hotel room with four youngsters isn't exactly luxurious.  It is entertaining.)
Annika thought the beds were comfy.

Eli enjoyed the view from our fifteenth story perch.  He was SO excited to go swimming!

I think NomiAnn's hat is adorable, don't you?

Strolling through  "The Link" from our hotel to Crown Plaza.

The Crayola store is my favorite.  Here are Papa Kay and Eli coloring.

This sassy pose is Brooklyn's new favorite.

After some mall walking, we stopped for dinner at Fritz's.  Believe it or not, your dinner is actually delivered by a train from a track running above.  Needless to say, our kids LOVED it.
The next morning we crafted at Kaleidoscope, a fantastic (and free) art center provided by Hallmark, before heading over to the Scottish Highland games.  My mother is Scottish and has fond memories of attending the Highland games with her grandparents as a child.  It was exciting to pass the tradition on to another generation.

Where else can you find grown men in kilts tossing hay bales over a bar?

Naturally there was an abundance of bagpipes.  I remember that there was a girl in my freshman dorm who was learning to play the bagpipes.  Thankfully these guys were *much* better.
Check this out: meat pies! Quite tasty ones, too. I'm glad the tradition exists on both the Wheeler and Andrus (well, Riddoch) sides of the family.
We could have sampled haggis as well, but I'm not that adventuresome.
Our very favorite part of the games was the Scottish dancing.  Well, okay, second favorite.  My very favorite part was spotting a little girl whose natural hair looked *exactly* like Merida's.  I wish I'd been "brave" enough to ask for a picture.  But I digress... 

Back to the dancing, it's quite an athletic sport.  These girls were jumping on their toes the entire time.  Just imagine the calf muscles they must have!
And now the sword dancing.
And here's Papa Kay with his little scot Talia, wearing a kilt that I wore as a child.
I took this photo in honor of our favorite across-the-street neighbors, Karen and Daniel Scott.
But uh-oh, just in case you were wondering...the feud is back on!

After a shortbread snack, the girls wanted to do their own dancing.  When you don't have swords, sneakers make a great substitute.

Go, Talia, go!

Brooklyn has serious style.
Oh, how we love that smile!

Eli plays with his swords (sticks) in more manly fashion.

And rounding off the bunch, our little girl with the curl.
No better way to show your grandparents your appreciation than through a great big dogpile.
Needless to say, we had a wonderful time in Kansas City.  And that's even before we played at Science City in Union Station.  (Eli thought he'd died and gone to heaven in the model train room.  He kept following the trains around and around with squeals of delight as if seeing them for the very first time.)

Sunday was more subdued.  We went to a lovely church service in Independence before touring Liberty Jail and driving back through Far West, Missouri.  Remembering the heroes of our past makes today's freedoms even sweeter.
Papa Kay and NomiAnn, thank you not only for this lovely weekend past, but for making every day a special one.