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Friday, October 30, 2009

Twick or Tweat: A One to Three Ratio

Woof! Woof!

The day after Homecoming brought the first of Corbin's FOUR scheduled Trick or Treat events. Mr. Corbin had a very full dance card!

1. Huntington Hills T or T - our subdivision hosts a T or T event the Sunday before Halloween, with a parade and snack stations, in addition to day time T or T stops. Lee and I used to make fun of this event (T or Ting in the day!) but for little ones like Corbin, it's perfect.

2. Trunk or Treat at Maymee's and Baba's church - another fun event perfect for little ones.

3. Halloween Night - Traditional T or Ting in Nonny's neighborhood. In the dark - BOO!

4. Aunt Deb's - A quick trick up to Cleveland to T or T with Corbin's northern cousins.

Piggybacking through Huntington Hills

Corbin had lots of practice saying "Twick or Tweat!"at the Huntington Hills T or T. By the end, he had even mastered holding out his pumpkin for treats or putting them in the pumpkin himself. He hadn't quite mastered the "one treat per house" rule though!

Cookies just for Corbin

He was all ready for the rest of his crazy T or T week.

I Won a Soccer Ball!

Sadly, though, it was not to be. By Tuesday, Corbin was sick with walking pneumonia. Then Daddy got sick too. Then Mommy. Then Daddy again. So, it was good that we made it to the HH T or T, and good that Corbin's doggie costume is still a little big. He's got a year to practice "Woof! Woof! Trick or Treat?"

Happy (Belated) Halloween

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Corbin on the Practice Field

Back in October, Lee and I returned to Oxford for Miami University's Homecoming. This was Corbin's second homecoming and he had a great time. We drove in Friday night, hoping to make the parade. We'd missed the parade for the last several years and almost did this year. Made it into uptown just in time. Corbin loved the fire truck sirens the best....

Watching the Parade

...until he saw the Marching Band!

Current MUMB

We stayed with Jenn and her family - she is such a gracious hostess! Corbin loves both her children and was able to call them by name because their pictures are on the memo board in his room.

Jean and Jenn

Saturday was cold!!!!! There were several new changes this year to help celebrate Miami's bicentennial. One change - little Miami Marchers on the field during pre-game! Some alum skip marching each year because of child watching responsibilities. This year volunteers took the little ones - instruments in hand - out on the field so parents could march. They were so cute with their little bells and drums! Mr. Parker was in the stands taking pics with Corbin but I'm hoping next year Corbin and Daddy can be little Miami Marchers too!

Another big change - the alumni band was huge! We had hoped to have 200 members on the field and although we fell short we were well over 100. And, we had eight women on the color guard! Our typical number is three. It was so exciting to march with such a large group. For the feature number, the color guard was even charted in the front! Thanks to Jenn H. and Jenn I. we had a routine created in advance and managed a pretty solid, if brief, performance. And, our "M" marching down the field wasn't too shabby either!

The "M"

The reception site changed to the Millet Concourse to accommodate our larger group. I was a doubter (I don't like changing tradition!) but it was super convenient to come just up the hill to Millet from the stadium, the food was great and the board had put together a rather comprehensive slideshow for our viewing pleasure. It worked out really well. And of course the best part was spending time with old, good friends.

Jean, Charley and the Twins

Go Band!

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Oh the Beauty that is Ohio (and West Virginia)

The vision....a perfect fall long-weekend get away in scenic, historic Marietta, Ohio on the Ohio river. A relaxing first vacation with just our little family of three. A time to bond and enjoy each other's company.
Artist's Rendering of Imagined Vacation

The reality? Not so much. My first hint? When I tried to make reservations for accommodations(a bit belatedly) I quickly found out it was both Ohio University AND Marietta College's homecoming the same weekend Lee and I had selected (we'd already scheduled time off work for our five-day visit to the "Gateway to the West" as Marietta was known in the early 1800s). No vacancies at the first 10 hotels and B & Bs I called. Several however offered us a room for every night except Saturday, as if not having a room for one night in the middle of the vacation wouldn't be a big deal. Then,the jackpot! Availability at the historic "grand steamboat era" Lafayette Hotel in downtown Marietta, right in the middle of the town's best restaurants and antique shops. What luck!
Then, events began to conspire against us. The weather forecast was not very pleasant. Instead of the beautiful Indian summer I had hoped for (this was early October after all!) the weather was scheduled to take a turn towards rain and 45 degree highs. I don't put much stock in weather forecasts, especially Ohio weather forecasts, so when Lee gently suggested that we postpone our trip, I will admit I kinda blew him off. Oh my.
Well, Thursday night, we arrived around 11 pm-ish on to check-in. Corbin slept very nicely in the car during the trip. Our room was charming in a steamboat era kind of way, although shaped like a galley kitchen, narrow and long, and with a vintage bath/shower sans bathtub. No problem though. Corbin isn't a big fan of showers but he's taken them before. At this point the "vacation" felt fun and slightly European. But the weather forecast was correct - it was cold, cold, cold. And Corbin didn't want to be alone in his pack-n-play. Or in bed with us. And since it was so cold, the hotel turned on its steamboat era boiler (for the first time during the season) and the radiator began to ping. It was like random shotgun blasts ALL NIGHT LONG, punctuated alternately by a) Corbin's screams b) drunk college alum meandering from one restaurant/bar location to another until the wee hours. Did I mention the radiator was right by our bed? The bed with the monster screaming headboard?

Monster Screaming Headboard

Corbin had a great time the next morning hiding his spoons in the grand steamboat era furniture though. And we had a great continental breakfast in the main dining room. I recommend it if you are ever in Marietta - it is modeled after the entertainment stage of a 19th century steamboat.


So, by Day Two we still had hope. Despite a rainy day spent tromping through the streets of Marietta. Then came Night Two. Night Two because it was the second night in Marietta and because we each got no more than two hours of sleep. See Night One. We were sleep-deprived and quickly losing patience with Marietta and each other. Corbin, although he didn't articulate this, I'm sure felt the same. But I stuck to my plan - perhaps if we fed the geese outside the hotel on the tranquil river, our vacation plans would be ok after all. Tip 1: Don't bring Cheerios to feed waterfowl. Cheerios are not very aerodynamic. Tip 2: Do not throw Cheerios harder in an attempt to compensate for their poor aerodynamics. I fell into the river, courtesy of moss and Canadian geese leave-behinds. My delicates were compromised. That was it - goodbye Marietta!

Charming, Yes?

Well, almost - we did wander around for a few more hours after checking out of the Layette two nights early.

Random Paddlewheel

Doll & Toy Museum

So, we had a decision to make. Head home or try to eek out something close to our paddlewheel riding, fall nature hiking, learn something new about the history of the region, sleep in luxury vacation. We Parkers are stubborn so you know we weren't going home. Not yet anyway.

Plus, the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg, West Virginia had a single-night opening. And, I'd stayed there before for work so I knew it was posh. Two nights at the Lafayette = one night at the Blennerhassett price-wise so we decided to go for it.

Upon check-in, I sent Lee to the bar for an hour (which we both needed) while I settled Corbin down (bathtub!). He still didn't want to go to sleep without crying though which was going to be a no-go in the Blennerhassett's poshness, so here we were at 11 pm! all of us stuffing our selves with Cheerios and watching the Columbus Crew soccer team gettin' wupped on. Those of you who know us well know we don't let Corbin watch tv but at this point, whatever. We would have given anything for peace. We are weak. Stubborn but weak. Corbin kept commanding the players to "Fall Down" once he realized that was half the fun of soccer.


Patting Pump-kins Outside the Hotel

The next day we headed to Blennerhassett Island, the fifth largest island in the Ohio River (doesn't that make you wonder about the four biggest?). Blennerhassett Island, despite being named after a slave-owning landed gentleman who escaped from Ireland to Ohio with his underage niece as his wife, fulfilled all our vacation dreams. While still nippy, we had blue skies for our paddleboat trip to the island and the captain let Corbin steer.

On the Top Deck

Captain Corbin

Frolicking on the Island

Exact Replica of Original Blennerhassett Home

We Took a Horse-Drawn Island Tour

Into the Sunset

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Well, maybe - how's this: if you'd like to go on vacation to Ohio, go to West Virginia instead. On second thought, that doesn't sound quite right. How about this: If you end your ill-fated vacation a day early drop the baby off with family and spend a night with your spouse and a morning sleeping in. Thanks Gramma!
Interesting random side note - West Virginia was once part of Virginia. Virginia was named in honor of of Elizabeth I the Virgin Queen of England. Marietta was named in honor of Marie Antoinette. Think about that. I mean if you lined up Elizabeth's accomplishments next to Marie's. I'm just sayin'.

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Please Do Not Pick Up By The Stems

Corbin Pickin' Out His Pumpkins

October kicked off with a celebration of Ohio in the Fall. We met family members at Pigeon Roost Farm in Health, Ohio to pick out pumpkins and wander around the farm. Joining us: Gramma and Pop Pop, Uncle D., Aunt C. and Baby E., Aunt C., Uncle J. and their son, Baba and Maymee and Lee's uncle from South Carolina. The weather was perfect - breezy but not too cold, sunshine and blue skies. Pigeon Roost offered lots of photo ops including this giant pumpkin pyramid. Very Oktoberfest!


Jean and Gramma

Corbin and Baba

Pigeon Roost has a large area filled with vendors, and more pumpkins, squash and gourds than I've ever seen in one place. And animals! There were bunnies, Nubian goats, donkeys, miniature horses, chickens and best of all - camels! By the end of the afternoon, Corbin had learned how to say them all, even the "cam-mels". The camels were super sweet dromedaries - the mama camel let us scratch her through the fence. Her fur was much softer than I expected. Corbin liked the bunnies and "chee-kins" the best, neither of which wanted to be petted.

Visiting the Bunnies

We had fun exploring the "haunted" woods and swinging/climbing/riding all the obstacles. I challenged Lee to a rubber duckie race. Our rubber duckies were powered by hand water pumps. Lee won according to the 13-old volunteer judge at the finish line, but if instant replay technology were available, I think the ruling would have been in my favor! And, while Corbin, Daddy and I didn't have time for the corn maze, we heard it was fun too. Of course, the best part of the day was spending time with family. This was my favorite moment of the day, right when we arrived at the farm. Corbin's older cousin is successfully keeping his two little cousins still and facing the cameras manned by parents and grandparents. Moments later Corbin and Baby E. both escaped!

Aren't We Cute!

Lee and I can't wait to make this a new tradition next year - hope to see you in the pumpkin patch in 2010!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Merry-land with a Side of Caffeine

Corbin's Special Maryland Smile
In August (oh so long ago - shame shame on me!), Corbin and I traveled with Gramma and PopPop to visit Aunt P. and Uncle C. in Maryland. We had a great time and Aunt P. sent a lovely note afterward with a summary of our visit. She sends a similar recap each time we have a chance to visit and together they create a meaningful and special look back at our shared history. I thought I'd intersperse her comments in italics in this post.
Corbin's sleeping and eating schedules ruled our mornings, but we managed to get out each day for a few hours. We took Jean to Whole Foods in Gaithersburg (a new adventure for us); shopped in Frederick (Wonder Books, Ollie's) and went to the Delaplaine galleries (not their best show!)
I LOVE Wonder Books - it's my second favorite used bookstore in the country, with Powell's in Portland, Oregon being my favorite. Wonder Books is great because it's so completely disorganized and they are in no rush to get rid of their inventory. Perfect for browsing. Best find I didn't buy - giant posters for workplace safety - 1970's aqua and in Russian. Apparently a Russian bookstore in D.C. closed and WB bought all the inventory. They were a steal at $25 but what to do with them? I love Ollie's too - kind of like Big Lots but a very large book and stationary section. And all these crazy handwritten "Specials" signs. Very friendly staff. PopPop was a little concerned that all my purchases wouldn't fit in the van on the trip back as we were stuffed to the roof on the way out. With some creative packing we made it though. After shopping, we had some interesting pies at a nearby 50s style old school diner.
Hungry Baby Cow
Then we went to S. Mt. Dairy to feed the calves their afternoon bottle and to enjoy the fresh ice cream.
Corbin had so much fun - he realized that "cow" from his books = actual cows! It was neat to see the lightbulb go off - he didn't believe us at first when we insisted they were cows.
We also saw a very interesting bug. It was a very large Eastern Hercules beetle. It was a bit sluggish and in the process of being tormented by the barn cats, who were not intimidated by its horns. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died so I couldn't snap a pic but here's one from Google Images.

He was a really attractive bug. He finally managed to slip to safety under the barn siding. I was too afraid to move him myself, although it turns out the horns are just to impress the ladies and scare off competing suitors.

For our last day, we went to the Washington Co. Museum of Art to feed the ducks and spend a little time (an hour?) with the art there.
We also inadvertantly fed the yard-long carp that hung out in the pond with the ducks and kept leaping after the duck food. I thought Corbin was in danger of being swallowed whole but he laughed and laughed at the "fishies".

On the Museum Steps

Baby care activities (feeding...bath time...playing with toys...) were ALL fun!...Corbin is a wonderful little guy who smiles easily...loves everyone...and has started talking (single words for now). His Mt. Airy new word is "coffee." (Pronounced "coff-EEE"...accent on the last syllable...with gusto!) At breakfast, we all sat at the table with coffee mugs while he had his milk in a glass, and he would ask what we had (Big eyes and a whispered "zat?" while pointing?) After his Mom told him once that we had coffee, he started saying it every time he saw those mugs...and WANTED to taste some. No go on that idea, though. Mom has him on organic foods...super healthy NO coffee for Corbin! Barb got HIM a mug and put his milk in it. That worked the first time...then, he caught on and refused the "fake coffee."

Aunt P. and Uncle C

Thank you, Aunt P., for your great notes and most of all for the hospitality you and Uncle C. always show us.

Headed Back Home


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Parkers in the Garden

Looking for "Bees"

As some of you know, we have become a bit granola since Corbin was born. Part of our green effort has been to garden this summer. We've wanted to garden since buying a house (10 years ago) and always have misc. tomatoes and such growing in a little bed on the side of the house, but never a full garden.
I grew up with a garden and loved having fresh veggies all summer long. Of course, even though I weeded and picked and such, I have never been entirely responsible for a garden. Neither has Mr. Parker.
Garden Design

After some research, we decided the easy route to getting started would be to have a raised bed built. Knowing we wouldn't have the time, we hired out the work after Lee drew up the design.

Another sweet childhood memory - sheets drying on a clothesline. So, we decided to incorporate a clothesline as well. The clothesline would be retractable so as not to offend the neighbors. Although technically illegal in our subdivision, we received a special allowance from the homeowners association president. We didn't even have to point out that our clothesline would never contain undies and would not be as tacky as the many trampolines surrounding us.

Here are some pics of how the backyard worked out:
Garden with Clothesline & Compost Bin

Sun tea
It's nice to have the sitting bench around the garden for weeding. And, Lee used some bricks left over from our patio project to create an impromptu walkway.
As far as growing anything though, we had low expectations this year. So we were especially excited when the two butternut squash plants we bought began growing like crazy. Corbin loves squash and we had visions of freezing some for him instead of buying the uber-expensive organic squash at Whole Foods. Before long, little green squashes began popping up everywhere.

As a bonus, we also had some kind of volunteer squashy item growing in our old side bed. Was it a pumpkin? A watermelon? Acorn squash? We had no idea except that it kept growing too and began to look like something out of "Little Shop of Horrors".

Flash forward to September, and we have a garden squash big enough to pick except it looked NOTHING like a butternut squash. I did a ton of Internet research trying to figure out what type it was and triple-checked the little label the squash came with from the nursery to make sure I wasn't missing something.

Midget Mystery Squash

A few days after picking the mystery squash, my mother came over to babysit, glanced at the squash and said "That's a cantaloupe". And you know what? She was right. Good thing we like cantaloupe too.

Meanwhile, our side bed squash was huge and striped. We were a little afraid of it. Then it turn into this beautiful creature:

11" Butternut Squash

Lee cooked it up tonight and it was delicious. Deep orange inside and slightly sweet. The volunteer squash's two sisters are sitting on the kitchen counter so we'll definitely have butternut squash in our freezer but from a volunteer plant and not our new garden! Ah well - there's always next year!


P.S. For Corbin's definition of "Bee", see item 71 on Corbin-ese.