Sunday, October 26, 2008

McFarlin's Halloween Festival

This sure has been a party filled weekend! We just got back from the McFarlin Halloween Festival, and Emily had a lot of fun! We made the rounds through the different games, and had a few "talks." Emily would approach a game, then get shy, and would start walking away, which we would have nothing of... We tried to make it clear several times that if she wanted to get in line to play a game, she best be playing it when she got there (and you'll like it!) Once she warmed up to all the stuff going on in there, it went just fine.

She liked the hey ride (or is it hay? Too lazy to check...), but especially loved making her own cookie. As you can see in the pictures below, she didn't hold back on the toppings :)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the SPOOKY room

Terry, Abby and Ryan came over tonight to play for a while. We got McDonald's for everybody, ate dinner, played some, then went to the Halloween Fun Night put on by the city. When we got there, Emily noticed a huge bouncy slide, so we made our way over to that.

Per the norm, it took Emily once with me helping her up before she warmed up to the idea of doing it herself, but once she did, we spent about the next 20 minutes watching her do laps around the thing, sliding down, running over, jumping onto the ladder, then sliding down again.

During these laps, Terry and her kids decided to go through the "Haunted House" in the back of the facility. They came back shortly after, Abby and Ryan didn't look too pleased. Terry told us it was pretty scary in there. As she was talking to us, Emily became quite interested in the conversation. After she was finished, Emily looked up at me and said, "Daddy, I want to go in the spooky room."

Perspective: Two nights ago Leslie heard a thump outside while I was putting Emily to bed, and asked from the computer room, "What was that?" Emily sensed something in her mother's voice, and like a switch had been thrown somewhere inside her nervous system, began crying and asking what was going on. It took about thirty minutes of reassuring her that there was no dog outside barking (and I was praying the stray dog that had been hanging out by our house wouldn't come back any time soon) or any other noises before she managed to go to sleep.

Perspective: At Wal Mart, when we're shopping and we get to the mask section, Emily tells me to put on a mask, then immediately asks me, "Daddy, is that you in there?" And VERY shortly after, "Daddy, take it off."

"Emily, it's really scary in there, are you sure you want to go in the spooky room?"


I looked over at Leslie, and she had that look on her that I could read instantly: "If you are crazy enough to encourage this, you are going to deal with the outcome." I didn't mind that challenge one bit, so we started moving toward the door. Between that point and the door, I asked Emily no less than three hundred and sixty two times if she was sure she wanted to go in the room. Each time, she said, "yes." So we continued.

As we neared the door, we could hear loud voices, sounding as if they were over an intercom system, as well as lots of screams. I was trying to gauge Emily's responses, but she seemed okay. I looked at her and told her, "Emily, everything in that room is pretend, and all the masks are from Wal Mart."


At this point I was beginning to second guess my judgment. I looked back over at Leslie. Yup, same look. I asked Emily again. Yup, same answer. So there we were at the front of the line. A few seconds later, a couple of kids came screaming out of there at full speed. I glanced at Emily, she showed no signs of backing off... Then the door opened for us.

As the door creaked open, I could see some stuff hanging from the ceiling that looked to be spider webs, ghosts and other spooky stuff. At the end of the first corridor (made of trash bags for walls) there hung a skeleton, which was glowing under the florescent flashing lights. I took one step in the room, and Emily said calmly, "I don't want to go in here Daddy." Out we went. Total time in room: 4 seconds.

We came out, Leslie had a pretty big grin on her face. "That was quick," she said laughing. So, back to laps at the slide.

About five minutes later, Emily walked up to me and said, "I want to go back to the spooky room." Now, you can throw all the evidence in the world that this kind of thing isn't genetic, but the resemblance to Leslie was uncanny at this point. I could tell how badly Emily wanted to be scared, but at the same time, wanted nothing to do with it. Leslie LOVES scary movies (they're the kind of movie we both can agree on), but then attaches herself to me for the next several hours (and I love scaring her during those times more than just about anything else.. it's the little things in life that make it all worth while :) So, off we went, back to the room.

The man at the door was smiling as we neared the front of the line. He tried to assure Emily that there wasn't anything real in the room, just all pretend. The door creaked open, and in we went, again.

As we neared the end of the first corridor, we noticed a group of two young girls and their father behind us. As I rounded the first corner, I saw the long hall formed by trash bags, and began wondering at what points those bags were going to come apart with somebody jumping out in front of us... So, I asked the girls and dad behind us to go ahead of us, hoping I could diminish the initial shock when people came jumping out, using the ones in front as bait. As they passed us, Emily said, "I don't want to go in there." Out we went. Total time in room: 34 seconds.

It was about time to go. Terry rounded up her kids, we said our goodbyes, and away they went. We were packing up getting ready to go, and Emily began insisting that we go back to the room. After some convincing, we went back, for the FINAL time in the room.

As the door opened this time, the man at the door called in, "we've got a young one coming in," then looked at me and said, "they'll go easy on her." This was it, I figured if we could make it past the first corner, I'd just push through as quickly as possible.

We rounded that first corner and she started crying. Not an all out cry, but a "why did I do this?" cry. I could tell she wanted to get through this, she was mustering up every ounce of bravery that she could. I could see people behind the bags as we walked down the hall, and I knew they were taking it easy on us, as they just stayed back there, not popping out. Then we reached the first big turn, and there was a cell with a strange clown looking dude with a lollipop. He looked at Emily and asked, "You wanna lollipop?" I figured Emily wouldn't even answer, she never does with even regular looking people if she doesn't know them, but not this time. She looked right back at him and said (pretty sternly, if I remember correctly), "NO." Okie dokie, and off we went. As we turned that corner, I could tell all that bravery she had pushed up to answer that scary man had pushed her over the edge, and she began to lose it. I picked up the pace, and there was a guy poking out of the "wall" with a scary mask on. He could tell things were going south quick, so he just waved. Didn't help too much. I whipped around the next corner, and we were out!

She lost it for a few moments, but calmed down enough to thank the man for the skittles and dots he gave her, then off we went. As we neared the car, Emily told us, "maybe when I'm... TEN I'll go into the spooky room." I told her, "Emily, you already went in there, and you were VERY BRAVE!"

"No, I'll go when I'm ten."


We didn't talk much on the way home. She just played games on my iPhone. We got home, and I was sitting with her at the computer before we got ready for bed, and out came the question...

"Daddy, can you tell me the story about me and the spooky room?"

So, I began to replay the details of our evening together. I watched her face as I described the room, and I could tell how proud of herself she was for making it through it. I was pretty proud too.

Pumpkin Patch!

Another visit to the pumpkin patch today, and this time we got one to take home and carve!

Halloween Fun Tonight!

We're planning on going to the Norman Parks and Rec department's Halloween Festival tonight, should be fun. Until more info, enjoy this footage I dvr'd from the Olympics. You may have missed it, it came on pretty late one night, but worth watching!
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another video...

Emily - 3 Years

From Pumpkin patch and Andy Alligators

Benjamin's Baptism

A great morning!


Actually, there wasn't much more to the story, that about wrapped up my lunacy for that evening.

This morning Benjamin is getting baptized! We'll get some pictures and post them later. As for now, here are some we've taken recently. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lagging behind...

Okay, so it's been a while. Unfortunately, it's been so long I can't remember half the stuff that's gone on, so I'll do my best..

Going to the Norman Regional Hospital party at Andy Alligators had plenty of fun moments in it. The first was getting there: as we were driving closer to the shuttle location (the health plex), Emily started asking questions:

"Where are we going?"

"To Andy Alligators, but we have to park in the parking lot here and get a ride on a bus over there."

"Is there a doctor there?"

"No, that's just where we are parking."

"To go to the doctor? Do I need a shot?" Her voice became more and more worried..

"Emily, we're just parking there. We're not going into the doctor."

"For a shot?"

And on, and on, and on. We finally managed to convince her what was going on, and then there was the uncertainty of the bus. She enjoyed that after we got moving though. Once at Andy Alligators, the best part was the huge balloon slide that looked like a tiger. She wanted to go down the slide, but as soon as we got closer, she started edging away, telling me she didn't want to go. I knew she liked those slides, so I basically ignored her and kept walking towards it. I could tell things were getting worse as she started crying, but I was having none of it, and kept dragging her over there. Finally, as we got to the ladder, she begged me to go with her, so I did. As we got on, she turned to Leslie and said, "it's okay mommy, it's just a pretend tiger," and kept repeating that to herself as we crawled up his neck. Made perfect sense then, as I looked at his huge teeth twice the size as me as we walked up. From that point on she wanted to do it by herself, and slid down over, and over, and over.

We did lots of other rides, including the ferris wheel, which she loved as well.

The only other fun of the week was last Friday night. As we were eating at Teds, Leslie noticed that Emily didn't have a stamp on her hand. When she asked her about it, Emily answered, "I didn't get a stamp because I was running in the room."

I was shocked. But not for the reason any sane rational human being would be. I was shocked (wait for it) because I couldn't believe Emily had it in her head that she didn't get a stamp for that reason. If you don't get me yet, I won't give it away, keep reading.

"What does that mean, Emily?" I asked. She told me the story again. Still, I knew she was wrong, and was pretty disturbed that she was telling me this. So I asked some other questions.. Questions like, "did anybody else get a stamp?"


Surely not. If you haven't figured it out, here it is: I KNEW Emily didn't do anything wrong, so there was some big misunderstanding somewhere in this story. "No," I replied, "Emily, if you didn't get a stamp, nobody else did either, right? Did the teacher just forget?"


At this point Leslie went back to eating. She knew this would take a while.

"So, Emily. You didn't get a stamp because you were running?"


I looked at Leslie. "Do you have her phone number?"

At this point, oh, if only I could describe the look I received across the table. She looked at me briefly, and I could tell she was trying her best to choose her words carefully... Finally, she spoke.

"No, and we will not be calling her." She returned to eating.

Now, I know that I'm a little overboard when it comes to being dad. I know I've been banned from calling OU child development as well as McKinley by Leslie because I'm so overboard. Did that stop me during this conversation? Do I even need to ask that question?

"How do we know that's the right story?"

To be honest here, it felt a little weird even asking that. Again, didn't stop me.


I paused. Common sense dictated a pretty clear understanding of the situation. Of course, I disregarded it.

"Well, when teachers at Alcott give demerits, they have to contact parents for this very reason. How do we know this is what happened? Maybe she just forgot?" Yeah, I was reaching, even for me at that point.

"Well..." She slowed down her speech which was I'm sure for hopes that I would actually comprehend the logic escaping her mouth. "Emily has told us about three times now the story. I think we should believe her. Emily, you can't watch any TV or movies tonight."

"Okay," she replied.

Okay? That's it?

"Let's call her."

Oops, game is about to start. I'll finish later :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Feature Presentation (Part TWO)

The Yellow Park experience:

I've got to start writing these as they happen... My memory fades too fast :)

Okay, one afternoon last week, I had Emily and Benjamin (I think Leslie either had a meeting, or was working late at school), and I had the great idea that we should all go to the yellow park. I got Benjamin ready (forgot socks again, shhh, don't tell Leslie), and Emily got her shoes on. She hopped on her bike, I put her helmet on, and I sat Benjamin in the stroller. We were ready to go. We'd be to the park in no time, plenty of playtime, then back home before it got dark. Off we went!

Problems began before we even got out of the garage.. Benjamin appeared to be sitting at a 40 degree angle (the wrong way, his head was on the down-side of that angle...) and his head was turning slightly purple from all the blood rushing to his brain, and Emily needed the "two-finger-hold" technique I spoke about in an earlier post. I adjusted Benjamin, grabbed the bike, and started scooting down the driveway.

Now, those of you that know our driveway, it's not a steep hill, but it's got a slant to it, to be sure. And there's no curb in our neighborhood, just that "almost" curb that kills your car every time you leave your driveway. So at this point I realized that the stroller has an ever so slight tendency to veer off to the right, and Emily likes to turn her bike to the left. As Emily began her "Daddy can you hold me!?!?!?" cry as she realized I had released my hold on her bike, I noticed Benjamin had left my grip as well, and was throttling toward the street at what seemed like about 25 miles per hour. I sprinted off to grab Benjamin, and Emily started squealing out of control as her bike started plunging toward the street as well. I threw the brakes on the stroller, grabbed Emily's bike, and we all sat there in silence, panting, for about fifteen seconds.

We hadn't even made it off the driveway yet...

You can imagine the next 30 minutes or so. We went from the stroller racing to the right, me fighting Emily as she tried to pull her bike to the left, all the while making sure I had those TWO PRECIOUS FINGERS attached to her handlebars. Every time I'd lose my grip on her bike, she'd slam on the brakes and Benjamin and I would keep moving forward a few steps before she started demanding we return to replace my hold on the bike. At this point we're only down about a block, with six or so to go. And then came the hill. Oh, I'll spare you the details of that one, but one thing was certain at this point: I had COMPLETELY lost [my mind] my memory of how wonderful I felt knowing that Emily was slowly adapting to her bike just how she did swimming, and how proud of myself I was that I understood it, and could handle it so well. Yeah, that was completely gone, now there was just one... simple... goal: THE YELLOW PARK.

I reached critical mass about two blocks from the park. I grabbed Emily's bike by the throat, latched the other hand securely on the stroller, and kicked it into high gear. Emily felt the sudden change in tempo and spoke up, "Daddy, why are we going so fast?" I replied, calmly (I'd like to think that I held it together to maintain a calm demeanor - that's my story and I'm sticking to it..) "We're going to the park, and we're making it happen." I knew she didn't have a clue what that meant.. I didn't even know what it meant, but we were moving with a purpose, and it felt gooooood.

I can only imagine the look I had on my face as we powered down the middle of the road just a block or two away from the park. As if the situation could not get any worse, just then a large maroon suburban pulled into a driveway near us. As I glanced over, I could see a woman exiting the driver's side, and I could tell by the expression on her face she was thoroughly enjoying the show. As we neared her house, her grin became even larger as she yelled, "WHOAH, now there's some multitasking for you!" Of all the people, in all the world, I had to run into soccer-mom-joker.

The rest of the evening was a blur. I remember somehow getting to the park, Emily playing for a while, as I sat wheezing in the corner. To be honest, I can't even remember how we got home.

The Doctor visit:

We had come to Emily's 4 year visit, and Benjamin's 4 month visit. We knew there was a possibility of shots, but somewhere I was hoping it wasn't true. I know this one will come as a shocker, but I was wrong...

When we arrived, things went pretty well at first. We got back to the room, Emily seemed rather calm, she only tensed up a little when we tried to measure her height. As Benjamin was getting weighed, I remembered Emily's response, even at his age, when we tried to weigh her. She screamed and screamed as the nurse held her and placed her on the scale. Benjamin looked completely content. Emily: high maintenance, OCD, worries too much - my daughter. Benjamin: calm, laid back, enjoys almost everything - Leslie's son.

Anyway, when everybody got settled, we decided that Benjamin would go first, hopefully to ease some of the tension with Emily. He was silent through the entire exam, only laughing slightly as the doctor checked him out. Then Emily's turn. First she freaked out when we asked her to sit on the table, and then the best part...

She was yelling through most of the exam to begin with, then two things happened:

1. Her left ear didn't register on the hearing exam (you can imagine my response, both internally and externally...)

2. As the doctor was nearing her mouth to examine her throat, Emily grabbed her arm and pushed it away.

Now, the number one we can all deal with (at least, I hope everybody can). I knew it was just my over-OCD kicking into high gear, and it was nice to realize that I had the deaf one all wrong this whole time. Numero dos, however, now that was a different story. I was holding Emily in my lap at the time, but even with my reaction time, and as close as I was to Emily, as soon as I saw her grab the doctor's arm and I started moving my head down to scold her, I STILL didn't beat Leslie from moving across the room and into Emily's face. We weren't too pleased with her behavior on that one.

So, after all the drama had passed, the doctor pulled out about six pounds or so of "ear jam" (as we call it) and she passed her hearing screen. Now... prepare yourselves... it was time for shots.

Emily was first on this one, so without much waiting, I plopped her up on the table and grabbed her arms and upper body. The nurse had her legs and started unwrapping not one, not two, but FIVE shots for Emily. Lest we not forget my last shot experience when I passed out.. Emily was now up for FIVE. I've gotta hand it to the nurse, she whipped through those five shots with grace and accuracy in about ten seconds, but Emily didn't like it one bit.

Then it was Benjamin's turn. He ONLY had three shots. He giggled a little on the second.

And that concludes our feature presentation. Stay tuned for Andy Alligators, part deux!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Feature Presentation (Part ONE)

Emily's new school friend:

One morning last week I found some stuff Leslie had forgotten, so I was running them by her school before I had to be at work. After I ran into her, I asked her where Emily was, she told me she was in the Cafeteria. As soon as she told me that, I said:

"Who's with her?"

"I think Kaitlyn."

That's it? You aren't in there with her, and that's okay with you?!?! I almost turned and raced through the halls to find her, but then I realized, she's at school, and that's what kids do at school. Funny how it never computed that Emily would just be hanging out by herself with other kids in the cafeteria before the school bell rang. [Sniff] She's growing up so fast.. [Sniff, sniff] Ahem, anyway..

As I walked down toward the cafeteria, I saw her through the door. I thought she saw me, because she started running at full speed toward the door. I started to reach out my arms for her like I always do, but then I quickly realized she was NOT running toward me, but rather another student that looked about the same age as her. I saw them hold hands, and head back into the cafeteria. I followed them in, and ended up right behind them as they neared the food line. Emily was holding/tugging her friend at this point, and turned around and looked at me. Now, when Emily has seen me out of nowhere, her routine (consistently) has been: drop everything she was doing, sprint at full speed toward me, grab me with a big hug, then let me hold her for a bit. This time, she turned and saw me, smiled, said hi, and then went back about her business. I now knew I was in the twilight zone.

So she and her friend approached the server, and Emily told her, "Erika (not her real name, but since I don't have this girl's permission... you know...) wants cereal, white milk, a spoon, and napkins please." The server responded, "Okay, do you know her last name yet?" Odd question - and by the way, this whole thing was a little odd.. Emily being miss bossy britches here? The girl can't even get her own food? "No, not yet." She loaded up the tray, and carried it for Erika over to a table. Never mind me, I had to follow along like a lost puppy. I asked her if I could sit next to her, and she told me sure, so I did. Then Emily went to work on opening the cereal container. I looked over at Erika, who was silent, and said, "I'm Emily's daddy." No response, but a smile. As soon as everything was set, the school bell rang. Erika didn't get one bite, but that didn't matter much to Emily, she snatched up all the food, threw it away, and off they went to class. I rushed to follow them, still pretty confused to the whole event. Just before Emily got to her classroom, she turned, told me "bye!" gave me a big hug and kiss, and off she went. I ran back into Leslie on the way out and told her what had happened, telling her how confused I was. She told me that Erika doesn't speak a word of English, and is new to the school. Emily had taken it upon herself to befriend this little girl, and help her out throughout the day.

That's my daughter I'm talking about right there, and it's not possible to be any more proud of her.

Games we play:

One of Emily's favorite games to play in the house has been (for quite some time) "Do you want to run to the pillow?" We should probably come up with a better title to the game, but, that's what it is. The game basically goes like this: I start walking toward her room, and she follows close behind, giggling uncontrollably. At some point I snap around, and start sprinting for our bedroom. Since I'm behind her at this point, she whips around and runs at full speed toward our bed as well, barely able to breathe as she laughs so hard. Once in our room, she runs over to my side of the bed and starts climbing, and I rush to Leslie's side and "climb" up as well. Then, the head that hits my pillow first, "wins." No matter who it is, it's always the other person's turn next, according to the amended rules by Emily. So, if she gets there, she immediately says, "YOU'RE TURN!" and If I get there, "MY TURN!" So we repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

Well, as much fun and hilarity that has ensued with that game in the past, Emily was apparently ready for a NEW game the other day, as she started explaining the rules to me spontaneously one afternoon. She took one of the kid seats we put in the chairs over and placed it on the living room floor, then said, "Daddy, start at this chair, run into your room, come back, and touch the chair." So off I went. When I got back, she yelled, "My turn!" and stood up on the little blue chair. I told her, "Emily, ["yeah?"] run into my closet ["yeah.."], touch a shoe [giggle, "yeah"], go to my bed ["yeah"] jump on it three times [laugh hard, "yeah.."] then come back to the chair.

She sped off in a blur, quickly followed by faint laughter in my closet, then giggling as she hopped on the bed, then back to the chair. We went back and forth with this for a while, until she said, "Okay daddy, now give me a HARD ONE!!" So I gave her lots of steps, many places to crawl, she had to count to ten in the middle, spin around a couple times here and there, and then back. As she sped off I could hear her repeat all the instructions back to herself as she went from room to room, and at one point she came back in and said, "Do I spin in the chair in the computer room 4 times, THEN crawl under the chair in the dining room, or dining room them computer room?" I replied, "Computer room, then dining room." And off she went, whizzing through the rest of the steps.

So anyway, that's our latest time filling game. I like the sitting part and instructing her better :)

Okay, that's all I've got for now. I still have the yellow park and the doctor stories, so stay tuned!

Before the Feature Presentation...

Now that you've waited with just those tidbits, and I've got more than ten seconds to sit down, let me fill you in on all the good details!

Before I get to the stories, I want to share with you my 20 mile run this morning. I decided last week to run 20 this morning to get a good idea of where I was in my training. I figured that if I did pretty well with this one, the marathon on November 16 shouldn't be too much of a problem. So, that was the plan.

Last night I got to bed later than I wanted, but I still wanted to try it this morning. I was up every hour on the hour: my body knew something was coming, and probably wasn't really excited and wanted to stretch out the non-pain as long as it could. Well, 4:30 eventually rolled around, so I got up and got ready to go.

Remembering the info the great guys from OK Runner gave me on the first marathon, I knew that after an hour and a half of running, my body would start burning up my quads first, and then move to my brain, if I didn't get some sort of supplement in my system. I learned that first hand at my first OKC marathon, and couldn't walk for a week after :)

Anyway, last night we went to Wal Mart and got some power gel (nasty stuff, but it gets the job done). I shoved on packet in my shorts, and held the other one with my two bottles of water I took from the fridge. I planted the stuff near the entrance to our neighborhood, so when I looped around after my first ten miles, I could refuel with that stuff.

The run wasn't all that bad, but I did remember what it's like after you hit around 17 or so miles when you're running. I wish I could explain it with more detail, but things start getting... weird. I felt a little numb, and my mind would wander easily, and far. At some points I found myself edging closer to the middle of the road, not knowing how I got there... not a problem in a marathon when everything's closed off, slightly more of an issue on Robinson at 7:30AM on a Saturday Morning...

Anyway, the only other side affects of a long run like this for me are the extreme fatigue I have for the rest of the day, and the spots all over my body that have rubbed raw from my clothes... That's not too much fun either :) Anyway, all in all a good run, I'm excited for the marathon!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No time, but before I forget

I've got some good stories I have to write about over the past several days/weeks/whatevers... I'm just going to write the ideas here, so I won't forget to write about them later:

Emily's new school friend

Games we play

The Yellow Park experience (with Emily and Benjamin - and the "multitasking" comment by a mom on the way)

The Doctor visit (for both Emily and Benjamin)

Stay tuned...