Monday, September 15, 2014

A Hopper Weekend

We almost didn't make it since the plague decided to run through our house, but we did indeed trek to Nashville for a random weekend of fun.

We stayed with Nana and Granddaddy and had a blast!  I am horrible and took hardly any pictures during the entire trip.  Oops.  Suffice to say, the weekend was filled with yummy food, games, fun, and love -  you know, all the stuff we have come to expect from our awesome grandparents!  (When we told Vi we were headed to Nashville she was so excited to eat "Nana's cake!")

We met Uncle Graham, Aunt Katherine, Philip, Pete, and Tommy for the TN Vintage Base Ball game (yay!) at Carnton Plantation.  It was a tournament and we saw the Knoxville Holstons play the Oak Hill Travellers.  Knoxville lost, but we had fun in the perfectly cooler weather while the adults attempted to watch the game and the kids wrestled like maniacs.

Oh, and after my original blog post about the vintage base ball league, this happened on twitter!  I am famous!

I tweeted again after this game and the Commissioner told me to find him at the next game we attend and he will get me free shirts!  See, I told you these guys are super nice!

Anyway, Sunday morning, we all met up at Nana and Grandaddy's church.  Shockingly, 2 grandparents, 6 parents, and 7 grandkids all fit on one pew in a long line.  It was insane, but no parents had a nervous breakdown so I would call it a success.

Jeremy also got super impressed by some old Army photos of Granddaddy and they took some time to explore his Tank Encylopedia and watch some artillery documentary (or something like that - I totally did not watch).

We had a great time playing with the Hoppers (and a great time settling down hyperactive kids with the iPad) and can't wait to come visit again!

We can, however, wait forever before repeating the horrible drive home wherein Miss Violet decided to get into a fight with the sun for shining on her without her permission (yes, you read that correctly).  Basically, I love my daughter but I do not like her very much sometimes.  I really think that if Brian was not there, I may have seriously contemplated opening the car door and just letting her walk home.  3 hours of non-stop exorcist-style screaming.  Justifiable in court, I am sure of it.

The only five minutes of silence the entire drive:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chore Chart

We started using a sticker chart for Violet's potty training efforts (more on that later - I can't bring myself to even talk about it right now - I might cry - or punch something).  Jeremy got jealous that Violet was able to do work to earn a treat, and asked if he could have a chore chart.

I was so excited that he actually asked for one.  At first I thought he wanted a chart for using the bathroom (ridiculous), but he explained that he would do chores on his.  Lovely.  I am glad it was his idea, since Brian and I were planning this anyway and were worried about his buy-in.

So, I googled and searched and ended up making my own.  I think it is pretty good.

It had to be fairly simple since he is only 6 and I want him to succeed.  We will make them progressively harder as he gets older.  I actually started with him sweeping the kitchen and doing more actual chores, but to be honest, it was too much work on me and Brian, so we scaled back a little. I tried to focus on things he needs to be pushed to do sometimes (handwriting, bathroom etiquette, picking up toys).

He finished his first week with great success!  He did not do everything but he did over 85%, which is our standard for earning his prize, which this week he decided was a NASCAR car.  Our rule is that his "prize" can't be more than $5 in value.

He was SO excited.  He would check that chart multiple times a day and got really upset if he saw he missed something.  Luckily, he did make it the first week and now he is the lucky owner of a Joey Leggano racecar.  I have no idea if I spelled that person's name right, and I am way too lazy to look it up.  Suffice to say, he is apparently a race car driver.  As you can see, he won a race on Jeremy's bed in a photo finish with Danica Patrick (the girl race car driver he lets Vi play with).

Congrats to our big man who has now joined the throng of people who actually have to work to earn something.  The glory days are gone, my friend.  Welcome to adulthood.  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Vintage Base Ball

As most of you know, I am totally obsessed with baseball.  I can't really indulge in it like I used to (I literally used to watch an average of 100 Braves games a season - and then in college I attended many games each year in Atlanta since it was a short drive from Knoxville).  The kids have put a little damper on my fun, but in a few years, I am confident my score book will be brimming with games again.

Imagine my delight when I discovered this little thing called Tennessee Vintage Base Ball.  It is my new favorite obsession.  Click on the link to see their website - seriously it is so cool.  I also now follow them on twitter because I am a nerd: @taovbb TN Vintage Base Ball.

Brian and I took the kids to a game between the Knoxville Holstons and the Nashville Maroons in World's Fair Park.  It was amazing.  They play by 1864 rules.  Gloves and mitts were not invented until the 1870s, so they catch bare handed.  Insane.
totally stole this photo off the aforementioned website

Here are some of the fun facts I learned:

  • The league runs throughout middle and east Tennessee and is expanding.  All the players are volunteers.  Apparently, there are hundreds of these teams in the country (how did I not know about this??).
  • Since they catch bare handed, a catch off of one bounce counts as an out.  We saw both shortstops catch line drives straight from bat to hand.  It was impressive. They didn't even flinch.
  • The terminology is a bit different: the bases are called "sacks", the batter is the "striker", the players are "ballists", the umpire is the "arbiter" and there is only one of them (close calls in the field are agreed upon by the players).  Also, when someone is out, they say they are "dead", like "two dead!" instead of "two down!" or "two out!"
  • Baseball back then was two words.  Nuts.
  • Still 3 outs per inning, 9 innings.  They don't call balls and strikes, though.  And if you are hit by a pitch, you just keep batting.
  • No stealing bases, but you can lead off.
  • The purpose is to spread good sportsmanship and civility while entertaining spectators.  How cute is that?
  • They stay "in character" all the time.  When they wanted to roll their sleeves up since it was so hot, they had to ask the permission of the ladies in attendance. 
  • They are really nice.  They pose for pictures, talk to kids, and congratulate the other team on good plays when they get them out. 
  • I love them.
It is almost the end of the season, but you better believe I will be at more games next year.  Oh, did I mention it is totally FREE?  Yeah, love.  True love.  Let me know if anyone wants to come with me to a game next season!  They have teams throughout middle and east TN!

it was sunny - hence the weird faces - but aren't they cute?

people all over the place on the grass having fun!

kid feet make me happy

Violet made a friend

look at that catcher - no gear at all!

they even drink out of tin cups!


crazy girl - jeremy refused to get a photo with the players, so this was my compromise

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Insanity

You know how working moms struggle with work/life balance?  How they feel like if they are doing well at work they are slacking at home or when they feel good at home, they must be slacking at work?

Well in the months of July and August, I can guarantee you that any mom working in Higher Education feels like a total failure in both areas.

Lack of sleep, 90 hour work weeks, no weekends, and being forced to pretend you are full of energy and excitement in front of staff, students, and parents will do that to you.

I really do love my job, but dang is it exhausting this time of year.  Exciting, fulfilling, and fun - but exhausting nonetheless.

In order to attempt to keep my mom guilt at bay, I bring my children to as many after-hours or weekend events as professionally possible.  Obviously, Violet cannot come to some things because she is disruptive and insane, and even Jeremy is not appropriate to bring to some things.  I am an organizer and presenter for our staff trainings and events, so I can't really chase after the kids as I give a presentation on emergency protocol procedures.  But, they did get to come to all the fun stuff, and here are some memories I will keep with me:

Cookout with the professional staff at Jerry's house (my boss):
Jeremy and a few Hall Directors

Violet sitting ladylike on Jerry's nice furniture

On the deck with more HDs
The Pool-party-that-wasn't for the Graduate Assistant training kickoff.  I took the kids to the pool party but it got cancelled due to tornado warnings.  I couldn't drive the 30 minutes home in that weather so we stayed in Laurel Hall with the Hall Director, Sam, and his wife, Hayley.  Once it got bad, we had to take cover in the post office in the basement.  We built a fort.  Obviously.
in the post office fort

Hayley let them use her laptop and we watched Finding Nemo in the PO

Sam and Hayley.  I love them.  Next time there is a tornado, I am heading to Laurel to hang with them.
Kickball game between the Hall Directors and graduate assistants:  This is an annual silly game where the professional staff take on their graduate assistants in a friendly (ie fiercely competitive) kickball game.  We used the new intramural fields on Sutherland Ave, which if you have not seen, are gorgeous.
Chilling in my office prior to heading to the game
Jeremy joined the Hall Director team and taught them some new stretching techniques

Violet hung out with Hayley in the stands to cheer on the team
Made it to first!  (possibly because the grads were nice and didn't get him out)


meanwhile, little bit played catch with Nequel (who had to sit out with an injury)

Hall Directors are weird

HDs and grads - the game ended in a 7-7 tie!

Jeremy made everyone run the bases afterwards - how nice are they that they actually did it?

Goat Graffiti Night with the 83 Resident Assistants in my buildings:  This is an annual tradition I started years ago because I am weird.  I make the RAs from my 6 residence halls come at night dressed in black and we take a pledge at the Torchbearer, then put goats all over the West Side of campus (ie the halls that are not mine), then, we paint the Rock. The Fainting Goat is our mascot.  It is ridiculous and the RAs love it.  Jeremy and Violet also love it.  No Goats, No Glory!
Me and Violet making the RAs recite the pledge.  Erika was making sure Vi didn't fall.

Laying the base coat.  Btw, this was the only black thing I could find in Violet's wardrobe and she insisted on the pink skirt to counteract the black.

diligent painters

finished Rock

my beautiful RAs (Violet was in the back still painting)

Camp Rocky Top with all 166 RAs on campus:  This is our annual RA camp where we go to a 4-H camp overnight to do intensive training and teambuilding.  I have taken Jeremy the past two years and Violet when she was a teeny tiny newborn since she was, you know, a teeny tiny newborn and obviously a camp with 160 college kids is totally appropriate.  Anyway, Jeremy loved it again this year.
playing some strange game with the RAs

again, being strange with the RAs

swimming with Candace (my amazing new GA)

swimming with Justin and Candace

4 square with the North Carrick staff

he helped with a bunch of behind the scenes stuff as Teddi and I presented and set up

his bunk in the cabins

Balloon game where the RAs had to pop balloons with hurtful stereotypes, etc on them
Jeremy popping a balloon that he wrote "bullying" on  - it was precious, he spoke in the microphone and told everyone he wanted to end bullying and popped the balloon.  it was like a little PSA

the 4-H camp coordinator gave him a megaladon tooth (prehistoric shark).  He was SO EXCITED

tetherball with a Laurel RA

helping me and Teddi with the fire ceremony


my area 

all 166 RAs

20th Annual RA Lip Sync: Such an inappropriate event for my kids.  Luckily, they are too young to understand the jokes.  Our RAs are quite inventive, I will tell you that.
Jeremy and Cage in the audience

Violet was crazy (shocking)

Violet (shoeless) wandered away several times.  Once, she was brought back by a UTPD officer who knows me and once I found her in the Vice Chancellor's lap.  I swear that kid will be the death of me.

Move In with 7000 residential students: Ahh!  Students everywhere!  Run for your lives!
Helping the Massey RAs greet people as they unload their cars

Violet's tantrum in the Massey lobby (isn't she just so precious and sweet?)

Riding around campus with Jerry in the gator (highlight of their year)

Sometimes I take a moment to think about the unique and amazing experiences my kids get to have thanks to my job.  I work with some incredible young professionals and student leaders.  College students can be nuts, but they can also be some of the most creative, kind, and insightful people you will ever meet.  If my kids grow up to be like them, I will be one very happy mama.

Now, the staff is trained, the students are in their rooms, and I am looking forward to my first Saturday with my family in over a month.  We survived another summer!