Monday, March 28, 2016

Strand-Lafferty Easter take 7

There are few things that can elicit the same degree of excitement in our household as talk of the annual visit from Penny for Easter. This is now the 7th(?) annual visit. It started kind of on a whim from the Strands, and it has turned into an annual event that simply cannot not happen. It is written in stone. Commandment Number 11, if you will.

Now, if anyone ever doubted that Molly was an emotional girl, which you seriously shouldn't, the visit from Penny will eliminate any of those doubts. I swear, she turns into a screaming fan girl at a One Direction concert at the thought of Penny coming to town. (Or, what her mother would've been like had she ever been taken to a NKOTB concert. Which, I wasn't. I just had to imagine what it would've been like. No bitterness here, though, folks. I did make my childhood dreams come true a few years ago when I saw NKOTB at the Sprint Center as a 30-odd-year-old woman. And, it was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be. Step by Step, ooh, baby ... But, I digress.)

Molly starts looking forward to Easter on the day after Easter the previous year. Well, OK, after she stops crying about the fact that Penny is no longer here. But, it starts getting serious after Christmas. I can't really blame her. The months between Christmas and Easter do kind of suck. What with the snow and long, dark nights. Not fun. The countdown is on immediately after we pack the stockings away. And, it doesn't stop.

I realize the excitement is almost more for the idea of Penny (not that Penny isn't awesome). But it's just the idea of this amazing, fun-filled, candy-laden weekend that really excites Molly. This year, she made decorations, cards, bunnies, crafts, and even picked up poop in the backyard so she could earn money to buy all three girls matching stuffed peeps. This build-up has been going on for a long time. Molly has been trying to count the number of times in her life that she's seen Penny. When I tried to explain to her that she's already seen Penny more times in her life than I saw Laura for the entirety of my childhood, she just didn't care. No matter how often, it's just not enough.

(Have you noticed I haven't mentioned Charlotte at all? She loves the annual Strand visit as well, but her emotions are much more rational and even-keeled. Thus, not as interesting for a blog.)

So, with all this build-up and all this excitement, the weekend was finally upon us. The Strands were supposed to leave Minnesota at 3 on Thursday and be here by around 10 Thursday night. Well, on Wednesday night, Laura sends me a message that they are expecting 14 inches of snow on Thursday morning up there. WHAT?!?!? Mother Nature, what are you doing to me? How can I possibly explain to Molly that the Easter visit might not happen due to a snowstorm in Minnesota?!?! So, I did what I'm always eager to do. Ignore that a problem exists and hope everything turned out ok. And guess what? For once in my life, that plan actually worked!

The snow stopped, the plows came, the sun shone, and the Strands were on the road. It was glorious news. Not the least for me because I didn't have to deal with a broken-hearted 8-year-old. They got here late, and Molly and Charlotte both woke up when Penny came to bed. It did take a while, but eventually they all went back to sleep.

The next morning was another tradition. Laura coming to Bar Method with me. She's coming with me the last couple years. The first year was hard, but now Laura is in amazing shape, so she was a total pro.
We, of course, had to take a picture to document the start of the weekend.

We always look for different things to do with the Strands when they're here because they are super cool, adventurous folk. And, we want to seem cooler than the suburb-living, soccer-game going folks that we are. So, this year, we decided to take them down to the KC Public Library to see the awesome building that looks like books. And, of course, to take pictures.

The girls were not as impressed with the library as I had hoped. The roof was pretty cool because they could see out around downtown KC a bit, but we didn't actually have a library card for the library, so we couldn't check out any books. They thought the old bank vault in the basement was pretty cool, but we were pretty much done with the library in a short time. We walked a short distance to a cool lunch place, then found a bakery that a friend had recommended for dessert. We got there right as they were closing, but they let us in to buy some yumminess. We then went back to the library steps to eat our delicious treats.

The girls checking out the books.

We had to pose on the book steps.

Laura and Amy on the roof of the library.

The girls in the basement with the old bank vault.

We stopped by a bakery for dessert treats, and they gave us some baguettes. So, when Laura found a moped, she just had to act the proper French lady she is at heart.

The girls eating their treats back on the library book stairs.

I, of course, just had to get a brownie with a peep on top. I only ate about half the brownie, but demolished the whole peep.

After fun downtown, we headed back out our direction and bowled a few frames at Pinstripes. We discovered that, at Pinstripes, even adults can have bumpers. Do you know what that means? I finally won a game of bowling! Score. After, Charlotte needed to take a picture on some bunnies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

As the Wheels Turn

We had a major milestone in our house this past week. This one has been a long time coming, too. A long time, with a lot of drama.

But now. Now it's official. Molly is a two-wheeling bike rider.

Yes, I do realize that Molly is almost 9 years old. I do know how old that is for someone to finally start riding a bike.  I know all this. But, hear me out.

So, technically, Molly learned to ride with no training wheels last spring break. Exactly a year ago. And, while she could technically do it, she was not comfortable with it at all. At all. We'd ask if she wanted to go ride her bike, and the answer was always an emphatic "no." I thought that she just hadn't been bitten by the bike-riding-loving bug. I blamed myself (as I am always wont do) for not pushing harder. She was too old when she finally learned. We should've worked harder with her. We should've been having family bike riding sessions. Yada, yada, yada. The neverending parental guilt, right?

Well, I really don't know what happened. I don't know why the change. Maybe it took a year of considering the ramifications of not riding a bike. Maybe she got tired of seeing all her friends ride by on their bikes. Maybe she just needed that much time to work up the courage. I mean, she is my child afterall. Taking time to work up to scary things might've been passed down in the DNA. No one would ever describe me as a jump-without-looking kinda gal. Ahem.

Anyhoo, back to the story at hand. Something shifted and all of a sudden, over the last week, Molly has become a bike-riding extraordinaire. She's ridden with Cory to get breakfast at McDonalds. She's ridden all over the school parking lot during spring break. She asks almost every day if she can ride up and down the street. And, yesterday, she begged to be able to ride her bike to school.

Now, keep in mind that school is less than a quarter mile from our house. I mean, we can literally see the school building from our front window. I'm looking at it right now, in fact. But, who are we to discourage this budding excitement? So, last night we trekked over to Academy because we just had to buy a bike lock to ensure that this morning's pilgrimage could happen.

And, this morning, she couldn't wait to jump on her bike and ride like the wind that whole .2 mile to school.

Oh, did I mention that Charlotte wanted to ride her bike, too?

"Look, ma, no training wheels!"

Using that oh-so-important bike lock!

Now that Molly is in the world of bike riding, I couldn't be happier for her. So many memories of my childhood revolving around riding my bike everywhere around the neighborhood (and beyond). And, I know I sound like the stereotypical old person here, but bear with me. My gosh, it was fun to just ride around wherever, whenever and however we wanted. Ahhh, the freedom and happiness we didn't even know we had or would forever be looking to reclaim.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blast from my past

Do you ever wonder if you've made an impact on people? Do you ever wonder if you'll be remembered? I can't be the only person who has these thoughts. I'm sure I'm not. But, the other day, this question was kinda-sorta answered for me. It was the one bright spot in a fairly bleak week, so it's something I keep coming back to right now. Here's the story:

Whenever someone asks where I grew up, I hesitate. I mean, technically I was born in Germany. Then I lived in Kansas until I was six. At which point, we moved to Fayetteville, NC. My dad had been in the Army and was in and out of medical school, which led to all the shuttling across oceans and countries. But, once he was stationed at Ft. Bragg, we stayed quite a while. At least, for a military family. I went to school in Fayetteville from 1st grade up through 9th. At the start of 10th grade, we moved back to Kansas. And, here I've stayed ever since. So, when someone asks where I grew up, I say North Carolina, even though I've lived in Kansas for the majority of my years. Not the easiest question, but I do consider my most influential childhood memories to have taken place in those years I resided in North Carolina.

Now, when we left North Carolina to move to Kansas, I was not happy. First of all, I was a 14-year-old girl. Show me a 14-year-old girl who is happy to leave her whole life and all her friends, and, well, I'd be more likely to believe that that girl was in fact an alien sent to earth to explore the intricacies of teenagehood than she was an actual teenager. I was very unhappy. I did not want to leave. I had a crush on a boy, and I had a life with friends I loved. This was not in my plan.

14-year-old me. (Ugh, the eyebrows and braces!)