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Monday, March 26, 2012

Unexpected Quesitons

Again we will take a side trip.  A moment away from Katie and a visit with one of Erik's unmentionable moments.  Erik was 3 years old and had seen and helped change the diapers of his little sister.  As a result he was beginning to really notice differences between boys and girls.  Any parents out there have answered many of the questions these realizations can lead to.......

When Erik was just getting the knack of potty training we were driving down to Grandma and Grandpa Gillette's house for a visit.  A few hours into the trip Erik says from the backseat "I have to go potty!".  Those of you who have experienced potty training know that when you hear those words you need to find a bathroom NOW!

So, the next exit we found we turned off the highway and found a gas station.  Dave figured while we were there he'd fill up the tank and I figured that since we had stopped I'd empty my tank, too.

Erik and I get out of the car and head into the gas station.  This particular gas station happened to have the beer coolers right near the public bathroom.  This forward planning provided several gentlemen with a chuckle on one fine Saturday morning.

Erik and I head into the bathroom and Erik takes care of his business right away.  Having to go myself I get Erik started washing his hands and I sit down on the toilet.  As I am finishing up the questions start.

"Mommy, do you have a penis?" Erik asks.  "No honey, girls don't have a penis."  As I am washing my hands I can see the thoughts tumble around in that little head and I wonder what the next question will be.  I try rushing out the door so the questions can be asked in the privacy of our own vehicle but Erik foils my great plan.

As I am drying my hands Erik asks his follow up question.  "Not even a little penis?"  As I am throwing away my paper towel I answer "No honey, not even a little penis."  Hoping the questions were done I push open the bathroom door.

Now get this image in your mind, a mom and her young son walking past a VERY populated beer isle on a Saturday morning perfectly suited to a combination of yard work and beer.  Imagine you are one of those men looking to choose the perfect brew to provide refreshment after an afternoon in the sun and listen to Erik's final question.

As we are walking behind all the men in the beer isle Erik stops and turns to me.  (After all, you can't ask an important question while you are walking.  You need to have eye contact with the person you are questioning.)  Before I can get him walking again Erik asks "Mommy, does Daddy have a little penis?"  As soon as the question leaves his little mouth I see the shoulders of all the men around us shaking with laughter.

At a loss for what to say (really is there a GOOD answer???  Either way you can't really win.) I hustle Erik out to the car, red in the face and trying not to laugh at a VERY serious question.  When we get back to the car I tell Dave the story of our Gas Station Experience, and tell Erik he can ask Daddy all the questions he feels necessary.

I am sure that if one of those gentlemen making their beer selection had been having a particularly difficult day our embarrassment was able to add a little levity to their day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

High Flying

In case you have not understood by now, Katie has a VERY active imagination.  No matter where we are she can find something to occupy herself.

If you have ever been to the little town of Fife Lake, Michigan you can picture the 'grassy beach'.  It is downtown (or at least downtown as you can get in Fife Lake) between the boat launch and the railroad tracks.  The ground slopes gently down toward the lake creating a nice grassy park area where you can watch the boats on the lake and keep an eye on the kids playing in the water without having to encounter all the goose poop that anyone living near a lake must deal with.

Add to that the little ice cream shop across the street from the park, the gazebo and the benches scattered throughout and you have the perfect spot to end a summer's evening stroll, and one evening we did just that.

After taking the self-guided historical walking tour of Fife Lake Dave, Erik, Katie and ordered our ice cream and we proceeded across the street to eat our treat while sitting near the water.  The kids finished their ice cream (at least the portion they were not wearing) before Dave and I so we sent them off to play in the grass.

Erik and Katie went down by the lake and were 'skipping' rocks - the one who's rock made the biggest splash had the best skip....Suddenly Katie stopped while she was picking up a rock and zeroed in on something up the hill.  We weren't sure what she saw at first but soon we saw her with two feathers, one in each hand.

At this time Katie did not realize we were watching her.  She would look at the feathers and shake them in her hands for a minute or so.  Then she reached out her arms and waved her whole arm, still holding the feathers.  From there she progressed to jumping while she flapped her arms.  After each attempt she would stop, look at the feathers and watch the birds as they took off and landed and try something a little different.

Before too long she headed farther up the hill with her feathers.  She started running and then jumped, flapping her arms as hard as she could.  Upon landing she was disappointed.  She was sure she would have taken to the air with that attempt.  Although she was disappointed she had not given up.

This time she headed even further up the hill and started down the hill at a dead run.  Just as the slope of the hill changed Katie jumped as high in the air as she could and flapped her little feather-holding-hands as hard as she could.  Upon landing we saw an ear to ear grin on her face.

Turning around she came running up to Dave and I excited to share her news.  "Mommy! Daddy! Did you see me?  I can really fly!  Watch!"  And so we continued to watch as Katie spend at least 20 minutes 'flying' in the little lakeside park in Fife Lake.

Friday, March 9, 2012

High Centered

Several years back we took a vacation up to the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We hiked near the Tahquamenon (for those who are baffled by the spelling it is Ta-qua-men-on) Falls, visited Oswald's Bear Ranch, and toured the Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum.  This was our first big trip with our Travel Trailer.  A trip like that with young kids is SO MUCH easier with a camper.

Back at the campground there were plenty of activities to keep the kids busy.  From our campsite there was a small playground we could watch, there was a berry patch the kids could go and eat wild raspberries until their hearts content.  And of course there were roads and trails the kids would ride their bikes on.

Katie at the time was just getting pretty good on her bike but she still needed the training wheels.  You could hear her coming from a mile away, the extra wheels rattling on the gravel as she would zoom past.  She was quit a site, as well.

As you have probably figured, Katie has quite a sense of flair.  Here she is, riding a powder blue bike with a basket on the front, streamers trailing from her handle bars and a hot pink helmet.....making 'motorcycle' noises.  Yep, that is my Katie.

Now Erik had been riding without training wheels for quite some time and was pretty good on his bike.  Living where we do, if you are going to ride a bike, you HAVE to be able to ride well.  With the uneven ground, the soft sand and the rough gravel road you have no choice but to have really good balance.  Add that to the kids who rode BMX bikes a few campsites down from us and you have trouble.

Erik had been riding with these kids after lunch, while Katie was lying down for a nap.  (Remember those, naps???  Used to be one of my favorite times of the day....)  After Katie woke up she saw Erik was off riding with the neighbor boys and wanted to go along.  We called Erik in and had him take his little sister along on his bike ride.

For a while things went really well.  Zoom....the older neighbor boys would fly past on their bikes. Huff, puff, puff......Soon Erik would pedal past as fast as his little legs and 14" bicycle could go.  Then, a little later you'd hear Katie.  Rattle, rattle, grind......she'd pedal past, streamers trailing behind her, huge smile on her face, pumping her little feet and 'speeding' past at a pace we could comfortably jog and keep up.  But she was happy, and that was all that mattered.

It didn't take too long for the boys to get tired of the 'slow down for the little girl' pace and decided to turn things up a little.  We hadn't seen the kids for a little bit so we decided to go for a walk and see if we could find them.  We made it all the way around the first loop of the campground with no sight of them.  Just as we were getting back toward our campsite we saw the neighbor boys wheel back into their campsite.  Not seeing either of our two riding behind we asked them where Erik and Katie were at.  The boys directed us to a little path behind the bath house. 

Walking up to the area that was pointed out we began to hear Katie crying, and Erik yelling something in a panic at his sister.  Unsure of what we'd find we hurried around the corner and saw the problem, or should I say predicament?

Erik and the other 2 boys had been jumping their bikes over a small rock that was sticking up out of the ground, doing tricks and stunts.  Katie, seeing the boys do this decided that she might just as well give it a try.  She was upset because the older boys told her she couldn't jump the rock with her bike.  Do you think that Katie, even at 3, would let a boy tell her what she can't do?  You are correct, she felt challenged.

Katie positioned her bike far enough back so she could build up some speed with her bike to make it over the ramp.  Once she felt she was in position she began to pedal.  She was trying to gain speed as she approached the rock, and felt proud when she hit the rock ramp dead center with the front wheel of her bike.  She prepared herself for the landing on the other side but the laws of physics had something else in mind for her.

As I mentioned before, Katie could pump those pedals FAST, but that did not mean the wheels of the bike went fast.  She could get some speed, but not as much as the thought.  Also, what she didn't see was the second rock, just a little shorter and a few inches away from the rock she was 'launching' herself from.

So here she was, bracing for the jump when her first tire cleared the ramp, then her back tire hit perfect center as well.  She was almost there!!! 

Almost.....

Between the lack of speed, positioning of the rocks and those darned training wheels Katie was stopped dead in her tracks, high centered and could not move.  Her front tire on the bottom of the second rock, her training wheels caught on the edges of the two rocks and her back tire suspended in the gap between the two rocks.  No matter how hard she pushed on those pedals that back tire would not grab, and if she tried to climb off her bike it would start to tip.  She was really stuck!!!

Trying not to laugh (How could she align things so perfectly to get stuck like that?") we freed the bike and got Katie set off, once again on her way.  Rattle, rattle, grind....rattle, rattle, grind.....She rode contentedly on the roads for the rest of the evening.

A few days later, as we were packing up to head home the kids were taking their last laps on their bikes before our long trip home.  A few minutes after they took off we heard a whoop and and a cheer coming down the road.  "I did it!"  Katie exclaimed riding past our campsite.  About that time the owner of the campground approached us, chuckling.  He told us he watched her 'circle' the rock a few times then start off, training wheels rattling and streamers flying behind and grinning ear to ear as she finally made the jump.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Be back soon

Hello to my loyal readers.  I know you are yearning for a new story but alas the forces of nature are plotting against us.

As many of you know (and several experienced) we had quite a snowstorm just recently.  The storm  dropped 22" of heavy, wet snow in about 10 hours.  It knocked out our power and the darned computer just wouldn't turn on without that steady stream of current I typically force feed it.  Rest assured, we have power once again (and I hope those of you who are out STILL 4 days later get power restored soon), but the snow is not the only force of nature that is playing havoc with your 'Katie fix'.

The powerful forces of ice and gravity are also holding you all hostage.  You see, over the weekend (while we had no power) I fell quite hard down an icy hill and really rang my bell.  As a result I am dealing with a concussion that is keeping me from maintaining my normal daily function.

Rest assured, my personal nurse and wonderful, loving, thoughtful sister (yes, I am buttering her up a bit but I do love ya Liz!) checked me over and there is nothing serious that can be addressed medically, it is just a matter of time.  She did give me the advice to ice the affected area, and I informed her that application of ice is exactly what got me here!!!

In the mean time, I am going to wait until I can once again type (without the hunt-n-peck technique) and can think more than one or two words ahead, and I can think without getting a headache before I continue with the tales from my little girl.  In the meantime, be well my peeps.

P.S.  I just ran spell check before posting this - be glad I did!  I have never seen so much yellow on a screen as I just did!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Beef

For those of you who know our family, you know that we strongly believe in lying to our kids.  Yep, we'd lie to them all the time when it came to food.  They would never, not ever, not even once, not even for a million dollars (or candy bars, chips, suckers, etc), absolutely would not let a bite of meatloaf pass through their lips.  But, if I served a "giant sliced meatball" for dinner they would eat like a high school football team.  I would never dream of serving baked beans with our hot dogs or hamburgers, but the kids would ask for 2 spoons of the jelly beans in sauce.  And for lunch do NOT serve them a ham or turkey sandwich.  I guarantee you, they will not eat it.  BUT if you serve them the pink or white salami they will eat like there is no tomorrow.  Yep, I frimly believe that lying to our children has made them fairly easy to cook for.

Now, for a year or two we'd get all of our beef from a neighbor down the road.  "Farmer Joe" had chickens, llamas, pigs, goats and cows.  The kids would go and visit the animals from time to time and Katie began to really like cows.  She loved their big brown eyes that always looked friendly and their funny tails that would always whip around.  Not a huge problem unless you have a child that really enjoys the flavor of beef but does not want to eat a cow because they are so nice.

Katie told us one day that she wouldn't eat cow anymore, but she still wanted to eat beef.  We'd make a steak or roast and if she thought it came from a cow she would NOT eat it (or at least just one or two bites, after all a girl has to eat!). 

Enter the lying parent.  So here we are with a freezer full of beef and a girl who won't eat anything that came from a cow.  Good thing we have such an amazing farmer just down the road.  "Farmer Joe" created a new animal JUST FOR KATIE!  Now, in addition to the beef that came from cows that he had become accustomed to raising, he started on a new venture.....Chicken Beef!!

Yep, that would be the kind of beef that comes from chickens, not cows.  Katie had no aversion to eating meat from a chicken.  After all, those beady eyed little buggers do nothing but chase you around and peck at the ground.  Eating a chicken was fair game.

There is something absolutely amazing about that beef that comes from chickens.  It has the same texture, color and flavor as the beef that comes from cows.  If you came to dinner you'd never be able to tell the difference between the two.  And you may even give us a strange look across the table when you were told (by Katie) that you were actually eating chicken beef, not cow beef.

Things went pretty well for a while.  We were able to keep our little secret hidden until we went to dinner at Grandma's house one evening.  We were having a beef roast and before we could fill anyone in on the chicken beef Katie asked Grandma where she got her roast.  Luckily for us Grandma answered "From the store."  That gave us just enough time to come in and save dinner.  Katie followed up asking if the store Grandma shopped at had chicken beef or cow beef.  Just as Grandma began to answer the quesiton to her best ability we told Katie that Farmer Joe made a deal with Grandma's grocery store and he was now supplying them with his beef.  We assured her Grandma got the very same kind of beef from Farmer Joe that we had at home.

After the meal was saved from the brink of ruin we settled in and enjoyed our dinner.  Once the kitchen was cleaned up we were able to inform Grandma and Grandpa about the special arrangement we have with our neighbor to provide us with his special 'chicken beef' and explained why.

After a few years, and a few visits to the County 4-H fair, Katie realized that all beef comes from cows.  By that time her ability to enjoy a good steak far outweighed her love of those big brown eyes and that funny tail.  She told us 'It is okay to eat cow beef because it comes from old cows.  They aren't nearly as cute as the baby cows.  And if we eat the old cows Farmer Joe can get more babies!'

Farmer Joe no longer raises the beef for us, but we are greatful for those years of producing that interesting creature known as the chicken beef.  Thanks to him we can now enjoy a good hamburger without being worried about hurting someone's delicate feelings.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Through the ice

One afternoon we headed out to Jay's Sporting Goods in Gaylord.  Dave wanted to check out some of the new bows on the market.  For those of you who have never been in a sporting goods store with Dave, if you find yourself in that situation bring a book!

So here we are, waiting for Dave to shoot yet another bow.  We've looked at the pelts (she found one that was only 'playing dead' - an opossum), checked out all the fishing lures, laughed at the names of the hunting accessories and named all of the mounted animals and animal targets in the store.
 
After all those time consuming activities I thought we had run out of things to keep us occupied.  I was wrong.  Katie spied the last CLAM ice fishing shelter set up on display and promptly took a seat.  Upon sitting down she motioned for me to sit in the chair next to her and she handed me a 'fishing pole'.  Of course in those shelters the fishing poles have as much substance as the ice.

So here we are, ice fishing in the floor display shelter of Jay's Sporting Goods.  When I'd loose my bait Katie would reach into her bait bucket and hook a minnow.  I sat 'jigging' waiting for the big bite.  Well, I didn't get the first bite.

After a few minutes of sitting Katie feels the first big bite.  She pulls and reels in the fish.   She can just barely pull it through the hole in the ice but finally manages to land the biggest bass you have ever seen pulled through the ice.  A successful ice fishing trip if we finished there, but our adventure continued.

Katie 'unhooks' her big bass, tosses it onto the ice and then scopes out a new place to cast.  She gazes out the door of our shelter and spotted a fishing hole near the dog kennels that looks promising.  She winds up and casts her ice fishing line across the store and makes a perfect hit.  She hit the hole 20 feet away smack dab in the middle.  She is just that good.

After a few minutes of waiting she gets the big hit.  Wow, this is a whopper!  She fights the fish, reeling and pulling.  As hard as she is working the fish is fighting that much harder.  The fish is pulling so hard that the line is cutting a line through the ice.  All that back and forth between Katie and the fish has managed to saw a crack in the ice from that hole where Katie cast her line to the hole in the ice in front of her.  Amazing, truly amazing.

Once the fish gets centered in the hole she manages to wrangle the head to the hole.  She finally swings the fish around to get the head up through the ice and begins to pull the body out.  She pulls, and pulls and pulls.  What an amazing fish!  It takes her a full minute to get the entire body up out of the ice.  Once she lands her catch she examines this monster.  She has pulled a 6-foot-long northern pike through the concrete, um, I mean ice, at Jay!  Quite a little fisher person.

Finally, Katie makes her last cast.  This time she throws her bait into a hole over near the deer targets.  Within seconds she gets a bite, and it is the biggest one YET!  She struggles and fights this huge catch.  Every time she pulls, the beast on the other end of the line pulls just as hard.  Finally, after a long back and forth stand off Katie manages to tire out her catch and is able to reel it in.  She gets it up to the hole and finds the hole is too small!  She hands me a chain saw (how else would you cut a larger hole in the ice?) and asks me to cut the hole larger.

 Using the chainsaw I enlarge the hole and Katie manages to pull the head up through the ice.  She has pulled in a 12-point buck!  She gets the head up out of the ice and has to cut it off in order to get the rest of the body through the ice.  As she is deftly cutting the head she has me enlarge the hole yet again.  Because she is so efficient at severing the head of a deer pulled through the ice and I am so poorly suited to enlarging ice holes with a chainsaw Katie had enough time to mount the head of her deer while I chipped away at the ice.

Finally I was able to get the hole in the ice large enough to get the deer's body above water.  She lands that big ol' buck and cuts him up (She is just so darned quick with that knife of hers) into steaks, sausages and jerky.  Handing me all the packaged venison Katie packs up all of her ice fishing gear, picks up her head mount and we head back off the ice to find Dave.

We managed to find him back in the archery department just finishing up having shot the bows he had been looking at.  As we are walking out the store Katie tells him of all her adventures on the ice and shows Dave the trophy she has captured on her ice fishing adventure in the middle of Jay's Sporting Goods.  That trophy happens to be hanging on the wall in her bedroom, and although you can't see it she spends time every day cleaning his antlers.