Quick, before I get Sidetrack'd

Archive for posts tagged with ‘Family’

The day I thought I might die

Thoughtfully penned on October 14th, 2008 and generally concerning Family, Of games and good things, Vacation

We spent two days of our vacation enjoying the sights and rides of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.  Matt, my brother, my nephews and I are all big roller coaster fans, so we were excited to try the five big coasters in the park.  We were excited, that is, until we saw this

Meet Sheikra.  Or, as we came to refer to it, Shriekra.

All day we eyed this bad boy.  All day it taunted us as it towered above the lesser rides.  All day we alternated between giddy excitement and terrified respect.  All day we tried to work ourselves up for the ride.

When the time came to suck it up or go home all four of us decided to throw caution to the wind and climb aboard.

Now, let’s get a bit of perspective that might be missed when seeing this beast in pictures and not in person.

First, there’s this:

and from a different angle:

a ninety degree (that’s straight down) vertical drop of 200 feet.

Then there’s this:

what’s known as an Immelmann loop, or, in layman’s terms, a loop where you go upside down.

Then, there’s this:

a second vertical drop.

Also notable about this ride are the facts that: 1. it reaches a maximum speed of 70 mph; 2. there is no floor to the coaster “car”; and 3. at the top of the 200 foot drop the coaster pauses to dangle you – yes, dangle you – over the edge before letting the car plunge down the track.

Let me just tell you, that plunge was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before!

So, here’s how it played out…

The four of us boarded the car, pulled our safety harnesses as tight as possible, and set off to see if we’d live to walk off the ride.

Up the ascent.  clack.  clack.  clack. All the time seeing nothing but the clouds.

Around the bend.  brake.  release.  brake. Ease forward until we are hanging over the edge of the precipice.  pause.  pause.  pause.  RELEASE!

Into the descent that pushes you out of your seat up into the seat restraints; forces that require you to think about breathing; an adrenaline rush that makes you question whether or not your heart just stopped.

Quickly into the Immelmann loop, around to the second vertical drop, skidding across water, and back into the coaster station.

My brother left the park with a tee-shirt that said “I survived the five”.  After riding Sheikra, he deserved it.

This time last week I was at the beach

Thoughtfully penned on October 13th, 2008 and generally concerning Family, Grandparents, Life with littles, Of games and good things

Last Sunday we got up early, like 3:30 early, loaded up the car and headed to the airport.  By seven o’clock we were checked in, through security, and awaiting the arrival of our airplane at the gate.  We were meeting my brother and his boys at the gate (they flew into town from another part of the state) then flying to Tampa.  Everyone was excited, even though the kids really didn’t have a clue what was going on.

When we landed in Tampa we were off to meet my parents (who drove down) at the condo so our vacation could really begin.  We spent the week relaxing at the beach, having fun at Busch Gardens, and generally enjoying our time together.

It was great to be with my brother and my nephews.  It was great for my kiddos to spend lots of quality time with us, their uncle, their cousins, and their grandparents.  It was an adventure involving sand, water, roller coasters, and lots of good seafood.

And I’ll be back to tell you more about it later.  Right now I’m off to take a nap; I’m having a tough time switching from “vacation” mode back into “real life” mode. 


Memories of Granny and Papa’s farm

Thoughtfully penned on July 9th, 2008 and generally concerning childhood, Family, Grandparents, Of games and good things, Us

As I was writing the posts last week about our trip to Granny and Papa’s house, memories kept surfacing of the times we’ve spent there.

The memories for Matt go back to the beginning.  He remembers when the land was just that, land, filled with trees and potential.  He remembers the steps along the way to completing the house and Granny and Papa making the move out there.  He has fond childhood memories of summer visits, playing in the creek, fishing in the pond, and walking in the woods.  He always said he wished he could spend the whole summer at Granny and Papa’s instead of only a week.

There are also lots of memories that we’ve made there together.  My first visit was just over 10 years ago.  Matt and I had only been dating a few months, and he took me to meet his grandparents while we were in town for Spring Break from college.  I fell in love with his grandparents and their place immediately and am very thankful that I’m still visiting a decade later and have so many good times to reflect on.

This was the place we were married.  In the kitchen we ate chicken salad sandwiches as we waited for time for the ceremony.  In Granny’s huge garden we were photographed with our families.  Under a rose arbor we pledged our love for each other as we said our vows.

This was the place we made our first home.  The first two months of our married life we lived in the little house on Granny and Papa’s property (originally built for Matt’s great-grandmother).  We would come home in the evenings to find fresh picked tomatoes sitting on our back porch railing; we would go into the garden to pick corn from the stalk and blueberries straight from the bush.  We would go down the driveway every Thursday evening to sit on the screened porch and chat.  It was a special season in our life for many reasons, not the least of which was Matt finally getting to spend the whole summer at Granny and Papa’s house.

And now we have memories there with our children.  Little standing beside the Christmas tree.  A trip to play in the creek with her Daddy.  Boo in Papa’s lap.  Granny and Papa loving our children like they’ve always loved Matt.

I am thankful for all the memories we’ve created on the farm and especially with Granny and Papa.  It is sad to see it go, but it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

A weekend to remember

Thoughtfully penned on July 2nd, 2008 and generally concerning Family, Grandparents, Summer Fun

For the last 20 or so years, Matt’s grandparents have lived on about 50 acres of land outside of Nashville.  Several months ago, they decided that the house and land were too much for them to handle any longer and put the place up for sale.  This is bittersweet for all of us.  We understand that this is the right thing for them to do, but we will miss the place; it holds lots of memories for everyone.

Fast forward to last weekend.  Matt and I wanted to take the kids and visit his grandparent’s again before they move.  Matt’s brother and sister-in-law wanted to visit too, so we decided to try to be there at the same time.  As it ended up, Lu and her family were able to come to town as well, so we had a bit of a family reunion.

We spent the weekend relaxing, chatting, and laughing. Sitting on the screened porch (in the comfy swing, of course) was bliss.  Catching up with family that we don’t get to see nearly as often as we would like was wonderful.  Having the opportunity to meet our newest nephew before he’s a year old was great.  And, of course, it was nice to make a few more memories (and pictures) at the “old homestead”.

A big slumber party in our living room

Thoughtfully penned on June 4th, 2008 and generally concerning Family, Grandparents

Rewinding to Memorial Day weekend (uh, yeah, I’m a bit behind here)…

Matt and I talked about going to Nashville to spend Memorial Day weekend with family but decided we weren’t ready to tackle a road trip and multiple visits with a not quite six weeks old baby and an active 22 month old.  So, my family decided they would come visit us.

Saturday morning my parents, brother, and two nephews arrived to spend about 24 hours with us.  I was quite excited to see my brother and the boys; October was the last time I saw them for any length of time (we are separated by about an 8 hour drive).  And I think they were pretty excited to see Little and The Boy.

Soon after they arrived we headed out to eat ribs and then came home to visit and hang out.  The guys threw baseball in the backyard (my oldest nephew is big into baseball and quite good at it from what I hear), we passed around the baby, everyone played around with Little.  And with Matt, my brother, and the two boys in a house together, quite a bit of rough housing took place.

Saturday evening Matt and I were able to go out for dinner and coffee.  It was quite refreshing to step out of the hustle and bustle of our life with the kiddos and enjoy some time together.  Thanks to Daddy and Momma for keeping the little ones so we could celebrate our anniversary.

Saturday night all of our visitors piled into the living room on the couch, an air mattress, various pallets.  It was quite a site to behold; one big family slumber party.  When Little got up Sunday morning she decided it was her job to wake everyone else.  She didn’t have any trouble waking Grandmommie and Grandad, but the boys took a little more work.  She climbed up on the air mattress between them and started saying “wake up, wake up” until they roused and looked at her.  It was too cute watching her try to get the big boys out of bed to play.

It would have been nice to have a little more time together, but it was great to see everyone.  Little thoroughly enjoyed the attention of her uncle and cousins!  And now we are all looking forward to the next time we’ll be together, during our family vacation in the fall.

Not much to say right now

Thoughtfully penned on May 7th, 2008 and generally concerning Family, Sidetrack'd

Things are going well around here.

Enjoying the pretty weather – playing outside, walks, trips to the park.

Not getting as much sleep as I’d like (on that note, why does the 3 week old growth spurt hit right at the height of sleep deprivation?  That only adds insult to injury).

Managed to clean the kitchen (except for mopping) and dust part of the living room today – progress on the housekeeping front.

Looking forward to a visit from Matt’s parents this weekend.

Hope you’re all having a good week.  I’ll try to have some real content to post in the next day or so.

April 7th

Thoughtfully penned on April 7th, 2008 and generally concerning childhood, Family

Isn’t that title just so clever? I’m suffering a bit from worn out, ready to have this baby creativity block. :-)

So, what is special about April 7th? In my life it is the celebration of my brother.

I am blessed to have a wonderful older brother, and, although, we are not as close in distance or relationship at this point as I would like (or as we’ve been at other times in our lives), I am happy to say he is also my friend.

And in honor of his birthday, I’m going to tell a couple of stories on myself that I think are amusing…

J’s big hobby in elementary school age and into early middle school was building model cars, airplanes, and boats. He could often be found hard at work on the bar in our basement gluing pieces together, painting the finished work, and applying decals and stickers. He worked all shapes, sizes, and types of models.

Once, when I was probably six or seven years old (possibly a bit younger), J and Daddy were working on a huge model pirate ship. If I remember correctly, it was probably a couple feet long and was amazingly detailed with fabric sails, oars and guns coming from the lower decks, and the whole pirate-y bit. They had put a ton of time and effort into this ship and were probably 90%-100% finished when “the incident” occurred.

For whatever reason, J had set the ship on the basement floor and left it there to get something from upstairs while I was still playing downstairs. I was being a typical girl and doing gymnastics or something on the furniture and was hanging upside down in Daddy’s recliner watching something on TV. I’m not sure exactly what happened, or how it happened, but the next thing I knew I was sliding off the recliner and directly on top of the pirate ship. I remember a crunching sound, the sound of J running down the stairs, and my crying as he yelled.

The ship had attained damage of the hit-by-several-cannonballs type and was totally destroyed. It was an accident, but that didn’t make it any better in the eyes of my 11-ish year old brother who had worked so hard to build that pirate ship.

And then there was the time when I was about three and I flushed J’s pet fish down the toilet. The fish lived in a bowl on our kitchen island. Apparently it was sleeping, but it looked dead to my preschool eyes. I took it to the bathroom, dumped it, and flushed. It started swimming down the drain. Oops!

It’s a wonder he still likes me. Happy birthday, brother!

A quick week in review

Thoughtfully penned on January 25th, 2008 and generally concerning E, Family, Friendship, Sidetrack'd, Wii

This week has flown by me, thus the lack of posts all.week.long.

We had a wonderful weekend last weekend with our friends from Knoxville. We didn’t do anything very exciting (ate, shopped, talked), but it was great to spend time with them. Matt introduced their 5 year old to the Wii and the joys of Wii bowling. We had a lot of fun Saturday afternoon and evening playing games and competing against each other.

The only un-fun part of the weekend was a hand-foot-and-mouth disease scare. Little woke up Saturday morning with small red bumps all over the backs of her hands and tops of her feet and swelling in her hands. A call to the after-hours nurse produced an over-the-phone diagnosis of HFMD, but I began to doubt that was the problem when we got home and did a bit more research in some of the medical databases we have access to. Turns out it was just an allergic reaction and had cleared up totally by Sunday morning. Our best guess is that she was reacting to the laundry detergent that our friends use on their son’s blankies.

Monday was a holiday for Matt, so we enjoyed some family time and celebrated MLK day with a trip to Home Depot, lunch at Olive Garden, and some grocery shopping. Tuesday and Thursday didn’t see that much activity, but my blogging time was directed to other tasks. Tuesday was spent catching up on my Bible Study before class on Wednesday, and Thursday’s time was spent cleaning and napping.

The other news of the week came to my attention on Wednesday, and I spent the afternoon talking to my mom and my aunt, giving Little a few extra hugs, and thanking God for her health. My cousin’s son, who is 4 years old, was diagnosed with a cancerous mass on his adrenal gland. He has been in the hospital since Sunday, and today he underwent a procedure to put in a permanent IV port. He will begin his first round of chemotherapy this evening; it is possible that he could be in the hospital for 4 months, but right now it looks more like he will be able to go home sometimes between rounds of chemo (total treatment time looks like it will be 6 to 12 months). We are grateful that he is close to a wonderful children’s hospital, that it was caught quickly, and that he is expected to make a full recovery. Your prayers for him and his family would be greatly appreciated.

Which brings us to today. Today I have been preparing for a ladies’ getaway that I’m going on this weekend with several friends. This will be the first time I’ve been away from Little overnight, so I’m feeling just a tiny bit anxious, but I know she and Matt will be just fine here by themselves. And I’m really excited about spending a couple of days with girlfriends.!

And that, friends, is the excitement for this week. Maybe next week I’ll be around a bit more. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Welcome little nephew

Thoughtfully penned on December 20th, 2007 and generally concerning Family

I’m pleased to announce that I am once again proud aunt to an adorable nephew. My sweet sister-in-law Lu and new baby Grayson are both doing well. She will probably be out of the blogging loop for a bit, but I’m sure she would appreciate any well wishes and congratulations you might like to leave at her place.

Little is the only girl grandchild on either side of the family and then with Boo coming in a few months she will really be outnumbered. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. Hopefully, one day we will add a few more girls (either in our immediate family or nieces), but right now we are happy surrounded by the boys.

So today the Sidetrack’d family celebrates our new nephew and cousin and praises God that he and his Mommy are healthy and happy! Thanks for allowing me to brag a bit. :-)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Thoughtfully penned on November 28th, 2007 and generally concerning Christmas Time, E, Family, Goals, Legacy, Of games and good things

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are happily gearing up for Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I’m not sure exactly why it ranks above Thanksgiving or Easter or even Fourth of July, but I’ve always loved the Christmas season. There is something about the lights and the decorations, the wrapped packages and spirit of giving, the music and the traditions that make me smile.

Matt and I try not to get mired in the stress that the season can bring, and we try to stay focused on the real reason for Christmas instead of focusing on the consumerism that society fosters. Now that Little is getting old enough to participate (although still very limited participation) it is time to begin creating family traditions that she will carry through life just as we carry those of our families. What exactly will this entail? I’m not sure yet.

We started with a decision to stay home this year for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (we’ve traveled to family every Christmas since Matt and I began dating); we will miss celebrating with our extended family, but this is what we want for the future of our family (and what better time to start than the present?). We will attend a Christmas Eve worship service either at our church or another church in our area. We will try to begin instilling in her from an early age an appreciation that Christmas is a season set aside to reflect on the birth of Jesus and what that means to us as individuals, family, and beyond. We will decorate our Christmas tree and our home. We (or at least Momma) will bake goodies for us to enjoy and to share with our friends and neighbors. We will attend and host Christmas parties. We will give and receive gifts. We will incorporate traditions from my childhood and from Matt’s childhood with new ideas and activities to create a Christmastime that is specific to our family.

This is a new phase we are entering into with the holidays, and it will be fun to see how our ideas, activities, and traditions unfold through the years to come. Now we’ve just gotta get the tree up so the season can truly begin!

I would love to hear some of the special Christmas traditions that your family has created if you would like to share in the comments.