Monday, October 18, 2010

Boys, boys, boys

On the day that you were born the angels got together,
And decided to create a dream come true,
So they sprinkled moondust in your hair
And golden starlight in your eyes of blue...
(The Carpenters)

This always makes me think of all these sweet blue-eyed boys with which I am surrounded.

The weekend has been a flurry of activities- Alabama's homecoming, Kentuck Arts Festival, tennis matches, youth group, praying mantis hunting, running the teenage taxi.

We all made it to the homecoming parade and all the Quad festivities. I was so proud that Parker wore the only Ole Miss shirt in the house and made his Mama proud. He was a navy blue and red dot in a sea of crimson. I pulled out our Ole Miss baby blankets given to Neil and Henry by Uncle Charles and draped them over the stroller. Parker met his friends and quickly disappeared from the family group. Henry and Neil loved browsing at the Chemistry (Henry got to smash a nitrogen frozen banana with a hammer) and Biology (lots of reptiles and dead preserved fish) tents.

We Rebel fans can always hope when playing the Crimson Tide, but it's not too long before those hopes are dashed. Oh well, there's always next year.

I think these pictures will say it all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Whoa, whoa, whoa it's magic!

Just about every afternoon in the backyard is eventful. Sometimes, it's just flat magical. This evening in the fabulous cool weather Parker taught Henry how to ride a bicycle. Just amazing to see the pride they both had. What a moment when Parker realized Henry was pedaling on his own and what a moment for Henry to realize he was riding alone. And Neil, cheering them both on with "yeah." And, I must add that Neil did some pedaling of his own on his tricycle!

Last week Russian musicians came to the Rise school, a flautist and a trumpeter, both were energetic young men that absolutely captivated their audience of children, teachers, and parents. "Flight of the Bumblebee" was played by the flutist with bumblebee hand puppets (on both hands!). A couple of hours later, I was the lucky caller to Alabama Public Radio and won two free tickets for the "Celebrity Series" at UA featuring these two musicians. Henry had asked to see them again and the next night he and I attended together. He was just so excited and dressed up--complete with a black bow tie and his "nice tennis shoes." I was a bit worried when I realized our seats were way up at the front on the third row. What a perfect little sweetie pie he was--listening, taking it all in. Four college boys were behind us and Henry was amused when he turned around and one was snoozing midway through the concert. We left at intermission, mostly because I wanted to stop while we were ahead and keep the experience good. We came home to find Neil amusing Dad and Parker with "knock, knock" jokes. He can come up with some doozies! His favorite this week is: Knock, knock, who's there? Night, night. Night night who? Night, night babies. Maybe I should say this is his favorite one at bedtime.

Parker has survived the first six weeks of high school (maybe I'm projecting here, ok, I have survived it). Math (geometry) began with a jolt--a 65 question test the first day-yes, right after Summer, that COUNTED on material that they had not covered! But, he has steadily hung in and it looks darn good to his non-math minded parents. He's really grasping it and has even mentioned to Richard that he is beginning to make connections between math and life. In Biology he is working on a genetics project about Progeria (a rare genetic disorder in which one ages at an extraordinary rate). On a trip to Boston with Neil in June 2008, Parker met and got to know someone his age with this disease. Powerful to have had such an experience.

Friday night Parker will attend his first high school homecoming football game. He's going to the game with a sweet 11th grade girl named Sara.

Richard has set us up in the den with a 55 gallon aquarium that we have really enjoyed. We call it "FTV" (Fish TV). No more blood pressure medicine around here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Magnificent Morning at the Arboretum

After Neil, Henry, and I dropped Parker off at school this morning, we headed to the Arboretum and were there for four hours! About midway through, we were joined by our dear friend/godmother Johnnie. The place is just magical. We began with breakfast in the pavilion, then a walk to the pond, and on to the children's garden. Always a surprise to see what has been added. Today, we found an "alphabet garden" and a labyrinth. Henry was so moved by the labyrinth that when he came to the center, he knelt and said a prayer. Butterflies everywhere! At one point, Neil was just standing mesmerized by the flutter of activity on the zinnias. We later found out a weasel had been spotted there today.

Here are some of those magic moments. They really, really were.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summertime 2010

Oh my how good it has been!

Carpenter bees with white faces
Memphis Zoo
Canterbury Farmer's market
Archeology camp
Lightening bugs
Tiny frogs
One-eyed owls
Swim lessons
Guitar lessons
June bugs
Swimming pools and movie stars
Flying stink bugs
Bald cardinals
Beautiful Zinnias
Daddy's visit
Parker playing the Blues...and much more!
Neil's "watch this"
Goodbyes to Dara and Nick-moving to Nashville! As Neil says, "I love Dawa."
Dad to Henry, "Henry you are just so cute I can hardly stand it." Henry: "Sometimes I can hardly stand it myself." 7-19-2010
8-2-10 We removed Neil's mic-key button after 3 years and 4 months! Henry said, " Now Neil's belly is like mine!"
Dad, how old were you when you were little?
2010 Martindale-Daughdrill Reunion in Guntersville, Alabama be continued...what joy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What a day!

Dad here, with an account of what I would consider a perfect day. The weather was pleasantly cool with a fresh breeze, so I took Henry to a nearby open field for a little kite flying and we had a blast. The grass was about two feet high, so even without the kite he was amused, walking through this chest high growth looking for whatever creatures might be lurking there. I put the kite together and the wind was brisk enough that it was almost hard to hold onto. I let Henry hold the reel (though keeping my hand inside just in case), and up it went. Squeals of delight! We let line out, watching the kite get smaller and smaller and letting Henry get a good feel for just how hard the wind was pulling it. Eventually I started worrying about getting all this line back in and convinced Henry we should bring our bird a little closer to earth. Of course, once I had reeled it back to a reasonable height he wanted to let it out once again. We did this a few times, and despite his pleas that we "do this all day," the four year old's empty tummy finally got to him and we loaded up for home, where we found Mom had cooked us up a delicious breakfast - eggs, grits, sausage and even homemade biscuits. What a treat.

I had been wanting to take Parker on a baseball pilgrimage, so he and I kissed everyone goodbye and headed to Birmingham, first stop the oldest operating baseball Park in the U.S. - Rickwood Field - "the closest thing the baseball world has to a time machine." What an experience. The park is not open on Saturdays, but I knew from their website that this Saturday morning was a volunteer cleanup and I figured if we got there in time someone would let us look around. Sure enough, we got there a little after 11:00 and found a group of guys hanging around the West end gate. I asked about seeing the park and was told to pull on in, park and enjoy our visit. Parker and I toured at our leisure, walking through the stands, checking out the view from the dugout, pounding imaginary homers, and pitching imaginary strikes from the mound once occupied by Christy Mathewson, Satchell Paige and Dizzy Dean, among others. We walked up and down and in and through the entire park, taking pictures and reading the signs and generally just soaking it all in. When we finally felt we had seen everything we walked back out to where we had parked. What we found when we got there was a locked gate - really locked, with a big chain and padlock. We did not, unfortunately, find people. No one, not a soul in sight.

It took a few minutes for this to sink in, and we first walked around looking for the gate we just knew they had left open somewhere, then when that failed we walked around a bit more looking for the person we just knew was still there working on something and waiting to let us out. When that failed as well, despite a few tentative shouts of "Anyone here?," it became clear that 911 was our only recourse. "How embarrassing," says Parker. So thanking God for cell phones I called and explained to the dispatcher that my son and I were locked in Rickwood Field. There was a bit of a pause as I suppose she must have been trying to decide if this was a practical joke; then understanding that I was quite serious she told me she would get someone out to us.

We waited 15 or 20 minutes, during which time I told Parker I guess a couple of loonies locked in a ballpark wasn't a real high priority for the Birmingham police. So we looked around the park a little more, fiddled with the car, and twiddled our thumbs. I called back a few minutes later to give the police an exact address based on the street sign I could see and make sure they knew we really were locked in the park. She took the address and assured me someone had been dispatched. An officer arrived a few minutes later, which although we had never really felt in danger was comforting nonetheless. We explained what happened and I told him that since we knew he didn't have a key to every lock in Birmingham my son had suggested he just shoot the lock off like they do in the movies. We thought this would have the dual advantage of being more fun and considerably quicker than waiting for someone to come with a key, but while he seemed amused he assured us this was not an option. Rats. He contacted his dispatcher who he said would contact the Public Works Department who would try to find contact information for someone with a key.

Not expecting this to be quick, Parker and I broke out our snack bag and found a shady bench for a picnic. We munched our apples and granola bars and took an occasional brief tour around, careful not to get too far from our rescuer. Within just a few more minutes a guy pulled up in a pickup truck, spoke with the cop and unlocked the gate for us. The beauty of this was that he had not been contacted by the police or the city, who had had no luck locating anyone with a key, but had been in a meeting at his church down the street and stopped when he saw the police by the gate and the two people inside the fence. Pure serendipity - or as he indicated by a finger pointing upward, divine intervention.

We thanked the officer and the churchman, got outside the gate where we stopped for a couple of last photos, and headed toward our next stop. As we drove away, Parker asked, "Dad, why can't we just do things like normal people?"

So the next stop on our pilgrimage is the museum at Vulcan Park, where there is an exhibit on the history of baseball in Birmingham. We stop at the ticket booth and when we tell the nice lady there that we're interested in the baseball exhibit she asks if we're going to get to Rickwood field today. Parker and I look at each other and start laughing hysterically, which of course leaves the lady in the ticket booth wondering if we're OK. We recount our morning so far and we all have another good laugh. Parker and I head to the museum and enjoy the exhibit, though after our morning the museum was a bit anticlimactic.

Leaving the museum we took the stairs to the top of Vulcan (forgetting to count) and walked out onto the observation deck on what could not have been a more perfect day to see Birmingham. The air was wonderfully clear, there was a light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. We could clearly see all of Birmingham in Jones Valley to North and Homewood in Shades Valley to the South. Just spectacular.

After a leisurely visit atop Vulcan we agreed we were hungry and set out in search of food. I detoured by our old house on Mecca Avenue and seeing a couple I assumed were the current owners stopped for a chat. They were amused to hear a description of their home from over 40 years ago, and I was a bit saddened to hear from them how much it had changed. It looked pretty much the same from the outside, but I think it would have been unrecognizable inside. Anyway, we visited for a while and resumed our search for food.

We had an unremarkable meal at Demetris BBQ and drove back downtown to Parker's favorite destination in Birmingham - Sloss Furnace. Did our usual tour there and decided to walk around downtown for a while.

We had a stroke of luck when we passed the Alabama Theater. A recital of some sort had just finished and I figured with all the people milling around no one would notice a couple of tourists or care if we looked around. What a treat. I had forgotten how glorious this old movie palace is - four stories of pure luxury, built, ironically, in 1927, just before the beginning of the Great Depression. Anyway, we looked around at our leisure, seeing every floor and every angle, and decided to call it a day.

And what a day it had been!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


"Did you know you can blow a balloon up with your nose?"-Henry

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday and Festivals

We all went to Canterbury yesterday and Parker was an acolyte for the first time. During the beginning of this service, we start outside with St. Francis Catholic Church and the nearby University Lutheran Church. For about the past seven years I was at the Catholic Church and for about he past two to three years have missed the Episcopal Church. I made the move to come back to Canterbury about a year ago and have been looking forward to this service as a symbolic time for me to walk back with the Canterburians after this convergence of the churches. As my sister Marian said when I became Roman Catholic, "Irene, it's all a journey." It was a good side trip, but I'm glad to be home. We were sick last year and missed the Palm Sunday service, but it happened yesterday and was beautiful. Parker was a "torch bearer two" and added to the beauty for me. I was a proud Mama.

While Dad was hard at work this weekend at the Tuscaloosa Public Library, I "festivaled" with the boys. Saturday morning while Parker slept in, I took Henry and Neil to the "Rubber Duck Derby" and met our dear friends Johnnie and her sister, "Sister" and their niece Lee Miller (Henry and Neil know her from school). Fun times with moon bouncing, games, sugar (Henry got into quite a lot!) , and watching 400 rubber duckies race around the pool. Here are a few pictures which say it all. Beautiful day, lots of fun.

Then, home to hope for naps, but there were none to be had. So, off to the Druid City Arts festival in downtown Tuscaloosa with all of my boys. Lots of good music and more moon bouncing and face painting. Parker and I especially liked a song group called "Sparrow and the Ghost," from Tuscaloosa. After three hours,cotton candy, popcorn, and chasing little boys that missed their naps (not to mention their napless Mama)we headed to the house.

The next day (Palm Sunday), we once again headed out to the storytelling festival by the river (a continuation of the Druid Arts Festival). Upon arrival, we walked a around and found no hint of storytelling happening. Then, we see a sign that says it had been moved inside to a building on campus. Finally found that, but there was no way this group was going to sit quietly and listen in the small room. So, downstairs to activities for wee ones. Then, hooray, the drums arrive and set up a drum circle outside. A drum for everyone to be played as loudly as desired. Just what we needed. Here are a few festival moments.

A little Neil funny. Tonight I was walking around the house feeding Neil a banana and at some point put him down to do something. I few minutes later, I didn't see him and I began to walk around the house calling his name and saying "Neil, where are you?" After I had made a few circles, he came running down the hallway with a big smile saying, "pee pi." (pea pie, pee pie, anyway, you know what I mean--peek-a boo!).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Feel Good

Ok, I have to start somewhere to catch up for not writing for a while. I think I'll start with the trip to Publix this afternoon with Henry and Neil. We always have to get one of the "car carts" so we can drive through the store. They each have a steering wheel and both rock it madly back and forth just about the entire trip. Today, Henry immediately spotted a singing bunny in the Easter display. I immediately grabbed it as trip entertainment and handed it to them. So, the music begins, the song is James Brown singing "I Feel Good." After a while, Henry places it on the little space behind them in the cart. They both make certain that it never is quiet. Oh, and the long bunny ears flap up and down. At one point we pass the lady in the fish department and she is just staring--it appears that out car cart has a radio. From my point of view, whatever it takes to get through a grocery trip smoothly, I can handle. Relatively quick shopping trip, but lots of time checking out. I think all 40,000 U of A students choose Sunday evening (at this Publix) for their weekly needs. Henry asks for a squeaky doggy toy, so of course I hand him one. Now, imagine, "squeak, squeak, squeak, " then, "I Feel Good." Lots of looks. I smile back. Happy boys. I take the bagger up on taking my groceries to the car for us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Parker's Confirmation

On Sunday February 14, 2010 Parker was confirmed at Canterbury Episcopal Church by Bishop Suffragan Kee Sloan. Beautiful day for us all to share this joy with Parker.

Speech Pathologist's Progress Report

Neil's speech pathologist sent home his progress report and I could not help smiling as I read it. Here is an excerpt:

Neil "says or repeats whatever he wants... He will not answer questions with 100% consistency but this is due to attitude not ability. He has the most expressive facial expressions of any child that I know. He also gets what he wants because he gets in your face until you figure out what he wants."

That's my Neil.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Birthday Boys 2010!

Just catching my breath after Christmas and then the celebrations of Henry and Neil's 4th and Parker's 14th! Here are some photos of the festive celebrations before we're out of their birthday month and into February. If I can stop falling asleep at 8pm, I am hoping to get more writing done about the wild things that go on around here!