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10 May 2015

Tennessee 2015, Part II

Steve heard about the National Cornbread Festival early on in our marriage and spent several years lamenting the fact that we had never been there, so this year we arranged our trip to Tennessee to coincide with the festival.  It takes place in South Pittsburg, near the border of Tennessee and Alabama.  The whole town shuts down to host the event and it was really wonderful.  We listened to bluegrass, we ate cornbread in cornbread alley (try the recipe for the coconut almond cornbread bars), we spun the Martha White wheel for prizes and received free merchandise, we toured the Lodge factory, and we watched a round of the cornbread cook-off.  Steve even got a special mention at the cook-off as the person visiting from farthest away.



Steve's second southern dream has long been to visit Alabama.  Since we were so close, and since the woman standing in front of us at the Martha White booth was from Alabama and spoke to us when she could tell Steve was foreign during our Steve, drink some water.  You have to drink water here.  You will die without water here.  I'm serious go get a drink. conversation, we decided to drive across the border to the town she recommended, Scottsboro.  It's a really small town.  But it's famous for being the home of the Unclaimed Baggage Center and when we asked an employee there for a restaurant recommendation, she sent us to a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint with the best potato salad I've ever had in my whole life.  I'm not even a huge fan of potato salad, but I would like to wake up in a vat of that stuff every day.


Then we saw an armadillo.  It was dead on the side of the road, but it was still a highlight of Steve's life and he maintains that he would like to buy a farm in Alabama.  I wasn't quite as enthralled with Alabama, but I'm willing to go along with Steve's farm plan if it means I can have some more potato salad.

07 May 2015

Tennessee 2015

We spent two weeks in the States in April. We drove down over two nights, staying with my brother when we stopped. The Bairn is very impressed by his cousin's big city, although she had to scold him for not knowing how to walk properly on city sidewalks.  On the way back, we stayed with my sister's college roommate and her family.  Steve wants them to adopt him, I think.  They're very nice.


Most of the trip was spent with my parents and this is what we did:

Dug in the dirt with the tools Grandma got the kids.

Flew a kite with Grandpa.

It kind of got up in the air.

Played on the playground up the street.

Visited Dollywood.  This little kid water feature was Ellen's favorite part.  She got totally soaked but was a devoted fan even after she got sprayed directly in the face while peering into one of the fountain hole things.

Both kids rode the carousel. Only one of them enjoyed it.
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Howard and Steve rode the ferris wheel and when The Bairn saw how high it was going to go, he handed Steve his imaginary birds and asked him to take care of them on the ride.

We all rode the steam train.

My mom doesn't like this picture, but I do.  I can't get enough pictures of my mom snuggling up my babies and The Bairn was a frequent resident on her lap for stories and discussions.

Tennessee Part II: The National Cornbread Festival + a dead armadillo.

30 April 2015

Back to Reality

We just spent two weeks in the US visiting my parents.  About halfway through the trip, my mom overheard The Bairn talking to himself, saying, I need to go home.  I don't need to go to Dollywood.  I just need to go to Nova Scotia.  He mentioned home to me a couple of times too, so I thought he'd be glad when I told him we were headed home at the end of the trip, but he protested, What!?  But I want to stay here forever!  I don't want to go home.  And as we were driving away from Grandma's house, he kept asking, Why are we going away from Grandma?

He seems to be glad he's home now that he's actually in his house with his toys, and I'm the one saying, Take me back!  Take me back!  There's still snow on my lawn.  And I already ate all the chocolate-covered cinnamon bears my sister sent me, so there's very little solace.

14 April 2015

This is What Easter Looked Like

It snowed on Easter, but we still used the flower-shaped gelatin mold, because we were full of hope that one day it would stop.  (I think it has now.)  This jellied thing, by the way, is a new addition to our Easter feast and it's the best thing we've discovered in years.  It's a savory mustard ring to eat with the ham.  Steve got the recipe from a friend who got it from her husband's grandmother and it is so unexpectedly good.

I colored eggs with the kids on Saturday.  It took approximately two minutes start to finish and two of the eight eggs were cracked before they made it to the refrigerator.  The Bairn got to wear his art smock (read: ugly old shirt of Steve's), though, and I introduced him to this little ditty: Don't knock my smock or I'll clean your clock.  It was the highlight of his day even though he didn't understand why the clocks needed to be cleaned.

We hid plastic Easter eggs on Sunday.  I only put raisins and peanuts and stickers in them, but The Bairn still went crazy.

He liked his bucket.

He wore it as a hat.

I made Easter bunny rolls for breakfast.  They were really huge and marked the beginning of my descent into a month of wearing fat pants.

Ellen wore these great leggings, which took my mind off the snow.

07 April 2015

Conversation with Ellen, Age 17 Months

We were standing next to a pan of brownies with a knife in them.  I had given her a taste but she wanted more.

Ellen:  Bitey!  Bitey!

Me: Oh no, that's it for tonight.

Ellen: Cut it.

Me: Cut the brownies?

Ellen: Sure.


31 March 2015

It's Just Like Baby Jessica in the Well. Without the Well.

Bad News: I locked Ellen AND the keys in the car today.

Good News: We have a spare key to the car.

Bad News: I didn't know where it was.

Good News: Steve knew where it was.

Bad News: Steve was two hours away in a barn when I called, so the call went right to voicemail.

Good News: We have a really good next door neighbor.

Bad News: There is no more bad news (except that it's still snowing), because our neighbor sent me back to our house with his friend who was visiting to stay with Ellen while he called around for tow trucks that had equipment to open our very, very secure Volvo (coat hanger did not do the trick) and then the tow truck guys came and rescued poor Ellen and then refused payment, which made me cry.

Good News:  Steve called me back just as the rescue team was opening our car door, so now I know where the spare key is too.  Whew.

28 March 2015

There's Still Four Feet of Snow on the Ground, So We Gotta Go Somewhere

I have discovered the joy of the fast food restaurant.  In an attempt to curb The Bairn's habit of throwing toys (but he never is throwing things, he assures me; he's tossing or flipping or exploding things), I bribed him with a trip to "King Burger," a magical place he spied from the road and did not realize had anything inside it other than a play structure.  We took the whole family there last night and it was like heaven.

For the low low price of a $1 fake ice cream, The Bairn climbed and climbed and climbed with the 6-year-old girl he met in one of the tunnels.  He told her he was 5-years-old, and she showed him how to get to the twisty slide.  She lives in Halifax, but she comes to this very burger joint every Friday because her dad lives here.  Every Friday, she reiterated and then she gave me her baby care credentials while she patted Ellen on the head.  Her name was Hayden, but The Bairn kept calling her Little Girl ("Hey, Little Girl, let's go down the slide!").  He's not great with names.  He calls Ellen Little Ding and Steve Wags, so, you know.
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