Friday, January 20, 2012

Annie's Hair...the Real Story

If you've read my blog before, you may have seen references to Annie's hair and comparisons to other "characters" with similar hair (here, here, and here). I decided to give you a better idea of what Annie's hair is like and my perspective on it. So here goes.

Annie's hair is thin and wispy, and it is constantly tangled. The movie, Tangled, really ought to be about her...except the plot would be totally different but she definitely would use a frying pan as a weapon (because her amazing mother once used a frying pan to kill an animal, but that's for another blog post). I mean, when you and I sleep on a pillow, I guess we subconsciously know that if we rub our head around with abandon, there will be consequences...but not Annie. Here was literally her hair at breakfast last week (I did nothing to enhance it):
Kind of reminds you of this:
But maybe it means she's going to be a genius, like her slightly older male twin:
She and I both aren't fussy about getting all dolled up...I thought I would be with her, but I'm learning that I'm not. It is so much work to get her to sit still and not cry/whine/scream/pout when I try to comb her hair.

There's a little gang of girls at church who all were born within a few weeks of each other. One has hair like this:
The twins' hair looks fine like Annies, but much more manageable, it seems:
And then there are these girls, whose hair is the envy of all the mothers in Sunday School:
(And they always look as flower-y and darling and well-groomed, it puts me to shame!)

Annie's style is just a little more like this:

One of Annie's problems is the way she sleeps, another is the way she plays. This is literally the 3rd time she has done this to herself (the first time it was done TO her by her pesky brothers and I felt so bad for her and scolded them and then she turned around and did it to herself without batting an eyelash).

She doesn't even cry, just kind of shrugs her shoulders and yet she cries the minute I pull out the comb and the no-more-tangles-supposedly spray.

The other day, I took some really cute pictures of her that a lot of people have seemed to like:

Is it because she's wearing a hat??? No, I don't think so.
I actually think it's her personality coming through. And you know what? I hope her personality stays as quirky and spunky, even if her hair never gets thick and flow-y. I think it adds to her charm.

Even though I've compared her to a gremlin and a scary albino who lives in a pit of despair, I really think she is starting to remind me of one of my favorite childhood characters: Pippi Longstocking.

(I may have even wanted to be her when I was young)

But I do need to teach her to be a lady and to be able to make herself presentable, which I guess could start if I took her to a proper salon instead of chasing her around after a bath with a pair of craft scissors.

Though, I was looking at pictures of possible haircuts for myself and found one that looked very familiar. And I liked it! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Miniature Van on the Prairie

So, here's the final installment in my recap of our Christmas break trip to Kansas...a picture tour of our travels into the heart of the Midwest.

I was disappointed that I didn't get to take pictures on the way there because it was very rainy and/or dark the whole drive. I had done my normal research on (where you can find Cadillac Ranch, a giant pair of legs in a field, the Largest Ball of Twine, etc.) and had so many delightful attractions to point out to the fam. We did see teepees--"Look, kids! Teepees!" (They looked with pained expressions on their faces and went right back to DSi/DVDs), Route 66 memorabilia--"Look, kids! The longest-mural-of-Route-66-painted-on-a-fence!"--(feigned interest, game-playing and movie watching resumed), and had The Great Candy Corn Incident of 2011 in which the large bag of candy corn was somehow opened on both ends. The devastation was widespread in the newly vacuumed and cleaned minivan.

The kids were more engaged the 2nd day when we started our travels from Amarillo, TX. They saw horses and cowboys, a copy-cat version of Cadillac Ranch done with VW Bugs, and were dutifully impressed with The Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere in Groom, TX. They were also impressed with our scenic tour of Elk City, Oklahoma (looking for non-existent pizza restaurants found by the GPS) the delicious and cheap ice cream at Braum's.

Our final destination was Shawnee, Kansas--Jeremy's "hometown". Shawnee. I just like to say it.
We stayed with an old high school friend of Jeremy's named Kevin who is married to Leslie. They have 2 kids and one on the way. It was so fun for our kids to be able to play with other kids after such a long trip.

Captivated (mostly) by Leslie's goodnight story about the Nutcracker

Watching "Annie"

Jeremy took us on an informative tour of Shawnee which included such sights as, "This is where I used to rollerblade" and "I did donuts in my car in the snow in that parking lot." The kids were pretty good sports.

Then we started the tour of places Jeremy used to live (yes, his family moved a lot--he lived in 28 places by the time he was 31--we counted!):

The kids started saying "Are we going to go see another one of the 100 places you used to live?"
from the backseat. Often. They thought it was very funny.

What I thought was funny was going back to Kevin's house and hearing the two guys reminisce about the old houses, saying things like "Were you still able to coast from the stop sign, around the corner, and exactly into the driveway without braking?" "Wasn't that the house where you put a dent in the wall by snowboarding down the stairway?" and "I tried to catch air at the dip on the big hill but it just isn't the same in a minivan."

New friends, Isaac and Olivia (who Evan called Oliver)

My new-ish friend and my latest hero, Leslie--she is a nurse in the cancer wing of a children's hospital (I don't know how she does it!), is involved in MOPS, and is deaf in one ear which I'm sure has caused her much heartache in her life but makes her that much more strong and beautiful and spunky in my mind! I hope we can hang out again soon!

Kansas City is a really great place to take kids--there were so many things to do that were cheap or free! Our favorite thing is is a free place for kids to come and be creative at Hallmark's national headquarters. There are just all kinds of craft supplies everywhere and no rules...and it's all free!

Uncle Jack and Sam colored a cardboard square which was then cranked through a machine and turned into a puzzle!

I made a crown and tissue paper cape for Annie.

There is a whole space-themed room that is glow-in-the-dark. The kids loved it, and did I mention that it's free?!

The sign of how good a place really is is in the bathrooms--these ones are an adventure in themselves!

The weather was beautiful and the Christmas decorations were unabashedly festive!

We avoided the lunch crowds while walking around in Union Station.

Chocolate-dipped Rice Krispy Treats from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory,
where Jeremy's cousin Hayley was working

The best model train displays we've ever seen...all free!
There was a whole room of them but I didn't get a picture

We had lunch at Fritz's...

Here's how it works. You decide what you want to eat while jumping up and down because there are trains going everywhere... call in your order on a phone at the table... the kitchen, they load orders on baskets hanging down from little train engines that run on the tracks above your heads...

You watch for a train to come down the track...

Every table hopes that the train is delivering their order--you can hear anticipation and then "Oh, man!" when the train passes by each table.

The lucky table whose food the train is carrying sees a little lever drop down that stops the basket of food on a little platform above them as the train continues back to the kitchen. The platform lowers the food down to the table.
Then you enjoy your mediocre hamburger but you don't care because you are so excited that a train brought it to you!

Here's a little video of us getting our food:

So many things to look at at the Crown Center downtown. Here's an amazing gingerbread village, there's a Crayola Cafe, and there's supposedly a LegoLand Discovery Center and Aquarium coming soon.
And then of course we went ice skating:

We spent a lot of time at Jeremy's Grandma and Papa's house. I could never figure out why in such a charming little suburb full of white people and ponies there was always a limo with a license plate that said, "WTF" in front of Jeremy's grandparents' house.
At Jeremy's grandparents' I realized that Annie's hair is starting to look less like the chef on the Food Network or the Dumb and Dumber guy and more like the albino on Princess Bride.

We consumed so many cookies, frozen custard and other treats that members of our family often went into a sugar coma.
Sam kept accidentally calling it a "Sugar Comma", which I think was fitting because a comma is a pause before you continue, which is pretty much what happened...extreme consumption of sugar (comma) then more sickening amounts of sugar consumption.

We drove around downtown again on Christmas Eve. Jeremy took us to the Plaza (in the southwest we would say "Plah-zah" but in the Midwest they say "Pla ("a" as in apple)-za". It was beautiful and I loved it!

There were lighted carriages pulled by teams of horses and all kinds of interesting fountains. We even saw a marquis on an old theatre with a marriage proposal to Brittany from Brody (or something totally young and Midwestern-sounding).

Annie liked it, too.

I already wrote about Christmas, but one thing we did that day was go to a really amazing park in a woody area by a lake with a dam you could walk on. The park was great because it had 4 playgrounds and the slides were tall and fast and curvy and there were toys to play on that I had never seen at any other park (and I consider myself a park connoisseur), not to mention dozens of stumps to jump on and rocks to climb and bridges to explore.
The day after Christmas, we went to a place in Shawnee that has a Nascar racetrack, a Great Wolf Lodge, cool restaurants, and lots of shopping. One of the places we visited (without paying) was like Rainforest Cafe but with dinosaurs instead.

This T-Rex moved and growled and roared. You can see Annie doing what I call her "opposite battery" move where she moves backward while you walk forward as if she is being repelled by a force greater than herself. We splurged and got the boys 51 cent souvenirs from the machine that stamps a penny and they were thrilled and then promptly lost them within the next hour.

The fountain was more to Annie's liking

Jeremy was hanging out with Kevin one last time so I couldn't resist taking the kids to Fritz's again, this time at a new location in Shawnee.

Ordering all by himself


Here it comes!

We (me) also couldn't resist getting Tubby Custard (frozen custard, but we started calling it Tubby because that's what it was making us) again, and then Jeremy's brother gave us tons of free dessert that night at his restaurant, so there were more sugar comas.

On our way home, we stopped in Manhattan, Kansas--the Little Apple--where Jeremy went to K-State University for a few years.
The kids were good sports and liked the old buildings--"A Castle!"
Jeremy showed them one more place he used to live--Haymaker Hall. The boys were more interested in their imaginary battle in the backseat ("Oh yeah? Well, I'm going to shoot icicles out of my mouth at you!" "Well, that's okay because I'm putting my power-ups in my cup holder" and so on). Oh well, they'll get it someday.

We traveled on Scenic Hwy. 177 and I was lost in thought about the pioneers and early settlers. I read outloud from Little House on the Prairie as we passed things like this:

You couldn't help but feel like it wasn't long ago that it looked like this:
We passed through small towns like Council Grove, where the wagon trains used to meet up to cross through the Indian Territory together. We passed the Last Chance store where they got supplies for the last time before beginning their journeys. And to think I used to assume that states in the Midwest didn't have any history compared to California. I think I like this history better than making a sugar cube mission!
It was then that I put it together--no wonder Jeremy moved so much! He's from Kansas, the Land of the Pioneers! Actually, it is interesting because I have always said that he would have been the first to sign up to go on a wagon train west if we had lived in the days of Ma and Pa Ingalls. I guess it's fitting.

When we got to Oklahoma, I convinced the family to stop at one last attraction from It was the Oklahoma Land Run Memorial. It was put up to commemorate the founding of the state, which came about by the land run they held on April 22, 1889.

Over 50,000 people lined up to do their best to claim one of 12,000 parcels of land that were free on a first-come, first-served basis.
People of all backgrounds came to make a new life for themselves or their families. There was surprisingly little violence, though the whole thing was not really well planned out. There were some people who claimed land to only find out later that it had been claimed by someone else, there were others who jumped off of moving trains in all the excitement to grab land. Some people went early and staked their claims unfairly, and that's where the state gets the nickname of Sooners.
The statues depict all kinds of people--young farmboys (you had to be at least 21 and unmarried women could participate, not just men), doctors, freed slaves, and families are depicted.

I loved this fierce woman riding side saddle and using her claim-marker flag as a whip.

I guess I really just enjoyed thinking about the unique beginnings of our nation and how significant it was that people could make a way for themselves no matter how humble their status was. I know there were lands taken from Native Americans and everything wasn't perfect, but it is fun to sit for a moment and marvel in the grit and determination of people in those days.

And then we got back into our (by then) stinky, crumb-filled, overstuffed minivan with our dvd players, GPS, cell phones playing Pandora and candy corn stuck in every crevice and continued the long trek west to our home in Flagstaff. I guess that took some measure of grit and determination as well.