It’s A WHOLE LOT OF WORDS. And A WHOLE LOT OF PICTURES. I Felt Like I Should Warn You. You May Need A Snack For This Post.

So.

My camera takes enormous pictures.  I haven’t been quiet about that fact.  Every single time I’ve wanted to slap a picture into the blog, I have to open it in Photo Shop and resize it, so that it can turn into something small enough to be manageable here on earth, with the computer systems we have.  If I want to put forty-hundred snapshots into one blog post, I’ve always had to open each and every one of them for resizing, one by one, until my head wanted to explode with all the frustration and TIME CONSUMPTION.

Oh my word!  The time consumption!  If I actually HAD that much time to spend in front of my computer, I wouldn’t choose to resize pictures; I’d want to be on Zappos, finding cute shoes for the family.

Cute shoes are a million times more fun to look at online, than the whole process of LET’S TRANSFORM THESE HULK-LIKE PIXELS INTO ITTY BITTY DOTS.

Hubs was wondering why I hadn’t gotten our snapshots from the zoo and the baseball game up, and I said, “Listen.  There are millions of pictures.  I have a toddler.  He’s a toddler who MOVES.  And jumps and dances and leaps off of tall buildings.  Ain’t nobody got time to resize all those pictures.  I’m working on it.”

And by working on it, I meant that I’d already invested two hours of my life into the resization process, and I was ALMOST done.

That’s pretty much when Hubs said, “Look.  Let’s put THIS PROGRAM onto your Big Mac computer.  You can drag and drop sixteen million photos at once, and it will resize them all in less than seven-point-nine seconds.”

I have never loved Hubs more.

Except I’ve never been more irritated either, because WHY DIDN’T HE SHOW ME THIS TEN YEARS AGO?  I’ve developed new wrinkles around my eyeballs with all the resizing I’ve done this year.  Now I’m going to need Botox to take away the evidence that I’m a girl who works on a computer.

Hubs told me, “Computers are supposed to make your life simpler… not more difficult.”

So all that to say, people, that I can now shrink A WHOLE GREAT BIG GOB of pictures down faster than my Keurig can pump out a cup of decaf.

And the angels sang, “Hallelujah!”

And yes.  Hubs and the boys and I left town last weekend, which is remarkable, because we never leave town.  We’re the non-traveling family, because Hubs and I adore just being at home.  Oh, the boy thinks he might like to “see the world,” and fly to England to see real suits of armor and swords on display, but then all I can think is, “People develop blood clots while they’re on the plane that long.”  So we just stay home and sleep in our own beds.

We went to visit Keith and Carrie, and Sister and Sister’s Husband joined everyone down there.

Here’s the back story on all of that…

Years ago, when Sister and I were much younger and didn’t have wrinkles around our eyes and lips, and long before we started adding magic dye to our hair to cover up the look of ELDERLY, we lived next door to a family of three boys.  Their names were Sister’s Husband, Keith and Jeffrey.

These were rotten boys.  Rotten like smashed roadkill that’s been attacked by a scavenging black bird and picked apart.  They threw snowballs at us every winter.  They shot pop bottle rockets at us every summer.  They hung off of another neighbor boy’s deck to spy on Sister and me with binoculars while we sunbathed in our backyard.  (Because this was a time before the advertising world got together and said, “Listen.  Laying in the sun in your bikini can cause wrinkles and skin cancer.”  Sister and I were BROWN as teenagers.)  These rotten boys also peed outside.  They weren’t afraid to drop their drawers, bare their backside, and just… GO… while Sister and I were in the nearby area.

One winter, we all went sledding on the hill behind our house.  One of those three boys, who shall remain nameless, picked up enough speed on his old-fashioned toboggan to become a dangerous vehicle.  He plowed through a young pine tree that my parents had just recently planted, and made it look like a pine bush.  And then he went home, leaving Sister and I to take the rap for it.

One afternoon, Jeffrey, rang our doorbell and told me he was selling apples for a fundraiser.  My mama had brought me up right, which meant that you never turn a kid down at the door who needs dollar bills for a fundraiser.  I handed Jeff two American dollars, which is what he told me the apples cost, and…

…he handed me two ROTTEN AND MOLDING crab apples.

No, I’m not still bitter about that; why do you ask?

When the boys were old enough to drive, they’d gun their cars through mud puddles when sister and I were walking on the road.  They slipped ham and mayonnaise sandwiches into the backseats of our cars, during the summer months, so that they’d heat up and smell really quite nice in there.

Those three were every girl’s dream neighbors.

When I went off to college, I considered myself fortunate, because I WAS GETTING OUT!

And then… well… the story went from worse to nightmare, because while I was away at college, and Sister was plugging along in her senior year of high school…

…she called me to say, “So… I’m dating the oldest one.”

Can you divorce your own sister for being a traitor?

The dating of the neighbor boy turned into the marrying of the neighbor boy, and as the pastor pronounced them man and wife, Sister went and joined our families together.  What God has joined together, let no man divide.

Which is a fancy way of saying, WE WERE STUCK WITH THOSE THREE BOYS FOREVER, and there wasn’t enough wine in the cellar to help me cope with that.

But then… Keith went to college, as the majority of boys do, and he graduated.  He even managed to stay away from us for a while, which led to all manner of celebrations and confetti-throwing.  And then, eventually, he got married.  I felt sorry for the poor girl, and I wondered if she was (A) walking into a hot wreck without knowing how rotten her husband was, or (B) perhaps she was a girl who appreciated a ham and mayonnaise sandwich under the backseat of her car in July.

As it turned out, she was neither.  Carrie whipped Keith into shape.  I’ve never seen such a miraculous transformation.  It was kind of like starting with a run-down, single-wide trailer, bringing in some Sheetrock slabs, and coming out with Graceland.  Carrie became known as the Miracle Worker.

(I’d like to say that Sister is a Miracle Worker, too, but Sister’s Husband is still ornery.)

Keith settled into marriage nicely.  He threw away the Dallas Cowboys ball cap that was held together with duct tape, and he started wearing shirts with buttons.  And then he and Carrie had two of the cutest boys in all of the land together, and do you know what?

They may be two of the very best behaved boys we know.

Which means GOD CAN DO ANYTHING THROUGH A GIRL NAMED CARRIE, WHEN SHE AGREES TO TAKE ON A PROJECT CALLED KEITH.

As for Jeffrey… well… he still lives far enough away that we don’t have to see him on a regular basis.  He still owes me two dollars, that he stole from me under the cover of SCHOOL FUNDRAISER.

Last weekend, Hubs and I took four days off from life here in Small Town, and we drove to Major Thriving Metropolis to visit Keith and Carrie, and little Oliver and Kellan, because they’re ALL respectable now.

(And the angels sang, “Hallelujah.”)

We went to the zoo, because the boy is twelve-and-a-half years old, and he’d never been to a zoo before.

Pathetic.  Hubs and I already know this.

I managed to forget my camera, which is like me forgetting to strap one of our boys into the Suburban.  Thankfully, Carrie has THE SAME CAMERA that I have, and I commandeered it.  Exactly like Jack Sparrow commandeered himself a ship.  Carrie’s just that kind of girl… sweet enough to loan out her camera in a moment of crisis.

Oh, look!  There’s the Jedi Family!

IMG_3768And here’s Keith and Carrie.  She’s hugging him, because he’s reformed now, and because she likes him.  Sometimes I still laugh out loud that any girl could actually WANT to hug Keith’s arm.

IMG_1570_resizedThe zoo was a ton of fun, because the boy was powerfully impressed with it, and because we had tied Thing 2 down in Carrie’s stroller, so that he couldn’t escape.  When Thing 2 can’t escape, it means he can’t take off running, and then all outings instantly become more pleasurable.

Oliver and Kellan consulted the map, because they were our tour guides for the trip.

IMG_3770They showed us zebras who were definitely BOY ZEBRAS, as pointed out by five-year-old Oliver when he shouted, “That is NOT a girl zebra!”

(Honestly, Mr. Zebra!  You should be ashamed of yourself.)

IMG_3771And there’s three handsome boys…

IMG_3775Oliver was very good about making sure that Thing 2 always felt loved and that he had help turning his head to JUST THE RIGHT SPOT to see certain animals.

IMG_3791 IMG_3780Oliver and Kellan took us to see snow leopards and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

IMG_3779 IMG_3787 IMG_3785 IMG_3782 IMG_3786 IMG_3788 IMG_3792 IMG_3794 IMG_3795 IMG_3797IMG_3914 IMG_3893 IMG_3916 IMG_3857We even got to see Melman the giraffe…

IMG_3796…and a polar bear.  I have a thing for the polar bears.  My thing involves me wanting to desperately rub one of their noses and give them a giant hug.  Hubs insists that my thing will get me eaten, bones and all, but I know that polar bears just eat wheat germ, ice cubes and meal worms.

IMG_3798The zoo even had a place where parents could untie their children from the strollers and let them dig in the sand and wade the creeks.  We took full advantage of this, because when Thing 2 has had some time to stretch his legs, our journeys are always more enjoyable.

IMG_3799 IMG_3802 IMG_3803 IMG_3805 IMG_3834 IMG_3823 IMG_3822 IMG_3818 IMG_3814 IMG_3812 IMG_3811 IMG_3810 IMG_3809 IMG_3807 IMG_3836 IMG_3837And then, after all that digging and YES, I DRANK THE WATER, EVEN THOUGH KELLAN PEED IN IT, we bought the boys $9 icy drinks in enormously tall cups.

(That was $9 PER DRINK.  Not $9 for all the boys’ drinks.)

(You pretty much have to be an oil sultan to afford zoo food.)

(Also?  When you are two, like Kellan is, sometimes your arms aren’t really long enough to hold an enormously long cup and get the gigantic straw into your mouth.  This results in some hilarious snapshots that make your friends giggle.)

IMG_3840 IMG_3842 IMG_3844 IMG_3845 IMG_3846 IMG_3851 IMG_3858IMG_3859 IMG_3862 IMG_3868 IMG_3872 IMG_3874 IMG_3875 IMG_3878 IMG_3882 IMG_3883 IMG_3884And then we saw the elephants.  Elephants are like polar bears.  They are very friendly, and they would love to have me pet them, but the zoo policy states that it doesn’t really care WHAT the polar bears and elephants want; there will be NO PETTING.

IMG_3885This is the gate that keeps the elephants from walking around the zoo, all by themselves.  Hubs and I were sort of hoping that we could get a door like that on Thing 2’s bedroom at home, but then we read the sign that talked about what the elephant pen cost.

And we thought $9 kiddie drinks were expensive.

IMG_3887IMG_3886 IMG_3894 IMG_3898 IMG_3899 IMG_3905 IMG_3906 IMG_3910 IMG_3920 IMG_3927 IMG_3930 IMG_3932 IMG_3938By the end of the zoo loop, we had some very exhausted people.

The kids were a little tired, too.

We headed back to Keith and Carrie’s house, and LOOK!  Sister and her family had finally arrived, because they opted for the three-day trip, instead of the four-day trip, like we booked.

(This might be Sister’s way of saying, “Three days with Keith is enough.”  We should’ve considered that before leaving on Thursday.)

Carrie’s bread is buttered by a beer-making facility in Major Thriving Metropolis.  Her company does not make Lime-A-Ritas.  That’s sad, because Lime-A-Ritas really are delicious, and she’s hinted that we may have to breakup as friends, if I can’t make a switch to her company’s products.  She had happy hour for everyone on her patio.  Sister and I were given the THIS IS WHAT WE SELL SO LEARN TO LIKE IT sampler platter.

IMG_3940There’s Hubs and Sister’s Husband, doing what men do best.

IMG_3941And there’s Keith.

IMG_4011In Carrie’s success at domesticating him, he has learned to cook something other than Chinese take-out and Ramen noodles.  He made guacamole for us, and I will be honest.

Because I’m always brutally honest.

It was the VERY BEST guacamole I’ve ever put a chip into.  I kid you not.  We ate guacamole until everyone was stuffed, and then Keith grilled burgers and hot dogs, and we ate again.  He has picked up some Southern hospitality traits from his mama.

The Littles LOVED the guacamole.  Cousin H, in fact, just gave up on chips and went for a big serving spoon.  Thing 2 double dipped his chip.  And quadruple dipped it.  And infinity dipped it.  It’s a good thing we were all family.

IMG_3961 IMG_3962 IMG_3963 IMG_3964 IMG_3967 IMG_3968 IMG_3970 IMG_3980 IMG_3982 IMG_3988 IMG_3992 IMG_3994 IMG_4001 IMG_4007The kids played and played and PUH-LAYED in the backyard.  They ran and jumped and mowed and laughed and rolled in the grass, and had a fabulous time.

Cousins are the very best people to have, even if you’re just honorary cousins through your mama’s old neighbor boy.

IMG_3946 IMG_3949IMG_4021 IMG_4023 IMG_4029 IMG_4033 IMG_4039 IMG_4042 IMG_4045 IMG_4046 IMG_4050 IMG_4070 IMG_4073 IMG_4074 IMG_4083 IMG_4087 IMG_4097 IMG_4101 IMG_4117 IMG_4136 IMG_3945We tried to keep the boy away from the bad influence of Sister’s Husband, but it didn’t work.  Sister’s Husband told the boy stories from our childhood… of naughty adventures he’d participated in… that made the boy howl with laughter and love his uncle even more.

IMG_4113 IMG_4115And then someone yelled out, “DOG PILE!”  Sister’s Husband ended up on the bottom.

IMG_4134 IMG_4140 IMG_4145 IMG_4149There’s our whole gang of children.  Go ahead and say it.  THEY’RE A STINKING CUTE BATCH OF KIDS.

IMG_4160 IMG_4152Oh, look!  Mama and her babies!  Aren’t they precious?  And cute?  And perfect?  Oh, my!  I do love those two boys!

IMG_4186And then somehow Carrie talked the boy into taking a picture of the grownups.

IMG_4178

The kids were filthy and needed baths before they went to bed.  They smelled like zoo and sweat and guacamole residue.

IMG_4195 IMG_4204And then they were all tucked into Oliver and Kellan’s playroom for a gigantic slumber party…

…while the grownups went downstairs and reminisced about horrible things that neighbor boys do.  We laughed until our sides ached, and until tears streamed down our faces.  Then Keith and the boy started talking about Sasquatch, which made us laugh even harder.

IMG_4209_resizedThe next day was full of adventures in Major Thriving Metropolis, too.  There was a trip to Jump Street, so that the kids could jump on enormous trampolines for a sum of money that is equivalent to an undergraduate degree at Yale.

IMG_4233_resized IMG_4264 IMG_4265_resized IMG_4248_resized IMG_4264_resized IMG_4265_resized IMG_4267_resized IMG_4270_resized IMG_4277_resizedIMG_4238_resizedThere was more time spent on the patio and the backyard.

IMG_4221_resized IMG_4214_resized IMG_4219_resizedAnd then we all packed up the diaper bags and boarded a REAL LIVE TRAIN, because they have those sort of things in the cities.

It took me zero-point-four seconds to realize that WHOA, GLADYS!  I could not ride the train backwards without throwing up guacamole on everyone, but I COULD ride facing forward, so WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER!  No one saw guacamole all over the floor.

IMG_1571_resized IMG_1569_resized IMG_1568_resized IMG_1566_resizedWe rode the train to see the Colorado Rockies play baseball.  When we got off the train, Carrie assured us that we just had to “walk a couple of blocks,” to pick up our tickets at will-call.

What Carrie actually meant to say was, “There will be construction zones that I didn’t know about, and we will actually have to walk seventeen miles, uphill, to get to our tickets at will-call, as we are detoured around missing bridges.”

I told her that I would be un-friending her on Facebook for this little mishap.  It was a hot day, and Thing 2 fell asleep on the train.  It was one of those exhausted sleeps, where babies don’t move, no matter how many times you hoist them back up onto your shoulder.

It was exactly like carrying a baby elephant for those seventeen miles through construction.

I wanted to puke blood when we finally arrived.

IMG_1616_resized IMG_1572_resized IMG_1573_resizedThe Rockies lost, but we didn’t care.  We were loaded down with millions of dollars of stadium food.

Because?  Did you think the $9 zoo drinks were expensive?

Yeah.

Not so much.  We paid $4.75, so that Thing 2 could eat an orange-flavored Popsicle.  It was the kind of Popsicle that comes in a box of twenty and sells for $2 at Wal-Mart.

IMG_1574_resized IMG_1575_resized IMG_1576_resized IMG_1577_resized IMG_1579_resized IMG_1581_resized IMG_1582_resized IMG_1583_resized IMG_1584_resized IMG_1585_resized IMG_1586_resized IMG_1587_resized IMG_1588_resized IMG_1589_resized IMG_1590_resized IMG_1591_resized  IMG_1593_resized IMG_1594_resized IMG_1596_resized IMG_1597_resized IMG_1598_resized IMG_1599_resized IMG_1600_resized IMG_1601_resized IMG_1604_resized

IMG_1606_resized IMG_1610_resized IMG_1617_resized IMG_1618_resized IMG_1621_resizedAfter the game, we walked the seventeen miles back to the train, but it was a piece of cake.  It was dark… and cooler… BLESSED MOTHER OF BASEBALL!  It was so much cooler!

And that was our trip.

Oh, there were some trips to Starbucks thrown in there, and pancakes made at home, and hilarious laughing by the grownups in the late hours of the night, and babies who didn’t nap, and fun times with movies on the cell phone.

IMG_4228_resizedAnd then we drove home.

It was exactly as pleasant as I had hoped, because the boy and Thing 2 both opted NOT TO NAP in the Suburban.

Sister texted me a photo of her kids, two miles into the return trip, and they were all three passed out cold, laying on one another in a giant heap of a child mess.

My boys stayed awake.

They talked and talked and talked.  And then they talked some more.  It doesn’t matter that only one of them knows English.  The younger one just talked in his native tongue of Alien.

And that’s a wrap, people.  We’ve made a trip for the summer, and now we can stay home for a year or so!

Y’all have a merry Monday evening.

3 thoughts on “It’s A WHOLE LOT OF WORDS. And A WHOLE LOT OF PICTURES. I Felt Like I Should Warn You. You May Need A Snack For This Post.

  1. What a fabulous time we had!! It was SO much fun and you did a great job of capturing it. I did notice that it appears that I only have 1 pair of shorts, which is practically true, until I went shopping at lunch last week. Whew! Thanks for coming to visit. We can’t wait to see you all in July in Wyoming, where we dont have to walk 17 miles for entertainment. Oops… tiny mishap on the logistics, but everything else was smooth sailing. Thankfully.

  2. PS. Thanks for the Miracle Worker title. I think it’s a keeper that I may use to my advantage now and then. It makes me thing that I should have charged a fee for those miracles. 🙂

  3. I’ve just read the whole thing and looked at all the great photos, and can hardly remember way back to the beginning. BUT…was it because hubs got hit in the head with one of those gigantic hail stones that suddenly made him remember that he knew a solution to your photo resizing nightmare? REALLY, Hubs? Looked like you had a fantastic time. Your friend is a teriffic hostess.

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