Sunday, September 28, 2014

And then she turned ten

My little girlie turned 10 last week.

Where did that decade go?

We did the traditional 'balloons all over her bed while we sang to her' again, only this year she was awake and we made her lay back down and pretend to sleep so we could wake her up with the SURPRISE of balloons on her bed. 

She giggled and obliged.




 
We had friends over for dinner the Sunday night before her special day.  A couple families with girls close to her age and a two couples who have taken us in as their own.  We ate pizza and chicken and we were visiting when one of the men said "Let's finish up so we can leave the table." 

I thought it was a bit odd, typically we will visit a bit after we finish eating, but I shrugged it off and thought nothing of it. 

After we said our finish up prayer, he hands Rhianna a card.  The front said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY RHIANNA" and inside was a note.  It said they knew she liked trivia and for her birthday, they were giving her a few trivia questions. 

The answer to all the questions was the same thing...and their was a flap at the bottom of the card that when she opened it up, read 'Go look in Joe's truck for your gift'.

The answer to all the questions was 'a bike' but I was thinking "there is no way they went together and got her a bike" (something she had been wanting very badly).  We walked outside and opened the back of the truck and sure enough there was a brand new 18 speed bike. 

It takes a lot to make me cry, but right then I had tears.   She has ridden her bike almost every single night since then.

What she asked me for her birthday speaks volumes of her character.  She asked for a day out with me.  She didn't want anything else, just some one on one time.  (Which made me feel guilty thinking I wasn't giving her enough one on one time).

I knew she just meant, spend part of the day somewhere fun, but I wanted to plan something more.  I had been to Newport, RI the summer before and toured the mansions and thought she might like it.

We left early morning on Saturday with plans to spend most of the day in Newport.  She had seen a few photos, but I knew she had no idea of how amazing this place is.

It is a bit over a 2 hour drive and we chatted the whole way.  She became more and more excited as we drove closer.  I wish I could have taken a picture of her face when we finally climbed up the huge bridge that crosses into Newport.  You look over parts of the Atlantic and the harbor is filled with sailboats.  I can't think of a more beautiful place on earth. 

We found a little cafe to eat a quick lunch at before heading to the mansions.

We found a fun surprise at the table. Something that reminded us of Ohio.

SMUCKERS JELLY.

We took a picture and texted it to Aunt Kate!






 
 
The first mansion we went to was The Breakers.  It was the summer home of the Vanderbilts.  I couldn't take any inside pictures, but keep in mind that these homes were only used for 8-10 weeks out of the year. 
 
It reminded me of the mansion in The Sound of Music.  So amazingly grand and surreal.  I had to keep reminding myself that people actually lived here.
 




 


 

This porch was on the second story of the house....right off the hallway from the bedrooms.
Imagine waking up to this view every morning.
I could get used to that!




I let her find a little trinket in the gift shop. 
She picked out a Japanese fan that the Vanderbilt girls
would have used at a dance on a hot Saturday night.




 We had to rely on selfies to get pictures of us together.
We had fun getting some pics on the porch.

They had a play 'house' out in the yard where the children would
have played in.  This house is bigger than some of the
apartments I have lived in!
 
Next house we toured was 'The Elms'. 


 
 
 
We did the servant life tour at this house and got to go upstairs to the third floor and see where the servants lived and learned more about them.  If you ever make it to Newport, this tour is a must!!
We went out onto the roof top to see where the servants might slip out onto to grab fresh air or catch a break.  We could see to the harbor and it was a gorgeous view!
 



 
 
When we first arrived at this house, we both had to use the bathroom.  They hadn't changed much in it (except to make it more of a public place) so it still had the grand marble walls. 
 
I couldn't help but take some selfies in the mirror to send back home to a few friends of mine because of a long time ago joke.  How could I not?  When would the next time I be in a multi-million dollar home and use the restroom? hah
 




 
We were getting tired after the tours at The Elms and was ready to get home.  We were taking a few more selfies in the circular drive that is canopied by wistera when a French gentleman asked if he could take the picture for us.
 
We happily obliged.
 


 



 
To get to our car parked in the side lot, we had to walk through the back yard. 
 
Oh what a view. 
 



Showing off her birthday present!
 
My absolute favorite is the video I took of her.  I asked her to tell me about her day.  She said this:
 
"My name is Rhianna and I am ten.  This (geturing with her hand) is my birthday present."
 
I decided at that moment to stop the video.  
 
It was too cute. 
 
She may have only gotten a few trinkets from me this year.  But I hope that what she got what much more.  I hope she remembers our day for the rest of her life. 
 
I know I will and I can't wait for more days like this. 
 
I've had this little girlie in my life for ten years. 
 
It has been nothing but pure joy to be called her mother. 
 



Friday, September 19, 2014

Zucchini 500

Ellington has a farmer's market every Saturday at the park in the center of town. 

Each week they have a fun activity planned for the kids. 

A few  weeks ago Rhianna was there and came home and said that she wanted to sign up for the Zucchini 500. 

She needed to build a car out of a zucchini to race.

I sighed.

My kids have big imaginations and think of no limitations to reality.

I had no idea how to build a car (I'm not the most mechanically minded individual) let alone have the time to build it.

But, Rhianna had her heart set on it and I was going to give it my best shot.

Friday night rolls around.  (I admit.  I procrasitnated.)  And we start building this thing around 10pm.

I had been told by someone who saw this race last year, that the wheels don't have to be vegetables.  Just the body of the car must be a zucchini.

Rhianna told me that she knew there was no way she would win the fastest.  (She knows me and my building skills all too well) so she was going to go for 'Most Healthiest'.  And try to get the most variety of fruits and veggies as part of her car.

We had the design finished and I was working on finding something for wheels.  I tore apart one of Reagan's cars, hoping to use the axel.

It wouldn't work.

Next, I tried unscrewing the wheels off his Tonka truck, thinking a monster truck zucchini car would be fun.

It wouldn't work.

At this point (11pm) I was almost in tears.  I felt like a failure..imagining all the other kids probably spent hours on this with their dads and would make our car look pathetic.  I knew I was, once again, going to let my child down.  I figured her car would fall apart (if I could even find wheels to make it roll) or it would be tacky or whatever. 

All I knew is that I dreaded the next day. 

While I was sitting there beating myself up, a thought came to mind.  (I still cannot think what made me think of it).  I remembered that she had a plastic scooter for her dolls. 

I ran in the bedroom and dug it out of the storage bin.  I unscrewed the top part and set the zucchini on the base of the scooter. 

It fit perfectly.

I tied the back part of the veggie with a multi-colored piece of yarn and the front was attached by a rubber band. 

Stop laughing. 

It was pushing midnight at this point and I was done for the day.

The next morning we pulled in to the market and I had that sick feeling of dread.  I figured all the other cars would look wonderfully put together and here was ours, stuck to plastic wheels with yarn and decorated with all kinds of fruits and veggies.   I was waiting for the moment when she would realize that hers looked worse than all the others simple because her mom just doesn't have time.

To my delight, as we walked closer, I noticed that all the cars looked pretty much the same.  They were cars made out of a zucchini, after all.





The time for the race came closer and my little girlie was getting really nervous.

video

She paced until it was time for the race. 

They had it set up where two cars would race...the winner going to the winners bracket and the loser going to the losers bracket. 

Rhianna and Auntie Tricia
(Excuse the thumb)
We were SO excited Auntie T was here to watch Rhianna race.

Once they had the winner from the winners bracket, the winner from the losers bracket would come back to race the winner from the winners bracket and race it.  If the winner from the loser bracket won; they would race one more time to beat the winner of the winners bracket to go on to win first place.  (Are you confused yet?)

I hoped Rhianna's car would make it down in one piece, once. 

All I wanted was for her to walk away feeling proud that she did her best, but not feeling like a failure. 

First race?

video
Believe it or not...

She won.  She smoked them.

I'm not sure what emotion was stronger...excitement or shock that we actually won one race.

As the races continued, I realized she actually had a shot at winning the entire shebang.

There was one other zucchini that looked slightly faster than hers...it was roped onto a firetruck and was speedy as it beat every other car.

The time came for Rhianna to race it.  The first half of the track she was smoking it and then it happened...

her car veered to the right and slightly rubbed against the wooden track snapping her rubberband.  The car careened out of control and rolled to the end. 

She lost the race.

Oddly enough, I was devastated.  I was sure she was going to win; and upset at my flawed design.

A man from the crowd came up to us and said "I have zip ties in my bag...here fix the car so she can race again."

My first thought was "Who carries zip ties to a farmer's market?" but shrugged it off and accepted the kind offer.

We fixed up her car and she was good to go.

She made it through the losers bracket to come back to be the winner of the losers bracket.

The time came for the first place race.

It was her versus Mr. Firetruck Zucchini. 

The only car she had lost to.

There was a large crowd gathered around at this point.  Quite a few people in the crowd were from church (many came over while shopping at the market because they heard Rhianna's name announced).  It was so wonderful to see so many people supporting her...not because they wanted her to win necessarily, but because they love her and want good things for her.

She put her car up at the top of the race track next to Mr. Firetruck Zucchini.

The race master lifted the wooden bar and off they went.

AND SHE WON.

I was shaking uncontrollably.

I know.

Ridiculous.

But I had always failed my children in the past when it came to building things...and finally...for once their car was winning.

The kids grabbed their cars and ran to the top of the track.

The winner of this race would be the First Place Winner of the annual Zucchini 500.

The block went up and....

video







SHE WON.

SHE ACTUALLY WON.

That shrill scream you heard at the end of the video??  That was her, so excited she won.

After the race, the second place winner came up to her and shook her hand.

video


I was hugging her, almost jumping up and down.  She was excited she won.

I was excited I hadn't failed her (once again) because I couldn't build things.

I looked up and saw a photographer taking our picture.  The idea of us being on the Ellington Gazette (or whatever it is called) with me hugging her jumping up and down horrified me.  I wanted to tell them why I was so excited. haha.

(Note:  The picture was not printed...at least to my knowledge it wasn't.  Thank goodness.)

I saw the zip tie man still standing in the crowd and I wanted to thank him once again.

I went over to him and said: "You have no idea what you helping fix her car means to her.  I'm a single mom...always failing when it comes to building things like this.  Thank you for saving the day for her."

His response made me stutter...

"It was my son she beat out."

Uh. um.  What do you say to that?

He continued on so graciously...he said "I'm glad she won.  She deserved it.  My son, he always wins, and needs to lose occasionally. "

It wasn't a big deal...it was only a Zucchini 500...but it was a heartwarming story to me.  That there are still a lot of really good people out there. 

She won a gift certificate to the market and a huge bag of kettle corn. 

Now she has a reputation to uphold.

Next Saturday, the 27th, there is a Summer Harvest Drag Race.

And you can bet she is entering a pumpkin car!