Monday, December 10, 2007

Family Visit from Ohio

He talks big, but the truth is my Papa, whom we call Abuelo, has never been so proud in his life as he is when he's around Jae. And Jae . . . well, so does a good job tolerating him.

Here's Jae teaching her Abuelo to swing. It looks like he's getting the hang of it. After this she taught him how to use sidewalk chalk. We were really proud of him.

Here's Jae's Gram, helping her blow her very own bubbles. If Gram keeps to tradition, she'll be the most loving source of moral corruption for my baby girl.

I know it doesn't look like it, but these two lovely ladies have TWO WHOLE GENERATIONS between them. The women in my family stay young for decades!

Jae definitely loves her Grandma Ché. It helps that Grandma always brings her presents, I guess. It might also be that Grandma Ché makes AWESOME cookies. Jae gets her love of cookies from me.

Every once in a while Grandma Ché brings presents for the adults, too. This was a week or so after my wife's [CENSORED] birthday. My mom brought her some Fiesta Ware, which apparently all the women in my family love. Me . . . well, if you have to clean it instead of throwing it away after you eat on it, I don't see the point.

Words fail me.

We took a trip to the Smoky Mountains, and we stopped in a quiet little town called Townsend. There were five rocking chairs, which means I got to stand and take the pictures. Again.

Across the parking lot from the rocking chairs there were some flowers buzzing with butterflies. Well, not buzzing, really. But they were swarming. Jae's pointing one out for you. Can you see it?

Can you see it here? Which of these two do you think is wrapped around the other's little finger?

Chillin' on a cool Saturday afternoon, talkin' about the fellas.

Doesn't Jae look deep in thought? She probably isn't, but she looks it. If you look carefully, you can see the semi-stale piece of licorice in her right hand. That's how we like 'em in our family: almost crispy.

Nothing makes an afternoon brighter than eating Twizzlers on Gram's lap.

Here's a great illustration of my family. You can see quite clearly in my Papa's smirk how cool he thinks he is. And you can see quite clearly in my mother's resignation how cool he actually is.

The cabin in the background is from the mid-1800s in Cades Cove, not too far from Gatlinburg. It was a pretty day, and shortly after this picture it began to rain. So we spent the rest of the afternoon in the car. We don't do rain.

Four generations of my family's women doing their best Reservoir Dogs impression. It might look like Jae's following the older women, but in her mind she's just supervising, making sure they don't stray to the left or to the right.

All the cool girls stand like this now. I don't get it, but I'm not supposed to. I'm not cool.

Someone tell Jae that her sippy cup is up-side-down. I don't care what it says on the label, those stupid cups are NOT leak-proof.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Halloween 2007

Some autumnal pics of my family. Although Jae hasn't turned two yet, she understood very clearly that holding her bag open and whispering, "Trick or treat," would get her lots of free chocolate and suckers. Too bad her mother hid (and subsequently ate) all the Reece's Peanut Butter Cups!

My little environmentalist. Jae has developed a love for hugging trees. I'm scared to let her see that "Loosely based on a true story" movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." But darn it if she doesn't look gorgeous saving the planet one evergreen at a time.

I told you she was gorgeous . . .

Jae has recently developed a love for pumpkins. She loves to touch them, sit next to them, carry them around, and roll them down the hallway. Maybe next year we'll build a pumpkin catapult together and rain down some autumnal terror.

"Hey," Jae is thinking to herself. "Where'd my pumpkin go? I just saw it around here somewhere."

There's so much for a toddler to discover on a cool autumnal day. Here's Jae learning about the crinkly krackle of dry leaves. Later her Mama will teach her about the sweetness of homemade pumpkin pies that aren't from a can. We are currently fattening up this particular pumpkin for a family feast; until then, it's Jae's pet pumpkin. We call it "Gourdy."

One day we went to Dollywood after church for their Gospel and Harvest Celebration. We had a great afternoon walking around and riding rides. Jae found some fall decorations and sat down with them. We had to take pictures.

So Jae's Mama sits down next to her by the pumpkins. Later she tells me that we have to teach the idiot behind the camera to stop cutting off the top of her head. Like it's my fault she's so tall!

The whole family.

Jae is learning how to fake smile. Pretty soon she'll be able to roll her eyes, too.

So here I am with my other daughter, Helga, who comes from a long line of Viking marauders. When she's of age we'll add horns to her helmet.

Jae with her friend Abby. We went to a pumpkin patch where we got to pick our very own pumpkins and go for a hayride! Jae also got to play in a cornbox (like a sandbox but with . . . well, corn). We had a great time.

At the pumpkin patch there were so many pumpkins to choose from, but in the end we found the one that was just perfect. Well . . . actually, we found four or five that were just perfect. Like her Mama, Jae likes to change her mind.

Besides the cornbox, Jae also got to play in a big pile of hay. We paid an admission fee for this . . .

Jae enjoyed helping clean out the pumpkins for all of about fifteen seconds. Then she went to send her doll careening down the slide. Jae nervously touched the pumpkin guts. No matter how hard we tried, though, we couldn't get her to put her hand down into the open pumpkin. Besides the delicate knife work, I was also charged with the photo-journalistic responsibilities.

Our first attempts at carving a Jack-O-Lantern since we were married. I'm pretty impressed with these. Perhaps next year we'll try to carve DaVinci's Last Supper on a pumpkin.

Here we're on our way to the girls' dorm on campus, where every year they have a Fall Festival and arrange games and activities for the kids and pass out candy. Jae's got her bag open and ready. I'm struggling to keep up.

One meets a lot of strange folk on All Hallow's Eve.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from the spray-happy skunk.

Jae was a bit wary of getting her face painted, especially since Amanda (seen here with Jae) was apparently in the throws of adult-onset Chicken Pox. But then we thought it might be a Sign from Above, what with Jae being a chicken and all.

Here we have either a well-fortified chicken coup or an inflatable bouncy castle outside the dorm. Jae loves jumping around in these, as long as she can hold onto the outside.

Jae and Mama with their faces painted.

Jae made it through the whole girls' dorm and has a full bag of candy to show for it. If it wasn't for her elevated blood sugar, she would be exhausted by now!

After a hard night's graft, Jae stops to enjoy the spoils of her labor. Besides chocolate, suckers are her favorite candy. She especially loves Tootsie Pops (I don't think she knows you're supposed to lick them), but Dum-Dums will do in a pinch.

So the girls' dorm wasn't the only place we took Jae to get free candy. We also took her "trunk or treating," which is trick or treating out of the back of people's cars. (I'd never heard of this before we moved to Knoxville; it must be a Southern thing.) We had a great time, but we avoided the creepy guy in the trench coat selling watches.

Here's Jae trunk or treating in front of a UT Volunteers fan's car. Knoxvillians (that probably isn't the correct label) are nuts about UT, so much so that it looks like hunting season year round here, what with all the people wearing hunter orange shirts, hats, coats, and so on.

Every self-respecting Jack-O-Lantern has to have a candle inside. Janelle loves these! We hope you enjoyed our pictures and that you had a great Halloween.