Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back Down to Earth

I spent alot of time bitching about the enforced "vacation" Mike and I had to take when Donovan's daycare closed for 2 weeks. I still think it was pretty thoughtless and not really supportive of those parents who work full time.

That being said, today was the very, VERY last day of his break. Tomorrow (Monday) Donovan is back at daycare, Mike is at work for a solid week and I'm back in the saddle as well. And I'm sad--Mike and I both had a full week off with the boy and it was so lovely. Donovan is a really fun, goofy kid and it was nice hanging out with him. It was also nice recalibrating myself to his schedule. Today really brought that part of it home for me. We ended up spending over an hour at our local playground. The playground itself gets an A- for functionality but a D+ for aesthetics. It's all sturdy and safe and you can see where diligent people have scrubbed away various instances of offensive graffiti, but it still looks like the Playground on the Wrong Side of the Tracks. Not that Donny cared--he played all over, all afternoon. And it was great to be there playing with him. Here are some pics from his frolic:
I should mention, too, that the day was just heartbreakingly fall-like and lovely. These photos don't do the cinematography justice but this is a view from the playground:

Tonight Mike and Donny and I ended up out at the Waterfront. Mike was laptop shopping but, as it was Sunday, Best Buy was on short hours. He ended up just looking while Donny and I shopped at Michaels Crafts. That Martha Stewart has some crazy good Halloween stuff so I had a little shopping spree. Then we looked at the shelter kitties in Petco. Then we ate dinner at Red Robin before going grocery shopping. Have you ever been in a Red Robin? It's that strange set up where sensory overload is supposed to be equated with FUN. Its also cut up into small seating areas but its basically an airplane hanger where you can get a burger. By the time we got there Donovan was slaphappy and being very loud, yelling "UH OH!" over and over, louder and louder. By about his third, "UH OH!" we heard an answer from across the room. The other kid was so far away we could'nt see him but he and Donovan did this Call and Response thing for a good long while. At least in a place like that your kid can yell and you don't stick out like a sore thumb...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Exodus Part 2

So where was I?

The trip to Elyria was good and blessedly uneventful. The plan was that Donny and I would get there on Thursday, Mike would join us on Saturday and we'd leave on Sunday. There were a few things I wanted to do with the boy back in the ol' Home Town, one of which was to take him to the town square to play in this new kiddie fountain my Mom had told me about.

Well, I'm not exactly sad to say that there was no kiddie fountain: the town square is realllllly small. It already feels overcrowded with the gazebo they put in a while back and all the various war memorials. That's not really a complaint per se: I'm just glad they did'nt try to fit in squirty kid fountain as well. The old fountain was perfectly nice and we walked around that few times.There was a wedding going on in the gazebo and I was able to catch Donovan before he ran over to join the wedding party midceremony

Donny also had a grand time running across the little bricked in area in front of the Civil War Memorial:
I've always had a theory that the same Civil War Memorial Salesman visited every small town in Ohio and sold them the same damn monument with just the slightest variations. Not that you can really see what I'm talking about from the above action shot.

So we played downtown for awhile, stopped for a very healthy lunch at Burger King and walked home. Typical Elyria day.

What was not typical was just how different Donovan was while we were in Ohio. Plunk him down in Elyria and he starts TALKING. Not big sentence or anything but he basically put on a floor show for my Mom, my sister and I. He and my Mom were playing with these fabric coasters, putting them on their heads and then throwing them. Donovan put the coaster on his head, pull the elastic from his adjustable pants like it was a pair of suspenders and then yell, "HellOOOOOOOO!" He was yelling so loudly that he was standing on tiptoe. So "hello" and "bye" (with wave), and my sister swears he said, "I did it!" Also, there was the eating. Frequent visitors to this blog will know that the kid is on doctor's orders to gain weight. Which means, as far as I'm concerned, whatever he'll eat he's allowed to eat. Look at Mr. Livin' Large at Gramma's house;
I think it may have been the prolonged exposure to the powerful, unfiltered waved of Grandma love that my Mom poured over him the whole time we were there. I'm the kid's Mom and I love him to death but I do think there's something different in the way Donny's grandparents love him. Its not better or worse but it is a powerful force. It would also explain why, when Donovan sees photos of my Mom, he kisses them. Pretty impressive seeing as how he only sees her a couple of times a year.

ANYhow, on Friday we walked over to see the Aunts. Every visit to the Aunts is conducted in "The Good Room." I was unable to take a photo featuring the Paint By Number reproductions of Millais' Gleaners but do note the print of "Blue Boy" on the wall behind the chair Donny's sitting in.
Before I leave the subject of Elyria, I just want to mention how great my old house is for kids. The front porch is just Americanarific, to coin a phrase. It's pretty empty these days but growing up there was usually a stripey rug put down every summer, a glider with a plasticy padded back and seat and, of course, The Swing:

The Swing was my Dad's pride and joy. He came up with the idea of hanging it from the ceiling with truck springs so not only could you swing, you could bounce. Dad used to sit out there all the time in his tshirt, shorts, white socks and sandals. It was nice to take his namesake out there and let him have his time ruling the roost.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Exodus; Part 1

Hello Friends,

We are back from Elyria, all three of us. I may have to break this one down into a couple of entries as there is much to tell and there are also some damn phone photos that went MIA. GAH! I hate that blackberry!

But where did we leave off? Thursday was the big day as far as Donovan and I taking the bus from Pittsburgh to Elyria. Mike dropped us off at the brand new Pittsburgh bus station, which is lacking the, how shall we say? "patina" of the old one but which is fairly soulless and purposefully uncomfortable. At first it was a bit rough as I was loaded down with a suitcase, a lunchbag, a stroller and a kid.
I'd like to send a shoutout to the 20 something "hippie" kid with his dreads and his American Eagle Shirt that said something like "Send Her Love Letters," and his peace sign necklace and his two little hearts tattooed on his ankle--he gets an extra mention for standing directly behind me and watching me drop things without ever offering to help. Who did help? The blind guy and the lady with the three kids. ANYhow, while we were in line a gentleman ahead of us picked a little stuffed puppy off the floor and handed it to Donny. I said thank you but that it was'nt ours. "I know," he said, "I was killing time playing the crane game over there and I won it. He can have it." Of course, being Donovan, he would'nt take it at first. The guy put it on my suitcase and Donny kept coming over to look at it or poke it or pet it. Finally he took it and it was his buddy for the whole trip. Thank you, Mr. Stranger, for the gift that kept the kid quiet and happy for roughly 5 hours!

I'd like to think that 28 months of daily bus rides prepared the kid for our trip but I have to be honest and say that getting him up super early made him just limp enough to sleep on me until Akron and then quietly play with his puppy and drink some milk until Cleveland. Note the super sleepy eyes. This photo was taken before we had even pulled out of the Pittsburgh station.

The Cleveland busstation is also sad but at least its authentic, with its 1950s art deco aluminum lettering and oversized diamond patterned linoleum. Also, it has a huge expanse of floor for little kids to run around in.
One little boy who was tearing up the joint stopped long enough to ask me if he could give Donovan a little bag of fruit snacks. I thanked him and said yes. Donny politely ate one while the kid was watching but then would'nt eat any more. He polished the rest of the bag off a couple of hours later: one more snack to add to the He Might Just Eat This list! Thanks hyper little 8 year old kid!

We got to Elyria just fine my Mom and sister met us at the bus "station." They took the luggage and Donovan and I walked the 4 blocks home. It was a lovely, lovely summer day and the walk reminded me of how big the sky can be. I'm not saying Elyria is an offshoot of Montana or anything but, really, the sky was so blue and the clouds were so big and white--Oh, Ohio; sometimes I forget how much I miss you.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today was the big summertime roadtrip for us: Storybook Forest in Ligonier. Please note that there is no link included in the previous sentence; that is because there is no real website for Storybook Forest. It's part of the Idlewild/Soakzone! Park complex and that's all fine and good but, please, could we just have a page for the damn place? In light of this lack of info, and because I took so many photos today, this entry is going to be pretty long and plenty illustrated.

Here is the entrance you go thru which, very sweetly, is like a huge storybook. The entrance was one of many features in the park that had a little wooden plaque that said "Original to Storybook Forest: 50 Years!"
The set up, as you will see, is a winding road thru a forestlike setting featuring little cottages based on fairytales and nursery rhymes. I did'nt get a photo of Donny being talked to by Mother Goose but Mike and I agreed later that the ladies dispersed thru the park as various characters were all very good. First stop after Mother Goose was the Little Red Schoolhouse:
And then home of the Crooked Man:
I'll admit being disappointed that there was no crooked cat.

Next was a big chair that Donovan could have played on all day. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On:Not sure what story/rhyme that was supposed to be but we got alot of mileage out of it. The other big item for Donny was a windmill. Again, that could have been the rest of the day. He stood there reaching for it and talking to it in that Donny language of his:Then across a cute bridge:
Mike and Donovan went aboard the Goodship Lollipop. I should have gotten a photo of the lady who was the Captain(?) as she was wearing a sort of Mothergoosesque long skirt, long apron and Raybans. While the menfolk talked to her I took some photos of the ship's decorations:

Other stops along the way included The Three Bears:

Aladdin's Magic Carpet:

A huge block of cheese:

And the house of the 7 dwarves which, actually, is pretty much how I would like our house to look someday:

Do you think I could find vinyl siding in a floral pattern like that?

Mike and I had a really nice time and I think Donovan did as well. We are definately going back and definately packing a picnic lunch. Granted we only spent time in a small part of the park but the food was awful. Even I, the Carnival Food Aficianado, was offended. But that little complaint is just that--and the food in question was'nt even in Storybook Forest, it was in the other part of Idlewild that borders it.

Storybook forest is very much an anachronism but it works so well. First, I realized that it was designed to be a Photo Op Park. That was great in the 50s but think about now when you don't need to worry about wasting film! Its a digital camera paradise. Also, there were NO SPONSORS. No one dressed up as Garfield or Minnie Mouse or whatever--completely commercial free. So commercial free, in fact, that their giftshop was lame. And for those of you who don't like giftshops, it was hidden away at the very end of the trail So basically you got a roughly 2 hour walk in the woods with no commercial interuptions. It was really sweet.

And now a few more photos to finish up. Thanks for letting me throw all these images at you--here's hoping you could share some of our fun by looking at them: