Do you know what kids enjoy?
My sister, Mandi, asked me to go to my niece's pre-school class and talk about the various land and water creatures I've encountered over the years. Since I've been to a variety of zoos and aquariums, we gathered a bunch of pictures of animals and such, pasted them on posterboard, and had the kids call out (by name or sound) each one.
We also brought along cupcakes...because nothing gets a kid through a lecture like the promise of wee iced treats wrapped in paper if they don't pummel the speaker with Legos or snot-rockets during the presentation.
Thankfully, it worked and they were soon shoving cake into their tiny pie-holes in record time.
My sister also wisely incorporated snacks into the impromptu photo shoot that we did later with my ridiculously cute nieces, Mia and Jenna.
As long as you keep the snacks a' comin' and the compliments a flyin'...they're just as happy and poseable as can be.
Just like me.
FYI: Vodka is my preferred snack.
Since our city doesn't have a gym (the local Curves, housed in the old liquor store, didn't seem to care about my desire to trim down my lovely lady lumps), I spent several days just going for long walks around the city with my camera shooting random items along the way.
Other than a couple days of rain, the weather has been beautiful and the leaves are really starting to pop and lock with color.
As I've mentioned before, there are many cool older homes here that I'm hoping someone wills to me in the near future. Like this one...
Or maybe this one...with it's own bridge, pond and boat.
However, with my luck, the only one I'll likely end up with is this one...notice anything unsual about it?
If you look closely at the roof...then down at the front door and windows, you'll notice that this tiny kingdom is actually twisting off of its crumbling foundation and slowly collapsing in on itself from years of neglect and very little TLC.
Again...just like me.
But, the highlight of the trip was being able to be home to celebrate my mother's birthday (today) along with the rest of the family. Living in California all these years has really made it difficult for me to get back to hang out with my family and just enjoy the special moments that happen daily while I'm stuck in LA traffic shouting new colorful metaphors at drivers all around me.
This is a rare shot of me with my brother and two sisters. It's so nice when I am able to find someone else to take a picture with me actually in the shot.
One of my mom's friends, knowing that we were all going to be at this particular restaurant, called the day before and arranged for a carafe of wine to be delivered to her for her birthday.
Not a glass of wine.
Maggie Griffin has some competition.
As you can see by the empty jug in the waitress' hands...that gift was enjoyed thoroughly by all.
Although we don't all get together as often as we'd like, when we do...we more than make up for lost time. We're a lively bunch by nature and tend to entertain ourselves and, often, those around us until we leave.
Most importantly...my Mom had a great time and that makes a trip like this priceless.
The week has really gone by far too quickly, but I had a great time with my family and have eaten more food in the past seven days than I've had, combined, in the past seven months.
The elliptical machine at the gym is going to scream when I hop back on it in a couple weeks.
I'm renting a car tomorrow and driving seven hours down to see my friend Maggie in Johnson City, Tennessee...the next stop on this whirlwind journey. I can't wait to see her and will update the blog, as usual, along the way.