Friday, December 2, 2011

I Won!!

Shortly after returning from our early summer Alaska cruise, I entered Gastineau Guiding Company’s 2011 Capture Juneau Photo Contest.  The contest was open to anyone who took one of Gastineau’s guided tours.

Yesterday I got a phone call from Chris with Gastineau with the news that I had won third place with this photo.

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The whale watching excursion that we went on was probably my favorite of the entire trip, and the whale watching was spectacular.  We were fortunate to see two humpback whales bubble net feeding.  What magnificent creatures.

When Gastineau posts all of the 2011 winners on their website, I’ll let you know.  I’m sure they’re lots of spectacular pictures.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Say It With Flowers

roses 006 Last Monday, for only the second time since I’ve known him, LBeau gave me flowers.

The first time was early in our marriage.  We were living in St. Louis at the time, and LBeau was on his way home from work at Missouri-Pacific Railroad.  A street vendor was selling roses for 50 cents a dozen.  On an impulse, he bought some.

Since that time, I have given birth to three children and had too many birthdays to count, but no more flowers.  My friend Glenda is also married to an engineer, and we have often shared stories about no gifts and no flowers.  At least she has daughters who were sometimes dispatched to “buy something for Mom for her birthday.”  I have three boys.  Enough said.

Needless to say, I was shocked when LBeau appeared bright and early Monday morning, my 65th birthday, with a dozen red roses and a card.  As my oldest son, Hunter, said, “When you don’t expect much, the least little thing can make your day.”

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lightening the Load & Other Musings

For about an hour this morning I got into a cleaning out frenzy.  First I decided it was time to put away the summer clothes and get out all of the cooler (can’t really say “cold” here in Alabama) weather stuff.  In the process, I got rid of a lot of clothes that I didn’t wear all season.

It felt good to get rid of things, but the best thing I did was to clean off my key chain.  I had been carrying around all of this stuff.  Now having this whole wad of keys made it easy to find them in my purse, but it also added a lot of weight.  Besides I had no idea what half of the keys unlocked.

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I think I counted 15 keys, three rewards cards (notice that the Best Buy card was non-functional because half of it was missing), and other assorted fobs and stuff.  I’m now down to five keys, two rewards cards, one fob and my Arkansas Alumni Association Life Member tag.

If I’ve built or remodeled your house in the past four or five years, you may recognize one of the miscellaneous keys.  If so, just let me know, and you can have it back.

IMG_2218 Also today I completed my Halloween decoration.  Hey, I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m., so I’ve gotten lots done.  I found this inspiration idea on Pinterest (my newest mania).  The inspiration pumpkin topiary was made with fake pumpkins, but I decided I wanted to use with real pumpkins and live plants.

I found the pumpkins last weekend at the Farmer’s Market when we were in Memphis, and I already had a nice size pot.  So earlier this week I set out to buy wooden letters and glitter spray paint.  Well, let’s just say lots of other people must have seen this on Pinterest, because there was no black glitter spray paint to be found at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or WalMart.

Fortunately, I only had to visit Michael’s in my quest.  There was a man there at the same time looking for the same spray paint for his wife, and he had already been to Hobby Lobby and WalMart.  Saved me a trip.  I ended up buying flat black spray paint and then brushed over it with glitter paint.

The letters were a different story.  The selection was not good because most of the styles had no “B’s” or “O’s.”  I had to settle for a less decorative style, but that’s what I get for getting a late start.  So here’s my pumpkin topiary.  I figure I can take the letters off, and it’ll be good through Thanksgiving.

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Speaking of Halloween, what are you going to be this year?  One house in my neighborhood has decided to be Christmas for Halloween.  Their decorations went up this week.

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Do you see the garland around their door and on the balcony?  They also have the mailbox decked out in the same theme—greenery, pine cones and red and green glass balls.  I mean, it’s one thing for the stores to put out Christmas stuff before Halloween, but that doesn’t mean we have to use it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm

a6f392e9c6ae4527b712bb86e88be6f4 I’ve come across several head scratching moments over the last few weeks, so I thought I’d take the time to share some of them.  The most recent came this morning when I drove through Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte.

Starbucks has this neat iPhone app where you can store your gift cards.  The barista (that’s a fancy name for a young person who dispenses ridiculously high priced coffee drinks) can then scan your phone for payment.  I’ve been reloading an old Starbucks gift card for years so that I didn’t have to pay with cash and wait for change, but I often found myself digging around in my purse to find which compartment I had dropped it into after the last swipe.  The iPhone app was a chance to further simplify my life.

Until today, that is.  When I got to the drive thru window, I was told that they could not scan my phone.  It seems that Starbucks has been sued by customers who have dropped and damaged their phones when they hold them out the window to be scanned.  So much for that great idea.

Head scratcher #2.  My recent work schedule has lately taken me to parts of the greater Birmingham area where I don’t normally travel at 7:30 in the morning.  On Thursday I was on Shades Creek Parkway about 7:15.  For those of you who are not familiar with Birmingham, Shades Creek Parkway, which becomes Lakeshore Drive, is a busy link between Highway 280 and I-65 and even points further west.

At 7:15 a.m. traffic heading west from 280 toward I-65 is heavy but moving steadily in both lanes.  But not this past Thursday, which happened to be garbage pick up day.  Most people think of Shades Creek Parkway as the home of Brookwood Mall, Samford University and Southern Living.  However, people also live along Shades Creek Parkway, and some of them evidently have earned the privilege of having their garbage picked up at their back door.

Unfortunately, I was in the right hand lane, just behind the garbage truck.  Every few feet the truck would stop, and the garbage man would run up the driveway to someone’s door.  Sometimes he would return with a sack or two, which he would toss into the truck, and sometimes he would return empty handed.  The whole process was painfully slow, and none of us in the right lane could shift to the left lane because of the steady stream of traffic.  I guess if you travel this route on a daily basis, you know when garbage day is, and you steer clear of the right lane.

And finally, there’s the group I will call The Mom Brigade.  This is a group of moms who live in Liberty Park.  Each day they transport their children about three blocks to and from the elementary and middle schools in golf carts.

I’ve never seen anything like it.  A couple of weeks ago I was at a job site in Liberty Park and watched a steady stream of mom-driven golf carts of all shapes and sizes pass down a residential street lined with a perfectly good sidewalk.

Back in my day, if you lived within three blocks of the school, you walked.  And it was uphill both ways!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

“Nevertheless, Beat Texas!!”

It’s almost time for college football.  Are you ready?


I’ve had several reminders lately that the 2011 college football season is upon us.  About a week ago, I saw my first yellow sulfur butterfly (for further explanation, see THIS POST).  Another reminder came in the form of an email from my sister-in-law Susie.  It was a collection of famous football quotes and included the following:

"Football is only a game.  Spiritual things are eternal.  Nevertheless, Beat Texas."  - Seen on a church sign in Arkansas prior to the 1969 game.

That’s all well and good, but it’s just plain wrong!  That email as well as hundreds of websites that pop up when you google that quote are trying to rewrite history.

The quote actually appeared on a sign at First Baptist Church of Fayetteville prior to the 1965 Razorback game against Texas.  Arkansas won that game 27-24.  We Razorbacks would just as soon forget about the 1969 contest.

Furthermore, the quote itself is not accurate.  The sign actually read:“Football is only a game.  Eternal things are spiritual.  Nevertheless, Beat Texas!” (The emphasis is mine.)

I know because I was there.  And if you need further evidence, just check out THIS ARTICLE that appeared in Sports Illustrated on October 25, 1965.  You don’t even have to read the whole four-page article (but it’s great reading).  The proof is on the first page.

So I’m doing my part to set the record straight.  I may not be successful, but “Nevertheless, Beat ______________!! (Insert the name of the Hogs’ opponent for the week.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Discounts, Rewards and Bonus Points

If you’re like me, you probably have way more discount and rewards cards than you can possibly keep up with, much less stuff into your wallet or hang on your keychain.  I finally gave up and only carry the three that I use most often—My Panera card, Max Perks from Office Max and Best Buy Reward Zone.  The others are in a drawer somewhere or were lost a long time ago.

But then you just never know when one of those long forgotten cards might come in handy.  Case in point.  Today I needed to purchase some cream cheese to go with the baker’s dozen bagels I had bought at Panera (I got points for that purchase, by the way).  I was on the way to a job site, when I passed a Winn Dixie.  How simple it would be to stop and get the cream cheese I needed instead of waiting until I got back to my side of town and going to Publix because Winn Dixie closed the store at Brook Highland years ago.


So that’s just what I did.  When I got to the check out line, the cashier asked if I had a Winn Dixie card.  I had forgotten about my Winn Dixie card, which was probably the very first discount card I ever owned.  I used it all the time.  I explained to the cashier that unfortunately Winn Dixie closed the store near my house, so I no longer carried my Winn Dixie card and had no idea what had happened to it.

She asked for my phone number.  I said it had been years since I had used the card, and I was sure I wasn’t still in the system, but I gave it to her anyway.  What do you know, I was still there, and I saved $1.59 on two containers of soft cream cheese.  Note:  I really pays to have one of those discount cards, because it appears that Winn Dixie charges non-card holders a huge premium.

Anyway, maybe some of you are way more organized than I and carry all of those cards in some convenient container that you tuck into your purse.  However, there’s got to be a better way.  Surely there’s an app for that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

North to Alaska!!

LBeau and I recently returned from an Alaska cruise on Oceania Cruise Line's Regatta.  Mark another one off the bucket list.

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alaska 125 Sailing from Vancouver, BC, on Friday, we headed north through the Inside Passage Way and arrived in Ketchikan Sunday morning.  There we boarded a smaller boat for a pleasant cruise of the George Inlet where we helped hoist a couple of crab traps.  I was even brave enough to hold a crab for a special photo opportunity.

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alaska 156 Back at the George Inlet Lodge, we were treated to an all-you-could-eat crab feast.  It was some of the best eating we did on the entire trip.

There was even a contest to see which table could pile up the highest mound of crab shells.  We didn't win, but I think it was only because our tablemates were too neat and kept their shells on their plates.

Our next port was Wrangell, a small fishing village that's easy to explore on your own.  We visited a Tlingit clan house where we learned about the ravens and the eagles from four Tlingit women dressed in their native costumes.

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One of the main things I was looking forward to on our trip was a chance to see whales up close and personal.   Although several whale watching excursions were offered by the cruise line, we chose Whales and Rainforest Trails provided by Gastineau Guiding Company.  Turns out that we chose well.

Our group was small—only 16, and our guide, Diane, a biology teacher when school is in session, was outstanding.  The first part of the trip took us on a hike through the rainforest where Diane gave us lots of information about the native plants before leading us to a magnificent view of the Mendenhall Glacier.

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Next we boarded a small boat at Auke Bay Harbor for the whale watching portion of our adventure.  The whales were up to the task, and the lighthouse at Point Retreat made a beautiful backdrop for the breaching humpbacks and orcas.

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The orcas were so plentiful it was hard to count, and our boat captain maneuvered us all around the point for the best sightings.

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But by far the highlight of the day was watching the humpbacks form a bubble net to corral the fish before exploding to the surface for giant gulps of food.  It doesn't get better than this.

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alaska 402fixed alaska 410 At Hoonah we had another culinary adventure.  Dodie showed us how to filet and prepare halibut and salmon, which we grilled over an outdoor alder wood fire, while bald eagles soared overhead.  She also showed us how to prepare smoked salmon dip and salmon burgers and gave us the recipes to take home.

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alaska 429 At Skagway we traveled north by bus up the Klondike Highway with several stops along the way.  The sunny skies were perfect for photographing the scenery.  The bus trip took us north of Fraser, BC, for a stop at the Yukon Suspension Bridge, a pedestrian bridge across the Tutshi River Canyon.  The center of the swaying bridge was great for viewing the river below.


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Back in Fraser, we left our bus and boarded the White Pass Railroad for the return trip to Skagway.

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alaska 623 We decided that our day in Sitka would be a little more leisurely, so we opted for a two-hour nature hike and tour of the town.  Our first stop was the Alaska Raptor Center, followed by a hike through the Tongass National Forest in the Sitka National Historical Park.  Then we skirted the harbor, ending up at the Russian Orthodox Church.  LBeau and I got to go to the top of the bell tower and watch the bells played.  They were so loud that we definitely needed the headphones that our guide provided.

For the next two days, we cruised beautiful bays and fjords, getting close looks at some of Alaska's magnificent glaciers.  The first day took us close to the Hubbard Glacier at Disenchantment Bay.

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The second day took us into College Fjord, where all of the glaciers are named for Ivy League colleges, with the largest being Harvard Glacier.

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alaska 753 When we arrived in Seward, LBeau and I were glad for a chance to get back on shore.  Unfortunately, we had booked a five-hour Kenai Fjords cruise that turned out to be about twice as long as it needed to be.  We saw whales, sea lions, harbor seals, eagles, gulls and puffins (you'll have to trust me about the puffins, because my pictures are not very good), but the weather was cold and rainy and the water was rough.  Couple that with about 200 other passengers, all scrambling for the best views, and it was probably our least favorite excursion.

alaska 808 Homer was another "take it easy" day.  We took the free bus into town and walked from one drop-off point to the Pratt Museum.  They have a beautiful small botanical garden in front and some nice exhibits.  On the way, we passed this cute cafe but it was only open in the evening.

Our cruise ended in Anchorage, and since our flight didn't depart until almost 10 p.m., LBeau and I rented a car and first headed northeast on Highway 1, which turned out to be a pretty drive along the Matanuska River.

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Then we doubled back and headed northwest, stopping in Wasilla for lunch.  We could not see Russia from there, and I wouldn't recommend this drive unless you have time to travel as far north as Denali National Park.  We'll have to save that for another trip.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this picture of an "almost" sunset.  Since our trip spanned the summer solstice, the days were quite long with sunsets around 11:30 p.m.  LBeau and I never quite managed to stay up that late.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Wonderful Life

Today, June 7, 2011, marks a milestone in our family, as my sweet mother-in-law turns 100 years old!!

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Annie Martha McCallum Beaumont was born on June 7, 1911, in Union Church, Mississippi, the third child and second daughter of Samuel Tucker McCallum and Lilly Boatner Winters McCallum.  In 1919 the family farm was sold, and Sam, Lilly and their five children (they would later add another son), moved to Lake Village, Arkansas.

It was there in 1929 that Martha met Lauren Hunter (Beau) Beaumont, who traveled Arkansas selling farm implements for International Harvester.


Martha and Beau married on May 3, 1931.  After living in Little Rock, Fort Smith and North Little Rock, they eventually settled in Newport, Arkansas, when Beau purchased the International Harvester dealership there.  It was there that they raised their three children, Billie Anne, Larry (LBeau) and Mary Katherine.


Eventually, all three children would marry, which would lead to eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and counting.

Martha0042Mema Martha with her grandchildren at Pickwick Lake

birthday 171fixedMema with four of her seven great grandchildren 

Most of us, along with extended family and friends (about 50 in all) gathered in Memphis last weekend for a big celebration.  It was a family reunion atmosphere, but Martha ruled the day.

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We looked at old pictures, told stories, read family letters and even played games.  And on Saturday night, we toasted the birthday girl who blew out the candles on this beautiful cake, with a little help from Brent, Makayla and David.

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Happy Birthday, Mema.  Here's to many more.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Child Is This?

Last week I emailed my youngest son Ben this picture of himself and commented on how much I thought it looked his daughter Lucy.


As the third child, Ben has always insisted that I never made any pictures of him,  and earlier today he sought confirmation from his two older brothers.  Here's the email "conversation" that took place.  I've cleaned up their spelling and grammar.  Can't help it; it's the English teacher coming out.

Ben:  What do you think guys... is this me or Brent? I think it's Pun (that's Brent). Mom claims it's me, but I can tell that she is not certain.

Brent:  Looks like you to me. I might even see a widow's peak.

Me:  See those dimples?  Brent did not have dimples.

Hunter:  That's Benj. Widow's peak and elfin ears give it away.

Me (just to prove my point):  Here's Brent at about the same age.


Hunter:   That's as chubby as Brent's ever been.

Ben:  Admitting this is me would be admitting that Mom actually took pictures of her third child...

Hunter:  I think you can credit Olan Mills for that one. It's not a snapshot like Mom would have taken.  It's a portrait with a faux background.

Ben:  Good point H. It was probably a photo session set up for you, and they used me for the test shot.

So you be the judge.  I'm sure you'll agree with me that those are photos of two different children.

And for the record, here's Lucy.  She looks an awful lot like her daddy Ben, widow's peak, elfin ears and all.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

A Hint of Color

I just finished a beginning Photoshop class earlier this week, so in honor of Mothers Day, I thought I'd try "hand tinting" my mother's engagement picture.

Here's the original scanned photo.

Engagement picture

And here's the "hand tinted" version.

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I do need to practice some more, but I think I'm going to like using this technique.  Happy Mothers Day, Mother.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wanted: Dead or Alive

Hearing the news of the demise of Osama bin Laden, I was reminded of this picture that I took in 2003.

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That’s my daddy and my Uncle Joe sitting on the porch of the mess hall at the Camden Hunting Club.  Until recent events, I hadn’t thought much about the “Wanted” poster that appears in the background.

Looks like we finally got our man.

Friday, April 1, 2011

KBeau and the Kiddos

With much excitement and some apprehension, I headed to Savannah, Georgia, a couple of weeks ago to stay with Walker and Lauren while Brent and Katie enjoyed a much needed vacation.

I was excited to see my two oldest grandchildren, but at the same time I was a little nervous.  I would have them by myself for four days and three nights, and it had been more than 25 years since my own children were that age.

Here's a quick look at how we passed the time as well as some of the things I learned, or relearned.

Lesson #1 – Something is bound to go wrong.  Shortly after Brent and Katie left on Friday morning, I discovered that the toilet was not flushing properly.  Since they have only one bathroom, it was mandatory that we get that problem fixed immediately, or we were going to all be using Lauren’s little potty, and I would be digging a hole in the backyard to bury the waste.

Fortunately, I had spotted the plunger the night before in anticipation of trouble.  So I got busy and soon had it working every other flush.  We limped along like this for about 24 hours before things got back to normal.

Lesson #2 – Sometimes more than one thing goes wrong.  On Saturday while the kids were napping, I gathered up all the dirty clothes and decided to wash a load.  The kids were going through several outfits a day playing in their new sand and water toy (more about that later), and with the unseasonably warm weather, they were running out of things to wear.

The washing went just fine, but now I had a huge load of wet clothes and a dryer that was making a funny whining noise and just sitting there blowing hot air without tumbling.  Next door neighbor to the rescue.  Odette was kind enough to let me bring my wet clothes to her house, and even though I contacted the property manager about the broken dryer, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be fixed before my babysitting duties were over.

Lesson #3 – Sand and water do mix.  For Christmas LBeau and I had given the kids an outdoor sand and water table.  The crab side holds sand and the fish side holds water, and it came with all sorts of boats and buckets and shovels and scoops.

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Since it had been sitting in my basement waiting for my trip to Savannah, this was the first chance the kids had had to enjoy their new toy.  The weather cooperated beautifully with temperatures in the 70's and 80's, and on Thursday afternoon we had it all set up.

iphone 004The picture on showed one child playing with the boats on the fish side, while another child made starfish with special molds on the sand side.  Well things don't happen just like that in real life.  The starfish molds quickly became scoops to transfer the sand to the water, and we ended up with something that looked like this.

The important thing, however, was that the kids had a blast.

Lesson #4 – Outings with the kids can be a lot of fun but require even more planning.  On Saturday I made plans to take the kids to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center.  I would need to take the double stroller, which was in the storage shed, but I wanted to make a dry run to be sure that I knew how to fold it up and how to open it properly.  With my luck, I would get there and wouldn't be able to figure out the stroller.  Turned out to be pretty simple.

Next I had to pack provisions—diapers and wet wipes for Lauren, sippy cups with water for both kids, and plenty of snacks (granola bars for Walker and Goldfish for Lauren).  I found a tote bag for all of that stuff, got the kids strapped into their car seats, and off we went.  Halfway there, I realized that I had forgotten hats and sunscreen.  So much to remember.  I did later discover the sunscreen in my purse, and the Wildlife Center turned out to be quite shady for the most part, so all was well.

Although the bobcat was in hiding, we enjoyed watching the new baby bull, the fox, the deer, the hawks and eagles, the bison and the tortoises.  Walker thought the rooster was a little loud.

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The trip home, however, turned out to be the biggest challenge.  We had barely gotten started when Walker announced that he had to use the potty, even though I had given him an opportunity before we loaded up.  Before we even got off the Wildlife Center property, I pulled into a side road, got him out of the car, and there he went on the side of the road.  Little boys are so easy!

Back on the road, I looked back to see two little heads nodding and eyes closing.  I was determined to keep them awake.  We were not going to miss naptime, because I needed a break!!  So we started singing every verse we could think of to "The Wheels on the Bus."  We even made up verses—"The daddies on the bus say, 'Go Hogs, go…'"

iphone 005 Lesson #5 – Cheerios should be a food group by themselves.  Walker and Lauren are not particularly picky eaters.  We had lots of eggies, peanut butter (sun butter for Lauren) and jelly or honey, strawberries, blueberries, Craisins, cheese quesadillas, carrots, pizza, hot dogs with dip-dip (catsup) and even edamame, but Cheerios were a favorite.  Lauren could eat three bowls for breakfast and still have room for scrambled eggs and toast.

I even found myself enjoying a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast and sometimes lunch.  They were quite good, particularly when I added a scoop of Katie's homemade granola.

photo Lesson #6 – It's probably not a good idea to let your 22-month-old granddaughter play Balloonimals on your iPhone.  If you're not familiar with Balloonimals, it works something like this.  You get a long skinny balloon, and the idea is to blow on the bottom end of the phone to blow up the balloon.  You then shake the phone until the balloon turns into an animal which does all sorts of tricks when you pet it.  Then you can burst the balloon animal using a special pump.

Lauren was fine with the shaking and the petting, but she wanted to cover the whole end of the phone with her mouth to inflate the balloon.  So after a couple of times playing with this app, I started getting weird messages popping up on my phone—"Charging is not supported on this device."  The thing was, I wasn't even trying the charge the phone.  I decided the real problem was probably baby spit, so Lauren had to confine her iPhone time to Talking Tom.  Sure enough, after a few days the weird messages went away.

I could go on and on with lessons learned—an almost four-year-old is a great interpreter for an almost one-year-old, it's great to have a park within walking distance of your house, Crayola No Mess markers are a wonderful invention, and grandparents still have the right to spoil their grandchildren.  I'm sure, in fact, that we watched way more Thomas the Tank Engine, Veggie Tales and Leap Frog videos than Brent and Katie allow.

Perhaps the greatest lesson learned was a new-found appreciation for my own mother and mother-in-law, who kept my own children on numerous occasions when LBeau and I would be out of town.  My hat's off to the two Memas.  I know my boys must have worn you out, but I also know it was a good tired.