Sunday, May 31, 2009

3 Cute Shots I Forgot to Post From the Zoo...

 

 

 
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Omaha Zoo Trip

We had a great trip to the Omaha Zoo over Memorial Day weekend. After a few minor annoyances at our hotel (rude guest who stole our pool towels, having to call maintenance to fix the air in our room, and having to request a new blanket for the kids because the one in our room was stuck together by some unidentified substance) our trip went really well. And this was at a Doubletree for crying out loud!

We stayed at the zoo until 4pm. No naps, no fits, and no fainting from pure exhaustion. We rode the train, saw the butterfly exhibit, the aquarium (which scared Tate), the dark underworld of the crocodiles (which scared Drue), and rode the sky safari (which scared Mommy!). I took about 5 pictures of David and Tate riding behind us and this is the only one that wasn't blurry from my hand shaking so badly. Not a lover of the heights.
 


Sitting pretty...eating ice cream.
 


Glow in the dark jellyfish. What cool pets those would be!
 


Non-shaky picture of Reesie.
 

I rode with the girls and kept saying, "Don't lean over the edge to look down. Just look straight ahead or to the side." I thought riding with the girls would make it less scary for me because if my 4 & 6 year old weren't scared of plunging to their impending doom, why should I be? Wrong. I was probably more scared, knowing full well I was frozen in place, hoping I would be able to unfreeze myself to grab them if they decided to fling themselves over the bar into the giraffe dung below.
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Ok, so there was one moment of tears during the trip. Tate handed David his dripping ice cream cone to hold while he ran around for a bit and David tossed it in the trash. So who could blame the poor little guy? And why did his mean Mommy stop to take a picture of his moment of despair?
 


Happier times with his ice cream.
 


Daddy & his daughters.
 
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And, yes, the girls were dressed in the exact same outfits as you may have noticed. It wasn't all my doing this time. I have pretty much stopped doing that as a rule of thumb. (Well, their cute little 4th of July dresses are the same...). Anyway, I bought Drue some play outfits and when I took Reese to pick out her outfits, she chose the one that matched Drues. It did make it easier to keep track of them that day though. I knew exactly which outfit to scan the crowd for if one of them slipped away. Which miraculously only happened once when Reese headed off accidentally.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Little Helper

Inevitably I have grown tired of my entire wardrobe.

This tends to happen more often with the change of season.

I have no idea what I wore all last summer.

I was trying on various shirts to wear to a party today and was not having much luck.

I have a cute brown tank top that I was sure would work but when I put it on, it didn't look like I remember it looking last year.

Drue was facing me as I looked in the mirror and heard me declare, "This isn't flattering at all!".

"Here," she said as her little hands smoothed out the wrinkles on the front of my shirt, "Let me flatter it for you."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

SPLAT

video

This is a leisure activity only a FATHER would condone!

That Explains It

Reese's school year is coming to an end. Last week she had her last art class of the year and got to bring home lots of finished projects. One of them was a picture she made on the very first day of school.

She pulled it out and showed it to me. I saw a tree and a little girl with yellow hair.

"Awwww...there's little Reesie", I said.

She looked at it again and said, "No, that's not me. The art teacher just said draw a person, a house, and tree".

Seeing no house in the picture I said in a playful accusing tone, "Ohhhhhh....you didn't follow directions".

To which she explained exasperatingly, "Moooooommmm...I was only 5!".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Roses

I walked in the front door one evening last week and was promptly halted by David and instructed to "Wait here."

He ducked into the kitchen and was back in a flash carrying a single red rose with a 4 inch stem.

Not wanting to crush his feeble romantic gesture, I took it and politely said, "Thank you".

He let my by him at this point and when I walked into the kitchen I discovered a vase full of long stem red roses!

The kids love to be in on surprises like this so they were all smiles and started talking all at once.

Reese, not understanding the term "dozen", picked the next closest word that means "a lot" and said excitedly, "Look Mommy! Daddy got you two thousand roses!".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

No Offense Almighty Creator

Drue was excited to show me some of the words she had practiced writing with Grandma Judy last week.

At the very top of the page in her 4 year old handwriting was the word "GOD".

She very proudly said, "Look! I wrote the word 'GOD'".

I gushed over her accomplishment and said, "That's great Drue! Good job!".

Then she confessed matter-of-factly, "I was trying to write the word 'DOG'".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Buddy!



Our little guy turns 3 today! Yes, he's all boy, but he's also sweet and sensitive and caring much of the time. Just yesterday he shared his sour gummy worms with me because he was so concerned that I hadn't gotten any.

I asked him today if three year olds still need blankies. He looked at me with mild alarm and said, "Yes!".

David tried laying down the law saying, "Three year olds don't suck their thumbs."

Another look of alarm with a simple pleading question, "Why?".

We thank God for this little boy He's given us to raise into a young man. We truly enjoy all the laughs and snuggles he brings our way.

Happy Birthday Tate!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Good Night Moon

I have mentioned before how Tate finds his way into our bed in the middle of the night.

Tonight the moon was full and huge and looked like you could just reach out and touch it. David pointed it out to the kids from the van windows.

They watched it all the way home. Reese wanted to know how it was following us. As we were heading into the house, it was hidden behind some trees and houses.

Tate said, "Where'd the moon go?".

David told him it went night night.

As I carried Tate up the steps he explained to me, "Mommy, the moon went to his Mommy's bed!".

Jury Duty: Final Day



I kept my juror button as a keepsake. We were supposed to turn them in. But I declined the $10 per day because it just didn't feel right to get paid for serving this week. I don't get paid to vote so why should this be any different? So, instead, I stole from the government and brought my button home.

It's over. I bid farewell to my friends. The judge declared me the "unsung hero" of the week. The jury didn't quite vote the way I would have but they didn't do too bad. I got to hang out with them again during their breaks today and they all reiterated that they were sad I wasn't with them. One lady said, "It feels like part of our family is missing."

Before every lunch break and before we left for the day this week, the judge had to read a prewritten reminder that we were not to discuss this case with anyone...etc,etc. Today after the trial he said, "You now have the freedom to discuss this case with anyone and everyone you choose. Although you may be too sick of it to do so."

Who knew judges were so funny?

After the trial we came back into the courtroom to meet with the lawyers and ask them questions and they got to ask us questions about the trial. That was really neat. It's like watching a live taping of a dramatic tv show, then getting to watch the actors/actresses come out and act normal and talk freely and candidly.

My friend and I were the last to leave the room and got stuck talking to the plaintiff. He wanted some input from both of us about the trial. I was nervous, of course. But I thought I was out of the woods because he was asking a lot about what went on during deliberations. He then turned to me and asked which side I was leaning more toward.

I got flustered because I had to confess to this man who worked so hard trying to plead his case, that I was actually leaning more toward the defendants' side.

The judge asked me that same question when we left the courtroom (he hadn't been in there when the lawyer asked me). At first I thought he was joking. I said, "Do you really want to know?". He said, "Not if you don't want to tell me." I told him what I told the lawyer. It felt kinda cool that they were asking my opinion on the already decided matter...simply out of curiosity.

So that's it. My week is over. And you all are probably glad my long drawn out posts about the days' events are over. My regularly scheduled blog about my endearing children and their sometimes bizarre behavior will continue henceforth.

I will leave you with this final thought from our judge. He always shakes the hands of each juror after trials and thanks them for their service. He said he will never forget shaking hands with a man who gripped back tightly and said, "Sir, I served in the Korean War. I fought for this right. It was my privilege to be here this week."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jury Duty: Day 4

Bound to happen. I am starting to talk like a lawyer.

Reese was explaining something to me today that happened at school and why she didn't have music class today.

This was how I responded, "So what you're saying is, your music teacher was on a field trip so that's why there was no music class today?".

And when the girls didn't get to bed on time because they were goofing around in their room I busted in and said, "Isn't it true that your bedtime was 30 minutes ago when in fact you are still up playing around and will now be suffering the consequences of your actions?".

I've decided on a career change this week. I want to be a bailiff. We have the cutest, sweetest, little bailiff. I was shocked that she wasn't a 6 foot tall bald man wearing a blue uniform and carrying a beating stick. She escorts us to and from the courtroom and provides all our snacks throughout the day including a neverending bowl of snickers and life savers.

David makes fun of me because I always want to run out and change job occupations after encountering someone neat like that, or seeing it on a movie. For instance, I wanted to be a hotel maid after seeing Maid in Manhattan. I wanted to be a Coyote bar tender after seeing Coyote Ugly. The list goes on and on.

We heard closing arguments today. Compelling. Dramatic. Very Cool.

The bailiff sat me on a bench outside the court room while she locked up the rest of the jury to begin deliberations. I had just sat back to relax when the judge came out and called me back into the courtroom.

What in the world?

He basically apologized that I had to be the alternate and explained a little about how that worked. He said I could either come in tomorrow, or just be available by phone in case one of the jurors didn't show or got ill. I chose to come back in because (1)if they did end up calling me in, it would take an hour for me to get there since my mom lives 45 minutes away and (2) I wanted to be there to hear the verdict for this trial I spent a week of my life being a part of.

I saw a few folks in handcuffs and striped outfits today at the courthouse and thought, "How sad, what poor life choices they made" which was a bit prejudiced since they hadn't been tried yet. But as I left the courthouse, I saw a happy bride-to-be beaming while her family took her picture on the steps, which was all it took to lighten my mood once again.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jury Duty: Day 3

It's official.

These 12 strangers I encountered on Monday, who initially averted eye contact with each other in our holding room, are my friends. My buddies. My compadres.

We eat lunch together, we take breaks together, we have figured out each others' family dynamics and job occupations, and are enjoying each others' company. We all have to be here, so we might as well make the best of it.

Everyone is friendly. But I would say my two "best friends" of the week are a girl who is close to my age and of course, my white noise buddy. I confessed today that it takes me a bit to warm up to people and feel comfortable around them. In addition, once I have developed a "relationship" with someone, it is hard for me to say good-bye. And I know that's what we'll all be doing on Friday. Sappy, I know. For crying out loud...it's just Jury Duty. But that's how I roll.

We got to hear from some more witnesses today. And let me tell you...if law terms and explanations aren't boring enough, enter "the deposition". If the witness can't be there in person, someone READS ALOUD their testimony. The last grueling hour of our day was spent listening to two lawyers READ ALOUD from a sheet of paper. They actually did better than I expected. The defense lawyer did really well and read his questions with the same enthusiasm as he asks his questions in real life.

I pondered hiring myself out as a deposition reader in court cases. I could probably pull it off rather well. I bet I could well up with real tears at the appropriate times to make the testimony more believable.

One of the questions my white noise buddy asked today was, "So, what's your favorite color?". Easy enough question.

"Well, I tell my kids it's purple. But it's really grey. I would never wear something purple so I don't consider it my true favorite color. But I do like to wear the color grey. However, my kids think someone's favorite color has to be in the rainbow so that's why I picked purple."

Yeah, he told me I was psycho. For real. He said purple has actually been proven to be the favorite color of psychotic people.

My new friends are starting to really feel bad for me that I won't get to deliberate with them at the end of all this. They have assured me they will call me or let me know everything that goes on in that room.

Even the security guards at the front of the courthouse are our little buddies. They are always very friendly, bidding us farewell when we leave for lunch and calling out, "See you in the morning" when we leave for the day. I hope I don't forget to take my necklace off one morning and set off the alarm again causing one of my newfound acquaintances to have to tackle me in the hallway. That would be awkward.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jury Duty: Day 2

Whew. Two days down. Three more to go.

I think one of the highlights of today was that the other jurors actually learned my name. No more being referred to as "the alternate".

It is safe to say I am officially personally involved in this case. I sit there and hear the same names repeated over...and over...and over again. And I was sitting on the edge of my seat each time the Plaintiff brought in a new witness. It felt satisfying to finally put a face with the name that's been drilled into my head and hear their testimony.

Each time the counsel approaches the bench, the judge simply looks over our direction and says, "White Noise". This is our cue to talk amongst ourselves. We are not supposed to listen to what they are talking about up there but JOCO courthouse isn't fancy enough to have an actual white noise machine like the big league courts so the judge explained we would have to make our own.

So how panicked was I when I was forced to turn to a total stranger and strike up a conversation out of the blue? Thankfully the man next to me simply asked, "So, what do you do?". I won't go into how this questions annoys me...looking at someone's employment to define who they are. But I answered him cordially.

The next time the counsel approached the bench the same juror turned to me again and said, "Your turn".

"Umm..." I stammered nerdily. "I'm not really a big talker." Thankfully the discussions at the bench were quick and I was off the hook. I kicked myself for being a dork and figured that would be the last time he turned to me.

Nope. EVERY time we had to make "white noise" he turned to me! I am proud to say I sucked it up and actually started talking to this man I had just met. Asking him questions about himself, discussing myself and my family candidly, and, dare I say, actually throwing in some wit and candor appropriately. I was quite pleased with myself.

I officially came out of my self imposed social shell today. And it only took 32 1/2 years.

Each time we leave the courtroom for break, the baliff opens the door for us from the other side and leads us out. I am the first in line to leave the courtroom. Once today, I reached the door a split second before she did and I stood there dutifully waiting for it to be opened. My newfound conversation buddy asked sarcastically, "Are we not even allowed to open our own door?".

"I don't know," I said.

"Well, you looked like you knew what you were doing," he explained.

"Ummm....no, I just didn't want to get yelled at by the judge."

During another break, the baliff wasn't there at all to open the door so I boldly opened it and out we shuffled. We passed right by her office on the way to our holding room and she let out a little gasp as she saw us pass by. The same man who mocked me for not opening it before, was quick to point his finger straight at me and say, "It's her fault. We just followed her."

Gee...thanks.

The afternoon questioning got a little tedious. But with less than 30 minutes left for the day...things heated up. We all sat up a little bit straighter in our seats. Hostilities were rampant. It was just like when a TV show ends on a cliff hanger to ensure you will watch the next episode.

I can't wait to go back in the morning...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Jury Duty: Day 1

I was going to wait 'til the end of the week to post my experience but that would be one loooooonnnnnggggg post so I thought I would break it up day by day.

So, first lesson here: Be careful what you wish for.

My last jury summons was when I was in college. My permanent residence was still Leavenworth, yet I was 3 hours away in Southern Missouri. So I was excused from appearing at that time.

Little did I know thirteen years would go by before I got another summons. Jury Duty has always intrigued me. It is an experience most people have had and I was curious. The last thing most people want to get in the mail is a jury summons and I couldn't understand why.

So I showed up today totally not knowing what to expect. There were a bazillion people gathered in the "holding room". (Ok, more like 200 people). I was already feeling anxious because I had to park in a parking garage. I hate parking garages. I have convinced myself that Kansas will suffer a catastrophic earthquake at the precise moment I am in a parking garage. And this thought disturbs me.

There were so many things I had running through my head that I wanted to put on here but I didn't think the judge would appreciate me calling a recess just to work on my blog. I will try to keep my summary as brief as possible...which is more than I can say for the witness who took the stand today. Geez.

Basically I was moved to a courtroom with about 35 people. While the judge was going through reasons why people thought they should be excused (no childcare, wife is 9 1/2 months pregnant...etc) one grandma raised her hand and said her son had the flu, his wife was out of town, and they needed her to help take care of their two small kids.

Shortly after that we had a break. When we came back into the courtroom the judge made this announcement, "You all can rest assured...I dismissed the lady who stated her son had the flu. As soon as she said that I could see all of you squirming uncomfortably in your seats and knew your minds would not be on the case at hand after hearing that. So she's gone. And she assured me she has not been in contact with her son since his diagnosis".

Great. I could check DO NOT CONTRACT SWINE FLU off my list for the day.

They drew 21 random names out of a box. I was the 20th name called. So I was on the front row, about a foot from where the lawyers were sitting. (Another anxiety producing situation for me). They went through their questions. I only raised my hand on a few. Then they called out the names of the ones who were dismissed. My name was not called. The judge then instructed us where to sit and I discovered that I was the alternate juror. (More on this to come). The judge looked directly at me and said, "Miss Hollaway, I will be sure you have a more comfortable chair when you return". WOW! He already knew my name...and he was concerned for my comfort...how cool was that?

Sure enough, after our next break, there was a more comfy chair waiting for me. I am getting a big head this week because each time the jury enters the courtroom everybody has to stand for us. Totally. Awesome.

No time was wasted. When we came back in as a group and sat down the trial started! I didn't even have time to call my mom or David to tell them I was picked.

So back to the "alternate juror" deal. I have decided that it is both cool...and not so cool. It's not so cool because I have to sit through this entire trial, taking diligent notes, yet get no say whatsoever in the outcome. Not to mention the other jurors refer to me simply as "the alternate" like I am a big loser.

However, it's also a cool gig because I could totally see myself being the only person to disagree with everyone else when it came time to reach a verdict. And I wouldn't have a strong enough personality to plead my case and defend my views in that situation so I would probably just say, "Whatever you guys think".

I did discover that in a civil case, the decision doesn't have to be unanimous so I may have been ok anyway. (I am actually learning a lot about law and the judicial system as a bonus along the way).

The kids are kind of confused about why I have to be gone all week. I tried to explain to Reese that I was going to court to see if I would be picked to decide if other people had misbehaved or not. When I returned home with my large button saying JUROR in bright blue letters she excitedly said, "You got it!!" like I had just won a huge prize.

I have decided that jury duty is as much fun to me for people watching as airports are. I love watching the dynamics of strangers all coming together and slowly start interacting with those around them.

To wrap this up here are just a few observations I've had my first day:

- The court reporter can continue typing even with her eyes half closed

- Jury selection felt a little bit like grade school kickball team selection

- I have been working on my nonexistent poker face for the lawyers and their clients who stare at us the entire time trying to read our reactions to whomever is on the stand

Friday, May 01, 2009

Little Man of the House

Every morning Tate sits up sleepily in bed (he has been making the trek over to our bed between 2-4am) and looks over to where David should be. "Where'd Daddy go?" is his routine question.

"Daddy's at work" is my routine answer.

This answer appeases him and he shoves his thumb back in his mouth and snuggles closer to me.

David had to go out of town overnight last night. The kids and I were hanging out before bed on the couch and I realized that David's absence hadn't seemed to phase Tate all evening.

So I decided to turn the tables on the little guy. "Tate, where'd Daddy go?" I asked him to see what he would say.

"Daddy at work" Tate explained.

I put on a sad face and pretended to be upset that David wasn't there.

Tate looked concerned for me and patted my leg and said comfortingly, "Mommy...it's ok. Tate here."

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