The Road to Omaha

Next to the Omaha zoo is Rosenblatt Stadium: home of the NCAA Men’s College World Series. In front of the stadium is a sculpture called “The Road to Omaha” which depicts cheering young men who are, apparently, happy about progressing to this event.

My children pose with the victorious team.

I wonder if I’ll get get to go to Omaha to see one of my own boys play? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Here are Billy and Katie. Maybe Katie will go to the Women’s College World Series which is held in Oklahoma City. We almost went to Oklahoma City instead of Omaha last weekend.

This great shot was taken by a friend. My little slugger.

Fritz loves to pitch. He’s not bad either. He actually can throw strikes, much of the time.

This picture is for my mother-in-law. My husband’s side of the family has a genetic defect that has them all stick out their tongue when they’re concentrating. I do not do this. My husband does it. All my kids do it. Bizarre.

Baseball is over. Piano is over. I opted to wait until we move to do swimming lessons. We finished the California Achievement Tests today (!!!!!). We seem to have all sorts of appointments for doctors, dentists and orthodontists over the next week or so, but that’s it. Two weeks from tomorrow, I’ll be homeless again.

Dear Large Corporation,

I know you think having a computer voice pretend to be a live receptionist seems like a good idea. I know you think that it would be so much easier for a customer to say “cancel account” and then say “345652345” when prompted for an account number instead of pressing all those numbers. But you failed to consider my home.

My home is never quiet. It’s not that it’s really noisy, but there is almost always background noise. Right now I have an infant gurgling on the floor next to me. She’s not crying or upset. She’s not even screeching for joy. She’s just practicing her vocalizations and exploring her range.

Unfortunately, she’s just loud enough that even if I cover the mouthpiece of the phone and turn away, your automated system is unable to block out the sound of her. Your computer keeps interrupting me and asking me if I would please repeat the same information over and over again. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you,” I hear. Of course not. I can’t understand the baby either.

Please consider a dual system where the customer has a choice. I understand that speaking might be preferred for some people, but it’s just not working for me.

Road trips

The past two weekends have found my family traveling.

First we went to Topeka. The 90 minute drive was fine, but two of my children proved to be unable or unwilling to settle down to sleep in a strange environment. Lack of sleep the first night only made for worse behavior the next day and night. Fortunately, we were at a retreat and we could simply deposit the little darlings in childcare and deal with them later. The retreat itself was great, if only for the ability to speak without interruption for the vast bulk of the day.

We had barely recovered from that adventure when we set out for Omaha – a three hour drive that basically followed the Missouri River. I had hoped that in the last year Jenny would have matured enough that a long car ride would not be too too bad. I still hope that it was the less than stellar movie selection that had her moaning the whole way. Peter was not much better.

And the baby…oh, the baby…

This happy baby is not the same baby that was in the car.

I am not looking forward to our drive back East which will be upon us in a few short weeks. I don’t know how I’ll be able to do it.

We only stayed in Omaha for about 24 hours. We didn’t get to do a whole lot. Bill and I have resigned ourselves to lowered expectations when traveling with small children. We’re not happy about it, but we accept it.

The first stop was the Henry-Doorly Zoo. We could have spent more than the four hours we did spend there, but they were starting to lock up.

I feel like this mama lion. Kids are always on top of me.

At the monkeys, we saw a baby monkey pestering his mom. Not only was she yelling at him, she was throwing him off her back and stiff-arming him when he got near. She had my sympathies.

At the zoo, we employed the buddy system. Guess who was my buddy?

I found this picture taken by my father when we visited the Jesse James farm in November last year. We used the buddy system then, too. This is not a cropped picture. My dad likes his grandkids better.

On Sunday, I opted for a later Mass so we could eat a decent breakfast. To kill time in between, we went to two parks they have in downtown Omaha. I do not recommend taking children to a park before Mass. By the time we made it to church, they were filthy and had grass stains on their slacks.

After lunch we went to the Children’s Museum, which was free, since we have a membership to Science City in Kansas City. We had a blast at the Children’s Museum.
They had a firetruck. Petey liked the firetruck.
The best thing about having a younger brother is having an excuse to play on a firetruck.
Katie enjoyed the arts and crafts room.
As did Jenny.
The best room was the ball room where there were all sorts of ways to get little plastic balls around the room – pulleys, conveyors, pumps, air pressure. Balls would roll down tracks, shoot through the air like bullets, twist through mazes, roll down slopes. The room was a beehive of activity with everyone working to move balls around. More than one activity could not be easily done by one person, so teams of kids had to work together to move the balls around. Here, Billy stomps on a pedal which shoots air into a tube to move balls. Hard to explain…but very cool.

Should we have the opportunity to pass this way again, Omaha is on our list of “do-agains” – places where we’d enjoy spending a bit more time. I asked Bill if he had warmed up any toward this middle-of-the-country living we’ve been doing for nearly a year now. He doesn’t mind the Midwest much. But he still hasn’t gotten comfortable with the thought that he could drive a hundred miles and be in the middle of nowhere. In Jersey, you drive and drive and drive and don’t notice much when you leave one town and enter the next. And it’s like that for pretty much the entire stretch from Boston to DC. Out here, just because the interstate has an exit doesn’t mean you’ll find anything there.


Besides the thought of my daughters placing flowers on my grave, nothing makes my mother’s heart soar more than my children enjoying each other’s company.

Fritz took this photo and the accompanying video. There’s a bit of Blair-Witch-Project-esque movement, but other than that, it’s really cute.


Tomorrow, the boys are going to the national cemetery to place flags at the headstones. I spoke with the kids about honoring the dead, and, in particular, for remembering those who fought and died for our freedoms.
As we drove by the cemetery, the kids noticed that some graves had flowers.
“Mommy, we’ll put pretty flowers on your grave,” said Jenny.
“What kind of flowers do you like best?” Katie wanted to know.
“Whatever you see that is prettiest,” I told her.
It really won’t matter to me. I’m just happy that their little hearts are already committed to making my final resting spot beautiful.

In the news

I’m no Eric Scheske, but he’s too busy to do his normal posts and my husband is in school-crunch mode and hasn’t been filling me in on headlines. I’m on my own to get gossip news about people in the greater world. Here’s what I’m reading:

Justice almost served: seven years in prison for having a slave for 6 years…now if they would routinely beat her and make her sleep on the floor, it’d be even. OK, I don’t believe they should beat her, but I hope they make her scrub toilets.

Attention, Roseville, MN residents: if you need some quick cash, the SuperAmerica gas station will give whatever they have to anyone who comes in without question. All you have to do is wear a mask. Just make sure that no other customers are around, because you never know who might interfere. The employees won’t though.

Last year, Bill had the opportunity to fall asleep on CSPAN witness several hearings for the Senate Armed Services Committee. (He only bobbed his head a few times, and after I emailed him to tell him he was sitting right behind the speaker, he perked up. The guy next to him was snoring.) The first time he saw Senator Kennedy, it took a bit for him to recognize him. He thought the man was going to keel over at any minute. When I read that his family is shocked that the man’s days are limited, I wonder if it’s dementia or habitual denial of reality.

Even though I’m a law-abiding citizen for the most part (I retain a general willingness to break laws for good reason, which I consider to be a good quality in any citizen), I think the police are intimidating. I would be naturally inclined to clam up around an interrogating cop, I think. It’s that “could be used against you” concept. Apparently parrots feel the same way. Just beware the friendly doctors who will dime you out.

Where’s the outrage? Jews burning the New Testament. Maybe we Christians should start a holy war.

I’m all for jail time for people who won’t cut their grass, but please make them serve it in the winter.

Clint Eastwood thinks Hillary should keep trying for the nomination. The article portrays him as a real nice guy. I think that advice is pretty sadistic.

So, I got fired from my preschool teaching job…

“Peter’s birthday is coming up next month,” I told the neighbor girl. “Peter, tell her how old you are going to be.”

“Five,” he says with full confidence.

“Five? No! You’re going to be three. You’re two now, but you will be three next month.”

“I two now, I be free on my birfday.”

“That’s right!”

The neighbor girl asks, “Peter, can you count? How do you count?”

Peter holds up one finger, then two, then three, then four…

I encourage him, “Count out loud, Petey. One…”

Peter says, “One…two…five!”

And that explains it.

Time with Daddy

Here on post, the Knights of Columbus host three wonderful events: a father-son pancake breakfast in the fall, a mother-son pancake breakfast around Mother’s Day, and, their most popular event, a father-daughter banquet in the spring. (Another group sponsors a mother-daughter tea in the spring.)

Bill took Katie and Jenny to the formal event that included dinner and dancing. He wrote about their evening here. This photo came in the mail a few days ago, and I just noticed that he had scanned it in.
Dancing with Jenny.
It’s a good thing he didn’t have Mary along too!

"Will you wipe my bottom?"

With two needing assistance, I hear that one a lot. Pete and I have a little routine. He patiently calls out for me. I patiently respond that I’m coming. He calls out to me again with the same volume and calm manner. I repeat that I’m coming. And we keep it up even as I’m cleaning him and flushing and washing hands and leaving the room. We both think it’s funny.

Tonight after dinner with perfect yet unrehearsed choreography, Peter placed his plate with his sliver of banana cake with cream cheese icing on my chair at the exact moment that I attempted to sit to eat my own slice. “Oh, Peter!” I said as I sprang up. I picked up a napkin and headed over to Bill who had not witnessed the domestic ballet.

“Will you wipe my bottom?” I handed him the napkin. He looked confused until I turned and revealed my cream cheese frosted derriere. Guess he never thought he’d hear that line from me.