South for the weekend

So we headed south to Ozark country this weekend to spend time with Joel, Stephanie and the kids. We needed a weekend away from The 'Ville, and it was so worth it. ... For the first time in awhile, I'm feeling completely refreshed and ready to take on the week.

When we arrived Joel had some juicy, thick teriyaki burgers and Game 7 of the World Series waiting for us. And in an instant the kids were off and running together.

* * *
Saturday morning Kates and Stephanie headed out for some shopping. ... At noon, we picked up Kates, while Stephanie went to work, and then hit a farmer's market, a Chipotle and the original Bass Pro shop, with its elaborate displays and virtual zoo. Joel suggested I take pictures of all the scenes and trick people into thinking we went to Colorado for the weekend ... So here's Phoebe petting a bear.

I would have liked to go to Joplin Saturday afternoon since our beloved 'Cats football team was playing one of their conference rivals there. I also was interested in seeing the tornado devastation for myself. But I was out-voted, and I ended up listening to the 'Cats game on the internet while lounging in a chair under the sun in the backyard. ... I stumbled on this story about the latest in Joplin tonight.

Saturday night we headed to the zoo. For some trick-or-treating among the animals. Phoebe again donned her dance-costume-that-she-thinks-is-a-princess-outfit, Sophia was Snow White, Freddie was a cowboy and the rest of us portrayed moms and dads. ... At the zoo, we arrived to the sight of a line that rivaled a line of people waiting to get Justin Bieber concert tickets. Luckily, Joel had thought ahead and had purchased a "friends" pass that not only got us in free but also bypassed the humongous line stretched from the front gates to the opposite end of the parking lot. ... We strolled through the zoo and past the light displays. The kids filled their baskets and we had a dandy time. ... We topped it off with a train ride through the zoo grounds -- and seriously, I'm positive some of those people standing in line when we entered the zoo were still standing there when we exited nearly two hours later.

* * *
We said goodbye this morning and headed back to The 'Ville. ... Although, our good-bye was marred a major Phoebe breakdown that rivaled the now infamous Homecoming crisis of last weekend.

At first, Phoebe didn't want to leave because she wanted to continue playing and she had grown attached to a couple of Sophia's dolls. That was understandable; it's nothing we haven't seen before and Phoebe always comes around. ... But this time it got worse before it got better. She was messing with a red hair band on one of the dolls, and Kates and I considered it to be Phoebe stalling. So eventually we pulled her away from the doll and tried to guide her to the door. Instead her cries grew worse to the point that she was inconsolable -- and Kates and I didn't understand why. Finally, the only thing I could do was pick her up and carry her out of the house, literally kicking and screaming. Fun times.

It wasn't until we had her buckled in her car seat and were pulling out of the driveway that, through her sobbing and near hyperventilating, Phoebe told us the red head band was a favorite one she got at her dance class. She had been trying to take it off the doll ... Kates sank in her seat. It was no wonder Phoebe was so upset. One thing's certain: The girl knows when she's right, and she knew she was right in that case.

After about five minutes of silence and watching her classic frown in the rear view mirror, I slipped on "Deer in the Headlights." As hard as she tried to squash it, a smile leaked out of her mouth and she was singing soon after.

Later, it was "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" that caught her ears. She asked me to play it again, and I obliged. ... Tonight, she sang the chorus all through her bath time, and then again as we tucked her in to bed. She's changed the words to "Hey Hey Hey ... Good night!" That's my girl.

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