Life’s not fair, but…

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Orange was the color this year. I always make everyone wear the same color shirt when we go to the Fair, which James says is hopelessly hoky and homeschooler-ish – which I know – but! I ask you: have we ever lost anyone during our annual visit? We have not!

I rest my hoky, homeschooler-ish case.

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Last year for the Bird Show, first year for the rebuilt Big Tex Behind us. Always something. Some friends of ours used to tell their kids when they would complain about life not being fair: “the Fair only comes once a year!”

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Great year. – Katie

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Last Bird Show

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At the Fair we attended the Bird Show. I have seen the Bird Show at the Fair for as long as I can remember. This was the 25 year anniversary, and it was announced that this is the LAST year it will be at the Texas State Fair.

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Our day there was cool and cloudy, and right in the middle of the show, just as some sort of large brown owl had dive-bombed the middle rows, there was a sudden chilly shower. 90% of the watchers jumped up and crowded under the trees at the side of the stadium, but all of us just whipped on our hoods and nudged a little closer together. Those raindrops were pretty biting! And only lasted 5 minutes. Go figure.

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Owls and girls.

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Our cat Smoky can make his face look EXACTLY LIKE THAT. The predator look. Those moonlike eyes hypnotize you a little – in a profound, secret wisdom kind of way – until it occurs to you that they may be wondering what you taste like.

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Helen got to give a dollar to the newly trained crow. Environmental virtue from the hands and beaks of babes.

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And this charming bird was called a Harpy Eagle. Possibly because “Soulless Zombie Bird” wasn’t available to the naming committee.  IMG_1224

It seems sad to me they won’t be able to keep seeing the show year after year like I have. James, on the other hand, finds the Bird Show boring and says he won’t miss it a bit. To each his own. – Katie

Your choice

 

 

 

This year’s Fair was made really special by a gift from some kind friends. They generously gave us a sizeable amount of leftover coupons (the kind you use instead of money at entertainment events) and this put us in an unusual situation. James and I became the parents who say YES. Not a normal pastor’s family state! Normally we’re the “No, its too expensive” people, and the “Well, save your money and maybe you can…” folks.

Not this time, baby! We gave every Jarrett kid a whole fistfull of coupons, cued the spaghetti Western soundtrack (woo-too-woo-too-woooooo….waa, waa, WAAAA and Clint Eastwood, wearing his poncho, stalks out under the desert sun…), and took them to the Midway. The Heart of Darkness! And said, buy whatever you want.

Of course, it took them a while to soak in the meaning of such strange words coming out of our mouths. But, I tell you, when they got the message there was no holding them back. Sometimes you just gotta paint the town red.

 

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Abbey scoped out the whole Midway with an, “I’d rather be reading a book” expression and chose the mildest fun house possible. She traversed the place with a skeptical expression and announced afterwards that rides may not be her thing.

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Rob, who is a sandbagger, copped a free trip through the funhouse by going in with her and looking cute. Or something. He was trying to show her how to have a good time.

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Rob is someone who knows how to have a good time. He stretched his coupons out to FOUR rides, not including his free tag-on through Abbey’s house. He also chugged a Coke and a Push-up Pop as fuel for the demanding Fun he was having. His last coupons were spent at the house of Wonders where you could see a two-headed turtle, a two-headed monkey, a real mermaid, an albino alligator, and other Amazing Wonders of the Exotic World. When we asked him afterward how many of those things were real, he assured us that ALL of them were (!), although the two-headed monkey was just a skeleton, not a live monkey; the turtle was real because you could see a head coming out of both ends, and the mermaid looked chewed, like bits of her had fallen off (?).

Being a person hugely susceptible to a good story myself, may I just say I am proud to have given birth to a boy who cannot resist seeing the two-headed turtle and the mermaid in the House of Wonders.

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James told me later (he took the kids around the Midway while I used MY coupons elsewhere), that Amos and Corrie were very quiet and watchful, and had to walk ALL OVER the Midway before they could decide how to use their coupons. Amos eyed several things and finally worked up the courage to try the world’s tallest slide.

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Look at his face! James told me Amos had to walk up 5 flights of stairs and he was nervous that our 6-year-old would chicken out right up at the top, but he DID it. And flew down the worlds longest slide with the worlds most charmed grin.

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The rest of his coupons were swapped for $5 of greenbacks that he spent on a large, green, annoying, 3′ plastic blow-up baseball bat adorned with pictures of SpongeBob and other dubious sea creatures. He had a fantastic time whapping all of us when we weren’t expecting it as we walked around the rest of the fair.

Corrie was nervous about going on a ride herself, so she paid for Rob to accompany her into one of the fun houses. (How does he do it?) She came out covered in bubbles!

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And purchased her VERY OWN BAG of cotton candy. None of our children have EVER eaten an item of Fair food that they didn’t have to share – normally you get 1/7th of the treat and your share is always lumpy or missing the cheese or lacking enough icing. But not this time!

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Look at that sweetie! She asked, and paid, and ate nearly the whole bag like a real, independent human being. That girl has a lot to teach me.

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James and I had given most of the coupons to the kids, but there were enough for him to have a Fletchers corny dog and a beer. I spent my coupons at the butterfly house, which was breathtaking. I left the camera with him, so my adventures are visually unrecorded. Helen came and admired the butterflies with me.

As a side note, the price of admission for the butterfly house also got you a tour of the snake house. Hmm. And, I kid you not, almost every snake cage had a white mouse quivering with fear in the corner. About the third cage Helen said, “That snake will be surprised when the mouse bites him!”

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After the coupons were spent, there was still a good bit of running around to do. And much sneaky whapping with the SpongeBob Bat.

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Abbey spent her last ones on a chocolate-dipped frozen banana.

Do you know how much fun it is to be the people who say YES?! You should TRY it sometime! – Katie

Texas State Fair, 2013

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Last Friday we went to the Texas State Fair. (The Fair! We LOVE the Fair!)

On our way there we always walk by one particular art gallery that has a parrot in the window. One year he was casually shelling peanuts with his beak and one claw in a sinister manner, and last year he was sleeping. We were glad to get a peek of his baleful eye.

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We approach the Fair entrance walking south on Exposition Street and crossing the Dart tracks. You can smell the corny dog grease from two blocks away! Since we usually go towards the end of the last week, the grease has had plenty of time to thicken and stew, getting ever more murky with the residue of fried things. You have to wonder what those fry-kettles look like after three weeks of artery-clogging traditional Fletcher’s goodness.

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Lunch upon arrival. This year we brought a Chipotle burrito and two quesidillas to share, with Dove Promise chocolate squares for dessert. Even if you treat yourself to fast food, taking in your own lunch is a lot cheaper than chowing down ONLY on Fair offerings. Abbey and Corrie read the inspirational sayings on the wrappers religiously, asking me what things like “Relax and celebrate the moment” mean.

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A couple of the avenues have installations of art. This photo is for our Aunt Helen, who loves to do puzzles.

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The very last thing we do on the way out is the automobile buildings. Watched with irritation by the bored employees, the kids climb in and out and over the many shiny vehicles on display, joining hords of other cotton-candy fueled kids doing the same thing.

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I’ll save an explanation of the green bat for the next post. – Katie

Violin case condiminium

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Following dinner, the children are supposed to practice their instruments while Mommy cleans up the kitchen. This is a complex scenario: water, grease, mounds of dirty dishes, caterwauling violins, honking clarinet, and at least two small people running madly in a loop.  Mothers more experienced than I have told me that the only way to survive the mess is to embrace the mess. Lucky me: there is a lot of mess to embrace.

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Every once in a while someone nearly makes Mommy faint with joy by finding something productive or quiet to do during the 30 post-dinner minutes it takes to get through music. Imagine my thrill when I found Helen making a house for her animal shapes out of Corrie’s violin case. Several crayons, a rubber band, and a chin rest were also involved.

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(Looking at the picture of course leads the musical among us to ask: Why was Corrie not using her bow? And I reply intelligently: I have no idea. Somewhere Shin’ichi Suzuki is turning over in his grave. – Katie

Car Life

Abbey is teaching Robby to crochet in the car on the way to school. He can only make a chain, but you can make a lot of chain in the 45 minutes it takes to go from Forney to East Dallas. The car is like a microcosm of family life.

We pass a man pushing a baby stroller around the park who is wearing an untucked shirt that has the words “Be Kind” written over his behind. Interesting place to write a message. Good message, though.

Amos works painfully away at a beginning reader entitled “Snow”, enduring the 10 minutes he is required to shovel away at the mountain of learning to read. “Snahwflaaak. Snohfle – snowflake. Snowflakes groowah, snowflakes jroh, snowflakes grow lasher, snowflakes grow lath, Mommy? What is L-A-R-G-E-R?

Me: “Larger. Snowflakes grow larger.”

Amos. Deep sigh. “Has it been 10 minutes yet?”

Me. “No. Read.”

Some of us are better at ignoring distractions than others and at least Amos has not brought his Kazoo this time.  – Katie