The Kozel Family

The Kozel Family

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mrs. Wilson and an Unexpected Funnel Cake

On Saturday we went to visit June Wilson.  Mrs. Wilson has been our next door neighbor since we moved into this house, before both of you were born.  She was raised on a farm in Hublersburg, married a farmer, and raised her two children on a farm at the foot of the mountain right behind our house.  She lived there for 55 years and then moved to this house, as her husband was sick and couldn't do stairs anymore.  He died before you were born--I never met him.

Mrs. Wilson is amazing.  I used to try to "help" her with things.  She had this gigantic, heavy cauldron that she used to bring out to her front landscaping every spring.  I, of course, didn't want someone in her late 70s trying to lug that around all by herself, so I offered my assistance.  As we began to move it, I realized that it was WAY too heavy for me, even with full effort involved.  So Mrs. Wilson lugged it to the front of the house by herself, and I learned not to underestimate a small woman with large muscles.

She has told me so many stories.  She once killed a groundhog with a shovel and her bare hands.  She got kicked by a cow years ago and it broke her ankle--that's why she's always walked with that little limp.  She is the youngest of 10 children.  Her sister was her teacher in a one room schoolhouse in Hublersburg.  Mrs.Wilson told me that if she and her classmates were well-behaved all week, her sister would give each of them one piece of candy on Friday.  She said her sister always treated her like just another pupil while they were in school.  Mrs. Wilson always won the family corn-eating contests.  I'm almost positive that she said she ate 20 ears in one sitting.  

Wyatt, you always loved going next door to see Mrs. Wilson.  She had a butter churner that cranked, wind chimes in the sunroom, a cow flashlight, and (your favorite) a red, white, and blue bouncy ball that to you was more special than any other ball on the planet.  When you were a toddler, you two spent lots of time bouncing that ball to each other.  You knew right where she kept it--on a small table in her dining area--and you would disappear inside the house and return with it almost every visit.  I think she loved having someone enjoying her house and company in that "full contact" way you do so well.

This spring, Mrs. Wilson was moved to an assisted living home in Dillsburg, PA.  She was getting forgetful and needed a little extra help to stay healthy.  We've visited her several times.  Her room is filled with cows and pictures of relatives, us, and the farm.  It's about a two hour drive, and with Lily being little and angry about her carseat and Wyatt getting a cold, we hadn't seen Mrs. Wilson since August.  So on Saturday while Daddy hunted, the three of us drove over to Dillsburg.

When we got there, we saw a jazz band setting up in the front lawn.  There were food concessions and a huge bouncy house as well.  We had inadvertently stumbled upon the facility's annual Harvest Festival!  After visiting with Mrs. Wilson in her room for a bit and eating lunch with her in the dining room (Wyatt, you had Oreo pudding that you loved!), we all headed outside to the festival.  The first activity was a hayride.  It was so great to sit on that wagon with you two kids and Mrs. Wilson.  I'm sure that's the first hayride she's been on in a looooong time!  She said it was a "straw ride."  I'm sure she knows the difference, being an official farmer.  I just knew that it was a gorgeous, warm, and sunny day and I was filled with joy.

After the hayride, Wyatt played pin the nose on the scarecrow.  Then we sat down and listened to some old jazz standards while enjoying a funnel cake.  Mrs. Wilson tried the funnel cake, but was not impressed, so Wyatt and I housed it.  Sorry, Lily.  None of that for you, yet!  Wyatt got his face painted (he chose a football) and he and Mrs. Wilson pulled suckers off of the lollipop tree.  They both won prizes out of the green bin, and Wyatt made sure to choose the red four-wheeler toy.  It was identical to Mrs. Wilson's prize.  She's going to keep her four-wheeler in her room so Wyatt can play with it during our next visit.

I'm kicking myself because I didn't bring my camera.  Here are a few pictures of Mrs. Wilson and us through the years, though:
This was at her 80th birthday party.  Wyatt, you were so little!   Daddy had just broken his collarbone in a dirt bike accident. 

Mrs. Wilson's front yard at her party.  We put 80 cows in it!

Wyatt, we took annual pictures of you and Mrs. Wilson at Halloween.  You are 1 in this photo.
Two years old, with Bella
Three years old
Four years old

 This was the first year that she wasn't in the neighborhood for Halloween.  I was sad.

Lily meeting Mrs. Wilson in August.  During that visit, Lily, you just wanted to be with me.  At our visit on Saturday, you were much happier.  You smiled and babbled at Mrs. Wilson and made her day.

Full contact visiting!  We love you, Mrs. Wilson!  xxx  ooo

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Series of Almosts

We are swimming in a sea of "almosts."

You can almost sit up on your own.  Just last week you really started to get the hang of it.  You are strong enough now that you don't automatically fold in half (although you still do this when you are interested in a little toe-munching).  You haven't mastered the head/body separation yet.  If you look up, you fall back.  If you look the the side, you're going down.  I left you propped in your Boppy while I got a drink and while I was pouring it (about 10 feet away) I heard a very angry, somewhat smothered cry.  I walked back over to find that you had keeled over with your pelvis on top of the Boppy and your face smooshed into the carpet.  I'd like to say that I was a good mother and did not chuckle at your predicament, but alas, it was just too funny.

You can also almost drink successfully from a straw.  This is Day 3 of the official How-Do-We-Get-Lily-To-Drink-When-She-Refuses-All-Bottles Project (HDWGLTDWSRABP, for short), and I'm seeing major improvements in the straw campaign.  Sippy cups were a total bust, but you seem to like the straw.  You usually chew on it for a while saying, "Rah, rah, rah, rah!" and then you actually take a drink.  Most of the time you even swallow!  This project, if successful, will hopefully alleviate some of your separation issues from me.  I love you to pieces, you are a joy in my life, but I'd like for others to enjoy you as well. If you know you won't starve you might be more likely to make some new friends.  Like Daddy. 

Speaking of Daddy, you can almost spend time with him without being miserable.  This week you've increased your Daddy-time dramatically, from an average of 30 seconds to 10 minutes or more!  I hope this continues, because he loves you so much and wants to be able to hold you.  We got home from your brother's PTO meeting tonight and I sat you on Daddy's tummy in bed while I got your pj's.  When I came back into the room, he was talking to you and you were cracking up!  I can't tell you how happy it made me to hear your little giggle and know that you were enjoying this time with your father.  He used to think you cried 99% of your life.  That wasn't true, but you DID cry 99% of the time anyone held you but me!  I'd say we're at about 85% non-mom crying time at this point.  Maybe next week we'll be at 80%!


It is almost time to go on our trip to Philadelphia.  You ask me about it every day.  You told me today that you are excited to learn new things about Philadelphia and you can't wait to see the Liberty Bell.  I think you are most excited to swim in the hotel pool, though!  I'm looking forward to seeing your face as you experience firsthand all of the cool Philadelphia facts we've been reading about. I think we know at least as much about the Liberty Bell as anyone! 

You can almost cross your eyes.  You've been working on it for about a week or so.  You tend to look up and to the left as you say, "Am I doing it? Am I doing it?"  We've had the most success when you stare at my finger as it slowly gets closer to your nose.    

Trick-or-Treat was nice.  Lily had to stay home with Grandma due to a cold. We made it almost around the whole neighborhood before Grandma had to call me. It seems that Lily began greeting our trick-or-treaters with screaming and tears (see the 85% discussion above), so I had to come to the rescue.

Wyatt's design, Daddy's knife skills

Our little Pumpkin.  Your legs look so LONG!

You make me smile every day! 

Happy with Grandma (for now)

Treats from Melissa and Tony

A chicken, a gorilla, and a hot dog.  You don't see that one every day.


The loot!  For each piece of candy you kept, I asked you to give one piece away.  Initially I tried to make the ratio 1:4, but you flipped out and said that the "other person" would have WAY more candy than you.  I caved.  We gave the other half of your candy to Daddy's work.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween Parade and ThrillerFest

Friday, October 28th was another busy day.  We started off at Wyatt's elementary for his Halloween parade.  I should have taken a picture of the cars--it must have been the social event of the season!  After waiting and waiting, we finally saw Wyatt walk by.

Lily, you looked cute but you were tired.  It was chilly.

After Wyatt got home from school and we ran a few errands we went to ThrillerFest, not knowing much about it.  Our only info was that at 8pm a bunch of people were going to do the "thriller dance" and that there might be stuff for kids to do before that.  It turns out that this was a benefit for the local fire company.  The ambiance was lacking, as it was in a well-lit gymnasium.  I kind of thought they would dim the lights and maybe even put up some spooky decor.  We still had an okay time.

Wyatt, you are being transformed into a vampire.  I don't think you even blinked the entire time she was working.
The finished product.

They had two bounce houses set up and you didn't want to go on either one.  Then someone deflated the cooler one and you decided you should go ahead and play before the other one went down.

 Lily was having a crabby day...I think it was the beginning of her cold.  I was hesitant to even take her here but amazingly, she has a fabulous time.  Grandma and I think it was all of the music playing.
There was a magician there that did card tricks, juggled, and made balloon animals.  Wyatt was very impressed.   Wyatt picked a sword and then went back again to get a hat.  Luckily the man had given him several balloon options beforehand to choose from. The last time someone asked Wyatt what balloon animal he wanted, he answered, "An earwig."  He got a dog.

Grandma the Conqueror modeling Wyatt's balloons and carrying EVERYTHING
During the festivities, there were little games and activities run by the emcee.  At one point she announced that someone was going to do a dance. Here is a snippet of what we saw:

I know, I know.  It's sideways.  I guess I can't film vertically with my camera.  I still had to share this so we wouldn't forget it.  Holy moly.

Finally, at 8pm, it was Thriller Time!   Members of the PSU dance team and other local commoners attended workshops to learn the dance. Ike the Spike, our minor league baseball team mascot joined the dancers also.  The head dancer who ran the workshops stated that even with two left feet, anyone could master the Thriller dance in one hour.   Here are the results:

I was mesmerized.  Lily kicked so much that I had a hard time keeping the video steady.  She was pumped up!

After the dance, Wyatt went up to meet Ike.  They waved to each other and then Wyatt stood there staring at him for a few moments.  Apparently to break the tension, Ike gave Wyatt a thumbs up.  Wyatt reciprocated, and then continued the staring contest.  Finally, Wyatt just shrugged his shoulders.  The whole exchange was some awkward craziness that I found to be hilarious! 

After a long day, we finally headed home.   This picture sums it up well.

Thank you, my darling kids.  Without you, I would never go to crazy and odd things in the name of "family fun."