Formerly the Birchfield family blog, this space has been taken over by Sydney B., hip-hop dancer, softball player, fashion designer and youngest of the Birchfield clan.

There will be an occasional note from mom when something of interest pops up, but most of the commentary/photos/drawings will be from the young mind of Sydneyboo, diva in training.

No spelling or grammar critiques, please!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lightning Strikes and Terrorists

Well, the last time I blogged, I was blissfully enjoying my newly fixed air conditioning and packing for a visit to Ohio. God must have a sense of humor, my friends, because only a few hours after I finished, lightning struck -- literally. On Monday night, 7/21/08, some storms were rolling through K-town. Kelsey had a friend over for a sleepover and they, along with Sydney, were sitting in the living room playing cards. It started to rain really hard outside, so Joe B. turned over to check the radar. Sure enough, there were 4 or 5 red blobs scooting down from Kentucky towards us. The power flickered once and we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. I was in the middle of dinner prep and was praying the power would stay on until the chicken baked.

After the power flickered, Joe decided he would mosey upstairs to turn off the computers in the office and make sure everything was turned off before the storm got close. Within 30 seconds of his ascent up the stairs, there was a BOOM and it sounded like a bomb had blown the top of the house off. I heard Joe scream, so I started calling his name. After 2 calls from me and no answer, I hollered his name again -- LOUDLY -- and he came down the stairs. He said, "I think we've been struck by lightning."

Needless to say, he was right. After much inspection, we found we had lost several thousands of dollars in electronics -- including the much beloved Wii and PS3 gaming systems -- and our air conditioner had gotten struck and was out AGAIN! Joe was in full meltdown mode. But we are now a week out and our phones are back on, Internet is hooked up. We have made trips to Target, HH Gregg, Walmart, you-name-it, to replace all of the *stuff* that got fried in the storm. Our big home computer is still on the disabled list, being re-built as we speak. Fortunately for me, the pictures that were stored on that computer were retrievable. So all is ALMOST well in the Birchfield household. Except we never did make it to Ohio to see the in-laws. Guess that will have to wait until fall...

On another note, I want to comment on something horrific that happened right here in our own backyard yesterday. A man entered a church and opened fire on a congregation during their church service, during a children's production of Annie. Two people so far have died and 7 others were hurt, some still in critical condition today. The news agencies have reported today that the man targeted this church because he "hated liberals". This church is a very open church, allowing all people -- gays, straight, whatever -- to join in their worship. They are very involved in civil rights, peace initiatives, aid for the needy and other social justice issues. They are not just a Christian church, but a church that teaches about all the different religions, stressing more the importance of SPIRITUALITY and treating all as EQUAL than a bias toward one religion or another.

This event has broken my heart. I have written a few things on here about politics, religion, etc., enough for most of you to know I am a liberal -- for lack of a better term. Liberal makes it sound like I'm an outlaw or something, and how sad in my mind that believing that treating everyone the same no matter their sexual preference or religious domination makes me a rebel. But if liberal means that I believe in the value of EVERY person and the rights of EVERY person to be treated equally, then I'm a liberal.

So this monster, this TERRORIST, did not agree with these beliefs, so he came armed to the teeth to church and shot everyone in his sight. What is happening to us that we can not even feel safe in our places of worship anymore? It isn't safe in school, at work, on the streets in our cars, in line at the post office and now it's not safe at church anymore. I don't know what to say about it all. I can't explain it to my 10 year old who wants to know why this man shot people at church.

If this man hated liberals, gays, whatever, one would assume it was because he was raised in a *Christian* conservative home. If that is the case, where does the Thou Shalt Not Kill part of the 10 commandments come into play? I don't remember getting the addendum to the document where it states "Thou Shalt Not Kill, with the exception of liberals and gays and anyone you generally don't agree with" or the part that says "Except in the name of religion." THOU SHALT NOT KILL -- ever, period. And I would add especially not in the name of religion. To kill in the name of religion, in my opinion, is the biggest insult a human being could ever make toward God, the Creator of ALL mankind, not just white, Christian, straight mankind.

For the people that experienced that horrible event yesterday, for the children that will forever be traumatized by the sounds and sights witnessed in that sanctuary, my heart aches. God help us all.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Birthday Business, Remodeling and THE HEAT!

Well, I turned the big 3-9 on July 14 and I've been spending the last week trying to ignore it. This was a big one for me. My dad died when he was 38, so I spent a lot of time this year kinda holding my breath. Don't know why the age a parent dies somehow signals something ominous for you -- His destiny is not my destiny, as I have repeated to myself for many years now -- but it does. So for 12 months I have wondered if I would meet the same fate, leaving young kids behind and never seeing my grandkids. I also spent a lot of the last year realizing just how young he really was when he died. I feel like I've got a lot of years left in me -- well, maybe not a LOT, but a few decades anyway -- to accomplish things on my To Do List.

So last Sunday night at one minute past midnight, I rolled over to face Joe and said, "I made it." I can't describe the weight that lifted from my shoulders just seeing the clock hit 12:01. I can, however, describe Joe's response as being something between a snore and a very sleepy "Happy Birthday." So much for sentimentality...

On Monday morning, the girls greeted me with hand-picked and homemade gifts. Kelsey gave me the sweetest necklace that came with a poem explaining that the necklace stood for a hug anytime I needed it, even when she wasn't there. So Sweet. Then Sydney had made a little wall hanging from wooden blocks, spelling out MOM in red and yellow. She had glued little crystal jewels all over the blocks and attached yarn to the back so I could hang it on my door. It has found a place on my laundry room door where it greets me every morning as I leave my bedroom. It is FABULOUS.

It was a very low-key birthday, pedicure gift cards from Joe, sugared peaches from Mom and a little family get-together around the pool later in the week. Earlier in the week, Tracy asked me what I was doing 10 years ago this time. I was very pregnant with Kel-Bell 10 years ago, helping Mom move into her new house and nesting in mine. I was remodeling the guest bedroom and making it a nursery. And kinda full circle, I am now in the middle of remodeling Kelsey's bedroom again, a decade later.

This past week, Joe and I also tackled some of our remodeling plans. We finished Sydney's disco room, complete with disco ball and dance floor. She loves it. Here is a link to a video we took the night we finished it. It doesn't really do the dance area justice, but you get the general idea. Syd's Disco Room

We are waiting on a couple of extras for Kelsey's room and it will be transformed from Dalmations to Horses, saddle on the wall, pink sparkly horseshoes all around the room and S'Mores, her robotic horse, showcased behind a white picket fence. I'll post pictures once it's all complete.

Funny side story -- Right in the middle of remodel time, the air conditioner decided to blow up. People, it is the HOTTEST WEEKEND OF THE YEAR! This happened Friday night. Saturday morning, the air conditioner man comes out and notifies us he can't get the part until Monday morning. We deal with it, ship the kids off to Mom's, go out for dinner and come home, hoping the temperature at night will allow us to open the windows, hit the ceiling fans and everything will be bearable. Not the case. At 9:30 Saturday night, Joe was buying a portable air conditioner at Lowe's. By 10:30 I was shipping the girls off to spend the night with Mom and Joe and I were preparing to sweat. I will say that the portable air conditioner did cool things enough to survive Saturday night, but last night was a different story. Joe and I pretty much walked the halls off and on all night trying to find a cool spot. It was so humid outside that the little air conditioner that could really just couldn't do much and so we just had to suck it up. Thank God the air conditioner man showed up this a.m. with part in hand and, I am happy to report, there is air pumping again through the house!

Well, I guess that's it folks. Nothing real exciting. Just the usual. We are heading to Ohio to see the in-laws this weekend. Things are going to be gearing up in the next month. School starts mid-August, as does Sydney's dance classes and Kel's fall softball activities. I'm sure in the midst of that there will be much material to blog about in the coming couple of months. Watch out in September, as J. starts driving and I'm sure I will have LOTS to comment on there!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tooth Fairies

Last night, after dinner, Kel started squawking for the umpteenth time this week that her tooth was REALLY loose. It was that first little molar there on her right side and it had been rocking slightly over the last couple of weeks. She kept saying she could hear roots popping and cracking when she wiggled it, but whenever I reached in for a try, I could barely move the thing. She kept insisting my fingers were just too big and that it was GOING TO FALL OUT AT ANY MOMENT!

So she badgered and badgered about trying to pull the thing out, and I finally said, "If it's that loose, get a paper towel and pull it yourself." Up to this point, I have pretty much been the tooth extractor in the house. Joe usually just sits by reading the paper, nods appropriately when they say, "Dad, it's almost out!" and then he pats them on the head and smiles when they produce the bloody thing after an hour's worth of sweat and tears. But Kel has lost a lot of teeth, so I figured if she was so worked up about it, why not let her try. In reality, I didn't believe the tooth was near ready to come out.

But after about 3 minutes in the bathroom, Kel emerged frantic holding a big ol' honkin' white piece of enamel and had a brand new gaping hole on the bottom side of her mouth. The tooth was out. Well, we wrapped up a piece of ice in a paper towel and held it in place until we got the bleeding stopped and then promptly placed the tooth in the Irish Tooth Fairy box Kel got on the day of her christening. It was given to her from family members now not in her life, people she does not even know really, but the magic of the gift still remains. So the box travels between the girls' nightstands, waiting patiently for the special nights it becomes the keeper of the treasure, the place where the Tooth Fairy comes to reward sleeping children for their bravery.

After we got the tooth all settled into its box and went on with our evening, Syd came out of the bathroom, top tooth in hand, gaping hole to the left of her face. She, never one to be far from the spotlight, had also pulled her loose tooth. I can just imagine how feverishly she must have been working in the bathroom to get that wiggly little thing out of her head! She would not be outdone by her big sister tonight.

So began the dilemma. Who would get the Tooth Fairy box? In my opinion, it is first come, first serve. So we decided to leave Kel's tooth in the box and we used a crude piece of pottery Syd had made on some children's pottery wheel she had gotten for Christmas. It sorta looks like a volcano. I think she tried to carve her name into it at one point, but it really looks more like the word *syrup* or something close to it. If you were really near-sighted and were standing about 150 feet away, drunk and really tired, you MIGHT think it said Sydney. I won't rule it out. I digress...

So we plopped Syd's top tooth in the volcano, placed it gently on the nightstand and went on about the night. After watching an episode of Nashville Star, playing an hour's worth of bedtime round-up and finally getting the girls settled in with glasses of water and kisses on the cheek, the house began to get quiet. It is truly my favorite time of the night, when all the critters are drowsy and Joe and I are on the big, fluffy couches in the living room, feet propped up, PJs on. I love it more than anything and I love to stay up late dragging it out, watching guilty-pleasure movies like Lethal Weapon or Jaws. Last night it was Die Hard 4 -- Is that Die Harder maybe?

As the movie went on and bedtime became midnight, Joe got up. I asked him where he was headed and he said, "I think I hear the Tooth Fairy." I, myself, had forgotten all about her arrival and was so thankful for his memory of the big event. One of my biggest fears is forgetting that the Tooth Fairy is coming and setting the alarm, going to bed and the girls waking up to find that she was unable to make her deposit in their special box. So last night, thanks to Dad, the Tooth Fairy was able to slip in and out without a peep, leaving a little green for each of the girls -- much to their big brother's chagrin. In his words, "How much? That sucks!" Ah, the joys of being the first-born child!

I hope everyone is enjoying the season. I am holding on to each day for dear life, as the time for real life to begin again draws nearer and nearer. School starts in a month -- A MONTH. It makes my heart sad. I so enjoy the days and nights without routine, the spontaneity, casual attitudes and laughter, laughter, laughter. Now that ball season is almost over, the nights with no schedule are my favorites. Dinner around the table, playing in the yard after dinner, catching up on TV shows, playing board games, just being together without anywhere to be is what it's all about for me. Wish I could bottle it and sell it. Enjoy the rest of the summer, people!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mighty Kelsey

We went to the softball state tournament in Crossville this weekend with Kelsey's 10U fastpitch team. There were 14 teams in the tourney from all over the state and Joe just really wasn't sure how the Explosion was going to do. Last year, the 8u coach pitch tourney was stacked and we came home 0-2 in that double elimination tourney. It was a short (and not so sweet) trip.

This year, Joe had higher hopes. In the week leading up to the tourney, the girls had done great in practice, looked very polished and ready to compete. He felt we might actually show up. Well, the first game was bright and early (8:00 a.m.) Saturday morning. The girls were sluggish and unmotivated. Some had driven from K-town early in the a.m., opting not to stay over at the luxurious Holiday Inn Express we bedded down in the previous night. So our play was definitely NOT polished and we lost 8-0. Fortunately for us, that game was just a pool game. So we dusted ourselves off and proceeded to the double elimination part of the tourney.

We won the first game handily, playing against a little team out of Macon County, TN. After an hour and a half rain delay, we came out Saturday night for our second game in the double elimination round. We lost and dropped to the losers' bracket. On Sunday morning we knew that any loss would send us packing back home, so we were hopeful we could pull out just one win at least. Going to the finals of the tourney would mean winning 7 games in a row and we weren't sure there were any miracles that big, so we were taking baby steps, thinking small.

Our first game Sunday started out to look like another train wreck. We were down 8-3 and things weren't looking good. Then things took a turn and we were tied late in the game. The opposing team went up by 1 going into the last inning and things were a little tense in the stands. We tied the game up in the top of the last inning and held them scoreless, so we headed into extra innings.

Many times in softball, extra innings means going into international rules. That means the team batting places a runner on second base to start the inning, thus expediting the scoring process and (hopefully) ending the game as quickly as possible. So we went to international rules as the storm clouds rolled in. We scored pretty quickly to start off the inning and then something weird happened. We started to hit and hit and hit and hit and hit. It was like the dam broke loose and all of these hits that we had not been able to squeeze out in days past all came rushing out at once.

I would also like to say that the same could be said of Kelsey's bat. All year she has shown great potential at the plate, strong as an ox and a quick bat. But she has never really connected well enough to show just how strong she really is. However, this past weekend, it was like her bat decided it was going to come alive. She hit and hit and hit. The only time she didn't hit was when she walked. She was really on her game.

So when her turn to bat came during the international rules part of the game, I was hoping she would grab the opportunity to add a couple of RBIs to her stats in the scorebook. There were runners at second and third when she came up. She got set in the box, crouched position, hands back. The pitcher threw the ball and Kelsey hit a shot down the third base line, past the third baseman, past the left fielder, to the fence. When the realization hit me that maybe, just maybe she had hit it far enough to go all the way, my heart started pumping and my mouth started cheering, "Go, go, go!" She was running and running as fast as her big ol' feet could take her, picking up speed as she rounded second (Those of you that know her know I am exaggerating the speed part of it, but she was moving pretty well!). She was coming up on third and I saw the left fielder come up with the ball and I thought, "She's gonna get a triple." Then I saw Joe make that big ol' "Head For Home" circular motion with his arm and start to skip toward home, leading her down the line. She rounded third and Joe was hollering, "Get Down!" as she neared the catcher, but the play wasn't as close as he thought and she crossed the plate standing up. HOMERUN!!!!!

I'm not sure if I jumped up and down or if I screamed or if I just ran wildly toward the dugout to greet her, but I saw her teammates come, all 11 of them, and make a circle around her, squealing and giggling and high-fiving her. She came rushing in to the dugout, a big grin plastered on her mouth with her face all flushed and her humidity-enhanced curls hanging out of her ponytail. I gave her a big ol' hug and said, "Kelsey, you did it!" She said, "Yeah, but I was so mad when I got up there and the bases weren't loaded! It coulda been a grand slam!" That's my girl!

We went on to win that game, but we lost the next one. So we handed out medals, packed up the gear, took the team to Dairy Queen for a promised ice cream treat from the coach and watched as the girls giggled and laughed and shoved each other's faces into ice cream sundaes. We took pictures, hugged and said the end-of-the-season good-byes. We ended up 7th out of 14 teams, a big accomplishment for our mostly 9 year old team. Not a bad way to go out. And it ended with ice cream. What more could you ask for?

If you're wondering if I had any documentation of the big hit, I didn't. I had packed up my camera earlier in the day because we were not doing well and, being a former softballer myself, I do have some superstitions about stuff. I put away the camera and we started doing better. So I left it in the bag. I had the camera and the video camera with me, but both were sound asleep in their carriers during the big event. But in my mind, I have it tucked away securely under "Mom's Proud Moments" right next to first words, walking, learning to ride a bike, learning to read and all the other milestones I have witnessed. It is a moment that she will not forget and one that I will cherish being a part of forever. There aren't a whole lot of times where you get to experience pure joy or witness it on the face of your child, but, lucky for me, I was there to see it. It was a blessing.

Till next time...