In Which I Humbly Accept Anotha Blahg Award For My Awesomeness ;P
Wordless Wednesday: What's Old Is New Again

Of Doubloons And Dirt Babies...

What the what?! Dirt babies, yes. You'll see what I mean soon enough if you read on, unless of course you already know.

This past weekend, we took a little jaunt up around the Fredericksburg area of Virginia. You know how there are so many Groupon-like deal sites springing up all over the Interwebs? Well, first, I had gotten tickets to the annual Virginia Renaissance Faire (in Spotsylvania) on Certifikid, good for Mother's Day weekend only. It was a great deal, and I'd never been to one, so I didn't want to pass it up. Then, also on the same site, tickets for a family pack to a farm not too far from there popped up for the same weekend, so I grabbed that and a night at a cheap hotel as well, and bam! Mother's Day plans for less than a hundred bucks, with loads of edutainment involved.

The trip up to the Ren Faire didn't go off exactly as planned, because, for one thing, we overslept and got a later start than planned, and for another, I had half a dozen mystery shops planned for along the way to cover our meals on the road. We got lost, we got lost some more, and by the time we finally arrived, there was only an hour left for the Faire to be open, and they let us in without even asking for our tickets. Bah! But, I was determined to make a go of it and have the best fun, so onward we went.


The first thing the kids wanted to do was play this game, so we let them do that. I wanted to make the most of what little money we had with us for the trip - since my credit card number had been stolen the day or two before and our bank account emptied! - while maximizing the experience for the kids. Happy kids = happy Mama, at least in this family. And so, we let them play the game.



None of the kids scored a prize, but there was so much else to do, see, look at, explore, and touch, that they didn't seem to care. We moved right along, stepping lively so we could see everything we wanted to see in our quick 60-minute tour of the Faire.


The girls were each allowed to pick out some inexpensive beaded jewelry - you can see Sophia's bracelet there - and then we were on the search for a Jack souvenir. While looking, Sophia found these, which at first she wore like handcuffs. Hmm. Now, there's an idea...


At first we thought Jack would go for a wooden sword, but then he decided against it. He looked at lots of things that afternoon and rejected them all. He wanted a pocketknife, but it was a double-edged knife, and Daddy said no, that wasn't appropriate for a nine-year-old boy. What do I know about knives? Not much, so that was that.


This lady was most amused by the kids' interest in her mink stole, about which I did my best to hide my disgust. I even touched the thing myself. Wait, no, I didn't, I just peered at it closely. Yeah. I don't do fur. But I did find using the mandible of one mink on the right end as a clip to hold it to the left side quite ingenius...


Oh, heck, I splurged another buck each on these paper fans for the girls to pretend to be ladies on the verge of fainting spells, too. Which meant Jack's budget went up, too. My lady-babies got a lot of joy out of holding their fans up and blinking at each other flirtatiously. Chloë was entirely too good at that. She gets it from her dad. He's a good blinker.


Sophia, and then Jack, found these ribbon-stick thingies and spent a few minutes twirling and swirling them around. I expected Chloë to do the same, since she wants to join rhythmic gymnastics next year instead of "regular" gymnastics like they're doing this year, but she didn't. It amused me that the boy-child did. But he didn't want one of those, either.


I liked this sign on the recycling bin as much as I liked the fact that it even existed. (Yay for recycling!)

2012-05-13 (2)

I loved these swirly-twirlies as much as the children did, and we stood and watched them spin, fascinated, for a good few minutes before moving on to the next tent. They weren't in the budget, and I have nowhere to put one at this house, anyway, but I secretly wanted one just the same.


At another stand, these mineral butterflies caught my eye. How pretty!


Even the Welsh Corgi at that butterfly stand had a Renaissance costume on, for Heaven's sake! He was a cutie pie. Speaking of cutie pies in costume, check out this young lad's get-up:


Four or five years old and dressed to the nines in period garb! I loved it. Loved it.


Jack finally found a few things, like this ship, that caught his interest, but they weren't for sale. Of course. He was growing very frustrated. And cranky. What, Jack cranky? I know. Hard to believe. Not.


This letter was on the table in front of the ship. Not the neatest penmanship, but amusing nonetheless.

044 045

Jack forgot his grumpiness momentarily while this blacksmith showed him some of the tools of his trade. Jacky wanted to use them, too, but he wasn't allowed. That was okay; he was just as thrilled to watch.


Speaking of grumps, this kid wasn't too thrilled when the kiddos visited his village in yet another tent and started looking at and - gasp! - touching the buildings. What was the point, then? Apparently not to enjoy them, but just to display them. Meh.


Guess who?


(Note: I began this post 1.5 months ago. Oops. Time to pick up.)

Jack tries his hand at hooping it up!


He's not half-bad - nay, he's all bad.


Soon, one of the kids spied this giant hoop - you may have seen a similar one more aptly demonstrated on "So You Think You Can Dance" in recent weeks - and invited the other two siblings to try for a group hoop. It didn't go well, but fun is fun, and this was that!


At the Swelter Shelter, patrons and players alike could take a load off, out of the hot, HOT sun.

May 2012

Shortly after that, we headed out, but not before I snagged a few last pictures of some of the wonderful costumes out for viewing!


In my ongoing obsession with what people put on their vehicles, I had to snap the back of the van parked next to our minivan. I'm only just now reading everything on there!

After the Ren Faire, we stopped at a small flea market and had a look around, but we found nothing interesting, so we headed to our ghetto hotel. The kids were hungry, of course, so we went right back out again, to the Super Target down the road, to purchase some victuals for everyone's consumption. It's been so long, I don't remember how we passed the remainder of the night, except that there was shouting outside in the middle of the night, and I felt a wee bit unsafe...


Mother's Day, the next day, we arose and checked out, had a little breaky, and then made our way to the Cows and Corn farm where I had another Certifikid certificate. I thought it would be much bigger, more well attended, and generally just... MORE... but it ended up all right in the end. And it was nice not battling crowds.


After we checked in and got ourselves situated, the first thing the kids opted to do was make their own butter. It wasn't the kind you make from mixing heavy cream at fast speeds in a mixer; fresh, uh, squeezed milk from the farms' cows, in little tubs, which the kids had to shake! shake! shake! until it turned into butter. Sophia, naturally, was the best shaker, but they all made it eventually. Time for a taste test!


The farmer's wife, whose name I forget, showed us what the butter looked like when it was about finished. Mmm, creamy!


I think everyone tried the butter that the kids made, but Jack especially enjoyed it. Every chance he got, he was back under that tent, begging another crackerful!


After the butter-making experiment, Jack was running tail-over-teakettle toward this gigantic hay play area. It had mazes, towers, pipes through which to climb, etc. I barely had time to catch up with him and grab this shot of him entering one of those pipes; he's fast when he wants to be!


And there he was, jumping out the other side, in no time!


Soon, he was joined by Chloë; Sophia arrived quite a bit later.

  2012-05-13 (3)

Between the hay and the trains, there was no shortage of fun climbing opportunties for the kids. Can you see the one with Sophia's feet sticking straight up? That child... so funny.


Soon, we were hollered at to come join the hayride about to tour the farm, so we made our way, quick like bunnies, over to the launching point. And if you're looking at this picture and thinking, "Daggone! It looks like that 7-year-old child is almost as big as her father!" well, you'd be right. Quite right.


The sisters sat next to each other on the ride; we could barely keep Jack sitting, let alone near us! He was all over the place, a la Sophia.


Sadly - to me, anyway - we were told that the calves were taken from their mamas shortly after birth (3 days? 3 weeks? Three-something) and put in these little calf-hut thingies. They were bottle-fed mama milk and supplements after that, with huge bottles sporting nipples the likes of which (enter no-good comment here), while the cows were kept in the barn for milking.


Soon, we were approaching an area of the farm that housed the manure. It did NOT smell good; I am so glad I captured this image of Jack's reaction to the odor. Priceless!


The cows, showing off their "earrings," as the announcer called them, devouring their feed. That made me sad, too. I think I'd make a very bad cattle farmer. Everything made me sad for them!  I'm sure they're fine, but... and I've done my share of fish tagging, and dissecting, and alladat, but... what can I say? I'm a treehugging librul type.


The yellow brush in the middle remains inactive until bumped by a cow. Then, it starts brushing, rubbing, and grooming the cow as she moves around to get it on all sides. It stops when she moves away. Now that, I liked. Maybe I'll install one in Chez Odette?


Well, helloooooo there, Number 4666!


After the hayride ended, we ran over to watch a puppet show. All the kids complained that it was too babyish for them... until it started. And then, they were leaning forward in their seats to catch every word. Of course!


It was a pretty cute and well-thought-out little demonstration of the difference between mammals - namely cattle - and birds - namely chickens, without being education-shoved-down-your-throat about it. I was impressed.


Of course, all the kids' favorite part was when it ended, and they were allowed to pet the chicken. I forget her name, but the girl holding her said she was 15 years old! (The chicken, not the girl. ;)


Next up: The kids all ran to the cow train and were pulled around the farm by the same tractor driver who drove our hayride. They loved it and wanted to go again and again, but it was a one-shot deal. (Not really, but that's what we told them. Hee.)


True to form, Chloë and Jack rode at the front of the 'train,'...


... while Sophia brought up the rear. What fun they had!


At last, after the ride, it was time to go find out what in the heck these Dirt Babies were!


First, they were given the foot of a pantyhose leg and told to scoop compost-rich dirt into it until it was full. This would form the "head" of the Dirt Baby.


Oh wait, my bad. Very first, they had to fill the bottom of the sock, or top of the head, with seeds similar to chia. This would eventually grow, with proper care, into the "hair" of the Dirt Baby.  Then the dirt came into play.


After that, stickers and markers were brought out for making characters out of the as-yet-undecorated DBs. The girls, of course, went all out, while Jack stayed simple. He's our little Minimalist, in so many ways.


Case in point.


I forgot the names of these two lovely ladies who provided us with our next mini-adventure, but the woman was lovely and patient and informative, and the sheep was lovely and patient, too.


Because she was behaving so well (imagine!), Sophia was chosen first to spin the yarn of the ewe, which was freshly sheared and ready to be added to the yarn already being spun for these demonstrations. I, myself, have yet to learn to spin my own yarn, but you can be sure it is somewhere in the top third of my Bucket List. (Well, I would say that about ALL the things on my Bucket List, which is rather well populated with things I really-super-wanna do! But I digress...) Sophia did very well for her first try and was able to produce a nicely spun segment of yarn!


Sophie's yarn was broken off, and she was instructed to select a bead for a bracelet. The goal of the activity was to make a present for the moms, it being Mother's Day and all, but Sophia opted to keep hers. I was neither surprised nor, therefore, disappointed!


Jack had a turn, then, and he was surprisingly adept at handling the fleece while nice, patient lady, woman pedaled the wheel.


He chose the green bead because it's both his and my favorite color, yet somehow Sophie was the first to model the bracelet he made me. I don't remember how that happened, but no worries. I got it next!


I think I was perusing the lovely lady's lovely handspun yarns (which elicited a big fat "NO!" from the Husbeast) when Chloë was having her turn at the wheel, so I have no pictures of her big moment. However, I was touched that she chose a whale for her bead for my bracelet, because "it was the closest thing to a shark I could find, Mom." I vowed to keep my bracelets on forever and ever, but you know what? Like all wool, they shrink and felt when improperly (depending on your desires) treated, and once I forgot to take them off before I showered. That was the end of those. I still have them, somewhere, but now they'd fit a baby. Wah, wah, wah.


After the spinning demo, I dug into my satchel and found just enough money left for the kids to share one ice cream, made from the milk of the farm's cows. It was bound to be delish, so I decided to go for it. Off to the wash station we went, for cleaning and sanitizing. It's a constant on a farm - you can bet if/when I run a farm, there will be lotion everywhere for when the dryness sets in. But anyway...


There was a bit of a walk back to where the ice cream shoppe was located, and along the way, Jack and Chloë made a game of tossing Sophia's shed flip-flops around. I'm pretty sure the Little Girl participate, too, but she doesn't show up in my pictures. Hmm.


We were allotted two scoops for our one serving of ice cream. Since one kid (Jack) always wants chocolate, one kid (Chloë) always wants vanilla, and the last kid doesn't care as long as she's being fed on a near-constant basis, we chose one scoop of each. It's always fun to give dessert to these guys. If you ever do, put it carefully in the middle and then step aside, lest you get eaten in the frenzy, too!


Even though it was the day of moms, it's pretty clear This Dad enjoyed himself, too.

Overall, with getting away for the weekend, my first Renaissance Faire, the farm field trip, and everyone enjoying themselves with minimal fighting, I'd have to rate this Mother's Day amongst the best I've ever had as a mom. Yippy Skippy.

Hm, now I wonder what I should catch you up on next? Will you stay around?