Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Adventures in a Different Epoch; or otherwise entitled, This One's For You, Allison!

A few weeks ago we traveled to Kansas City to spend a day at the Renaissance Festival. Clint and I went to a festival near Charlotte years ago, and we were very pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't measure up to the one near Kansas City.

When we went in Charlotte, we were basically in an open field area with stalls and shops set up in groups, and entertainment in a few central locations. This festival's setting was clearly a permanent undertaking, with buildings and an intricate web of paths winding around the shops and eateries, all sprinkled with stages and spots where shows were going on or characters would accost festival-goers with random Antiquated English conjectures and conversations. (I say "antiquated" because they were not actually using Middle English, even if the beer stalls were labeled "Chaucer's Ale"...I've read Chaucer in Middle English, thank you, and a few thees and thous don't mean you're speaking Middle English!)

Ahem. Sorry.

We really enjoyed the performances we saw, which ranged from simple acapella singing to a full-blown joust. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the performance Clint and I enjoyed the most, called "The Wench Show," but I do have a jousting picture. We were on the side routing for Sir Geoffrey, the black and silver knight.

A particular highlight for the kids was the "ride" where they got to try their hand at slaying a dragon. They sat on a wooden horse which was lowered and sent flying along a rope toward the dragon. The object was to get the lance they were given through a ring where the dragon was smoking from the mouth.

Benjamin, receiving a bit of help (shhh, don't tell him that, ever) did indeed "slay the dragon."

Preparing for battle.

The approach.

Being knighted.

Sophia seemed particularly enamored with the fairies, as well as the very loud and gifted Queen, who paraded through the streets with a royal entourage. They each picked out one souvenir; Benjamin came away with a tshirt that says "Dragons Fear Me" (very appropriate, and he's really proud of his prowess), and Sophia picked out an ocarina. Besides my oh-I-cannot-resist-it! hooded Canterbury U sweatshirt, Clint and I got matching medallion necklaces from the Quick Silver Mint booth, where you pick out the engravings you want and they print the medallions out for you, and literally in front of you, by raising a 150 lb hammer nine feet in the air and dropping it onto the mold and medallion beneath. So, we each picked something out from the impressive catalogue of designs, and the necklaces were our anniverary gifts to ourselves.

We had a great day, and although the drive was pretty lengthy (about four hours each way), it was well worth it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Places and Faces

We have set up and settled in to our temporary home in Missouri. Ft. Leonard Wood Housing provided us with a two bedroom house in an excellent location, and with a great big yard with trees to make us happy. We have no furniture beyond our mattresses, a folding card table and chairs in the kitchen, some camping chairs and bean bags for the kids. A strange part of me enjoys that fact. I've always had the half-hearted dream to abandon my belongings and live more simplistically, and now I am doing it for a few months, at the end of which I get my Stuff back. We have ended up buying some kitchen equipment we found we couldn't do without (but don't worry, I brought my coffee pot with me...everyone here is thankful for my foresight!) Otherwise, no one is having any major problems with the lack of Stuff. Oh, the kids sometimes wish for a certain toy or book that is packed up, and occassionally I have the pressing urge to look something up only to realize I don't have the book with me, but overall it's kind of amazing how little most of our possessions mean to us in the daily routine of things.
(I'll still be happy to see a lot of my Stuff when we move.)

Sophia started 1st grade here, and is doing very well. She is especially pleased because her school's mascot is a horse, which is her favorite animal, and because the school is close enough to our house that we can walk there. She has had three spelling tests so far and wishes everyone to know that she has earned perfect scores on them all. My daughter is sometimes so ambitious and competitive that it baffles me. She informed me that she now wants to be a Doctor-Farmer-Illustrator when she grows up.

Benjamin goes to the Part Day Preschool offered by the base childcare facility. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning he spends time with a fantastic teacher named Miss Ulla, who is from Germany, and they paint, sing, count, prepare snack, read, take nature walks, play on the playground, do self-portraits, and organize themselves into stations for pretend and hands-on play. I only wish Miss Ulla had him more than 6 hours a week...not because I don't want him with me, but because I'd like to hang out with her myself.

We have managed to acquire a puppy since coming here. Her name is Bess, and she is about 10 weeks old now. The kids adore her, Clint is twisted around her paw, and all I have to say is I forgot how much work puppies are. The cat was not pleased, but lately she has taken to allowing the puppy near enough to attempt a tussle with her, then flat-out slapping the dog around with what can only be called evil satisfaction.

Last month Clint had to have his appendix removed and was put on convalescent leave for two weeks, which meant that he had to leave the class he was in and enter the class behind him when he recovered. His new graduation date is the day before Thanksgiving, so our frame for moving to NY is now the beginning to mid December. We will be looking for a place in Syracuse.

The base itself is nice as far as military bases go; it isn't too large, and it's well-maintained with lots of parks and walking paths. We live in a nice area that's convenient to all the places we need. There happens to be a whole lot of Nothing right around the base, though. I found this disheartening since Clint's branch (Engineer Corp) guanrantees we'll be back here in about three years for another course, but as with a lot of things I've found it's all about attitude and being willing to actually look for things to do and see and enjoy. St. Louis is a little under two hours east of us, and we spent a day at The Magic House a few weeks ago, a hands-on Children's Museum where the kids had fun dressing up in the castle exhibit, experimenting with water gadgets, treking through the wilderness like Lewis & Clarke, and shopping in the grocery store. We're panning a trip to the St. Louis Zoo in October.

Springfield is only an hour from us, and last Sunday we went to The Skinny Improv and saw their performance of Sleeping Beauty, interactive theater for kids. It was an amazing place and the kids were absolutely enthralled with it. They helped color some of the sets before the performance, and at a ticket price of $5 per person (less than a movie, and with free popcorn) I don't think you could possibly beat this for entertainment.

So there are things nearby, and we are taking advantage of them. Thankfully, my kids are awesome roadtrippers.
I'm really glad we decided to come down here while Clint completed this course. It's funny, but after more than three years living on opposite sides of the world from my husband, I nearly forgot what it was like to live with another adult. I won't lie and say it doesn't take some small adjustments in thinking and practice, but really, it's good for me to have to share my computer time and I guess I'l survive being asked to cook some meat for dinner once and awhile. Because overwhelmingly, it all feels pretty damn good.