A Very Special Gift

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Oh boy, do I have some catching up to do! Get ready for lots of stories and pictures as I try to get everyone caught up with what’s been going on with The Preble Road Crew. First up, the story of a special gift for Zoey.

So, I know some parents would rather their daughter play with girl toys and their son play with boy toys. We’re not really like that. Greg and I are totally okay with the fact that Zoey likes to play with matchbox cars. We’re not the kind of parents that freak out when our little girl turns away from a doll in order to play with a more boy-oriented toy like cars. To us, it’s no big deal. I played with cars when I was growing up, as did my sisters. And we turned out just fine.

Zoey has a collection of matchbox cars that she’s supposed to keep in a small plastic container I bought her, but somehow, her cars always end up strewn around the living room floor–always, it seems, in the perfect spot for me to step on (we’re currently working on the ‘pick-your-toys-up-when-you’re-done-playing-mom-and-dad-are-not-your-maid-service’ thing). She loves to drive the cars around on the floor, her little table, the couch–everywhere–and make vroom vroom noises, which is just the cutest thing in the entire world.

My dad got wind of all of this and decided that his youngest grandchild not only needed a couple new cars occasionally (he keeps a box of new matchbox cars on hand for the grandchildren to pick one or two from every once in a while), but that she also needed a sweet ramp to run said cars down.

I should stop here and explain something about my dad. He’s a thinker. When my very first car, a hand-me-down Dodge Dynasty’s electric driver’s side window stopped working, he actually rigged a sort of pulley system for me via an old seat belt and some washers. Granted, I had to pretty much be standing outside of the car to put the window up and down (turns out that windows are HEAVY) and if I was driving and it started to rain, I was in trouble–but still, it worked, which I was thankful for being, you know, a penniless college student, who couldn’t afford any better. My point is, my dad has always thought things through, made diagrams or whatever to create the best option for the job. When it came to Zoey’s car ramp, it wasn’t just a simple matter of giving her a board. No way. There had to be bumpers on the sides, a place to park the cars on the top and, of course, a sweet paint job.

Dad got to work on the ramp and every once in a while mentioned something about it to me, but for the most part, it was a secret project that Zoey knew nothing about.

And then one Sunday, my mom called me and asked if I could bring Zoey over to their house because Grandpa had something special to give to Miss Zoey. I pretty much figured the ramp had been finished, but I didn’t mention what it might be when I loaded Zoey into the car and took her to my parent’s house.

This is what my dad made her:

A good three-foot ramp with bumpers on the side to ensure cars make it down the full length without falling off. Note the width of the ramp–not an accident on my dad’s part–he made it big enough for TWO cars to go down at once. You know, for racing. Seriously, it’s the thinker and planner in him.

The bumpers stop quite a few inches from the top of the ramp–a design aspect that was also on purpose. I mean, a girl needs a place to keep her cars when they aren’t zooming down the track.

Naturally, the ramp needed a name:

And on the back, a little reminder of when Grandpa made this very special gift:

Zoey was in love as soon as she saw the track and then Grandpa let her choose couple matchbox cars from his stash and they quickly went to work propping the ramp up on pillows from the couch and running the cars down over and over again. Zoey and Grandpa played for at least twenty minutes straight, which is a big deal because (to put it in perspective for you), if I can get her to sit down for even TEN minutes to eat dinner, it’s a minor miracle. Ditto with time spent on the toilet for potty training.

But that wasn’t the end of the playing with the ramp, either. When we got home, Greg (being a kid at heart) had to check out how the ramp worked and Zoey was all too cool with getting out all of her cars and playing with it again. They even set a track up so that the cars ended up flying across her little table and crashing onto the floor after leaving the ramp.

And then a little while after they had finished playing, she got the ramp back out and attempted to set up the required angle herself. On the dog. Naturally, Scout wasn’t having any part of it and he simply walked away with a stressed look in his eyes, which meant that Zoey had to go in search of other places to lean the ramp–like against the kitchen table (which has the added effect of Mommy tripping over it every few minutes).

But my inevitable stubbed toe is worth it because Zoey LOVES the ramp and it makes her happy to play with it. When we ask her who made her the ramp, she always answers with a smile, “Gampa.” Well then, you just can’t get much cuter than that.

But on the same trip to my mom and dad’s house, after Grandpa and Zoey had finished playing with the ramp, we also had some serious playing outside to do. After all, no trip to their house is complete without playing on their playground:

The swings are Zoey’s absolute favorite

From the back (for some reason, I just love this picture)

The weather was fantastic and that, of course, meant RIDE TIME! Another cool thing about my mom and dad’s house is that since I was a little kid, my dad has always given us, the grandchildren, kids my mom babysits and pretty much any one else who might be interested a ride in one of his wagons. Zoey loves these rides, which include a full tour of my parents’ property and sometimes (much to my and my sisters’ dismay when we were teens and simply too cool for such things) a little jaunt down the road.

On the day my parents gave the ramp to Zoey, my mom, their dog, Bandit, Zoey and I all climbed into one of my dad’s wagons and went for a long ride.

My mom and Zoey in the wagon, which my dad built

After the ride, Zoey had to check out driving the tractor for herself:

She thought she was the coolest up on that big tractor

I love this picture simply for the smile my dad is giving my little girl

After Zoey was done driving the tractor, she, Grandma and I decided to play in the leaves for a few minutes:

We attempted to set this picture up and it looked so adorable until I realized she was about to eat the leaves

It was hard to get pictures of her throwing leaves up in the air with my crap cell phone camera. But you can still see the cuteness.

And this was the result of playing in the leaves:

Somehow all of those leaves got quite entwined in her hair

It was quite an afternoon–one that we hadn’t planned, but sometimes the best times had are impromptu get-togethers. Zoey got a rockin’ new ramp for her cars, she got to play outside on my parents’ playground AND have a cool ride in a wagon. A super huge thanks to Grandpa for the obvious thought and work that he put into making the ramp just right for her. It’s perfect and she loves it.

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