Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Applesauce

The girls didn't have school today (monday) and Hubby is in Brazil, so yesterday afternoon I took them for an overnighter to Grandma's. They played really well all day, and we made applesauce.

(I have a picture to put in here, but the blogger website is TOTALLY NOT WORKING and it FREEZES every time I try to add my picture. STUPID HEAD BLOGGER.COM!!!) (Did I mention it no longer has a spell checker on it? And there is no longer a movie-add button, functioning or not!)

Thing 1 has become our prayer sayer. She is volunteering a lot more regularly to say nightly prayers and blessings on the meals. She often rambles a little, blessing everyone everywhere in general, and praying stuff like: "Bless that everyone in the world will have good luck. And the people with good luck will have better luck." Stuff like that. My favorite in a while came the other night, she said, among other things, "Please bless that everyone's dreams will come true... ... tomorrow night."

Got that, God? You've got about 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Woof

I have always loved dogs. We had a couple of family dogs when I was growing up, with varying levels of success. I was sure that when I moved out of my parent’s house, I would get a dog.
I went out into the world only to find that an apartment that allowed a dog was much further out of the city, possibly more expensive or at least a crappier place for the same amount of money. Apparently it wasn't as important as I thought to get a dog after all. My dog dreams were put on hold indefinitely.

Well, I've been thinking that maybe the time has come. My requirements have changed, of course. I'm now looking for a dog that is
1) Fabulous with kids
2) A good watchdog
3) Trainable

Preferable size would be medium to medium large.
Coat options have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other - I've seriously considered poodles and collies, and several other breeds in between... Something that was a cross of those, or a German Shepherd, would be great.

I've spent whole days on the Humane Society website, KSL.com classifieds, and rescue websites for different breeds. One lady who runs the Sheltie Rescue here (turns out Shelties would probably not be kid friendly enough for me, at least the ones she gets) recommended rescuing a Pit Bull from the pound, and gave me information on a couple that were due to be euthanized. I considered it, even went to look at some Pit Bulls. In many ways they sound great. They're a good size, they're protective and are good watch dogs, and if socialized they should be good with kids and other dogs.
However... They're Pit Bulls! Everyone I've told has had much the same reaction: a look of shock or surprise, and a suggestion that I look at another breed instead. The most influential comment I heard was that a friend who runs a kennel had said that Pit Bulls were the one breed that could never be trusted 100% to not turn on someone if provoked enough. My kids are great, but they have friends... and I HAVE to know that even if they were mildly abusing the dog it wouldn't bite anyone. NOT THAT I WOULD EVER LET ANYONE ABUSE IT... but the dog is higher on my expendability scale than the kids.

Anyway. It's kind of a dilemma.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Makin' movies

Last month I had the typical dilemma about what to get Thing 1 for her birthday. Then Hubby had an absolutely brilliant idea - we'd give her a digital stop motion animation program for her birthday. She absolutely loves the stop motion animation exhibit at the Children's Museum, and this way she could do it to her heart's content. He has his practically new but completely despised Vista computer, which he can't stand to use and prompted his move to the Mac Camp. What else is it good for? So he cleaned off most of his work and we loaded the new program on it.

This is her first EVER movie. It is a combination of Playmobil and Floam. I have to admit responsibility for the dripping white goo on the table. Everything else is Thing 1 and Thing 2. We learned a lot - we now tape the camera and the background to the table, and I have argued against the floam except for some special effects. Even little changes with the floam are kind of complicated because the kids kept picking up the pieces to manipulate them, and then couldn't get them back in the right spot.

video

She has made a sequel, but I want her to add sound to it before I release it to the world.


Coming soon:

Dragon Attack II

Watch for it in theaters near you!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First class family

We left Pat's house Saturday morning to catch our flight back to the states.

Hubby flies so much he gets upgraded on most flights. When the girls and I are flying with him it happens much less, of course, but we have been upgraded a couple of times. Well, we hit the jackpot on the way back from London, and got upgraded to Business Class. It was incredible. A completely different world on the other side of that magic blue curtain. Three appetizers before dinner, four choices for dinner, none of them were incredible, but all were something I'd have expected from a restaurant, which is of course quite a bit different than what you'd expect from a plane. The headsets that cover your ears are complimentary so you can actually hear the dialogue in the movie. All the games and movies are free. There was an outlet to plug in the charger for the girls' DS games, so the batteries never died. And the seats reclined in every position on their way to a full horizontal bed. There is a nice quilted comforter and a full sized pillow. Not to mention a cheese plate and/or ice creams sundaes for dessert, and warm chocolate chip cookies as a snack. The flight attendant personnel are ultra nice and accommodating.
We didn't even open the travel games we'd bought in the airport to keep the girls occupied. We also didn't really sleep, despite the windows being closed and the cabin being darkened and having the ability to fully recline. It was just the wrong time to tell your body to sleep, besides it was too exciting having access to all that comparative luxury on the plane.
I took photos. I was a little embarrassed to be so freaked out about being upgraded so I didn't really get any good shots. It's hard to describe how different this is from coach. These pictures just don't show how much room there is... I didn't get any pictures of anyone laying out flat. It was just amazing.



I remember looking at the map and thinking "Oh, four more hours. That gives me time to try and doze a little, maybe read my book a little, and maybe watch another movie. How nice." Normally seeing you have four more hours is the time the real internal groaning sets in.

We had a three and a half hour layover in Atlanta, and then had to jostle for seats on the next flight, as we only had two together, and the plane was completely full. There were lots of other families returning from a Disneyworld Cruise trying to get seats together too, It turned out the lady next to me (who I knew, ironically, she is the secretary at the kid's preschool) was willing to trade so I could get Thing 1 and 2 by me, as both of the seats next to our other two seats were couples and didn't want to trade. Then in a wild multiple swap, a bunch of people agreed to juggle and all the other families ended up next to each other, and the preschool secretary ended up in 1st class. She was thrilled, and everyone else was happy. So I sat in between Thing 1 and 2, and Hubby was back a few rows. The girls both slept most of the way home.

We landed just before midnight, got home around 1:00 am, got the girls to bed at 1:30, and Hubby and I made it to bed around 2:00. Of course Thing 1 woke up at 5:30, raring to go. Sigh.

Today we're just resting up, grocery shopping, and doing laundry. Hubby left about an hour ago for North Carolina. It was a good trip, but it's awfully nice to be back home.

I have gone back and added a few photos in the previous posts now that I'm home and don't have to bargain for laptop use.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Warwick is pronounced "War-ick"

We got up and got out of the house later than we'd like, of course, but by noon we were sitting on a train bound for Warwick Castle. This was one of the places Hubby and I had visited 11 or so years ago, and knew the kids would probably like. It was one of the things that was important to me NOT to bump off the itinerary, and I also wanted to do it on one of the days Hubby wasn't conferencing and could go with us. The castle is an hour and 45 minute train ride north of London, and though Pat very generously offered his car, figuring out how to drive for just the one day hardly seemed worth the stress and effort. Since we're practically train/tube masters, and it causes less trouble when Hubby sleeps on the train than when he's driving, we decided to just do that.

We had a very nice train ride up.

The castle grounds have been added to quite a bit since we were there before. Now there is a big playground on one side, and there is a "Princess Tower" exhibit in one of the castle towers. Obviously for little kids, but it's kind of fun. There are two major sections set up with period furniture and wax people, one section is some historical Earl of Warwick stuff, showing how the castle folk are getting ready to go fight for the king of their choice in the War of the Roses.




The other section is more 1800 stuff, with identifiable people (whom I didn't know most of), Countess This and Lord That and Their Friends. Though I do know at least one, this is Thing 2 with Queen Elizabeth.


The girls got a kick out of it, I think. We climbed a couple of towers and battlements, which freaked the kids out a little because the stairs were so narrow and twisty. It didn't help that there was a movie going on at the bottom of one of the towers, sending spooky sounding muted noises up the stairwell. The girls were absolutely sure the place was haunted.




Unfortunately we had misunderstood what time the gift shop closed, and made it back to that end of the castle grounds half an hour after it closed. The girls were quite upset not to get their souvenir, which is by far the most important part of any excursion for them. We compromised after we got back into London by taking them to a couple of touristy shops in Oxford Circus that Pat had told us about. We had one of our few real dinners out, Hubby found a place called Vapiano, which was quite a good, fun place, if you're in Oxford Circus or Regents Park (look at me name dropping!) I recommend it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Science Museum

We moved out of the Greenwich apartment today. We loaded up our stuff and marched the girls and the bags to the train station and started our commute to Ealing, on the other side of town, where Pat lives, and where we were staying for the next couple of nights before we left.
After we dropped everything off we caught the train back into town to go to the Science Museum. We've had such a hard time getting anything done as we start so late. Even having checked out of one location and commuted across town and moved into another we were back on the train to London around 2:00, which is about when we seem to get going. Which is terrible. We should be out and about by 9:00 or 10:00 am.

The kids loved the Science museum, though obviously we ran out of time. The museum is very well set up for kids, and has tons of hands on displays and interactive things for the kids to do. Currently there is a Wallace and Grommit "Cracking Ideas" exhibit, which the girls got a real kick out of. That's where we spent most of our time.



We got back to Ealing that evening to have dinner with Pat and his kids. They are absolutely marvelous kids, Pat is their stepfather, and they all seem to get on very well. I just hope our kids show a similar lack of surliness and teenage angst when they're that age.