Friday, February 26, 2010

While we were out...

It should be noted that my sister took wonderful care of Kelso while we were in California.She reported that he even seemed to miss us after a few days.  Instead of just playing incessantly with her dogs, mostly the younger one, he started following her around.
She takes wonderful care of him, and sent me these pictures.  She took the three dogs on a walk, notice her younger boxer Willo - whose feet rarely touch the ground in photos.  If that dog were human, she'd be an olympian.  Kelso, on the other hand, is a lumbering puppy, and is usually lagging behind.
He must have had a head start in this picture to get ahead of my sister's older boxer.

My sister told me one day she caught Kelso making himself comfortable on her older dog's bed.  Ruger, her dog, is the dominant one of the three of them, but for some reason he didn't chase Kelso out of his bed.  It seemed so odd that he'd just let the big dufus (and I say that with sincere affection) stay there.  
The other odd thing is that I bought a bed like this, with the sides, for him after my sister had told me her dogs loved them.  When he had it, he refused to sleep in it. But seeing Ruger and Willo in their beds, suddenly it becomes Overwhelmingly Appealing!
Many thanks to my sister for taking such good care of him while we were gone. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lego Mania

Thing 1 participated in the Lego Mania extravaganza at the library again this year.  She was so excited about the blue ribbon she brought home last year she was determined to participate again this year.  (I suspect ALL participants received a blue ribbon.)
Her creation is on display at the Library.
She titled it Death Nebula.
With a little prompting from Hubby, she agreed to the added the explanation "Sentient Space Rover."

We are very proud.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leaving So Cal

The last part of our California Adventure -  On Saturday after we were packed up and ready to go I DRAGGED the girls out to the beach for one more afternoon's worth of fun, since we were only going to drive 6 or so hours that day.  They didn't want to go, I guilted them into it by reminding them how playing on the beach was what they were so excited about before we came.  Once we got them out there, the surf was too high to boogie board, and Thing 2 wailed and cried.  Once she settled down, though, she had fun playing in the sand.
Thing 1's sand castle was threatened by the waves.  It kept lapping up at her heels as she was building.
Hubby, of course, built some wonderful kid/sand sculptures.  

He turned Thing 1 into a stick figure.

Thing 2 enjoyed running up and down the beach
An interesting note - the hotel we stayed at on the way home had the most bizarre looking beds.  Apparently when they wash those comforters, the down-alternative stuffing sort of wads up into lumps, and it makes for a rather odd looking bed.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back from Disney

We decided to take two days going home and stopping in Vegas overnight, instead of pulling a heinous all day drive.  Then we decided to do those two days Saturday and Sunday, instead of Friday and Saturday, giving us an extra day on the beach.  Which we didn't spend on the beach.  The weather backed off and isn't quite so exquisite, it's cloudy and cooler and windier.  Still in the high 50s, probably, but not the mid 70s like we had earlier.  
Friday the girls spent most of the day playing in their room.  They pulled out every stuffed animal they brought, including the new ones, and have been playing with them.  They glare at me and Hubby when we come in to change clothes or get something out of one of the bags, then ask us to leave so they can get back to their game.  When we offered to take them to the beach they turned us down.
I did drag, and I do mean drag, them to the outlet mall to buy some shoes.  There is a Stride Rite store there, they have better shoes at cheaper prices than anywhere else I can find.  The girls were completely unwilling, and I was ready to just let it go and not buy them tennis shoes this year.  They can wear their crocks all summer, fine.  Then Grandma started guilting them into it... saying in hushed tones "Hurry, or you'll make your mother angry again."  Apparently I am the evil shoe dictator who will unleash her wrath if you do not comply.
They picked out shoes, of course Thing 2, who enjoys shopping, got a pair of church shoes too.  Thing 1, who HATES shopping, was lucky to come away with a pair of tennis shoes only.
We came back, the grown ups napped while the girls went back in their room to play some more.
For dinner, Hubby and I finally celebrated Valentine's day finally, by going out to a little Mexican dive.  It was good food, though the atmosphere was a little unromantic.
Today we have no choice but to get up and start packing.  I took a quiet moment after I woke up to start blogging, but my quiet moment long passed and I'm doggedly typing with the world going on around me.
Hubby is letting the air out of the air mattress.  Time to get going. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Doin' Disney

We got up and packed half our stuff, then left for Disneyland pretty early, and checked in early to the GRAND CALIFORNIAN.  Holy cow.  It was like the Yellowstone Lodge, only less rustic.  Maybe a little more calculatedly rustic.  But a pretty nice hotel. Our intent was just to drop off our bags and stuff, but of course the girls are completely enchanted with the hotel and it's hard to get them to leave.
Checking into the parks from the hotel was amazingly easy.  The hotel was prohibitively expensive, and I kept telling Hubby that the Ramada across the street is just about as convenient, but I can't argue that this hotel is uber convenient.
We had three wonderful days at Disneyland.  The way we do the parks we need all three days, as Hubby and I are a little driven to do stuff, but the girls are not, so it takes three days for us to get in everything we want.  Though we never talked the girls into Indiana Jones, Space Mountain was out of commission, and we end up doing Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain more than he or I would choose.  I do quite a bit with Thing 2 while Hubby and Thing 1 go to the animation academy and learn how to draw different characters.  Thing 2 is not interested in that.   

The girls love the bear playground thing in California Adventure.  They have to hit this smoke jumper thing several times before we can do anything else.
 They have to walk their lines up to the launching area on the right, then they ride the line to the end and it pops them up, and jerks them back a little.  They love it.

Though she grows older, the Merry-Go-Round is still one of her favorite rides.

 I brought some food in our backpack, which worked out well as some of the food lines were really long, and one which Hubby stood in for about 10 minutes didn't move at all, so he bailed and we had dried mangoes and beef jerky for lunch that day.  We tried to eat in the park, really we did, but just kept finding it easier to eat what I brought.  We met a friend of mine for dinner at the House of Blues on Tuesday, which was marvelous.  It was wonderful catching up, he seems to be doing really well.  On the last day, Thursday, we had lunch at the Blue Bayou because that was the only reservation available.  Hubby was floored at how much that set us back.  I figure it averaged out by our not buying much food the rest of the time we were in the park.  Aside from a few ice creams and popcorn, we hardly bought anything.
We put the girls off on buying a souvenir until the end of the day, at least because I hate carrying those sacks around.  Thing 1 has become a first class negotiator.  I told them I would buy them each a souvenir of the trip.  Thing 1 decided she wanted some Legos from the lego store, but then saw some club Penguin stuff she wanted, so she told me that she'd buy the club penguin stuff with her back allowance.  I am terrible about remembering to pay them their allowance, so fine, they each get to pick two things.  The trouble is trying to get everything to add up financially.  But the first part of the negotiations went well.  Thing 2 picked out a little doll thing like a polly pocket where the doll is Minnie Mouse.
The trouble came the next morning, Thursday.  Both girls were so obsessed with what they'd spend their souvenir money on, Hubby suggested we just go do that first thing, then take it out to the car and then enjoy our day.  Okay fine.  We checked out of the hotel, then went shopping.  Thing 2 heads straight to Build A Bear.  I think they already have enough stuffed animals, they don't play much with them, but it's their choice, and I can't deny the lure of the build-a-bear ritual, and it ends up meaning more to them than just picking out a stuffed Disney character from the Disney store.  Thing 2 picks out a bear and is going through the whole ordeal of stuffing it, rubbing the little heart on all her body parts as instructed before the helper drops it in the bear's back and sews him shut, and picking out an outfit.  (I encouraged her to get something Disney related, she bought a Downtown Disney tee shirt) 
Thing 1 was going crazy.  She started jonesing for a build a bear.  She started negotiating.  She promised to eat meatloaf if I'd buy her a bear.  What about the legos?  The problem with the legos was that the set she wanted wasn't in the store, they were out.  They expect them the day after we leave.  Hubby finds them online on her iphone and we can order them, but she won't have them today.  Well, she wants the legos too, but she wants the bear for something else.  She is practically in physical pain about this, writhing around.  Hubby starts looking at me with puppy dog eyes.  He can't deny them anything they REALLY want and she seems to REALLY want this stuffed dog.   I think.  Okay.  You can have this dog today, for your Disney souvenir.  You can have the Legos in a couple of months, when you mark off all the days of your homework chart.  Yippeee!  Everyone's happy.
She gets her dog, stuffs it, puts the heart in it, picks out a sweater for it.  We're standing in the line, the sales person has put each girl's stuffed animal and associated accessories into their little take home boxes which they're holding, they've swiped my credit card, I'm just waiting for the screen to come up for me to sign and she slaps her hand to her forehead and says "Oh No!"
I've made a mistake.  A horrible mistake.
I don't want the dog.
....  Too late, honey, you've got the dog. I sign the pad, we go out of the store and I turn to her and say "What's going on?"
She says "I don't know how I'll play with the dog."  This is something Hubby pointed out to her in the negotiations for the stuffed animal.  She plays with legos all the time, but we don't see her playing with stuffed animals.
She admits she wanted the stuffed animal because Thing 2 was getting a stuffed animal, and because she likes GETTING the stuffed animal, the ritual (not her words).  But she doesn't really WANT the stuffed animal.
Sigh.  Well, she's got it now.
Hubby took the bear and dog to the car while I sat in the hotel lobby with the girls, assuring Thing 1 with all my ability how cute the dog is, what a good choice it was, why it made sense at the time she made the choice.  She cried, she sniffled, she seemed resolved.
Then she started negotiating about when she's going to get those legos.
We fast passed a bunch of rides and had a very nice day at the park.

Monday, February 15, 2010

So Cal part Deux

We got out on the beach a little earlier today.  My mom and I went to the outlet malls, a tradition I feel strongly about continuing, and hit the OshKosh and Gymboree outlets.  For many years now my daughters entire summer wardrobes have come from the annual outlet shopping trips. 
Hubby worked while the girls played in the condo.  When I came back from shopping, the girls were entranced with downloads of old Tintin episodes.  Hubby had bought them some comic books while he was in India, and they were completely glued to the computer watching the videos.  We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach.

Hubby worked with Thing 2 on  her boogie boarding, and she did great!  It helps to have a rocket dad launcher scooting you off into the waves!  

She could ride right up to the beach.

There were more child/sand sculptures, of course.  

Tomorrow is Disneyland!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

So Cal

The Wednesday before we came out to California we went to my brother's house to meet their new dog, to see if our dog would play with theirs, and to pick up his little girl wet suits and boogie boards.  Since he has four daughters and two boats, he has wet suits in all sizes.  They're not using them this time of year, so we borrowed two for the beach.  Since we have the big mom-mobile, we had room for two boogie boards as well.
The dog meeting went really well, their new puppy - roughly the same age as our dog, is quite timid and submissive, but she opened up eventually and played very well with Kelso.  I think they'll be good friends, and she'll be someone he can play with when we all get together, and when they go on vacation.  So that worked well, but it did knock an evening out of my preparation for leaving.

Once we got here, of course I started remembering everything I forgot.  But I remembered the swimsuits and the Disneyland tickets, I guess that's what's really important.  Everything else can be purchased here.
The kids got right out on the beach after we got here and tried out the boogie boards.  It took us a little while to get the hang of them, but with Hubby and I holding them in the water then pushing them out in front of the waves it worked out quite well.  They only got dumped in a couple of times, and we were never so far away that we couldn't do a running through the surf rescue...  They had a ball and it is so cute to see them jump up and throw their fists up over their heads yelling their victory cries.
One of our traditions is to create some huge sand feet for someone shortly after we arrive on the beach.
Thing 2 was fascinated by the sea foam.    
Hubby and Thing 1 mastered the Boogie Board thing. He holds her while she gets ready for the wave, then he gives her a big push and rockets her out in front of it so she can ride it all the way up the beach.

We all piled in the car and drove to La Jolla for breakfast this morning.  Did I mention I love the new car, that is big enough to hold dogs, boogie boards, luggage and equipment for four people for a week, or six people?  (Not all at the same time, notice the cleverly placed "or.")  The four of us plus Grandma and Papa... it makes it so nice to all go somewhere.  Anyway, there is a place in La Jolla that makes these divine Lemon Ricotta pancakes.  
After breakfast we came back to the condo and Hubby worked while I took a nap, and the darling girls played with each other and didn't even whine terribly about going out on the beach until about 4:00 pm when I woke up.  We took them out and they had a ball... When they got cold we took them over to the condo pool, where they played and swam until they got cold, and then we put them in the hot tub where they played and swam until they got warm, and then we came back to the condo for a late dinner.
I feel guilty that we were not on the beach during the best part of the day, but I was pretty sure I was going to slip into a coma if I didn't get a nap.  We went out and boogie boarded some more, then Thing 1 built a sand castle as the sun set.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

'Preciate cha!

The past week has been heinous.  It was teacher appreciation week at the elementary school, and for reasons not completely fathomable, I kind of ended up as the room mother of my 2nd grader's class.  It was my goal, when planning this week, to not have a bunch of things the kids had to be bringing in each day.  We asked the kids to bring in a funky "punny" item to put on a poster on Monday, (does the teacher make you laugh?  Bring in a Snickers bar.  Did he "turn you on" to science?  Bring in a lightbulb.  Stuff like that.)  We asked the kids to wear the teacher's favorite color one day, and if they want to donate to the gift basket to the teacher, to bring something in for that. That was all that was required of them.  Some friends of mine have complained that every day there's something else they're supposed to be sending in with the kids...  So I was pretty determined to keep this low effort on everyone's part. 
On Monday another mother and I went in and did a project with the kids using their items from home.  On Tuesday one mom brought in donuts for the whole class (we DONUT know what we'd do without you!) on Wednesday another mom brought in apples for everyone - the teacher's favorite snack, and on Thursday another mom brought in fruit snacks for everyone - the assistant teacher's favorite snack.
On Friday was the culmination of teacher appreciation week, and we threw a valentine party too.  In the planning meeting we came up with some games and things that worked at the Halloween party, then one mom suggested we have a chocolate fountain.  A what?  A chocolate fountain, that you dip things in, strawberries and stuff.  These are 2nd graders! You want to put them in a room with moving chocolate? 
I was just fine with all of the party, but the chocolate fountain really had me spooked.  I've never seen one before, and it turned out I was the one buying dipping items for it.  Which also didn't thrill me...
But it all worked out just fine.  Well, sort of, considering the chocolate fountain didn't work, and we ended up microwaving some of the chocolate, and then the kids just dipped stuff into the chocolate sitting in the bottom of the non-functioning chocolate fountain.
Kids at the food bar.  The non-functioning chocolate fountain is on the right.
Notice my valentine attired co-hort behind the table.  The chocolate fountain is hers.
She wore red sparkle shoes that matched her apron.  
She brought cream cheese spreaders that
were Valentine themed.

The posters that we made with the kid's items worked out well, the games worked out fine, everyone had fun.  The chocolate fountain would have been just fine, I may have to have one at my next party.
The poster for the teacher with each kid's 8.5 x 11 contribution.

This is what Thing 1 made for the teacher.  
She came up with the whole whoopee cushion idea.
And no, she didn't sign it Thing 1 - I doctored that.

One of the more brilliant game ideas was a "Heart Attack" station.  The kids wrote something they like about the teacher, then slap it on him with double stick tape.  He was a real sport about it.

I was just so terribly relieved when it was over, because we left for California that afternoon.
We had done a doggie drop with my sister on Thursday, meeting her midway between her house and our house to give her the dog for the week.  We've been trying to get ready for this trip.

The original plan was for us to leave for California about an hour after school got out - early release on Fridays would have had us on the road by 2:00 pm.  Of course we didn't make it.  It was closer to 4:00 pm.  But considering what we had to get done before we left, how long we were going, I wasn't terribly upset by this, except that we did hit some rush hour traffic around 5:00.
We made it to Vegas around 10:30 pm local time.
This morning we had a continental breakfast at the hotel - that makes traveling with the kids so much easier than doing breakfast at a restaurant.  We made it to Oceanside by 2:30 in the afternoon.
The girls were out on the beach by about 3:00. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is There a Bowling League for the Between -The-Legs-Rollers?

During the week I have to go in and wake Thing 2 up in time for school.  But this morning, as I have noticed happening the last three weeks that Hubby hasn't been around to get up with them on the weekend, Thing 2 wakes up early- earlier than I am waking her up during the week - and lies in bed and calls me.  This is even after agreeing the night before how nice it will be to sleep in the next morning.  Oh well, we had a full day planned anyway.

Two years ago when Thing 1 started kindergarten we found one of her classmates has a family that is configured a lot like ours.  I like the mom, Thing 1 plays beautifully with the little boy, and Thing 2 gets along great with his little sister.  The dad, while in a completely different field than Hubby's, is self employed and has gone through some similar experiences as Hubby with that.  They're all great, we've done a bunch of stuff as an eight-some.
In about two weeks they're moving to the other side of the valley, about an hour's drive away.  I am so bummed.
Today the girls and I went bowling today with the mom and her kids - her husband works on Saturdays and normally we are having some quality face time with Daddy so we are unavailable on the weekends, but today with Hubby still gone we were all up for a little bit of getting out of the house.   I think all the kids had a blast, it was so cute and funny to watch them bowl.  We kept expecting to be evicted, but the management never said a word about all the bangs and crashes as the bowling balls smacked on the lane. The kids' techniques ranged from the between the legs scoop, to the running throw and toss, to the swing and launch - which sort of shot puts the bowling ball about five feet out in the air.  All of these except the between the legs roll seemed pretty hard on the lane.   Most of these techniques send the ball slowly meandering toward the pins...  It can take nearly half a minute for the ball to finally mosey up to the pins and casually bump into a few, sometimes rolling off the back of the lane, and sometimes coming to a stop there with the pins.  Thing 2 whooped and jumped for nearly every throw.  They all had a lot of fun and bowled quite well, of course taking into account we had the bumpers up to keep the balls out of the gutters.  It drastically improved my game as well, I actually broke 100!

Hubby gets home tomorrow, for a few hours, then he leaves Monday afternoon for a two day trip, then he'll be back for our week in Southern California.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

School Picture Day

Last fall the school picture people came and took their pictures.  This is always traumatic; your school picture marks you for the year.  Everyone in your class gets a copy of it on the group photo, and everyone in the school gets to see it in the yearbook.  Did you smile right?  Did your hair go wacky?   I was a little worried about Thing 1...  
I used to think she was very photogenic as I didn't have hardly any bad pictures of her, she was this beautiful pale skinned child with the thick red hair and a sort of ethereal, elfin quality to her.  Then she entered her Goofy Smile phase.  I don't know if all kids go through this, but she has hit it with enthusiasm. 

It became something of a problem in London, that every time she was aware I was taking her picture she would assume some weird pose, some "Look at me while I'm having fun!" expression.  For example, this is my attempt at getting a normal, cute picture out of her at Warwick Castle.  I saw them looking out over the castle, and thought this would make a neat picture, the two of them with the castle in the background.  Okay, girls, turn around and smile.

Okay, Thing 1.  You were talking, you have to stop talking and just smile at me please.

Honey, just stand normal, yes we see the castle.  You're not a tour guide... back off the enthusiasm a little.  
Ooops, now Thing 2, you have to watch me.  Don't worry about your sister, I'll watch her.

Now, honey, we know there's a castle there, you don't have to point at it, yes, everyone can see it.  Back off on the enthusiasm.  Would you mind climbing down off the railing and look at me?  Just stand there...  Honey, you're showing me your back.  And yes, Thing 2 I know you've been smiling nice this whole time and  you're getting tired of it.  Let me try one more, this could be a nice shot...

No, wait, Thing 2, you don't need to wave, we know you're there too... and Thing 1, your eyes were closed.  Would you mind climbing down, and looking at me?  Just turn toward me... and hop down...

Let's try again.

Okay. Yeah, I give up.

When we got her picture back from School picture day the teacher's assistant showed it to me beforehand, and was kind of laughing and commenting on what a classic picture it was.
Yeah, it's classic Thing 1 goofy.
Here it is:

She looks a little... goofy.  Stoned.  Like her head is still vibrating from being struck with a frying pan.  Like she stumbled onto some funny looking little pills and is seeing some BEEEUUUUTEEEFUL colors.  Or Santa materialized right in front of her.

So.  Then comes the big question.  Do I get it retaken?  Would she be any less goofy? what if it's worse? Do you just take what you get and don't pitch a fit (one of our mantras?)  Is it okay the way it is?
Hubby voted retake, I think.  My sister-in-law, who is my go-to-girl for all things kid related said no, they smile goofy, they get goofy.  
I think when it came down to it, I was disinclined to do a retake, and then it fell on an inconvenient day, or I flat out forgot, I can't remember now.  I can't remember if I brought her into the discussion of whether or not to retake the picture.  It sounds like something I might not do, as we've harped on her to smile normal in the past and I hate belaboring the point.
 So we didn't retake her picture.

This is Thing 2's picture, by the way.  Not the greatest, but it's just fine.  It's cute of her.

All is fine and forgotten until yesterday, when they distributed the class picture.  This is a compilation of all the kids pictures, and the teachers on the top, all the other kids pictures all lined up in rows with their names below them and your child's picture about 4 times bigger in the place of honor in the middle.  Or in Thing 1's opinion, in the place of shame as if all the other kids gathered around to laugh at her picture.
I had figured in the grand scheme of things this particular picture doesn't mean much to me, maybe I'll be able to say "Stop smiling like that 2nd grade photo!" and she'll laugh, and look gorgeous.  I figured I'd hire someone to take a beautiful picture of her, because yes, she is a lovely child.  But when she saw her picture, I realized it mattered to her.  She is quite embarrassed by it.  

And now I'm feeling terrible that we didn't have her school picture retaken, and now it's too late and her goofiness will be commemorated and saved, and who knows, trotted out for display at school social functions for the rest of her life...