Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nearly New Computer

Darnit all, my computer died. This is my THIRD, yes, THIRD trojan horse, (Doh! I had to amend this because my sister commented it was probably a trojan VIRUS, not horse, and she's right) and it pretty much strangled the remaining life from my poor machine.

You would think that since I'm married to a computer guru I would have nearly no computer problems. But since Hubby is always on the other side of the country when I'm having these problems, I have a local guru that bails me out of these situations, Michael at Click Computers (in case you're in my area and are looking for help) who has pulled my bacon out of the fire more than once.

But this time, apparently, time and technology have so far exceeded the capacities of my little old four year old laptop which wasn't that powerful even brand new, I was informed (and Hubby concurred) I need a new computer. Unfortunately this is not something we can afford right now. However, there is an answer...

Hubby is a Mac guy now, after an unfortunate experience with Vista. He bought a wonderful new beautiful action-packed fully-loaded whiz-bang tablet computer that was only available with Vista. I can't remember how long it took, but his increasing frustration with Vista drove him into the arms of a new Mac. But here we have this nearly new beautiful action-packed fully-loaded whiz-bang tablet computer that has had Vista surgically removed, and Windows 7 installed. It's pretty much just sitting here, waiting for Thing 1 to make an animated movie on it. If he was buying me a computer, Hubby would get me a Mac, but since a) we have this nearly new beautiful etc. tablet sitting around, and b) any new PC I bought would have Windows 7 on it, it follows that in this time of financial constraint I use the tablet.

Hubby, who amazingly enough happens to be in town this week, spent all day Monday sneaking in the back door of my old damaged computer and salvaging all my files, then transferring them to the whoop-dee-do new old tablet computer. And the girls are thrilled to have a newly wiped little computer. They no longer have to beg me to get off my computer if they both want to play Club Penguin and Zoo Tycoon. They don't care that the new one has the memory capacity of a cantalope, for what they do it has plenty.

So now I'm typing on a Lenovo laptop, which is fully-loaded etc. and has bucket loads of storage. The ironic thing is that the tablet feature, which Hubby loves and is the whole reason he bought this computer, is something I don't care about. The other important features to him - size (small) and weight (light), are opposite of what I'd choose. The one thing I'm most interested in is a bigger screen, and I don't really care whether it weighs 5.6 pounds or 10, as I don't carry it around very much. Sigh.

But it's a clean one owner, and the price was right.

Let's just see if I can keep it virus-free.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whistle while you work

Thing 1 came to me this afternoon and announced that the downstairs bathroom is dirty and she wants to help me clean it. Now, I am not a stellar housekeeper by anyone's stretch of the imagination, but my parents stayed with us this on Friday so I know I cleaned the bathroom the middle of last week. Hearing it's dirty enough to get her attention is, well, news.

It's good news in that maybe Thing 1 is somehow developing a cleanliness factor that exceeds my own, and at least one person in this house may be something of a help in keeping the place clean. Maybe she'll actually notice the messes before they fall down on top of her, AND BE WILLING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT beyond just commenting in an effort to get ME to do something about it.

The bad news is that apparently my cleanliness radar is so out of whack that it seems my 8 year old is grossed out by it. So I went with her to assess the situation.

Also, I would be a total idiot to pass up the opportunity to have help, and to reinforce my daughter's inclination to clean something.

Again, reemphasizing my own lack of deep rooted Southern Girl cleaning compulsion, I freely acknowledge that at nearly any moment, any room in my house could use quite a bit of attention. Upon checking it out I found the bathroom could use some work, but it wasn't disgusting, by any means.

I started her cleaning up what she found most objectionable about the bathroom, the watermarks on the cabinets. Then, as there's not a lot of room in the bathroom for two of us to be in there, I moved into the kitchen next door to clean the kitchen sink (again not on my agenda, but it could always use it and it would keep me near if she needed support). She kept calling out what a good job she was doing to me, and I assured her repeatedly that she's such a help to me. And she obviously is, who knows how many more years before I took the time to clean up the water/toothpaste lines from the cabinet faces? She kept going on from the cabinet under the sink, and scrubbed all of them clean. Then she told me she was going to take a lunch break. I asked if she wanted a sandwich, but no, lunch break to her means she has wandered back to the TV, where she joined her father and sister in watching Cartoon Network.

I lost her to the TV. Hubby isn't feeling well, and has been burning the Menorah at all ends again, so he's sleeping on the couch with Thing 2, and now Thing 1, perched on top of him watching cartoons.

Do I enforce the cleaning agenda? Do I make her come finish what she started? Is this a delicate, tenuous inclination that will easily dissolve if I make her leave something she's enjoying to finish it? Will she learn that cleaning's an unpleasant chore? Am I delusional to think she won't realize that someday anyway? Or should I make both kids buckle under, give them more than their usual little chores around the house and enforce a more strident chore schedule? Hubby and I talk about it all the time, but we don't really do it. Mind you, they're joining HIM as he's relaxing on the couch...

It wasn't on my agenda, and I hadn't noticed that the bathroom was that dirty. But now that she's brought my attention to it, I am inclined to add that to my list of things to do.

I'd be done already if I hadn't sat down to write about it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

She Won!

Thing 1's Eeyore sculpture was one of three winners selected from the three 2nd grade classes. We are all very proud!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Choosey Mothers...

Be it chunky or smooth, the only kind of peanut butter we buy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Thing 1 has long had a real soft spot in her heart for Eeyore. Not his attitude, but the little blue donkey beanie baby that used to sit on top of my monitor from way back when I was a Working Girl. One day shortly after she started walking, she saw him there, wordlessly gestured to him, and then took him for her own. He had been with me for a long time, I was a little attached to him too, so I expected I'd be able to pick him up when she was done carrying him around, and he'd resume his place on my monitor.

But he endured. He became the first fierce attachment she made, one of those things that your kids CANNOT sleep without. She called him "My Sister Eeyore." She still has a much loved Eeyore in her bed each night.

So when they announced in school that they were having the annual "Sculpt a storybook character" project for the library, I wasn't at all surprised that Thing 1 wanted to sculpt Eeyore. (Thing 2 didn't want to participate, that's more Thing 1's thing.) I had heard about a foamy hard drying clay that is easy to work with, and bought her some. She worked on him for several days, and this is the proud result.

I'm embarrassed at how lazy I am not to have taken pictures with my real camera, just with my phone. And I did go so far as to push the bags of sculpting clay out of the main part of the picture... but none of my close ups are any good, they're just varying levels of blurry. So her attention to detail goes undocumented. The black bird on the wire above Eeyore's head is a robin, you can't see his red breast or bright blue eyes. And the reeds growing around the pond are a little hard to make out, as are the baby ducks. You can't see the screw she used to attach his tail. I argued for a nail, but she decided it's a screw. Parental involvement in this is supposed to be minimal, the only advice I gave her was on how to make brown from red, yellow, and blue clay. Suffice it to say she's very proud of her creation, and is hoping for a prize.

I went in with her to drop off her sculpture at the library today. I wanted to judge the competition. Each grade is judged by itself, and I must say there weren't many real contenders on the 2nd grade shelf. I think she's probably a shoe in for first place, but then I'm not a judge. I've seen judging for these sorts of events make very little sense. But that would be Eeyore-ish of me to say to her.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sick, Sick, and yes, Sick

Thing 2 has had a runny nose for nearly a week. She woke up this morning sounding hoarse, and honking when she coughs. If she were a teenager or older and thought she'd be okay, I'd have sent her to school. I know I've functioned for days on that level of sickness before. But she's a first grader, so I kept her home.

The dog still has the trots. He wakes me up two or three times a night to be let out. My resulting exhaustion - this is the third night in a row for this, has shortened my patience. I love that he's not messing on the floor, but I really want him better and not waking me up all night. I called the vet and they said to bring in a stool sample. They'll let me know tomorrow if he has a parasite. In the mean time he's on a bland (white) diet of yogurt, rice, and cottage cheese, which is supposed to be easier on his digestive tract, I guess.

I had to take sick Thing 2 on my errands to the vet, the bank, and the grocery store. By the time we got back it was lunchtime. I fed her, then insisted she lay down for a nap. For half an hour or so I did a little cleaning up, answered some emails, and was getting ready to go lay down myself for a much needed nap when the phone rang. It was the school calling to tell me Thing 1 is in the office with a headache, flashing spots in her vision, and a numb hand.


I think I got my first migraine when I was 15... or 16. Here she is 8 years old!

I went up to the kids' room to wake Thing 2 up to tell her I was going to get her sister, but she was already awake. When I returned, and went up to tell her I was back, she confessed she hadn't slept at all since she laid down. She was ready to get up. Sigh.

Thing 1 had a similar story. I told her to sleep, closed all the doors and shushing Thing 2 when she'd talk loud, but Thing 1 came out 15 minutes later saying she'd had a great nap. No you haven't, try again. Then the dog barked to be let out, I hurried back so he wouldn't wake her, only to have him barking outside 10 minutes later. I hurried to shush him, but Thing 1 already was awake and whining she couldn't get back to sleep. I let her get up too.

Here I am with 3 sick charges, and all they do is complain and keep each other awake. Sigh. Why is it that the only one of us who REALLY REALLY wants a nap (me) is the only one who can't take one?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Long and Winding Road Home

Friday, our last day in Santa Cruz, was wonderful. The girls and I went to the beach just after lunch - which was earlier than usual, and Hubby joined us after a half day at his client.

Hubby had wanted to go see a Redwood park, but the girls had spent their whole time on the beach looking forward to him getting there. So it was hard to convince them to leave, and we ended up staying until supper time.

Hubby told me the secret of the skimboard is to DRAG the girl, not run alongside. So I tried that and we had a couple of really good runs. Thing 1 even put on her wetsuit and boogie boarded. It was awfully cute to have the dog running out to see what she was doing, though she bumped into him more than once.


Thing 2 refused to boogie board, despite having loved it in Oceanside. Oh well, she was very happy playing in the sand, and being dragged along the beach on the skim board.

We didn't get as much packing in on Friday as I'd have liked, TRANSLATE: NONE so we didn't get packed up and on the road as early as I'd have liked on Saturday. It was closer to 11:30 than to the 10:00 am I'd hoped. But it was a miracle we got everything into the car, and those kind of miracles take a little time.

The drive home was mostly uneventful. We stopped for gas 3 times, once for a meal, and once when the dog barked to let him do his thang in the bushes. What the Garmin indicated should have been a 12.5 hour driving trip, of course not calculating for gas, meals, and dogs, we did in just a little more than 12, including stops. Obviously we are a couple of leadfoots. The last half hour or so, from midnight on, the dog was obviously getting restless and started messing with the stuff he could reach in the back. I knew it probably wasn't good, but we just pushed through. When we finally pulled into the garage and let him out we found he'd gotten into the board games, and had chewed through a couple corners of the "Carcassone" game box. Repairable, but annoying.

Turns out the dog was pretty sick. He threw up shortly after we got home, and then barked a couple times in the middle of the night to be let out to throw up some more, and to trot around the yard with the trots. While it was mildly annoying to be up and down letting him out at 2:00 am, and again at 4:00 am, it's sure a lot less annoying than cleaning lots of vomit and doggy diarrhea off the kitchen floor in the morning. He came through smelling like a - well, not a rose, but he proved himself a great traveler, whether he likes it or not.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Day with the Cousins

Thing 1 is still not in the mood for the beach.  How do I FORCE someone to have fun?  She says the beach just makes her sad because her daddy's not there to play with her.  Don't know if that's just an excuse or not...
So I let her stay at the house while Thing 2 and I took the dog to the beach to run around a little. 
Low tide was around 2:00, and if we were going to go tide pooling, we couldn't take the dog and I wanted him run out a little. 
Hubby is also supposed to be working a half day today and tomorrow, so we're hopefully going to see him.

- Later -

My aunt and cousin's wife and her daughters came, and it was fabulous. Unfortunately we didn't have quite the spectacular weather that we had the day before, but it was still very nice. I didn't take pictures, darnit.
My cousin's daughters are about 10, 6, 4, and 2, or so. They are charming little girls and got along great with Thing 1 and 2.

When Thing 2 and I had been out earlier I had seen a couple of guys "skimboarding." It looked cool so I texted Hubby that he should stop on his way back to town and pick one up. He did, and when he came to the beach around 3:00 pm he was carrying a skim board and a boogie board. Unfortunately I hadn't brought the wetsuits down from the beach house, so it took just one try to convince each of my girls that it was too cold to boogie board, my cousin's girls didn't want to try it. For the skim board I tried to sort of run alongside them but it kept running into my feet (OUCH!). Hubby figured out how to help them, I'll have to ask his secret.

It was great catching up with my cousin's wife and my aunt, and the girls had a fabulous time with my cousin's kids. They didn't seem to mind that we were at the dog beach, it helps when you practically have a beautiful beach to yourselves, and of course Kelso did great. I saw my cousin's little girls patting him when he'd pass by or collapse momentarily near where they were playing in the sand. A good day for everyone, I just wish it could have lasted longer. They drove back to have dinner with their daddy, my cousin.
Tomorrow is our last day here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back to the Beach

Today we decided to try tide pooling.  A cove just up the beach from the dog beach was supposed to have good tide pooling.  So we loaded up our stuff, locked the dog in the house, and walked to the cove.  It's a little further away, but not any longer than our daily walk to school, so it was fine.  Turns out there's no tide pooling there, but it's a nice beach set back in a cove with high walls.  There were more people, and it's much smaller than the dog beach, but seemed there was enough room.  Just no tide pooling at all.  I asked the kids do you want to go back and put on your suits and come back to this beach, or go to the dog beach with Kelso?  Thing 2 voted dog beach.  Thing 1 was frustrated with having walked to this beach and having no tide pooling, she got crabby and didn't want to go to the beach at all.  She wanted to go tide pooling (sorry, no car, sweetheart).  Then she wanted to go back and play at the house.  Sorry sweetheart, I didn't drive you all this way to sit inside and watch you do exactly what you do at home.  My vote counts for two, so that's three against one.  The dog gets a half vote, I know he'd rather go to the beach.  Three and a half against one.
So that's what we did.  I dragged Thing 1, with the threat that if she stayed back at the house by herself she might have to let the landlady in with a repairman to fix the dishwasher (which isn't working).  As I suspected, that was unappealing enough to get her out of the house.  
When we got out to the beach, it was beautiful.  Hardly any wind, much warmer than yesterday.  It was a little more crowded, but still not many people.  And the side we go to has fewer dogs than the other side.  It might not give Kelso as many puppies to play with, but it has fewer dogs galloping through our sand sculptures.
The dog had a grand time, we were out there for over three hours.  It was lovely.

For some reason Thing 1 loves to cover herself with wet sand and then dance around roaring, as a sand monster.

Thing 2 loves hunting for shells.

I thought collies in general don't like water, but Kelso was running into the waves up to his chest along with the girls. It didn't seem to bother him.

It was great to have all my charges happily playing in the sand.

So.  A funny thing.  In talking to my mother earlier in the week she reminds me I have a cousin and his family who live out here.  They've moved around a little and I lost track of where they are.  Turns out he's in San Jose.  I called to see if they want to do something while we're here, and his wife says she was planning on bringing their daughters - roughly the age of my kids - to Santa Cruz anyway.  And it so happens my cousin's mom, one of my favorite aunts, is visiting from Texas.  So they're all coming out tomorrow.  Kind of a mini family reunion!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Break!

Breakfast/Lunch with Jaymes and his family went spectacular, I think.  They are absolutely delightful, and I wish we lived closer.  Their son got along swimmingly with Thing 1 and Thing 2, and they mostly kept out of our hair while we talked.  I like Jaymes' wife a lot, he certainly found a girl who deserves him!  They have an aging Rhodesian Ridgeback, so she and I talked dogs for a while.  She brought easter baskets for the girls, with some of the best battery operated bubble blowers I've seen in years for all the kids.  The only down side was it was raining cats and dogs most of the afternoon.  Hubby's quiche was delicious, the kids wolfed down his french toast, and everyone had a great time. Jaymes' wife brought an Easter basket for each of the kids, with the most amazing battery operated bubble makers in them. We sent the kids on the porch to play and I looked up to see the patio chock full of bubbles. Of course, when I went out with the camera, the bubble making slowed down. Why is that?

Thing 2 used her bubble maker like a weapon.

Thing 1 and Duncan were less intense about their bubbles.

Monday hubby wasn't going to the client, so we went to the Monterrey aquarium.  Again, a wonderful time.  The kids freaked over the seahorse exhibit, the hands-on exhibits, and the million gallon tank.  Well, they were pretty excited about everything.

The touch pools were great, though Thing 1 was reluctant to put her hand in there at first.

Thing 2 befriended a giant penguin.

Believe it or not that is a seahorse, one of the two really unusual ones in the exhibit. The other one was so weird it was hard to photograph. This is a Leaf Seahorse.

We weren't sure what to do with the dog, and were worried he might get destructive if we left him alone inside, or bark too much if we left him outside.  So we decided to take him, park in the shade, crack the windows, and leave him in the car. He did beautifully.  He hung out in the car while we were in the aquarium, and did just fine.  He didn't even kick over the water bowl I left for him.
It turns out, of all the beaches we're walking distance away from, we're next to the only off leash dog beach in Santa Cruz.  Fancy that!  Yesterday (Tuesday) Hubby worked so I waited for it to warm up a little and the tide to go out, then I took the girls and the dog to the beach.  The dog loved it, the girls not so much.  The problem was it was cold, and there was a gale force wind blowing for most of the time.  The sand is nice, the shore is nice with no drop-offs lurking beneath the surface that I could find, just a hundred yards of inch deep water after each wave.  The girls lasted about an hour and a half.  Thing 1 got sand in her eyes, and that was it for her.  Not that I blame her.  The girls were kind of disappointed, the beach was more of an endurance test than a real fun time.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Santa Cruz via Lovelock and San Francisco

Hubby got stuck in traffic on his way to the airport on Thursday and missed his plane home, so he didn't get home until 11:00 am on Friday.  The things he was going to do Friday morning for the client in San Jose got bumped to Friday afternoon, so we got out of town a couple hours later than I'd hoped.

The pet friendly hotel in Lovelock Nevada worked out just fine.  Kelso was a perfect gentlemen and handled his first night in a hotel room just fine.  He heard someone outside at 6:00 a.m. and started woofing and sat by the door, which resulted in an early morning walk with me and him.  It's hard to argue with him, knowing that he can win at any time by peeing on the floor.
We stopped downtown to check out the locks of Lovelock... it's interesting. I saw locks all over the chains around the Pont de Vechio in Florence, but Hubby doesn't remember.

We didn't even give the dog another doggy drug on the way west.  He did fabulous, only barking to be let out once. (We dove for the next exit with no concern about whether or not it would be easy to get back on the freeway.  It wasn't easy; thank heaven for Garmin.)  We had eaten a nice big breakfast in Lovelock so we ate some of the snacks I'd brought in the car, and pushed through lunch with only the one dog stop, and a gas stop. (Again diving for a gas station that the Garmin said was close, only to find it was a 15 minute terribly-narrow-twisting drive through a Sausilito neighborhood.  Curse Garmin!)  We took a detour over through San Francisco to show the kids the Golden Gate Bridge, and to point out that Hubby and I lived near there (in Alameda) right before Thing 1 was born.  The kids seemed appropriately interested in the bridge, mostly because it's featured in the Monsters Vs Aliens movie, but they were completely thumbs down on stopping.  They just wanted to press on to the beach house.
We drove down Highway 1, gambling the traffic wouldn't be too bad on a weekend.  It wasn't.  We had a lovely drive along the coast, and were able to zip along pretty quick.
The house I rented in Santa Cruz I chose for its proximity to the beach, number of bedrooms, and pet friendliness.  It is a nice place, the third bedroom was quickly taken over by the girls for their playroom, and there is quite a bit of space.  This is a shot of the girls in the 3rd bedroom, playing in the loft above the bed.

Though it is roomy, fairly well equipped, and nicely decorated, it is still a rental, and it has little annoying features of a rental that a "lived in home" would not.  Such as there are two 24 inch TVs in on the floor of the master bedroom closet taking up all the room on one side, and a huge box for the flatscreen TV on the other side.  Neither of the two smaller bedrooms  has a dresser, just beds and a closet with a few hangers in them.  The shelves above the hangers in the closet have extra bedding and old (broken?) stereo equipment on them, with more boxes from other electronic equipment.  There was a very thin metal rod propped precariously above the bathtub in the master bath with a heavy cloth curtain draped over it in a kind of wad.  This is not a shower curtain, it's the decorative one you'd hang outside of a shower.  It's much too heavy for the rod it's hanging on... that arrangement I quickly took down, but it means the master shower doesn't have a curtain.  It's less of a problem because the shower head is on a swivel cable and doesn't attach to the wall
There are a few other things, but it's not making for interesting reading; I'm just whining.
It's quite a nice place all in all, more open space than we have at our house, and there is a master bath which we don't have at our house - though with the hand held showerhead in the master bath, I expect Hubby and I will shower in the hall bathroom, the kids will be (and currently are) bathing in the master.
The beach is about half a block away.  We'll have to walk down there and check it out, we were sort of occupied last night with unloading the car and getting dinner (us) and exploring the condo (the kids and the dog). Here's the dog enjoying the patio.

We did have a good egg hunt this morning.  The girls were thrilled with the stuff they found, and were very happy the rabbit found them.
They weren't the only ones thrilled with their find - I had left the dog's bowl of food out and it was covered in ants this morning.  He doesn't eat nearly what the package recommends as a normal serving size for his age and weight so I've taken to leaving it out so he can eat what he wants. Not so around here.   I go over and wipe the ants off the wall with a wet paper towel every half hour or so, leaving some broken ant bodies behind as a warning to their comrades.

We invited a good friend of mine from bygone years up for breakfast.  Jaymes and his wife and son live in San Jose, and they're coming over in a couple of hours.  Hubby's napping on the couch, and I should get up and get going.  Since yesterday the only grocery stores Hubby could find were all organic and healthy (fabulous food, but no Skittles or Apple Jacks) I think we may have to try and find an open grocery store (is anyone closed on Easter morning?), it's hard to know everything the place is missing until you've had at least one meal here, and there are no quiche pans.